Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher) : “The best thing we can do is go on with our daily routine.”
McMurphy (Jack Nicholson): “In one week, I can put a bug so far up her ass, she don’t know whether to shit or wind her wristwatch”.
The setting: a real Oregon psychiatric hospital in the 70’s (cast includes hospital patients). The film centres on the power play between polar opposites, Randle McMurphy and Nurse Ratched. This is arguably Jack Nicholson’s finest acting performance. Louise Fletcher’s performance is spot on too. Rebel versus the system. Who comes out on top? There’s a question for you …
The film is based on Ken Kesey’s excellent book of the same name. It was published at a time when Erving Goffman’s ‘Asylums’ and R D Laing’s ‘Self and Others’ were questioning the very concept of mental illness and how it is treated. Director Milos Forman and a superb supporting cast get us thinking about institutionalisation and routine, coercion and manipulation, rebellion and empowerment. It’s still extremely funny, sad, and thought-provoking 40 years on.
A great film. Make sure that you see it on the big screen!
Vintery, mintery, cutery, corn,
Apple seed and apple thorn,
Wire, briar, limber lock
Three geese in a flock
One flew east
One flew west
And one flew over the cuckoo’s nest.
[but only in late evening performances]
The film is set in 1948 as the famous Chilean poet and Communist Party Member [Partido Comunista de Chile] Pablo Neruda (Luis Gnecco) goes into hiding and exile when the Party is outlawed. The subject is immediately interesting and the film’s director, Pablo Larrain, has already achieved an enviable reputation for his earlier films.
His last film, Jackie (2016) was both highly praised and relatively successful. The earlier Tony Manero (2008) and then The Club (2015) were stylish exercises that used noir techniques to offer stories that commented obliquely on Chile’s fractured past. Both the latter films enjoyed the talented cinematography of Sergio Armstrong. He is back on Neruda and the film also offers the acting skills of Gael Garcia Bernal.
My reservations are that I am not certain that Larrain will deal effectively with the politics of the work of the great revolutionary poet. Tony Manero and The Club were effective partly because they used less obviously political stories as metaphors. In Jackie, dealing directly with the Kennedy legend, its myths were uncritically revisited. And Larrain’s other film, No (2012) dealing with the 1988 Referendum on the Junta in Chile, presented a one-sided view of the organised working class in that country, effectively ignoring the Socialist Party of Chile [Partido Socialista de Chile].
It will be interesting to compare the portrait of the great poet with that in Michael Radford’s Il Postino: The Postman (1994 with Pilippe Noiret). Even if the film fails to do justice to Neruda’s politics it is most likely to be an absorbing and well produced film.
This film was screened at the 2016 Leeds International Film Festival but inextricably it was not in the top twenty ‘picks’. It is a very fine film from the talented and stimulating filmmaker Kelly Reichardt. This is a portmanteau film with three stories, all centred on female characters and set in Montana. Laura Dern plays Laura a lawyer: Michelle Williams plays Gina, a business woman, mother and wife building her new house; Kristen Stewart plays ‘Beth’ teaching an evening class on the law. All three actors provide fine performances and the final story also offers stand out performance by Lily Gladstone as Jamie, a worker on a horse ranch.
Reichardt’s films frequently fit into contemporary treatments of the western; such as Brokeback Mountain (2005), though that is a rather different film. She also has a fine feeling for landscapes, assisted her by her regular cinematographer Christopher Blauvelt. Reichardt herself edited the film.
The director also has ‘simpatico’ for our canine friends: witness the fine Wendy and Lucy (2008). In this film Laura is accompanied by a faithful canine retainer and Jamie patrols the ranch in the company of madcap sheep dog.
These are all reasons to make sure you see the film, or see it again. Note, it is only on Saturday and Sunday as the Leeds Young Film Festival kicks off on Monday. Meanwhile, if like me you are a fan of Kristen Stewart, then she also appears in Personal Shopper (2016) at the cinema: and that film is preceded by high praise from critics. It was directed by Olivier Assayas who also wrote and directed the excellent Clouds of Sils Maria (2014) in which Stewart worked with Juliette Binoche to fine effect.
The main feature this week is Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire, “a mad contraption, bristling with bravado and black, sardonic wit” according to Robbie Collins in The Telegraph. The director and local actor, Sam Riley, brought the film to a sold out screening at the Picture House last month as part of a national tour.
