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Autumn 2008 season

Tuesday 28th September at 8pm
Happy-Go-Lucky     UK 2008  |  118 mins  |  15
British improvisational realist director Mike Leigh is not widely known for cheerful movies, as viewers of his brilliant but sometimes punishing High Hopes, Life is Sweet or Naked will testify. But his latest, Happy-Go-Lucky is unexpectedly and joyously true to its title, the tale of unrelentingly chirpy infant school teacher Poppy, who takes it on herself to prompt her unhappy driving instructor Scott to make more of his life. That a darker side to Poppy's relationship with the angry Scott emerges will not come as a complete surprise to Leigh regulars, but the very real tension this creates is balanced by some perfectly judged character comedy and an unexpectedly positive attitude to life in general, making this Leigh's most upbeat film to date.

Tuesday 30th September at 8pm
In Bruges     UK / Belgium 2008  |  107 mins  |  18
If inventive, oddball drama is your thing then In Bruges, the enigmatic film directing debut feature of award-winning playwright Martin McDonach should fit the bill perfectly. Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson play Dublin hit men Ray and Ken, who are ordered to lie low in Bruges by their hard-nosed boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes) following a bungled job. With nothing to do but wait, irritation starts to take hold and events take a turn for the increasingly strange, particularly in their encounters with dwarf Jimmy (Jordan Prentice). Alternately hilarious, absurdist, poignant and violent, In Bruges bristles with smart dialogue, and McDonach impressively balances the comedy, drama and pathos.

Tuesday 7th October at 8pm
The Pope's Toilet [El Baño del Papa]     Uruguay / Brazil / France 2007  |  90 mins  |  XX
When the announcement comes that the Pope will be visiting the small Uruguayan border village of Melo, the locals see an opportunity to make a packet supplying food to the tourists who they have been assured will flock there. But the head of a gang of local border smugglers has a better idea, to provide a pay toilet so that the visitors have somewhere to relieve themselves afterwards. Shot in an attractive documentary style, El Baño del Papa is a finely balanced blend of character comedy and sobering truth that tackles head on the effects imposed by poverty on whole communities, but tempers it with an energy and joy for life that proves infectious.

Tuesday 14th October at 8pm
The Orphanage [El Orfanato]     Mexico / Spain 2007  |  105 mins  |  15
After the adoption of nine-year-old Simón revives memories in 30-something Laura of her own orphaned childhood, she and her doctor husband Carlos purchase the run-down orphanage in which she spent her early years. But when Simón mysteriously disappears and a police investigation fails to discover his whereabouts, Laura is faced with the prospect that he may have been kidnapped by the spirits of previous young residents, and embarks on a potentially dangerous quest to retrieve him. Produced by Guillermo del Toro (The Devil's Backbone, Pan's Labyrinth) and directed by first-timer Juan Antonio Bayona, The Orphanage is a moving, beautifully made and sometimes nerve-wracking chiller that builds to a memorable and emotionally draining finale.

Tuesday 21st October at 8pm
Persepolis     France / USA 2007  |  95 mins  |  12A
Set in 1970s Iran following the death of the Shah, Persepolis is the autobiographical story of young Marjane Statrapi, who observes her changing country through the eyes of an increasingly rebellious child. Her dissent results in her being sent abroad to study, but on her return the society she is now required to live in forces her to make a tough decision regarding her own future. Adapted by Statrapi from her own graphic novel and retaining its simple, largely monochrome style, Persepolis makes persuasive political points in an imaginative and entertaining manner, a witty and insightful study of questioning childhood that's as intellectually stimulating as it is delightful.

Tuesday 28th October at 8pm
Couscous [La Graine et le mulet]     France 2007   |  151 mins  |  15
Tired, 60-year-old divorcee Slimane Beiji struggles to work each day at a shipyard job whose future is uncertain. Having reached a point of disillusion in his life, he decides to take voluntary redundancy and use the payout to realise his dream of running a restaurant, calling on the many members of his extended family to help him achieve his goal. A beautifully made and naturalistically performed tragi-comic drama of family relationships, Couscous has attracted widespread critical acclaim and has won a number of international awards, including Best Film, Best Director Best Writing and Most Promising Actress at this year's César Awards.

Tuesday 4th November at 8pm
Mongol: The Rise to Power of Genghis Khan     Germany / Kazakhstan / Russia 2007  |  126 mins  |  15
Prisoner of the Mountains director Sergei Bodrov moves into a different league with this spectacular recounting of the rise of Genghis Khan (charismatically played by Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano), charting the period from Khan's treachery-scarred childhood to his uniting of the Mogol clans in 1206, the first film in a proposed trilogy on this most notorious of warriors. Beautifully photographed on location in Kazakhstan and Inner Mongolia, Mongol is a grand-scale historical epic of the old school, built around a tender love story but delivering in spades on the fabulously staged action scenes. A nominee for this year's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar and a big winner at Russia's Nika Awards.

