We are many, they are few, and battles still to be won

The David Lean Cinema is finishing 2018 with a flourish, with a selection of screenings through to the end of the year and into 2019, which are certain to ensure that the arthouse movie auditorium in the Croydon Clocktower will have sold all its available seats very quickly.

These include Steve McQueen’s latest directorial offering, Widows (which translates the 1980s British TV drama of the same title to the streets of Chicago in the 21st century), which is being screened in January, but for which tickets go on sale now, preceded with a couple of blockbusters with social conscience: The Hate U Give and Peterloo.

Director Mike Leigh clearly enjoys portraying that post-Napoleonic, mid-18th century, candle-lit time of change (remember Mr Turner?), while his latest epic undertaking provides some of the context for the We Are Many, They Are Few slogan which has become more familiar recently, and so gives the film some biting topicality.

The powerful have always had a problem with the people demanding more of a say…

Peterloo has been described as “overstuffed” by one reviewer, though Peter Bradshaw, of The Grauniad, was kinder after viewing it at the Venice Film Festival earlier this year. The St Peter’s Field massacre, Bradshaw wrote, “was Britain’s 19th-century mix of Sharpeville and Hillsborough”.

He said, “There is force, grit and, above all, a sense of purpose; a sense that the story he has to tell is important and real, and that it needs to be heard right now. The film has an uncompromising seriousness.”

A similar sense of burning injustice, people versus power, also comes through in The Hate U Give, which features a stunning performance in the lead role by a teenaged Amandla Stenberg. Based on a book which was banned in some south states of America, it is a powerful portrayal of aspects of Black Lives Matter campaigning.

Another highlight of the month’s programme is likely to be Bohemian Rhapsody, the biopic of Freddie Mercury and Queen which has already earned plaudits – and with its big festival concert scenes and portrayal of the music business might offer a good compare and contrast exercise for cineastes with November’s screening of A Star Is Born.

Two of the David Lean’s evening screenings in December, Peterloo and Amelie, will begin at the slightly earlier than usual time of 7pm, because of the long running time of the movies. Amelie is part of the BFI Comedy Genius season that the David Lean is running together with the South Norwood community cinema, Screen25, where comedians do a short stand-up before introducing the film.

  • Unless otherwise stated, tickets for all screenings are £8.50. Concessions (Freedom Pass-holders, full-time students, claimants and disabled) £7. Rush tickets may also be available for under-25s.

David Lean Cinema programme for December

All films are at 2.30 and 7.30pm unless stated

Tue Dec 4 VS. (15) (7.30pm)
2018 UK 99min. Director: Ed Lilly
Stars: Connor Swindells, Fola Evans-Akingbola, Ruth Sheen

After moving from home to home, ill-tempered foster kid Adam returns to his hometown in Southend. Rediscovering himself and carving a new identity as a sharp-witted lyricist, he attempts to navigate a harsh terrain: the uncompromising world of battle rap. But aside from the animus of the arena, Adam must also confront the demons of his own past as he attempts to reconcile with his mother. Director Lilly delivers a refreshing, poignant and edgy take on the British urban film genre.

2018 UK/USA 134min. Director: Bryan Singer
Stars: Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Tom Hollander, Mike Myers

It’s taken a long time to reach the screen, but the film biography of Queen’s lead singer certainly delivers, thanks to Rami Malek’s near-perfect impersonation of Freddie Mercury, from his humble origins as a baggage handler to world superstardom, and the highs and lows that followed. The movie excels in the painstaking recreation of Queen’s music, and of key moments such as the Wembley Live Aid concert. It will rock you!

Tue Dec 11 THE HATE U GIVE (12A) (7.30pm)
2018 USA 133min. Director: George Tillman Jr.
Stars: Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby

Starr Carter is a young black girl, growing up in an all-black suburb, but attending an all-white prep school, where she is popular. Her world is turned upside down when, having accepted a lift home from a childhood friend, she witnesses his fatal shooting by a traffic cop. Based on the best-seller young adult book, and channelling the rage of the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a film that confronts the issue of today’s America with a fearless integrity.