Here are some Tweets from that night:
This film won the Best Foreign Language title at the Academy Awards. It also gained attention when the director boycotted the ceremony in opposition to new and discriminatory immigration controls by the USA. It is rather pleasing that most notable bane of the USA has recently won two Academy Awards; this title and A Separation / Jodaeiye Nader az Simin in 2012. That title was also written and directed by Asghar Farhadi. This film repeats some of the tropes of the earlier title though the central theme is rather different.
Both films rely on the importance of place for the characters, especially the apartments that provide their home. But this new film has an added dimension: a play within a play, ‘Death of a Salesman’. There are definite parallels between the apartment of the lead characters and the theatrical setting. However, I thought the relationships were closer to Tennessee Williams than to Arthur Miller.
The are fine performances as the central couple by Taraneh Alidoosti as Rana Etesami and Shahab Hosseini as Emad Etesami. They were also a couple in Farhadi’s earlier About Elly / Darbareye Elly (2009) and if you saw that film the relationship then it offers a faint but interesting prequel to that in this film.
This is a fascinating and absorbing study. And the production is very well done. However, I found it was less compelling than the two earlier films made in Iran, [Farhadi has also worked on a French film The Past / Le passé, 2013). And I felt it was not quite as telling in its portrayal of contemporary Iran.
It is still worth seeing, especially as this has not been so far [with a few exceptions] a great year for new releases. Note regarding the UK trailer; it includes more plot than is necessary; and the cutting does not represent the film effectively, this has a rather different tempo,
“A woman should never be a victim of male violence. Discuss.”
“Male violence is obviously intolerable, no exceptions, the ultimate threat of patriarchy.
Nothing more to say …”
Michèle “Shame isn’t a strong enough emotion to stop us doing anything at all. Believe me.”
The new programme is now available on the main website as as PDF. The coverstar is Julian Barratt in Mindhorn, which you may remember won the Audience Award at the film festival, and is screening from May 5th. There are a few other LIFF films coming up as well: Cameraperson, Certain Women, The Handmaiden, Raw and Graduation. Speaking of festivals Leeds Young Film Festival runs over Easter from 10th to 20th April and once again it’s a great programme with something for people of all ages. The less-young should look out for Bicycle Thieves (1948), Kes (1969), The Princess Bride (1987) and The Red Turtle (2016) as well as plenty of recent animated and family friendly films. Also on the 25th April as part of the first Leeds International Festival there’s a screening of Ex Machina (2014) followed by a Q&A with visual effects artist Andrew Whitehurst.
Elsewhere in the programme there are films that have generated a lot of buzz recently (or will do when they get released) : The Love Witch, The Fits, Free Fire, Personal Shopper, The Salesman, I Am Not Your Negro.
We really are lucky to have such a wonderful selection of films coming up over the next few months.
Last month Alice Lowe brought her debut film as a director to Leeds…
The Valentine’s Night screening and Q&A sold out…
and everybody had a great time…
If you missed the film it’s showing again this weekend (Fri 6:20pm & Sat 8:45pm) and as Bill posted on our Facebook page earlier this week, it’s one worth catching:
Did you enjoy American Psycho (2000)?
If so, imagine Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) replaced by Ruth (Alice Lowe). Next, imagine that Patrick Bateman is 8 months pregnant (as Alice Lowe was when she starred in Prevenge) and has moved from Wall Street to South Wales.
And then further imagine that, instead of his murderous impulses being driven by materialism and envy, Patrick Bateman is carrying out his homicidal rampage guided by his unborn child.
Prevenge is an exuberant, funny and original low-budget film, written and directed by Alice Lowe. There is some great camerawork and a strong supporting cast. And, arguably, its underlying morality is superior to that of American Psycho!
For a long time customers have asked about hosting screenings of National Theatre and other live theatre performances at the Picture House. Unfortunately due to some planning restrictions it’s just not possible for us to get these in our programme however our beautiful sister venue, the City Varieties Music Hall, will be playing them from this week onwards. The launch event for this exciting new strand of their programme will be this Thursday 9th March with Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen starring the wonderful Ruth Wilson.
We’ve arranged for a discount for our Friends so if you would like to attend show your membership card and you’ll receive a discount as the Friends of the City Varieties would of £15.50 for a ticket instead of £17.