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Winter 1999 season

Tuesday 12th Junuary at 8pm
Hana-bi [Fireworks]     Japan 1997  |  103 mins  |  18
'Beat' Takeshi Kitano is one of the most extraordinary of modern Japanese film­makers, his fllms as director ranging from the magnificent, richly textured Sonatine to the delightful autobiographical Kids Return, shown by us last year. Hana-bi returns to his favourite subject matter, that of the Yakuza gangsters and the cops that are pitted against them. Takeshi himself plays Nishi, a detective whose partner is badly injured when he leaves him alone on a dangerous stakeout to visit his terminally ill wife. The Incident drives him from the force and into debt and violent conflict with Yakuza loan sharks, and searching for some sort of closure for himself, his wife and his relationship to the world around him. Brilliantly directed and edited and peppered with the Takeshi trademarks of quirky, delightful humour and sudden, unexpected bursts of violence, Hana-bi is this remarkable actor/director's most perfectly realised work yet.

Tuesday 19th January at 8pm
The Spanish Prisoner     USA 1997  |  110 mins  |  PG
Joe Ross has developed a top secret 'process' that could make millions for his company and is sent to a secluded Caribbean island for a secret meeting, where he is befriended by a mysterious, jet-setting businessman named Jimmy Dell. When Joe becomes convinced that his boss is looking to cut him out of the profits his process could bring, he accepts Dell's offer to help him claim what is rightfully his. David Mamet, one of America's most talented playwrights and now an established and respected film director, uses this premise to set the story, then shifts the tone sharply, repeatedly twisting the plot and dragging us into a dark and complex web of intrigue and deception. Touted by many as Mamet's finest film yet, it shines in its plotting, its dialogue, its direction and a string of first-rate performances from the likes of Campbell Scott. Rebecca Pidgeon, Steve Martin and Ben Gazarra.

Tuesday 26th January at 8pm
The Last Days of Disco     USA 1998  |  113 mins  |  15
Having established himself as an acute observer of young, middle-class American manners and behaviour with Metropolitan and Barcelona, indie director Whit Stillman continues the trend with his refreshing spin on the recent 70s/80s nostalgia cycle, and turns in perhaps his best work to date. Set in the early 80s, when the disco era was in its dying days, the film focuses on a group of young, New York WASPs and their regular meeting place, a disco that everybody who is or aspries to be anybody simply has to get into, concentrating on their friendships, rivalries, relationships and aspirations. Stlilman's films ore essentially dialogue and chuacter driven, but what makes them stand out is the sheer quality of the wordplay and character detail - his observations are funny and touching, but have an essential truth that makes the participants fascinating and believable.

Tuesday 2nd February at 8pm
Gadjo Dilo     France 1997  |  102 mins  |  15
Young Parisian Stephane travels to Romania search of Nora Luca, a Romany singer admired by his father before his death. On the road he falls in with a group of Travellers and is beff'iended by lzidora, an old fiddler who may or may not know Luca. Given the name 'Gadjo Dilo' ("crazy white guy"), Stephane is welcomed into lzidora's extended family, who believe he has been sent by "luck" to fill the place of lzidora's r·ecently jailed son. With the passing of time, his quest becomes secondary to his understanding of and friendship with his new travelling companions. The third third film in British writer­director Tony Gatlif's 'Gypsy Trilogy' – after Les Princes and Latcho Drom – continues his fascination with Romany culture. people and music. Aremarkable film with exceptional attention to character detail.

