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Spring 2000 season

Tuesday 2nd May at 8pm
Ride With the Devil     US 1999  |  138 mins  |  15
Our shortest season in years (blame the lateness of the Easter break) opens with one of the biggest films we’ve ever screened, a high-budget American Civil War epic telling the story of two childhood friends who mature to manhood in turbulent and difficult times. What, might you ask, is such a film doing on the TFS calendar? Well for a start it was directed by Ang Lee, the Taiwanese film-maker whose The Wedding Banquet was the first film ever screened by us. Secondly, this is anything but a standard Civil War story, viewing events from the perspective of a group of Southern civil militiamen known as ‘bushwhackers’ and is never afraid to show both the violence inflicted by and on these men and the sometimes terrible consequences of it. But ultimately it is here because it is a fabulously made, intelligently written and magnificent movie experience, unique in tone and featuring Lee’s usual riveting attention to detail, and as such deserves to be more widely seen.

Tuesday 9th May at 8pm
Time Regained [Le Temps retrouvé]     France / Italy / Portugal 1999  |  162 mins  |  18
There have been attempts in the past to adapt Marcel Proust’s 14 volume masterpiece À la Recherche du Temps Perdu (The Rememberance of Time Past) for the big screen, ultimately doomed projects that have involved such esteemed figures as Luchino Visconti, Harold Pinter and Joseph Losey, German director Volker Schlondörff eventually filming one episode in 1984 as Un Amour de Swann. Now director Raúl Ruiz and co-screenwriter Gilles Taurand have succedeed in handsome fashion with this exquisitely realised adaptation of the concluding installment, Le Temps Retrouvé. On his death bed, writer Marcel remembers loves, characters and encounters from his past; as he does so, time itself begins to fragment and fact increasingly merges with fiction as each new recollection triggers another, not always related memory. Confounding critics who regarded the book as ‘unfilmable’, Ruiz has produced a beautifully observed study of character, manners and memory, a sophisticated, fascinating and sometimes surrealistic period piece, bolstered further by a collection of fine performances from the likes of Catherine Deneuve, Emmanuelle Beart, Vincent Perez and John Malkovich.

Tuesday 16th May at 8pm
The Cup [Phörpa]     Bhutan / Australia 1999  |  94 mins  |  PG
In the summer of 1998 in a Tibetan monastery-in-exile at the foot of the Himalayas, novice monk Orgyen is obsessed with football and the World Cup – he wears a Ronaldo T-shirt under his robes and makes secret nocturnal trips to the nearby village to watch games on satellite TV. All of this incurs the displeasure of his tutor, Geko, who attempts to redirect his mind to more spiritual matters by making him responsible for two young newly arrived and impressionable exiles. The first feature film to emerge from the tiny Asian country of Bhutan, The Cup is directed by a High Lama who apprenticed with Bernardo Bertolucci, features a cast of real monks with no acting experience, and is an warm and touching delight, presenting a gentle, light-hearted side of monastic life not usually seen on film. A wonderfully observed meditation on the co-existence of the modern and the traditional, splendidly performed and often genuinely funny.

Tuesday 23rd May at 8pm
Bringing Out the Dead     USA 1999  |  121 mins  |  18
Writer Paul Schrader and director Martin Scorsese return to the territory they made their own back in 1976 with Taxi Driver with this powerhouse study of three nights in the life of exhausted, burned-out paramedic Frank Pierce (a top-of-form Nic Cage) as he works on the streets of New York’s Hell’s Kitchen. Each night he is accompanied by a different partner – the compulsive eater Larry (John Goodman), the religious fanatic Marcus (Ving Rhames) and the violence-addicted Walls (a brilliantly manic Tom Sizemore) -– all of whom represent different possible directions for Frank’s increasing madness. Make no mistake, this is the Schrader/Scorsese partnership in full, devastating flight, with many dazzling sequences, bang-on performances and a terrific contemporary music score. At times dark and disturbing, it is also unexpectedly funny and moving, and an unforgettable film experience.

Tuesday 30th May at 8pm
The Straight Story     USA / France / UK 1999  |  111 mins  |  U
The master of modern surrealist cinema, David Lynch, follows up the astonishing Lost Highway with a film true to its title in more ways than one – not only is it the true story of one Alvin Straight, but it is also Lynch’s simplest, most direct tale to date, free of the surrealistic nightmares, dark characters and peculiar detail that have become Lynch trademarks. But it works divinely, confirming Lynch once again as a key modern film-maker. When 73-year-old Alvin Straight discovers that the brother he has not spoken to in ten years has been taken ill, he determines to travel the 300 miles to see him. Having no driving licence he elects to undertake the journey on his motorised lawn mower and the film follows his trip across small-town America and his encounters the wide variety of people he meets on the way. Beautifully photographed and scored, this is unquestionably the most moving film of the year, and features a note-perfect performance from 79-year-old Richard Farnsworth.

Tuesday 6th June at 8pm
Painted Angels     Canada / UK 1997  |  110 mins  |  12
In a mid-western prarie town in the 1870s American West, the strong-willed women at a whorehouse run by the pragmatic Annie Ryan do what they have to survive, aware that however unpleasant their lives are, the alternatives always seem worse. Though set in territory familiar to just about ever moviegoer, Painted Angels shows us a side of the Old West rarely seen in American movies, first-time director Jon Sanders bringing the gritty realism of British dramas to traditionally a romanticised world. The result is a downbeat but thoroughly involving character study, superbly photographed and boasting fine performances from the likes of Kelly McGillis, The Commitments’ Bronagh Gallagher and Oscar-winner for My Left Foot, Brenda Fricker. The film will be attended by its director John Sanders, who will host a Q&A after the screening.

Tuesday 13th June at 8pm
A Room for Romeo Brass     UK / Canada 1999  |  90 mins  |  15
After some years making witty, zero-budget shorts such as Where’s the Money, Ronnie?, young Shane Meadows made his feature debut with the smart, enjoyable and widely acclaimed TwentyFourSeven. Two years on, his eagerly awaited second film has finally arrived, and serves to confirm Meadows’ skill as a film-maker and his genuine empathy with characters he clearly knows and understands. The story of the bond between two unlikely friends – one black with an absentee father, one white but crippled by a spinal injury – on a Nottingham housing estate is a simple one, but Meadows’ approach is smart and unsentimental, with a superb feel for dialogue, detail and character humour and packing a real wallop when it needs to. The performances, sometimes from non actors, are all impressive.