22/23 Film Schedule
Aftersun – 10th July 2023
Monday 10th July ODEON Andover. Start time: 8:00 p.m.
Cert. 12A, 101 mins. 2022.
Written and directed by: Charlotte Wells
Starring: Paul Mescal, Frankie Corio
‘An astounding first feature’ – The Independent
‘The best British movie this year’ – NME
Hello and thank you all for joining us this evening for what is our last instalment of the 2022/23 season, Aftersun.
Tonight’s offering is the first feature film written and directed by Charlotte Wells. The director was born in Edinburgh 1987 and is one of the brightest young directors in the film industry today. Following a Classics Degree and a Masters of Arts at Oxford University, she went on to a career in finance at a digital and post production company. One thing led to another over a few years, and Wells landed at the writers table, and then behind the camera.
Aftersun was released in 2022 to critical acclaim. Whilst the film did not get a full cinema release across the country, it received many plaudits in the media from film critics as intimate, warm, and carefully orchestrated.
Wells discussed how she came up with the premise for Aftersun in an interview with MUBI: “When I first conceived of the idea, it was more straightforward. I envisioned a film about a young father and his daughter on holiday, a father who might be mistaken for her brother, and who were very much partners in crime. And while the seed of that endured, I think the process of allowing my own memories and recollections, and my own relationship with my dad, began to seep into the structure of the film.”
The film stars the “partners in crime” and father and daughter duo of Sophie and Calum played by Frankie Corio and Paul Mescal. For Frankie, this is her first-ever acting role, which is hard to believe! You may have also seen leading man, Paul Mescal in the BBC iPlayer Lockdown hit Normal People, based on the book by Sally Rooney.
Both actors have spoken of their love for Aftersun after the movie was released, Mescal especially. Following a shock Oscar nomination in 2022… (not a shock for his performance, but a shock because amongst A-Listers, the actor was not quite a household name when the film was released), he has been on an upward trajectory ever since. Mescal has recently been added to Ridley Scott’s Gladiator sequel which is currently in production. There is clear talent from both of the actors that feature in tonight’s film, and we really hope you enjoy their performances.
As you will have seen on the noticeboard on your way in, the next season starts up again in September, which is very exciting. We are just one month away from metaphorically wrestling you back into your seats for movies to make you gasp, chuckle and maybe even weep too! A huge thank you to all of you who have attended this season, we really hope that you’ve enjoyed your visits to the club and hope to see you in September.
Just under a third of the audience filled out and returned a Feedback Form. This film divided the respondents almost equally from those that really did not like it at all to those that really felt engaged with it emotionally. There was a smaller middle grouping of those that found the film unclear in intent.
Those giving it a low score of 1 or 2 found it “BORING!”, “Just did not get it” or “Incomprehensible and confused. Episodic”. This was taken up by those that gave it a middle ranking, “It was well-acted but I found myself having to guess a lot what was going on”.
Those giving it top scores of 4 or 5 more felt an emotional connection to the two main characters on screen, with comments such as, “very moving” and “Liked a lot. Very intimate movie”.
The fact that it was a story based in the past was highlighted in various comments such as, “wonderful depiction of memory (imperfect)” and “A man troubled and distant from his existence apart from his love for his daughter. Did he make it? Clearly loved by his daughter remembering the time the time they shared”.
As well, there was a vein of comment across all score rankings about the excellent acting with that of the young girl playing the daughter specifically pointed to.
All-in-all, for those that provided feedback, this film created a definite response.
The Banshees of Inisherin – 12th June 2023
Monday 12th June ODEON Andover. Start time: 8:00 p.m.
Cert. 15, 114 mins. 2022.
Written and directed by: Martin McDonagh
Starring: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon Barry Keoghan
‘This funny/sad story will inspire awe for centuries to come’ – Evening Standard
‘Flawless tragicomedy of male friendship gone sour’ – Observer
Tonight’s film was written and directed by Martin McDonagh, who also directed Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and In Bruges starring both Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell. A film that was shown by the club in its first season.
In a recent interview, the Oscar nominated Colin Farrell mentioned that Martin had aimed to get the band back together after enjoying working closely with the pair in previous films, well he certainly has got the band back together for tonight’s black comedy. The film reunites the trio, this time not in Bruges, but in the fictional coastal town of Inisherin, set off the west coast of Ireland with a clear framework of the Irish Civil War playing alongside this film set in 1923. Although McDonagh has never definitively confirmed that the film is set on the Civil War itself, when speaking with Film4 he referred to the significance of the timings of when the film is set; “this is a break-up film with a backdrop of the Irish Civil War, which was a gruesome war between people who were united just a year before”.
Gleeson plays Colm, a local musician and Farrell plays Pádraic, known as the simple man of the community. Tonight, we are sure you’ll be sat with someone you care about, maybe your partner or a friend, maybe someone you’ve known almost all of your lives. Well, imagine that tomorrow that person turns to you and says, “I just don’t like you no more.” Imagine that person chooses not to spend any more time with you, without real explanation. That is exactly what happens to Colin Farrell’s Pádraic in tonight’s film.
