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Autumn 1997 season

Tuesday 23rd September at 8pm
Looking for Richard     USA 1996  |  112 mins  |  15
Al Pacino’s first film as director is part documentary, part performance, a celebration of the actor’s love of Shakespeare and his attempts to both understand the character of Richard III and communicate his passion to a modern mass audience whose reaction to Shakespeare’s work is typified by the Manhattan passer-by who says simply, “It sucks.” The film develops into an investigation in how best to perform and produce Shakespeare for the stage and screen, done with style, wit, passion and heart, culminating in Pacino’s own electrifying interpretation of the role he seeks to understand. In his quest he talks to and performs with some formidable allies, including Alec Baldwin, Estelle Parsons, Aidan Quinn, John Gielgug, Kenneth Brannagh, Kevin Spacey, Kevin Kline, Jame Earl Jones, Vanessa Redgrave and Winona Ryder.

Tuesday 30th September at 8pm
The Day the Sun Turned Cold [Tianguo Niezi]     Hong Kong 1994  |  100 mins  |  12
In modern China, a young welder who accused his mother of the murder of his father ten years earlier, explains to the police the events that led up to the alleged incident. Yim Ho’s prize-winning film attaches minimal importance to the murder-mystery elements of the story and concentrates instead on an examination of a peasant family that slowly disintegrates as cruelty and betrayal take their toll. This is made all the more powerful by being seen through a child’s eye, a child whose later allegiances are to be constantly tested and shifted. Powerfully presented, the film also benefits from fine widescreen photography and strong performances, notably from Tuo Zhong Hua as the young Welder confronting his own past and Li Hu as the world-weary Police Captain.

Tuesday 7th October at 8pm
Ridicule     France 1996  |  102 mins  |  15
To suffer the ridicule of another is an experience almost everyone will be familiar with – the damage done to one’s pride may be short-lived, but it can still sting. In the court of Versailles in pre-revolution France it could do more than that, it could be the cause of physical and emotional ruin, for here wit and ridicule were the weapons of those seeking to demonstrate their intelligence at the expense of others and win favour with the King. Into this viper’s nest steps Gregiore Ponceludon de Malavoy, a modest country engineer who is intoxicated by the aristocratic atmosphere and discovers a natural flair for the verbal duelling that dominates the court, enabling him to rapidly move up in social standing. Patrice Leconte, who also gave us the delightfully intimate The Hairdresser’s Husband, directs with warmth and wit, but always gives centre stage to the sometimes delicious dialogue and the delightful performances of his cast, who include Charles Berling, Jean Rochefort, Fanny Ardant and Judith Godrèche.

Tuesday 14th October at 8pm
Pixote     Brazil 1981  |  127 mins  |  18
Kiss of the Spider Woman director Hector Babenco’s unflinching study of a young Brazilian criminal underclass and how it affects one abandoned child packed an almighty punch on its initial release in 1981 and time has failed to dull its power. The film follows young, abandoned Pixote, uncared for by the social services or the institutions in which he finds himself, as he drifts onto the steets of Rio and São Paulo where he quickly learns what it takes to survive, encountering first hand the horrors of sexual abuse, drugs and ultimately murder. Pixote himself is played with extraordinary poignancy and honesty by the then 11-year-old non-actor Fernando Ramos da Silva, whose life experience reflected the role he played, and tragically continued to do so, as a failed acting career led him back onto the streets and in 1987 to his death at the hands of the Police at the age of 19.

Tuesday 21st Octoberat 8pm
Costa Brava: A Family Album     Spain 1994  |  92 mins  |  15
Set in modern-day Barcelona, Costa Brava tells the story of Anna, a dissatisfied local tour guide with ambitions to be a writer-performer, who falls for Monserrat, an American tourist struggling with her heterosexuality. Shot on location in just 14 days, this ultra-low budget independent work concentrates on the personal and emotional side of the developing relationship rather than the sensational or lascivious aspects favoured by mainstream films and is all the more touching for it. First-time producer, director and co-writer Marta Balletbò-Coll also plays the maternal but sometimes manic Anna, a character she infuses with real personality, and her growing love for the altogether cooler Monserrat is a delight to watch. The sharp, charming and witty script and honest performances make for a touching, believable and enjoyably played-out love story.

