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Spring 1998 season

Tuesday 21st April at 8pm
Nil by Mouth     UK 1996  |  134 mins  |  18
Our spring run opens with the single most requested film from last season, the first directoral effort by accomplished actor Gary Oldman (Prick Up Your Ears, Sid and Nancy, Leon) and an award winner at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. Drawing on his own childhood memories, Oldman offers us a shockingly powerful and personal view of alcoholism, drug abuse and domestic violence within a South London housing estate, centring on the violent, abusive Raymond and his long-suffering wife Valerie. Despite seemingly familiar subject matter, Oldman delivers a stylish, uncompromising and at times shattering view of a family caught in a trap of poverty and despair that somehow feels fresh and original, his camera style showing influences from Scorsese, Cassavetes and Scum director Alan Clarke, and the gloom punctuated with scenes of unexpected wit and rough humour. The lead performances from Ray Winston and Kathy Burke are never less than astonishing, but the film does tackle its subject head on, and the result is a work that stuns and numbs in equal measures, and one that contains very strong language and scenes that some may find upsetting.

Tuesday 28th April at 8pm
Costa Brava: A Family Album     Spain 1994  |  92 mins  |  15
Re-scheduled after having been unexpectedly cancelled in our Autumn 97 season, Costa Brava tells the story of Anna, a dissatisfied Barcelona 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 fourteen 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 5th May at 8pm
Regeneration     UK / Canada 1997  |  113 mins  |  15
Adapted from the first novel in Alan Shiach’s Booker prize-winning Ghost Road trilogy, Regeneration tells the story of a group of soldiers left emotionally devastated by the horrors of trench warfare and sent to an experimental psychiatric hospital, run by innovative psychiatrist William Rivers, where they relive their war traumas as part of their rehabilitation cure. Notable among these is army officer and non-conformist poet Siegfried Sassoon, who through his treatment helps Rivers to confront his own, deeply buried psychological wounds. The latest film from Gilles Mackinnon – director of Small Faces and Trojan Eddie – is a powerful, moving and intense study of men trying to regain their ordinary humanity in a world in which horror and violence are everyday experiences. Skillfully mixing fact and fiction, the film boasts a string of powerful performances from the likes of James Wilby and Jonathan Price, as well as some of the most vivid and emotional recreations of trench warfare since Kubrick’s Paths of Glory.

Tuesday 12th May at 8pm
Come and See [Idi i smotri]     USSR 1985  |  142 mins  |  15
In Byelorussia during the 1943 Nazi invasion, young Florya finds a rifle and immediately joins the local freedom fighters, despite the protestations of his mother, who does not wish to lose her son and the only protection for herself and her two daughters. When Florya is left behind by his comrades he heads back to his village, but before he can reach it the Germans launch an air raid, triggering a series of events that in a matter of days will transform Florya from naive boy to a world-worn man. Made in 1985, winner of the Grand Prix at the Moscow Film Festival and acclaimed in many quarters as one of that year’s finest films, Idi i smotri is a highly charged, sometimes devastating indictment of war and the inhumanity inflicted by the invading Nazi forces. Always skillfully executed – the sometimes bravura camerawork and extraordinary soundtrack deserve a special mention – the film takes us on a descent into hell, where innocence is destroyed in an instant and the lessons of life are almost all brutal ones. Packing a huge emotional wallop, this is an uncompromising work that contains scenes that some may find upsetting.

Tuesday 19th May at 8pm     RAMSGATE SPRING FESTIVAL
Performance     UK 1970  |  105 mins  |  18
Showing as part of the Ramsgate Spring Festival, whose theme this year is ‘reflections’, this debut feature as directors for both Nic Roeg and Donald Cammell has proved itself to be an extraordinary one-off, a film whose complex structure and theme were too much for the Warner studio, who, not knowing just what to do with the film, delayed the release and employed a string of editors to rework the material. Whatever Roeg and Cammell’s original intentions, the film that finally emerged remains one of the most extraordinary and experimental works to emerge from British mainstream cinema. The story revolves around Chaz Devlin (James Fox in his best ever role), a young hotheaded gangster whose refusal to obey orders puts him on the wrong side of his employer and sends him into hiding. He takes refuge at the Notting Hill basement flat of a reclusive rock star, played by Mick Jagger, and the initial distrust and animosity the men have for one another fade as the boundaries between their very identities begin to blur. The film’s dazzling texture, kalaidescopic structure and mind-bending soundtrack were in some ways products of their time, but developed to a degree that dwarfed not only other films of the era, but just about all mainstream ‘experiments’ that have been attempted since.

