Charity News

On Yorkshire Day (August 1st) a Special General Meeting of our members approved changes to our constitution so that we could become a Registered Charity. The Charity Commission were satisfied with our application and we have now been officially entered on the Register of Charities with the Registered Charity Number 1168835.

The timing is good. Charity status can only help us in our support for the exciting developments at the cinema, following their success in gaining Heritage Lottery funding.

Ivan’s Childhood / Ivanovo detstvo , USSR 1962

Tuesday 23rd August at 6.30 p.m.

ivanschildhood

This is a part of the ‘Sculpting Time’ Andrei Tarkovsky retrospective. It was his first feature, shot in black and white and in Academy ratio. The film is set in the Ukraine, on the front line between the Soviet and German armies in World War II. Ivan (Nikolay Burlyaev) is a young boy acting as scout for the Soviet army, frequently working behind the German lines. An important aspect of the film is his strong relationship with the Soviet officers who run the post from which he works. He also carries the scars of past events.

Whilst the film belongs to a recognisable Soviet genre, as in all of Tarkovsky’s films, the plot is less important than the characters and the settings: the latter are as important as some of the characters. It is also full of the motifs and imagery that would become familiar in later works. Time Out, in praising this impressive film, noted:

“Ivan silently wading through still water, eerily immanent forestscapes, the poetry of forbidden zones, and life-and-death struggles played in slow motion.”

I would argue that this, along with Andrei Rublev (1966), is the filmmaker’s finest work. Certainly the film is beautifully produced and one should note the important contributions of the film’s craft people: the script was written by Vladimir Bogomolov, Production Design by Evgeniy Chernyaev, Cinematography by Vadim Yusov, Film Editing by Lyudmila Feyginova, Music by Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov. It runs for the original 95 minutes and has English subtitles.

And you can still collect the sets of well designed lobby cards from Curzon / Artificial Eye.

Heritage Lottery Funding

We are delighted that the Picture House will get a £2.4 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund . This application involved a huge amount of work for cinema staff and supporters, aided by experienced consultants. The Friends financially supported the feasibility study work which started in 2015 and formed part of the application.

The Friends of the Hyde Park Picture House was officially formed in 1984 because of fears for the long term survival of the cinema. Now, in 2016, we are in the wonderful position of supporting the development phase to preserve this beautiful building, to better serve the existing community, and to reach out to new audiences. We will make sure that the views of our members are taken into account as plans develop.

It is hoped that the scheme will not only lead to restoration of the existing building but brand new accessible facilities. This includes fully accessible toilets, a second screen in the basement, a café-bar and a vibrant learning and heritage programme.

It was also heartwarming to see the response to the news on social media, click here to see a small selection of reactions.

Thelma and Louise 25th Anniversary Screening

Saturday 20th August 5:30pm – Creatures of The Early Evening

 The early evening slot for Creatures of The Night continues with Ridley Scott’s Thelma and Louise, Bill Walton takes a look at the film on its 25th anniversary.

Thelma: “You said you ’n’ me was gonna get out of town and for once just really let our hair down. Well darlin’, look out ‘cause my hair is comin’ down!”

No shit, as they say.

Released to great controversy in 1991. Revolutionary? YES. Dated? NO, still fresh, sharp and funny. Not just that, it smashed through the Bechdel Test (2 women who talk to each about something besides a man). And a woman writer too (Callie Khouri).

Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis are hot. The waitress and the housewife are takin’ to the road … crude truck drivers, mean cops, and rapists look out!! The sisterhood is gloriously defiant… Harvey Keitel, Michael Masden, Brad Pitt and the rest will not be untouched. The personal and political intertwine.

Great soundtrack (blues and reggae). Director, Ridley Scott. Enjoy it on the big screen, darlin’s.

Greta Gerwig

Maggie’s Plan – Thursday 11th August 8:45pm
Wiener-Dog – Multiple screenings from Friday

Wiener Dog
Actress and screenwriter, Greta Gerwig is a busy woman! Last year, Gerwig showed up in not one, but two great UK releases. In Mia Hansen-Love’s Eden (2014), she had a scene stealing role as Julia, the former girlfriend of protagonist, Paul. Then later in the year, she co-wrote and starred in Mistress America (2015), a brilliant comedy about the developing friendship between stepsisters-to-be, Brooke and Tracy.

