17/18 Season

17/18 Film Schedule

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool – 12th March

Monday 12th March, ODEON Cinema. Start time: 8:00 p.m.

Cert. 15, 106 mins. 2017.

Directed by: Paul McGuigan

Starring: Annette Bening, Jamie Bell, Vanessa Redgrave

‘Bening is the big sell here. Given one of the juiciest roles of her career, she makes every moment count’ – Empire

‘Sexy, racy and well polished’ – Standard

Loving Vincent – 12th February 2018

Monday 12th February, ODEON Cinema. Start time: 8:00 p.m.

Cert. 12, 95 mins. 2017.

Directed by: Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman

Starring: Robert Gulaczyk, Douglas Booth, Jerome Flynn, Saoirse Ronan

‘A triumph of painstaking technical prowess and stunning visuals’ – Empire

‘This animated biopic in oils captures every hue of the artist’s maverick genius’ – Guardian

Introduction Given on the Night, Written & Presented by Phil Ray

Tonight’s film is if nothing else a technical achievement. Over 125 animator-painters worked on Loving Vincent which features approximately 65000 individual paintings.

The production, which was based in Poland, was not straightforward and was delayed several times as its investors balked at the experimental nature of the project and although it took longer than expected to secure funding the film’s intended release date stayed the same throughout.

With pressure mounting production slowed further when the pool of classically trained painters in Poland began to dry up so the producers decided they needed to look abroad for more artists to meet their schedule. A recruitment trailer was released online which went viral with over 200 million views resulting in 5000 applications from around the world. Successful candidates were then invited for tests and then 18 days of training during which they had to master both van Gogh’s style and the animation techniques involved.

Very few of the film’s eventual animators had any experience in animation. “There was no way we were ever going to find enough painting animators,” said director and producer Hugh Welchman who’s in fact married to the film’s co-director, Dorota Kobiela, “and also the thing with painting animators is they [each] have [a] personalised style… We needed people who were very pure oil painters.”

Just over 140 of van Gogh paintings were used as the basis for individual scenes, 94 being quite accurate depictions with another 40 adapted for script purposes changing them from day into night or having seasons or their weather altered. Welchman emphasised that whilst the film’s frames stayed close to the original paintings they are not faithful copies. “They can’t be,” he said, “there’s a difference between a static single image and a dynamic art form told over time. We spent one year reimagining his paintings for the medium of film, trying to be as faithful as possible.”

Welchman and Kobiela read virtually all that’s been written about van Gogh for the purposes of research and even responded to new revelations during filming. The book Van Gogh’s Ear, released in 2016, almost conclusively proved that he cut off his entire ear, rather than just a part of it, and they repainted around 3,000 frames of the film to reflect the discovery.

Only a fraction of the hand-painted frames survived the filming process, 1,000 out of the 65,000 created, and an exhibition of 200 of the paintings has just ended in the Netherlands whilst the other 800 paintings are being sold online for between £3000 to £8000. So should you like what you see this evening you can buy some of them!

Feedback Review

Around a third of the audience filled in and returned a feedback form. The majority of scores were 5s. There were a number of lower scores, a few 3s that could be counted on one hand and 4s that could be counted on both hands. At the lower end of the responses one respondent noted that for them the film was “rather too long”. Another was put off by the “constantly moving landscapes” preferring the black and white flashback scenes.

Moving up the scores, many of the 4 scores commented on the way the film had been done, “wonderful graphics in the style of van Gogh – great reproduction of his colours” and “beautiful to look at.  Excellent idea, well executed” were comments typical of responses at this score level and of those respondents giving it a 5 score. One respondent caveated that there had been “too much blood”. There were several comments, at all score levels, that the end credits had run through too quickly to allow them to be read properly.

For many of those giving it a 5 score, this story of an investigation into the life of Vincent van Gogh, with a focus on his last days, was both illuminating and affecting.  One respondent characterised it as, “mesmerising, tender, so terribly sad”. This feeling as to the emotional experience at watching the film was also reported by others.

