Friends’ Christmas Screening: Fargo

Thursday 15th December, doors 7:15pm, film 8:30pm

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Fargo (TV) Christmas Cards available from RedBubble

Our annual Christmas screening this year is the Coen Brothers’ Fargo. Jerry Lundegaard is a car salesman in Minneapolis who has landed himself deep into debt. Desperate for money, he hires two inept crooks to kidnap his own wife in the hope that her wealthy father will pay the ransom. But when Jerry’s plan goes horribly wrong, Marge Gunderson – a pregnant but persistent police chief in rural Minnesota – is brought in to try and unravel the deadly scheme.

Members are invited to join us any time from 7:15pm for sherry, mince pies and a chance to look at plans for the HLF scheme. The film won’t begin until after 8:30 though so arrive whenever suits you. We anticipate this will be a well attended screening so if you would definitely like to see the film can you please RSVP to Wendy before 10th December.

Blood Simple – Director’s Cut

Remastered Director’s Cut Showing Saturday 2nd December 8:40pm

Marty: “I got a job for you.”
Private Detective Visser: “Well, if the pay’s right, and it’s legal, I’ll do it.”
Marty: “It’s not strictly legal.”
Private Detective Visser: [Thinks for a second] “Well, if the pay’s right, I’ll do it.”

Definition of Blood Simple: What happens to someone psychologically once they have committed murder; craziness.  A phrase coined by novelist Dashiell Hammett.

Revenge is sweet. This could be the perfect crime. But who can you really trust? And might human fallibility bring unintended consequences? This tense Texas thriller will keep you guessing. Make sure you keep an eye on those little details … the gun, the cigarette lighter, the knife, the contents of the safe.

Blood Simple is the Coen Brothers’ first film and my personal favourite. They bring together a great script, cinematography and soundtrack. The director’s cut is just a few minutes shorter than the original. M Emmet Walsh (Private Detective Visser); John Getz (Ray); Dan Hedaya (Marty); Frances McDormand (Abby); and Samm-Art Williams (Meurice) bring their flawed characters to life. One damn things just leads to another …

The Four Tops record on the jukebox blares out:

You’re sweet as a honey bee
But like a honey bee stings
You’ve gone and left my heart in pain
All you left is our favourite song
The one we danced to all night long
It used to bring sweet memories
Of a tender love that used to be

It’s the same old song
But with a different meaning
Since you been gone
It’s the same old song

The screening will be the director’s’ cut of the film following a recent digital restoration from StudioCanal.


Bill Walton

Our #LIFF2017 Highlights

The film festival may be over but with arguably one of their best programmes, there’s still plenty to talk about. We asked our contributors for their highlights from LIFF2017 and it would be great to see yours in the comments:

Bill

  • Thelma
  • Félicité
  • The Wages of Fear
  • Loveless
  • Lover for a Day
  • The Teacher
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Gaza Surf Club
  • Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion

Jake

  • The Rider
  • Western
  • Untitled
  • Félicité
  • Happy End

Keith

  • Happy End
  • Félicité
  • Taste of Cherry / Ta’m e guilass

And the best film not screened at the Festival, Oktyabr / October 1917 (Ten Days that Shook the World, 1928), co-written and directed by Sergei Eisenstein.

Stephen

  • Amélie
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Journeyman
  • The Florida Project
  • Good Time
  • Bad Genius
  • You Were Never Really Here
  • Jane
  • The Breadwinner
  • The Rider

 

The Death of Stalin

Showing until 1st NovemberThe Death Of Stalin Poster

The Death of Stalin, the new film by Armando Iannucci (The Thick of It), based on the graphic novel of the same name, is currently showing at the HPPH.

Iannucci’s world building is second to none, dragging the viewer into the paranoid fear filled world of the U.S.S.R, where no one can be trusted, all rooms are bugged and no one is safe from the terror of the secret police, the NKVD, run by the sinister Beria (portrayed by Simon Beale).

