To mark a decade of moving cinema, we asked House friends and family to tell us about their favourite films seen at Golden Age. From documentaries detailing Australia’s gay history to Grand Budapest hotels inspiring the creation of Paramount itself, each film speaks to the magic of this cinema as an experience beyond the ordinary.
Golden Age has saved my ass on many a date (except the one where I made someone watch The Assistant and then we stared at each other in silence for the rest of the night). I made my current partner come to a screening of A Brighter Summer Day — Edward Yang’s four-hour epic of Taiwanese ennui and delinquency — earlier this year and it was transportive. Hard on the bladder and easy on the eyes. I looked over at my partner midway through and found him inhaling the banana he had secretly packed for lunch. Within minutes, people were unwrapping their own homespun bonne bouches. It was beautiful.
I don’t think I’ll ever watch The Tribe – a sublimely crushing crime drama entirely in Ukranian sign language – again, but I’ll always remember watching it at Golden Age. Without any way to know what exactly was being said between characters, every person in the cinema was essentially creating their own script while they watched it. It’s an extreme version of a basic idea – the movies are chances to scream/laugh and everything between together, yet they’re still delightfully personal, too (who hasn’t turned to a friend after a terrible film, only to find out they loved it?). It opened me up to just how special seeing a film in the cinema can be.
In a once-grand, now-forsaken Art Nouveau hotel somewhere in Eastern Europe, the elderly owner Zero recounts a tale of intrigue, action and love to a guest. There is murder, a prison break, an art heist, a secret society of hotel concierges, Nazis and, of course, Tilda Swinton.
Not only did The Grand Budapest (Anderson, 2014) become one of my favourite movies, but it also inspired me to build Paramount House Hotel, in the hopes that the same drama would unfold along its corridors and behind its locked doors. Fortunately, there has been nothing close to murder or even robbery here but we did get Willem Dafoe in the cinema (who was disappointingly un-manic) and our very own Lobby Boy.
This film was compulsory viewing for my team and served as the touchstone for the hotel. We wanted to create dramatic and intriguing spaces in which stories are created with each unpacking and repacking of suitcases; stories which touch varied lives if just for a brief stay.
Whilst much of the central plot focuses on Zero’s adventures both inside and outside the hotel, the film’s title ultimately underscores that the story being told is just one of many that have occurred in the hotel. Whether a guest is from the other side of the world or simply in need of a staycation, what a privilege it is to be part of their story and to have them be part of ours.
First Reformed — Alexei Toliopoulos, Comedian and technically critically acclaimed Investigative Documentarian
Some of my greatest adventures in cinematic discovery have transpired at Golden Age. From one of my first dates with my partner to seeing Twilight for the first time performing a live commentary alongside my comedy comrades. There was one film that came to mind that really captured the unique space in Sydney’s filmic landscape that Golden Age speaks to, Paul Schrader’s modern masterpiece First Reformed. A powerful and emotional exploration of faith that grapples with the selfishness killing our planet. An incredibly important film, from a master of cinema unleashed at a significant time yet it screened nowhere else in the country. Only at Golden Age, and for that I will always be grateful.
And it also blew my mind to discover that Cedric the Entertainer was put on this earth to speak Paul Schrader’s words.
It’s so hard to find a copy of Witches and Faggots, Dykes and Poofters! Which is unfortunate because it’s such an important document of Australia’s gay history. It captures the first Sydney Mardi Gras on June 24, 1978, which started as a protest parade, and shows the police brutality that occurred that night. Golden Age Cinema screened a beautifully restored print of this eye-opening film back in 2019, courtesy of the National Film & Sound Archive.
Amidst all the incredible new releases, it was such a privilege while I was programming to be able to pop in some old favourites that I’d never been able to see in a cinema but that I already had a deep love for, like Times Square, Orlando, 3 Women, Word is Out and Two for the Road. The most important films, however, would be our very first sessions! After many months of agonising over every tiny little hypothetical detail, we opened on Friday, 6 September with Behind the Candelabra followed by Suspiria, and I remember being able to finally exhale when the seats filled, the lights dimmed and the projector flickered on.
Seeing the Ghibli classic Spirited Away at the cinema with a small group of friends felt really special – the joy we all left with stuck with me. Like the bathhouse the film is set in, the Golden Age had its own magic that night.
Sex and The City 2 (with commentary by Every Ouftit)- Matt Lennon, Global Head of Brand, Sarah & Sebastiann
I’ve seen so many incredible films at Paramount House over the years but there’s a screening that I think epitomises the magic of Golden Age for me… a sold-out screening of Sex & The City 2, presented by my friend Chelsea Fairless of the Every Outfit podcast, who along with her co-host Lauren Garroni had recorded the most hilarious commentary to the film (which let’s be honest is not a cinematic masterpiece). The bar sold out of Cosmos and the audience was completely unhinged in the best possible way. Ultimately, what I love about the team at Golden Age is their ability to curate such meaningful and immersive programs and to bring film to us in new and unexpected ways.
My most memorable film experience at Golden Age was Alex Ross Perry‘s Her Smell, which Kate Jinx programmed exclusively at the cinema back in 2019. Almost all aspects of the film were both repellent and completely absorbing. I still think about it all the time.
I’ve seen so many films at Golden Age over the last half-decade, but the most memorable was watching Sébastien Chabot’s The Gardener with my dad. The documentary follows legendary horticulturalist, Frank Cabot as he takes us through Les Quatre Vents, his twenty-acre English-style garden in Quebec. From the scenery to the chosen musical pieces, the film was an hour and a half of marvelling at spectacular greenery and one man’s lifetime achievement. My dad is an avid green thumb who uses our home garden as a place of meditation, relaxation and escape so it was really special to reflect on the meaning of gardening and its impact on our lives with him by my side.