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Woody Allen: Radio Days

(1987, 88 mins, 35mm)
Director:
CAST Seth Green, Julie Kavner, Michael Tucker, Mia Farrow, Dianne Wiest, Wallace Shawn, Jeff Daniels, Diane Keaton, Tony Roberts

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Inspired in part by Fellini’s Amarcord, Radio Days finds Woody waxing nostalgic for the 1940s Brooklyn of his childhood, and in particular for the influence that radio exerted on the cultural imagination of the time. With a free-associative structure that allows him to turn the dial back and forth between half a dozen story vignettes - some of them autobiographical, others quite fanciful - the film is held together by its evocative atmosphere and the rich, beautiful cinematography by Carlo di Palma.

Gripped by wild radio stories about bloody wars and beautiful celebrities, 10-year-old Joe Needleman (Seth Green) longs for adventure and dreams of the day he’ll see enemy spies or a German submarine. But while Joe’s life is filled with fantasies about radio voices, the real people behind the mics have fantasies of their own. And as stars rise, careers fall and a nation hurtles towards the future, only one thing is certain: the glory days of radio will live on in Joe’s memory.

"A lot of it is based on an exaggerated view of my childhood," Allen admitted. "My relationship to the schoolteachers and to radio was like that… We used to go out to the beach and look for German aircraft and German boats. I did have an aunt who was forever getting into the wrong relationships… And we did have those neighbours who were Communists, and a telephone line where we listened in on the neighbours. All those things occurred."

"Radio Days is so ambitious and so audacious that it almost defies description." Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Woody Allen: The Purple Rose of Cairo

(1985, 82 mins, 35mm)
Director:
CAST Mia Farrow, Jeff Daniels, Danny Aiello, Van Johnson, Dianne Wiest, Edward Herrmann

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During the Great Depression, a New Jersey housewife returns again to again to watch RKO’s latest madcap Manhattan romance. So great is her devotion to the movie that one of the characters, Tom Baxter, can’t refrain from commenting on it - stepping down from the screen and into real life. Complications ensue.

Weaving a beguiling web between the escapist impulses of movies and romance alike, this is one of Allen’s most poignant confections, and one of the fimmaker’s own favourites.

"Woody Allen’s deft script investigates every nook and cranny of the couple’s bizarre relationship, the irate Pirandellian reactions of the illusory characters left up on the screen, and the bewilderment of the actor whose movie persona has miraculously gone walkies. As the star-struck couple, Farrow and Daniels work wonders with fantastic emotions, while Allen’s direction invests enough care, wit and warmth to make it genuinely moving." Geoff Andrew, Time Out

Woody Allen: Hannah and Her Sisters

(1986, 107 mins, Blu-ray Disc)
Director:
CAST Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Michael Caine, Barbara Hershey, Carrie Fisher, Dianne Wiest, Max von Sydow, Maureen O’Hara

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Three sisters: over the course of a year, Woody Allen explores the bonds and infidelities running through a middle class New York family in this, one of his most expansive and warm movies.

Hannah (Mia Farrow), a successful actress, is married to Elliot (Caine), an accountant with arty urges, who is wooing another sister, Lee (Barbara Hershey), behind the back of her tortured artist partner (Max von Sydow. The other sister is Holly (Wiest), a troubled spirit adrift as she enters middle age. Meanwhile Allen himself is Mickey, Hannah’s ex-husband, who is going through an existential crisis of his own.

"An articulate, literate film, full of humanity and perception." Time Out

"One of Woody’s best ever." David Parkinson, Empire

Demy Monde: Donkey Skin

(1970, 90 mins, DCP)
In French with English subtitles
Director:
CAST Catherine Deneuve, Jean Marais, Micheline Presle, Jacques Perrin, Delphine Seyrig
Classification: PG

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Monarch Jean Marais (Cocteau’s star and muse) grants his dying queen Catherine Deneuve’s last request: to remarry a princess more beautiful than herself. But when the only one who fits the bill is daughter (Deneuve again), it’s ultra-chic fairy godmother Delphine Seyrig (Last Year at Marienbad) to the rescue, disguising her as malodorous scullion “Donkey Skin.” Demy’s adaptation of a 17th-century fable by Perrault was his third Michel Legrand-scored musical and his most over-the-top in stylization. It’s a charmingly perverse fairytale that will likely amuse parents at least as much as their off-spring.

