Ridley Scott’s back in orbit with a tale of space survival


If the hard-working volunteers behind the Save the David Lean Campaign keep putting together programmes as they have for December, then calls for them to offer season ticket deals for regular attenders will have to be looked at.

There are so many screenings in December, with films in the mornings, afternoons and evenings, it is almost as if the volunteers are determined to demonstrate how the arthouse cinema really could operate as a stand-alone, viable movie house, just as it did before the council decided to close it in 2011, only relenting to allow the campaigners to re-open it in 2014.

One of the eponymous master’s Oscar-winning cinematic masterpieces, plus the latest film from Lean’s successor as the greatest living British movie director, Ridley Scott, and the highly recommended Brooklyn are just three of the highlights of the coming month, which also offers a fascinating documentary about Malala Yousafzai, the inspiring teenaged Nobel Peace Prize-winner, with a Question and Answer session after the screening.

Dr_ZhivagoOh, and another couple of screenings for the much in-demand Suffragette.

For a cinema named after David Lean, the Clocktower venue doesn’t overdo the association with the Croydon-born film-maker. Which makes the screening of Doctor Zhivago in the week after Christmas a particular festive treat, marking the film’s 50th anniversary, and the death recently of one of its stars, Omar Sharif.

The cinema campaigners have risked the ire of another great Oscar-winning British director, though, by describing in their monthly bulletin The Martian as Ridley Scott’s “best film for decades”. Ouch.

OK, there was Exodus. And Prometheus. Oh, and that Robin Hood with Russell Crowe performing the title role with a range of accents that suggested that he had robbed from the rich Irish dialects and given to the poor Yorkshire vowels…

But the man who made The Duellists, and Alien, and Blade Runner, and Thelma and Louise is probably due a few duffers, and early reviews of The Martian suggest that this is a return to top Scott form, from “a smart, thrilling and funny script” (not something anyone ever accused Exodus of having).

True, the new movie does have the look of Silent Running meets Gravity, but Scott’s best films have before borrowed from previous cinematic hits: Gladiator‘s setting is close to The Fall of the Roman Empire, and the opening battle scenes clearly takes something from the 1964 epic.

With The Martian, Scott has got the support of an in-form leading actor in Matt Damon – “In your face Neil Armstrong!” – and a fine ensemble cast, and he is back in an environment which helped to make his reputation: after all, in space, no one can hear the audience boo…

To be added to the Campaign’s 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  via TicketSource 

David Lean Cinema December programme

All films are at 2.30 and 7.30pm unless stated

Thu Dec 3 BROOKLYN (12A) (11am and 7.30pm)
2015 Ireland/UK/Canada 111min. Director: John Crowley
Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson, Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters
With opportunities scarce in her post-war Irish town, young Eilis leaves to work in a New York store. Desperately homesick at first, she gradually builds a new life full of professional and romantic promise – until events pull her back to Ireland. In this delightful, stirring Nick Hornby adaptation of a Colm Tóibín novel, Ronan is captivating as the quietly charismatic heroine, Walters is at her funniest as Eilis’s Brooklyn landlady, and Broadbent twinkles as a kindly priest.

Tue Dec 8 THE MARTIAN (12A) (7.30pm)
2015 USA/UK 144 min. Director: Ridley Scott
Stars: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jeff Daniels, Sean Bean
When the first manned mission to Mars is hit by a giant storm, botanist Mark Watney (Damon) is abandoned, presumed dead. Yet Watney has survived, and forms ingenious plans to exist the four years until the next mission is due. Meanwhile, NASA strive to bring him back alive… With a hugely likeable turn from Damon, supported by a remarkable ensemble cast, and a smart, thrilling and funny script, this sci-fi adventure is Scott’s best film for many years.

Malala2015 UAE/USA 88min. Director: Davis Guggenheim
Featuring: Malala Yousafzai, Ziauddin Yousafazi, Toor Pekai Yousafazi
With Q&A (details tbc). Named after an Afghan poetess and warrior, author of a blog about life under the Taliban when she was 11, shot in the head for championing girls’ education at 15, Nobel Peace Prize laureate at 17 – Malala Yousafzai is an inspiration to millions around the world. Combining narration of her life story and new home in Birmingham with animated sequences, Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth) shows the warm and playful individual behind the media image.

