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Our Season 3 (2013-2014) Film archive. CLICK HERE to join the club...
 
The Hunt - Film
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  THURSDAY 12 SEPTEMBER 2013
The Hunt
Director: Thomas Vinterberg . Denmark 2012 . cert 12A . 115 mins

An unflinching, powerful portrayal of a man wrongly accused of child abuse.

Thomas Vinterberg’s best film since Festen is an utterly convincing, emotionally searing and timely tour de force with strong parallels with events never far from current headlines. Lucas, played by Mads Mikkelsen, is a kindergarten teacher falsely accused of abuse by a 5-year-old daughter of close friends. To the viewer, his innocence is never in doubt, but in the fall-out of the accusation, the school and tight-knit small-town population turn against him. Lie turns into rumour that ripples inexorably, chillingly, and ultimately irreversibly, into nightmare, tearing apart the life and loyalties of a once respected and popular member of the community.

Winner: Best Actor (Mads Mikkelsen), Cannes 2012; Best Screenwriter, European Film Awards 2012

“One of the best films of the year… and one of the timeliest” Robbie Collin, Telegraph

 
 
Elena- Film
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  THURSDAY 10 OCTOBER 2013
Elena
Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev . Russia 2011 . cert 12A . 109 mins

Understated but gripping drama about family ties and the corrupting power of money in modern-day Russia.

Vladimir, a wealthy and remote older man, shares his luxury Moscow apartment with Elena, who appears to be something between housemaid and wife. Only as the film progresses does the situation become clear: he has married his former nurse, and she looks after him while he pays for the privilege. But she has a feckless son from a previous marriage who sees his mother’s arrangement as a meal ticket and he an estranged and spoilt grown-up daughter who stands to inherit everything. Mutual resentment of each other’s parental allegiance puts pressure on the arrangement and triggers an unexpected turn in events. A smart drama with a brilliantly complex and captivating performance from Nadezhda Markina as Elena, from the director of the widely acclaimed The Return.

Winner: Special Jury Prize, Cannes 2011

“The subtlety and stealth of this movie is a marvel…a deeply satisfying film” Peter Bradshaw, the Guardian

 
 
Nostlgia for the Light - Film
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  THURSDAY 14 NOVEMBER 2013
Nostalgia for the Light
Director: Patricio Guzman . Chile 2009 . cert 12A . 90 mins

An eye-opening, profoundly moving documentary exploring Chile’s unsteady relationship with its past.

Astronomers and archaeologists have long flocked to the vast, lunar landscape of the Atacama desert, one of the driest places on earth, to observe the universe through the thin, clear skies, and to access traces of the past left preserved in the arid ground. The promise of a golden age for Chilean astronomy, with a huge new observatory planned in 1977, coincided with a dark period in the country’s history and the Atacama became the site of infamous concentration camps and mass secret graves for political opponents of Pinochet’s brutal regime. Sisters and mothers still painstakingly rake the sand for evidence of disappeared loved ones, dedicating the rest of their lives to the search. Breathtakingly shot and deeply intelligent, the film deals with the themes of forgetting, remembering, exploring and ignoring.

Winner: Best Documentary, European Film Awards 2010

“A film of heart-stopping beauty and devastating horror… a startling constellation of ideas” Jonathan Romney, the Independent
 
 
A Place Beyond the Pines - Film
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  THURSDAY 9 JANUARY 2014
The Place Beyond the Pines
Director: Derek Cianfrance . USA 2012 . cert 15 . 140 mins

Thrilling crime drama about responsibility, conscience, ambition and fate

Ryan Gosling plays the charismatic, lawless Luke, a stunt motorcyclist with a travelling fair whose drifter existence ends when he discovers by chance that he is a father. Embracing a sense of parental responsibility, his reckless and violent attempts to provide for his son and the mother (Eva Mendes) bring him briefly into contact with an ambitious, college-educated uniformed cop, Avery, played by Bradley Cooper. The narrative baton is passed from Luke to Avery, who suddenly finds himself a reluctant and undeserving police hero drawn into a web of corruption and professional intrigue, and finally on to their sons, whose troubled paths cross 15 years later. A film that is ambitious in scope, pulsating with energy and utterly watchable, from the director of Blue Valentine. 

“An engrossing film…with outstanding central performances” Philip French,  Observer

“An enormously satisfying film: carefully observed and consistently compelling” Tom Huddleston, TimeOut

 
 
FILM CLUB EXTRA!
Nothing But a Man
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Film Club Extras are added periodically throughout the year in addition to the regular program and at a reduced rate to Film Club members.
 
Members £4.50
Non-members £6
MERLIN BOX OFFICE 01373 465949
  THURSDAY 30 JANUARY 2014
Nothing But A Man
Dir: Michael Roemer, USA 1964, Cert 12A, 91 mins

Thrilling crime drama about responsibility, conscience, ambition and fate

This pioneering independent film about African-American life, the first drama to feature a largely black cast, was made in 1964 but received only limited release. It has spent the last 50 years in relative obscurity, as a word-of-mouth “lost gem”, but is now being hailed as a quiet masterpiece thanks to its recent rerelease. Set during the growing turbulence of the civil rights era, the story centres on Duff, an itinerant Alabama railroad worker who falls in love with Josie, a schoolteacher and preacher’s daughter. The couple encounter racism as they struggle to maintain respect in a world of prejudice, and their relationship is tested by Josie’s father’s disapproval and Duff's family dysfunction. Fresh, natural performances and brilliant direction bring insight and realism to this engaging and original film.