This week, once again, Greta stars in two films; An extra screening of Rebecca Miller’s Screwball-esque comedy of remarriage, Maggie’s Plan, is on Thursday at 8:45pm. Then on Friday Hyde Park Picture House are starting their run of Todd Solondz’s new film Weiner-Dog, where Greta plays a reincarnation of Dawn Weiner, the iconic character from Solondz’s debut, Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995).

After her early collaborations with filmmakers like the Duplass brothers, Joe Swanberg and Mary Bronstein, she decided the Dogme style aesthetic wasn’t for her (“shaky cameras make me sick. I get motion sickness when I look at them. There are some film-makers I love and yet I cannot watch their movies. I threw up during the first half of [Lars von Trier’s] Melancholia.”), and has since really come into her own as a screen presence. She is, in my opinion, responsible for two of Noah Baumbach’s better films, 2013’s Frances-Ha, and the aforementioned Mistress America, and is set to make her solo writing-directing debut next year with Lady Bird. I’m always intrigued about her upcoming projects. Keep them coming, Greta.

Solaris USSR 1972

Saturday August 6th at 5.00 p.m.

solaris-bild5

This is a film by Andrei Tarkovsky which is circulating as part of a package of his films Sculpting Time. If you are in time you can pick up a set of Lobby Cards on the package distributed by Curzon Artificial Eye. The card for this film quotes Philip Horne in The Telegraph,

“a hallucinatory, richly sensuous masterpiece.”

The film was produced in 1972 and there is a Hollywood remake (2002) directed by Steven Soderberg: this original is better. The film  is adapted from a science-fiction novel by Stanislaw Lem. The book, and the film, are what is known as SF, ‘hard’ science fiction. The film has parallels with Kubrick’s earlier 2001 (1968), but this is a richer and more ambiguous work.

Officially the film is about a scientist sent to the Solaris Space Station where unusual and inexplicable influences are at work. It is a mute point if the focus of the film is the situation on the station or the personal and psychological exploration which the protagonist undergoes.

Tarkovsky’s style is slow, ambiguous and he is given to long takes, His narratives are unconventional and he plays with memory, space and time. The film runs for 165 minutes but if you engage with the film it will not seem that long. The film uses both black and white and colour in Sovscope. The music accompanying the film is both on the organ (Bach) and electronic (Artemyev).

Coming a little later in August is an earlier feature Ivan’s Childhood (1962), which shows, in black and white, characters on the borderline between the Soviet and Nazi armies in World War II. Another title is Andrei Rublev (1966), which screened at the Hyde Park Picture House in 2015 from a 35mm print. This package of titles is circulating on DCPs. Hopefully they will be good transfers, as Tarkovsky’s visual mastery is one of his strengths.

South Riding UK 1938

8.30 p.m. Monday August 1st
Free for members – preceded by a Special General Meeting at 7.30pm

Richardson, Best and Clements.

Richardson, Best and Clements.

This is a fine adaptation of Winifred Holtby’ s 1936 novel with a screenplay by Ian Dalrymple and directed by Victor Saville. This was

“A novel of Yorkshire life between the two wars.”

The author dedicated the book to her mother, an Alderman in the County Council. Here she wrote,

“I have laid my scene in the South East part of Yorkshire, because that is the district which I happen to know best: … [and] … when I came to consider local government, I began to see how it was in essence the first-line defence thrown up by the community against common enemies – poverty sickness, ignorance, mental derangement and social maladjustment.”

The film preserves much of the social consciousness of the novel, but one relationship takes centre stage. This is between the two stars of the film, Ralph Richardson as landowner Robert Carne and Edna Best as the modern headmistress Sarah Barton. The film even retains an extremely unconventional [for the period] dramatic scene between them. The drama concerning local government is especially filled out by Edmund Gwenn as a businessman cum councillor Alfred Huggins and John Clements as ‘socialist’ councillor Joe Astell. Both the latter parts are fairly conventional for the period.

The film was also produced by Victor Saville who was one of the outstanding talents in British film in the 1930s. It was filmed at and around the Denham Studio and features some excellent location sequences. Unfortunately, I do not think that there are any Yorkshire locations in the film, but you may spot some. The production is very well done, particularly the cinematography of Harry Stradling and the production designs of Lazarre Meerson. And there is an excellent score by Richard Addinsell.

