21/22 Film Schedule

The Electrical Life of Louis Wain – 11th July 2022

Monday 11th July ODEON Andover. Start time: 8:00 p.m.

Cert. 12, 111 mins. 2021.

Directed by: Will Sharpe

Screenplay by: Simon Stephenson, Will Sharpe

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Claire Foy, Andrea Riseborough, Toby Jones

‘A powerful paean to our feline friends’ – The Independent

‘Purrfectly delivered’ Time Out

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

With regards to the style of the film the director Will Sharpe said that: “The primary influence was what we perceived to be Louis Wain’s own tone. He was diagnosed in his own lifetime, a diagnosis that’s since been questioned: some people think that he had a kind of Asperger’s or bipolar disorder. We felt it was important not to retro diagnose posthumously, to not get too clinical or medical about it. Instead, to look at the events of his life, the writing that was available to us in his journal and letters to other people.

We thought it was really interesting how, as a child, he grew up with both of his parents working in textiles. They were sort of fabric designers, so he was surrounded by colours and styles. And then that seems to sort of bleed into his work as an older man.

Painter and designer Thomasina Smith, whose first job for film was the Chagall painting Julia Roberts gives to Hugh Grant in Notting Hill, explained that Wain, “Changed the way animals were seen forever – previously cats were only kept as mousers. My favourites are his psychedelic cats…they are extraordinary.” “I loved Wain’s total fixation on what he was doing, and that it came out of a deep connection with his first cat Peter”

Thomasina also tutored Benedict Cumberbatch, teaching him how to wield his pencil just like Wain.

Another element the creative team wanted capture was the electricity that Wain believed that everybody had in them, be it cats or humans, both good and bad.

“We were trying to forensically examine these fragments of Louis’ writing that talked about electricity and how he felt like it was the key to understanding everything. So with Benedict, we tried to find ways into that. And part of that was physicality but also how that internal world of Wain’s manifests physically. Benedict’s a very physical actor and so in rehearsal he worked with a movement coach—whether it was about how Louis dances, how he walks, or how he sits in certain situations” said Sharpe.

He continued, “Then the other part of it was just trying to find ways to get the audience into [Louis’] head. Whether it be through use of colour. There are actually some pictures of a white cat wearing a blue governess dress that some people speculate could be a representation of Emily. And so we dressed Emily in blue, and that became, I suppose, one of our storytelling tools as well.”

“I also felt like I didn’t want this to be a traditional biopic. I mean in the sense that sometimes you can feel that a life has been moulded to service a movie in a kind of exploitative way. Whereas, I think, we all cared. Benedict, Claire, myself, and the whole cast and crew, we cared so deeply about Louis that we really wanted this movie to work in service of his life and not the other way around. We wanted to bring an audience into his life. So I think that also impacted how the world of the film feels and how the journey itself feels.”

Feedback Review

This was a film to which just under a half of the audience provided a written response.

All responses were in the top scores of 4 and 5 marks, with nearly two-thirds giving it a 5 score.

Those giving it a 4 mark gave comments ranging from, “very enjoyable film” and “Visually stunning. Very well acted. Tender storyline” to “an (…) inspirational love story about cats and the world’s beauty.”

Those giving it a top score of 5 were even more enthusiastic. Many respondents were also taken by the quality of the acting and also moved by the sadness inherent in Louis Wain’s life. From single comments such as, “Superb!” and “Beautiful” others wrote, “A beautiful poignant well-acted film, sadness, humour and lovely cats!!”, “An amazing film – very moving, so true to life. A really good choice!” and “A brilliant film and one of the best from the Andover Film Club.  It was purrfect!”

All-in-all, a film that those who provided feedback clearly enjoyed coming to see.

The Eyes of Tammy Faye – 13th June 2022

Monday 13th June ODEON Andover. Start time: 8:00 p.m.

Cert. 12, 122 mins. 2021.

Directed by: Michael Showalter

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Andrew Garfield

‘It will restore your faith in biopics’ – The Times

‘Fabulously watchable, this tale of the Ken and Barbie of televangelism is a revelation’ – Evening Standard

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

Jessica Michelle Chastain was born on March 24th, 1977, in Sacramento, California and had a chaotic upbringing which she’s been reluctant to publicly discuss; she was estranged from her father, rock musician Michael Monasterio, who died in 2013, and didn’t attend his funeral and has stated that there’s no father listed on her birth certificate. He, for the record, said that her mother ‘took off’ with Jessica and sister, Juliet, and then ‘changed her name so he couldn’t find them for years.’ Describing her early childhood, Jessica recalled:

I [grew up] with a single mother who worked very hard to put food on our table. We did not have money. There were many nights when we had to go to sleep without eating. It was a very difficult upbringing. Things weren’t easy for me growing up.

Her mother remarried and Chastain has said that her stepfather was the first person to make her feel secure though that family environment was upset when her younger sister committed suicide in 2003, aged 24, following years of drug addiction.