Tuesday 11th November at 8pm
California Dreamin' [Nesfarsit / Endless]     Romania 2007  |  155 mins  |  15
During the war in Kosovo, a company of US marines are escorting a train-load of equipment through Europe when it is halted at a small Romanian station, whose station master refuses to let the train pass without the correct documentation. With the marines temporarily stranded, a number of local groups attempt to exploit the situation to their advantage, resulting in cultural misunderstanding and the opening of old wounds. A sly, well made and involving war parable, this was the first and last film of Romanian director Cristian Nemescu, who was killed along with editor Catalin Cristutiu in a car crash late into the production. As a mark of respect, the producers have taken the unusual decision to release the film in its unfinished but still compelling form. (Cine Outsider review)

Tuesday 18th November at 8pm
Puffball     UK / Ireland / Canada 2007  |  120 mins
When young architect Kelly becomes pregnant after moving to her proposed new home in an isolated valley, supernatural forces are awakened and a direct threat is posed to her unborn child. The first film in 11 years from celebrated British cinematographer-turned-director Nicolas Roeg returns to territory first explored in his 1973 masterpiece Don't Look Now (signified in part by a cameo from that film's star, Donald Sutherland). Adapted from Fay Weldon's novel and with a cast that includes Kelly Reilly, Miranda Richardson, Rita Tushinghham, Puffball defies easy classification, combining elements of drama, horror, supernatural mystery and religious allegory into a film quite unlike anything Roeg has done before.

Tuesday 25th November at 8pm
Terror's Advocate [L' Avocat de la terreur]     France 2007  |  135 mins  |  12A
Jacques Verges is a lawyer with a very special clientele, one that few others in his profession would touch and one that includes the likes of Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie, Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy, famed terrorist Carlos the Jackal, Serbian war criminal Slobodan Milosevic and a string of other revolutionaries, outcasts and suspected terrorists. Barbet Schroeder, whose even-handed 1974 portrait on Idi Amin shrewdly allowed the notorious Ugandan leader to incriminate himself, compellingly explores this controversial but fascinating figure and his sometimes unsavoury associates in an effort to uncover whether he is a idealistic defender of free speech or an amoral opportunist. (Cine Outsider review)

Tuesday 2nd December at 8pm
Hors de prix [Priceless]     France 2006  |  104 mins  |  12A
Irene is a beautiful gold digger who tours plush Riviera hotels in search of new victims, and she's convinced she's found one in the shape of well dressed, good-looking Jean. But the man she has mistaken for a millionaire is actually a lonely hotel porter, a truth she discovers only after the night of passion that was designed to prompt him to fall for her. Unfortunately for her it works, and when she flees the scene, the doting Jean is soon in hot pursuit. No-one does romantic comedy quite like the French, and in Hors de Prix director Pierre Salvadori (Les Apprentis) serves up a witty and enjoyable genre delight, boasting two thoroughly enjoyable central performances from Audrey Tatou (the iconic star of Amélie) and Gad Elmaleh.

Tuesday 9th December at 8pm
The Heartbeat Detector [La Question humaine]     France 2007  |  143 mins  |  12A
Mathieu Almaric (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) stars as Simon, the company psychiatrist for a large German petrochemical conglomerate, who is asked to monitor and evaluate the mental health of CEO Mathias Jüst (Michael Lonsdale). During the course of his investigation, however, Simon discovers that there are good reasons for Jüst's erratic behaviour and begins to uncover some troubling secrets about the company he works for. A thematically complex examination of the dark underside of the corporate world, The Heartbeat Detector is a slow burning, quietly compelling thriller that benefits from director Nicolas Klotz's cool handling and some fine performances from a well chosen cast.

Tuesday 16th December at 8pm
Caramel [Sukkar banat]     France / Lebanon 2007  |  95 mins  |  PG
Possibly the most unexpected film of the season, Caramel is a jovial Lebanese comedy that focuses on the the lives, desires and romantic adventures of six women, all employees or customers of a Beirut hairdressing salon. A Middle-Eastern feminine twist on the American Barbershop comedy-drama sub-genre, Caramel delights in its casual but engagingly detailed observational approach and its diverse collection of characters, each with their own set of unique life complications. Lead actress Nadine Labaki makes her directing debut with this witty and engaging but also bittersweet and thoughtful story, and draws a string of enjoyable performances from her ensemble cast.