Looking for a Sunday afternoon activity with the family that’s unusual, entertaining and culturally-stimulating to boot?
A few Sundays back, we were invited** to check out Not So Silent Movies at Kings Place.
This regular gig features a house band along with rotating special guests playing a spontaneous accompaniment to vintage silent films.
The brainchild of composer and cellist Philip Sheppard, past events have seen the likes of Tim Minchin and Jarvis Cocker getting embroiled in the musical mayhem.
We watched Andy Mackay and Phil Manzanera of Roxy Music who got wild applause from a room packed with Roxy Music fans (I only know a couple of tunes from their back catalogue).
Things started well with an old Looney Tunes short that was well suited to some of the more jagged and clashing accompaniment from the musicians. The babes were thrilled to see cartoons on the big screen, only muttering that they wanted popcorn.
Next up was a Charlie Chaplin film, with classic clowning by the little guy with the moustache. But the film was on the long side and the boys began to shuffle in their seats. I was glad when it was announced there would be an interval before the last film.
We went up, had a snack from the Green & Fortune cafe and came back refreshed for the final act. This was a Buster Keaton action flick called Steamboat Bill Jr, a funny and captivating film that blew me away with the quality of the stunts and the special effects.
The band really went to town with this film and I loved seeing how much energy and camaraderie there was between the players. At one point we heard the strains of Roxy Music hit ‘Love is the Drug’, which got some extra laughs and claps.
Being totally spontaneous, the soundtrack throughout was a bit hit and miss, but mostly I was fascinated by the musicians’ ability to riff off each other and create harmonies from scratch.
Also, when the film was starting to drag for my babes, I could pop Jed on my knee and point out how fast the violinist’s bow was moving or the guy smashing away on drums to keep him wide-eyed.
Not So Silent Movies is slapstick fun and an enjoyable way to experience silent cinema with your kids. It’s aimed at families but I think it’s best suited to slightly older kids.
If I could program the event, I would have shorter films or more intervals, and I’d also allow popcorn inside the hall to keep the munchkins happy!
Next Sunday’s event promises some record-breaking improv with Ben Lee, aka the world’s fastest violinist. Buckle up.
Not So Silent Movies runs regularly at Kings Place, York Way, N1 (King’s Cross tube) and the next event is on Jun 9, 2.30pm, tickets from £9.50-£12.50