Chastain had developed an interest in acting at the age of seven, after her grandmother took her to a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. She had struggled academically, was a self-confessed loner and considered herself a misfit in school, eventually finding an outlet in the performing arts. She would regularly put on amateur shows with other children and considered herself to be their artistic director. With too many absences during her senior year in school, Chastain did not qualify for graduation, but later obtained an adult diploma.

Her preparation for tonight’s film stretches back 10 years after seeing the original documentary on TV, stating that, ‘I was blown away by her and the true story of who she was’.

“I had been fed [the story] that she was a terrible human being — a clown and a joke. The media taught me that she used people and stole their money. I had this judgment against her, and I realized it’s so fascinating how the media can give everyone a collective memory that may not really be the truth. It’s not right. I wanted to do something about it to honour her.”

Chastain believes that this was the most difficult role she’s taken on because of amongst other things, the singing, which she found ‘stressful’ and the make-up and prosthetics, the application of which could take up to 7 ½ hours a day.

Undergoing this process appears to be a physical manifestation of her approach to acting that others have picked up on in the past. Guillermo del Toro, who directed Chastain in Crimson Peak, believes that she is “interested in being chameleonic”, and that she brings authenticity even to bizarre situations. Sophie Heawood of The Guardian believes that Chastain’s ability to bring very little ego to her roles renders her unrecognisable to the audience. Sarah Karmali of Harper’s Bazaar opines that “she goes for total immersion, sinking so deep into character that her face seems to change shape with each one”. Lea Goldman of Marie Claire has compared her craft to that of Meryl Streep and Cate Blanchett and writes that she values her craft over her looks.

All those principles appear to encapsulate, from only having seen the trailer, what we’re going to see tonight.

Let’s find out.

Feedback Review

Just under a third of the audience provided written feedback. All the comments were positive and all scored either a 4 or a 5, with the majority giving a top mark of 5. The main focus (for all respondents) was on the performance of Lead Actress Jessica Chastain in her depiction of Tammy Faye. It was felt it couldn’t have been bettered.

Supporting this view were comments such as, “Amazing performance”, “she was brilliant” and “Chastain was absolutely convincing. Fascinating tale well told”. Specific mention was made of the helpful nature of the pre-Film Introductory Talk on Jessica Chastain’s background. This produced comments such as, “Thank you for telling us her story beforehand” and “So interesting to hear Jessica Chastain’s background”.

As well, some respondents took a wider view of the Film and focused on the role and nature of Tele-Evangelism in the United States with comments such as, “Fascinating tale well told – Only in America!” and “Very powerful – plenty of food for thought…”

All-in-all, this was a Film that everybody that had watched it and provided feedback was glad they had watched it.

The French Dispatch – 9th May 2022

Monday 9th May ODEON Andover. Start time: 8:00 p.m.

Cert. 15, 108 mins. 2021. In English and French.

Directed by: Wes Anderson

Starring: Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Timothée Chalamet

‘Utterly exquisite and deceptively complex’ – Independent

‘Wes Anderson is some kind of genius’ – The Times

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

This is American Director Wes Anderson’s 10th Film. Of an idiosyncractic approach to directing and story-telling Mr Anderson’s previous films have included in 2007, The Darjeeling Limited and in 2014, The Grand Budapest Hotel.

This film is set in modern France and although clearly inspired by Paris, it is located in the imaginary French City of “Ennui-sur-Blasé” (in English, Boredom on Jaded) and was actually shot in Southwest France in the provincial city of Angouleme. The “French Dispatch” of the title is a French magazine offshoot of a Midwestern American Newspaper and this film concerns the magazine’s final edition.  For when the Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Bill Murray, dies (and he has died) it is stipulated that the magazine should close. So, it really is the final edition.

For this swansong issue, there are 5 items in the magazine. These are, an obituary of the Editor, a travel item and 3 features by the magazine’s star writers.

Rather than being one sustained and integrated story this is presented as an anthology where each story is separate, but all are linked within the wider framework of the concept of the final edition.

Not only was the film directed by Wes Anderson, he also wrote the screenplay and was very much “hands on” as he has always been with his films. This is not a person working to another’s specification that you are watching.

But what sort of thing are we watching?  Opinions differ. It has been described as “mere whimsy”. Or, that it’s shining a light for the need for great journalism, both here and now and ever always. It’s even been considered as being philosophical in that it’s saying that everything each of us will do will have an end and so too will each of us.

My own view? Tell you after I’ve watched the film. So, let’s all do that -.and make up our own minds.

Thank you for your listening to me so kindly.

Feedback Review

Just over a third of the audience filled in and returned a Feedback form. Of those that did, a third gave it a minimal score of 1 or 2, a couple gave it a more nuanced mid-range 3, whilst over a half of respondents gave it a top score of 4 or 5.