Tuesday 28th October at 8pm
Kolya     Czech Republic / UK / France 1996  |  105 mins  |  12
In 1988 Prague on the eve of the Velvet revolution, Frantisek Louka, a determined bachelor and once renowned cellist, is offered money to marry his friend’s Russian niece so that she might obtain Czech papers. His initial reluctance fades when the niece turns out to be young and beautiful, but unexpected complications set in, and Louka’s life is soon altered beyond all recognition. Written by it’s lead actor, Zdenek Sverák, and directed by his son, Jan, Koyla is a touching and perceptive story, the monumental events that affected Czekoslovakia in 1989 mirroring the upset in the life of the hitherto carefree Louka, who initially pays only scant attention to what was eventually to become a turning point for the whole country. Delightfully written, played and photographed, the film has attracted praise from many quarters, and won this year’s Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Saturday 1st November at 8pm
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (participation night and disco)     UK 1975  |  100 mins  |  12
Our second Rocky Horror Participation Night has been repeatedly requested and, rather than displace one of the other films we are running it as a special event on an altogether more appropriate Saturday night. Once again it will be held at the Pavillion, Broadstairs. For those not in the know, this is situated next door to the Windsor cinema and this time will be followed by a disco. The bar will remain open all evening. Anyone not familiar with Richard O’Brien’s wonderful cult musical may well be in for a surprise, as this is a film that has transcended cinema and become an underground cultural phenomenon – showings are attended by patrons dressed as characters from the film, all of whom interract loudly with the dialogue and dance along with the cast during the musical numbers. This sort of behaviour will not only be tolerated, it will be actively encouraged, as it is essential to the Rocky Horror experience. Participation responses tend to be varied, but for the unitiated we have managed to obtain scripts containing some of the more popular ones, together with a full prop list. Copies can be obtained for 50p (to cover photocopying costs) from the organisers, who can usually be found hanging around the foyer of the Windsor on Tuesday evenings, seeing people in or handing out programme notes. So tell your friends, tell your family, tell everyone, but be there. Remember, don’t dream it, be it!

Tuesday 4th November at 8pm
Drifting Clouds [Kauas pilvet karkaavat/Au loin s’en vent les nuages]     Finland / Germany / France 1996  |  96 mins  |  15
Having made his name with quirky, minimalist comedies about often directionless deadbeats (including Leningrad Cowboys Go America and I Hired a Contract Killer), Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki continues to refine his world view in his latest film, which takes as its central characters a husband and wife forced into unemployment who, too proud to take money from the welfare system, begin the long search for new work. Finland is in a state of recession, however, which is reflected in the couple’s own dour attitude, as their hopes and love for one another are repeatedly tested by bad luck, clumsiness and personal disaster. Kaurismäki’s uniquely low-key and sometimes odd-ball execution marks it as a work that could only have come from him: emotions are kept in check, the humour is off-beat, subtle and sometimes downright strange, yet he always retains and communicates strong sympathy for his hapless central characters. (Cine Outsider review)

Tuesday 11th November at 8pm
Irma Vep     France 1996  |  99 mins  |  15
Former New Wave director René Vidal is attempting a TV remake of the French silent serial film Les Vampires, and has hired Hong Kong actress Maggie Cheung (playing herself) for the lead role. But the production is fraught with problems, including arguments on set, unfulfilled romantic aspirations and the director’s own steadily deteriorating mental health. Playing out partly as a mourning for cinema’s more innocent past, Irma Vep is an intriguing look behind the scenes of a troubled production, treading similar turf to Truffaut’s Day for Night but markedly different in tone and execution. Energetically performed and directed, it is ultimately the remarkable Maggie Cheung – dressed from head to toe in a costume that would turn Catwoman green with envy – who steals the show.

