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Autumn 2000 season

Tuesday 19th September at 8pm
Being John Malkovich     USA 1999  |  112 mins  |  15
Directionless, unemployed puppeteer Craig Schwartz reluctantly takes a steady job as a file clerk on the compressed seventh-and-a-half floor of an office block, then one day stumbles across a hidden doorway that takes him inside the head of actor John Malkovich for fifteen minutes at a time. An unusual business opportunity occurs to him, but is complicated by both his relationship with his wife and the equally uneven one with his glamorous work colleague and new business partner, to whom he is hopelessly attracted. Far and away the most original Hollywood movie in years, this feature debut by oddball actor and music video director Spike Jonze is a true one-off, a bold, bizarre, hilarious, hugely imaginative and wonderfully unpredictable take on identity, gender and creativity, often hilarious and always surprising, with some terrific performances from the likes of John Cusack, Catherine Keener, an almost unrecognisable Cameron Diaz and, of course, John Malkovich.

Tuesday 26th September at 8pm
Underground     Yugoslavia / France / Germany / Hungary 1995  |  167 mins  |  15
In 1941, good friends Marko and Blacky fight the Nazi occupation of Yugoslavia by running guns to Tito’s communist guerrillas, at the same time sharing an obsession with blonde actress Natalija, who has aligned herself with a German commander in order to get vital supplies for her crippled brother. The men become part of an underground community that over the next 20 years continues to fashion weapons for use in a war that they believe has never ended, while the political changes and conflicts in their country have a marked effect on the fortunes of them all. Spanning the entire political history of Yugoslavia from WW2 to the modern day, this epic work from Emir Kusturica (Black Cat, White Cat; In the Time of the Gypsies) won the Palme D’Or at Cannes in 1995 but caused such a furore in Yugoslavia that the director swore he’d never work again, a pledge he upheld until teased back for the jovial Black Cat, White Cat last year. Looking at his home country through a sharp but somewhat manic eye, Kusturica tells a potentially depressing tale with energy, surrealism, emotion and wild humour, creating a sprawling but fascinating and entertaining work, featuring fine performances and a most unusual brass band music score.

Tuesday 3rd October at 8pm
Joan of Arc [Jeanne dʼArc]     France 1999  |  158 mins  |  15
The life story of Joan of Arc, from her birth in Domrémy in 1412, through her religious visions and her crusade against English invaders to her eventual trial for witchcraft at the age of just 19. One of the legendary figures of French history, Joan’s story had been told before more than once, most notably by Carl Dreyer and Robert Bresson, both of whom concentrated on the notorious trial. Nikita, Leon and Fifth Element director Luc Besson ambitiously chooses to cover her entire life and in a style that owes more to MTV than French directors of years past, which has effectively alienated many critics and historical purists but the film still succeeds handsomely as an all-out spectacle, boasting some truly extraordinary battle scenes, dazzling cinematography and many very fine performances from a high power cast that includes John Malkovich, Faye Dunaway, Dustin Hoffman Timothy West and, as Joan herself, The Fifth Element’s Milla Jovovich.

Tuesday 10th October at 8pm
Brother [Brat]     Russia 1997  |  99 mins  |  15
Ex-Russian army soldier Danila travels to St. Petersberg to start a new life with his gangster brother Victor, and is soon drawn into an increasingly violent life of crime. Tough, taught and sharply made, the film plays at times like an American gangster B-movie of the 40s but boasts an intelligence and social awareness that also makes it one of the most revealing films yet about modern Russian society, where capitalism’s arrival has come hand-in-hand with that of organised crime. Central to the story is Danila, played with extraordinary presence and power by Sergei Bodrov, last seen here as the innocent young soldier in his father’s Prisoner of the Mountains – his baby-faced looks and casual smile make his transition to criminal killing machine all the more effective and disquieting. A huge box-office and cult hit in Russia, Brother 2 is already in production.

