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

Mulholland Drive, USA 2001

Showing Sunday 7th May 3:10pm

1

Rita:What are you doing? We don’t stop here.
Some of the many reasons for you to see Mulholland Drive (or to see it again!) –
  • Chosen by “Les Cahiers du Cinéma” as the best picture of the decade (2010)
  • Coco’s (Ann Miller) story about the kangaroo
  • Adam Kesher’s  (Justin Theroux) demonstration of how to smash a limousine with a golf club
  • Lorraine and the pool cleaner getting their comeuppance
  • Joe the hitman looking for a black address book
  • Betty’s audition
  • the tenderness of the relationship between naive and optimistic Betty (Naomi Watts) and the beautiful and confused Rita (Laura Elena Harring)
  • Rebekah Del Rio singing “Llorando”
  • the Mulholland Drive dinner party
  • and of course to explore the surreal logic behind clues ranging from a pillow, name badges, the blue box, and red lampshades, to a cowboy hat and the piano-shaped ashtray.
Director, David Lynch, described the film as “A love story in the city of dreams”.
All in all, Mulholland Drive is a great feast for the imagination, and one which will stay with you.
Blue-haired lady:Silencio …

Bill Walton

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, USA 1975

Bank Holiday Monday 1st May 2:20pm

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.


Bill Walton

Free Fire

Showing multiple times daily until Thursday 6th April

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:

Elle, 2016

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Bill Walton was impressed by Elle and recommends you catch one of the remaining screenings this week…
Our question today is:
“A woman should never be a victim of male violence. Discuss.”
The answer:
“Male violence is obviously intolerable, no exceptions, the ultimate threat of patriarchy.
Nothing more to say …”
We may know where we stand on this, but is there anything else to say? What if a ‘victim’ doesn’t accept victimhood? Is revenge the answer? What are the impacts on friends and family? Might the resulting feelings get complicated? Elle explores this disturbing territory with style and humour, and not a few very uncomfortable moments. The film works so well because of the great cast, with a standout performance by Isabelle Huppert as Michèle Leblanc, and the edgy direction of Paul Verhoeven.  A whirlwind of thrills, suspense, plot twists, shocking behaviour, and so many funny moments.
Michèle “Shame isn’t a strong enough emotion to stop us doing anything at all. Believe me.”