Viewers giving it a minimal score were united in their collective opinion. Comments expressed were, “Absurd film.  Disappointing.”, “Unintelligible” and “Better to have stayed at home”. Those giving it a mid-range 3 weren’t too sure either but were more willing to give it the benefit of some – but not all – of the doubt. Their comments were, “Just a bit too crazy!” and “Not really sure what to make of it. Might require several watchings to understand. If you could face it.”

Those giving it a top score of 4 or 5 felt much more personally engaged with it, “Very Wes Anderson – I enjoyed it. Excellent sets and animation.”. Some were fulsome in their praise, with comments from “Exquisite.  I would see it again and again.” to “I loved this…Brilliantly creative” and “Wonderful…Can’t wait to see it again.” For one watcher it was simply, “Mesmerising”.

All in all, this was a film, the experience of watching both repelled and entranced – and also confused – but one that never bored.

The Nest – 11th April 2022

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

Cert. 15, 107 mins. 2020.

Written and Directed by: Sean Durkin

Starring: Jude Law, Carrie Coon

‘A riveting neoliberal fever dream’ – The Guardian

‘The Nest Is One of the Best Films of the Year’ – Vanity Fair

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

This film is set in the mid-1980s in the fullness of the Thatcher era of when making money and ostentatiously displaying it was not only a good thing – it was a thing required. Set against this background this could be seen as a comment on the era or perhaps else, it’s just another story about finding out that actions have consequences as well as results.

Lead actor Jude Law is Rory O’Hara, an English-born Stock Trader living and working in New York. At the start of the film, he re-joins his old firm in the UK and moves back to England with his American wife, Alison and their children.  He rents a huge period Manor House in Surrey as befitting his perceived status as someone on the up. Unfortunately (for him and his family) he doesn’t have the cash to back up his expansive lifestyle. And not surprisingly, his wife doesn’t react well to this and we’re definitely looking for tears before bedtime.

This is NOT the usual story about the family that takes up residence in a large old house and then there’s something evil and disembodied waiting to haunt them. No Ghostbusters needed here tonight.

What it is about is that we all bring our own stuff with us when we change locations.  And what could be sustainable, or at least tolerable, where we had been, just won’t work someplace new. It’s still use and our baggage

Perhaps this is the case for the O’Hara family. That’s for you to decide.

Well, that’s more than enough from me. Thank you for listening so kindly. Let’s all watch the film.

Feedback Review

Just under a third of the audience filled in and returned a Feedback form. The majority of respondents gave it a score of 3 or 4, with smaller numbers giving it a 1 or 2 or 5.

Those giving it a score of 1 or 2 commented that it was, “Very dull”, “Too gloomy” and “Rather slow and depressing”. Of the two individuals giving it a 1 score, one felt it was, “Poorly scripted” and the other,” “Dull with average script”.

This downbeat nature of the piece was also picked up by those giving it a 3 or 4 score. On the plus side they focused on the strength of the acting which was described as, “good” and “very convincing”. Lead actor Jude Law was specifically cited for his “excellent acting”. One person felt the whole film belonged more in the Theatre than on the Big Screen commenting, “A lot of the time it felt more like a stage play (…) Maybe it would be more suited for that genre”.

The person that had given it a top score of 5 commented, “For the type of film, it was atmospheric and well filmed”.

The overall feeling from those returning a completed Feedback form was that they were glad to have watched it but were not overly enthused about either it or their time spent in watching it.

La Belle Époque – 14th March 2022

Monday 14th March, ODEON Cinema. Start time: 8:00 p.m.

Cert. 15, 115 mins. In French with English subtitles, 2019.

Written and Directed by: Nicolas Bedos

Starring: Daniel Auteuil, Fanny Ardant

‘A Charming and Witty French Movie’ – Forbes magazine

‘Romantic, nostalgic and beautifully acted’ – film.list.co.uk

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

Daniel Auteuil was born on the 24th January 1950 in in Algiers, in what was then French Algeria, where his opera-singing parents were on tour. “I grew up bathed in song and music. Every time they needed a child on stage, they used me,” he’s said and played the son of Madame Butterfly at 4 years old. After returning to France he grew up in Avignon and at 16 joined a local drama company and his made his debut in Chekhov’s A Marriage Proposal. To please his parents he began studies in topography, and amongst other things he worked in a nightclub cloakroom on Saturday nights to earn money. He enrolled for lessons at the Cours Florent drama school and despite several attempts, was never accepted to compete in the Paris Conservatoire.

He made his national theatre debut in 1970 and later went on to a two-year stint in Godspell and in 1979 won the Gérard-Philipe prize for the best young actor of the year in Coup de chapeau and by now had already made his cinematic debut, in an uncredited appearance, in the anarchic comedy L’an 01 and on television in the series Les Fargeot, a family drama, in 1974.

