I first discovered the Regent Cinema in Brisbane’s Queen Street Mall when I was a teenager. I attended a midnight screening of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and thrilled to join in with the alternative script being performed live. I’d grown up watching the movie Fame, which features a sequence in which one of the characters does that very thing. From that day on, it was one of my favourite places in Brisbane.
I have many fond memories from the Regent: the day I met David Helfgott, the live performance by Glen Hansard after a screening of Once, my friend’s Mum soldiering on through a screening of Breaking the Waves, even though it was making her seasick. I’ve had my eyes opened, my horizons expanded and my brain stimulated more often in those walls than perhaps anywhere else in the world. So, my post this week is unashamedly polemic. On June 14 the cinema as we know it will close, to be demolished to make way for yet more offices and apartments. A theatrette for weekend screenings will be built, and the astonishing marble foyer will be preserved, but it’s the end of an era. And if you ask me, it’s a damn shame.
In Muriel’s Wedding, which had a gala premiere in the Regent with Toni Collette and Bill Hunter in attendance, Muriel’s dad’s motto is ‘you can’t stop progress’. Sadly, in this case it seems he’s right.