Banshees also features Oscar-nominated and BAFTA-winning Kerry Condon as Siobhán and Oscar-nominated and BAFTA-winning Barry Keoghan as Dominic. Tonight’s movie will also star Jenny, Pádraic’s donkey!
So, in a moment you will see Colm, played by the previously mentioned Gleeson, who turns his back on his friend without explanation. Will they reconcile? Or will a wounded Pádraic make things worse? The twist and turns that ensue will be for you once again to decipher this evening, so if you do have any thoughts on Banshees of Inisherin, please do write down your feedback on the forms provided as you entered the screen this evening.
Just over a third of the audience filled out and returned a Feedback Form. The bulk of responses were top scores of 4 and 5 with a slight weighting for 5. Below the scoring of 4, a few respondents gave it a 3 and a single respondent gave it a 1 score with the comment, “Grimm Fairytale”.For both categories of top scorers, the film was regarded in a very positive light. In general terms they felt it to be very well acted with the emotions of the story played out fully by the characters but were unsure as their own emotional response. This was displayed in comments such as, “Very deep. Superb acting. Such hatred portrayed. Just not sure if I liked it or not.”, “Beautiful, powerful and very moving – Humans will be humans” and “Atmospheric – dark – kept me involved to the end – excellent.” There were many uses of the term, “Brilliant” in regard to the film and also to its felt aura of being bleak in aspect. Note was also made of the self-harming by one of the characters as in, “…too much blood and & too many chopped off fingers!”. One top scoring respondent simply commented, “Best film I can remember.”
She Said – 15th May 2023
Monday 15th May ODEON Andover. Start time: 8:00 p.m.
Cert. 15, 129 mins. 2022.
Directed by: Maria Schrader
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Zoe Kazan
‘Excellent performances’ – Evening Standard
‘A powerful call to arms’ – Sight and Sound
Those of us of a more mature vintage may have a sense of dejá vu about this film.
It’s about 2 New York Times reporters investigating and breaking a story. In the 1970s, this was Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford who played the 2 male Times Reporters that broke the Watergate story in, All the President’s Men. In this film, it is Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan that play the 2 women NY Times reporters who break the story of sexual abuse of women by film mogul, Harvey Weinstein.
This film follows these 2 reporters as they work on the story and attempt to reconcile and to manage motherhood with the intensity of their work. As with, All the President’s Men, the process of finding out what happened and getting verification is slow and full of dead ends. It’s working at the coal face with a pick and shovel.
As with the Watergate film, this film shows the need for a free press and – as important – the need for journalists willing to stand in the trenches and defend that freedom – and then go over the top and advance against the enemy. Any journalist that does that is fighting for us all. And God Bless them all.
Thank you for listening. Let’s all watch the film.
A half of the audience filled in and returned a Feedback Form. Everybody spoke very highly of the film with one person being unsure of the way the film played out, “Disturbing…Film hard to follow some ways – who was who on who’s side.” and they had not scored it.Of those that had given it a score, all gave it either a 4 or 5 top score, with three-quarters of those awarding it a 5 score. The comments made were unstinting in their praise of the film. Descriptive words such as, “Excellent”, “Gripping” and “Powerful” were used several times by and also as part of more-embracing comments. The following comments were typical of those written of the reaction to the film, “One word -Powerful. Amazing acting – a story that had to be told.”, “Excellent film. It just moved on at speed. Totally absorbing.” and “Very tense and a good build-up. Also the emotional strain on the female reporter[s] seemed very realistic.” Clearly a film that had fully engaged the audience in a full and all-encompassing manner.
Swan Song – 17th April 2023
Monday 17th April ODEON Andover. Start time: 8:00 p.m.
Cert. 12A, 101 mins. 2021.
Written and directed by: Todd Stephens
Starring: Udo Kier, Jennifer Coolidge
‘Thoroughly engaging’ – Daily Mail
‘Tender, warm-hearted’ – Empire
Udo Kier, the star of tonight’s film has had a fascinating career and collaborated with filmmakers such as Lars von Trier, Gus Van Sant, Werner Herzog, Fassbinder, Borowczyk, Dario Argento, Guy Maddin and Alexander Payne amongst others and his vast range of roles have made him into cult figure. “I’ve made over 220 films. Of these 220 films, 100 films are not good, 50 are okay, and 50 are very good.”
Udo Kierspe was born in Cologne, near the end of World War II. The drama started early on when the hospital in which he was born was bombed by the invading Allied forces moments after his birth, and he and his mother had to be dug out of the rubble.
He moved to London at 18 to study English, his aim being to learn some languages, work for a multi-national and travel the world. One day at a restaurant the manager of the Bee Gees, Robert Stigwood, approached him and asked if he could sing, “No-o-o-o…” was the answer, undeterred Stigwood said, “Okay, let’s make a record.” “So I made a record called For Old Time’s Sake, the musicians in the studio rolled their eyes when I started, because I had no knowledge at all. It was all based on my looks.”
