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Screening Highlights: Drums, motels, labyrinths and dreams

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



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Dreams of A Life (2011)

21/04/2015 – 04:30 pm
Phoenix East Finchley – 52 High Road, London N2 9PJ

In 2006, director Carol Morley found a discarded copy of The Sun on the London Underground. The paper contained the horrific story of Joyce Vincent, a 38-year-old woman who had died in her bedsit in a busy neighbourhood in North London without no one noticing her absence for three years. It wasn’t until unpaid rent prompted bailiffs to break into the flat, that the remains of Joyce were discovered. To add more intrigue and sadness to the case, Vincent was found surrounded by part-wrapped Christmas presents and the television on. Manchester-born Morley (The Falling [2014]) spent five years tracking down Joyce Vincent’s friends, relatives and former co-workers to piece together the woman’s life. The result is Dreams of A Life.

Questioned about the inspiration behind the film, Morley explained how she became obsessed with Vincent’s story and the fact that a young, and apparently cheerful and charismatic person, had been completely forgotten – no one knew anything about Joyce Vincent or where she was during that time; what’s more, everyone assumed “she was off somewhere having a better life than they were”. The documentary explores false intimacy and isolation in a time where we’re supposedly so connected with each other, yet perhaps more disconnected than ever before. Would anyone miss you?



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Whiplash (2014)

22/04/2015 – 04:00 pm
Lexi Cinema – 194b Chamberlayne Road, Kensal Green, London NW10 3JU

One of the most pleasant surprises of the year came from debuting director Damien Chazelle. Premiered in Sundance, where deservedly received both the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize, Whiplash subsequently went on earning BAFTA, National Film Critics, Independent Spirit, Golden Globe and Academy Awards for best editing, sound mixing, and actor in a supporting role.

Taking its title from Hank Levy’s composition, Whiplash tells the story of Andrew (Miles Teller), a first-year jazz student at the prestigious Shaffer Conservatory in NY. J.K. Simmons, in the role of his career, is cast as Terence Fletcher, a revered instructor with quasi-god influence, who handpicks Andrew as a drummer for the school’s big-band jazz ensemble. As it has been pointed out, Whiplash is more Full Metal Jacket than Dead Poet’s Society. Simmons portrays an equally charismatic and sadistic mentor who, through brutal bullying techniques justified by his consequentialism, seeks to push his pupils “beyond what’s expected of them”. Whiplash is utterly riveting, intense, rhythmical, morally troubling and thought-provoking. As the film’s promotional tagline reads, “the road to greatness can take you to the edge”. This road is also hellacious, lonely and full of sacrifices.



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The Spirit of ’45 (2013)

22/04/2015 – 06:00 pm
LIVERPOOL SMALL CINEMA – 57-59 Victoria Street Liverpool L1 6DE

Ken Loach’s nostalgic documentary The Spirit of ’45 focuses on and celebrates the radical changes in postwar Britain under the Labour government of Clement Attlee. Using interviews and archive footage, Loach recreates the story of Britain from the prewar penurious times to the optimism that followed the victory in World War 2, and how the spirit of unity that burgeoned during the war extended through to create a vision of a fairer, more united society. These where the times when the National Health System was founded and other British key institutions where nationalised, leading to the expansion of the welfare state. Not only does the documentary celebrate this unprecedented community spirit in the UK, but it also hopes that it can be rediscovered and re-invigorated, especially after the Conservative governments of Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s and the current age of austerity.

In the lead-up to the upcoming general election, the Liverpool Radical Film Festival has teamed-up with adult education charity, the WEA to programme and facilitate this event, building on a previous film screening & discussion event on the topic of radical education. The screening will use The Spirit of ’45 to initiate a multifaceted dialogue about equality and fairness within our society nowadays.



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Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

23/04/2015 – 04:30 pm
Cineworld Feltham – Leisuire West, Air Park Way, Feltham TW13 7LX

All wars are despicable, and the Spanish one not only saw brothers fighting agains brothers, but it also witnessed an even more cruel aftermath with an entire country completely shattered and divided. In with it would become the second film of his Spanish Civil War trilogy – placed between The Devil’s Backbone (2001) and future project 3993 – Mexican director Guillermo del Toro brought back the firsts years of the Franco regime through the eyes of the most innocent of all war victims – children.

The films follows little Ofelia, the bookish young daughter of a sadistic captain army who finds shelter from the bleakness that surrounds her in a land of fairies and fantasy. Supported by a stellar cast of Spanish actors, including Sergi López, Ariadna Gil and Maribel Verdú, and with fellow countryman Alejandro González Iñárritu as an editing collaborator, Pan’s Labyrinth received widespread critical acclaim, including three Academy and Bafta Awards for its art direction, use of cinematography and makeup. Unsurprisingly, Mark Kermode, in The Observer, labeled Pan’s Labyrinth as the best film of 2006, describing it as “an epic, poetic vision in which the grim realities of war are matched and mirrored by a descent into an underworld populated by fearsomely beautiful monsters”.



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Psycho (1960)

23/04/2015 – 06:30 pm
The Capstone Theatre – Liverpool Hope University Creative Campus 17 Shaw Street Liverpool L6 1HP

A masterpiece by master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock. Thousands of reviews, studies and stories have been written about Psycho, including a film released in 2012 revolving around the events that surrounded the making of the movie. After the success of North by Northwest (1959), Hitchcock turned down directing James Bond’s Casino Royale in favour of adapting Robert Bloch’s horror novel Psycho, which was inspired by the crimes of Wisconsin serial killer and grave robber Ed Gein. If the British director had skilfully exploited people’s fears and subconscious in his previous films, in Psycho he went one step further, making Anthony Perkin’s character Norman Bates a household name, and providing film history with its most infamous moment – the shower scene. Combining innovative filmmaking techniques, editing and marketing tactics, Psycho would become Alfred Hitchcock’s best-known film and, justifiably, the most influential horror film ever made.


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.


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