His breakthrough role which made him a household name in France was a comedy, directed by Claude Zidi in 1980, whose title translates as The Under-Gifted. This high school comedy was a huge success and is now considered a cult film but judging by a quote I found it might well have received a mauling critically, “I stand by all my films, including that one. It made me famous; it’s lived on through generations; it’s thanks to this collective memory that I am still here.” And perhaps surprisingly for us over here he went onto star in a number of further comedies to popular if not critical acclaim, something for which he’s grateful for, “It’s true that I’m incredibly lucky to have been able to build a long-term, lasting relationship with the public and I’m aware that it’s something magnificent,” he said in an interview of late.

The gear change came in his appearances as Ugolin in Manon des Sources and Jean de Florette in 1986. The latter performance winning him a César in France and a BAFTA over here for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Then…. Well, I could stand here all evening listing the acclaimed roles and films he’s featured in.

Suffice to say he has changed direction recently. In 2011 he went behind the camera for The Well Digger’s Daughter, in which he also starred, returning to a tale set in rural France and he’s in the process of adapting and directing a new version of Marcel Pagnol’s Marseille Trilogy. The first two parts have already been released.

Even more recently, and perhaps harking back to his earliest remembered experiences, he last year released his first album, If you had known me. “Music has always been present in my heart, it just resurfaced when I came across the poems of Paul-Jean Toulet,” which inspired him to write what is apparently a melodious, almost whispered sung-spoken word album. Performing songs from the album in a show as recently as last week in a concert telling himself, “I’m completely crazy for having embarked on this adventure!”

He said recently, “Despite everything, I am the living proof, we can keep the same joy and the same desire over the years. I’m always so happy and fulfilled at the idea of ​​going on stage or playing in front of a camera.”

Let’s hope we see some of that joy tonight.

Feedback Review

Just over half of the audience provided feedback on this French-language film. Whilst most people were highly enthusiastic about the film with equal numbers giving it a 4 or 5 score, others were less charmed. One person simply commented, “I found it faintly ridiculous at times.”

This view was echoed by respondents giving it a 3 score, “Good to see [lead actor] Daniel Auteuil, but it was a bit silly really” and “Clever but a bit confused at times. Great actors and enjoyed the concept.”

The complexity of the plot was also picked up more sympathetically by those awarding it a 4 or a 5 mark. Note was also made that it was French and that only the French could do something like this. To this end, the following comments are representative of the feedback.  “Really enjoyed it. It got better as it went along.”, “very clever and enjoyable. Very French.”, “Brilliant.”, “Excellent – the English could never produce such a film.”, “Loved it! Even the other half loved it and he hates subtitled films.” and “One of the best film club films I’ve seen”.

All-in-all, a film that was a clear winner with the club audience.

Koyaanisqatsi – 14th February 2022

Monday 14th February, ODEON Cinema. Start time: 8:00 p.m.

Cert. U, 86 mins. 1982.

Directed by: Godfrey Reggio

‘Koyaanisqatsi is an impressive visual and listening experience’ – Roger Ebert

‘Odd, hypnotic, and frequently quite beautiful’ – eFilmCritic.com

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

Godfrey Reggio was born in New Orleans, Louisiana to a distinguished family descended from Francesco M. de Reggio, an Italian nobleman who first settled in France and then in French Louisiana around 1750.

Reggio is most known for his Qatsi trilogy, which began with tonight’s film and continued with Powaqqatsi (1988), and Naqoyqatsi (2002). The film titles are taken from the Hopi language, an Uto-Aztecan language spoken by the Hopi people who live in north-eastern Arizona. Koyaanisqatsi means “life out of balance,” Powaqqatsi means “life in transformation,” and Naqoyqatsi means “life as war”. The soundtrack for all three films were composed by Philip Glass.

Though he had a privileged upbring at the age of 14 he nonetheless joined the Congregation of Christian Brothers, a Roman Catholic pontifical teaching order, to become a friar and spent the next fourteen years practising fasting, times of silence and prayer.

“I decided to throw in the towel,” he said, “I was getting burnt out. At a young age, living in the fat as it were, I decided to go away and become a monk, so I left home. My parents were not too excited about that.” Looking back, he appreciated the experience: “In effect, [I] got to live in the middle ages during the 1950s. I’m very grateful for that highly disciplined, very rugged way of life, that would make the Marine Corp. look like the boy scouts”, he said.

During his time with the order, Reggio co-founded Young Citizens for Action in 1963, a community project that helped youngsters in the street gangs of Santa Fe, one of a number of community organisations that he founded. Whilst working with the gangs he saw Los Olvidados (The Forgotten One) by Luis Bunuel, known here as The Young and the Damned, the first film he made in Mexico after being kicked out of Franco’s Spain. “It was so moving to me that it was the equivalent of a spiritual experience. This film was about the street gangs in Mexico City, I was working with street gangs in Northern New Mexico. It moved me to the quick: it wasn’t entertainment, it touched me and hundreds and hundreds of gang members that saw it. So that motivated me to look towards film as a medium of direct action.”

Describing his approach to his material he said: My own thought is that our language is bound with antique ideas, old formulas that no longer describe the moment in which we are. Therefore, that statement, A picture is worth a thousand words, I tried to take it and turn it on its head and tried to give you a thousand pictures that can offer the power of one word.