The farcical power struggle that follows immediately after Stalin’s death between the Council of Ministers shows the absurd nature of the Stalinist Russia, and runs deeply into the themes that Iannucci covers in his previous work, The Thick of It, but this time around an added  fear of execution, not Malcolm Tucker shouting at you.

Between the power grabs and scheming, we get a comedic glimpse into the theatre of the absurd that Stalin had created, Molotov (Palin) even quips ‘Stalin would be loving this’ at the height of the infighting. This film is one of the funniest out this year (the rest of the audience agreed with me I believe!), with moments of bleakness and sadness that pin the whole thing down in reality. These things happened and we are following the stories of cruel men, a product of a cruel regime.

Stand out performances for myself were Andrea Riseborough playing Stalin’s daughter Svetlana, whom all the council members were trying to win the favour of after her father’s death.  A special mention for the Yorkshire-accented no nonsense Zhukov played by Jason Issacs (just wait for him to pop up!).

I cannot recommend The Death of Stalin enough, it gives the audience a glimpse into a strange world at a historically significant point in time, that not everyone is familiar with. Its funny, tense, farcical, paranoid and again, very very funny.

If you like The Death of Stalin, you should watch The Thick of It (Iannucci), In the Loop (Iannucci, 2009), and if you want to go old school, Yes Minister (Jay and Lynn).

I’ve been Comrade Henry Stocks-Fryer, you’ve been reading.

Blade Runner: A Study in Humanity

Blade Runner: The Final Cut – Thursday 28th September 6.00 PM
Blade Runner 2049 showing from October 5th

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Blade Runner, released on 25th June 1982.

Its initial run was met by a lukewarm response from critics, but has since grown into a cult film, and essential viewing for most film fans (especially Sci-Fi nerds). Based on Philip K. Dick’s book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. Blade Runner has formed the building blocks to the genres of neo-noir and cyberpunk, and with the release of the sequel, Blade Runner 2049 (screening from Thursday 5th October), I’m sure it will continue to build on that foundation.

Set in the far flung future of 2019 (which makes the author of this piece wonder if flying cars are just around the corner for us?), the viewer follows Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a retired cop, brought back in by Gaff (Edward James Olmos) to help “retire” rogue replicants, androids created by Tyrell corporation. Harrison Ford’s performance as the anti-hero, who is forced to question the morality of his work by the femme fatale Rachael (Sean Young) , is one of his best.

Ridley Scott takes the viewer on a journey throughout the world, giving us a glimpse into a cyberpunk dystopia (the concept of ‘high tech, low life’ really rings true), the power of the omnipotent state and the unchecked might of corporations (such a Tyrell).

Alongside this exploration of society, is the emerging humanity we see in the replicants lead by Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), the Nietzschean Ubermensch of the piece, who really steals the show. We witness their struggle for meaning in their existence and freedom they will kill for.

It’s an existential crisis, but with androids and guns.

I wanted to write about Blade Runner for many reasons, but it was mainly for my love of the cyberpunk genre, and with Philip K.Dick being its spiritual founder, I thought it was quite fitting.

If you like Blade Runner you should also read; Neuromancer by William Gibson, Akira (Manga & Anime) by Katsuhiro Otomo, Ghost in the Shell (manga/film) by Mamoru Oshii, 12 Monkeys (film) and if you really want to get into the Noir side of things,you should check out The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler.

But what you really need to watch is the original Blade Runner:The Final Cut at the HPPH on September 28th and then soon after the sequel (starring the dashing Ryan Gosling) Blade Runner 2049 from October 5th.

I’ve been Henry Stocks-Fryer. You’ve been great. Follow the unicorn.

Inherent Vice, USA 2014

Showing Sunday 17th September 1:30pm

as part of Scalarama and the Philosophy & Film series

Sortilège (Joanna Newsom) narrating:

“Inherent vice in a maritime insurance policy is anything that you can’t avoid. Eggs break, chocolate melts, glass shatters, and Doc wondered what that meant when it applied to ex-old ladies”.