Tuesday 17th October at 8pm
The City [La Ciudad]     USA 1998  |  88 mins  |  cert
Four stories looking at the lives of poorly paid immigrant workers in New York, all tales of loneliness, displacement and exploitation by a city that chooses simply not to see them. This first feature by British-born director David Riker is a touching, compelling, documentary-like study of a wealthy city’s underclass, bringing us closer to the immigrant experience than any movie yet to emerge from America; the aim being to open an audience’s eyes to a situation that is too often ignored, misunderstood or simply dismissed. In many ways reminiscent of the Italian neo-realist films of the late ‘40s and ‘50s, the sheer effectiveness of the film is in no small part due to the extraordinarily honest performances from a mainly non-professional cast, itself a tribute to a director who spent five years working with the community, learning from them and gaining their trust, giving him the insight he felt he needed to properly deliver such a powerful and committed piece of work.

Tuesday 24th October at 8pm
Topsy-Turvy     UK / USA 1999  |  160 mins  |  12
The year is 1884 and masters of the comic operetta William S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan have had ten hits in a row. When their latest production is an unexpected flop, Sullivan announces that he now wants to concentrate on grand opera, but a chance visit to a Japanese exhibition in London sets both men on the road for possibly their biggest hit ever. This latest work from Mike Leigh in many ways comes as something of a surprise, in its subject matter, period setting and its open celebration of all things theatrical, and the fact that it is one of the most wonderfully realised and entertaining biographical films ever made. As so often with Leigh it is the small detail and performances that really grab our attention, with Jim Broadbent at his peak as Gilbert, though he is given a real run for his money by Allan Corduner’s Sullivan, Timothy Spall’s baritone Richard Temple and a truly first-rate supporting cast. (Cine Outsider review)

Tuesday 31st October at 8pm
Nora     UK / Ireland / Germany 1999  |  106 mins  |  15
This year’s Celts in Kent festival is marked by Pat Murphy’s adaptation of the biography by Brenda Maddox, which detailed one of the great romances of the 20th Century. In 1904, the then 22 year-old writer James Joyce was working on an unpublished autobiographical novel when he first caught sight of chambermaid Nora Barnacle on a Dublin street and fell instantly in love. The unlikely relationship that developed was one that survived the differences in their backgrounds, the judgmental attitude of Joyce’s friends, his bouts of obsessive jealousy and Nora’s discomfort at seeing aspects of their private life turn up in his published work. Played as an emotional love story with repeated references to Joyce’s own work, the film also looks at the struggle of the creative process, and is made to work through two very fine central performances, from Ewan McGregor as Joyce and Susan Lynch as Nora.

Tuesday 7th November at 8pm
Show Me Love [Fucking Åmål]     Sweden / Denmark 1998  |  89 mins  |  15
Amal is a small town in Sweden where nothing ever seems to happen and where the latest crazes only arrive after they have been pronounced old hat by the rest of the country. In this community lives Elin, a young virgin who has a bad reputation with the local boys, and Agnes, who has fallen in love with Elin but is too shy to do anything about it. Though set in Sweden, this is a film that has universal appeal quite simply because the problems of teenagers seem to be the same all over the world, but writer-director Lukas Moodysson’s film is no American-style teen flick, being an honest, funny, tender and refreshingly true-to-life look at the problems of growing up, helped by a naturalistic shooting style and winning performances. The highest grossing film of all time in its native Sweden, even pulling off that seemingly impossible trick of beating Titanic into second place.

Tuesday 14th November at 8pm
Cradle Will Rock     USA 1999  |  134 mins  |  15
New York, 1936: a young, ambitious Orson Welles attempts to stage Marc Blitzstein’s socialist musical ‘The Cradle Will Rock’, but faces pressure from an establishment fearful of industrial unrest and anything that could be labelled ‘red’. The third feature directed by actor Tim Robbins gives us an Altman-esque, multi-stranded character study, laced with social politics and ‘30s style screwball comedy. Based mainly on fact, it follows a diverse collection of characters as they, in their differing ways, are affected by the politics and social pressures of the period, and follows each as they seek solutions to their troubles. The result is a complex, intelligent and often funny, delight, and a showcase for a whole string of fine actors near or at their best, including Hank Azaria, John Cusack, Cary Elwes (uncanny as Welles), Philip Baker Hall, Bill Murray, Emily Watson, Susan Sarandon and John Turturro.