The titles of his films, he’s said are, “Words that come from an illiterate source, a primal source, a wisdom that is beyond our ability to describe the world. A wisdom that says that all things we call normal are abnormal, all things that we call sane are insane.”

“What I tried to do is simply take their point of view, because I found it laden with wisdom, I found that they understood our world better than we did.”

Filmed on budget of $40,000. He travelled across America with cinematographer Ron Fricke, capturing images of nature to contrast them with images of New York and Chicago to make his argument and present us with his thesis.

Fortunately for Reggio after shooting it he was introduced to Francis Ford Coppola, director of The Godfather amongst others, by a common acquaintance, and he expressed his interest in seeing the film. After a private screening, Coppola felt it was his obligation to make sure the film was seen by as many people as possible and subsequently lent his name to the project.

The film opens with the words ‘Presented by Francis Ford Coppola’, and this gesture by one of cinema’s greatest directors propelled it around the world and enabled it to gain a reputation it might have otherwise never established. “To this day,” Coppola said to The New York Times, “Images and sequences from the film remain with me.”

Feedback Review

With a smaller audience, just under a quarter provided feedback on this documentary.

One respondent clearly felt this was not the film that suited them. Giving it a 1 score they commented, “Sinister and desolate. Horrid music.”

The rest of the respondents felt otherwise. Half of them gave it a 4 score and the other half a 5 top score. Each of these individuals had been emotionally affected by watching it with comments indicating this and an awareness of the film’s wider concerns. Comments ranged from, “Very potent images from the beautiful to utter destruction” and “Quite profound given the state of the world today. Music was outstanding.” to “very cleverly filmed. Once I knew what it meant it made sense. Music perfect for the picture” and “A unique cinematic experience. We are going to the dogs.”

For one person it brought back memories, “Thank you for such a beautiful film. Seen it many years ago + it was just as good.” Another respondent just said, “A rare treat. Thank you.”.

All-in-all, not a film that people had been indifferent to.

Local Hero – 10th January 2022

Monday 10th January, ODEON Cinema. Start time: 8:00 p.m.

Cert. PG, 90 mins. 2020.

Directed by: Bill Forsyth

Starring: Peter Riegert, Burt Lancaster, Peter Capaldi

‘Life-affirming and often laugh-out-loud funny’ – Empire Magazine

‘In the great tradition of films like Whisky Galore!’ – Time Out

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

We’ve all seen films like this before, or reckon we have. ‘Big City’ folk descend on a small close-knit rural community to create a large industrial facility and change it from a pastoral Jerusalem to something out of Blade Runner. However, they don’t get their way and the good simple country folk send the city slickers packing and retain their pastoral idyll. Think Ealing films. Think Whisky Galore. In this case, think wrong.

In Local Hero, Director Bill Forsyth has taken this usual convention and turned it on its head.  In this scenario, oil tycoon Happer (Burt Lancaster) sends his management underling Mac (Peter Riegert) to a small Scottish fishing village on the Atlantic Coast. Mac’s job is to initiate the creation of “the biggest petro-chemical capital in the world”. Mac expects opposition from the local villagers. He doesn’t get it. He’s welcomed with open arms. But,that’s all the better to stab him in the back. For, led by the wily and conniving Urqhart (Denis Lawson) the entire village knows Mac is coming and why. And led by Denis Lawson, they intend to sell out and extract the largest amount they possibly can from Happer and his oil company.

This was Bill Forsyth’s second film in the 4 Scottish- based social comedies he made between 1979 and 1985. Preceding it had been the 1979, That Sinking Feeling, followed in 1980 by Gregory’s Girl. Two years after Local Hero, he made Comfort and Joy. All very worth a looksee. Post 1985 he went to America but failed to have continued commercial success.

Making the film on the Scottish Atlantic Coast could be and was, at times – I believe the word is – “challenging”. Not only the logistics but also the environment. It could be a tough gig for the actors. And not more so than for Jenny Seagrove. In her role as a Marine Biologist she had to film sequences swimming in the Atlantic. One of these scenes had to be done over and shot again. When the original footage had been looked at, it was discovered she had turned blue with cold from the icy water. Presumably not the second time.

As said, could be a tough gig.  But it’s a good film.

Well, that’s enough from me.  Let’s all watch the film.

Feedback Review

Between a third and a half of the audience filled in and returned a Feedback form. Of the Forms filled in and returned, the majority of respondents gave it a 4 score or a top 5 score. One person gave it a 2 score. This person’s comment was, “Not my cup of tea”. A few people gave it a 2-to-3 or 3 score. They were aware of its quality but not won over by it, “Interesting, beautifully acted, but not my kind of film”.

Those giving it a 4 score were more taken by it. There were comments such as, “A very unusual film – a little slow but full of humanness and pathos”, “serious reflection on midlife crisis – very well acted” and the positive but somewhat enigmatic, “Danish Culture – Very interesting!”