As with the 4 scores, there were very many comments at this level as to the film’s technical sophistication and the sheer amount of painstaking work that had gone in making it. “Beautiful”, “excellent” and “technically brilliant” were the type of comments made returned.  For some respondents there was a depth of reaction to seeing the film that would clearly stay with them, “much food for thought” and “engrossing – challenging – absorbing.  Well worth the concentration to comprehend”.

The Death of Stalin – 8th January 2018

Monday 8th January, ODEON Cinema. Start time: 8:00 p.m.

Cert. 15, 107 mins. 2017.

Director: Armando Iannucci

Based on: The Death of Stalin by Fabien Nury and Thierry Robin

Starring: Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale, Rupert Friend

‘Absolutely hilarious’ – Empire

‘Iannucci makes a delicious mockery of Russian history’ – Telegraph

Introduction Given on the Night, Written & Presented by John Newland

This is a film whose title does what it says on the tin. It covers the circumstances of Stalin’s death and the resulting politics within his inner circle during the immediate days following.  It was a fearful time, and what I’m going to do in the next couple of minutes is to attempt to suggest why this was.

Joseph Stalin died in March 1953 after being in sole charge of the Soviet Union for a full quarter of a century. That’s “sole charge” with ALL letters in capitals. Think, Robert Mugabe in charge of North Korea. And then turn the killing up to 11.

By the time of his death, Stalin had slaughtered up to 30 million of his own people in the Purges of the 1930s and following.  This included most of the top and middle-ranking officers of the Red Army. So, when the Germans attacked in June 1941 it took the Red Army about 2 years to re-professionalise and turn the tide on the Eastern Front. After 1945 Stalin cranked up control once more and when he died, he was in process of unleashing a new purge centred on the medical profession.

This fear engendered by Stalin cannot be overestimated. Even if they were close to Stalin personally, nobody believed they were safe. When he sent a squad of Security Police to guard his mother, she saw them arrive and promptly fainted in terror. She thought her son had sent them to arrest her.

The contemporary Russian poet Osip Mandelstam put it best in one of his poems:

“And, in the outlawed poet’s room,
Fear, and the Muse, stand guard by turn.”

For most people living under Stalin, there was only the fear. That’s the background of this film and the dynamic that informs and drives the actions of the characters as it did the real life players back in 1953.

Thank you for listening so kindly. Let’s all watch the film.

Feedback Review

About a quarter of the audience returned a feedback form. Of those forms returned, one third gave it a 4 score and two-thirds gave it a 5 score. There were also 2 individual lower scores of 1 and 2. The respondent giving it a 1 explained their reaction as “Having been too near the reality” and felt this response derived from personal upbringing. The other lowest score, the 2, was formed on the basis that they did not find it funny, “Joking about such an awful period did not work for me”.

Both the 4 and 5 score returns focused around the duality of the humour and the serious nature of the events and subject depicted. “Gripping – but comic?”, “Gritty & Comical – Odd combination but enjoyable”, “Excellent mix of humour and history” and “Funny, enthralling but so ‘evil’“, were representative of the comments handed in.

There were many comments about the technical quality of the film itself and the performances given by the cast. These were overwhelmingly positive. “Totally riveting. Superb casting, acting, camera + sound”, “superb script, not a wasted word”, “Camera movements exquisite. Really felt I was actually embarrassingly THERE as part of the scene – almost unwillingly”.

A couple of people, in their comments, seemed to bring it all together. “A brilliant mix of black comedy with always the reminder of the terrible reality of Stalinism!” and “An excellent BLACK comedy – with the terror & comedy at either ends of the spectrum I wonder what the Russians think of it!” Perhaps though, the most impact the film made was on that person that wrote, “Loved it! Inspired to read some history now.”

London Symphony – 11th December 2017

Monday 11th December, ODEON Cinema. Start time: 8:00 p.m.

Cert. Parental Guidance, 72 mins. Language: None, 2017.

