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Spring 1997 season

Tuesday 8th April at 8pm
The Pillow Book     France / UK / Netherlands 1995  |  126 mins  |  18
Kyoto-born Nagiko, having left Japan for Hong-Kong, attempts to recreate a childhood birthday ritual by finding a lover who will use her whole body as a calligraphic canvas. This latest work from Peter Greenaway, one of this country's most remarkable and individualistic directors, is a complex and haunting exploration of the association of eroticism and the written character, one that develops favourite Greenaway themes of sex, power and the corruption of the body, first explored in such works as The Belly of an Architect and The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover. The plot becomes secondary to the spellbinding execution, as Greenaway fills the screen with a dazzling array of often multi-layered images in a variety of formats and draws two strong centra l performances from Vivian Wu and Ewan McGregor.

Tuesday 15th April at 8pm
The Wages of Fear [Le salaire de la peur]     France / Italy 1953  |  141 mins  |  PG
Four desperate adventurers, stranded and penniless in a South America Village, accept $2000 a head to drive two truckloads of nitroglycerin along three hundred miles of treacherous mountain road. Now regarded as a classic of nail-biting suspense, The Wages of Fear takes this simple premise and develops it beautifully, setting the scene and developing the characters with atmospheric precision, then shifting into a different gear with over an hour of unrelenting tension as the drivers are confronted by a seemingly endless series of potentially fatal hazards, director Clouzot (also responsible for the extraordinary Les Diaboliques) relentlessly grinding the screws at every opportunity. Cut by American distributors on its initial release because of length and a perceived U.S. bias, it was thankfully later restored to the version being shown here.

Tuesday 22nd April at 8pm
Tous les matin du monde [All the Mornings of the World]     France 1992  |  115 mins  |  12
In 17th Century France, Marin Marais, the then composer to the Court of Louis XV, looks back on the fiery talent of his youth, the woman he once loved and forsook, and his musical training with the legendary but stubbornly reclusive Monsieur Sainte-Colombe. Winner of seven Cesars (the French equivalent of the Oscar), this is essentially a true story, exquisitely realised, beautifully lit and photographed in an almost painterly style by Yves Angelo, and boasting some fine performances from Gerard Depardieu, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Anne Brochet and, in his film debut, Guillaume Depardieu (son of Gerard, and seen here in last season's Les Apprentis). But ultimately the music is the star, a feast of string and vocal compositions by Sainte-Colombe, Marais, Lully and Couperin, with arrangements and performance by contemporary bass viol master, Jordi Savall.

Tuesday 29th April at 8pm
The Last Supper     USA 1995  |  91 mins  |  15
A group of five liberal graduate students have their regular weekly dinner debate upset when their invited guest begins spouting white supremacist dogma. The ensuing argument descends into to violence and the death of the visitor. After dealing with the initial shock of the event, the group begin inviting a variety of right-wing guests to dinner with the sole intention of killing them off. First-time feature director Stacey Title's smart, literate and occasionally outrageous satire on intolerance and free speech strikes a resonate chord in these times of increasingly rigid censorship, but never at the expense of entertainment. Witty and well paced, it benefits greatly from the lively performances of the central group – Cameron Diaz and Courtney B. Vance among them – and a string of fine cameos from the likes of Bill Paxton, Charles Durning, Mark Harmon and Ron Pearlman as the self-opinionated but doomed extremists.

Tuesday 6th May at 8pm
The Star Maker [L'uomo delle stelle]     Italy 1994  |  106 mins  |  18
In post-war Sicily, opportunist Joe Morelli tours small towns posing as a talent scout for a big Italian film company, offering to shoot screen tests of the locals for 1,500 lire, which they are happy to pay in the hope that they will become stars. L'uomo delle stelle is Giuseppe Tornatore's companion piece to his own hugely successful Cinema Paradiso, the main focus once again being the importance of the cinema on the lives of ordinary people, and how hope can so often be dashed by disappointment. Nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 1995, the film always looks fabulous (thanks to celebrated cinematographer Dante Spinotti) and is rich in character detail, the largely non-professional cast giving even the larger scenes an authentic edge.

