Obree, spies and 1980s music all on screen at David Lean

“No woman can truly love a man who listens to Phil Collins.”

Ahh. We truly have reached the stage where people are becoming nostalgic for the 1980s.

The line of script is from Sing Street, one of the offerings at the David Lean Cinema in the Croydon Clocktower next month. It’s a music movie set in Dublin, which itself is a nod backwards a couple of decades, to Alan Parker’s The Commitments. And that’s a tough act to follow.

With love interest Lucy Boynton looking so much like Clare Grogan (of 1980s band Altered Images and cult film Gregory’s Girl) that it surely cannot be mere coincidence, Sing Street appears to be aiming at two demographics of cinema-goers: the 40-somethings who vaguely recall the music of the early 1980s (some of which has lasted less well than Phil Collins, which is saying something) with some enduring fondness, and the teenagers of today who themselves have dreams of setting up a band. Can it satisfy both? You get a chance to judge for yourself at the David Lean Cinema next month.

Graeme ObreeThere were many who doubted that John le Carré’s writing career, of spies and dark deeds in Cold War Europe, would last beyond the 1980s, after Glasnost arrived and the Berlin Wall came down.

But as he has shown with his spy novels adapted for the screen, such as The Constant Gardener and, most recently, The Night Manager, there is no shortage of suitable material, which in his hands transcend the Bond stereotypes to provide modern thrillers.

Our Kind of Traitor, being screened at the David Lean soon after its release, offers us secret assignations with Russian Mafia money-launderers, with a suitably stellar cast of Ewen McGregor as the unwilling go-between, Damian Lewis as the MI6 spy-master and Stellan Skarsgård as the potential new inside source. It even has its very own “Bond girl” in Naomie Harris. 

After last week’s foray at the cinema into cricket documentaries, July, the month of the Tour de France, sees the David Lean showing another sporting documentary, this time about the extraordinary cyclist, Graeme Obree.

Obree is a true British sporting hero, as eccentric as he has been determined, as well as a touch tragic – he has three times attempted suicide. But it is thoroughly deserving that this is the second feature-length movie about his life and achievements. Only this time Obree, rather than Jonny Lee Miller in The Flying Scotsman a decade ago, gets to play Obree, in the documentary of his attempt on the man-powered land speed record, Battle Mountain.

Without providing any spoilers, it may be a story which comes closer to reclaiming a glorious past than some of the other movies on show next month.

Tickets for all the David Lean Cinema’s July films went on sale on Thursday.

To be added to the Save the David Lean Campaign’s membership list, please email savedavidlean@gmail.com.

  • 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 July 2016

All films are at 2.30 and 7.30pm unless stated

Tue Jul 5 EVOLUTION (15) (7.30pm)
2015 France/Belgium/Spain 82min (subtitled). Director: Lucile Hadžihalilović
Stars: Max Brebant, Roxane Duran, Julie-Marie Parmentier
Nicolas (Brebant) lives in a coastal village with a young woman whom he calls mother, as do several other little boys. Nicolas has made a peculiar underwater discovery, while the mothers gather on the black-sanded beach for mysterious nocturnal meetings… Offering an evocative mixture of beautiful photography and unsettling scenes, Evolution is a “nightmarish masterpiece” (Irish Times) that you’re unlikely to forget.

2016 UK/France 110min. Director: Stephen Frears
Stars: Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg
*Babes in Arms screening. Florence Foster Jenkins has many strings to her bow: socialite, opera buff and great wealth to name a few. The ability to sing, however, is not one of them. Despite this, she has developed a cult following through her exclusive private recitals. Jenkins finally dares to publicise her supposed talents through a self-promoted show, with the help of her dubious husband, St Clair Bayfield (Grant) and accompanist Cosmé McMoon (Helberg). The acknowledgement she receives however is not of the nature she expects. Streep gives a vibrant and typically masterful performance as the self-deceiving Jenkins in this tragicomedy, with Grant also on top form.

Hologram for the kingThu Jul 7 A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING (12A)
2016 USA 97min. Director: Tom Tykwer
Stars: Tom Hanks, Alexander Black, Sarita Choudhury, Sidse Babett Knudsen
Alan Clay (Hanks) is a blundering business consultant in a mid-life crisis: his marriage has crumbled, his beautiful home is gone, and his daughter’s college tuition fees are at risk. In a last attempt to save his skin, he travels to Saudi Arabia hoping to sell a virtual reality communication system to an elusive king. However, these hopes become frail as each morning brings with it new problems and disappointments. The estimable Hanks is ably supported by Black as his genial yet buffoonish chauffeur, and Choudhury as an alluring Saudi doctor.

See Jul 7 for screening notes.