Tuesday 9th February at 8pm
Love is the Devil     UK 1998  |  90 mins  |  18
An artist surprises a burglar he has caught rummaging his home, but instead of calling the poilce he invties the burglar to his bed. The burglar is George Dyer and the artist the notorious English painter Francis Bacon, and the relationship that develops between the two men is the central focus of this first feature film by John Maybury. It is perhaps his own artistic background that gives Maybury the insight that puts Love is the Devil in a different class to most other film portraits of artists as he concentrates on the man rather than his work, abandoning the formal structure of the Hollywood biopic in favour of a more stylised, avant-garde approach, which given the nature of Bacon's own work seems wholly appropriate. But it is the acting that has attracted the most praise, notably a powerhouse central performance from Derek Jacobi as Bacon, and compelling support from Daniel Craig as Maybury. (Cine Outsider review)

Monday 15th February at 8pm
Velvet Goldmine     UK / USA 1998  |  123 mins  |  18
In New York in 1984, British ex-patriot reporter Arthur Stuart is researching a story on Brian Slade, one of the greats of the glam­rock era whose career died In the aftermath of a notorious publicity stunt ten years earlier. As Stuart interviews those involved, including American garage rocker Curt Wild (Ewan McGregor) and Slade's savvy manager Jerry Devine (Eddie Izzard), he recollects his own involvement in the events of his story, which may be deeper than he cares to admit. The latest from director Todd Haynes (previously responsible for [Safe]) is a full-blown trip back to the British glam era of the 70s, vividly recreating the look and feel of the time with an extraordinary eye for detail, the characters clearly influenced by the likes of David Bowie and lggy Pop. And of course there's the music, which could alone constitute the best nostalgia soundtrack album of the year. Platform shoes and flares are not obligatory, but will be looked on favourably.

Tuesday 16th February at 8pm
Divorcing Jack     UK / France 1998  |  109 mins  |  15
In a fictitious, independent Northern Ireland on the brink of peace, drunken, smart-alec hack Dan Starkey meets and spends the night with a woman; the next day he returns to find her dying from gunshot wounds and himself the prime suspect. Fleeing the scene, his misfortunes mount, and soon just about everyone appears to be after him, his only ally being a gun-toting kiss-o­gram nun... Plotted initially like a partial remake of The Thirty-Nine Steps, Divorcing Jack is played as much for dark comedy as for thrills, though director David Caffrey ensures that the pace, plot twists and nasty surprises all play their part. In the end, though, it's the dialogue and performances that steal the show, notably another dynamite turn from the extraordinary David Thewlis, in his first lead role since Mike Leigh's Naked, as the dishevelled hapless Starkey.

Tuesday 23rd February at 8pm
The Thief [Vor]     Russia / France 1997  |  97 mins  |  15
Russia, 1952: young Katja and her six-year­old son Sanya have no real home or income, Katja's husband having been killed in the war. On cross-country train she meets and eventually falls for charismatic army officer, Tolyan, and believes his promise of a better life for her and her child. But Tolyan turns out to be not what he seems - he is a thief, and by accepting him as a provider, Katja also has to accept his lifestyle and the problems it brings. This a story of the consequences of hardship, but realised with real skill and understanding, achieved in part by viewing events through the eyes of the young Sanya, bewitchingly played by newcomer Misha Philipchuk. Having swept the board at the Russian Academy Awards, The Thief was also nominated for this year's Best Foreign Language Flim Oscar.

Tuesday 2nd March at 8pm
My Name is Joe     UK / Spain / Italy / France / Germany 1998  |  104 mins  |  18
Joe Kavanagh is an unemployed recovering alcoholic who coaches the worst football team in Glasgow. Sarah is a health visitor who lives for her work. Both are single and in theri late 30s. When they cross swords over a couple they are both trying to help in their own diverse ways, they discover an unexpected mutual attraction, but can these fiercely independent souls really get together? My Name is Joe is the latest work from one of Britain's most consistent and committed film directors, Ken Loach, who is once again on fine form dealing with a subject close to his heart, investing an honest, working-class love story with an earthy realism and humour that make every turn in the couple's troubled relationship believable. This is given extra weight by an utterly convincing central performance by Peter Mullan, who won the award for Best Actor at Cannes this year for his portrayal of joe.

