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Winter 1998 season

Tuesday 13th January at 8pm
Lost Highway     USA 1996  |  134 mins  |  18
After a few years in the artistic wilderness, the king of modern cult directors returns to form with one of his most extraordinary, outrageous and disturbing films since the now legendary Eraserhead first put him on the map. Lost Highway is a film of two strangely connected halves: in the first, saxophonist Fred Madison and his wife begin receiving increasingly intrusive video tapes, which eventually lead to murder, an identity exchange and the second half of the story, involving mechanic Pete Dayton, gangster Mr. Eddy and his oddly familiar-looking girlfriend. No plot summary could prepare potential viewers for what to expect here – this is Lynch in full, surrealistic flow, dragging us into a furious nightmare world as only he would even try, and only he could come close to pulling off. Playing with the avante-garde in structure and imagery, this is a treat for fans of the bizarre and the extreme, but extreme it is at times, and any potential audience – especially one unfamiliar with Lynch’s style – should come prepared. (Cine Outsider review)

Tuesday 20th January at 8pm
Ma vie sexuelle (Comment je me suis disputé)     France 1996  |  180 mins  |  16
An egocentric university professor with vague aspirations to be a writer becomes increasingly unhappy with his life, both professional and personal. At twenty-nine he still has not completed the novel he began when he was just ten years old, a former school classmate has just become the head of the university at which he teaches and he has serious doubts about the future with his girlfriend of ten years, to whom he has been anything but faithful. Ma Vie Sexuelle is a witty and intriguing character study, developing at first with the sort of light touch that distinguished the works of Eric Rohmer, but developing into something deeper and sometimes darker, as characters seem to genuinely suffer the emotional turmoil in which they find themselves embroiled. Rich in character detail and driven forward by a string of powerful and convincing performances (even the minor roles are impressively played), this is an absorbing study of lives in progress and the disappointments that can face us all, done with flair, wit, insight and intelligence.

Tuesday 27th January at 8pm
The Sweet Hereafter     Canada 1997  |  112 mins  |  15
Winner of the Grand Prize, the International Critics Prize and the Ecumenical Prize at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival, The Sweet Hereafter has proved a breakthrough work for long-standing independent director Atom Egoyan (Family Viewing, Exotica), meeting with almost universal acclaim and firmly establishing him as a leading modern film-maker. In a small, snow-covered town in British Columbia, an entire community has been devastated by the loss of almost all of the town’s children when their school bus inexplicably careered off the road into an icy lake. Enter lawyer Mitchell Stephens, who sets about trying to persuade the grieving parents to take out a law suit against those responsible for the accident, but his investigations begin to uncover an unexpected mystery surrounding the tragedy, to which the sole surviving child may hold the key. Structurally complex with a fragmented time-frame, the story is powerfully developed, packing a real emotional wallop as events and emotions unfold, helped by a string of excellent performances, including a commanding turn from Ian Holm as Mitchell Stephens.

Tuesday 3rd February at 8pm
Jump the Gun     UK / South Africa 1996  |  124 mins  |  15

In modern-day Johannesburg, six very different working class individuals, until recently kept apart by apartheid, now find themselves united by their need to make sense of their lives in the new South Africa, where opportunity beckons, but violence is always lurking. Acclaimed British director Les Blair (London’s Burning, Bad Behaviour) makes a surprising move from the suburbs of North London to the sprawling ghettos of post-apartheid Johannesburg, all the more daring in that he has chosen to make a film with no international stars, using South African actors where other, more commercial studio films have brought in performers from American and Britain. The collection of struggling, small-time dreamers depicted here verge on cliché (notably Lionel Newton’s arrogant redneck, Michele Burgers’ drunken prostitute and Baby Cele’s struggling black singer), but Blair’s direction and the honesty of the performances invest them with so much more that they seem fresh and real nonetheless. An involving, believable and richly textured study of characters struggling to find their identity in a country that is still in the process of defining its own.

Tuesday 10th February at 8pm
The Butterfly Effect [El efecto mariposa)     Spain / France / GB 1995  |  108 mins  |  15
Taking its title from a metaphor commonly used to illustrate chaos theory, this latest work from one of Spain’s most celebrated (but in this country least widely seen) film-makers is a delightful comedy of manners. Spanish student Luis travels to England to study at the London School of Economics, lodging with the neighbour of his free-spirited and attractive aunt, Olivia. She tries to encourage Luis to live a little – he promptly develops a strong crush on her, moving in when she throws her unfaithful husband out. Charming, funny and directed with real skill and sensitivity, The Butterfly Effect makes some perceptive observations on aspects of Spanish and British culture, but ultimately impresses most through its humour, its fine performances, its sharp dialogue and the first-rate timing of director and stars alike.

Tuesday 17th February at 8pm
Ma vie en rose     France / Belgium / GB / Switzerland 1997  |  89 mins  |  12
  Seven-year-old Ludovic is a small boy who dresses and acts like a girl and is convinced that he will eventually marry the boy next door, despite the protestations of his family, for whom Ludovic’s behaviour in an increasingly embarrassing problem. The central concern of director Alain Berliner’s debut feature would appear to be, like Tim Burton’s Edward Sissorhands, the problems facing those who differ from the accepted norm, about how it affects those close to you and how the less tolerant react to such deviation from their definition of acceptable. Berliner’s approach is every bit is as off-the-wall as Burton’s and the visual style is arresting, the realistic depiction of French suburbia giving way to brightly coloured and fabulously designed sequences as we enter Ludovic’s fantasy world ruled by his favourite, Barbie-like doll. The performances always convincing, none more so than that of George du Fresne, delightful and assured as the young Ludovic.

