So we already know that the Underground Cinema is as good a time as you can have on two legs. It’s the full-immersion bringing-movies-to-life-with-actors-and-sets-and-quite-often-dogs cinema experience pioneered by Tamasein Holyman. And the lady has talent. She’s a modern day Bertolt Brecht of cinema, smashing down the fourth wall by taking the cinema out of the cinema and into the world of the film itself (or, more the point into a warehouse/church/carpark designed to look like the movie you're watching, replete with actors playing parts from the film).
And this time around, Holyman upped the excellence factor tenfold by teaming up with Alex Adams – the fun-wizard behind Sydney’s reigning champion of pop-up themed dining, Secret Foodies. ;These are rare woman of inspired ideas who also possess the organisational skills and chutzpah to pull them off.
So on Saturday night, ;Time Out frocked up and rocked up to the Railway Hotel in South Melbourne. ;We were led down to a church, greeted by a priest and sucked into an impeccably recreated French village for a liberal sluicing with Champagne and canapés. There were quiffs and pearls all over the shop. There was a gypsy band playing, and seemingly random ‘happenings’ where actors played out snippets of movie scenes. If you’ve seen Chocolat, you’ll be pleased to know Charlie the dog made a cameo, and that they’d hired a professionally sexy crew to channel Johnny Depp.
Where they went off script this time was in the screening portion, which was matched to a full sit-down dinner orchestrated by Adams. It could have gone so wrong. Serving 100-plus diners so that they were eating chicken in chocolate sauce in time with Judi Dench seemed near impossible. But in ;an excellent departure from many a large scale catered event, the food was really, really good, and despite the loud clang from ;a few dropped butter knives, Adams hit all her aces. There was grilled scampi in a rich Champagne butter emulsion. Chicken was served provinciale-style with a bread dressing, chocolate jus and sweet blistered tomatoes.
As the film ended, we were ushered out into a courtyard transformed for a bohemian party, replete with dancing, fire-twirling, chocolate fountains, and bonfires. In spite of the mammoth amount of organisation involved, you couldn't see any of the thousands of strings being pulled, and for that we give UGC and Secret Foodies a tip of the hat.
Secret Foodies have big plans for Melbourne so keep an eye out for upcoming events and get on to Underground Cinema’s mailing list if you know what’s good for your fun bone.