French, Polish and Japanese movies headline May features

With numerous 70th anniversaries from the end of the Second World War approaching, beginning with the VE Day commemorations next week, the May programme at the David Lean Cinema begins this weekend with a revisionist film which challenges some of the more established tropes of Hollywood war movies.

Suite FrancaiseSuite Francaise is compelling romantic drama based on the novel by Irène Némirovsky, which was written during the Nazi occupation of Paris, and stars the always compelling Kirsten Scott Thomas and Michelle Williams.

Croydon’s only arthouse cinema, nestling in the Clocktower, heads into its second year of operation by a doughty group of volunteers with another couple of innovations: screening films on different days (for example, Suite Francaise is showing this Saturday, May 2, and then again next Tuesday, though both are afternoon screenings); and with its first set of short films, with Future Shorts on May 15. The seven films in the programme run from animation and music video to drama and romance.

There is a strong international flavour to this month’s programme, with the acclaimed Polish feature, Ida, and the Japanese animation, The Tale of Princess Kaguya among the highlights, but with Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella expected to sell-out the 60-seater auditorium most quickly.

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  • 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 May programme

Sat May 2 SUITE FRANCAISE (15) (2.30pm)
2015 UK/France/Belgium 107min Director: Saul Dibb
Stars: Michelle Williams, Kristin Scott Thomas, Matthias Schoenaerts

As a regiment of German soldiers are stationed in her village, Lucille (Williams) waits for news of her husband. While her mother-in-law (Scott Thomas) looks on, and other villagers turn to collaboration or resistance, Lucille tries to ignore her feelings for the enemy Commander, Bruno (Schoenaerts). This compelling romantic drama is based on the novel by Irène Némirovsky, written during the Nazi occupation of Paris.

Tue May 5 SUITE FRANCAISE (15) (2.30pm)
As above. This screening will be subtitled for people with hearing loss.

Tue May 5 WHITE BIRD IN A BLIZZARD (15) (7.30pm)
2014 USA 91min Director: Gregg Araki
Stars: Shailene Woodley, Eva Green, Christopher Meloni

When her mother disappears, 17-year-old Kat (Woodley) is almost glad to be rid of her – yet her feeling of loss grows gradually but inexorably. Araki’s direction is always fascinating, colouring a vision of suburbia worthy of Lynch, Sirk or Mendes with bravura riffs on neo-noir and teen movies, while pulling us deeper into Kat’s world. Green’s vampish turn as Kat’s unhinged mother is great fun, but Woodley’s insightful and moving performance confirms her as one of the most exciting actresses of her generation.

Sat May 9 IDA (12A) (2.30pm)
2013 Poland/Denmark 82min (subtitled) Director: Pawel Pawlikowski
Stars: Agata Kulesza, Agata Trzebuchowska, Dawid Ogrodnik

Ida posterPoland, 1962. An 18-year-old novice nun (Trzebuchowska) is sent out into the world to meet her aunt and discover her family’s past. With stunning monochrome cinematography and superb contrasting lead performances, this “compact masterpiece” (New Yorker) is “immaculate… suffused with the ache of loss but streaked with hope and humour” (Evening Standard). First screened at the David Lean Cinema in November, Ida returns to mark Europe Day (9 May) having won Best Foreign Language Film at the 2015 Academy Awards. Presented in association with CALAT.

Tue May 12 IDA (2.30pm)
As above

Tue May 12 APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOUR (15) (7.30pm)
2014 USA 86min Director: Desiree Akhavan
Stars: Desiree Akhavan, Rebecca Henderson, Halley Feiffer

Brooklynite Shirin (Akhavan) is struggling to keep a lot of plates in the air – searching for a job she can bear, getting over her breakup with Maxine (Henderson), and being the perfect (heterosexual) Persian daughter. Akhavan’s hilarious and gently moving script takes us to bars, elementary school film club, family New Year parties – and a memorably awful lingerie shopping trip. Most importantly, Shirin follows in the footsteps of the likes of Annie Hall and Frances Ha as a mixed-up New York heroine you can really root for.

Fri May 15 FUTURE SHORTS (15) (7.30pm)
2013/2014/2015 Canada/UK/Bulgaria/Germany/Ireland 88min

Every quarter, London-based Future Shorts – a spin-off from Secret Cinema – put together a feature-length programme of short films. Since 2011, they’ve screened in over 300 cities in 90 countries, and now their Spring 2015 programme becomes the reopened David Lean Cinema’s first short film presentation. The seven films in the programme run from animation and music video to drama and romance. Presented in association with Gemma Johnson and in support of the Croydon-based charity Lives Not Knives.

Tue May 19 THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY (18) (7.30pm)
2014 UK 104min Director: Peter Strickland
Stars: Sidse Babett Knudsen, Chiara D’anna, Monica Swinn

Peter Strickland’s fascination with 1970s European cinema, last seen in the acclaimed Berberian Sound System, flourishes in this tale of a female couple testing the limits of their relationship. Set in a lush alternative universe, full of castles in the forest and butterfly-collecting, Knudsen and d’Anna portray a “desperately moving – and also sensationally funny” relationship (The Telegraph) in a picture that is “erotic, neurotic and utterly individual” (The Guardian).

Thu May 21 THE TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA (U) (11am and 7.30pm)
2013 Japan 137min Director: Isao Takahata
Princess Kaguya posterStars: Chloë Grace Moretz, James Caan, Mary Steenburgen

If last year’s The Wind Rises was the swansong of Hayao Miyazaki, the Oscar-nominated Princess Kaguya seems certain to be the final film by Studio Ghibli’s other great director, Takahata (Grave of the Fireflies). This story of a magical little girl who grows up quickly and becomes a princess is a hand-drawn animation of rare beauty, illustrating a 1000-year-old folk tale “with a wispy watercolour delicacy… like ancient Japanese woodcuts have come to life” (The Independent).

Sat May 23 CINDERELLA (U) (2.30pm)
2015 USA 105min Director: Kenneth Branagh
Stars: Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden, Helena Bonham Carter

In an age where classic stories are often reframed and rebooted, Branagh’s straightforward yet sumptuous retelling of one of the great fairy tales will be a welcome treat – and a visual delight – for children of all ages. “Cinderella is a paean to a lost, handcrafted age of Hollywood filmmaking” (Screen International).

Thu May 28 CINDERELLA (U) (2.30pm)
As above

Thu May 28 THE FALLING (15) (7.30pm)
2015 UK 102min Director: Carol Morley
The FallingStars: Maisie Williams, Maxine Peake, Greta Scacchi, Monica Dolan, Florence Pugh

A strict English girls’ school in 1969 provides the setting for what might be considered a British Picnic at Hanging Rock. The troubled Lydia (Williams, of Game of Thrones fame) is best friends with the charismatic Abbie (Pugh), who has begun to explore her sexuality. The peace is shattered when a tragedy sparks a mysterious fainting epidemic. Morley brilliantly evokes the intensity of school life for both pupils and teachers, before stoking up the pressure on Lydia in a final act which may shock and is sure to provoke discussion. “Terrific film-making – enough to bring a rush of blood to the head” (The Guardian).

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