There was a time, at the height of Hollywood, when music biopics were about long-dead stars, the likes of band leader Glenn Miller and Yankee Doodle Dandy George M Cohan, when the studios could take massive liberties with reality in order to utilise the soundtrack of someone’s career.
Not any longer. Now, they take liberties with the careers of the living to utilise the soundtracks of their careers. Someone must have had half-an-eye on the lucrative download charts when they came up with the scripts for the films which have become a couple of the stand-out presentations in the music festival of summer screenings at the David Lean Cinema.
Rocketman, the “true fantasy” of Elton John’s life, follows on the platform heels of Bohemian Rhapsody, to send the David Lean schedule into orbit, with tickets for July and August going on sale this Thursday.
This slightly-longer-than-a-month listing for the Clocktower’s arthouse cinema is book-ended with another pop music-inspired film, which borrows from the most influential song-writing duo of the late 20th century, and brings together two of British movies’ finest ever screenwriters and directors.
Yesterday is the intriguing result of a collaboration between Richard Curtis and Danny Boyle, and features an imagined world where, because the Beatles had never existed, someone, somehow makes good use of the Lennon and McCartney songbook, though not always smoothly. Hey Dude, anyone?
Yesterday, with cameos from James Corden and Ed Sheeran, seems set to be the romcom blockbuster of the British summer, is not released until later this month but will be screened at the David Lean on August 15.
Rocketman has just been released, and despite at times appearing like a John Lewis advertisement, has had generally enthusiastic reviews, particularly for the performances of Jamie Bell, as lyricist Bernie Taupin, and Taron Egerton as Reg Dwight desperately trying not to be Reg Dwight, but in particular for the Ken Russell-influenced direction of Dexter Fletcher and the writing of Lee Hall.
“It’s the story of a little boy who became a big star while plaintively pleading “I want lurrve, but it’s impossible”; a shy kid (an “introverted extrovert”) who must learn to play-act confidence after enduring a childhood that would have struck a chord with Philip Larkin.”
Also this month(-plus), take a chance to see Croydon’s finest, Bill Nighy, in the deftly poignant Sometimes, Always, Never, Emma Thompson in Late Night, or for football fans in between England’s matches, Diego Maradona.
Oh, and In Fabric, screening on June 30, was filmed in what was once Allders, the Croydon department store. Apparently, there’s no truth in the rumour that they considered calling it Waiting For Wastefield.
- 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 July-August
All films are at 2.30 and 7.30pm, unless stated
Tue Jul 2 HIGH LIFE (18) (7.30pm)
2018 Fr/Ger/UK/Pol/USA 113min. Dir: Claire Denis
Stars: Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, André Benjamin
A man (Pattinson) and a baby are the sole survivors on a spaceship, once crewed by convicts and supervised by a fairly mad scientist (Binoche). Denis’s first English language feature is a dizzying exploration of the limits of human society.
Thu Jul 4 ROCKETMAN (15)
2019 UK/USA 121min. Dir: Dexter Fletcher
Stars: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden
The unlikely transformation of awkward suburban piano prodigy Reginald Kenneth Dwight into flamboyant megastar Elton Hercules John provides the plot for this latest musical biopic. With a superb central performance from Egerton, expect plenty of sex, drugs, fantasy sequences, a cavalier approach to historical veracity and all your favourite tunes.
*The 2.30pm screening will be subtitled for those with hearing loss
Tue Jul 9 BIRDS OF PASSAGE (15) (7.30pm)
2018 Col/Den/Mex/Ger/Switz 125min (Wayuu, Spanish, English with partial subtitles). Dir: Cristina Gallego, Ciro Guerra
Stars: Carmiña Martínez, José Acosta, Natalia Reyes
The wider world has left the Wayuu people of northern Columbia alone, until 1968, when outside Rapayet marries Zaida, daughter of the clan matriarch. Rapayet’s trading expertise at first brings welcome prosperity, but his illicit ventures threaten the tribe’s traditions and eventually its peace. From the creators of Embrace of the Serpent, Birds of Passage expertly marries insights on South America’s recent past with a human tragedy of Shakespearean majesty.
Wed Jul 10 TUCKED (15) (7.30pm)
2018 UK 80min. Dir: Jamie Patterson
Stars: Derren Nesbitt, Jordan Stephens, Steve Oram
In association with Croydon Pride
Gender non-conforming Jackie is an 80+ drag queen with an acerbic nightclub comedy act. Jackie has been diagnosed with cancer, and outside performing leads a lonely, booze-fuelled existence. Then young, non-binary performer Faith appears in the dressing room, and despite demographic differences, they realise how much they have in common and become each other’s support network in this feel-good, Brighton-based comedy. Preceded by a spoken word session.
Thu Jul 11 SOMETIMES ALWAYS NEVER (12A)
2018 UK 91min. Dir: Carl Hunter
Stars: Bill Nighy, Sam Riley, Jenny Agutter
Writer Frank Cottrell-Boyce and first-time director Carl Hunter have come up with an engaging, offbeat comedy set around the game of Scrabble. Bill Nighy plays Alan, a retired tailor and Scrabble master, still searching for his favourite son who walked out of the family home after a row over the board game and didn’t come back. His other son Peter (Sam Riley) has always felt underappreciated, and things come to a head when Alan moves into Peter’s house, now investigating an online Scrabble player whose style seems all too familiar.
