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Spring 2007 season

Tuesday 17th April at 8pm
Pan's Labyrinth [El laberinto del fauno]     Mexico / Spain / USA 2006  |  119 mins  |  15
In 1944 Spain, the sadistic Captain Vidal is joined at his run down military outpost by his wife Carmen and her daughter from her previous marriage, the 11-year-old Ofelia. An avid reader of fairy tales, Ofelia despises Vidal but becomes captivated by the forests surrounding the outpost and discovers there a fantasy world that coexists with the harsh realities of her new home, but one as potentially dark and dangerous as anything she is likely to face on the outside. Having so successfully blended Spanish political history with horror in The Devil’s Backbone, Mexican director Guillermo del Toro returns to home turf after a spell in Hollywood to make what many regard as his finest film to date, a beautifully realised interplay of historical realism, fantasy and the Brothers Grimm, once again told from a child’s viewpoint, but as adult, intelligent and thrilling a fairytale as you’ll have seen in years. (Cine Outsider review)

Tuesday 24th April at 8pm
Ghosts     UK 2006  |  96 mins  |  15
The story of the 18 Chinese cockle pickers who were trapped and drowned by the incoming tide in Morcombe Bay in 2004 was one that painfully highlighted the plight of migrant workers in the UK, and proved a sobering repost to the distorted tabloid scare stories demonizing asylum seekers. Although widely praised for his documentary work, filmmaker Nick Broomfield has chosen to recreate their story as a drama-documentary, focusing on single mother Ai Qin, who is smuggled into the UK at considerable cost, only to find that exploitation is all that waits for her on arrival. A valuable and haunting companion piece to Michael Winterbottom’s In This World, Ghosts is a re-enactment that plays like a documentary, aided by a committed non-professional cast and Broomfield’s own considerable experience in the field. A moving and important work that powerfully connects us to the human experience behind the headlines.

Tuesday 1st May at 8pm
The Page Turner [La Tourneuse de pages]     France 2006  |  85 mins  |  15
10 years after losing a major piano competition due to the thoughtless actions of a visiting examiner, 20-year-old Mélanie secures a post looking after the young son of a wealthy lawyer, whose wife Ariane just happens to be the very woman she holds responsible for destroying her chances as a musician. Mélanie, ingratiates herself with her new mistress to the point where she becomes indispensable to her, but what, exactly, is her true purpose? Denis Dercourt’s gripping and intelligent thriller has the suggestive menace of Chabrol and Josey Losey’s The Servant, the twists and tension of Hitchcock, and features a superb central performance by Deborah François (last seen as Sonia in the Dardene Brothers’ L’Enfant), who creates in Mélanie a figure of icy self-control, but always with the suggestion that something sinister is bubbling beneath the surface. (Cine Outsider review)

Tuesday 8th May at 8pm
Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man     USA 2005  |  105 mins  |  PG
Poet, novelist and singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen is one of folk rock’s most enduring and instantly recognisable voices. Lian Lunson’s film is in part a record of a tribute concert held in Sidney, which is intercut with tributes from some of the musical luminaries Cohen has influenced, home movies and the singer's own autobiographical narration. Working as both an introduction to and re-acquaintance with the man, his thoughts and his music, the concert footage is inevitably the highlight, and includes Rufus Wainwright’s captivating interpretation of the famous Hallelujah, and Nick Cave demonstrating that he may just prove to be Cohen’s natural successor.

Tuesday 15th May at 8pm
Black Book [Zwartboek]     Netherlands / Belgium / UK / Germany 2006  |  145 mins  |  15
In 1944 Holland, Jewish cabaret singer Rachel is forced to flee the Nazi invasion and joins the resistance, infiltrating the Gestapo by seducing high-ranking SS officer Ludwig Müntze. Her undercover role has its dangers and moral complications, as she begins to fall for Müntz and finds that once straightforward definitions of right and wrong become blurred, and even those close to her may not be quite what they seem. Best known on the world stage for his witty science fiction thrillers (Robocop, Starship Troopers) and his more sensationalist crowd pleasers such as Basic Instinct, Dutch director Paul Verhoeven returns to his homeland for this briskly told tale of wartime intrigue and incident, told with a Hollywood gloss and pace but a European maturity, and just enough of an adult slant to remind us of the sort of films with which the director first made his name.

Tuesday 22nd May at 8pm
The Last King of Scotland     UK 2006  |  121 mins  |  15
In the early 1970s, young idealistic Scottish doctor Nicholas Garrigan is visiting Uganda and lands a position in the health department as one of new president Idi Amin’s closest advisors. The two men are initially very close, but with the passing of time, Amin’s increasingly erratic and dangerous behaviour prompts Garrigan to rethink their friendship and fear for his own safety. Seamlessly merging fact with fiction, documentary filmmaker Kevin Macdonald (One Day in September, Touching the Void) makes his drama debut in confident and impressive style, his handling of character, story and the increasing tension between the two men confirming him as a director of considerable versatility. In the role of a lifetime, character actor Forest Whitaker delivers a mesmerising performance as Amin, and one that has landed him no less than nineteen major international awards, including the Oscar for Best Actor.