Those giving it a top score of 5 were enthusiastic in their comments. From “Brilliant” and “Excellent”, these opened out to the more fulsome, “Well balanced as to the joys and harms of alcohol. Wonderful cinematography. Brilliant” and “Loved it. So poignant – so many highs and lows. Thrilled to have seen it. Thank you”.

All in all, this was a film that people were glad to have seen if only to have been able to decide for themselves whether they liked it or not and why.

After Love – 13th December 2021

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

Cert. 12, 90 mins. 2020.

Directed by: Aleem Khan

Starring: Joanna Scanlan, Nathalie Richard, Nasser Memarzia

‘One of the standout films of the year so far’ – Tatler

‘Joanna Scanlan offers a masterclass in drama’ **** – Guardian

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

There’s a saying that a sailor has a girlfriend in every port. On the surface this is what this this film is about – except it’s not. Ahmed is a Ferry Captain running his ship between Dover and Calais. He’s based in Dover and has a decades long and happy marriage to Mary. Ahmed is Muslim and Mary converted to Islam to be able to marry him.

Ahmed suddenly dies and Mary discovers that her husband has a long-term girlfriend in Calais. Mary travels to Calais to confront this woman named Genevieve. Once in Calais, Mary meets Genevieve on her doorstep, and is assumed to be the cleaner and invited in. And with plenty of story to go from then on, we all find out what happens.

In the central character of Mary, this role is played by actress Joanna Scanlan.  Scanlan comes from many years of television work, most specifically as the exasperated civil servant in Armando Iannuci’s long running political satire The Thick of It and an equally put-upon ward sister in BBC4’s geriatric ward-set, Getting On.

To play the character of Mary as depicted and to do so convincingly, Scanlan did the usual reading research. She also spent time in Regent’s Park Central Mosque. As well, and to get a sense of the feeling of being a Muslim woman in a Western urban setting she put on Mary’s Islamic dress and walked around in London for hours at a time. She said she felt very comfortable in the clothes.

This isn’t a film about Islam. It certainly isn’t a film about Islam and politics. To my mind, and of course, we’ll all have our own view, it’s about a person with a settled life and a moral compass by which they live and what happens when their world turns upside down. – And about what they then decide to do about it and why. It’s about being a human being.

That’s enough from me. Thank you for your kind attention. Now let’s all enjoy the film.

Feedback Review

Just under a half of the audience filled in and returned a Feedback form. The response was positive and in most cases overwhelmingly positive. Of the Forms filled in, all the scores were 3 and above. Three persons gave it a 3, five gave it a 4 and the rest were 5 scores.

Of the 3 scores, the consensus was that the acting was, “very good” and lead actress Joanna Scanlan, “excellent”. There was a caveat about the storyline that it was a, “doubtful initial premise – why didn’t she say who she was?”.

Those giving it a 4 score again picked up on the acting with comments such as, “well acted” and “Scanlan brilliant”. Other comments referred to the pace of the film, that, “it started a bit slow” and “seemed a bit drawn out at times to start with, but I saw the point of it towards the end”.

Many of those giving it a top score of 5 once again focussed specifically on the quality of the acting and how it was of the highest quality. Several respondents made a point of writing down that they had found the film, “very moving”. One respondent appreciated the quiet soundscape of the film. They, “Liked the absence of [an] intrusive film score”, whilst another noted the, “Beautiful photography”. Several respondents expressed their enjoyment of the film by using the term, “Excellent” and one respondent gave the following assessment of their experience of the film, “Cinema at its best”. All in all, a film people greatly liked.

Another Round (Druk) – 8th November 2021

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

Cert. 12A, 117 mins. In Danish with English subtitles, 2020.

Directed by: Thomas Vinterberg

Written by: Thomas Vinterberg

Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Magnus Millang and Lars Ranthe

‘A heady, vibrant, funny film about Danish drinking culture’ – Independent

‘The performance of a lifetime from Mads Mikkelsen’ ***** – Guardian

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

Thomas Vinterberg was born in Frederiksberg, Denmark and in 1993 graduated from the National Film School of Denmark after making the short film, Last Round, which won the jury and producers’ awards at festivals in Germany and Israel. After making his first tv drama and yet another award-winning short film he made his feature film debut with The Biggest Heroes, a Danish Road movie about two bank robbers on the run with a daughter in tow. It was essentially a mainstream film with a bit of an edge to it but it in no way hinted as to what was to come next.

In 1995 he, along with Lars von Trier formed Dogme 95, a filmmaking movement which worked under the “Dogme 95 Manifesto” and the “Vows of Chastity” rules. The principal was to create films based purely on story, acting, and themes, minimizing the use special effects or technology. Its mandate was to “take back power for the directors as artists”, as opposed to having the studios in charge of projects.