Director: Alex Barrett

Written by: Rahim Moledina

Music by: James McWilliam

‘Barrett’s work is to be celebrated’ – CineVue

**** – One Room with a View

Introduction Given on the Night, Written & Presented by Alex Barrett

The film you are about to see is a city symphony. For those of you that don’t know, the city symphony is a genre of film that was predominately around during the 1920s. Essentially, they were creative documentaries that sought to capture the essence of a given city, and which also serve as time capsules for the era in which they were made. With this in mind, we thought it might be interesting to create a new city symphony, in the style of a film from the 1920s, to help shine a light on life today through the lens of the past. By deliberately evoking the films of the 1920s, we hope to help explore life today, and to look at the way that life has changed in the last 90 years, in much the same way as a historian would look to the past to help make sense of the present. The film was shot in over 300 locations around every borough of London, so hopefully there will be some places that you recognise, as well as many that you don’t.

Feedback Review

About half the audience filled in and returned a Feedback form. Two-thirds of those forms returned gave a score of 5 and the other third was split equally between scores of 3 and 4. Even the 3s were positive in general although one respondent confessed to “nodding off in the second movement” and a second felt part of the music, the “’staccato cello’ [was] a bit over-used”.

Those giving it a 5 score were enthusiastic in their comments. “A wonderful piece of art!, “A fascinating and beautiful film”, “Mesmerising” and “it made me want to live there” captured the sense of how individuals in the audience responded to it. Several viewers made comment on the helpfulness of having the Q + A session after the film. This enabled them to deepen their awareness of the film they had just seen by understanding the concept behind the work and then the actual mechanics of how the film had been structured and then physically made. One member “needed the Q & A to explain certain things” and “would enjoy it more now, having heard the answers to all the questions”.

Maudie – 13th November 2017

Monday 13th November, ODEON Cinema. Start time: 8:00 p.m.

Cert. 12A, 116 mins. 2016.

Directed by: Aisling Walsh

Starring: Sally Hawkins, Ethan Hawke

‘Sally Hawkins is exceptional’ – Daily Express

**** – Empire

‘A film that’ll tug at your heartstrings’ – Metro

Introduction Given on the Night, Written & Presented by Phil Ray

The director of this film, Aisling Walsh, described the artist Maud Lewis’ biography as “a very Canadian story, a very Nova Scotian story”.

We should put that aside because the film was actually shot in Newfoundland, not in Nova Scotia. The film ran into funding issues so went to Newfoundland which caused some regional controversy.

Maud Lewis was born Maud Dowley on March 7, 1903 in South Ohio, Nova Scotia, and suffered from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Living in poverty for most of her life, Lewis sold her paintings from her small home near Digby, N.S., for as little as $2 and $3. She achieved national attention through an article in 1964 when the Canadian magazine Star Weekly who described Lewis, then 62, as “Canada’s Grandma Moses” under the banner headline “The Little Old Lady Who Paints Pretty Pictures”, and she was also featured in a CBC TV documentary. Two of her paintings were ordered by the White House during Richard Nixon’s presidency in the 1970s.

Sally Hawkins who plays Maudie said, “I fell in love with her [Maud’s] work. It was the reason why I wanted to do it, really, even before I read the script. Hawkins is actually appearing elsewhere in this cinema at the moment so if you’re in here expecting to watch Paddington 2 you might have a surprise coming. She continued: “There’s one [photo] of Maudie, later on in her life, when she is incredibly debilitated with her arthritis, holding this paintbrush and surrounded by her artwork and sitting by her window. She has this incredible smile. And as soon as I saw those pictures and paintings, I knew I wanted to do the film. I can paint myself, but this made me want to start back at the beginning and try to paint like her.”

Although this film has brought about a resurgence in interest in the artist’s work this isn’t the first time she’s been reappraised. She was the subject of an acclaimed book, The Illuminated Life of Maud Lewis, and three National Film Board of Canada documentaries in 1976, 1998 and one in 2005 in which a group of Grade 6 students are inspired by Lewis’ work to create their own folk art painting. In 2009, there was a one-woman play named A Happy Heart about Lewis’ life.