Inherent Vice is set in Los Angeles in1970. A classic stoner movie which reflects a counterculture that will be greatly appreciated by audiences who may or may not use cannabis … please remember that the Hyde Park Picture House is a non-smoking venue! The film’s director, Paul Thomas Anderson, adapted the film from the book by Thomas Pynchon.


Sortilège:

“She [Shasta Fay (Katherine Waterston)] came along the alley and up the back steps the way she always used to. Doc Larry Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) hadn’t seen her for over a year. Nobody had. Back then it was always sandals, bottom half of a flower-print bikini, faded Country Joe & the Fish t-shirt. Tonight she was all in flatland gear, hair a lot shorter than he remembered, looking just like she swore she’d never look.”

Doc, a dazed and confused private investigator, takes up Shasta’s case and is soon enmeshed in a surreal world of crime, menace and deception. Love, sex and comedy too are all part of the mix. In the background is the menace of Nixon’s presidency and the Vietnam War. I won’t reveal the plot, largely because I don’t fully understand it myself. Suffice to say that Doc is a brilliantly acted anti-hero, who is joined by a great cast including an upright (or is he?) police officer, Lt. Det. Christian F. “Bigfoot” Bjornsen (Josh Brolin), plus Martin Short, Reese Witherspoon, Benicio Del Toro and Owen Wilson.

In total, it’s an entertaining neo-noir melange of moods and styles. It would take many viewings to grasp all the references to other films and to hippie lifestyles. Maybe you will be a little clearer after the Philosophy and Film Q&A that follows the film …

“What’s Up, Doc?” as Bugs Bunny used to say.


Bill Walton

Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb

Showing Saturday 29th July 10pm

General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden): “Mandrake, do you recall what Clemenceau once said about war?”
Group Captain Lionel Mandrake (Peter Sellers): “No, I don’t think I do, sir, no.”
General Jack D. Ripper: “He said war was too important to be left to the generals. When he said that, 50 years ago, he might have been right. But today, war is too important to be left to politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought. I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.”

All is not well on Burpelson Air Force Base. The sign outside the base says PEACE IS OUR PROFESSION; nevertheless a senior commander has ordered B-52 bomber crews to launch a nuclear first strike on Russia. For sure, the United States President and his Joint Chiefs of Staff below ground in the Pentagon War Room are extremely worried.

Can the planes really not be recalled?

Has the human element in the military machine set us on course for catastrophe?

Surely the American and Russian leaders can be trusted to avoid the doomsday nightmare …

Maybe Dr. Strangelove (Peter Sellers) will give them helpful advice about avoiding Mutual Assured Destruction.

Dr Strangelove is a brilliant satire on the Cold War, strong on suspense and high on humour. Director Stanley Kubrick brings us a stellar cast, and stunning photography combined with excellent set design and soundtrack. What’s more, it raises important ethical issues. Unsurprisingly is has often been voted one of the best films of the 20th Century.

 General Buck Turgidson (George C. Scott): “Mr. President… I’m beginning to smell a big, fat Commie rat.”
President Merkin Muffley (Peter Sellers): on phone to Russian premier: “Dimitri, we have a little problem … “

P.S. DJT tweets: FAKE NEWS! They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story. Nice


Bill Walton

New Programme: July – September

The new film programme starts on July 14th and is now available as a PDF on the website, the printed version should be available from the cinema early next week.

It includes new films from directors Sofia Coppola (The Beguiled), Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk – on 35mm celluloid) and Kathryn Bigelow (Detroit). The cover image is from God’s Own Country, the phenomenal debut feature from Yorkshire filmmaker Francis Lee  (you may remember his 2013 short film Bradford Halifax London ). Francis will be attending a special preview Q&A on Wednesday 23rd August.

Other highlights include selections of films for the new INDIs Festival, an Amnesty International miniseries focussing on children’s rights. Our Friends’ screening to celebrate Yorkshire Day will take place on Sunday 30th July and is a double bill of The Battle For Orgreave (1985) and The Battle of Orgreave  (2001). Two very different but complementary approaches to documenting the fractious period in British history which encompassed the miner’s strikes of 1984-1985.

