Amazing Aretha will have them weeping in the cinema aisles

When a movie reviewer states, “Don’t bother with tissues. Bring a towel”, it ought to be clear that they have had an emotional experience at the cinema.

Aretha Franklin, who died last year, regularly had that effect on people, and through the long-lost film Amazing Grace, it seems probable that the greatest soul singer the world has witnessed may continue to do so for some time yet.

Amazing Grace was recorded in a New York church nearly 50 years ago. It has top-flight direction, from Stanley Pollack, and Franklin had some A-listers in the audience, too, including Rolling Stone Mick Jagger. Yet the movie was only released, finally, last month.

It forms one of a couple of notable musical offerings at the David Lean Cinema in the Croydon Clocktower this June.

The other is Fisherman’s Friends, a typically British light comedy. It is perhaps the latest in a line that goes back to Whisky Galore, Local Hero, Brassed Off or The Full Monty, in which the film’s setting in an out-of-the-way community plays as much a part as any of the actors whose names scroll through on the screen.

This time, the location is a fishing village in Cornwall, as flash London music exec James Mays seeks to sign a group of sea shanty singers to a record label. What can possibly go wrong?

And in typically arthouse cinema style, and close to midsummer’s day – and night – the David Lean offers an Ingmar Bergman classic: Smiles Of A Summer Night. Ticket bookings for June open tomorrow.

  • Tickets for screenings are £7.50. Concessions (Freedom Pass-holders, full-time students, claimants and disabled) £6; Under-25s are £5.

David Lean Cinema programme for June

All films are at 2.30 and 7.30pm, unless stated

Tue Jun 4 GRETA (15) (7.30pm)
2018 Ire/USA 98min. Dir: Neil Jordan
Stars: Isabelle Huppert, Chloë Grace Moretz, Maika Monroe

Greta stars Moretz as Frances McCullen – an out-of-town ingénue residing in New York after the loss of her mother. Discovering an abandoned handbag on the subway, Frances decides to personally return it to its owner, Greta, an ostensibly benign French widow, whose daughter has left her to live alone. But soon, a discovery is made alerting Frances to the idea that finding the handbag was no accident, and Greta is not as innocent as she seems. Boasting a gloriously theatrical performance from Huppert in the titular role.

2019 UK 112min. Dir: Chris Foggin
Stars: Daniel Mays, James Purefoy, David Hayman, Dave Johns, Tuppence Middleton
In Cornwall for a stag weekend, a fast-living record company executive (Mays) is tricked into trying to sign a group of local fishermen singing shanties – and finds himself attracted to their music and way of life, not to mention one of the band member’s daughters (Middleton)… The producers of Finding Your Feet have crafted another winning comedy-drama with a fine British ensemble cast, this time featuring the voices and Port Isaac hometown of the real-life Fisherman’s Friends band.
*The 2.30pm screening will be subtitled for those with hearing loss

Tue Jun 11 LORO (18) (7pm)
2018 It/Fr/USA 151min (Italian with subtitles). Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Stars: Toni Servillo, Elena Sofia Ricci, Riccardo Scamarcio
Small-town hustler Sergio wheels and deals his way into the circle of Silvio Berlusconi, out of power and looking for ways to pass his time. A circle of political and business associates – the loro (them) of the title – compete for Berlusconi’s attention, while Sergio organises a special party that will store up scandal… Reuniting the director and star of The Great Beauty, Loro is a searching exploration of the loneliness of the powerful.

1955 Swe 109min (Swedish with subtitles). Dir: Ingmar Bergman
Stars: Ulla Jacobsson, Eva Dahlbeck, Harriet Andersson, Gunnar Björnstrand
In early 20th century Sweden, middle-aged lawyer Fredrik and his young wife Anna are yet to consummate their marriage, while Fredrik’s son Henrik is besotted with his new stepmother. To make matters worse, Fredrik’s old flame Desiree has made a public bet that she can seduce him. Over the course of a long night, the magical Scandinavian midsummer will cast its spell to (eventually!) sort everything out, in this delightful comedy that entirely belies Bergman’s gloomy reputation.

Tue Jun 18 EIGHTH GRADE (15) (7.30pm)
2018 USA 94 mins. Dir: Bo Burnham
Stars: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, Emily Robinson
Avid 13-year-old blogger Kayla is about to move into high school. She has no friends (real or virtual) and her online life tips have not gone viral. Her single father seems understanding, if a little strange. Will her pairing with an older mentor at her new school mean new friends and a new beginning? Elsie Fisher’s lead character, all acne and puppy fat, is painfully true to life, and debut writer-director Burnham negotiates the tricky path between humour and pathos perfectly. “It’s just sweet, sad and beautifully observed” (The Times).

2018 USA 89min. Dir: Alan Elliott, Sydney Pollack
Features: Aretha Franklin, Rev James Cleveland, CL Franklin
Rhythm & Views Film Festival screening
In January 1972, Aretha Franklin appeared at the New Bethel Baptist Church to record two performances for a live album of gospel songs with an accompanying documentary. For a number of reasons, the film was never released… until now. Amazing Grace invites film and music fans alike to witness the fervour and emotion Aretha channels – true to form – in this uplifting performance piece that certainly proves to be more than worth the wait. Capturing Franklin’s raw brilliance and prodigious power, Amazing Grace is transcendent in every way.
* The 2.30pm screening will be subtitled for those with hearing loss

Tue Jun 25 RAFIKI (12A) (7.30pm)
2018 Kenya 83min (Swahili with subtitles). Dir: Wanuri Kahiu
Stars: Samantha Mugatsia, Sheila Munyiva, Neville Misati
With beautiful scenes connected through shades of fuchsia and violet, reflecting the femininity of the characters, this gentle film follows the development of love between two young women. Set against the backdrop of the bustling streets of Nairobi, Kena and Ziki must choose between love and safety surrounded by insular gossip, local politics and burgeoning maturity. Rafiki gained awards and praise at various international festivals, but was then controversially banned from being shown in Kenya. Preceded by a spoken word session.
In association with Croydon Pride

Thu Jun 27 STYX (12A)
2018 Ger/Aut 94min. Dir: Wolfgang Fischer
Stars: Susanne Wolff, Gedion Oduor Wekesa
Emergency paramedic Rike escapes the pressures of work to embark on a solo yachting trip to Ascension Island. She is confronted by a drifting vessel overloaded with refugees. Calls to the coastguard advise her not to get involved, but her humanitarian instincts take over. Director Fischer combines a focused plot and masterful cinematography to examine the problems mass migration poses, aided by an intelligent performance from Susanne Wolff. “Fischer literalises the turbulence we’re now navigating, and asks some stern questions of our moral compasses” (The Guardian).

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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
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