“Simply stunning: a sincere, unflinching domestic drama driven by empathy and anger.” Peter Bradshaw, the Guardian

“An enormously satisfying film: carefully observed and consistently compelling” Wendy Ide, the Times

 
 
I Wish - Film
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  THURSDAY 13 FEBRUARY 2014
I Wish
Director: Hirokazu Koreeda . Japan 2011 . cert PG . 129 mins

An unreservedly joyous ode to the secret lives of the young.

Two brothers are separated by their parents’ divorce, the unsentimental and stoic Koichi, stuck living with his mother and grandparents in Kagoshima  beneath the imposing shadow of a live volcano, and his younger tearaway, easy-going sibling Rui, who stays with his slacker, guitar-playing father in Osaka. Koichi is desperate to reunite the family, and with his brother hatches a fanciful and poignant plan to restore their happiness, around the notion of two new bullet trains passing each other and creating supernatural energy. The narrative meanwhile dips delightfully in and out of a colourful tapestry of other lives and the film, like its characters, brims with energy and curiosity.

“One of the year’s best films… deeply satisfying” Peter Bradshaw, the Guardian

“Every performance works, every character fits, every observation rings true…a miracle”  Tom Huddleston, TimeOut

 
 
About Elly - Film
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  THURSDAY 13 MARCH 2014
About Elly
Director: Asghar Farhadi . Iran 2009 . cert 12A . 118 mins

A Complex and engrossing psychological drama set in modern-day Iran.

Farhadi made this film before A Separation, but the latter’s huge success has triggered an interest in releasing the director’s back catalogue. The film centres on a group of Tehrani upper-middle-class friends who set off in high spirits with various offspring in tow for a weekend beachfront holiday. Things go badly wrong, and a crisis exposes the fault lines in the group’s relationships; recriminations and revelations fly as individuals attempt to shift the blame and cover up layers of deception. A powerfully acted film that challenges the sexual politics of contemporary Iran and tells an ordinary story in an extraordinary way.

Winner: Silver Bear for Best Director, Berlin 2009

“A coruscating drama wound tight as clockwork” Robbie Collin, Telegraph

 
 
Rust and Bone - Film
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  THURSDAY 10 APRIL 2014
Rust and Bone
Director: Jacques Audiard . France 2012 . cert 15 . 120 mins

Passionate, brutal love story about the frailty and strength of the human spirit.

Ali, a rough-edged drifter with boxing ambitions, hitchhikes from Belgium to Antibes, bringing his young son he now has custody of with him, to move in with his working-class sister and family. While trying to find his feet and scrape a living as a bouncer, he encounters the enigmatic Stéphanie, a whale trainer at a local theme park, who shows no interest in the uncouth, plain-speaking Ali. It is only after she suffers a bizarre and life-altering accident that she turns to him in desperation and the pair form a fragile and unlikely bond. From the brilliant director of A Prophet, this is a hot-blooded tale of second chances, and of shattered bodies and spirits navigating a precarious path towards healing.

Winner: 4 César awards, Cannes 2012

“Beautiful, bruising and fierce, a love story written in scar tissue, acted with galvanising intelligence, and directed like a dream” Tim Robey, Telegraph

 
 
Ceasar Must Die - Film
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  THURSDAY 8 MAY 2014
Caesar Must Die
Director: Paolo and Vittorio Taviani . Italy 2012 . cert 12A . 76 mins

Endearing and hard-hitting drama-documentary about the redemptive and liberating power of art.

The veteran Italian directors follow the rehearsals and final performance of Julius Caesar, staged by the inmates of the high-security wing of Rome’s notorious Rebibbia prison. The cast of hard-men lifers find plenty of parallels between their roles and their real selves, where the conspiracies and betrayals of the play echo those of their own lives; Shakespeare could not have found a more instinctive cast. As art and reality intermingle, so the film deftly blurs the lines between documentary and fiction.

Winner: Golden Bear, Berlin 2012

“A profoundly moving return to form” Philip French, Observer

 

 
Berbarian Sound Studio - Film
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  THURSDAY 12 JUNE 2014
Berberian Sound Studio
Director: Peter Strickland . UK 2012 . cert 15 . 92 mins

 A richly unfamiliar, convention-twisting black comedy.

Toby Jones plays Gilderoy, a geeky sound engineer from Dorking brought to Italy to create the soundtrack of a 1970s film. The film turns out to be a giallo, a sadistic horror movie, and he finds himself out of his depth in the seedy, manipulative surroundings, and unprepared for the graphic scenes of torture he is forced to witness. The film turns convention on its head, showing nothing of the film being made and everything of the mechanics behind the movie’s construction. The claustrophobia of the studio and the intensity of the project begin to play havoc with Gilderoy’s mind, as everything begins to unravel and descend into chaos.

“Its vision, ingenuity and sheer gobsmacking audacity blew me ten feet out of my seat”  Robbie Collin, Telegraph

“Utterly distinctive and all but unclassifiable… seriously weird and seriously good” Peter Bradshaw, Guardian

 
 
Barbara - Film
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  THURSDAY 10 JULY 2014
Barbara
Director: Christian Petzold . Germany 2012 . cert 12A . 105 mins

A subtle study of love and loyalties in Stasi-era rural East Germany.

Set in 1980, Barbara is a doctor who has been exiled from Berlin to a provincial hospital as punishment for applying to emigrate to the West. Living in a grubby flat assigned to her, under constant surveillance and suspicion with daily harassment and humiliation from a creepy Stasi officer, Barbara plots desperately to escape and join her lover in the West. But a tentative friendship with a handsome and idealistic colleague, coupled with a sense of duty to her patients, and one troubled young woman in particular, add political and personal complications to her plans. A taut, intense story of one woman’s predicament in a small corner of a vast, oppressive system.

Winner: Silver Bear for Best Director, Berlin 2012

“A quietly beautiful film about the old Germany from one of the best directors working in the new...” NYTimes

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