His looks also helped him when the pop singer turned film director Mike Sarne cast him in his first role as a gigolo in the short film Road to Saint Tropez in 1966, “When the film came out, they were writing about “the new face in cinema.” Of course, I was very proud.”
In 1970 he starred in Mark of the Devil in which he played an apprentice witch-hunter. It was banned in 31 countries because of scenes of torture and gore and it led to an association with horror films which would begin to establish his reputation as a cult figure. This reputation was further formed after he started talking to a fellow passenger on a flight from Rome to Munich and mentioned he was an actor. The fellow traveller happened to be director Paul Morrissey, “A couple of months later I got a call from him. He said, ‘I’m doing Frankenstein and I have a little role for you.’ I said, ‘Oh great, what’s the role?’. He said, ‘Frankenstein’.” Morrissey was an associate of Andy Warhol so in some quarters the film is known as Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein. That project, the subsequent film he made with Morrissey, Blood for Dracula or Andy Warhol’s Dracula and the next major phase of his career also led Kier to be associated with avant-garde cinema.
Whilst in London, looking through a copy of the German magazine Stern, he saw a picture of Rainer Werner Fassbinder in a biographical piece about him called, “The Genius and the Alcoholic.” Kier had known Fassbinder in Cologne and set about returning Germany to find and work with him. Throughout the late 70s and into the 80s they worked together on a number of occasions as part of the ‘New German Cinema’ movement. Kier’s avant-garde, arthouse and cult credentials were now assured. He remained working in Germany for the remainder of that decade but as fans of Fassbinder’s and his started to become directors themselves a new set of opportunities began to open up and by the mid-90s he was frequently traversing the Atlantic.
He obviously takes work as it comes and he’s had parts in American tv shows, more horror films, Barb Wire with Pamela Anderson, a film about Nazis on the moon…… and its sequel, Cannes Palm D’or contenders, worked with Madonna, Schwarzenegger, the directors I mentioned at the start, the list goes on, every role further extending the mercurial and enigmatic nature of his career.
Swan Song, in which he lived in the retirement home featured tonight to, “Get used to the room being mine”, appears to continue that trend, let’s hope it’s one of the “very good” ones.
A third of the audience filled in and returned a Feedback Form. All scores were 3 and above with those scoring it 5 being a few more that those scoring it with a 3. Those giving it a 4 score were in a clear majority and more than the combined total of all other scores.
Those giving it a 3 score were touched by the quality of the acting (this was a thread running through all the feedback responses) and also by the music and music soundtrack of the film. The emotion of the film came through with one respondent calling it, “Very sad but with touches of humour”.
This emotional quality inherent in the film was picked up by those giving it a 4 score. Respondents commented with expressions such as, “V[ery] sad. Gentle and moving”, “Humorous, without being condescending or mawkish” and “Enjoyable – much better than I expected. Made me smile, laugh and cry. Very good acting”.
Those giving it a top 5 score were unstinting in their praise. There were comments such as, “Superbly made and very atmospheric. Acting excellent throughout”, “Brilliant, very uplifting. Fantastic acting”, “Unexpectedly wonderful !!” and “Ab Fab!!”.
All-in-all, a film that all respondents felt had been worthwhile watching.
Hit the Road (Jadde Khaki) – 13th March 2023
Monday 13th March ODEON Andover. Start time: 8:00 p.m.
Cert. 12A, 93 mins. In Persian with English subtitles. 2021.
Written and directed by: Panah Panahi
Starring: Hassan Madjooni, Pantea Panahiha, Rayan Sarlak
‘A lovely, beautifully composed debut feature’ – The Guardian
‘A strangely romantic experience, flush with poetic visual flourishes’ – Empire
It’s difficult to talk about the director of tonight’s film, Panah Panahi, without mentioning his father, Jafar. Just over a month ago Jafar was released on bail from prison after starting a hunger strike to protest his seven-month detention. He was detained in July of last year after enquiring about the wellbeing and whereabouts of fellow Iranian film-makers Mohammad Rasoulof and Mostafa Aleahmad, who’d been detained a few days beforehand.
Jafar and Rasoulof had been previously arrested in 2010 for “propaganda against the system”, after criticising the government in their material. He received a six year sentence and served two months before being granted a conditional release and it’s believed that this recent imprisonment was the authorities wishing to re-enforce that original judgement.
So why would Panah wish to follow the same career knowing the pressures his father lives under? ie. being barred from leaving Iran and from making films for 20 years, consequently confining himself to his home for much of the past 12 years because of this. Nonetheless, Jafar still managed to make 10 films including Taxi Tehran in 2015 and No Bears last year having found loopholes in the system.
Panah had indeed hesitated about making a feature film after having had made a few shorts. “I was going through a very deep depression,” “I realised that I was paralysed. Everybody expected me to excel in everything I did and judged my results according to my father’s standards. I wanted to become Panah Panahi and free myself from ‘the name of the father’. But it always felt like this was only possible by doing something perfect and flawless … I became a perfectionist without even understanding why.”
