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Winter 1996 season

Tuesday 9th January at 8pm
Once Were Warriors     New Zealand 1994  |  103 mins  |  18
Lee Tamahori’s powerful and impressive debut feature tells the story of Maori woman Beth and her relationship with her violent, sexist husband Jake, and the different ways their three children react to the situation, from restricted emotional development to delinquency and involvement with street gangs. Owing more in style to Hollywood melodramas than Ken Loach’s kitchen-sink realism approach, the film boasts a powerful central performance from Rena Owen and has been internationally acclaimed, having now become the biggest grossing film of all time in its native New Zealand.

Tuesday 16th January at 8pm
An Actor's Revenge [Yukinojô henge]     Japan 1963  |  114 mins  |  PG
Postponed from our last season, Kon Ichikawa’s adaptation of Otokichi Mikami’s newspaper serialisation followed the tradition of many Kurosawa films of the period by being taken far more seriously in the West than in its native Japan, and recent re-release and reappraisal has only served to strengthen its status. Kazuo Hasegawa plays a female impersonator in the Kabuki Theatre who catches up with the three men who ruined his parents and drove them to suicide twenty years earlier, and plans a long-awaited revenge. Celebrated for its use of colour and scope framing, its dynamic central performance and Ichikawa’s knowing, almost playful approach to his material.

Tuesday 23rd January at 8pm
Suture     USA 1993  |  96 mins  |  15
McGehee and Siegel’s first-rate thriller has met with considerable success on the independent circuit after its enthusiastic reception at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival and it’s easy to see why: its fascinating and occasionally outrageous storyline – a man suspected of murdering his father attempts to fake his own suicide by killing his (apparently) identical half-brother and assuming his identity – is matched by the sheer style of the execution, from the black-and-white scope cinematography to the use of editing and overlapping sound to displace the audience. Influenced by both Hitchcock’s Spellbound and Frankenheimer’s Seconds, Suture stands on its own considerable merits and deserves to be more widely seen.

Tuesday 30th January at 8pm
Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould     Canada 1993  |  93 mins  |  U
A drama-documentary based on the life of Glenn Gould, the remarkable and extremely talented Canadian pianist and intellectual who died in 1982, told not as a linear story, but as thirty-two brief sections, intended to mirror the structure of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, the CBS recording which brought Gould to fame in the 50s. The sequences vary greatly in structure and content, telling of his childhood, his professional career, his pioneering documentary work for Canadian radio, his obsession with the telephone as the preferred method of communication, his startling prescription-drug regime and his dramatic retirement from concert-playing in the early 60s, amongst others. A unique and often fascinating work that through its fragmented structure tells us more about Gould’s character and inner self than a straight narrative ever could have.

Tuesday 6th February at 8pm
M     Germany 1931  |  103 mins  |  18
Fritz Lang’s now legendary early sound film still stands as one of the cinema greats and is probably Lang’s most chilling and provocative film. Peter Lorre (in an unforgettable screen debut) plays a psychotic child murderer who terrorises Berlin, prompting leading members of the city’s underworld to take the law into their own hands. A cinematic triumph, with powerfully moody lighting and pioneering use of sound creating scenes of real tension, with the subject matter, as well as the film’s take on mob violence, giving the film an unsettling contemporary edge. (Cine Outsider review)

Tuesday 13th February at 8pm
Three Colours: Blue [Trois couleurs: Bleu]     France 1993  |  98 mins  |  15
The first of Kieslowski’s celebrated Three Colours trilogy (followed by Three Colours: White and Three Colours: Red) is regarded by many as the best. It tells the story of a woman who loses her composer husband and child in a car crash and sets about destroying all links with her past in order to remake her life. Dealing with the theme of liberty – in this case a supposed freedom from pain gained through a refusal to interact with the outside world – this is a beautifully filmed, sometimes hypnotic work (not least in its use of music, which was composed before the film and the action then paced to it) with an enigmatic central performance from Juliette Binoche. (Cine Outsider review)

Tuesday 20th February at 8pm
Yeelen     Mali 1987  |  103 mins  |  18
Lee Tamahori’s powerful and impressive debut feature tells the story of Maori woman Beth and her relationship with her violent, sexist husband Jake, and the different ways their three children react to the situation, from restricted emotional development to delinquency and involvement with street gangs. Owing more in style to Hollywood melodramas than Ken Loach’s kitchen-sink realism approach, the film boasts a powerful central performance from Rena Owen and has been internationally acclaimed, having now become the biggest grossing film of all time in its native New Zealand.

Tuesday 5th March at 8pm
The Silences of the Palace [Samt el qusur]     France / Tunisia 1994  |  127 mins
Set during the final years of pre-independance Tunisia, The Silences of the Palace relates the evocative and sometimes harrowing story of Alia, a servant girl in the palace of a Tunisian prince and her friendship with Sarra, born the same night as her and the daughter of the king’s brother. Former editor Moufida Tlatli’s prize-winning debut film is carefully paced but vivid and memorable, with music that is central to the story rather than just decorative, and fine performances from a most effectively used cast. A fascinating insight into Tunisia’s past and the parallels that can be drawn with the present, not least regarding the role of women in Tunisian society.

Tuesday 12th March at 8pm
Naked     UK 1993  |  131 mins  |  18
After the optimistic edge of Life is Sweet, director Mike Leigh here returns to his earlier, darker style with this searing and disturbing drama, that follows Johnny, a homeless, intelligent, but brutish and ruthlessly self-centred young man who escapes a potential beating in Manchester by running away to join his ex-girlfriend in London, where he lashes out at everyone he encounters. Incisively written and driven along by a powerhouse central performance from David Thewlis, the film looks at an underside of inner-city life, where disillusion rules and people are as isolated from each other as they are from society as a whole. A dual winner at Cannes, for Best Director and Best Actor. (Cine Outsider review)

Tuesday 19th March at 8pm
Les enfants du paradis     France 1945  |  195 mins
Marcel Carné's wartime romantic classic has been described as France's answer to Gone With the Wind and is regarded in most critical circles as one of the finest films ever made. Shot in France during the German occupation but not released until 1945 after the liberation of Paris, where the film was premiered, it tells the story of unrequited love in a rough-and-tumble theatrical troupe in 19th-century France. An intelligent, witty and moving work that achieved miracles against all the odds - not only did the film-makers have to find ways to work round the strict Nazi production code, but much of the lower cast was made up of Resistance Fighters who were being sought by the Gestapo!

Tuesday 26th March at 8pm
To Live [Huozhe]     Hong Kong 1994  |  125 mins  |  12
Zhang Yimou, the director of both Raise the Red Lantern and The Story of Qui Ju, confirms his already considerable reputation with this evocative and personal examination of the social and political history of 20th-century China, from the hedonism of the early 40s through civil war, Communism and the Cultural Revolution, focussing primarily on the characters of Fugui and his wife Jiazen and how they are affected by the events in their country. A remarkable, moving and sometimes intimate examination of an epic subject, handled with skill and humour by an emerging cinematic master, and bolstered by two superb central performances from Gong Li and Ge You.