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Spring 2003 season

Tuesday 29th April at 8pm
City of God     Brazil / Germany / France 2002  |  130 mins  |  18
Another late Easter-imposed short season begins with one of the most acclaimed crime dramas ever to hit these shores, and was the most requested film from this season. In a Brazilian slum, 18 year-old Rocket wants to be a press photographer, even though the only route for most youngsters from his background is into violent crime, something that his childhood associate Li’l Dice has done with frightening verve. Charting their lives and the ghetto in which they are effectively prisoners from the late ‘60s to the early ‘80s, City of God is a ferocious, breathless slice of modern cinema that manages to be both shocking and tender, vicious and funny, described by Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian as “a movie with all the dials cranked up to 11, an overwhelming, intoxicating assault on the senses.” His advice regarding the film was simple: “Run, don't walk, to the cinema is all I can say.” You’ve been told.

Tuesday 6th May at 8pm
Abouna     Chad / France 2002  |  84 mins  |  PG

Waking one morning to find their father has left home, 15-year-old Tahir and his 8-year-old brother Amine go in search of him. Finding no success, they return home via a local cinema, only to see his image on the screen, prompting them to steal the roll of film on which his image has been captured. With their father gone, their long-suffering mother is unable to cope and places them in a strict religious boarding school, where illness and homesickness only serve to emphasise their sense of exile and abandonment. This second film by Chadian writer-director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (his first was the documentary Bye Bye Africa) is a gentle, beautifully told story of hardship and isolation that still manages to be moving, provocative and even uplifting. A carefully paced, visually arresting study of childhood and alienation, crafted with real care and feeling for the subject matter and characters.

Tuesday 13th May at 8pm
Avalon     Japan 2000  |  106 mins  |  12
In a run-down future society, many find solace in an illegal but popular virtual realtity game known as Avalon, in which battles are fought in a war-torn landscape by players who battle in teams and single warriors known as Solos. After playing for a time for the team Wizard, loner and key player Ash has gone solo, and is now searching for a subsection of the game known as Special A, which is reputed to be more real than reality itself. Despite its Cyberpunk themes and visuals, Avalon has more in common with Tarkovsky’s Stalker than Hollywood action-driven sf pieces like Minority Report and The Matrix – in the hands of brilliant Anime director Mamoru Oshii (and whose Ghost in the Shell remains a genre favourite), this extraordinary, methodically paced, visually striking work is targeted squarely at the intellect, using its Polish cast and locations, colour-drained cinematography and arresting graphical effects to the create a darkly haunting film, rich in symbolism and atmosphere, and quite unlike anything else around.

Tuesday 20th May at 8pm
Spider     Canada / UK / Japan / France 2002  |  98 mins  |  15
Severely withdrawn, deeply troubled Dennis Cleg – known simply as Spider – is released into the community after 20 years living in mental institutions. He arrives at a grim halfway house in London run by the austere Mrs. Wilkinson, where vivid memories of his youth threaten to completely detroy his already fragile grip on reality. Spider is latest work from Canadian maestro David Cronenberg, whose visceral but strongly subtextual horror films such as The Brood, Scanners and The Fly have in recent years given way to more psychologically complex works such as Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch and the controversial Crash. Closer in tone to Samuel Beckett or Harold Pinter than even Cronenberg’s off-centre genre works of the past, this is a riveting, genuinely disturbing psychological drama, Cronenberg’s studied use of lighting, location and atmosphere creating a constant sense of unease. Both Ralph Fiennes and Miranda Richardson are excellent in the lead roles, and are backed by a strong supporting cast that includes Lynne Redgrave, Gabriel Byrne and John Neville. (Cine Outsider review)

Tuesday 27th May at 8pm
Dirty Pretty Things     UK / USA 2002  |  107 mins  |  15
Okwe is an illegal immigrant living in London, working by day as a minicab driver and by night as a porter at a Bayswater hotel, grabbing what little sleep he can on the couch of fellow hotel worker and Turkish asylum seeker Senay. When Okwe stumbles on the hotel’s dark secret, he is faced with a difficult choice – whether to keep quiet or speak up, knowing the latter choice will reveal his status to the authorities. Having made his name in the UK as a director of social dramas such as My Beautiful Laundrette and Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, Stephen Frears scored on the international stage with US productions like The Grifters, Dangerous Liiasons and High Fidelity and here returns to home turf to examine the underbelly of London society. Nicely balancing the drama with the social commentary, Frears is well served by veteran cinematographer Chris Menges, a strong script and two compelling central performances: Chiwetel Ejiofor is both believable and sympathetic as Okwe, while Audrey Tautou most effectively shakes off the sweetness and light image that threatened to dog her after her successful lead role in Amélie.

Tuesday 3rd June at 8pm
The Magdalene Sisters     UK / Ireland 2002  |  119 mins  |  15
In Ireland, the Magdalene Laundries were institutions run by the Catholic church in which young girls considered to be a moral danger to themselves and others were sent, with the full consent of their parents, for strict ‘moral guidance’. Here they were virtually imprisoned and made to work for no pay, exploited and sometimes even abused, both physically and sexually. Peter Mullan’s second film as director (after Orphans and his powerful lead performance in Ken Loach’s May Name is Joe) follows the misfortunes of three Dublin girls sent to one such institution in 1964, where they find themselves in the charge of the unforgiving Sister Bridget – played with sadistic relish by Geraldine McEwan – who informs them as soon as they arrive that “Disobedience will not be tolerated.” Mullan’s film is first and foremost a drama, but is also an angry shout against the appalling injustice handed out by such institutions right up until the early 1970s, an approach that has has both infuriated the Vatican and won the film the Golden Lion at last year’s Venice Film festival. (Cine Outsider review)

Tuesday 10th June at 8pm
8 Women [8 femmes]     France / Italy 2001  |  103 mins  |  15
At Christmas in a secluded, snow-bound mansion in the French countryside, the sole man of the house is found lying on his bed, stabbed to death. With the phone lines down and their only car sabotaged, the eight women of the title all suspect each other of the crime, each of them guarding their individual motives. And so the stage is set for a murder mystery in the Agatha Christie mould, but in the hands of director François Ozon (who gave us the wonderfully perverse Sitcom) nothing is that straightforward, drama giving way to musical as each character performs their own song and dance routine, with the increasingly outrageous confessions taking the film into the realms of parody. Richly entertaining throughout, Ozon’s direction keeps the widely diverse elements working for the film, aided by a stellar cast that includes Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Emmanuelle Béart and Fanny Ardant.

Tuesday 17th June at 8pm
Revenger's Tragedy     UK 2002  |  109 mins  |  15
Ten years after his wife was murdered, exiled outsider Vindici returns to Liverpool to take revenge on the lecherous ruler Duke, the man responsible for her death. First published in 1607, Shakespeare collaborator Thomas Middleton’s Jacobean play is updated to a gangland Liverpool of the near future, in which large areas of Britain are submerged and feudal leaders are in control. Directed by Alex Cox (Repo Man, Sid and Nancy, Highway Patrolman) and co-written by Frank Cotrell Boyce (Welcome to Sarajevo, Hilary and Jackie, 24 Hour Party People), this updating of the play gives it a unique texture and feel, mixing original dialogue with modern slang, the sets and costumes drawing on influences from a dozen or more sources. It’s a bold, unusual experiment that works, remaining visually and dramatically arresting throughout, and boasting some very fine performances from the likes of Christpher Eccleston, Derek Jacobi, Eddie Izzard and Andrew Schofield. (Cine Outsider review)