His girlfriend eventually encouraged him, advising him, he said, to “become independent without having to deny my father’s valuable heritage.”
In order to get the shooting permits required he wrote a dummy script which was deemed palatable to the authorities. The authorities still had their say judging that the story needed a positive final moral, in this example believing the story should encourage employment. Panah rewrote it so that the family are travelling because they own some land at the border, “The older son falls in love there with the daughter of a local guy,” he said, “And they get married and create jobs on their land. And that’s how we got their approval; it’s as silly as that.”
Apparently, many filmmakers submit these dummy scripts, “You cannot imagine how crazy the whole system is. We’re confronted with this heterogeneous, unpredictable, completely illogical system. The only way to survive it is to be just as hypocritical as they are.” Seemingly, there are no governmental guides to follow when writing a script, it merely comes down to who handles the case at the time.
This obviously means he has to walk a fine line, “You always have to navigate between what can be said and how to say it. That’s our DNA, that’s Iranian culture,” and he’s fully aware of what that leads to on a wider scale, “When you’re in a society in which you’re always trying to allude and avoiding cutting to the chase, how can you have healthy relationships and a healthy society?”
He believes that all means that Iranian directors makes them some of the most inventive in the world. “This resilience”, he said, “is something that is part of our way of working, thinking, conceiving and creating, and this is necessarily fruitful. There will be better fruits, better films, better artworks.”
Just under a third of the audience filled in and returned a Feedback Form. A majority of respondents gave it a 3 score with smaller but equal numbers giving it a 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 score.
Those giving it a low score were either completely put off by it, “Boring. Obnoxious family. Beautiful scenery” or bewildered by it, “Unfathomable”, “Couldn’t understand it” and “I’m not sure I entirely understood what was going on for most of it”.
Those giving it a 3 score found themselves more focused on the situation the family were in and the emotional rollercoaster they were riding on. There were comments as, “An insight into the plight of those wanting to escape the country’s oppressors” and “Haunting. Unsettling. A mother’s distress was hard to watch. Superb acting. Evocative music.”
The very high quality of the acting was mentioned by a number of respondents in all score categories. There was especial note of the young boy actor. Those giving it a 4 or 5 score remarked very positively on the music and also of the landscape but were also aware of the emotional and narrative layers within the film as a whole. There were comments as, “Music fantastic. Many thoughts although difficult to articulate so soon after film. Great humour.” and “Very poignant film…great to see an Iranian film.”
Clearly a film that engaged the audience.
Good Luck to You, Leo Grande – 13th February 2023
Monday 13th February ODEON Andover. Start time: 8:00 p.m.
Cert. 15, 97 mins. 2022.
Directed by: Sophie Hyde
Written by: Katy Brand
Starring: Emma Thompson, Daryl McCormack, Isabella Laughland
‘Thompson and McCormack are sublime’ – Standard
‘A healthy, relatable romp every man and woman should make time for’ – Empire
The writer of tonight’s film, Katy Brand, was born in High Wycombe and educated at Oxford, and worked in radio before writing and starring in her own sketch shows on ITV2 in which she sent up celebrities and pop stars. Their success resulted in her winning two awards including Best Newcomer at the 2008 British Comedy Awards.
Brand had enjoyed making people laugh with her impressions as a child and her earliest memories are of listening to tapes of The Goon Show in the car on the way to camping holidays in Cornwall. Following a summer holiday as a teenager with friends who were evangelical Christians, she embraced their faith and attended church five times a week. “Maybe that’s the only way to rebel when you’ve got liberal parents,” she once said. She admits that she wasn’t always an exemplary Christian and disillusionment began to set in when her vicar tried to get the congregation to sign a petition to ban Harry Potter and further so when disapproval was voiced concerning her choice to pursue a degree in theology. “When I got to university, I wanted to get stuck into student life… …so I was pretty much done with it by then.”
She joined the Oxford Revue, writing and performing in comedy, musicals and plays and after graduating she worked in TV production for around five years. In 2004 she returned to performing comedy live and the following year went to Edinburgh with her show Celebrities are Gods which garnered interest from TV producers.
Latterly she’s concentrated on writing and in 2014 published her debut novel Brenda Monk is Funny, a story about a woman trying to establish a career as a comedian and her first play, 3Women, debuted in May 2018. Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is her first filmed screenplay and she started by doing the one thing you’re not supposed: she wrote for a specific actor. “I did kind of write it for Emma Thompson,” admitted Brand, “I’m friends with her, and she’s very supportive and encouraging. But the professional boundary is quite important to me. You don’t just run up to people of Emma’s stature and shout, ‘I’ve had an idea!’
“I’d had this idea for a long time about this older woman who had booked this young man for the night… ….and he’s about to arrive… ….what happens next?”
In a more general sense Brand was interested in: “The way in which we shame ourselves or feel guilty about our own pleasure or taking charge of our own happiness… or be feeling everyone else should be okay and putting yourself last.”
