QUAD Cinema Programmer
Wave as we pass 300 films recommended as part of this blog.
Another packed week of great films with a balanced diet of classics, newer fare, musicals, film noirs and escaping chickens. Tuck in.
Chicken Run (1998) – BBC iPlayer
Aardman comedy that takes the plot and situation of The Great Escape and transfers it to a chicken coop, complete with British chickens and an American rooster as they plot their escape from the wicked farmer who is changing the farm from eggs to chicken pies!
Away (2016) – Rakuten TV
Joseph (Timothy Spall) and Ria (Juno Temple) are kindred spirits, both looking for a way out. Ria wants out of this town and is trying to scrape enough money together to get her and her friend, Kaz, away to the coast. Joseph struggles to come to terms with the death of his wife. With no parents in the picture, Ria has become a surrogate mother to Kaz (Hayley Squires). She shoulders the responsibility willingly but, being young herself, she has moments when she longs for an escape from the daily grind.
But I’m A Cheerleader (1999) – Rakuten TV
Natasha Lyonne from "Orange Is the New Black" leads this wickedly funny coming-of-age comedy. Megan (Lyonne) is a high schooler with a passion for cheerleading…she just happens to be more attracted to the girls on her squad than the boys on the field. Fearing Megan is a lesbian, her parents send her to the True Directions camp to be re-oriented. But the camp’s plans to change Megan backfire, as she and a colourful group of campers defend their sexuality—and turn True Directions up, down, and all around!
The Blair Witch Project (1999) – BBC iPlayer
Massively influential horror film that spawn thousands of low budget, handheld camera films in all kinds of genres. On the trail of a local legend about a witch, three student filmmakers ignore warnings from the locals and go into the Maryland woods for the weekend. Deep in the forest and miles from help, they learn the terrifying truth.
Day 2 - MUBI
Animal Crackers (1930)
“One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don’t know!”
The Marx Brothers bring their wildly successful Broadway musical to the big screen in this sprightly, surreal slapstick satire on high society. Captain Spaulding (Groucho), famed African explorer, is welcomed to a high society party. When a valuable painting goes missing, Spaulding, along with his secretary Horatio (Zeppo), the anarchic Signor Emanuel Ravelli (Chico) and his sidekick The Professor (Harpo) help search for it.
Love & Friendship (2016)
American sophisticate Whit Stillman followed his comeback Damsels In Distress with a film at once unexpected and oh-so-fitting. With his delicious adaptation of Jane Austen he proves as adroit at chronicling the wry social scheming of the Regency as he did young Manhattanites. 1790s: Susan
Vernon (Kate Beckinsale) has no redeeming virtues other than saucy charm and truly Wildean wit. She decamps to her sister-in-law Catherine’s elegant country estate to escape the adverse effects of a scandal circulating through polite society, and to secure a replacement for her recently deceased husband.
Black Power Mixtape 1967 – 1975 (2011)
From 1967 to 1975, fuelled by curiosity and naivete, Swedish journalists traversed the ocean to film the black power movement in America. The Black Power Mixtape mobilises a mosaic of images, music and narration to chronicle the movement’s evolution. This eye-opening documentary was created after invaluable footage from a turbulent time in U.S. race relations was rediscovered 30 years later. Though told from an outsider perspective, this is a revelatory portrait of American systemic racism that is sadly of the utmost relevance today.
Hoop Dreams (1994)
Filmed over a five-year period, Hoop Dreams follows two inner-city boys as they navigate the complex, competitive world of scholastic athletics at a prestigious college, while also striving to overcome the intense pressures of family life and the realities of the Chicago streets. Not just a landmark documentary, but a true American epic, Hoop Dreams caused a sensation on its release in 1994. Newly restored for this re-release.
