I, Daniel Blake UK/France/Belgium 2016

Screening daily from Friday October 21st until Thursday 27th


The new film directed by Ken Loach comes garlanded with the Palme d’Or from the Cannes Film Festival. As usual it is scripted by Paul Laverty and has been part-funded by the BBC, the BFI and European companies. The film is set in Newcastle-upon-Tyne among the northern English working class. And the plot revolves round the travails of ordinary working people attempting to cope with an unsympathetic and exploitative state system. Thus it combines situations and themes that have dominated Loach’s films since the seminal Cathy Come Home (1966).

Ken Loach’s long and illustrious career makes him one of the most productive of contemporary British film-makers and the oldest recipient of the Cannes Festival’s premier award. Yet his work has a continuity and repetition that makes all his films easily recognisable. We are told that, as is his wont, the film was shot chronologically. It uses both experienced and non-professional performers. And it relies to a degree on the long shot and the long take, giving it an observational style. Note, despite the clips in the Versus… documentary this film screens in standard widescreen, 1.85:1 and is in colour. It was shot on Kodak film stock but is being distributed on a DCP.

In an interview this week Loach took the BBC and television generally to task for their failings in representing the working class of Britain in any meaningful manner. So his continuing engagement with this world and with the politics of resistance makes the film essential viewing.

Bob Dylan – poet, song-writer and occasional performer.


So, as we celebrate the Nobel Literature Award can we look forward to hearing Dylan in the auditorium before the screenings. Perhaps ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ before American Honey (2016).

But we could possibly also enjoy Dylan on film. There is Don’t Look Back (1967), a classic music documentary of the 1966 UK tour: a genre that features in the 2016 LIFF. There is Martin Scorsese’s The Last Waltz (1978), another very fine documentary, this time of a single concert. There is Wonder Boys (2000), for which Dylan won an Academy Award for Best Song, ”Things Have Changed’. And then there is I’m Not There (2007) with several different Dylan’s, including an intriguing one by Cate Blanchett.

My favourite Dylan moment on film is unlikely to be available in a print now: the sequence in the original release version of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973) where Dylan’s ‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door’ plays over the final moments of Sherriff Baker (Slim Pickens). A song that will [eventually] make a fine elegy for Dylan himself.




It was great to have the launch of the 30th Leeds International Film Festival at the Picture House last week. There was a wonderful atmosphere and sense of anticipation as 50ish trailers and clips were shown. I left wanting to see more of everything that had been showcased.

If you haven’t picked up a guide yet, it’s now also available in digital form.

There’s a new layout for the guide this year including a more compact pull out calendar which may be prove to be useful during the festival but for lots of people has made planning a little harder. If you are struggling to see the overlaps you may find this Clashfinder website useful. It shows everything in a grid format so you can plan your dashes between venues. You can also highlight films to create your own itinerary and this allows us to see what’s popular, earlier today the top 20 was as follows:

  1. LIFF30 Opening Gala: Paterson + Timecode
  2. The Handmaiden
  3. Jurassic Park
  4. Schneider vs. Bax
  5. A Monster Calls
  6. Train to Busan
  7. Hacksaw Ridge
  8. I Am Not a Serial Killer
  9. Under the Shadow
  10. Jaws
  11. The Wailing
  12. The Master Cleanse
  13. Toni Erdmann
  14. Belladonna of Sadness
  15. Kids Police
  16. The First, the Last
  17. Psychonauts, the Forgotten Children
  18. Elling
  19. The Red Turtle + Father and Daughter
  20. Ambulance

Over the next few weeks we’re hoping to preview some of the festival films and it would be great to hear your plans and what you are looking forward to seeing in the comments (or get in touch if you’d like to write a full post for the blog).


Part of this year’s film festival focuses on soundtracks so it seemed like a good idea to talk about music. Over the last few years I’ve found myself paying much more attention to what I’m hearing in the cinema as well as seeing. One of my  favourite recent soundtracks is Disasterpeace’s work for It Follows (2015) and it’s great to get the opportunity to hear it performed live at the Picture House at the end of the month (limited tickets available here).  There’s a similar electronic ambient sound to Cliff Martinez’s score for The Neon Demon (2016). Both soundtracks are influenced by John Carpenter’s music and I was hoping we might get a gig from the horror master at this year’s festival, alas it doesn’t look like we will.

A completely different sound can be heard in Carter Burwell’s score for Carol (2015), it’s such a beautiful piece of work and for me it may even be better than the already great film.


If you are interested in film music it’s worth listening to Saturday Night At The Movies on Classic FM (5pm Saturdays), presented by Radio Times film critic Andrew Collins each week they play two hours of music around a certain theme. It was a TV special this week but recently they’ve focussed on Hitchcock, animation and westerns. It’s available to listen to for 7 days online and is also on Freeview 731.

BBC Radio 3 also have a weekly film music programme Sound Of The Cinema (3pm Saturdays, also on iPlayer and available as a podcast) which centres each week around a current new release but play music from a wide range of films. Soundtracking is another podcast but slightly different because each week Edith Bowman talks to a film director about how they use music in film.

Back to the festival, focussing on soundtracks is an interesting idea and it has thrown up some great opportunities to revisit some films with wonderful soundtracks: Jurassic Park, Jaws, Drive, Pulp Fiction, Under The Skin, Blue Velvet, Breakfast At Tiffany’s, Lost In Translation, The Virgin Suicides are all favourites of mine and there are many more featured in the retrospective.