The renaissance of Lewis’ work aided by the film doesn’t look like stopping. Lewis’s paintings have sold for up to £13,000 but a recently discovered Lewis original, found at a thrift shop in New Hamburg, Ontario, titled Portrait of Eddie Barnes and Ed Murphy, Lobster Fishermen, Bay View, N.S. sold for CA$45,000 (£34,000) in an online auction in May of this year — almost three times its estimated price. Not everyone has been so lucky though, several people contacted the film’s crew and turned up at the production office claiming they had Maudie paintings – all proved to be fakes.

But, given how prolific Lewis was, the film’s director believes it’s likely there are other undiscovered works of art still out there. “I think there’s still a lot still to be discovered. She painted at least one painting a day, if not two,” said Walsh.

Feedback Review

About half the audience filled in and returned a Feedback form. This film had been a real hit with the overwhelming mass of the audience. Most people had given it a score of 5 with a scattering of 4s. Whether scored 4 or 5, comments had been extremely positive. Terms such as “wonderful”, “brilliant”, and “excellent” were included in many responses. The stand-out performance of lead actress Sally Hawkins’s as Maudie was praised by many in their comments.

The style and pacing of the film were also picked up in comments by some in the audience. Three people gave it a 3 score (one admittedly a 3 plus). One comment was that it “had no real ending” whilst another person felt it had “beautiful photography and sensitive acting” but concluded it had, “very little development of plot or character after the first 30 minutes or so.”

Others felt that the slow and unhurried way in which the film unfolded was exactly how it had to be approached for it to work. Two separate comments encapsulate this feeling. These are, “such a simple way of life, it should teach us one or two things about appreciating little pleasures” and “set the pace initially and kept to it all through the film – no rush. Time to let the message really SINK IN.”

All in all, from written comments and those spoken on the night, it is plain that people felt they had been more than simply entertained, they had gained emotionally from the experience.

Alone in Berlin – 9th October 2017

Monday 9th October, ODEON Cinema, Andover. Start time: 8:00 p.m.

Cert. 12A, 103 mins. 2016.

Directed by: Vincent Pérez

Based on: Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada

Starring: Emma Thompson, Brendan Gleeson, Daniel Brühl

‘Thompson and Gleeson are a class act’ – Times

‘A deeply moving film’ – Daily Mail

Introduction Given on the Night, Written & Presented by John Newland

Alone in Berlin, this film does what it says on the tin.

This film is about courage, that raw and cold-blooded kind of courage which only comes from an equally cold-blooded decision of the will. It’s about standing against the darkness and knowing that the darkness will eventually win – and then standing against it anyway.

Lead actors Brendan Gleeson and Emma Thompson play husband and wife Otto and Anna Quangel. It’s wartime Berlin, 1940, and they are loyal supporters of the Nazi regime.  Their son is serving with the German Army in the campaign against France. Their son is killed in action and this causes them to turn against the regime. They begin to leave cards denouncing the regime in public places.

Nicknamed the “Hobgoblin” by the pursuing Nazi Police authorities, Otto and Anna manage to evade capture until the middle of the War. Once caught, their eventual fate, well, no real surprises there. So, what then did they achieve – a few cards opposing the regime?  What was the point? Did it matter?

The answer is yes.

 As much as the Army Officers that tried to blow up Hitler in July 1944, Otto and Anna Quangel are heroes and should be honoured as such.

It’s a personal view, but watching this film tonight I reckon we are doing just that.

Feedback Review

Just over half the audience filled in and returned a Feedback form. Two-thirds of those forms returned gave a score of 5 and the other third was split between scores of 2, 3 and 4. At the lower score end of the responses there were comments that it was a, “lightweight story line: stereotypical characterisation” and “…went on a bit”.

Based on the real life resistance of a Berlin couple to the Nazis and adapted from a novel about their experience and fate, those individuals whom had read the book thought it a very good adaptation. The acting of the leads (Brendan Gleeson and Emma Thompson) was praised by all, whatever score they had given the film. Throughout the range of scores there were several comments that the Introduction to the film had given away too much of the plot and especially the ending.