Day 3 – BBC iPLayer
Call Me Madam (1953)
As my experiences of Ethel Merman stretch to that stellar cameo in Airplane (1980), I’m looking forward to checking out this musical. A Washington hostess (Ethel Merman) who is posted as ambassador to the tiny European principality of Lichtenburg. She falls in love with the handsome foreign minister (George Sanders), while a local princess (Vera Allen) falls in love with the embassy’s young American press attache (Donald O’Connor).
Carmen Jones (1954)
Bizet’s evocative music blends with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II in this drama, set in mid-20th-century USA for an African-American cast. Carmen (Dorothy Dandridge), a worker in a southern wartime parachute factory, falls in love with a soldier called Joe (Harry Belafonte). When he kills his sergeant in a brawl, Joe and Carmen run away together, but soon Carmen tires of her guilty lover.
Kate Nash: Underestimate The Girl (2019)
Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl is an intimate portrait of British singer-songwriter Kate Nash and follows her journey over several years in her pursuit to remain a creatively and financially independent artist. After being dropped by a major label, Kate learns (the hard way) how to navigate the music industry as a self-sufficient businesswoman and creative. The film provides a unique insight into the challenges an independent artist goes through, and the resilience required to live and create art on their own terms.
Ella Fitzgerald: Just One Of Those Things (2019)
Tracing the story of Ella Fitzgerald’s life, this documentary explores how her music became a soundtrack for a tumultuous century. From a 1934 talent contest at the Apollo theatre in Harlem, the film follows Ella’s extraordinary journey across five decades as she reflects the passions and troubles of the times in her music and her life. Moving beyond conventional biopic, the film uses images and music to evoke the feel of those times, bringing to life the context of Ella’s unique career, featuring interviews from Smokey Robinson, Jamie Cullum, Tony Bennett, Norma Miller and Laura Mvula.
Day 4 –
Internal Affairs (1990)
LAPD officer Dennis Peck (Richard Gere) knows his way around the law. He can launder money, run a scam and even, for the right amount, arrange a murder. But Raymond Avila (Andy Garcia), an Internal Affairs Division investigator, doesn't trust him, and time is beginning to run out for Peck.
On the eve of leaving Madrid for Portugal with her partner Lorenzo, Julieta has a chance encounter with a childhood friend of her daughter. This forces her to confront the past as she begins a journal to her estranged grown-up daughter who cut contact 12 years previously. Pedro Almodovar direct a stellar performance from Emma Suarez.
In 1947, Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) is the highly paid writer of many Hollywood hits but his fortunes are about to change with the beginning of the Cold War and the rise of an anti-communist witch hunt, which seeks to blacklist those artists and dramatists with communist sympathies. With Diane Lane, and Helen Mirren.
Young Adult (2011)
Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron), a self-centred writer of young adult fiction who lives a life of drunken nights and one-night stands in Minneapolis, receives an email from an old flame (Patrick Wilson) in her hometown. Deciding that he must have sent it to her as a sign that he is trapped in a boring life and wants to see her, Mavis resolves to head back to her hometown to relive past glories and win him back. But everyone else in Mercury, Minnesota, has moved on - kind of.
Day 5 – All 4
BAFTA-winning psychological thriller starring Jessie Buckley, Johnny Flynn and Geraldine James. A fragile young woman begins a potentially dangerous relationship with a mysterious outsider.
The final film by the late Andrzej Żuławski, director of the legendary Possession (the only Cannes-winning arthouse film to be officially classified as a video nasty), Cosmos adapts Witold Gombrowicz’s legendarily challenging novel into a beguilingly witty combination of (deceptively) lighthearted French farce and a complex, knowing reflection on the absurdities both of humanity itself and the way that we define our notion of the universe according to our individual hang-ups.
The Love Witch (2016)
Anna Biller directs this comedy horror starring Samantha Robinson, Jeffrey Vincent Parise and Laura Waddell which pays homage to the Technicolor thrillers of the 1960s and 70s. A young and beautiful witch named Elaine (Robinson) uses her magic to devise spells and craft concoctions which will grant her what she desires: a man who loves her. Inconveniently however, her creations work too well and every man she seduces ends up dead. She finally finds the perfect man for her, but her willful desire to feel loved may send her over the edge and into a heady brew of passion, madness and death.