Tuesday 18th November at 8pm
A Self-Made Hero [Un héros très discret]     France 1995  |  105 mins  |  15
In 1930s France, the young Albert Dehousse escapes reality by imagining himself a storybook hero, an immersion in fantasy that is to follow him throughout his life. When, post WW2, he creates a new identity for himself as a great Resistance fighter, he finds great popularity and unexpected success, but wonders just where this new life will take him next. Winner of the Best Screenplay award at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival, this complex, elaborately plotted and hugely enjoyable work is presented in an almost documentary-like framework (Jean-Louis Trintignant plays Albert as an old man, looking back on his life and commenting on key events), but remains firmly fantasy based – “The best lives are invented,” as one character says. Spirited pacing and first-rate performances move us constantly and sometimes exhilaratingly forward, with Mathieu Kassovitz (director of the extraordinary La Haine) shining as the young Albert.

Tuesday 25th November at 8pm
Through the Olive Trees [Zir-e darakhtan-e zeyton]     Iran 1995  |  103 mins  |  U
In a village in modern day Iran, a film director is having trouble shooting a particular scene because of the repeated fumbling of the actors involved. It soon becomes clear that the real life relationships of the performers are having an effect on their on-screen roles. The third of a trilogy of films by Abbas Kiarostami and set in the Northern Iranian village of Koker (due to poor print quality, we are unable to obtain the earlier films at present), Through the Olive Trees plays games with film form and structure, presenting parts of the story as a film within a film, showing us how the movie-making process has become an almost integral part of the villagers’ lives. Perhaps the finest testament to the director came from the great master Akira Kurosawa, who once said to him: “What I like about your films is their simplicity and fluency, although it is really hard to describe them. One has to see them.”

Tuesday 2nd December at 8pm
Trojan Eddie     UK / Ireland 1996  |  105 mins  |  15
Eddie, an ex-con with a talent for selling anything and everything, has ambitions to rise above the low life, but encounters problems along the way, including John Power, the godfather of the local traveller community, to whom Eddie is obliged to hand over most of his profits. Matters are further complicated by a series of would-be romantic entanglements, one of which leads Eddie down a potentially dark and dangerous path. The latest work from Gilles McKinnon – the gifted young director of the previously screened Small Faces – once again presents us with a new and refreshing take on potentially hackneyed material, helped no end by an eloquent script (his first) by Irish playwright Billy Roche and a string of sturdy performances from a fine, all-Irish cast, notably Stephen Rea as Eddie and Richard Harris at his ragged and world-worn best as Romany godfather John Power.

Tuesday 9th December at 8pm
Kids Return     Japan 1996  |  107 mins  |  15
In modern-day Japan, two troublesome school-friends drop out and seek their fortune in the outside world; one becomes a small time boxer, the other hooks up with the local Yakuza gang, and while they both seemed destined for greater things, their undisciplined natures forever remain a threat to their future fortunes. Back almost from the dead after a serious motorbike accident, “Beat” Takeshi Kitano (who gave us the extraordinary Sonatine) has chosen to stay behind the camera for his latest work, and while his formidable on-screen presence is missed, his talent as a pure film-maker remains undiluted; his study of the two drop-outs is handled in his usual spare and precise manner, punctuated by moments of offbeat humour and harsh, often unexpected violence. This is stylish, confrontational and unsentimental film-making, and – along with the Shinya Tsukamoto’s mind-battering Tokyo Fist – the best Japanese film to reach these shores for some time.

Tuesday 16th December at 8pm
Kama Sutra – A Tale of Love     India / UK / Japan / Germany 1996  |  114 mins  |  18
In 16th Century India, two girls – Tara, a princess, and Maya, her servant – are raised together as children, but their difference in status breeds resentment. Years later Maya uses her beauty, together with the skills of seduction she has learned through the Kama Sutra, the Indian book of love, to enact her revenge. Kama Sutra - A Tale of Love is a film whose principal concern is the nature and politics of eroticism, director Mira Nair (Mississippi Masala, Salaam Bombay!) successfully presenting sex as an almost spiritual experience. Sometimes grand in scale – the production design, large cast of extras, beautiful photography and sweeping score at times verge on the epic – the film’s strength is in showing us both the beauty of the sexual experience and the potentially damaging power games that can be played out when people are controlled by their own sexuality, or that of others.