Tuesday 29th May at 8pm
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer     Germany / France / Spain 2006  |  147 mins  |  15
In 18th Century Paris, the orphaned Jean-Baptiste Grenouille grows up with an enhanced sense of smell that enables him to create magnificent perfumes. A valuable talent in a city in which a fine fragrance is as important as an elegant dress, his quest for the ultimate perfume nonetheless finds him employing a darker approach to capturing the essence of the female scent. It’s been a long time coming, but this adaptation of Patrick Süskind’s celebrated novel is both faithful to its source and cinematically arresting, especially in its vivid recreation of the seedier side of 18th century Paris. Directed with verve by Tom Tykwer, who made such an art-house splash with Run Lola Run, Perfume features some striking cinematography, a compelling central performance by Ben Whishaw, and engaging turns by old hands Dustin Hoffman and Alan Rickman. (Cine Outsider review)

Tuesday 5th June at 8pm
It's Winter [Zemestan]     Iran 2006  |  85 mins  |  12A
After losing his job, middle aged Mokhtar departs from his Tehran home to find work abroad, leaving his wife Khatoun to look after their daughter and his mother. After several months with no news of Mokhtar, Khatoun befriends enigmatic drifter Marhab, who finds himself attracted to the lonely Khatoun, despite the risks in a society in which even the hint of adultery carries potentially serious consequences. It’s Winter is a pared-down study of life on the lower rungs of Iranian society, where work is scarce and poorly paid and daily life is a survival struggle. Recalling the work of the Italian neo-realists and having a similar look and feel to Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s melancholically atmospheric Uzak, Rafi Pitts’ film finds beauty and humanity in bleakness, vividly captured by Mohammad Davoodi’s cinematography and the performances of the non-professional cast. (Cine Outsider review)

Tuesday 12th June at 8pm
The U.S. vs. John Lennon     USA 2006  |  99 mins  |  12A
Back in 1966, when American involvement in Vietnam was escalating and the Beatles were still conquering the music world, John Lennon famously suggested that the group was now “more popular than Jesus,” an off-the-cuff remark that kicked off a wave of Christian fury in America, where Beatles records and memorabilia were publicly burned, defining the controversy that would surround Lennon in the eyes of the US public right up until his murder in 1980. David Leaf and John Scheinfeld’s timely documentary charts the turbulent relationship between Lennon and his elected country of residence and his transformation from apolitical pop star to anti-war activist. Drawing on a rich cornucopia of archive footage, the film is a fascinating historical document with, in these times of post-9/11 paranoia and armed occupation of foreign soil, a very modern resonance.

Tuesday 19th June at 8pm
This is England     UK 2006  |  100 mins  |  18
In a 1983 Yorkshire seaside town, shy 12-year-old loner Shaun is befriended by a group of ska-loving skinheads and joins their ranks. Life within the group is fun until the return from prison of older skinhead Combo, now a fully fledged member of the neo-fascist National Front. Group divisions immediately set in, and young Shaun, in search of a father figure and won over by Combo’s sermonising, joins with him, and is soon being shaped into a racist militant in Combo’s dangerous image. Director Shane Meadows (Twenty-Four Seven, A Room for Romeo Brass) draws on his own experiences to create a challenging and intelligent tale of strayed and manipulated youth, with a striking feel for the time and place and a refreshing boldness in its handling of character and story. A witty and insightful script and a string of excellent performances make this possibly Meadows most accomplished work to date, and one of the best British films of the year.

Tuesday 26th June at 8pm
Bamako     Mali / USA / France 2006  |  115 mins  |  PG
In the courtyard of a house in Bamako, the capital of Mali, a trial is taking place – the plaintiff is Africa itself, the defendants the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and their associates. Real world witnesses are cross examined, charges of exploitation and neo-colonialism are laid, and the damaging effects of globalisation questioned. An unusual and original alternative to the expert interview-based documentary format, Bamako’s political core is surrounded by the drama of everyday life, and in the most unexpected shift of style switches to a spaghetti western starring Danny Glover and Palestinian satirical film-maker Elia Suleiman to make an allegorical point about the destruction and plundering of African resources by outside forces. A persuasive and heartfelt work that gives a voice to the too-often unheard, and whose arguments and accusations provide the foundation for concerned debate. (Cine Outsider review)

Tuesday 3rd July at 8pm
Inland Empire     USA / Poland / France 2006  |  180 mins  |  15
Hollywood star Nikki Grace is just starting work on her new film, which she discovers is a remake of a Polish production that, due to tragic circumstances, was never completed. As she begins to fall for her co-star, it occurs to her that her life is starting to emulate the film she is appearing in, and believes that the film, and by association her own life, is somehow cursed. This latest work by the master of cinematic surrealism David Lynch marks a return to the low budget experimental approach of Eraserhead, melded with the atmospheric threat of the more recent Lost Highway and the skewed take on Hollywood of Mulholland Drive. Shot entirely on low-band digital video (a first for Lynch) and running at three hours, Inland Empire is a mystery with no clear answers that is nonetheless being hailed as the director’s most astonishing film to date. As compelling as it is mysterious, the film drips with Lynch’s perverse imagination and plays at times like a terrifying waking nightmare, as dark and imaginative and original a film as you’ll see all year. A superb central performance from Wild at Heart star Laura Dern is backed by a fascinating, unsettling support cast that includes Jeremy Irons, Justin Theroux, Julia Ormond, Diane Ladd, Harry Dean Stanton and Lynch favourite Grace Zabriskie.