Equally she said that: “I think there are lots of coming-of-age stories with a male protagonist. I think anything from Star Wars to Boyhood is a coming-of-age story with a male protagonist. There aren’t very many about female characters.”
It was important, Brand felt, that Nancy never be the butt of any joke. “There weren’t going to be any jokes where the audience was laughing at [either of] them,”. “If Nancy does something that’s a bit ridiculous, then let’s have Leo laugh at her… but in a nice way. Let’s find the ridiculousness and let’s have them cultivate that.”
“I hope that people find it funny.” Brand proclaimed, “I hope they find it honest and moving, and maybe [it] sparks some sort of conversation that they want to have. “But if it doesn’t, that’s fine. If people want to just enjoy it as a comedy about two interesting people in an interesting situation, that’s fine with me, too. Everything I’ve ever done, there’ve always been people who like it, [and] people who don’t like it. I don’t mind any of that. I’m just enjoying being part of the storytelling community.”
A third of the audience filled in and returned a Feedback Form. The responses were equally divided between 4 and 5 with one respondent giving it a 3 score and another respondent giving it a positive comment but no score marking.
Both the 3 score respondent and the no score marking respondent were of one accord in citing the film as, “Well acted. Good dialogue. Funny”, “Interesting”.
Both 4 and 5 scoring respondents were overwhelmingly unstinting in their praise of this film. This was both for it being a very good film and for the seriousness with which and how its subject was depicted. Comments were such as, “Sensitive subject. Very well portrayed”, “What a tonic! Fabulous, tender acting. Both great acting and very serious.”, “…so tasteful on a risqué subject! Lovely.” and “Emma Thompson gave an acting tour-de-force.” All-in-all, a film everybody enjoyed coming to watch.
The Worst Person in the World (Verdens verste menneske) – 9th January 2023
Monday 9th January 2023 ODEON Andover. Start time: 8:00 p.m.
Cert. 15, 128 mins. In Norwegian with English subtitles. 2021.
Directed by: Joachim Trier
Written by: Eskil Vogt, Joachim Trier
Starring: Renate Reinsve, Anders Danielsen Lie, Herbert Nordrum
‘A truthful, tender masterpiece’ – Empire
‘It takes us somewhere truly magical.’ – Standard
Onto tonight’s film, Joachim Trier’s The Worst Person in The World which was released back in March of 2022. The film was nominated in the same year for Best International Feature Film, as well as the Academy Award for Writing. With admirers across the globe, the director and writer of the film often describes himself as a “creative person who loves collaboration”. This is evident in his previous works including Reprise, Oslo, August 31 and Thelma.
Trier was born into the film world. His father was a sound engineer, and his mother was a documentary maker. Growing up in and around film sets means he felt he was “destined for filmmaking”. Although born in Denmark, Trier spent most of his childhood years in Norway, prior to moving to London, where he was taught at the UK’s National Film and Television School. With a clear eclectic mix of films already in his existing portfolio, it is clear that the director is keen to push boundaries with any genre he tackles. And if you enjoy tonight’s film, both the aforementioned Reprise and Oslo, August 31 are seen as an unofficial trilogy alongside tonight’s movie.
Tonight, we hope you’ll enjoy some of the very creative work behind the camera that Trier has built his reputation on so far. Trier previously worked with tonight’s star Renate Reinsve, who was awarded the Best Actress Award at the coveted Cannes Film Festival for her turn as Julie, a woman in her late twenties; facing a series of life choices that will challenge her to pursue new perspectives in Norway’s capital city, Oslo.
With her life at a complete crossroads, The Worst Person in The World packs in four years of Julie’s relationships and experiences that will come to define her.
The film itself has received plaudits from respected filmmakers such as Richard Curtis, Paul Thomas Anderson, Judd Apatow, and shortly it will be your turn to make a judgement on the award-winning film. With that in mind thank you again for joining us this evening and please ensure you fill out your feedback forms on the way out and let one of the team know your thoughts on tonight’s film, The Worst Person in The World.
Just over half the audience filled in and returned a Feedback Form. The bulk of the responses were in the 3 and 4 score range with one respondent giving it a 2 and a fifth of responses giving it a top score of 5.
Those giving it a 3 score liked it overall but with definite reservations. Running through their comments was a feeling that it was “slow” even “boring”. However, the lead actress’s performance was regarded in a far more positive light, as in, “Great acting by the female lead”.
Renate Reinsve’s acting was also picked up by many giving this film a 4 score. These respondents focused as well on what they found to be the dramatic depth of the film. Comments were made such as, “Brilliant actress. Interesting plot. Someone who never really knows what she wanted from life”.
For those giving it a top 5 score, they were fully on board with the intent of the film and the way it was put on screen. One 5 score respondent summarised this view with their comment, “An excellent, well-crafted film that was full of emotions that I am sure the audience also felt. I certainly did”.
Brian and Charles – 12th December 2022
Monday 12th December ODEON Andover. Start time: 8:00 p.m.
Cert. PG, 90 mins. 2022.