Withnail & I (1987) – 300th film!!!
Richard E Grant and Paul McGann star in Bruce Robinson's cult comedy. Two alcoholic, substance-abusing unemployed actors leave their squalid London flat for a holiday in the Lake District. A comedy masterpiece and a film that seems to get better and better as the years go by, with its blend of comedy and a touch of pathos.
Day 6 - MUBI
Mia Madre (2015)
Margherita (Margherita Buy) is a director shooting a film with the famous American actor Barry Huggins (John Turturro), who is quite a character. Away from the set, Margherita tries to hold her life together while feeling powerless when facing her mother’s illness and her daughter’s adolescence.
A year before his heartbreaking, award-winning Room, Irish director Lenny Abrahamson made Frank – a comedy loosely based on the life and persona of cult musician Chris Sievey and his alter-ego Frank Sidebottom. With a beautifully tuned, subtle performance by Michael Fassbender (as the paper-mache wearing eponymous character) this is a funny, poignant ode to artistic creation.
The Past (2013)
Following his success with A Separation, Iranian auteur Asghar Farhadi moves to Paris for this similarly sensitive, character driven drama. Following a four year separation, Ahmad (Tahar Rahim) returns to Paris from Tehran, upon his French wife Marie’s (Berenice Bejo) request, in order to finalise their divorce. This film explores what is means to finally move on from a troubled past.
Young Wadjda dreams of owning a green bicycle. But she’ll have to forget about racing a boy from the neighbourhood: the law prohibits girls from riding bikes. After hearing about the prize money for a school contest in Koran recitation, Wadjda decides to earn the cash to fulfil her dream herself. A heartfelt, charming, and sassy tale of female emancipation.
Day 7 - My5
This adaptation of Alexander Pushkin's classic novel stars Ralph Fiennes in the title role and is directed by Fiennes' sister Martha. Disillusioned with life in St. Petersburg, Onegin moves to a country estate he has inherited. As he attempts to fit in with the rural community, he is surprised by a beautiful neighbour's (Liv Tyler) declaration of love for him. His decision to spurn her advances is one that comes back to haunt him, as a tragic scenario unfolds.
The Brass Monkey (1948)
Based on an old British radio show, 'The Brass Monkey' is a fast-paced British mystery and comedy thriller. Caroll Levis stars as a radio personality who attempts to prevent a connoisseur of Buddhist artifacts from stealing the priceless Brass Monkey. The film is littered with stars such as Herbert Lom, Avril Angers and Terry-Thomas, but it is perhaps most famous for being the swansong of the beautiful Carole Landis. She committed suicide soon after completing this film in a scandal that shook the film world. Starring: Caroll Levis, Carole Landis, Herbert Lom and Terry-Thomas
Waking Ned (1998) – My5
When Ned Devine dies of shock after he discovers he has won the lottery, his life-long friends Michael (David Kelly) and Jackie (Ian Bannen) find the winning ticket and decide that their old mate would have wanted them to collect the money. They deduce that one of them must pass himself off as Ned. But they must convince the rest of the town to go along with their scheme, and they will need all the help that they can get in order to dupe the authorities into parting with the cash.
From the director of ‘Office Space’, and ‘Beavis and Butthead do America’, and starring the downright hilarious Jason Bateman, comes a comedy about sexual frustration, litigation, con-artistry and castration… Joel, the owner of a suburban food extract factory whose life is falling apart around his ears. His employees are an assortment of losers and misfits who seem intent on sabotaging the company's plans for a lucrative buyout. His wife Suzie (Kristen Wiig) won't have sex with him. With Mila Kunis, Ben Affleck and J.K. Simmons.