Tuesday 9th March at 8pm
Hamam: The Turkish Bath     Turkey / Italy / Spain 1998  |  94 mins  |  15
Francesco, a successful Italian businessman, travels to Istanbul to oversee the sale of his late aunt's property, a Turkish Bath, which is known locally as as Hamam. He stays with the family who run the property and slowly becomes seduced by the atmosphere of the city and the bath itself, and through it discovers things about himself – including his sexuality – that had previously remained buried. This first film from director Ferzan Ozpetek (previously an assistant director on Ricky Tognazzi's excellent La Scorta) is an assured and atmospheric piece of storytelling that shows a confident control of mood and emotion. Evocatively filmed in old Istanbul, the believable characterisations and performances contribute to the seductive nature of this unusual and intriguing meeting of cultures.

Tuesday 16th March at 8pm
Funny Games     Austria 1997  |  108 mins  |  18
Two well-educated young men approach an upper middle-class family on holiday, charm their way into their hoilday home, then imprison and begin torturing them for no explicable reason. This latest work from Austrian director Michael Haneke continues his investigation into a modern cinema audience's relation to screen violence, a theme he first explored in films such as The Seventh Continent and Benny's Video, and in a way that is both uncompromising and deliberately confrontational. Although there is little actual on-screen violence, the film successfully implies the most horrific of acts through sound and performance, then questions the audience's complicity in what they are watching, in a way that repeatedly challenges them to make a decision to leave or stay. This is a powerful, controversial and disturbing work,and is definitely not for viewers of a sensitive disposition.

Monday 22nd March at 8pm
My Son the Fanatic     UK 1998  |  87 mins  |  15
A Pakistani taxi driver develops a friendship with a young white prostitute he drives from job to job, while his relatoinship with his uncommunicative wife and increasingly hostile son gradually decays. When the son becomes involved with an Islamic fundamentalrst group, it starts a chain of events that threatens to not only break apart his own family, but also turn the local Asian community on its head. The latest script from the pen of Hanif Kureishi, who gave us My Beautiful Laundrette and TV's The Buddah of Suburbia, is less obviously autobiographical than his previous work in that it views events from an older, more seasoned standpoint. His interest in challenging traditional viewpoints remains, however, with a central relationship that questions cultural taboos, being based around a traditional family unit that is breaking down, and a clash of religious ideologies within the Asian community. Solid direction helps make this work well, but it's the sympathetic, carefully Judged performance by Indian actor Om Puri that engages our sympathy most effectively.

Tuesday 23rd March at 8pm
Life is All You Get [Das Leben ist eine Baustelle]     Germany 1997  |  115 mins  |  18
On his way home from work, young Berlin slaughterhouse worker Jan Nebel stumbles into a street riot, where he rescues a girl, Vera, from two men by beating them up. This proves to be a turning point in his life, for not only does he fall for the girl, but her pursuers prove to be plain-clothes policemen. As a result he loses his job and is slapped with a large fine, then a short while later discovers that he may just be HIV positive. Seemingly having more in common with the works of British directors Mike Leigh and Ken Loach (the inclusion of Loach regular Ricky Tomilnson seems a nod of admission to that) than with traditional German cinema, Life is All You Getcertainly bares some similarities to their work, not least in their underlying social message, sense of realism and moments of delightful character comedy. And like those directors, Wolfgang Becker seems adept at choosing his cast and getting performances from them that just hit the right note.

Tuesday 30th March at 8pm
Dance of the Wind     Germany / UK / France / Netherlands / Switzerland 1997  |  85 mins  |  15
In present day New Delhi, a young singer of classical Hindustani music is taught by her mother, a famous singer in her day, through the traditional method of passing musical knowledge down through the generations. When her mother dies, the effect on her daughter is dramatic – during her next concert she loses her voice in mid-song. No physical explanation can be found and she withdraws into herself, but a meeting with an aged guru awakens the possibility of finding new voice. Although set in modern India, director Rajan Kosha's first feature draws heavily on the culture and traditions of times past to tell its deceptively simple but expertly realised story. Boasting naturalistic performances and some mesmerising set-pieces, this is a gently developed but haunting and sometimes beautifully realised meditation on the nature of art and the spiritual power of music.