Wed Dec 12 AMÉLIE (15) (7pm)
2001 Fr/Ger 122min (French with subtitles). Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Stars: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rufus

BFI Comedy Genius screening with comedian Rachel Wheeley. Jeunet’s classic comic fantasy launched Tautou to stardom as the lonely waitress who finds ways to bring others the happiness (or comeuppance) they deserve, and eventually finds her own happy ending. It’s an imaginative, sassy romp through a Parisian dreamworld, filmed and acted with joyous flair. In partnership with Screen 25 and The Croydon Comedy Festival.

Thu Dec 13 JULIET, NAKED (15)
2018 USA 98min. Director: Jesse Peretz
Stars: Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke, Chris O’Dowd

Bridesmaids star Byrne is on top form as Annie, whose boyfriend Duncan (O’Dowd) is devoted to rock star Tucker Crowe (Hawke). After Annie pans his music online, Tucker gets in touch with her and a deep correspondence develops… Caught between these two far-from-perfect men, Annie must decide what’s most important to her. Driven by a fine original soundtrack, this adaptation of Nick Hornby’s novel is “comic, heartfelt and as smart as they come” (Los Angeles Times).
* The 2.30pm screening will be subtitled for those with hearing loss.

Tue Dec 18 DOGMAN (15) (7.30pm)
2018 Ita 103min (Italian with subtitles). Director: Matteo Garrone
Stars: Marcello Fonte, Edoardo Pesce, Nunzia Schiano

A dog groomer in a rundown seaside resort, animal-loving Marcello is devoted to his young daughter, yet deals cocaine on the side. His inability to resist the bidding of his regular customer, the town bully and thug Simone, costs him his livelihood, his freedom and the respect of his neighbours. Gomorrah director Garrone shows us what can become of a gentle man with nothing left to lose.

Thu Dec 20 PETERLOO (12A) (2.30pm & 7pm)
2018 UK 154min. Director: Mike Leigh
Stars: Rory Kinnear, Maxine Peake, Pearce Quigley

Manchester, 1819. As England recovers from the war with Napoleon, the poor are at the mercy of rich landowners, with prices kept artificially high by the Corn Laws. With hunger biting, angry working men start preaching suffrage and “one man one vote”, and unarmed civilians rally at Peters Field under the nervous eye of the authorities. Peake is on powerful form as a mother whose family are caught up in the melee, as the Peterloo massacre is reconstructed in forensic detail by masterly veteran director Leigh (Vera Drake, Mr Turner).

Thu Dec 27 MIRAI (PG) (2.30pm)
2018 Japan 98 mins (Japanese with subtitles). Director: Mamoru Hosoda
Stars: Haru Kuroki, Moka Kamishiraishi, Gen Hoshino

Four-year-old Kun is jealous of his baby sister Mirai. How can he learn to love her? Supported by past, present and future family members, he undertakes challenges, first small in scale but gradually widening out onto a dizzying canvas. Hosoda marries acute psychological insights – of Kun’s changing moods and the more subtle tensions between his parents – with a fantastic imagination and wicked sense of humour. Like his previous hit Wolf Children, this magnificent anime is a treat for adults and older (8+) children alike.
Free entry with voluntary charity donation. Tickets must still be booked.

Fri Dec 28 BABETTE’S FEAST (U) (2.30pm)
1987 Den 10 min (Danish with subtitles). Director: Gabriel Axel
Stars: Stéphane Audran, Bodil Kjer, Birgitte Federspiel

Stéphane Audran stars in this Oscar-winning film as a French refugee who arrives at a remote Jutland village and is taken in as a cook by two elderly spinster sisters, who preside over a dwindling religious sect. One day she wins a lottery prize of 10,000 francs and surprises the sisters by offering to cook a sumptuous dinner for their congregation. Based on a short story by Isak Dinesen, who wrote it for a bet, this film remains “charming and beguiling” (The Guardian).
Free entry with voluntary charity donation. Tickets must still be booked.

Thu Jan 3 WIDOWS (15)
2018 UK/USA 129min. Director: Steve McQueen
Stars: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo

The director of the Oscar-winning epic 12 Years a Slave returns with a heist thriller based on Lynda La Plante’s 1983 British TV crime drama, though with the action transported from England to Chicago. After a heist goes wrong, killing all the men involved, their wives are forced to pick up the pieces when a criminal-turned-politician demands they repay their husbands’ debts. A dazzling update delivered with aplomb, style and superb acting from Davis and the ensemble cast.
* The 2.30pm screening will be subtitled for those with hearing loss

About insidecroydon

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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