New life for one of Oxford's oldest cinemas.
The Phoenix is a Jericho institution. It first opened its doors (looking remarkably similar) in 1913 as the North Oxford Kinema. In 1920 it was renamed the Scala and went on to develop a reputation for showing foreign films. In those days there was just one raked auditorium inside this purpose-built structure. Today, inevitably, there are two and it's quite possible that one or the other can get booked out on occasions.
Reborn in 1989 as the Phoenix - and painted a rather lurid blue - this cinema has garnered a loyal north Oxford membership and shows a mix of art films and blockbusters after the Odeons around the corner have finished with them. You don't have to be a member to attend. Get there early if you can and enjoy a drink in the Phoenix Bar, which is up the stairs on the right as you enter (on the same level as the projection room).
While endorsing the Phoenix it's only fair to sing the praises of the Ultimate Picture Palace (www.ultimatepicturepalace.co.uk), which is located south of the river and is an even older structure.
UPP opened in 1910 inside a similar structure to the Phoenix (ornate concrete lobby fronting a tin-roofed barn). In those days UPP was simply "The Palace" on Jeune Street. It fell apart in the 1960s but was restored as the Penutimate Picture Palace or PPP (one of those Oxford in-jokes as PPP also stands for a degree in Psychology, Philosophy and Physiology). Now it's known as UPP and is pretty basic but serves drinks and snacks and is cheaper than the Phoenix. I love it and I don't entirely know why. It's so easy to imagine people watching silent pre-Chaplin movies here before the First World War.