Tuesday 21st November at 8pm
The Insider     USA 1999  |  158 mins  |  15
Jeffrey Wigand is Head of Research and Development at a major US tobacco company and discovers that not only have the cigarette companies known for years that nicotine was addictive, but that they have been working to make it even more so with their eyes firmly fixed on the increased profits this would bring. Enter 60 Minutes producer Lowell Bergman, who persuades Wigand to give an interview, which leads to the discovery of still darker secrets that put Wigand’s marriage, career and even life at risk. Based on Marie Brenner’s factual magazine article ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’, this latest work from Maverick US director Michael Mann (Manhunter, Last of the Mohicans, Heat) is a riveting, passionate and powerful tale of the corrupt underside of American corporate capitalism, an all-out character thriller that also shows just how difficult and punishing serious investigative journalism can be. Terrific direction makes the 158 minute running time seem something like half that, but the real stars of the show are the lead performers: Al Pacino is at his best as the stubborn, determined Bergman, but is matched all the way by a superb Russell Crowe as the conscience-stricken Wigand, the potential whistle-blower whose actions threaten to destroy everything he holds dear.

Tuesday 28th November at 8pm
Boys Don't Cry     USA 1999  |  118 mins  |  18
Young, good-looking drifter Brandon Teena arrives in a small Nebraska town and soon proves very popular with the local girls. There’s just one thing – Brandon is actually female, and as she immerses herself increasingly in the male role she has adopted, potential betrayal threatens to tear her entire world apart. Based on a true story, Boys Don’t Cry is a rare thing in modern US cinema: a challenging, at times harrowing and committed film that involves the audience emotionally in a story that is guaranteed to leave them affected. Director Kimberly Pierce is honest to her material by refusing to compromise and give in to the ubiquitous feel-good factor that is too often required to even get a film funded, opting instead for an approach that is taut, compassionate and free of sensationalism, aided by a stunning, completely believable central performance from Hilary Swank. A dark, disturbing work that is not for the faint-hearted, but possibly one of the most important and powerful American films of the year.

Tuesday 5th December at 8pm
Magnolia     USA 1999  |  188 mins  |  18
On a rainy day in Los Angeles, the lives of a series of vaguely connected characters unfold. This brief summary is a necessary concession to space, as the only other way to adequately outline Boogie Nights director Anderson’s astonishing, multi-stranded look at the nature of co-incidence and the interconnection of events and lives would be to write a university-length essay. There are many stories told here, each as gripping as the other, and the film intercuts effortlessly between them in a style reminiscent of Robert Altman’s Short Cuts, a film Magnolia never borrows from, carving its own, very distinct identity through its drama, character and black humour, pulled off with such skill that it’s hard to believe this is only Anderson’s third film. At the core are a string of truly magnificent and sometimes surprising performances: Jason Robards’ dying father; William H. Macy’s weak loser; Tom Cruise’s unpleasant, egotistical sexual predator; Philip Seymour Hoffman’s caring nurse; Julianne Moore’s loveless wife; Philip Baker Hall’s despairing game-show question master – all these people and more give their all to create a compelling and extraordinary mosaic of disparate stories that become increasingly intertwined and linked. A film that not just justifies its three-hour running time – it demands it.

Tuesday 12th December at 8pm
Kikujiro     Japan 1998  |  122 mins  |  12
Young, cheerless Masao lives with his grandmother after his father is killed in an accident, and after finding a photo of his mother becomes determined to track her down. An ex-neighbour and friend of the grandmother volunteers her layabout husband Kikujiro to accompany the boy on his trip, and the unlikely pair head across country on a journey of understanding and adventure. The latest film from the supremely talented Japanese all-rounder Takeshi Kitano may come as a surprise to those familiar with his usual style, as he dumps the trademark bursts of violence and concentrates instead on character and gentle comedy, creating a Chaplin-esque voyage of discovery seen through Kitano’s offbeat and unsentimental eye, made in his usual, delightfully economical style. Played by Kitano himself, Kikujiro is a wonderfully developed character, as rough-edged as any in his previous movies, the comic elements developed in a way that is in keeping with his early career as a stand-up ‘mansai’ comedian, but he’s given a real run for his money by first-timer Yusuke Sekiguchi, who gives an remarkably natural performance as his young companion Masao.