Trash, ballet and vice: David Lean Cinema’s exotic April mix

HoffmannAs the Save the David Lean Campaign prepares to mark the first anniversary of its re-opening of the Clocktower’s art-house cinema, their April programme, announced today, continues the pattern of innovation – with The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel being screened on two dates – while offering rare opportunities to see movies not usually found in multiplexes.

Thus there are screenings of Dukhtar, a Pakistani movie, and the Anglo-Brazilian production Trash.

But the campaign surely comes closest to fulfilling the cinema’s original brief with the screening of the restored version of the 1951 Powell and Pressburger Technicolor production of The Tales of Hoffman, featuring prima ballerina Moira Shearer.

The film is also notable for the appearance of Robert Helpmann, who for many cinema-goers might be recognised for a performance in another movie 17 years later,  a performance which was rated by Empire magazine as one of the 100 most frightening ever filmed.

Helpmann, the principal dancer with Sadler’s Wells either side of the Second World War, became a noted director and choreographer, including working on the other Powell and Pressburger ballet classic, The Red Shoes.

Robert Helpmann: truly terrifying screen presence

Robert Helpmann: truly terrifying screen presence

Yet he is surely most widely remembered for the menacing presence of the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in 1968, long after his career as a dancer had finished.

Tales of Hoffman shows Helpmann in more conventional ballet performance, in a rarely seen film which the campaign’s programme notes describe as “a wondrously strange and beguiling fusion of cinema, opera and ballet”. Not wholly unlike the Child Catcher, then..?

To be added to the Campaign’s membership list, please email

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

David Lean Cinema April programme

All films are at 2.30 and 7.30pm unless stated

Thu Apr 2 Whiplash (15)
2014 USA 107min Director: Damien Chazelle
Stars: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Paul Reiser
As an ambitious music student in New York, Andrew (Teller) is initially thrilled to be recruited for the Shaffer Conservatory’s elite jazz band, run by the feared Terence Fletcher (Oscar-winner Simmons). Fletcher believes that the pursuit of perfection requires absolute dedication, and his extreme methods push Andrew to exhaustion. Through Chazelle’s brilliant script and direction, their battle of wills drives an unmissable psychological thriller.

Tue Apr 7 Inherent Vice (15) (7.30pm)
2014 USA 148min
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Reece Witherspoon

inherent-vice-us-posterDoc Sportello (Phoenix) is the most confused private detective in 1970 Los Angeles, following the trail of a missing man which leads him to cults, a drugs ring run by dentists, and plenty of hassle from his seemingly straitlaced nemesis at the LAPD (Brolin).

Anderson’s adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s novel is a wonderfully atmospheric and often hilarious shaggy dog story, filtering the twilight of the hippie dream through a haze of sex, drugs and Neil Young.

Thu Apr 9 The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (PG)
2015 USA/UK 122min
Director: John Madden
Stars: Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, Richard Gere, Celia Imrie

The sequel to the much-loved 2012 comedy drama featuring British retirees in India.  An all-star cast features Muriel (Smith) helping Sonny (Patel) to juggle the purchase of a second hotel with his wedding preparations, while mysterious American arrivals Guy (Gere) and Lavinia (Tamsin Greig) may have their own agenda. Meanwhile, will romance blossom for Evelyn (Dench) and Douglas (Nighy)?
*The 2.30pm screening will be subtitled for people with hearing loss.

Tue Apr 14 Dukhtar (cert tbc) (7.30pm)
2014 Pakistan 93min (subtitled)
Director: Afia Nathaniel
Stars: Samiya Mumtaz, Mohib Mirza, Saleha Aref
In the mountains of Pakistan, when two elderly chiefs agree to end the bloodshed between their tribes, one has to promise his 10-year-old daughter in marriage to his rival. Horrified mother Allah Rakhi (Mumtaz) flees with daughter Zainab (Aref), and both tribes begin a potentially deadly pursuit. A suspense thriller with sensitivity, lyricism and stunning landscapes, Dukhtar might be the breakthrough film that takes the new wave of Pakistani cinema to a global audience.

second best marigold hotelThu Apr 16 The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (PG) (11am)
See above for details

Thu Apr 16 Trash (15) (7.30pm)
2014 UK/Brazil 114 mins (partially subtitled)
Director: Stephen Daldry
Stars: Rooney Mara, Martin Sheen, Wagner Moura

Three Brazilian street teenagers scrape a living as rubbish pickers, until they find a wallet containing cash, a photo and the key to a train-station locker. With help from an American priest (Sheen) and NGO worker (Mara), the boys must race against corrupt police officers to solve the riddle. As in Billy Elliot, Daldry coaxes “stunning debuts” (The Guardian) from his young leads in this “jaunty, gorgeously-acted thriller” (Evening Standard).

Tue Apr 21 Beyond Clueless (15) (7.30pm)
2014 UK 89min
Director: Charlie Lyne
Featuring: Fairuza Balk

Beyond Clueless examines the eternal preoccupations of teenage life – as Hollywood understands it – through a fascinating composition of scenes from some 200 movies, to a great soundtrack by British band Summer Camp and a hypnotic narrative by Balk (The Craft). For those who enjoyed the teen movie boom of the 1990s first time around, this is nostalgic fun; for everyone else, it’s a great introduction.

Thu Apr 23 Still Alice (12A)
2014 USA/France 101min
Directors: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland
Stars: Julianne Moore, Kate Bosworth, Alec Baldwin

still aliceJulianne Moore won universal acclaim – and the Academy Award for Best Actress – for her moving depiction of a renowned linguistics professor who begins to forget words and is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Happily married with three adult children, she attempts to battle the disease and struggles to stay connected to her loved ones and her past self.

Due to Moore’s outstanding performance, you’ll “go away feeling educated, enlightened and more compassionate than you can possibly imagine” (New York Observer).

Sat Apr 25 The Tales of Hoffmann (U) (2.30pm)
1951 UK 138min
Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Stars: Moira Shearer, Robert Helpmann, Léonide Massine

Newly restored by Thelma Schoonmaker – Martin Scorsese’s editor and Michael Powell’s widow – this adaption of the 1881 opera by Jacques Offenbach is perhaps even more vivid than its better-known predecessor The Red Shoes. In the hands of the great directorial duo, a poet’s tales of his three lost loves are transformed into a wondrously strange and beguiling fusion of cinema, opera and ballet.

X + YThu Apr 30 X + Y (12A) (11am and 7.30pm)
2014 UK 111min
Director: Morgan Matthews
Stars: Asa Butterfield, Rafe Spall, Sally Hawkins, Eddie Marsan

Teenage prodigy Nathan (Butterfield) has mild autism and struggles to cope with the attentions of his loving mother, but having been mentored by his sardonic but sensitive teacher (Spall), he wins a coveted place on the British team for the International Mathematics Olympiad in Taipei, China.

Here, a multitude of new challenges and experiences will change his life forever. This is classy feel-good cinema with a great cast, exploring the human connections which make sense of life.

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