Screening Film


Easter Special – Butterflies, Sea Monsters, Yuppies & Other Tales

This week’s picks are by Alberto Serna, Spanish boy living in cosy Rotherhithe, London.


Leviathan (2014)

31/03/2015 – 07:00 pm

Cited as, perhaps, “one of the most poignant portrayals of modern Russian”, Leviathan earned nominations for the Palme D’or at Cannes Film Festival as well as for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, which was eventually won by brilliant Ida (2013) from Poland. Directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev, Venice Film Festival Golden Lion winner and Golden Globe nominee for The Return (2003), Leviathan tells the story of a man’s quest to help claim the land he lives on from the corrupt grasp of the town Mayor.

Zvyagintsev talks about bureaucracy, corruption, fate and the corrosive current Russian regime. Also about hopelessness, oppression and depression. Vladimir Putin’s Culture Minister fiercely criticised the film for not having “a single positive character” and being “opportunistic” and “misrepresentative of Russia’s citizens and the reality of life in the country”. Zvyagintsev, in turn, encouraged people to download a pirated version of his film after it was heavily censored by the Russian government. More than 4 million people watched it online. Leviathan is ultimately a bleak retelling of the biblical Book of Job, the story of a normal human being who, beset by misfortune and suffering, has to wrestle with his faith.


American Psycho (2000)

02/04/2015 – 06:00 pm
MANCHESTER CENTRAL LIBRARY  –  St. Peters Square, Manchester M2 5PD

Adapted for the screen from Bret Easton Elli’s controversial novel of the same name, American Psycho looks at the darkest of human psyche through the eyes of yuppie turned serial killer Patrick Bateman. As in the book, the film explores a world of excess, materialism, narcissism and misogyny set in the context of Wall Street during the 1980s. At first glance, Bateman possesses everything a young Ivy-league graduate could desire – a promising career, a perfect apartment in the city and other comforts of life. Yet, under the surface hides a deranged alter ego whose lack of human empathy and hatred of the world begins to take over dragging Bateman into a downward spiral of insatiable blood and murder.

The novel, which joined a notorious list of banned fiction books and still remains banned in some parts of the world because of its sadistic content, was a challenge that female director Mary Harron (I Shot Andy Warhol [1996], The Notorious Bettie Page [2005]) was willing to accept. Considerably more satirical than Elli’s novel, the film was received with outrage by feminists associations accusing the director of downplaying the book’s extreme violence towards women. To her credit, favouring Christian Bale over Leonardo DiCaprio for the film’s main role. Bale’s intense, powerful and visceral performance catapulted his acting career whist turning American Psycho into a cult classic.


Back To The Future (1985)

02/04/2015 – 07:30 pm
St Donats Arts Centre – St Donat’s Castle, St Donat’s, Llantwit Major, Vale of Glamorgan, CF61 1WF

Although not the original actor on set when the filming started, Michael J. Fox was picked by director Robert Zemeckis to replace Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly, a 17-year-old high-school senior, whose friendship with eccentric inventor Doc (Christopher Lloyd) sees him being sent back in time by accident inside a modified DeLorean. Wearing his iconic burnt orange down vest, Nike sneakers and other trendy 80s accessories, Marty needs to make his young parents fall in love again in the past in order to avoid a time paradox which could alter story and risk his own existence in the future. Phew!

Without a doubt, Fox’s experience in comedy and innate charisma added an extra-layer to the character of Marty, while Zemeckis skilful direction and Spielberg’s production, contributed to the success of Back To The Future as a highly entertaining sci-fi/adventure/comedy series. Fast-paced, delightful and innovative, the film would achieve cult status among a generation of teenagers in the 80s, launching Fox’s career and placing Zemeckis as an A-List director (Who Framed Roger Rabbit [1988], Forrest Gump [1994]). Deserving a special attention is Marty’s electric guitar performance of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” at his parent’s school dance to the puzzlement of the audience . “I guess you guys aren’t ready for that yet. But your kids are gonna love it.”

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04/04/2015 – 07:45 pm
West Side Cinema – Stromness Town Hall, Victoria Street, Stromness, KW16 3BA

Scottish Orkney Islands-based West Side Cinema offers the edge of world cinema with a relaxed and social atmosphere – themed music, candle-lit tables and a ‘bring your own’ policy. The venue, which is situated in Stromness Town Hall, a former church building converted into a public space, screens short films with every feature film: fiction and documentaries from around the world, while also encouraging filmmaker talks and workshops.

During this year’s Easter weekend, the team behind West Side Cinema will be delighting local audiences and visitors with a feature-length selection of short live action and animated films from the British Academy Film Awards. There will be emotive and humorous family stories, coming-of-age dramas and love tales, including Oscar-award nominated Boogaloo and Graham (2014) and The Bigger Picture (2014).


The Duke of Burgundy (2014)

06/04/2015 – 12:00 am
Saffron Screen – Saffron Walden County High School, Audley End Road, Saffron Walden, Essex CB11 4UH

Much has been written about this visually ravishing and densely layered portrayal of a sadomasochistic love story between a middle-aged fetishistic female entomologist and her young and innocent apprentice. Directed and written by cult British filmmaker Peter Strickland (Katalin Varga [2009], Berberian Sound Studio [2012]), The Duke of Burgundy attracted attention during the last edition of the Toronto Film Festival, receiving rave reviews for its stylish, sensual and perverse take on the submissive servant and dominant mistress classic tale. It is interesting to mention that the film was rejected by Cannes festival as Berberian had been too previously – 41-year-old Strickland remains one of Britain’s most intriguing and unpredictable filmmakers.

There is, in The Duke of Burgundy, abundant lace lingerie, tulle, mirrors, manors, bucolic landscapes and butterflies; also a clear homage to the Italian “giallo” genre. Sidse Babett Knudsen and Chiara d’Anna are brilliant in their respective roles, while the cinematography from Nic Knowland and Cat’s Eyes soundtrack are exquisite, capturing the feel of this dreamy and sinister erotic fairy-tale set in the Hungarian atmospheric countryside. There is no duke in The Duke of Burgundy, as the film takes its title from a species of butterfly, Hamearis lucina.

My name is Alberto and I have been fascinated with films since I saw River Phoenix running across the top of a moving circus train. Originally from Murcia, Spain, I live by river Thames in cosy Rotherhithe, South London where I keep watching and learning from movies.

Enjoy writing about film? Would you like to choose your top 5 for the week ahead? Get in touch.

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