Tuesday 26th May at 8pm
Face     UK 1997  |  105 mins  |  18
Four would-be London gangsters, led by the once politically active Ray, plan to rob a counting house of £2 million. The robbery goes well enough, but nets them only a fraction of their target figure, and when the money disappears, the police land on their backs and the bodies start piling up, the hapless four begin to suspect that they have bought into bigger and more dangerous game. In an explosion of energy, style and inventiveness, writer Ronan Bennett and director Antonia Bird single-handedly revive the British crime movie and turn in the best example of the genre since John MacKenzie’s The Long Good Friday. Pacy, inventive and energetic, and boasting an impressively staged climactic gunfight, Face raises itself above so many other attempts at the genre through the level of its character detail, its thoughtful political undertones, its smart but realistic dialogue and the ensemble playing of its excellent cast, who include Robert Carlyle, Ray Winstone, Steven Waddington, Phil Davis, Peter Vaughan, The Guildford Four’s Gerry Conlon and Blur’s Damon Albarn.

Tuesday 2nd June at 8pm
Under the Skin     UK 1997  |  83 mins  |  18
Iris and Rose are two sisters with little in common but the rivalry they have for their mother’s love, and are thus both devastated when she suddenly dies of cancer. Iris is particularly affected, her behaviour becoming increasingly erratic as she attempts to block her pain with a series of casual and potentially dangerous sexual liaisons. Under the Skin tackles a subject rarely fully explored on film, that of grief and emotional disintegration, examining just how self-destructive the process can become when someone is unable simply to ‘let go’ and deal with the trauma of losing a loved one head-on. Director Carine Adler, in her feature film debut, approaches her subject in an uncompromising and sometimes shocking manner, refusing to back off when things get uncomfortable, aided by spot-on cinematography by regular Ken Loach collaborator Barry Ackroyd and two superb central performances from Samantha Morton and Claire Rushbrook. The resulting work is powerful, moving and occasionally gut-wrenching experience that examines the true nature of the grieving process with a rare and moving honesty.

Tuesday 9th June at 8pm
Pretty Village, Pretty Flame [Lepa sela lepo gore]     Serbia 1996  |  128 mins  |  18
In contrast to last season’s Welcome to Sarajevo, which looked at the Bosnian conflict from a western standpoint, Pretty Village, Pretty Flame views events from a Serbian perspective. telling its story through the eyes of two childhood friends who eventually become caught up in the conflict. Director and co-writer Srdan Dragojevic is interested less in excusing the Serbs their actions than in trying to understand how they were duped into becoming involved in the first place – his approach is ironic, despairing, cynical and surprisingly apolitical, laced with scenes of real humour and a genuine affinity with the two leads. The handling is never less than extraordinary, from its masterful camerawork and editing to the effortless movement through timelines, tracing the men’s friendship from childhood to the present day in impressively non-linear fashion. It also involves us emotionally throughout, presenting us with an devastating, kaleidoscopic picture of a country torn in half by war, and the shattering effect it can have on the lives of those caught up in it.

Tuesday 16th June at 8pm
I Went Down     Ireland / UK / Spain 1997  |  107 mins  |  15
On his release from prison, luckless introvert Git Hynes falls foul of crime boss Tom French, and to make amends is teamed with the unstable Bunny Kelly and sent to Cork to bring back Frank Grogan, who has stolen £25,000 of French’s money. Even locating Grogan poses a problem for the hapless pair, and when they do manage to locate him their problems are far from over. Described by The Irish Times as “The Coen Brothers meets Roddy Doyle,” I Went Down is an exuberant, blackly humourous road movie, smartly scripted by young playwright and first-time screenwriter Conor McPherson and boasting some neat ensemble playing from a well picked cast. It also presents us with an impressively unromantic view of both the Irish landscape and those at the bottom end of the criminal ladder, but does so with wit, ingenuity and a very nice line in dark humour.