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theatre

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

Showtimes

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

Showtimes

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.

Showtimes

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

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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

Woody Allen: A Documentary

(2012, 113 mins, DCP)
Director:
FEATURING Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Letty Aaronson, Marshall Brickman, Naomi Watts, Larry David, Gordon Willis, Scarlett Johansson, Sean Penn, Tony Roberts, Dianne Wiest

Showtimes

Woody Allen once boxed a kangaroo on TV. And he still uses the exact same Olympus typewriter on which he’s written all his scripts since he started churning out gags at the age of 16. (He uses a stapler to cut and paste.) Who knew?

Director Robert B Weide made How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, Curb Your Enthusiasm and (perhaps most relevant for Allen, a documentary about his early inspiration, US stand up Mort Sahl). He’s an unabashed fan, but then who isn’t? At any rate myriad friends and collaborators turn up to sing his praises. They include Woody’s younger sister and regular producer Letty Aronson, Diane Keaton, his second wife Louise Lesser, producers and agents Charles Joffe, Jack Rollins and Robert Greenhut, DP Gordon Willis, cowriter Marshall Brickman, casting director Juliet Taylor, stars Larry David, Dianne Wiest, Tony Roberts, Scarlett Johansson, Sean Penn, Mira Sorvino, Josh Brolin, Naomi Watts, Owen Wilson…

So, everything you wanted to know about Woody? Well, close to it, anyway. Not surprisingly, Mia Farrow is a no-show, and as much as possible Weide respects his subject’s privacy on that score. He’s a rare biographer who’s more interested in the work than the life – and you won’t find out much about the “real” Woody here, at least not about Woody the adult, there’s plenty of interesting material about his childhood and his early years as a teenage gag-factory. Allen himself is more amiable and relaxed than we might expect – his sister says this seems to be the happiest time in his life. And given that his father died at the age of 100, and his mum at 96, we could easily be in for another 20+ Woody Allen movies before he’s done.

"Not a film to be missed." Philip French, The Observer

When Jews Were Funny

(2013, 90 mins)
Director:
FEATURING Alan Zweig, Gilbert Gottfried, Howie Mandel, Shecky Greene, Shelley Berman, David Steinberg, Mark Breslin, Norm Crosby, Judy Gold

Showtimes

Why is the history of American humour over the last century so inextricably tied to Jewish comedy? What was it about the Jewish experience that made them so funny? And what’s different now? These are the questions - some of them - that Canadian documentarian Alan Zweig pursues with a roster of fellow Jewish comedians, young and old.

The questions are deliberately provocative, and not a few of Zweig’s interviewees take issue with his thesis, but more often than not the movie goes to prove that there’s nothing funnier than a couple of old Jewish guys arguing about what’s funny, and why.

Director’s Bio

Alan Zweig was born and educated in Toronto. After working in the film industry as a writer, producer, director and actor for twenty-five years, he found his niche directing documentaries. His films include Vinyl (00); Family Secrets (03); I, Curmudgeon (04); Lovable (07); A Hard Name (09); which won the Genie Award for Best Documentary; and When Jews Were Funny (13).

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