They announced the Dogme movement in March 13 of that year, in Paris, at Le cinéma vers son deuxième siècle conference. The cinema world had gathered to celebrate the first century of motion pictures and contemplate the uncertain future of commercial cinema. Called upon to speak about the future of film, Lars von Trier showered a bemused audience with red pamphlets announcing “Dogme 95”.

In response to criticism, von Trier and Vinterberg have both stated that they just wanted to establish a new extreme: “In a business of extremely high budgets, we figured we should balance the dynamic as much as possible.”

The first Dogme release was Vinterberg’s 1998 film Festen (The Celebration) which was critically acclaimed and won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival that year. Lars von Trier’s Dogme film, the controversial Idioterne (The Idiots), also premiered at Cannes that year but was less successful. Both films were shot digitally as part of their low-budget aesthetic, and they were some of the first filmmakers to use this medium. After 31 films made by a range of international directors the movement officially broke up in 2005.

He’s since moved back to what we could call mainstream moving between Danish and English language films receiving a number of plaudits along the way. The best-known film he’s done since the Dogme days was the 2015 version of Far from the Madding Crowd but his most acclaimed film was The Hunt, a Danish film starring Mads Mikkelsen.

Tonight’s film was based on a play Vinterberg had written while working at Burgtheater, Vienna and further inspiration came from his own daughter, Ida, who had told him stories of the drinking culture within the young Danish population. Ida had pressed him to adapt the play into a film, and she was slated to play the daughter of Martin with the story being, “A celebration of alcohol based on the thesis that world history would have been different without alcohol” according to Vinterberg. But four days into filming, Ida was killed in a car accident. Following the tragedy, the script was reworked to become more life affirming. “It should not just be about drinking. It was about being awakened to life.”

Feedback Review

Between a third and a half of the audience filled in and returned a Feedback form. Of the Forms filled in and returned, the majority of respondents gave it a 4 score or a top 5 score. One person gave it a 2 score. This person’s comment was, “Not my cup of tea”. A few people gave it a 2-to-3 or 3 score. They were aware of its quality but not won over by it, “Interesting, beautifully acted, but not my kind of film”.

Those giving it a 4 score were more taken by it. There were comments such as, “A very unusual film – a little slow but full of humanness and pathos”, “serious reflection on midlife crisis – very well acted” and the positive but somewhat enigmatic, “Danish Culture – Very interesting!”

Those giving it a top score of 5 were enthusiastic in their comments. From “Brilliant” and “Excellent”, these opened out to the more fulsome, “Well balanced as to the joys and harms of alcohol. Wonderful cinematography. Brilliant” and “Loved it. So poignant – so many highs and lows. Thrilled to have seen it. Thank you”.

All in all, this was a film that people were glad to have seen if only to have been able to decide for themselves whether they liked it or not and why.

The Father – 11th October 2021

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

Cert. 12A, 97 mins. 2020.

Written and directed by: Florian Zeller

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Colman, Olivia Williams

‘Anthony Hopkins is mesmerising ‘ – inews

‘Hopkins superb in unbearably heartbreaking film’ – Guardian

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

And now The Father.

This is a serious-minded film and this is going to be a very short introduction as this is a film to watch rather than talk about.

Character-driven, it is fronted by a solid British acting cast of Anthony Hopkins (as the Father of the title) and Olivia Coleman (as his daughter).

It is adapted from his play by Florian Zeller and set in present day suburban London. With lead actor Anthony Hopkins in the role of the father, it is an attempt to convey the experience of dementia from the point of view, from the inside, of someone living it (Anthony Hopkins) and not, as is often the case, of observing its effects from the outside.

It may not be an easy watch but I believe it is one worth staying with.

Thank you for listening so kindly.

Let’s all watch the film.

Feedback Review

Over half of the audience filled in and returned a Feedback form. The response was highly positive. Of the Forms filled in and returned, the majority of respondents gave it a 4 score (one third) or a top 5 score (two thirds). One person gave it a 2 score. This person’s comment was, “Excellent acting” but with the caveat that it was, “Rather too clever by half & rather depressing”.

As with the 2 scorer, regarding the acting, many respondents from both the 4 and 5 cohorts commented on the excellence of the acting. These comments included not just Anthony Hopkins in the title role but all of the cast in their creation of an ensemble piece of the highest dramatic quality. Adjectives and phrases used were as follows, “excellent”, “superbly acted”, “superb acting”, “Beautifully acted” and “Amazing acting”.

The storyline of the film, the depiction of the experience of dementia from the internal mental point of view of someone (Anthony Hopkins – the Father) suffering from it, was fully taken on board by respondents. Comments were made such as, “frightening”, “upsetting”, “very thought provoking” and “a good picture of dementia and hallucinations”. For some in the audience the film clearly touched them individually, with comments put down that watching the film had been, “painful, as too close to home” and “Very well portrayed. Scary and reminded me of personal experience”.

For all the reasons above this film presentation got a massive thumbs-up from those watching it. As one respondent commented, “Great choice!”

