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This Week in Film: Last days of Spring, first days of Summer

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



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Y Tu Mamá También (2002)

18/06/2015 – 08:00 pm
CUBE MICROPLEX – Dove Street South, Lower Kingsdown, Bristol, BS2 8JD

Described as a wonderful poem about the search for freedom, Y Tu Mamá También, tells the story of two teenagers and an attractive older woman on a road trip through the Mexican countryside.

Erotism, drugs and love-triangles are used by director Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Gravity, Birdman) to depict Mexico’s geographical, cultural, and political landscapes. Semi-improvised scenes, hand-held cameras and a stunning photography by Cuaron’s long-time collaborator Emmanuel Lubezki add a naturalistic and emotional atmosphere to this coming of age tale which would shine at the Independent Spirit Awards. One of Cuaron’s most personal films, Y Tu Mamá También leaves audiences with a sense of sadness and nostalgia for those teenage years that will never come back.



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American Beauty (1999)

18/06/2015 – 05:15 pm
Manchester Central Library – St. Peters Square, Manchester, M2 5PD

A turning point for both a generation of teenagers and middle aged, Sam Mendes’ exploration of the American Dream is profoundly provocative, dark and melancholic. Never before had the veneer of suburban life been so grotesquely exposed – a place where dreams have been forgotten, passion faded, nothing works anymore and no one is happy.

Kevin Spacey brilliantly carries the weight of the movie staring as Lester Burnham, a husband and father going through a deep mid-life crisis and whose newfound quest for love, freedom and self-liberation impacts on everyone around him. American Beauty is dreamy and beautiful, brimming with acid wit, sadness and hope. The film would triumph at the 2000’s Academy Awards, collecting statuettes for Best Picture, Best Director for debuting director Mendes (Road To Perdition [2002], Revolutionary Road [2008]), Best Actor (Spacey), Photography (Conrad L.Hall), and Screenplay for Alan Ball, who went on to create television series ‘Six Feet Under’. Deserving a special mention is Thomas Newman’s soundtrack.



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Bicycle Thieves (1948)

20/06/2015 – 07:30 pm
Altrincham Little Theatre – 17 Oxford Road, Altrincham, WA14 2ED

The Second World War made the US the great saviour of Europe, leaving in turn three countries completely ruined and forgotten. It’s in a poverty-stricken postwar Rome, where a man and his son have to desperately search for a stolen bicycle, vital for the former’s job.

Regarded as one of the best films ever made and one of the most important neorealist examples, Vittorio de Sica’s work explores the human condition with powerful sensibility and simplicity. A wonderful gem.



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Jaws

20/06/2015 – 08:00 pm
Hoglands Park – Houndwell Place, Southampton, SO14 1NH

The first summer blockbuster and the reason why people would think twice about putting their feet in the water, Jaws completely changed the film industry forever. Packed full of unforgettable quotes: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat”, memorable characters – who can forget Chief Brody, Hooper and Quint – and great storytelling – the Indianapolis speech is considered one of the finest in film history, Jaws nearly ends Spielberg’s career prematurely.

Being only 27, the American director was offered to adapt Peter Benchley’s best selling book, where a white shark wreaks havoc in a peaceful summer town. Spielberg decided to film in open water and use a mechanical shark. Bruce’s malfunctioning problems caused the film’s release to be postponed to summer, until then the slowest movie season. The rest is history.



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Whiplash

21/06/2015 – 08:00 pm
Saffron Screen – Saffron Walden County High School, Audley End Road, Saffron Walden, Essex CB11 4UH

Repeating this week is Whiplash, undeniably one of last year’s most pleasant surprises. Premiered in Sundance, where deservedly received both the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize, Damien Chazelle’s opera prima subsequently earned 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 narrates the story of Andrew (Miles Teller), a first-year jazz student at the prestigious Shaffer Conservatory in New York. J.K. Simmons, in the role of his career, is cast as Terence Fletcher, a revered instructor who chooses Andrew as a drummer for the school’s big-band jazz ensemble. Simmons portrays an equally charismatic and sadistic mentor who, through consequentialist justification, pushes his pupils “beyond what’s expected of them”. More Full Metal Jacket than Dead Poet’s Society, 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”. That road is also hellacious and full of sacrifices.


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, 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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