Tuesday 13th May at 8pm
Boston Kickout     UK 1995  |  105 mins  |  18
In 1982, eight-year­ old Phil Saunders and his father Ray move from London to Stevenage in search of a new life. Nine years later the dream has crumbled and Phil finds himself stranded in bewildering world of unemployment, violence, alcoholism and drug abuse. Recommended by Trainspotting director Danny Boyle as "One of the best recent British films," Boston Kickout is the feature debut from young music video director Paul Hills, a tough, gritty, but also witty and stylish look back at his own childhood (Hills grew up in Stevenage), and the problems, disenchantment and anger faced by the young unemployed of Britain's New Towns.

Tuesday 20th May at 8pm
Gabbeh     Iran 1996  |  74 mins
A bickering elderly couple discover a Gabbeh – a carpet whose pattern is inspired by the experiences of its creator – and experience a vision of its weaver, who tells them the story that is woven into the carpet, and of her yearning for events that may already have happened. Originally conceived as a documentary about the nomadic weavers of the Ghashgai tribe, Gabbeh is a simple story, eloquently told, the central concern being the imaginative power and poetry of ordinary people. Visually breathtaking, notably in its use of vibrant colour, this at times mesmerising work uses allegory to indirectly comment on aspects of Iranian life in a way that to Western cultures may seem subtle and largely non-political, but has nonetheless ensured that the film has been banned in the country in which it was made.

Tuesday 27th May at 8pm
The Day of the Beast [El día de la bestia]     Spain 1995  |  110 mins  |  18
Theology professor Angel Berriartua, after twenty-five years studying the Apocalypse according to St. John, determines that the Antichrist will be be born in Madrid on 25th December, and with the help of Death Metal groupie Jose Maria and TV parapsychologist, Professor Cavan, prepares himself to do battle with evil. A huge hit at the Spanish box-office, this highly accomplished second film from the director of the controversial Acción mutante is a devilishly funny, fast-paced, violent and often action-packed horror-comedy with sly socio-political undertones, directed and performed with real flair and boasting technical credits (including special effects) that are easily the equal of their Hollywood counterpart.

Tuesday 3rd June at 8pm
Breaking the Waves     Denmark / Netherlands / Sweden / France 1996  |  159 mins  |  18
In a remote Scottish village, naive young Bess McNeil goes against the wishes of her close­knit community and marries Jan, a Danish oil-rig worker with whom she has fallen deeply in love. When Jan is paralysed in an accident, the couple are no longer able to enjoy a sexual relationship, and Bess is prompted by Jan to search for another lover, a quest she comes to feel is guided by God. Winner of the Special Jury Prize at Cannes, Breaking the Waves is the latest work from Lars Von Trier (whose previous film work includes the wonderfully offbeat The Kingdom) and one that has met with almost universal critical acclaim, Emily Watson's stunning central performance having earned her a Best Actress Oscar nomination. Shot in the vérité style associated more with TV dramas than widescreen features, this is a spellbinding film, emotionally and spiritually affecting, right up to the extraordinary ending,

Tuesday 10th June at 8pm
Woodstock – The Director's Cut     USA 1970  |  228 mins  |  15
We conclude this season with Michael Wadleigh's landmark documentary record of the event that has become an icon of 60's America, a three-day rock concert featuring the cream of that generation's musical talent, attended by over 400,000 people on a site that by the close of the weekend had been declared a disaster area. Wadleigh's multiple camera setups capture vividly the performances (highlights include turns by Jimi Hendrix, Country Joe and the Fish, The Who and Joan Baez, to name but a few), but also focus on the concert-goers themselves, the behind-the-scenes work that made it all possible, and the varying reactions of the local townspeople to this unprecedented invasion. Widely regarded as a classic of its kind, the real achievement of Woodstock is that it is not just record of events and performances, but a fully fledged and at times overwhelming movie experience,