Powerful performances from Adams highlight cinema choices

Tickets for the David Lean Cinema’s January programme go on sale tomorrow. Here, the cinema’s volunteer programmer, PHILIP HOWARD, runs through some of the many highlights

Once upon a time, Academy Awards for acting were given for outstanding work throughout the year – if that were still true, Amy Adams would be guaranteed this year’s Best Actress Oscar.

nocturnal-animalsIn our first two films of 2017, she shines in two contrasting roles: as unhappy art dealer Susan in Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals, and determined, brilliant linguist Louise in Denis Villeneuve’s stunning sci-fi Arrival.

Two other highly praised female lead performances follow: Adele Haenel is captivating as a guilt-ridden doctor turned detective in The Unknown Girl, and Marion Cotillard shimmers in WWII spy thriller Allied.

Indeed, the 1940s are a key period in this month’s programme: David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike star in A United Kingdom, a tale of interracial love defying Empire and apartheid, while we commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day with Kristin Scott Thomas’s 2010 drama Sarah’s Key and the highly-praised new release The Innocents.

Returning to the present day, the calm naturalism of Paterson will appeal to many who enjoyed beautifully observed films such as Our Little Sister, Spike Lee moves classical Greek comedy Lysistrata to gang-riven Chicago in the ingenious Chi-Raq, and we rerun the brilliant – and now Oscar-shortlisted – Japanese animation Your Name.

David Lean Cinema programme January 2017

All films are at 2.30 and 7.30pm unless stated

Tue Jan 3 NOCTURAL ANIMALS (15) (7.30pm)
2016 USA 116min Director: Tom Ford
Stars: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson
At a professional and personal low point, Susan (Adams) receives a manuscript from her novelist ex-husband (Gyllenhaal): once a naïve romantic, Edward has written a vivid, shocking thriller. Captivated, Susan visualises this tale of a family man (also Gyllenhaal) driven to violent revenge, and is drawn into a re-evaluation of her life as past, present and fiction become entangled. Directing a superb cast, Ford delivers the style of A Single Man but with gripping action and savage wit.

arrival-posterThu Jan 5 ARRIVAL (12A)
2016 USA 116min. Director: Denis Villeneuve
Stars: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker
*10 Jan is a Babes in Arms screening. A dozen monolithic spaceships suddenly appear around the world. As the public panic, linguist Louise is drafted in to head up an elite team trying to communicate with the aliens inside. As her understanding of their language grows, global tensions rise and there are profound implications for her own life. Adams is in her element as the determined, brilliant Louise, and Villeneuve deftly combines stunning visuals with fascinating meditations on language and destiny.

Tue Jan 10 ARRIVAL (12A) (11am)
2016 USA 116min. Director: Denis Villeneuve
Stars: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker
As Jan 5 above. Jan 10 is a Babes in Arms screening.

Tue Jan 10 THE UNKNOWN GIRL (15) (7.30pm)
2016 Bel/Fra 113min (subtitled). Directors: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
Stars: Adèle Haenel, Olivier Bonnaud, Jérémie Renier
Working late at her practice in a poor Liege neighbourhood, devoted doctor Jenny Davin (Haenel) ignores a buzz at the door. The next morning, the body of a young woman is found nearby. Consumed by guilt at her failure to help, Jenny presses her patients for clues to the girl’s identity, and begins a reckless pursuit of the truth. Following up Two Days, One Night, the Dardenne brothers again expertly dramatize the pressures and compromises of daily life and, with Haenel, have created a compelling heroine.

Thu Jan 12 ALLIED (15) (11am and 7.30pm)
2016 USA/UK 124min. Director: Robert Zemeckis
Stars: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris, Simon McBurney
Intelligence spy Max Vatan meets French Resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour on a deadly mission in North Africa. After marrying and returning to London, their relationship is threatened by suspicions of Marianne being a double agent. Tasked with executing her if these suspicions prove to be true, Vatan becomes desperately torn between love and loyalty. Helmed by talented and seasoned director Zemeckis, Allied masterfully captures the beauty of the 1940s era, with brilliant performances from Pitt and Cotillard.