Ousmane Sembène ‘Father of African Film’

Sunday October 9th 2.30 p.m.


The Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembène was a key pioneer in the development of an indigenous African cinema. Now a new documentary by Samba Gadjigo, SEMBÈNE! (2015), is screening along with a Q&A with the director. Also there will be a screening of La Noire de… / Black Girl, (1966). And later, on October 18th, there will be a screening of his final film Moolaadé (2004).

Sembène’s films are rarely seen in the UK but they are powerful, emotionally involving but also politically incisive. Both screenings are well worth the visit to the cinema: they are few such opportunities and the quality of Sembène and his colleagues work deserves the big screen.

3 Reasons To See…The Girl With All The Gifts


1. The cast: Gemma Arterton, Glenn Close and newcomer Sennia Nanua make up a strong female cast. Paddy Considine also stars; remember when he came to the Picture House to show Tyrannosaur?

2. Mark Kermode is another Hyde Park visitor who loves the film:

3. Director Colm McCarthy previously directed the entire second series of BBC’s Peaky Blinders

The Girl With All The Gifts is showing daily at Hyde Park Picture House from Friday 30th September.


3 Reasons To See…Hunt For The Wilderpeople


  1. What We Do In The Shadows was writer/director Taika Waititi’s previous film and the winner of the Audience Award at LIFF28. Unusually for me, it was a film I saw three times in the cinema and thought it got better each time.
  2. Everybody loves it. Until very recently Wilderpeople had 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, meaning it hadn’t received a negative review from any critics. It’s now dropped to 98% but that’s still ‘Certified Fresh‘.  On Letterboxd (“a social network for sharing your taste in film”) it has been one of the highest rated films of the year.
  3. Taika Waititi is also directing Thor: Ragnarok (2017) and found time to make this short film, possibly the best entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe yet:

Hunt For The Wilderpeople is screening daily at Hyde Park Picture House from Friday 23rd September.

In the Mood for Love, Hong Kong 2000

24th September – 2.30 PM


Bill Walton takes a look at In The Mood For Love ahead of Saturday’s 35mm screening and panel discussion on the Chinese film industry.

He remembers those vanished years. As though looking through a dusty window pane, the past is something he could see, but not touch. And everything he sees is blurred and indistinct.”

The magic of cinema offers many tantalising glimpses into other cultures, other times, other ways of seeing. Whether it’s transgender sex workers in California (Tangerine, 2015), censorship in Iran (Taxi Tehran, 2015), the self-justification by Indonesian death squads (The Act of Killing, 2012), corrupt officials in Russia (Leviathan, 2013), or life on a council estate in Bradford, Yorkshire (The Selfish Giant, 2013) … we can always gain from such different ways of seeing the world.

In the Mood for Love brings to life Hong Kong in the ‘60s. While there is a powerful code of propriety it cannot completely crush the intense desires for intimacy between a man and women whose marriages are not going well. The film subtly explores loneliness and hope, love and betrayal. The cultural context is integral to the story. I found that Wong Kar-wai’s attempts to tackle such themes in the United States (My Blueberry Nights, 2007) did not work nearly as well.

Chow Mo-wan (Tony Leung): “Feelings can creep up just like that.thought I was in control.”

Everything about this film is beautiful, from the acting, the photography (Christopher Doyle), and the haunting music, to the design of the credits. No wonder it was recently voted by critics to be one of the greatest films of the 21st Century. This screening has been arranged with the Business Confucius Institute and will be preceded by a panel discussion examining the state of contemporary Chinese cinema.

Su Li-zhen (Maggie Cheung): You notice things if you pay attention.

Gene Wilder 1933 to 2016

Teri Garr, Gene Wilder and Marty Feldman, 'Young Frankenstein'

Teri Garr, Gene Wilder and Marty Feldman, ‘Young Frankenstein’

Recently deceased Gene Wilder was an impressive film actor, mainly in comic roles and best when playing some sort of likable eccentric. Wilder progressed from Broadway to films; opening his career with producer and director Mel Brooks. His best work was probably with Brooks: The Producers (1967), especially in the last 45 minutes, revels in bad taste, performed with marvellous aplomb by Wilder and one-time blacklisted Zero Mostel. Blazing Saddles (1974)  is one of the best send-ups of the western.  But the key film is one on which Wilder also had writing credits, Young Frankenstein (1974). His performance as the grandchild of the infamous innovator was splendid. And the film also enjoyed a host of excellent supporting characters, notably Marty Feldman as Igor.

Wilder also teamed up several times with Afro-American actor Richard Pryor, early on in Blazing Saddles. Then in Silver Streak (1976) and Stir Crazy (1980)  which were both very funny but also in advance of the times in their pairing of white and black protagonists. Pryor’s tutoring of Wilder in ‘street cred’ is great.

The coming Saturday the Hyde Park is screening Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), an accomplished musical adaptation from the Roald Dahl novel. It is also the centenary of the latter much-loved writer.


There is one other of Wilder’s films that would pay revisiting. He has a small role, as an undertaker, in Bonnie and Clyde (1957), still one of the outstanding examples of the gangster genre. Wilder received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting actor in The Producers  and as co-scriptwriter for Young Frankenstein.