Get anything good to watch this Christmas? I was lucky enough to get Teenwolf on VHS! This week we’re saying farewell to 2014 and ringing in the New Year. Welcome to 2015. A place that looks familar but feels slightly different…
This week’s highlights are chosen by Sam Meech (@videosmithery).
Tuesday 30 December 2014 · 6:30pm
Phoenix Leicester, 4 Midland Street Leicester LE1 1TG
Between last year’s groundbreaking (and oscar hauling) GRAVITY, and Chris Nolan’s recent much awaited INTERSTELLAR (also showing this week in 35mm at Saffron Screen, Essex), it’s almost easy to forget that one of the best sci-fi films of recent years was the much less bombastic debut from Duncan Jones. With elements of the Alien’s drudgery of space-age labour (it aint that glam being a space trucker) and the loneliness and paranoia of 2001, MOON quietly and carefully builds the storyline tension around a great performance from a down-at-heel Sam Rockwell for whom things seem to be decline. In space, there are no dentists.
Mark Kermode presents: A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH (35MM)
Saturday 3 January 2015 · 6:00pm
Plaza Truro Cinema, 69 Lemon Street, Truro TR1 2PN
How many films have inspired Led Zeppelin lyrics? (before your say it, that reference to Gollum in Ramble On was technically a reference to the book of LOTR, rather than Peter Jackson’s films 30 odd years later). Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s iconic Stairway to Heaven special effect is one of the memorable scenes in this 1946 WW2 romantic fantasy. Heroic pilot David Niven (I recommend his classic biog The Moon’s A Balloon) somehow cheats death after bailing from his plane sans parachute, causing all kinds of administrative problems for the heavenly emigration system, and falling in love with Kim Hunter in the process. As such, he has to make a case that he should be allowed to stay on earth, rather than be put on the first plane back ‘home’. Another film positing that love is more powerful than universal forces perhaps? The screening is introduced by none other film critic Mark Kermode, and is being shown on 35mm. See more 35mm screenings here.
Bad Film Club: HOWARD THE DUCK
Sunday 4 January 2015 · 8:00pm
Chapter, Market Road, Canton Cardiff, Wales, CF5 1QE
The much loved ‘outsider in the city’ genre (which includes Elf, California Man, Crocodile Dundee, Masters of the Universe) perhaps reached it’s most post-modern peak in the 80s with this comic book adaptation in which a young batchelor from a parallel universe is transplanted in Cleveland, Ohio. His own world is pretty much the same as ours, featuring very similar films (“Breeders of the Lost Ark”), and oddly enough the same product placement (unashamedly Budweiser), except that in his world everyone is a duck. Howard lacks the innocence of the classic outsider – he smokes, drinks, and has sex like most other 26 year males in 80s films – but he does have charm. I remember renting this film from the videoshop as a young ‘un and not really understanding some of the adult humour, being puzzled by his ‘hands’, and being terryfied by the villain (Ferris’ Bueller’s Jeffrey Jones) but enjoying Howard all the same. Framing this event as a Bad Film Club thankfully takes the pressure off it having to live up to the expectations of my 8 yr old self. Screening as part of the BFI’s DAYS OF FEAR AND WONDER Sci-Fi programme.
GUYS & DOLLS
Sunday 4 January 2015 · 7:00pm
The Dukes, Lancaster, The Dukes Moor Lane Lancaster LA1 1QE
A romantic musical comedy starring Frank Sinatra and…. Marlon Brando! Yes, the ‘Godfather’ of Stanislavski’s Method, singing away in this uplifting tale of a gambler who falls for a nun, Jean Simmons whom he must take to dinner as part of a high stakes bet. Featuring songs, deception, romance, petty criminals, New York and Cuba, the film will be 60 years old this year.
SCHOOL OF BABEL
Sunday 4 – Thur 8 January 2015
Whirled Cinema, 259 Hardess Street Loughborough Junction London, SE24 0HN
I really enjoyed the primary school documentary Etre et Avoir, the french drama Le Choristes, and also the musical comedy School of Rock. Infact, any film in which young people or underdogs overcome obstacles with the support of caring mentors tends to end up with me in tears. This looks like it could well be one of those films, featuring a group of young people from across Eurpoe and beyond, trying to find their feet in France. Whilst people might often cite ‘subtitles’ as an abstacle, what foreign cinema does best is to give us a means to look into other cultures and enjoy the differences and find solidarity in the similarities. Here we get to see young people, far from home, overcoming the obstacles of language and making links between cultures for real. Inspiring stuff.
Sam Meech is an artist, cinema fan and founder of Screening Film. He is interested in the different forms cinema can take and how it relates to communities and creativity. He started Screening Film as a way to make it all visible.