This is a good example of a first class drama of the period.  Marcia Landy, in her study of British genres, notes that the film is one of the most successful examples of a ‘melodrama of conversion and initiation’.  There is more compromise in the film than in the novel but it remains a fine portrait of 1930s Yorkshire life. And on this year’s Yorkshire Day it is screening in its original format of 35mm black and white academy.

The Man Who Filmed the Somme BBC 2016

The Hawthorn Ridge Redoubt mine

The Hawthorn Ridge Redoubt mine

This is a short programme about a key First World War documentary film shot mainly during the battle whose centenary occurs this year. The programme was shown on the BBC News Channel and is currently available on the BBC I-Player, [till the end of July]. Apart from the relevance of the topic itself there are some interesting shots of the Hyde Park Picture House. The cinema was the venue for a screening of the original film to an invited audience.

The Battle of the Somme was a filmed and released in 1916. It was five reels in length and ran for around 70 minutes. The film footage was shot by Geoffrey H. Malins and J. B. McDowell. Both were employed by the Cinematograph Trade Topical Committee, a number of production companies involved in early newsreels, who negotiated with the military authorities for cameramen to film on the front line. The military were initially against letting filmmakers into combat areas, but the needs of wartime propaganda [at which the Germans were especially effective] overrode this. [Effectively these cameramen were official cinematographers and ’embedded’ as the phrase goes].

Malins was to become the most famous wartime cameraman, partly through the success of the Somme film and partly through his book How I Filmed the War (1920). He was already involved in Newsreel filmmaking, having started out in still photography. J. B. McDowell had worked in the film industry in production prior to the war and joined Malins on the Western front. When the film footage was returned to Britain it was edited under the supervision of Charles Urban [an important pioneer producer and filmmaker] with Malins. It seems that it was Urban who proposed that the footage be turned into a feature length film, an unusual event at the time. This feature was released in August 1916, whilst the Battle of the Somme continued. Continue reading

Special General Meeting: Monday 1st August 7:30pm

We would like to invite all members to attend a Special General Meeting on Monday 1st August 2016 at 7.30pm to be held at the Hyde Park Picture House.

The only items of business will be two Special Resolutions (details below) proposed by the Committee of the Friends of the Hyde Park Picture House.

To come into effect, these resolutions must be passed by not less than two thirds of the members present and voting at the meeting, so it is important that you come and vote.

Never one to let a meeting be too much business we have arranged this Special General Meeting to coincide with our annual Yorkshire Day screening which is free to members. Our film this year is SOUTH RIDING (1938) which will screen at 8.30pm.

While the meeting must be members only the screening is open to all and remember that members can invite up to three guests at members prices for any screening up until the end of August.

Appropriately Yorkshire themed refreshments will be provided!

Continue reading

Land and Freedom / Tierra y Libertad UK, Spain, Germany, Italy 1995.

Sunday July 10th at 3 p.m.

Land and Freedom poster

This film was an earlier success for Ken Loach and his team. It won a number of European Awards including the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival. It did not win any awards in the UK or USA. In fact, as has often been the case with films directed by Ken Loach, the film performed better on the Continent, especially in Spain and France, than in the two major English Language territories. There are ironies in the producing countries, since the Spanish, German and Italian regimes were all involved in the Civil War depicted in the film, whilst Britain [like the USA] stood on the side-lines, essentially supporting the force who are enemy in the film.

The Civil War was that between the Fascist regime that staged a coup d’état against the elected Spanish government in 1936 and the coalition of left and liberal forces of the Spanish Republic defending the land and the freedom of the Spanish people. This was the great cause in the 1930s and many politically committed British men and women went to Spain to fight and often die in the defence of the Republic.

One of these was the writer George Orwell and the film is clearly strongly influenced by his account in Homage to Catalonia (1938). In the film Liverpudlian David Carr [Ian Hart] goes, like Orwell, to Spain and joins the left-wing Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista (Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification. The film features battles between the Fascists and the Republicans, but it also features political confrontations and debates. As in Orwell’s book the film takes the side of the combined Marxist/Anarchist POUM against the dominant republican factions led by the Partido Communista de Spain (Communist Party of Spain). The film is rather simplistic about the political conflict among the republicans. As the film essays the Communist Party was dominated by the rather reactionary political line of the ‘United Front’. However, the opposition, embodied in POUM,  had serious political problems as well. Continue reading