"Like Demy’s other movies it’s one of a kind, at once monstrously Oedipal and charmingly infantile; Deneuve manages to be both hilarious and touching in her donkey drag." J Hoberman

Demy Monde: Lola

(1961, 85 mins, DCP)
In French with English subtitles
Director:
CAST Anouk Aimée, Marc Michel, Jacques Harden

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Lola, a cabaret dancer, is raising a boy whose father, Michel, left seven years ago. She is waiting for him. She sings, dances and occasionally dallies with passing sailors. Roland Cassard, a childhood friend whom she meets by chance, falls deeply in love with her. But she is waiting for Michel…

Jacques Demy had imagined his first film as a full-blown musical, but presented with a tenth of the budget he needed Demy curtailed his plans – though he still managed to shoot it in ’scope (the ravishing black and white photography is by Godard’s cameraman, Raoul Coutard) and pressed Michel Legrand into composing the score (after his original choice, Quincy Jones, fell through). Legrand, of course, would become a key collabortor over the next decade.

As the beloved eponymous cabaret artiste, an indelible character midway between Marlene Dietrich’s Blue Angel and Barbara Sukowa’s Fassbinder floozie, Anouk Aimée announces that "to want happiness is to already have a bit of it." Demy’s friend Godard praised the film to the skies, and quoted from it in Une femme est une femme (1961) and Bande a part (1964).

"Magical… Lola is imbued with a poignant awareness of the transcience of happiness and the difficulties and unlikelihood of love." Geoff Andrew, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

"Taps deep into a dreamy and wistful romantic spirit." Blake Lucas, Defining Moments in Movies

Exhibition on Film: Manet - Portraying Life

(2013, 100 mins, Blu-ray Disc)
Director:
FEATURING Tim Marlow, Fiona Shaw, Tom Phillips
Director Phil Grabsky in attendance.

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Earlier this year, London’s Royal Academy of Arts mounted the first ever retrospective devoted to the portraiture of Edouard Manet. Spanning this enigmatic and, at times, controversial artist’s entire career Manet: Portraying Life brought together works from across Europe, Asia and the USA. Documentarian Phil Grabsky - famed for his series of films on classical composers, In Search of Beethoven, In Search of Mozart, and In Search of Haydn - was granted exclusive access to the Royal Academy to explore the exhibition with the kind of intensive scrutiny (and learned insight) most art-lovers can only dream of.

Manet’s portraiture formed around half of his artistic output. He painted his family, friends and the literary, political and artistic figures of the day, giving life not only to his subjects but also to Parisian society. The exhibition consisted of more than 50 works; including portraits of his most frequent sitter, his wife Suzanne Leenhoff, luminaries of the period; Antonin Proust, Émile Zola and Stéphane Mallarmé, along with scenes from everyday life revealing Manet’s forward-thinking, modern approach to portraiture.

The film goes behind-the-scenes during the preparation of the exhibition, and interweaves a detailed, superbly crafted biography of Manet and 19th century Paris. Host Tim Marlow and special guests look at the craft of one of the all-time great artists, the ‘father of modern art’.

"Once again the film proves that seeing an exhibition through a camera (especially an HD one) is far better than not seeing it at all." Roberta Smith, New York Times

The World of Jacques Demy

(1995, 90 mins, DCP)
In French with English subtitles
Director:
FEATURING Anouk Aimee, Catherine Deneuve, Harrison Ford, Jeanne Moreau, Michel Piccoli, Dominique Sanda

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Agnès Varda’s tribute to her late husband Jacques Demy (1931-1990) is a loving look at his brilliant vision and techniques. Included are clips from Demy’s films, along with interviews of those who worked with him and knew him best: Catherine Deneuve, Anouk Aimée, Michel Piccoli, composer Michel Legrand, Demy’s children, and fans. Among the more surprising interviewees is Harrison Ford, chosen by Demy for his US debut, Model Shop, only to be rejected by Columbia executives who insisted on an established star (and cast Gary Lockwood).

A happy working class boy who grew up in the Atlantic port Nantes, Demy began making animated short films in his bedroom when he was still just a child, creating models and puppets, a world unto himself. He would stay true to that project throughout his career.

The Demy-monde is a place of romance, song, grace and sometimes sorrow. Often, as one French critic said of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), it is ’even better than heaven’.

“Of all the New Wave directors who once professed their joy in cinema, Demy remained most faithful to the delights of sight and sound and to the romance of movie iconography. With loving attention to those Atlantic coast towns — Nantes, Rochefort, and Cherbourg — where he grew up, Demy invented a world of benign and enchanting imagination.”

