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Winter 2001 season

Tuesday 9th January at 8pm
Dancer in the Dark     Denmark / France / Sweden / Italy / Germany / Norway / Netherlands / Iceland / Finland / UK / USA 2000  |  140 mins  |  15
Having made an international impact with Breaking the Waves, co-founded a new film movement in Dogme 95 and successfully divided audiences with The Idiots, Danish maverick Lars von Trier again dazzles and dismays audiences in equal numbers with his Cannes Palme D’Or winner, Dancer in the Dark. What is undeniable is that von Trier has created something unique, a musical that is also anti-musical, heavily influenced by the Dogme style, not least in its free-wheeling structure, mainly hand-held camera and its determination to smash a hole in standard Hollywood-led movie-making conventions. Set in rural America in the mid-60s, the film stars Icelandic singer Björk as Czech immigrant Selma, who is slowly losing her sight and works long hours as a press operator in a factory to pay for an operation which will prevent her young son from suffering the same fate, momentarily escaping reality by pretending that life is one big Hollywood musical. Though the plot sounds lifted from a 20s melodrama, it is the execution and detail that makes this such an extraordinary and ultimately moving cinematic experience, with Björk giving an extraordinary performance as Selma and fine support provided by French screen legend Catherine Deneuve as her closest friend Kathy. (Cine Outsider review)

Tuesday 16th January at 8pm at The Granville Cinema in Ramsgate
Timecode     USA 2000  |  97 mins  |  15
In modern-day Los Angeles, centred around the office of Red Mullet Films, the overlapping personal dramas of four movie-industry players unfold. Simple enough, but the trick here is that they do so simultaneously and without the use of traditional editing techniques. Shot entirely on digital video, this latest work from British director Mike Figgis (previously responsible for, amongst others, One Night Stand and Leaving Las Vegas) is a fascinating cinematic experiment in which the screen is divided into four, with one drama playing in each segment, in real time, with no edits. This is a gamble that in theory should not pay off, but it does, as we provide our own editing, choosing which story to follow at any moment, the film constructed in such a way that we never become lost and are always held by the action on-screen. Convincingly performed, wittily written and expertly executed, this is art cinema at its most accessible, enjoyable and compelling.

Tuesday 23rd January at 8pm
L'Humanité     France 1999  |  147 mins  |  18
Pharaon de Winter is a seasoned police lieutenant who, after a break-up with his partner two years earlier, now lives in less than ideal circumstances with his mother. He has developed a voyeuristic obsession with his near-neighbour Domino, despite her ongoing relationship with bus driver Joseph, and his professional life is dominated by the ongoing investigation into the rape and murder of a local schoolgirl. Though on the surface a murder mystery, Bruno Dumont’s follow-up to The Life of Jesus is concerned less with the investigation than the investigator, a stark, very methodically paced study of a man emotionally and spiritually bankrupt. Like von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark, L’Humanité completely divided audiences at Cannes (though for very different reasons), despite winning the Grand Jury prize and two awards for the performances. One thing for sure, though, this is a film that slowly but relentlessly gets under your skin, pulling you into Pharaon’s mindset and forcing you to view the world through his eyes.

Tuesday 30th January at 8pm
Himalaya     France / Switzerland / UK 1999  |  108 mins  |  PG
In a remote village in North-Western Nepal, an old village chieftain named Tinle argues with Karma, the young boy most likely to succeed him, over who should lead the annual trade caravan through the mountains. Against all reason and the wishes of the village elders, Tinle chooses to lead the caravan himself, prompting Karma to defiantly set off on a caravan of his own. Oscar nominated for its stunning mountain photography, Himalaya is a quietly compelling look at a people and location few have seen, let alone encountered in real life. French travel writer Eric Valli lived in Nepal for seventeen years and here makes his feature directing debut, extracting fine performances from his mainly non-professional cast. The film really shines, though, in its detail, of the tasks at hand, of the weathered but determined faces and of the extraordinary and dazzlingly photographed landscapes in which the drama unfolds.

