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Spring 2001 season

Tuesday 24th April at 8pm
Sexy Beast     UK / Spain / USA 2001  |  88 mins  |  18
Retired London gangster Gary Dove now lives in a luxurious villa in the Costa del Crime with his wife Deedee, enjoying the good life and spending his days sunning himself by his swimming pool. Suddenly his idyllic world is torn apart by the arrival of Don Logan, a dangerous and psychotic ex-colleague determined to push Gary into one last job. But when Gary refuses, Logan’s true nature comes to the fore, and persuasion so gives way to something altogether more sinister. At a time when we seem to be awash with bad British gangster movies, this debut feature from former ad and music video director Jonathan Glazer comes as a breath of fresh air, an imaginative, compelling and adult character piece, tightly written and constructed and executed with real flair throughout. Ray Winstone may be typically cast as the cockney ex-gangster, but gets the chance for once to play a sympathetic victim of aggression rather than the one dishing it out, and Ben Kingsley, here a million miles from his famed role as Gandhi, shows just how great an actor he is with his astonishing and terrifying Don Logan, surely the scariest screen character of the year.

Tuesday 1st May at 8pm
O Brother, Where Art Thou?     USA / France 2000  |  107 mins  |  12
In the American Deep South in the 1930s, a trio of escaped convicts – wise guy Everett, tearaway Pete and slow-witted Delmar – head across country in search of hidden treasure. On their travels they encounter a string of strange situations and local oddballs, including one-eyed bible salesman Big T, corrupt governor Pappy O’Daniel, reformist Homer Stokes and bluesman Tommy Johnson. Loosely based on Homer’s The Odyssey and taking its title from Preston Sturges’ 1941 classic screwball comedy Sullivan’s Travels, this latest work from the Coen Brothers further confirms their reputation as two of America’s most imaginative and magnificently eccentric film-makers. A glorious mix of fantasy, social realism, music and comedy, this is another triumph for the Brothers and features a whole string of terrific performances, many from Coen regulars such as John Tuturro, John Goodman and Charles Durning, but the real surprise is George Clooney, who really shines as the fast-talking wise-cracker Ulysses Everett McGill.

Tuesday 8th May at 8pm
Suzhou River [Suzhou he]     China / Germany / Netherlands / Japan / France 2000  |  83 mins  |  12
In present day Shanghai, a lonely and unnamed videographer, in love with night-club performer Meimei, becomes fascinated by the story of motorcycle courier Mardar, whose encounter with the daughter of a shady alcohol smuggler led to love and eventual tragedy, events that have led him to develop his own, unique fascination with Meimei. Taking its cue from Hitchcock’s Vertigo and its visual style from Dogme 95, Lou Ye’s second film is a stylish slice of modern noir that combines dreamlike sequences with handheld camerawork and jump-cut editing, much of the action seen through the lens of the unnamed and unseen videographer, which at times gives the film a similar texture to the early work of Wong Kar-Wai. An atmospheric, gentle and seductive study of chance encounters, identity, desire and our own ability to re-invent our lives.

Tuesday 15th May at 8pm
Goya in Bordeaux [Goya en Burdeos]     Spain / Italy 1999  |  104 mins  |  15
Having made a career and solid reputation as the man most able to capture the essence of dance on film in such works as Blood Wedding, Tango and Flamenco, Carlos Saura has shifted gear for this long-cherished tribute to the great Spanish painter, Francisco Goya y Lucientes. A Spanish liberal unable to stomach the corrupt regime of Ferdinand VII, Goya lives in exile in Bordeaux, haunted by memories of his past, isolated by deafness and choosing to paint by candlelight because “the colours are different at night.” Francisco Rabal most convincingly plays Goya as a passionate and sensitive artist, struggling with the demons of his past, while Vittorio Storaro, the cinematographer of Last Tango in Paris and Apocalypse Now and now a regular on Saura’s films, beautifully captures the visual splendour of Goya’s own work by turning almost every shot into a living painting. But it is Saura who ultimately gives the film its identity, once again using sound and vision to tell us as much about the art as the artist.