Many comments focused on the subject and substance of the film as it depicted the operation of the Nazi regime as it impacted on the daily lives of ordinary Germans. Many comments were that it was, “thought provoking” and the like. From comments made, especially by those that had given it a 5 score, the overall effect on individuals in the audience of watching the film is best summed up in the following two comments, “It was a very moving film and exposed the terrible regime the Nazis were” and “Beautifully portrayed.  Brutally sad. Will stay with me a long time.”

The Red Turtle – 11th September 2017

Monday 11th September, ODEON Cinema, Andover. Start time: 8:00 p.m.

Cert. PG, 80 mins. Language: None, 2016.

Directed by: Michael Dudok de Wit

Screenplay by: Pascale Ferran

Starring: Emmanuel Garijo, Tom Hudson

‘A lush and luminous visual symphony’ Empire

‘A desert island movie to bask in’ – The Guardian

Introduction Given on the Night, Written & Presented by Phil Ray

The Red Turtle’s writer and director Michael Dudok de Wit was born in the Netherlands in 1953 and for his further education travelled abroad where he graduated from the West Surrey College of Art & Design in 1978. After working for a year in Barcelona, he settled in London where he directed and animated a number of award-winning commercials for television and cinema. In 1994 he created The Monk and the Fish which was nominated for an Oscar and he won an Oscar for Father and Daughter in 2000. In 2006, he made the short film The Aroma of Tea, which was drawn entirely with tea.

After Hayao Miyazaki, the co-founder of Japan’s Studio Ghibli and writer/director of our 2014 season premiere film The Wind Rises, saw Father and Daughter he asked a producer friend to find its director with the prospect of working with him. De Wit said that, ‘It was unbelievable,’ and ‘it took me months to come down’ after a letter from Studio Ghibli arrived in 2006 to ask him to work on a project.

The Red Turtle began its life in his shed in north London but after four years of development and numerous visits to Tokyo he moved the project to some proper studios in Paris and 9 years after starting the film it was released to much acclaim last year.

De Wit said he felt no pressure from Studio Ghibli, ‘On the contrary,’ he said, ‘the producers asked me to propose a story and a visual style.’ And true to the Ghibli style they let the director have the final say artistically. ‘I would often meet them and they expressed their opinions with frankness, but they didn’t impose changes,’ he said.

As you might have gathered from the trailer or reading about the film there is plenty of room for interpretation. De Wit said recently, ‘All films are open to interpretation to a degree, whether we realise it or not. I have indeed heard a few different interpretations and I enjoyed hearing them, because they confirmed to me that our intentions with this film were working for the spectators.’

Whether it works for us we shall find out in a moment!

All in all, this was not a film that left people indifferent.

Feedback Review

Those seeing this film were clearly entranced by its look and feel, especially with the quality of the animation. Just under half of the auditorium responded with feedback.  There was an equal division of 4s and 5s and three lower scores; one of 1 (“The music was nice”) and two of 2 (“Some nice visuals but felt like a short film padded out”).

In both the 4s and 5s, descriptions of the film as “wonderful”, “beautiful” and “lovely” ran through many of the comments. Individuals were emotionally moved in various ways with what was happening to the characters on the screen. Terms such as “gripping”, “haunting” and “very gentle” were used. One comment nominated the crabs for best supporting actors dramatically. Two viewers observed that the entire audience had been completely quiet during the whole of the film indicating the hold exerted by it on everybody watching.

There was a range of opinions expressed as to the film’s meaning. There were a number of views on this, including uncertainty on this score by some that it had any. General comments about the film ranged from “deep” and “thought provoking” to others feeling it “confusing” and “unresolved”.  To some, the film touched on the wider world, from, “a good example of how nature always prevails” to the specifics of the human condition, “Thoughts of being alone & survival/the joys of love & family”.

All in all, this was not a film that left people indifferent.

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