Tuesday 6th February at 8pm
In the Mood for Love [Fa yeung nin wa]     Hong Kong / France 2000  |  97 mins  |  PG
In 1962 Hong Kong, journalist Chow Mo-Wan and his wife move into an apartment at the same time as secretary Mrs. Chan and her husband occupy an adjoining flat. The two become friends and reveal that they both suspect their respective spouses of infidelity, and soon an affair of their own starts to develop. This latest work from Hong Kong maverick Wong Kar-Wai marks a shift in style from his dazzling earlier works such as Chunking Express and Fallen Angels, but no drop in quality – In the Mood for Love is an intelligent, beautifully crafted tale of passion and forbidden love that vividly evokes its period setting and boasts superb central performances from two of Hong Kong’s brightest stars, Tony Leung and Maggie Chueng.

Tuesday 13th February at 8pm
Beau travail     France 1998  |  93 mins  |  15
The latest work from distinctive (but largely unseen on these shores since her debut Chocolat) French director Claire Denis is on the surface a character drama, as ex-soldier Galoup looks back on his days with the Foreign Legion, why he joined and eventually what made him leave. Though important to the film, the plot is not Denis’ prime concern: taking her inspiration from Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, she fashions, often through long, wordless training sequences, a powerful, compelling study of male bonding, masculinity, self-control and the routines and codes of army discipline. Ultimately the film is a study of maleness itself, in body, mind and attitude, stripped to the bone and presented in a haunting and often mesmerising way that respects the intelligence of its audience, and rewards it.

Tuesday 20th February at 8pm
Ring [Ringu]     Japan 1997  |  95 mins  |  15
After her niece, Tomoko, has apparently fallen victim to a cursed videotape, the watching of which results in death a week later, reporter Reiko hunts out and watches the tape herself, only to receive a phone call assuring her she has just seven days to live. Increasingly concerned for her own safety and that of her child, Reiko teams up with her ex-husband in an effort to discover the secret of the tape before her time expires. This low-budget Japanese gem pre-dates The Blair Witch Project by a year but shares many of its characteristics, not least in the way it shakes off the post-modernist, jokey approach of films such as Scream and goes all out to scare its audience witless. A huge hit in its native Japan, Ring is an extraordinary genre work that delivers on all its promises, not by repeatedly shooting “Boo!” or blasting us with computer effects, but through superb direction, atmospheric lighting and sound, a creepy music score, and by creating a very real sense of unease that slowly and most effectively gestates into genuine terror.

Tuesday 27th February at 8pm
Twin Falls Idaho     USA 1998  |  110 mins  |  15
A protitute named Penny is sent to service a client named Francis Falls, but on arrival discovers that he is a conjoined to his brother Blake. She flees, but in her hurry forgets her purse, and on returning to retrieve it begins to feel sympathy for the twins – who were abandoned by their mother at birth – and becomes slowly drawn into their private world. Starring and written by identical twins Mark and Michael Polish – Michael also directed – Twin Falls Idaho is an unusual but emotionally involving character study that, like Tod Browning’s Freaks and David Lynch’s The Elephant Man, prompts us to redefine what we might regard as ‘normal’. Featuring two completely convincing central performances from the Polish Brothers, this is a wry, intelligent and heartfelt work, and one of the most assured and impressive feature debuts in years. (Cine Outsider review)

Tuesday 6th March at 8pm
Flamenco     Spain 1995  |  102 mins  |  U
Spanish director Carlos Saura is a man with an obsession, that of the beauty and power of dance. From his first film, the extraordinary Blood Wedding, to his most recent work Tango, his passion always comes through on screen, and is infectious. That same love of dance runs right through Flamenco – made before Tango but only recently released in the UK – a superb celebration of dance and performance that introduces us to the Flamenco in its various forms, then proceeds to dazzle us with its performance in a way only Saura can do. No more a straight documentary that was Blood Wedding, Flamenco strives, through the efforts of Saura, his extraordinary performers, the cinematography of Vittorio Storaro and Pablo del Amo’s editing, to capture the essence of what it is that makes the Flamenco the sensual and passionate experience it is.

