Redford’s still seeking the Truth about the US President

Robert Redford is in familiar territory in Truth, one of next month’s offerings at The David Lean Cinema.

truth-movie-posterThe actor who forged his second notable double-hander screen partnership in All The President’s Men with Dustin Hoffman 40 years ago is back in the newsroom,  this time playing the role of American TV news anchor Dan Rather in Truth.

So from the portrayal of the Washington Post news story which led to the impeachment of a despised US President, Richard Nixon, to the portrayal of a TV news story which undermined another, even less-admired Commander-in-Chief, George W Bush, Redford’s career has seen the Hollywood AA-lister return to the news beat at a time when movie makers have taken a particular interest in investigative journalism.

Spotlight, which screened at the David Lean earlier this year, details how a group of Boston journalists went toe-to-toe with the Catholic church over child abuse cover-ups, and won the Oscar for best picture.

Truth, which also stars Cate Blanchett and Dennis Quaid, did not make the same impression, probably because this time, the good guys lost. A 2004 report, aired just before the presidential election on CBS’s 60 Minutes claimed that Dubya got preferential treatment during the Vietnam War because his father, even then a senior Republican and soon to be the Director of the CIA, used his clout to keep his son away from combat, seeing out his national service time with the weekend warriors of the Texas Air National Guard.

Rather ran the story, but the report ended his illustrious career. The documents obtained by CBS could not be authenticated, and may have even been typed with Microsoft Word, which obviously did not exist in the 1970s.

The matter is still a sore point, and perhaps contributed to Truth being less successful than Spotlight: CBS refused to run any ads for the movie on their network. George W duly got re-elected, and some time after, it was established that yes, he had sat out the Vietnam War in Texas and never saw a shot fired in anger.

“It is a somewhat surreal experience to see yourself being played by Robert Redford,” Rather said recently. “He made me look better on screen than I ever thought I looked.”

Rather said that, “I honestly thought it was a joke” when the film-makers came calling. But the cover-up, according to Rather, continues, if only now to avoid a TV network’s embarrassment for not backing its journalists a decade ago, or not rocking the boat in the latest race for the White House which, for a time at least, included another member of the Bush dynasty.

“Powerful people would have preferred this film not to happen,” Rather said.

The month’s David Lean offerings are as rich and varied as we have come to expect, with A War (which may appeal to those who have grown to enjoy and admire Nordic noir on their TV), High-Rise, which might just put off some prospective buyers of new flats… sorry, “luxury executive apartments” in some of the tower blocks going up around the town centre, and a challenging examination of homelessness with Richard Gere in Time Out Of Mind.

And, for the first time in six years, the David Lean Cinema is holding a special daytime screening for parents with small children to have a chance of viewing Hail Caesar. The Save the David Lean Cinema Campaign organisers will be taking feedback on the timing of the screening for this often overlooked audience.

Tickets for the 60-seater art house cinema are now available to book earlier in the month, and May’s screenings go on sale from tomorrow, April 7.

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

  • Tickets for all screenings are £8. Concessions (Freedom Pass-holders, full-time students, claimants and disabled) £6.50.
  • Bookings can be made  via TicketSource 

David Lean Cinema programme May 2016

All films are at 2.30 and 7.30pm unless stated

Tue May 3 A WAR (15) (7.30pm)
2015 Denmark 115min (subtitled). Director: Tobias Lindholm
Stars: Pilou Asbæk, Tuva Novotny, Dar Salim, Søren Malling
Claus Pedersen (Asbæk) is the commander of a Danish military unit, stationed in Afghanistan to combat the Taliban. Back in Denmark, his wife Maria (Novotny) battles with parenthood, caring for her three children alone. Claus’s actions in the war zone take a greater toll on his family when a routine mission goes very wrong and innocents lose their lives – his leadership is questioned and he is forced to stand trial. With rich characters and a riveting plot, A War is a refreshing combination of frontline thriller and courtroom drama.

Thu May 5 TRUTH (15) (11am and 7.30pm)
2015 USA 125min. Director: James Vanderbilt
Stars: Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford, Topher Grace, Dennis Quaid
Based on CBS producer Mary Mapes’s memoir, Truth explores the witch hunt that engulfed the US television station after they broadcast a revelation about George W Bush’s “service”,or lack of it, in the Texas National Guard during the Vietnam War, and the official cover-up this inconvenient truth prompted. Mapes (Blanchett), her investigation team, and veteran presenter Dan Rather (Redford) are accused of sloppy journalism and worse by rival stations, the right-wing press and the blogosphere. “Blanchett is terrific as Mapes” (The Observer).

high-rise-posterTue May 10 HIGH-RISE (15) (7.30pm)
2015 UK 119min. Director: Ben Wheatley
Stars: Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans, Elisabeth Moss
Set in an alternate 1970s, JG Ballard’s novel depicts the gradual descent into savagery of the occupants of a tower block, as the building shuts down around them. As adapted by fast-rising British director Wheatley (Sightseers, A Field in England) and screenwriter Amy Jump – with a score by Clint Mansell, and an Abba cover by Portishead – this is a gripping spectacle, where humour and violence go hand in hand. Recommended equally for admirers of Ballard’s writing, Wheatley’s films, and Tom Hiddleston.