Directed by: Jim Archer
Starring: David Earl, Chris Hayward
‘Made with genuine affection’ – Empire
‘Seriously funny and utterly beguiling’ – Time Out
Although tonight’s film was developed from a 2017 short of the same name, the main characters had existed for some time beforehand.
David Earl had been performing as Brian, on his own, for nearly two decades. Brian Gittins, to give the character’s full name, is an amalgam of people Earl has met over the years and is often wildly inappropriate and is also a verbally inventive character who’s appeared in several radio series and in some of Ricky Gervais’ shows such as Extras and After Life. The character of Brian is fluid and can change depending on the project, tonight’s film is another variation on the character.
The idea of ‘Charles’ originated in 2013 when Earl worked with a friend, Rupert Majendie, on a radio show and after developing the idea they brought in Chris Hayward to play Charles, play being the operative word.
At their shows, Brian and Charles would go out on stage with Majendie in the back typing Charles’ dialogue into a computer which would relay it through speakers with Hayward acting it out.
“I’ll be with Chris on stage”, said Earl, “and then Rupert will be at the back voicing him, and he would normally have a bottle of wine with him. So as the night went on, Charles became more and more adult.”
In one instance, Hayward recalled, Rupert typed out: ‘I will stay on the stage. People can come up and hang out with me on the stage after the show’s finished.’ And there was also dancing: “Rupert would trigger this music and say ‘dance, dance, dance, dance,’ and I’d have to get up and dance to all of it.”
Through these shows they found that that the characters grew and developed and sometimes the shows went in different directions. Sometimes they were friends, sometimes they’d fall out but when writing the film they had to ask themselves some questions with regards Charles, “We really had to work out what exactly is this thing? And what is his kind of core nature? And what’s his journey? And we ended up going for a child going into adulthood, basically.”
For the film they changed the characters to aid the narrative. “I think it’s the same for Brian as well, really. He’s sort of softened, we’ve made him more likeable and more relatable. When we’re doing it as a live act, we’re performing for drunk comedy audiences so they were much more boisterous and, not aggressive exactly, but we would have to take on hecklers and that sort of thing.”
A couple of the reviews and interviews have alluded to the film as being science fiction, albeit low-key in its approach, due to there being an AI element to Charles’ growth throughout the story. Hayward answered this by saying, “We didn’t really overthink it that way because I think the germ of the idea came from the stand-up show, which wasn’t anything to do with AI, it was just this ridiculous kind of puppet robot and Brian. I think if we were starting from scratch again, we probably would address those themes more.”
What the film does appear to do is address issues such as loneliness and even parenthood, seemingly ambitious themes for a modest looking film which I look forward to discovering, I hope you do too, all wrapped up alongside the simple story of a robot obsessed with cabbages.
Just under half the audience filled in and returned a Feedback Form. With one score of 3.5, all the rest of the scores given were balanced between 4 and 5, with a slight majority giving it a 4 score.
With both the 4 and 5 scoring respondents, there was an overall very positive feeling about the film. Comments such as, “quirky”, “wacky” and “feel good” ran like a vein through the submissions. Individuals also picked up on the themes of friendship and loneliness that were in the story and observed these with comments such as, “poignant” and “[a] serious understory”.
Taking into account the deeper emotional undertones of the film, everybody was still of the definite opinion that the positiveness of the piece brought it through to a solid and happy conclusion. This was illustrated by comments such as, “A feel good modern fairy tale. To go on an adventure with Charles” and “Best film I’ve seen this year. Totally unexpected. So heart warming”. Indeed, some respondents felt it had been just the right film to close off the year with. They provided comments such as, “Just fun! Perfect for a December film” and “great film to end the year on”. All-in-all, it was a film that the audience had been glad to have seen.
Benediction – 14th November 2022
Monday 14th November ODEON Andover. Start time: 8:00 p.m.
Cert. 12, 137 mins. 2021.
Written and directed by: Terence Davies
Starring: Jack Lowden, Peter Capaldi, Simon Russell Beale
‘Evocative drama’ – The Independent
‘Jack Lowden shines’ – Evening Standard
A brief word about Terence Davies, of whom we’ve spoken about before.
Tonight’s film is in some way a contrast with regards last month’s presentation in terms of the directors at least. Parallel Mothers was Almodovar’s 23rd film. Benediction is Davies’ 8th full feature which goes to show how we differ in this country in supporting our independent filmmakers.
Davies appeared to fall in between the cracks and seemingly disappeared after the BFI Production Board, which funded much of his work, was abolished in 2000 and the newly established UK Film Council appear to have promptly ignored him. When he did present a project to them he was told the film did not have “cross-market appeal”, he eventually made Sunset Song in 2015, twelve years after that initial rejection.
His return had come in 2008 with the documentary Of Time and the City and his poetic reflections of Liverpool, made on a tiny budget using old newsreel footage, thankfully kick-started his career again.