Tuesday 22nd May at 8pm
Chopper     Australia 2000  |  94 mins  |  18
In Australia, Mark “Chopper” Read is a curious figure, a violent and almost psychotic man who would once shoot anyone who crossed him and could turn on you just for looking at him the wrong way. But Chopper has also become something of a celebrity, writing best sellers, an autobiography and even appearing on chat shows to promote them. Despite, or perhaps because of his violent past, he has become a figure of public fascination. Young first-time director Andrew Dominik’s adaptation of Chopper’s autobiography (made, astonishingly, with the full approval of Read himself) is a dark, sometimes blackly comic but unflinching character study that repeatedly catches us off guard – just as we start to warm to Chopper, understand him a little, he does something to kick our feet from beneath us. Featuring a tour-de-force performance from stand-up comedian Eric Bana as Chopper, this is a powerful and often uncompromising debut film from a director to watch. As you would expect, the film does contain some very violent scenes and is not for the faint-hearted. (Cine Outsider review)

Tuesday 19th May at 8pm
Cecil B. Demented     USA / France 2000  |  88 mins  |  18
When Hollywood starlet Honey Whitlock agrees to attend the Baltimore premiere of her latest film, the event is turned upside-down by a group of cinematic terrorists known as The Sprocket Holes, led by insane guerrilla film-maker Cecil B. Demented. Fired by the battle cry “death to bad cinema,” the group kidnap Honey with the intention of forcing her to star in their own low budget production, ‘Raving Beauty’. This latest work from the celebrated Pope of Trash, John Waters, is as gleefully disrespectful as ever, his target this time being the film industry as a whole, from low-budget, Dogme-style movie making to the ludicrous excesses of Hollywood, providing real delight for fans of independent cinema with its assault on the Hollywood system, especially when the group destroy a cinema showing Patch Adams: The Director’s Cut and violently invade the set of Forrest Gump II: Gumped Again. Playfully anarchic, full of references for the movie-wise and frequently very funny, this is Waters really enjoying himself, at the same time prompting two fine comic performances from Stephen Dorff as Demented and Melanie Griffith, sending her own star persona up wonderfully as Honey Whitlock.

Tuesday 5th June at 8pm
Quills     USA / Germany 2000  |  124 mins  |  18
The Marquis De Sade remains one of history’s most renowned figures: his books were scandalous, his lifestyle notoriously decadent and his very name gave rise to the now accepted term for inflicting cruelty for pleasure. Quills documents his final years in the Charenton asylum, where he continued to write, his manuscripts smuggled out by an obliging young laundress, despite attempts to suppress his output by the newly appointed doctor, Royer-Collard, whose supposedly progressive new methods for the treatment of the insane mask his own hypocrisy and cruelty. Adapted from his own stage play by Doug Wright, this is the first film for seven years from Philip Kaufmann, the director of The Right Stuff and The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and serves as a timely reminder of the director’s talent for creating powerful character pieces that defy the Hollywood mainstream convention. The centrepiece of the film, however, is Geoffrey Rush’s extraordinary, multi-layered performance as De Sade, though fine support is provided by Michael Caine as Sade’s nemesis Royer-Collard and Kate Winslet as the young woman who is both his friend and the object of his lust.

Tuesday 12th June at 8pm
Blackboards     Iran / Italy / Japan  |  85 mins  |  PG
Close to the Iraqi border in Iranian Kurdistan, a band of displaced teachers carrying their blackboards on their backs search a barren landscape for potential pupils, hoping to exchange their teaching for food and lodging. Following a helicopter attack, two of their number become separated – one of them, Reeboir, falls in with a group of young smugglers, while the other, Said, joins a group of nomads, one of whose unmarried daughter Said determines to marry. The second film from twenty-year-old Samira Makhmalbaf lives up to the sizeable promise of her extraordinary first film, The Apple and confirms her as a major new talent in Iranian cinema. Giving us a fascinating insight into Iranian rural border life, the blackboards of the title are key to the lives of the central characters, being used not just to educate, but as stretchers, doors, washing lines and even as a shield when under attack. Sometimes boasting a documentary realism and at others bordering on the surreal, Blackboards is a quietly powerful, original and compelling work, directed with extraordinary maturity and well performed by a cast of non-professionals.

Tuesday 19th June at 8pm
Shadow of the Vampire     USA / UK / Luxembourg 2000  |  92 mins  |  15
In 1921, visionary German director F.W. Murnau made one of the greatest vampire films in the history of cinema, Nosferatu. Featuring actor Max Schreck and some extraordinary makeup, the film remains one of the creepiest, most visually arresting cinematic versions of the Dracula story, even surviving attempts by Bram Stoker’s widow to have all prints of the film destroyed due to copyright violation. The premise of E. Elias Merhige’s ingenious fantasy, which recounts the making of said film, is that Schreck was not an actor at all but a genuine, dyed-in-the-wool vampire, hired by the obsessive Murnau for the purposes of authenticity, which is all well and fine until he begins picking off members of Murnau’s crew. Capturing the feel of the period perfectly, the film is laced with dark humour and rich in detail and splendid directorial touches, but really shines through the two lead players: John Malkovich is on fine form as Murnau, but Willem Dafoe gives the performance of his career as the vampiric Schreck. Fine support is provided by the likes of Udo Kier, Catherine McCormack, Cary Elwes and Eddie Izzard.