9 September

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Hail Caesar!

USA - 2015 - 106 mins - 12

In their first flat-out comedy since 2008’s Burn After Reading, Ethan and Joel Coen revisit the glamorous Hollywood fakery of the 1950s where the star of an unfinished sword’n’sandals epic, Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), is kidnapped by a shadowy group calling themselves The Future, forcing the studio to hire industry fixer, Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) to retrieve their valuable property. Fast-moving interwoven plot lines, the Coens’ trademark dry humour and an ensemble cast which includes Frances McDormand, Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatutm, Tilda Swinton and, yes, Dolph Lundgren clearly enjoying themselves, are a joy to behold. 

23 September

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Dheepan

France - 2015 - 115 mins - 15

Winner of the Palme d’Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, the new film from acclaimed director Jacques Audiard (A Prophet, Rust and Bone) is a gripping human tale of survival. On the losing side of a civil war in Sri Lanka, a Tamil soldier (Antonythasan Jesuthasan) poses as the husband and father of two other refugees in order to escape their ravaged homeland. Arriving in France, the makeshift ‘family’ sets about establishing a new life, only to find themselves once again embroiled in violence on the mean streets of Paris. A saga of three strangers united by circumstance and struggle, Dheepan is both a tour-de-force thriller and a powerful depiction of the immigrant experience. (S)

7 October

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Anomalisa

USA - 2015 - 90 mins - 15

Anarchic screenwriter Charlie Kaufman’s second directorial outing after the byzantine Synecdoche, New York is peopled entirely by puppets: an accidental love story whose characters’ emotions are somehow all the more acute for their stop-motion animation. Voiced by David Thewlis, Michael Stone is a motivational author arriving in Cincinnati to address a suitably devotional audience but following a busted marriage and a long-lamented romantic break-up, his ennui is palpable until, that is, a chance encounter with a shy, kind-hearted fan (Synecdoche’s Jennifer Jason Leigh, scaling a remarkably expressive tonal range) triggers a mutual epiphany. An idiosyncratic, life-affirming gem.

21 October

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Mustang

Turkey/France - 2015 - 97 mins - 15

In her Cannes-winning debut, Deniz Ergüven, the French-Turkish writer/director, portrays five naturally uninhibited orphan sisters who are slowly cowed into submission by their grandmother and uncle in rural Turkey. Innocent frisking with boys is reported back to their guardians as lewd behaviour, prompting restrictions on their activities: forced to wear drab uniforms, they live behind barred windows and are schooled in homemaking until, as one puts it, “The house became a wife factory that we never came out of”. Ergüven subtly builds a narrative tension upon the sisters’ growing self-awareness and defiance, fittingly enhanced by the wildly beautiful countryside. (S) 

4 November

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The Brand New Testament

Belgium - 2015 - 113 mins - 15

Picture this ... Alive, grumpy, and living in Brussels, God (Benoît Poelvoorde, Coco Before Chanel), uses an ancient computer to wreak malevolence on the world he created. But his young daughter, Ea (a cheeky Pili Groyne) decides to hack into his database, i.e. all of mankind, and augur a happier ending by adding six new apostles to the New Testament’s original 12, all with sunnier dispositions. Belgian writer/director Jaco Van Dormael (Mr Nobody) lets his imagination rip with humorous scenes that keep the audience engaged – e.g. Catherine Deneuve in love with a gorilla, and a shy schoolboy deciding life would be better as a girl. Wondrously, hilariously strange.  (S) 

18 November

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Couple in a Hole

UK/Fra/Bel - 2015 - 105 mins - 12

The fascinating tale of a Scottish couple living a feral existence in a hole in the middle of the French Pyrenees. Traumatised by recent events, the couple retreat to the woods where they resort to foraging for survival. John (Paul Higgins) hunts, while Karen (Kate Dickie) stays in their dirt cave and sews furs to keep them warm. But after Karen suffers a spider bite, John is forced to seek help and bring the outside world in. Directed by Tom Geens, with images that emphasize the raw beauty of the landscape, and excellent performances from the two leads, the film delivers a convincing and remarkable portrait of a couple dealing with life’s travails.

3 December (Saturday)

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Rams

Iceland/Denmark/Norway - 2016 - 93 mins - 15

NOTE**: This screening is on Saturday 3, not the regular Friday slot, to avoid a clash with the Craft Fair. Please bear this in mind ...

Kiddi and Gummi, a pair of Icelandic neighbours and sheep farmers, haven’t spoken for 40 years. What’s more they’re brothers and they’re angry. Jealousy is also created by the prizes each wins in the local farming association awards. When scrapie, a disastrous disease threatening both sheep and the local economy, is discovered by one brother in the prize-winning ram of the other, the drama escalates. Wit and tragedy are wonderfully blended in this beautifully shot and engaging tale by former documentary maker Grimur Hakonarson. The brothers must work together, one more cunningly than the other, as ministry vets are brought in to slaughter the flocks. (S) 

16 December

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Eye in the Sky

USA/SA - 2015 - 102 mins - 15

How to justify the collateral damage of a drone strike on a Kenyan village? – that’s the crisis at the heart of Gavin Hood’s political thriller (he directed 2005’s Oscar-winning Tsotsi). UK and US drone controllers in far-off Surrey, Whitehall and Nevada watch in real time as a young girl sets up her bread stall near an Islamist terrorist cell outside Nairobi. Helen Mirren is the determined army colonel, Alan Rickman the cynical lieutenant-general advising UK ministers at a Cobra meeting as the drone ‘pilots’ (including Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul) wait for their attack orders. This often satirical take on 21st-century warfare allows us no easy answers but makes for compelling viewing.

Autumn-Winter 2016

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