– David Thomson

Demy Monde: Bay of Angels

(Baie des anges)
(1963, 79 mins, DCP)
In French with English subtitles
Director:
CAST Jeanne Moreau, Claude Mann

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Jean (Claude Mann) arrives in Nice (the "bay of angels") for a holiday. He discovers gambling and meets platinum-blonde Jackie (Jeanne Moreau), a high roller at the casino. Sparks fly between them and passion grows. But is it for one another, or for the game? Jean, still naive, begins his education.

Demy’s second film is a triumph of style, from Raoul Coutard’s mobile camerawork amid sun-splashed Riviera locations to Moreau, resplendent in white lacy bustier, flashing across a succession of mirrors in the penultimate shot.

"So existential, so romantic … The great beauty of [Bay] is the way the croupier’s spiraling wheel becomes a metaphor not for life’s randomness, but for its lack of permanence, its riskiness[:] [a] hardened demimondaine can bet on a number and suddenly abandon it to dash after her beloved — an ecstatic ending a few films later revealed as the cause of another heroine’s melancholy" (Fernando F. Croce).

Demy Monde: Umbrellas of Cherbourg

(Les parapluies de Cherbourg)
(1964, 91 mins, DCP)
In French with French subtitles
Director:
CAST Catherine Deneuve, Nino Castelnuovo, Anne Vernon, Marc Michel
Classification: PG

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Geneviève Emery (Catherine Deneuve), whose mother runs an umbrella store, is in love with Guy Foucher (Nino Castelnuovo). Mrs. Emery does not approve of her daughter’s romance with the young mechanic. Guy is drafted into the army, and Geneviève gives herself to him the night before he departs for the Algerian War. Now she’s pregnant, and Guy’s letters have become less frequent. Her mother insists that she must move on - but the past is not easily forgotten.

It was only with his third film that Demy realised his dream of an all-sung musical, and it is on The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and its sister film, The Young Girls of Rochefort, that his international reputation was established – and on which it still stands.

Lusciously scored by Michel Legrand, and whole-heartedly embracing an effervescent pastel palette (he repainted interiors and entire streets according to his colour design), these irresistible confections pour the elation and exuberance of the Hollywood musical into quotidien settings and arrive at an emotional pitch which is pure and direct. At his best Demy was nothing short of sublime.

"Surely one of the most romantic films ever made." AO Scott, New York Times

"With this most rapturous of melodramas Demy incorporates song and dance in the service not of escape but of realism. The effect is as riveting as it is profoundly moving." Joshua Klein, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

An American In Paris

(1951, 115 mins, DCP)
Director:
CAST Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant, Nina Foch
Classification: PG
Sunday’s screening introduced by film scholar and educator Michael van den Bos

Showtimes

As a masterpiece of the Hollywood musical tradition, An American in Paris truly shines, remaining as fresh and exciting today as it was in 1951. Gene Kelly stars as Jerry Mulligan, an American expat trying to succeed as a painter in Paris. His happy lifestyle is shaken when he must deal with the effects of two new women in his life—the young Leslie Caron (discovered by Kelly for the film) and an older art patron (Nina Foch). With music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin, the film takes this straightforward love triangle to dazzling new heights—complemented by the sensual and colorful costumes, sets, and choreography. Consisting of numbers such as “I Got Rhythm,” “’S Wonderful,” and “Our Love is Here to Stay,” An American in Paris is filled with both exuberant fun and soft romanticism.

The exquisite climactic extended ballet, directed by Kelly, stands alone as an impressive feat of cinematic and choreographic techniques. In the now famous sequence, Kelly, Caron, and an ensemble of talented dancers move through different sets inspired by the works of French painters, including Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Rousseau, Van Gogh, and Renoir. Winner of the 1951 Best Picture Academy Award, An American in Paris garnered Kelly an Honorary Oscar “in appreciation of his versatility as an actor, singer, director and dancer, and specifically for his brilliant achievements in the art of choreography on film.” (Film Society at Lincoln Center)

"Minnelli’s Technicolor musical, re-released in a gorgeous restoration, is fresher than ever." Geoffrey Macnab, The Independent

"Full of light and movement. Nothing of its kind from Hollywood had quite possessed its class, sense of style, and chic." Clive Herschhorn, The Hollywood Musical

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