There aren’t many octogenarian cinemas about. The Astor Theatre hits that landmark on Sunday April 3, and it’ll be typically eclectic: an afternoon marathon of Bugs Bunny cartoons on 35mm, curated by Astor general manager Zak Hepburn; an evening screening of Astor favourite, 2001: A Space Odyssey; and a mysterious “surprise” film at 4pm.
For the rest of the calendar, which covers until early July, expect Titanic on full, epic 70mm, The Goonies, Eraserhead, Romper Stomper and Lolita, all on 35mm. There’ll also be a mini season dedicated to the French director of moody gangster films, Jean-Pierre Melville. There’s also double bills of recent awards-season big hitters, such as The Big Short with Anomolisa and Spotlight paired with Trumbo. There will be an ANZAC Day screening of Peter Weir’s Gallipoli, and a whole host of the weird and obscure.
It’s been a tumultuous 80 years for the Astor. It’s had more than a few near-death experiences, starting in the ’60s when it narrowly avoided demolition by becoming a Greek cinema and sometimes bingo hall. Long after it became a Melbourne institution it sailed close to closure again due to much-publicised “irreconcilable differences” between its owner and proprietor. But Palace Cinemas stepped in at the last moment and vowed not only to keep the Astor open, but to keep it a single-screen cinema and to maintain its perfectly curated double bills and classic cult films projected in their original formats.
Long live the Astor.
The new Astor program is available here.