What are  you looking forward to seeing, let us know in the comments below.

Mid Year Favourites

With July on the horizon it seemed like a good time for some mid-year reflection. Before they headed off to Glastonbury, committee members Stephen and Bill picked their favourite films of 2017. As always, it would be great to hear your favourites in the comments. If you need a reminder here’s a page with a list of everything shown at the Picture House this year.

Bill

Three of my best films so far feature women taking the lead in tales of sex and violence.
Elle (2016)
Another stunning performance from Isabelle Huppert.
Chicago (1927)
Cecil B DeMille film featured in the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival , with live music. Phyllis Haver stars, supported by a strong cast.
Lady Macbeth (2016)
Florence Pugh plays the lead character, a charismatic and chilling performance.
I Am Not Your Negro (2017)
Damn Right I’ve Got the Blues! Samuel L Jackson narrates James Baldwin’s elegant accounts of the murders of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, and brings the American civil rights story up to date. Great archive footage and sound track.
The Other Side of Hope (2017)
An entertaining film, set in Finland, which uses comedy to challenge our stereotypes of refugee from Syria.

Stephen

“My Trilogy Of Grief”:  Manchester By The Sea, A Monster Calls and Jackie

I’m starting with a cheat by grouping three films together. All three came out early in the year and for many (i.e. Americans) were considered 2016 films. All three deal with grief and all remain three of my favourite films of the year.

20th Century Women

After seeing this I wrote “Just beautiful. I can’t decide if it’s life affirmingly brilliant or depressingly sad but it all feels so very real.

Prevenge

I’ll need to see this again to know if it’s really one of the best films of the year but the Valentine’s night screening with Alice Lowe was a great night and one of the reasons why we’re so lucky to have the Picture House. The same could also be said for the preview of Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire.

My Life As A Courgette

Despite appearances I still think this is one of the most honest depictions of life and growing up.

Some Other Films

I thought it was worth pointing out that I don’t feel like I’ve seen as many films this year but that’s only because a lot of this years releases were showing at the Film Festival. If I hadn’t already seen them I’d be considering the following for my list: The Handmaiden, Toni Erdmann, Moonlight,  Certain Women,  Life Animated and Mindhorn.

 

La Strada, Italy 1954

Showing Sunday 25th June 3:20pm

 

The circus is here. “Zampanò e arrivato!”
La Strada (The Road) is a rich mix of love and loneliness, tenderness and violence, humour and sadness. Director Federico Fellini sets this story in Italy soon after World War Two. As in his other films, great photography makes full use of circus, parades, the sea, the weather, and bleak early morning light. La Strada was filmed on location, with local people and settings adding to the atmosphere.
What characters!
Giulietta Masina’s portrayal of Gelsomina (an impoverished, innocent simpleton, described in the film by her mother as ‘a bit strange’) is brilliant. In fact so brilliant that when she attended a showing of La Strada at the Italian Cinema Festival in London, viewers thought that Fellini had really rescued her from a circus. Out of sympathy they sent scarves, socks, sweaters and shawls to the hotel where she was staying. In reality, at that time, she had had been married to Fellini for over ten years. Charlie Chaplin said that he saw Giulietta as his spiritual daughter.
Actor and former prize-fighter Anthony Quinn gives an inspired performance as Zampanò, a brutish circus performer.  He excels as the volatile and dim-witted outcast, racked with jealousy.
Richard Basehart is very engaging as the exuberant, fun-loving Fool, a high-wire performer and clown. And the Fool can’t resist flirting with Gelsomina …
La Strada has had a huge influence on film making.  And apparently it was also the inspiration for  both Bob Dylan’s ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’ and Kris Kristofferson’s ‘Me and Bobby McGee’.
This story of human frailties and personal rivalries should not be missed!
“It is only when I am doing my work that I feel truly alive”
Federico Fellini

Bill Walton