22/23 Film Schedule

Brian and Charles – 12th December

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

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

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

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.”

Feedback Review

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

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

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”.

Thank you.

Feedback Review

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

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

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….

Feedback Review

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.