Tonight’s film follows a couple of the themes that have been present throughout his career, firstly, he’s never directed a film set in modern times, “Being in the past makes me feel safe because I understand that world,” he said and secondly an autobiographical aspect. Davies doesn’t hesitate in describing Benediction as autobiographical. Whilst his earlier films portrayed memories of his youth his later work has examined his internal life from being a former devout Catholic to his homosexuality which given his background, working-class, a cruel, “psychotic”, to quote him, father and wretched school days he has never reconciled.
It appears that similarly anguished artists, namely poets, are the vehicles that Davies uses most to explore his insecurity and he admits, the inherent egotism of being an artist. In his previous film A Quiet Passion, released in 2016, about the 19th-century American poet Emily Dickinson, who he believes is “Fabulous”, he said that she “was never given the acclaim that she should have had” which is echoed he believes in Sassoon’s life, “When the other two poets [Brooke and Owen] were killed, that gave them a kind of sainthood. He’s never presented quite as good as they are, and that’s unfair because I think he’s a great poet.”
“I’m drawn, I suppose, to people who, like me, are trying to find someone to say you’re worthwhile. I don’t think they ever found that, and I certainly haven’t.”
Despite that he’s immensely positive about Benediction, “I think it’s the best thing I’ve done. Glorious from beginning to end.” Though as ever with Davies, there’s a caveat: “It took six years to get Benediction onto the screen, and that’s a long time. And you begin to wonder: was the journey worth it? [Perhaps I] Should have stayed at home and taken up embroidery.”
About one third of the audience filled in and submitted a Feedback Form. For the one person that gave the film a 1 score it was “Awful!”. All the rest of the scores were between 3 to 5 with the top score of 5 being given by two-thirds of the grand total of all responses.
Those giving it a 3 score weren’t quite sure what the Director’s intention had been with the film. One respondent summarised this general view with the comment, “Quite engaging but not sure what worked. Some gaps in continuity. Was it a biopic?”
Those giving it a 4 score focused more on the character of Siegfried Sassoon himself and his emotional journey, with, “A slow but beautiful journey of one of England’s greatest poets” and “Shame such a lovely & sensitive young man turned into a bitter old man.”
Those giving it a top score of 5 (and one person wrote in a 6) were of one mind in their praise of the film. Adjectives such as “Brilliant” and “Excellent” were used and also expressed was the sheer emotional impact experienced in watching the film. Comments were made such as, “A very powerful and beautifully portrayed film”, “The choice of poems could not have been better. A magnificent film, and the consequences of war.” and “Heart wrenching! One of the best films I’ve ever seen! Thank you.”
All-in-all, this was a film that clearly resonated emotionally and in a profoundly deep and positive manner with many that watched it.
Parallel Mothers (Madres paralelas) – 10th October 2022
Monday 10th October ODEON Andover. Start time: 8:00 p.m.
Cert. 15, 123 mins. In Spanish with English subtitles. 2020.
Written and directed by: Pedro Almodóvar
Starring: Penélope Cruz, Milena Smit, Israel Elejalde
‘Unpredictable, delicious and flamboyantly stunning’ – Spectator
‘It ranks alongside Almodóvar’s best work’ – Standard
This is Spanish Director Pedro Almodóvar’s 23rd Feature and like many of his previous films very much a craft of his own creation and sculpted from his own vision. And this time, it’s quite a sombre piece in tone and intent.
Two women of different generations, a 40-year-old Janis (Penelope Cruz) and teenage Ana (Milena Smit) meet in a maternity ward in a Madrid hospital and discover their lives will become intertwined in ways they could not imagine. In parallel, a village community makes plans to honour a generation of men killed by Fascist Death Squads during and immediately after the Spanish Civil War.
That’s the storyline. What the story is really about in Almodóvar’s film, is Spain’s unresolved relationship with its history of the last century and the way women’s lives and the family have changed and what links all of that together and possibly why.
This is the Director’s most overtly political film and he’s putting Front and Centre that between 1936 and 1945 (the Spanish Civil War and World War 2) around 200,000 persons were murdered by the Franco Regime and buried in unmarked mass graves. After the fall of the dictatorship with the death of Franco in the mid-1970s there was just silence and the whole issue was not talked about till raised by the next generation.
Almodóvar accepts that he himself was part of this silence. As he states, “We were too busy celebrating our new freedom to think about the mass graves. In 1978, I wanted to have fun and speak in my films about a new Spain that was nothing like the old one”.
This should be thought of as expected. After national traumas (and especially ones lasting decades) individuals, communities, perhaps the whole nation, just wants to draw a line under the past, close the door and move on – at least, at the start. Spain had three and a half decades of Franco. That’s almost two whole generations and that’s not nothing. Perhaps it takes that amount of time again for a country to want to look again; to be able to look again. Perhaps that’s why Pedro Almodóvar didn’t, or couldn’t, make this film before now.
And, as it’s his Film, and his Spain, let’s also give him the last word: “Until we resolve the issue of the country’s mass graves, we won’t be able to close the chapter of the Spanish Civil War. It’s as serious and as simple as that”.
