Oscar-winners headline David Lean Cinema’s screenings

As the David Lean Cinema heads into its second month of regular screenings by the group which campaigned for its re-opening, PHILIP HOWARD, the programmer, previews the coming month’s films

In May, we will be screening the films which between them won three of the acting Oscars at this year’s awards: Cate Blanchett won Best Actress in Blue Jasmine, and Matthew McConaughey (Best Actor) and Jared Leto (Best Supporting Actor) won theirs in Dallas Buyers Club.

Blue Jasmine posterBlue Jasmine is the latest film by Woody Allen, who has always had a strong David Lean following. The film tells the story of a troubled New York socialite forced to live with her adopted sister in LA.

Dallas Buyers Club is a biographical drama set in 1985, about a Texan who smuggled drugs to combat the effects of AIDS into the state for the benefit of himself and others.

Our audiences also show appreciation for British cinema, especially historical dramas. We have two of these this month, both of which were released by major studios during the “awards season” but didn’t quite get the marketing push that their actors perhaps warranted. In The Railway Man, which opens our May programme today, Colin Firth plays a former prisoner of war who survived the infamous Thai-Burma railway, the setting of the fictional Bridge on the River Kwai, which of course won David Lean one of his Best Director Oscars. In this new film, in later years Firth gets to return and revisit one of his captors.

Felicity Jones plays the title character of The Invisible Woman, as the mistress of Charles Dickens. Both Jones and Firth were highly praised for their performances, and their co-stars Nicole Kidman and Ralph Fiennes are hardly slouches.

While it was impossible to ignore these four starry titles, the David Lean Cinema also has a tradition of screening films which fall outside the typical “awards” profile, and for our two remaining May screenings we selected movies which offer such an alternative. Both are from countries with little tradition of feature film-making, but we’d never select them for this reason alone. The Saudi film Wadjda – that country’s first ever to be directed by a woman – is comparatively well-known, and has delighted arthouse audiences with its depiction of a plucky girl who’s determined to buy herself a bicycle.

Far fewer will have heard of The Rocket, the tale of a supposedly cursed and certainly irrepressible boy who strives to turn his family’s luck around, which I saw at the 2013 London Film Festival. (“Wow, now that’s a ‘David Lean film’”, was my enthusiastic reaction, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did). At that screening’s Q&A, it was explained that The Rocket is one of very few films to have been made in Laos, whose Marxist government refuses permission to depict conflict and hardship. This didn’t deter the Australian production team, who made great use of the beautiful scenery, coaxed credible and charming performances from a mostly non-professional cast, and slipped across the Thai border to film some politically incorrect sequences.

That gave us six films to screen in May, and with only five Thursdays available we decided to put on our first Saturday screening. Of those films previously screened in Croydon (by the Vue cinemas at Grants and Purley Way), Blue Jasmine was released earliest, and probably was on release for longest, given its commercial success and the buzz around Blanchett’s performance. Therefore, this has a single Saturday screening, while the others can be seen on Thursday afternoons and evenings as usual.

Our tickets go on sale about a week into the previous month, so we know that Blue Jasmine is proving popular and this should increase the chances of our scheduling more films on Saturdays. However, we expect to present films for Purley Festival (June) and South Norwood Arts Festival (July), and at a time when we must take care to not over-stretch our invaluable volunteers, these additional screenings may temporarily replace ones on Saturdays.

When the Spread Eagle was our principal venue, audiences dipped significantly during the spring and summer months, and although it’s encouraging that our membership has since risen to over 1,000, a comparable drop this year would be problematic now that our expenditure on films is considerably higher. Therefore, we hope that all who would like to see this venture succeed – and pave the way for a fully reopened David Lean Cinema in future – will continue to support us and spread the word.

Online booking is easy via our TicketSource page. To be added to our membership list, please email savedavidlean@gmail.com

  • Tickets for all screenings are £7.50. Concessions (Freedom Pass holders, full time students, claimants and disabled) £6. Bookings can be made online via TicketSource 

David Lean Cinema May programme

Thu May 1 at 2.30pm and 7.30pm THE RAILWAY MAN (15) 2013 AUSTRALIA/UK 116 min Director: Jonathan Teplitzky
Starring: Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Jeremy Irvine, Stellan Skarsgård Eric Lomax was one of thousands of Allied prisoners of war forced to work on the construction of the Thai/Burma railway during WW2. Years later, he found out that the Japanese officer who had tormented him was still alive, and faced the decision of whether to confront him.

Thu May 8 at 2.30pm and 7.30pm WADJDA (PG) 2012 SAUDI ARABIA/GERMANY 98 mins (subtitled) Director: Haifaa al Mansour
Starring: Waad Mohammed, Reem Abdullah The first Saudi feature film by a female director is the charming and acclaimed story of a defiant 11-year-old girl who attempts to win her school’s Koran recitation competition so she can buy a bicycle.

Sat May 10 at 2.30pm only BLUE JASMINE (15) 2013 USA 98 mins Director: Woody Allen
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Sally Hawkins A New York socialite arrives in San Francisco, swapping a gilded life as a banker’s wife for her adopted sister’s flat in a working-class neighbourhood. Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of the charismatic but increasingly troubled Jasmine won her the Academy Award for Best Actress.

Thu May 15 at 2.30pm and 7.30pm THE INVISIBLE WOMAN (12A) 2013 UK 111 mins Director: Ralph Fiennes

Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Felicity Jones, Kristin Scott Thomas, Tom Hollander An adaptation of Claire Tomalin’s book, exploring the stormy but enduring affair between actress Ellen Ternan (played by Jones to wide acclaim) and the far older Charles Dickens (Fiennes).

Thu May 22 at 2.30pm and 7.30pm THE ROCKET (PG) 2013 AUSTRALIA/ THAILAND/LAOS 96 mins (subtitled) Director: Kim Mordaunt

Starring: Sitthiphon Disamoe, Loungnam Kaosainam, Suthep Po-ngam A huge audience hit at film festivals worldwide, this exciting and highly original film tells the story of a supposedly cursed boy battling to overcome his family’s hardships, culminating in a spectacular rocket-building contest. Beautiful scenery and delightful performances make this a must-see.

Thu May 29 at 2.30pm and 7.30pm DALLAS BUYERS CLUB (15) 2013 USA 117 mins Director: Jean-Marc Vallée

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto Winning acting Oscars for McConaughey and Leto, this is the story of an ordinary Texan man who took on the medical Establishment to obtain affordable AIDS medication for himself and others.


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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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