Tue Jul 16 DIEGO MARADONA (12A) (7.30pm)
2019 UK 130min. Dir: Asif Kapadia
Asif Kapadia, the award-winning director of Senna and Amy, now spotlights controversial football genius Maradona, focusing on his time at Napoli, and reveals stories of Mafia corruption, drug-taking and sexual infidelity – and of course the notorious “hand of God” goal.
Kapadia’s forensic use of archive material traces the curve of Maradona’s time in Italy – from footballing god to his fall from grace, bloated and unloved.
Thu Jul 18 GLORIA BELL (15)
2018 USA/Chile 102min. Dir: Sebastián Lelio
Stars: Julianne Moore, John Turturro, Michael Cera
Gloria is a free-spirited divorcee creating a new life for herself, though the men she meets may not be equal to her liberated spirit. Lelio reimagines his Spanish-language debut through Moore’s outstanding performance as a lonely yet positive and resilient character.
Tue Jul 23 AFTER LIFE (PG) (7.30pm)
1998 Japan 118min (Japanese with subtitles). Dir: Hirokazu Koreeda
Stars: Arata Iura, Erika Oda, Susumu Terajima
A modest lodge receives the souls of the recently deceased, enabling them to create their personal heaven — a single happy memory re-experienced for eternity. A new week’s intake brings challenges and epiphanies for the lodge’s staff, in this early gem from the director of Our Little Sister and Shoplifters.
Thu July 25 LATE NIGHT (15)
2019 USA 102min. Dir: Nisha Ganatra
Stars: Emma Thompson, Mindy Kaling, John Lithgow
Late-night talk show host Katherine Newbury (Emma Thompson) faces replacement, plagued by low ratings and outdated writing. However, things are set to change when Molly Patel (Mindy Kaling) arrives on the scene. Determined she can do more than tick the diversity box on the writing team, Molly commits to saving Katherine’s career, bridging the generation and culture gap between the two women in the process.
Tue Jul 30 IN FABRIC (18) (7.30pm)
2018 UK 118min. Dir: Peter Strickland
Stars: Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Hayley Squires, Leo Bill
Following on from The Duke of Burgundy, Peter Strickland gives us another essay in the sensual and the macabre. Set around a very unique department store (filmed in Croydon’s Allders), various characters try to measure up to a spectacular red dress that they sell. With some wonderfully absurdist dialogue and a cast of characters from the ordinary to the completely bizarre, this is a delight for connoisseurs of the unusual.
Thu Aug 1 WOMAN AT WAR (12A)
2018 Ice/Fr/Ukr 100min (Icelandic with subtitles). Dir: Benedikt Erlingsson
Stars: Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir, Jóhann Sigurðarson, Juan Camillo Roman Estrada
This fascinating drama centres on choir leader Halla, an undercover eco-activist protecting Iceland’s highlands from energy corporations. While preparing for her most dangerous operation, she hears that her long-dormant application to adopt a child has been approved…
Tue Aug 6 BRITAIN ON FILM: PROTEST! (12A) (7.30pm)
2019 UK 78min
From a 1910 suffragette demonstration to striking coal miners in the Rhondda Valley, from female CND protesters spanning the Tamar Bridge to the defeat of fascists at London’s Cable Street, this illuminating archive film programme examines the nature of protests large and small. It shows participants fighting for suffrage and democracy, against exploitation and inequality, for fair wages and worker’s rights, for public safety, and in the face of war and oppression.
Thu Aug 8 VITA & VIRGINIA (12A)
2018 UK/Ire 110min. Dir: Chanya Button
Stars: Gemma Arterton, Elizabeth Debicki, Isabella Rossellini
This is the true story of the passionate relationship between literary trailblazer Virginia Woolf (Elizabeth Debicki) and the enigmatic aristocrat Vita Sackville-West (Gemma Arterton). When their paths cross, the magnetic Vita decides the beguiling, stubborn and gifted Virginia will be her next conquest, no matter the cost. Superb performances from the two leads are mixed with a detailed period feel and lush location work, especially at Knole House.
* The 2.30pm screening will be subtitled for those with hearing loss
Thu Aug 15 YESTERDAY (12A)
2019 UK 102min. Director: Danny Boyle
Stars: Himesh Patel, Lily James, Kate McKinnon, Ed Sheeran
What would life be like if the Beatles had never existed? That’s the intriguing premise of this romcom collaboration between Richard Curtis and Danny Boyle. Hapless singer-songwriter Jack awakes after a deliciously implausible cosmic blackout to find that cultural history has reset itself and he’s suddenly the only person on Earth who still remembers “Hey Jude”, “Eleanor Rigby” and, yes, “Yesterday”. Will he achieve the fame he seeks by “borrowing” the Lennon-McCartney songbook? And will adoring Ellie still want to hold his hand?
* The 2.30pm screening will be subtitled for those with hearing loss.
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