Tuesday 13th March at 8pm
Memento     USA 2000  |  113 mins  |  15
In modern day Los Angeles, Leonard Shelby is investigating the murder of his wife. Since her death, however, he has suffered from short-term memory loss and in order to keep track of where he has been and what he has done he surrounds himself with reminders, ranging from Polaroid photos to notes scribbled on his own body. As his investigations proceed, events are complicated at every turn by Shelby’s inability to remember what has just occured and the fact that nothing is ever quite what it seems. Christopher Nolan’s astonishing second feature must rank as one of the most intricately constructed thrillers the screen has ever seen, the story unfolding in reverse from conclusion to beginning, as Shelby hunts out the past clues he has collected in an effort to reveal how he arrived at his present situation. This wonderfully executed structural device, coupled with a labyrinthine, twist-filled plot, a strong central performance from Guy Pearce and Nolan’s splendid direction, results in magnificent, intelligent and thoroughly satisfying film noir for the modern age.

Tuesday 20th March at 8pm
The Wind Will Carry Us [Bad ma ra khahad bord]     Iran / France 1998  |  118 mins  |  U
Four urban engineers arrive in an Iranian Kurdistan village on a mission that they choose not to disclose. They are guided by a young boy, Farzad, who strikes up an uncertain friendship with one of the men, Behzad, whose enquiries after an old lady of the village who is seriously ill are also initially unexplained. This latest work from one of Iran’s key directors, Abbas Kiarostami (Close Up, Through the Olive Trees) is primarily interested in showing us the richness and detail of everyday life, offering an alternative approach to traditional character-based storytelling – indeed, the film has been described in some quarters as ‘anti-narrative’ – that is fascinating and involving. Imaginative photography, fluent editing and poetic direction all contribute to what many regard as the director’s finest work yet, and one which secured for him the Best Film and Grand Special Jury prizes at the 1999 Venice Film Festival. (Cine Outsider review)

Tuesday 27th March at 8pm
Butterfly's Tongue [La lengua de las mariposas]     Spain 1998  |  95 mins  |  15
In rural mid-thirties Spain, timid eight-year-old Moncho experiences a traumatic first day at school, but soon discovers that the teacher he first feared is a kind and intelligent man and that learning can be fun. He forms a strong friendship with classmate Roque, and the pair begin expand their education further by spying on the activities of local unmarried Carminia and her lover. But soon the Spanish Civil War arrives and changes the lives of everyone, irrespective of age of political affiliation. José Luis Cuerda’s coming-of-age drama is a charming, sometimes sentimental story viewed from the perspective of its young central character, for whom life is simple and idyllic, a view that is shattered forever by the arrival of the civil war and the consequences it brings for those close to him. Based on a series of short stories by Manuel Rivas, Butterfly’s Tongue is a modest, engaging tale that works is spell with subtle effectiveness, aided by fine central performances from Manuel Lozano as Moncho and Fernando Fernán-Gómez as his gentle, humanist teacher.

Tuesday 3rd April at 8pm
I Could Read the Sky     UK / Ireland / France 1999  |  86 mins  |  U
An old Irish man who is approaching death looks back on key moments of his life, both pleasant and troubling: the departure of his brothers and sisters when he was young; leaving rural Ireland for England; the low paid jobs he was forced to take to make ends meet; the death of his parents whose funerals brought him back to his homeland. Adapted from the photographic novel by Timothy O’Grady and Steven Pyke, this seemingly simple structure is used by first-time director Nicola Bruce to create an extraordinary cinematic experience that employs a wide variety of aural and visual techniques to atmospherically evoke the abstract nature of the narrator’s constantly shifting memories. A triumph of artistic film-making that also has an impact that is unashamedly emotional as well as intellectual.

Tuesday 10th April at 8pm
High Fidelity     USA / UK 2000  |  113 mins  |  15
Asking for trouble from the start by taking Nick Hornby’s very British cult novel and transposing it to Chicago, a quartet of sharp scriptwriters, together with British director Stephen Frears, manage to pull off that very rare feat and produce a film that not only loses nothing in the transition, but is funny, smart, and completely captures the freewheeling spirit of the original. 30-something record store owner Rob Gordon tries to deal with another failed relationship by re-examining his past break-ups, distraction being provided by the array of customers and visitors and the music-obsessed conversation of his two co-workers. Making great use of director-to-camera addresses and the sort of store-worker wise-crack conversation that brings to mind Kevin Smith’s Clerks, High Fidelity is a constant delight, working perfectly in all the areas where on paper it should have failed and boasting a terrific central performance from John Cusack, plus some fine support from the likes of Todd Louiso, Jack Black, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Tim Robbins. (Cine Outsider review)