Tue Dec 15 SHERLOCK JR (7.30pm)
Plus local silent films with live musical accompaniment
1924 USA 56min (total programme 90min). Director: Buster Keaton
Stars: Buster Keaton, Kathy Mcguire, Joe Keaton, Ward Crane
Piano accompaniment: Tom Marlow
Classic silent comedy Sherlock Jnr stars Buster Keaton as a young, unlucky in love projectionist with a passion for solving crime, but does he have what it takes to become a real-life super sleuth? The Lucky Dog Picturehouse recreates the original cinema experience, bringing together classic silent films and live, period specific music. Also including Felix the Cat (1923) and on 35mm A Glass of Goat’s Milk (1909), made by Croydon’s own Clarendon Film Company.

SuffragetteWed Dec 16 SUFFRAGETTE (12A) (7.30pm)
2015 UK/France 106min. Director: Sarah Gavron
Stars: Carey Mulligan, Meryl Streep, Helena Bonham Carter, Ben Whishaw, Brendan Gleeson

The suffragette cause of the early 1900s rallied women from all backgrounds to gain the vote and secure wider rights. Suffragette shows the movement through the eyes of Maud (Mulligan), a factory worker inspired by other campaigners including Emmeline Pankhurst (Streep) to take more radical action.

Thu Dec 17 BROOKLYN (12A) (2.30pm)*
2015 Ireland/UK/Canada 111min. Director: John Crowley
Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson, Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters
As Dec 3 above. *Subtitled for people with hearing loss.

TangerinesThu Dec 17 TANGERINES (15) (7.30pm)
2013 Estonia/Georgia 87min (subtitled). Director: Zaza Urushadze
Stars: Lembit Ulfsak, Elmo Nüganen, Giorgi Nakaghidze
Georgia, 1992: as civil war rages in the Apkhazeti region of the Caucasus after the break-up of the Soviet Union, an elderly ethnic Estonian tangerine farmer in an abandoned village offers shelter to a wounded Georgian soldier and a Chechen mercenary. While the fighters must suppress their mutual hatred, their hosts also worry about the crop going to waste. Nominated for the 2015 Oscars, this is “a tremendous anti-war film… touching, moving and suspenseful” (The Guardian).

Thu Dec 22 TAXI TEHRAN (12A) (7.30pm)
2015 Iran 82min (subtitled). Director: Jafar Panahi
Star: Jafar Panahi
Forbidden from directing films by Iran’s censors, acclaimed director Panahi (The White Balloon) ventures out in the guise of a taxi driver, filming passengers such as an illicit DVD seller, two elderly sisters and their sacred goldfish, a persecuted lawyer and his own charmingly forthright niece, all candidly expressing their own views of the world. Winner of the Berlin Film Festival Golden Bear, Taxi Tehran is both a brave act of resistance and a hilarious satire. “Enchanting film-making, showing how little you really need if you love and understand cinema” (The Standard).

Thu Dec 29 DOCTOR ZHIVAGO (PG) (2pm)
1965 USA/Italy/UK 193min. Director: David Lean
Stars: Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Geraldine Chaplin, Alec Guinness
Screened both to mark its 50th anniversary, and as a memorial to Omar Sharif, this adaptation of Boris Pasternak’s novel follows Sharif’s doctor-poet through the upheavals of the First World War, Russian Revolution and Civil War, and his romance with Lara (Christie). Winner of five Academy Awards, Doctor Zhivago is one of Lean’s great epics, famed for its colour cinematography and Maurice Jarre’s score.
Part of BFI Love in partnership with Plusnet, this event is supported by Film Hub London, managed by Film London and proud to be a partner of the BFI Film Audience Network

ZarafaWed Dec 30 ZARAFA (PG) (11am)
2012 France/Belgium 78min Directors: Rémi Bezançon, Jean-Christophe Lie
Stars: Max Renaudin, Simon Abkarian, Déborah François
A wise village elder recounts the colourful and inspiring story of Maki, a young boy who escaped from a soulless slaver. Having befriended a baby giraffe named Zarafa, he falls under the wing of an austere Bedouin, and takes a hot air balloon from the besieged city of Alexandria to Marseilles.

This true story, which explains the arrival of the first giraffe in 19th-century France, balances some serious themes with child-friendly humour and “superb hand-drawn animation and very effective visual storytelling” (Cine-Vue).
Holiday special offer: Zarafa tickets only £6, concessions/children £4.

Wed Dec 30 SUFFRAGETTE (12A) (2.30pm)
2015 UK/France 106min. Director: Sarah Gavron
Stars: Carey Mulligan, Meryl Streep, Helena Bonham Carter, Ben Whishaw, Brendan Gleeson
As Dec 16 above.


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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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