Tue Jul 12 DEPARTURE (15) (7.30pm)
2015 UK/France 109min (partially subtitled)
Director: Andrew Steggall
Stars: Juliet Stevenson, Alex Lawther, Phénix Brossard, Niamh Cusack
As his mother packs up their holiday home in the aftermath of marital disintegration, teenaged Elliot – played by Lawther, the young Alan Turing in The Imitation Game – roams the countryside where he meets an older local boy. A delicate exploration of unspoken emotion set in a beautiful part of France, Departure is “Sensitive, sensual… with a winning turn from Lawther” (Empire Magazine).

2016 UK 108min. Director: Susanna White
Stars: Ewan McGregor, Damian Lewis, Stellan Skarsgård, Naomie Harris
Perry (McGregor) and Gail (Harris) are an ordinary British couple holidaying together in Marrakech. There, they befriend Dima (Skarsgard), a garrulous oligarch and money launderer for the Russian Mafia. After Dima asks for their help to deliver classified information to MI6, the couple are propelled on a perilous journey, becoming embroiled in a deadly game of espionage and politics. Based on the novel by John le Carré, this gripping spy thriller delivers stylish cinematography and brilliant performances from the ensemble cast. *The 2.30pm screening will be subtitled for those with hearing loss.

2015 UK/Spain/USA 104min. Director: Dave Street
Features: Graeme Obree, Chris Hoy, Charlie Milarvie
In the early 1990s, Graeme Obree was famous for breaking cycling’s one-hour record and winning world championships, while riding a home-made bike in an unconventional position which reduced his air resistance. This fascinating, moving and often very funny documentary finds Obree in his bid to break the human-powered land speed record on the isolated highway of Nevada’s Battle Mountain. At age 47, he is still innovating, while confronting a succession of physical and psychological challenges. “A liberating film… Even the most cynical will be seduced by the combination of self-deprecation, crazed chutzpah and intuitive engineering skills that Obree displays” (Cycling Weekly).

Thu Jul 21 LOVE & FRIENDSHIP (U) (11am and 7.30pm)
2016 Ire/Neth/France/USA/UK 93min. Director: Whit Stillman
Stars: Kate Beckinsale, Chloë Sevigny, Xavier Samuel, Tom Bennett
In this adaptation of a short novel by Jane Austen, the beautiful, beguiling and recently widowed Lady Susan Vernon is the subject of scandalous rumours. Setting out to find a new suitor, she attracts the attention of the young and married Reginald DeCourcy (Samuel). She also guilefully attempts to persuade Sir James Martin (Bennett), an amiable simpleton, to pursue her unreceptive daughter. As Lady Susan pursues the controversial relationship with Reginald, seduction, deception and heartbreak ensue. Beckinsale is the main attraction as the fiendishly manipulative heroine, delivering hilariously cutting lines with brazen verve.

Tue Jul 26 WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE (U) (2.30pm)
2014 Japan 103min. Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Stars: Hailee Steinfeld, Kiernan Shipka, Geena Davis, John C Reilly
Twelve-year-old Anna goes to live with kindly relatives in a seaside village. Exploring a mysterious old house across the cove, Anna meets Marnie, a girl of similar age, and blossoms through their extraordinary bond of friendship. The final film from Studio Ghibli for now (and perhaps forever), this slightly supernatural tale is in the gently moving style of recent predecessors From Up on Poppy Hill and The Wind Rises, and is as beautifully animated as you’d expect.

knight-of-cups-uk-quad-posterTue Jul 26 KNIGHT OF CUPS (15) (7.30pm)
2015 USA 118min. Director: Terrence Malick
Stars: Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, Brian Dennehy
A empty movie studio lot; an ageing father; a spaghetti junction of freeways; women he’s picked up; women he cares for but can’t truly connect with; the Pacific Ocean; dubious life lessons from Antonio Banderas at an exclusive pool party; pelicans; Las Vegas; a raging brother; his ex-wife, caring for the seriously ill; the Mojave Desert. From these fragments of narrative and emotion, Malick and the brilliant cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki follow screenwriter Rick (Bale) through a personal crisis in “mesmerising” style (Metro). Malick’s unique, perplexing and fascinating approach attracts an A-list cast and creates beautiful moments that live long in the memory.

sing-street_quad-posterThu Jul 28 SING STREET (12A)
2016 Ire/UK/USA 106min. Director: John Carney
Stars: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Aidan Gillen, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Lucy Boynton
Dublin, mid 1980s, and 14-year-old Conor is transferred from a posh private school to the local comprehensive – a hostile territory of bullies and priests. In a bid to impress a girl and make friends, Conor rounds up a gang of lads to form a band. Under his older brother’s guidance, they distil the likes of Duran Duran and The Jam into their music. Imbued with 80s hits, Sing Street is an intoxicatingly enjoyable experience. Director Carney (Once) pulls strong performances from the young cast, expertly balancing drama and comedy.

Tue Aug 2 WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE (U) (7.30pm)
For screening notes, see Jul 26.

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