Nomadland – 13th September 2021

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

Cert. 12A, 108 mins. 2020.

Directed by: Chloé Zhao

Starring: Frances McDormand, David Strathairn

Based on: Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century
by Jessica Bruder

‘This quiet marvel of a film deserves your attention. ‘ – Little White Lies

‘There is real greatness in Chloé Zhao’s film-making’ – Guardian

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

Chloé Zhao or Zhao Ting was born March 1982 in Beijing. Her father, Zhao Yuji, was an executive at one of China’s country’s largest state-owned steel companies and amassed significant personal wealth before moving into property development and equity investment. Reputedly a billionaire (a claim Zhao denies), he was tied to several offshore companies during the Panama Papers leaks which courted controversy some years back, whilst her mother was a hospital worker who was once in a People’s Liberation Army performance troupe.

In an interview with Vogue, Zhao described herself as “a rebellious teen, lazy at school” who drew manga-influenced comics and wrote fan fiction. From an early age, Zhao was drawn to influences from Western pop culture, and has a unique perspective on celebrity as after her parents separated her father married comic actress Song Dandan, whom Zhao had grown up watching on television.

She jumped at a chance, aged 15, to go boarding school in Brighton over here (which she likened to Hogwarts), next attending Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, where she majored in politics and minored in film studies, graduating in 2005, before attending Tisch School of the Arts at New York University on a of Film and Television Graduate Film Program. Four years of studying Political Science was enough to turn her off the subject and she found herself drawn more to people than to policy, something she could explore further through film. Professor Michael Casale remembers her as “confident in what she was doing — even before she knew what she was doing”. There she found not only a collaborator but her partner — Joshua James Richards, originally from Penzance, who has worked as cinematographer on all three of Zhao’s films. “Most people I was spending time with were sitting around talking about their projects. Chloé was doing them. And so I jumped on that train,” said Richards.

In preparation for her first feature – 2015’s Songs My Brothers Taught Me – Zhao spent 17 months with the Lakota Sioux tribe in South Dakota, writing the film from scratch, incorporating material from events in the area and the actors’ lives. She used many non-professional actors in the tale of a teenager who’s considering leaving the reservation and following his girlfriend to L.A. While staying on the reservation, initially moving there in the first place because she liked the landscape, she met Brady Jandreau, a young rodeo star who taught her how to ride. Jandreau, facing an uncertain future after a crippling head injury, would later become the subject of her 2017 film, The Rider.

“Wherever I’ve gone in life, I’ve always felt like an outsider,” she said. “So I’m naturally drawn towards other people who live on the periphery, or don’t live mainstream lifestyles,” hence her original interest in Jessica Bruder’s book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century. Stating, “My life has been so transient and fast-moving,” she found common ground with the characters in the book, and their accounts of living transient lives on the road, so much so Zhao got to know many of the people from the book and cast some of them to play versions of themselves in the film we’ll see tonight.

Justin Chang, chief film critic at the LA Times, wrote, “She knows what it’s like to be adrift in America, adrift in the world, and that obviously serves Nomadland, which is an outsider’s perspective on an outsider’s subculture.”

She has however just made the leap from the outside slap bang into the centre, this November Eternals, a Marvel Superhero film directed by Zhao is to be released. Building a rich, convincing world on film is her “favourite thing”, “That’s exciting to me,” she’ said. “It’s not that different than me going to the world of rodeo cowboys.”

I’ll see you at the front of the queue for that one.

Feedback Review

Just under a half of the audience filled in and returned a Feedback Form. The response was positive and in most cases, overwhelmingly positive. Of the forms filled in and returned, there had been no 1 or 2 scores. Three persons had given it a 3 score and 6 persons a 4 score.  The remaining two-thirds of respondents (18 persons) had given it a 5, with comments to match.

Those scoring 3 appreciated the film’s worth but felt it was flawed in part. Comments were made such as, “disappointing – a travelog” but lead actress, “Frances [McDormand] excellent”, “Good photography – no real story” and “Lovely photography … over-sentimentalised [but] glad I saw it though.”

Those scoring 4 were more focused on lead actress Frances McDormand’s performance. She was, “excellent, very interesting film”, “thought provoking – the other side of The American Dream and “beautiful but fairly bleak”. One respondent felt the film dragged at times to the point of being tedious.

The two-thirds of respondents that provided a top 5 score were as one in their positive response to the film. These ranged from overall terms such as, “Brilliant!”, “Powerful + excellent photography + score” to comments where clearly those watching had been emotionally struck by their viewing. Comments where emotions had been touched were such as, “sad/evocative”, “thought provoking, well acted. Deep” and “Cathartic – really enjoyed it – moving!”

In short, everybody providing feedback was on the positive side of the ledger regarding this film. A number of persons also expressed that they were glad the Andover Film Club had been able to re-start. Comments to this end were such as, “Great to be back”, “Nice to be back” and “Thank You! A wonderful start to the season”. All in all, a positive first film night after the past year and a half.