Sat Jan 14 YOUR NAME (12A) (2.30pm)
2016 Japan 106 mins (subtitled). Director: Makoto Shinkai
Stars: Ryûnosuke Kamiki, Mone Kamishiraishi, Ryô Narita
A teenage boy in Tokyo and a girl in a sleepy country town are bewildered when they occasionally change places for a day. Fascinated by each other’s lives, they find a way to communicate, until… The first animation ever selected for the London Film Festival’s Official Competition, and already among Japan’s all-time most watched animes, this beautifully illustrated film starts out as a hilarious body-swap comedy before boldly morphing into one of 2016’s most enthralling and moving dramas.

Tue Jan 17 PATERSON (15)
2016 Fra/Ger/USA 118min. Director: Jim Jarmusch
Stars: Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani, Barry Shabaka Henley
A week in the life of Paterson, a bus driver and habitually unpublished poet, in the New Jersey town that shares his name. The film follows Paterson’s daily routine as he eavesdrops on the conversations of commuters, shares intimate discussion with his wife (an advocate for the publication of his poems) and meets the local bar regulars who inspire his poetry. This calm, reflective film is grounded in realism and sprinkled with humour, with an enthralling performance by Adam Driver.

Thu Jan 19 A UNITED KINGDOM (12A)*
2016 USA/UK/Czech Republic 111 mins. Director: Amma Asante
Stars: David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike, Jack Davenport, Nicholas Lyndhurst
While studying law in London shortly after the Second World War, Prince Seretse Khama of Botswana falls in love with an English insurance clerk, Ruth Williams. They get married and propose returning in triumph to his homeland. However, their marriage is fiercely opposed by their families, and even threatens to cause a rift between British and South African governments due to the recently established apartheid policy. Based on true events, this well-crafted, inspiring story of love is driven by absorbing performances from Oyelowo and Pike.
*2.30pm screening subtitled for those with hearing loss.

sarahs-key-movie-posterTue Jan 24 SARAH’S KEY (12A) (7.30pm)
2010 Fra 111min (subtitled). Director: Gilles Paquet-Brenner
Stars: Kristin Scott Thomas, Mélusine Mayance, Niels Arestrup
For Holocaust Memorial Day (Jan 27). American journalist Julia Jarmond (Scott Thomas) is commissioned to write an article about the notorious 1942 Vel’ d’Hiv round-up. Her research, however, unravels a family secret: the previous owners of her husband’s family home in Paris were Jewish occupants, dispossessed and deported 60 years ago. She resolves to find out what happened to the former occupants and her journey leads her to discover more about her husband’s family, France and herself. The film tells Julia and Sarah’s story concurrently, with Mayance exceptional as young Sarah.

Thu Jan 26 THE INNOCENTS (15)
2016 Fra/Pol 115min (subtitled). Director: Anne Fontaine
Stars: Lou de Laâge, Agata Buzek, Agata Kulesza
For Holocaust Memorial Day. Based on diaries kept by a French doctor at the end of World War II, this is a powerful, beautifully paced drama about the aftermath of the German/Russian occupation on a Polish convent. Riven with fear and shame, the nuns are forced outside their isolated community to seek the help of a young, atheist French Red Cross doctor (a sensitive, brilliant performance from de Laâge). The development of their relationship is surprising, intriguing and at times delightful, as is the emergence of the nuns’ individual characters. The snowy winter provides a fitting, atmospherically shot backdrop for this poignant, life-affirming tale of sisterly solidarity and human survival.

chi-raqTue Jan 31 CHI-RAQ (15) (7.30pm)
2015 USA 127min. Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Nick Cannon, Teyonah Parris, Wesley Snipes, Angela Bassett
In gang-ravaged Chicago, a stray bullet from a night of fighting leaves a young girl dead. Based in part on the Greek classic Lysistrata, the women from the warring sides refuse their partners sex in pursuit of an end to violence – or, as chanted in the film, “No peace – no pussy” and “Save our babes”.

The nickname of Cannon’s gang leader, Chi-Raq, also refers to a city where homicides outnumber the death toll of American Special Forces in Iraq.

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