Tuesday 24th February at 8pm
Gallivant     UK 1996  |  91 mins  |  15
  The first BFI production to benefit from Lottery funding is a unique and disarmingly entertaining road movie of a particularly and perhaps peculiarly British kind. Director Andrew Kötting, winner of the Channel Four New Director’s Award at last year’s Edinburgh Festival, travels clockwise around the entire British coastline in a camper van with his 85-year-old grandmother Gladys, his seven year old daughter Eden and an attendant film crew. What sounds on paper like a glorified home movie is always much more, with Gladys and Eden’s observations on and encounters with locals from a vast variety of local communities painting a fascinating, inspiring and even heart-warming picture of communication, self-expression and British coastal life. Edited down from thirty hours of interviews and twenty hours of travelogue and observation, Gallivant is a small gem of a film, packed to the brim with more genuine characters than most mainstream works can ever dream of, and proof that the documentary format need not be simply the humourless presentation of facts and statistics.

Tuesday 3rd March at 8pm
Tierra     Spain 1995  |  125 mins  |  18
  A mysterious young man – either an other-worldly visionary or a split personality with an over-active imagination – arrives in a Spanish agricultural community to exterminate the woodlice infecting their vines and finds himself compelled to become involved with almost everyone he meets. The latest work from Julio Medem, the remarkable young director of Vacas and The Red Squirrel confirms his growing reputation as one of the most original and visually imaginative film-makers in European cinema. The result is a true original, an enigmatic, mysterious and mesmerising film, dripping with style and laced throughout with dark humour.

Tuesday 10th March at 8pm
Will it Snow for Christmas? [Y’aura t’il de la neige à Noël?]     France 1996  |  90 mins  |  12
  The title suggests a fairy-tale, but the film it heralds is as far from Disney-esque fantasy as you could wish for and has its style firmly rooted in the neo-realistic style in its depiction of French rural poverty and maternal passion. A woman and her seven children live a very basic existence on a farm in rural France, held together by the mother’s unquestioning love but suffering repeated mistreatment at the hands of their brutish father. As the story develops, the mother’s devotion to her children is tested to the limit, communicated powerfully by an excellent central performance from Dominique Reymond and the intimate and assured direction. This is director Sandine Veysset’s first feature, which won her the César award for Best New Director of a Feature Film this year.

Tuesday 17th March at 8pm
Deep Crimson [Profundo carmesí/Carmin profond]     Mexico / France / Spain 1996  |  114 mins  |  18
  In 1940s Mexico, a handsome would-be gigolo who preys on unsuspecting and lonely women plays a deadlier game when a nurse who has fallen passionately for him becomes his partner and persuades him to expand his operation to include murder. Based on the true story of ‘The Lonely Hearts Killers’ whose tale was previously told in Leonard Kastle’s cult film The Honeymoon Killers, Deep Crimson is a lively and daring piece of romantic horror, director Ripstein (a former assistant to master surrealist Luis Buñuel) walking an assured path between tragi-comedy and something altogether more sinister and disturbing. Lead players Regina Orozco and Daniel Gimenez Cacho underplay their roles to perfection, investing humanity into characters that could so easily have been portrayed simply as monsters, and the supporting cast are uniformly impressive. A smart, funny and sometimes tragic film about the power of a love that can ‘unite in blood and death’.

Tuesday 24th March at 8pm
Welcome to Sarajevo     UK / USA  |  1997 mins  |  15
  Having won critical approval for his handling of Jude, British director Michael Winterbottom has chosen a far larger canvas for his latest work, an account of the siege of Sajajevo seen from the perspective of a group of TV journalists stationed in the city. They include the gung-ho American, Flynn, and more low-key British counterpart, Henderson, whose objective stance is tested by his outrage at the West’s apathy towards the deepening crisis. Filmed in Sarajavo itself and partly based on the writings of ITN journalist Michael Nicholson, Welcome to Sarajevo was the subject of fierce debate even before its release, it being felt in some quarters that the coals of the Bosnian conflict were being too hastily raked over. The film that has emerged, though, has met with widespread acclaim and admiration, its scale, its always assured technical handling and its sheer emotional and storytelling power packing a real wallop, bolstered by a string of utterly convincing performances, including Stephen Dillane as Henderson and Woody Harrelson as the brash Flynn.

Tuesday 31st March at 8pm
Chasing Amy     USA 1996  |  113 mins  |  18
  Soundly bouncing back from the poorly-received Mallrats and rounding off his New Jersey trilogy, writer/director Kevin Smith fulfils the considerable promise shown in the hilarious Clerks and turns in his most intelligent, witty and well-rounded film yet. Chasing Amy tells the story of comic-book artists Holden and Banky, whose easy-going lifestyle is thrown into chaos when Holden falls in love with Alyssa and refuses to let the fact that she is a lesbian dissuade him from his pursuit. As with Clerks, the dialogue is priceless and often outrageous, drawing on real-life experience and pop culture to examine a whole range of often adult subjects with wit and perception. But here Smith does more than just entertain, using his characters to examine the pains and the glories of relationships and unrequited love with refreshing honesty, without ever stooping to cliché or traditional Hollywood flippancy or formula. And the performances are bang-on, especially from the lead players Affleck as the love-stuck Holden and Joey Lauren Adams as the enigmatic object of his affections.