As part of the Cornerhouse 25th Birthday celebrations on Saturday 16th October, the clocks were turned back to 1985: the year the cinemas and gallery complex first opened in their current form; formerly a furniture showroom and newsreel theatre but now a throbbing hub for world film, publishing and visual arts. The public were offered a choice of three different movies from that date prior to a blowout late-night party decked out in novelty inflatables, neon streamers, retro sweets and a dance floor that was soon invaded by low-flying shoulder pads.
The selection of movies included Nic Roeg’s Insignificance, the first title to screen at Cornerhouse and featuring a live Einstein pop-quiz challenge. Alternately Desperately Seeking Susan offered Madge-wannabes a chance to win a replica of her jacket in the film. OR, if you had any degree of talent in spotting the event of the season when it drove past with two pale butt cheeks mashed against the rear window, you could join yours truly in the main screen for Scratch ‘n Sniff Cinema presents The Goonies!
Once again I was the guy with the giant placards and a torch, supported by well-meaning but less-than-able assistant Data (Debbie Chan), who proceeded to demonstrate his/her disastrous gadgets and spring-loaded boxing glove. Those sitting near the front did well to duck. In the spirit of the occasion I attended in pirate garb, and if I spent a little too long in the bathroom applying eye liner and shadow, I’d like to think I was demonstrating method techniques in channeling the spirit of One Eyed Willie… although I ended up looking more Captain Jack Sparrow than syphilitic sea dog.
Scent-imbued scratch cards were distributed containing eight mystery whiffs that matched key scenes in this terrifying tale of wayward teen malcontents as they brutalise a close-knit Mafia clan. Will Mama Fratelli scavenge enough dubloons to complete her gender reassignment surgery? Is the bromance between Chunk and Sloth a thinly disguised metaphor for a nation bloated by consumer greed, its decline aided by the grotesque child of a once-mighty European dynasty seeking to manipulate the successor to their throne? They sure don’t make ‘em like they used to.
Many audience members came dressed to impress, with our costume competition winner Mario clinching a generous voucher from online retro specialists and t-shirt emporium, Truffle Shuffle. Thanks are also owed to Dave Petty for his ace welcome screen. Also present was a fabulous Inspector Gadget, a film-loving Lord Lucan (marvelously preserved for his age), duffle coats, ghetto blasters, rolled jacket sleeves and enough neon, lace, ruffles, beads, scrunchies, stone washed denim and fingerless gloves to costume an end-of-term disco scene from Grange Hill. Oh, Ro-land!
The odours themselves kicked off quicker than ever before with the first, gasoline, accompanying the Fratelli’s gaol-bust in the opening sixty seconds! Mikey’s attic and repository of the overlooked treasure map stank of damp during the ensuing thunderstorm, with burning rubber for Brand’s mini-bike accelerated drag. Pepperoni pizza established itself as an audience winner during the hideout sequence, toppled only by the delicious choc-mint ice cream: my favourite from all the Scratch ‘n Sniff presentations so far! This left bubblegum for the snogging sequence, frankincense in the treasure room and sea-breeze as The Inferno set sail. Regular Scratch’n Sniff Cinema series artist Simon Misra designed a striking new poster to accompany the screening.
Congratulations to staff at the venue, past and present, for ensuring it remains at the heart of Manchester’s cultural offering. If it wasn’t for Cornerhouse I wouldn’t have seen so much footage of French people shouting at each other as I have, nor the variety of bare bottoms, incestuous relationships, violent households, kitchen-sink dramas, fantastical worlds, stylised set design or enviable other-lives, all while basking in life affirming dialogue, precocious directorial debuts and frequently tucking into the best sweet potato wedges in the city. You helped make me the eternally unfulfilled, creative dreamer that I am today. On second thought… curse you!
Images: Neil Shearer