Just over half the audience filled in and submitted a Feedback Form. Of those Forms submitted, 4 responses gave it a 3 score (or 3-to-4) and 5 Members gave it a 4 (or 4-to-5) response. All the rest of the responses, a full three quarters of the total gave it a 5 score. For the 3 scorers, the comments were positive, “History and relationships with a modern twist” and with another respondent that also enjoyed it but, “felt that the ease at which she [Penélope Cruz] let the child be taken away probably less believable”.
Those giving it a 4 to 5 score remarked on the strength of the film with several comments of “powerful” and “excellent” and a focus on the acting of lead player Cruz, who, “was outstanding”. Note was also made of the twists and turns of the plot with one respondent believing that the two main themes were too interwoven. One person also found the use of the music unhelpful.
The rest of the respondents, all of whom gave it a top 5 score, were fulsome in their praise of the film. Comments were made such as, “Brilliant”, and again, “Excellent” and “Extremely Thought Provoking” and “Really gripping”. The subject matter of those killed was cited by one respondent, “I knew Franco was evil, but I did not know about the 200,000 [killed by Death Squads]”. One respondent’s feedback effectively summarised the general feeling expressed by the majority of the audience, “What a fabulous film. Wonderful action and a roller-coaster of emotions. I’m so glad I came to see it”.
Jockey – 12th September 2022
Monday 12th September ODEON Andover. Start time: 8:00 p.m.
Cert. 15, 94 mins. 2021.
Directed by: Clint Bentley
Starring: Clifton Collins Jr., Molly Parker, Logan Cormier
‘A career-best performance from Collins Jr,’ – Little White Lies
‘Beautiful and melancholy’ – Time Out
In terms of film magic hour is the time just after sunset and just before sunrise and it gives a soft light made up of warm golds, pinks, and blues. The sky itself is the light source, rather than sunlight, as the emerging or remaining light diffracts through the atmosphere. The resulting glow is less intense, not as bright and less yellow than that of the preceding golden hour in the evening for example.
In layman’s terms the easiest way to know if it’s magic hour is that once your shadow’s disappeared, it’s arrived. In fact, magic hour only lasts about 25 minutes, the cinematographer Néstor Almendros said the term was an “optimistic euphemism”.
The magic hour seemingly has within it a natural sense of melancholy, the long day closing as it were, and some past film club films such as Nomadland and Moonlight feature scenes shot at that time which support that theory. Days of Heaven and Tess are probably the best-known examples of films shot during the magic hour and researching the term one of the reviews for Days of Heaven stated that it was ‘an essay on loneliness, a melancholy poem on loss and love.’
Nowadays digital cameras do much of the work but in more analogue times, say for Days of Heaven which was released in 1978, as opposed to Jockey, which had a crew of 10, there were far more logistic and technical considerations required to capture images. The aforementioned Néstor Almendaros recalled:
To be as prepared as possible we would rehearse the scenes with the camera and the actors during the day. And then, with everyone poised and ready, as soon as the sun had set, we would shoot as quickly as possible — even frantically—fearful of even wasting a minute.
As a last resort, we would reduce the shutter speed and shoot at 12, then 8 frames per second, careful to instruct the actors to move very slowly so their movements would appear “normal” when the film was projected at the normal projection rate of 24 frames per second.
Some have suggested that with new digital techniques the magic hour is basically obsolete as it can be created in post-production with CGI and advanced colour correction techniques. It’s also moved into the digital realm in other ways, believe it or not, there’s also an app for it! Magic Hour 1.5 takes your location and calculates when magic hour will occur and how much time you have left once it begins. If a weather forecast is available it’ll give that to you as well.
Thankfully the makers of Jockey wanted to preserve a sense of reality and artistic integrity. ‘The jockeys tend to train really early in the morning. That’s one of the reasons so much of the film is set during magic hour,’ said the film’s cinematographer Adolpho Veloso but also, he continued, ‘to mimic the transitional moment that Jackson and Gabriel are going through. The sun is setting on Jackson’s career while it is rising on Gabriel’s. It’s tricky because that means shooting just a few takes at the right light. It was risky, but worth it.’
We’ll see if that risk was worth it….
A third of the audience filled in and returned a Feedback form. Most scores were either 3s or 4s. There were single responses for 1 and 2 scores and two scores of 5. The lower scores were quite adamant in their responses, “not very good” and “Boring” but with the caveat, “good cinematography though”.
Both the 3 and 4 respondents highlighted the use of the photography to capture the “magic hour” light at the very start and end of the day. Many respondents also picked up on (and found very compelling) the harsh life of jockeys off the track. Many providing feedback found it a slow burner of a film which opinion divided on whether this made it “plodding” or meant it, “built up the character”. Focus was also made of the lead character, Gabriel [as Jackson Silver], a jockey no longer young and past his prime. One respondent felt the actor, “not well cast – actor looked or rather didn’t look the part” whilst another concentrated on the character talking of their “bleak future”.
General summary comments were positive, “Very powerful”, “Very absorbing…Thought provoking”. In short, a film that created a definite reaction in all that responded.