Hail CaesarThu May 12 HAIL, CAESAR! (12A) (11am)
2016 UK/USA 116min. Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen     
Stars: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson
Babes in Arms screening. Bringing a baby is not compulsory but we cannot guarantee a quiet auditorium during this screening.
The Coen brothers return with this vibrant comedy, set in the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema. Producer Eddie Mannix (Brolin) is tasked with recovering Capitol Pictures’ biggest star, Baird Whitlock (Clooney), who has been kidnapped and held ransom in the middle of shooting a big-budget historical epic.

Thu May 12 TIME OUT OF MIND (15)
2014 USA 118min. Director: Oren Moverman
Stars: Richard Gere, Ben Vereen, Jena Malone, Steve Buscemi
Evicted from his ex’s apartment, George (Gere) is out of options and finds himself sleeping rough in the New York winter. While trying to reconnect with his daughter, he struggles to navigate the bureaucracy assigning services to those in need. Moverman skilfully shows both how isolated the homeless can be in the modern city and the comfort offered by human kindness, while Gere excels as a deeply troubled yet often charming man striving to retain his dignity. “A haunting piece of urban poetry… confirms Moverman as a socially conscious filmmaker of rare conviction and authority” (Variety).

Tue May 17 DISORDER (15) (7.30pm)
2015 France/Belgium 100min (subtitled). Director: Alice Winocour
Stars: Matthias Schoenaerts, Diane Kruger, Paul Hamy

Schoenaerts is at his brooding best as Vincent, a French special forces veteran recruited for private security work, protecting a secretive billionaire’s wife (Kruger) and son. The superb editing, sound design and electronic score bring us inside Vincent’s restless, hypervigilant state of mind – but is he merely paranoid, or are his charges in grave danger? Tense and occasionally explosive, Disorder is one of the best and smartest thrillers since Drive.

Our Little SisterThu May 19 OUR LITTLE SISTER (PG)
2015 Japan 126 mins (subtitled). Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
Stars: Haruka Ayase, Masami Nagasawa, Kaho, Suzu Hirose

Three sisters live together in an old house in a beautiful coastal town. When their long-absent father dies, their teenaged, orphaned half-sister comes to live with them. Different in personalities, but sharing a strong bond, they begin a new life of joyful discovery, despite the shadows of their family history. Boasting four superb performances and an abundance of traditional Japanese cuisine, this sensitive, poetic and heartening tale of love and family ties is an utterly absorbing pleasure from start to finish. Highly recommended to anyone who was moved by Brooklyn’s gentle, thoughtful drama.

Tuesday 24 May SHOOTING STARS (PG) (7.30pm)
1928 UK 80min. Directors: AV Bramble, Anthony Asquith
Stars: Annette Benson, Brian Aherne, Donald Calthrop, Wally Patch

Winsome damsel-in-distress on-screen and diva off-screen, Mae (Benson) has tired of square-jawed co-star and husband Julian (Aherne), preferring debonair Andy (Calthrop), known to the public as a Chaplinesque clown. At first a hilarious, biting movie industry satire, Shooting Stars takes a darker turn when Mae schemes to escape her personal and professional crisis. This recently restored gem is surely one of the best-directed films in early British cinema – Asquith crafted wonderful visual humour, lush romance, urgent action and a truly poignant final scene with exquisite framing and lighting.

i-am-belfast_posterThu May 26 I AM BELFAST (15)
2015 UK 84min. Director: Mark Cousins
Stars: Helena Bereen, Richard Buick, Felicity McKee, Shane McCaffrey

Belfast is not just a place, but also reimagined as a 10,000-year-old woman in a psychogeographical journey that challenges our perceptions about this complex city. Belfast-born Cousins challenges us to see beauty in the unexpected as we follow the motherly Belfast, who surveys the history, streets and people with compassion but not judgement. This uplifting and thought-provoking study is set to a beautiful score by another Belfast native, David Holmes.
*The 2.30pm screening will be subtitled for those with hearing loss.

Tue May 31 May SON OF SAUL (15)
2015 Hungary 107min (subtitled). Director: László Nemes
Stars: Géza Röhrig, Levente Molnár, Urs Rechn

Saul is a sonderkommando in Auschwitz, forced to assist in the disposal of the exterminated. When he recognises a boy who he takes to be his son, he tries to find a rabbi to give the body a proper Jewish burial. The fluid camerawork truly portrays the horror and despair of the death camps. This brilliant debut feature from Hungarian director Nemes won the Grand Prix at Cannes and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

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