As the soap opera that is the House of Windsor heads into its latest – last? – chapters, with constant and unresolved controversies over Meghan Markle and Prince Andrew, so along comes the latest movie that seeks to feed the national, and American, obsessions with the royal family.
And in so many ways, the tragedy in public gaze that was Diana Spencer represents the fairy story that laid the groundwork for everything that has followed over the course of the last half-century, with Kristen Stewart in the title role in Spencer giving anything yet seen in Netflix’s The Crown a run for its money.
With screenings tonight, on Thursday and again next Tuesday, Spencer provides one of the highlights of this month’s programme at the David Lean Cinema, in Croydon’s Clocktower.
The starting point of the film is the end of Spencer’s marriage to Prince Charles, using a haunting Sandringham at Christmas 1991 as the setting for the inevitable implosion – although the parallels drawn by the film-makers with Anne Boleyn might be a stretch too far.
The David Lean’s special seasonal Christmas offering this December featured Hollywood royalty with the Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan romantic comedy The Shop Around the Corner, directed by Ernst Lubitsch in 1940.
Set in a Budapest (yes) department store in the weeks before Christmas, Sullavan and Stewart are two employees who don’t get along.
Both are carrying on romantic postal correspondences, not realising that they are writing to each other.
Re-issued by the British Film Institute, “this is the perfect yuletide film”, say the nice folk at the David Lean.
Mothering Sunday, featuring the king and queen of British acting, Olivia Colman and Colin Firth, is another film seemingly well-suited to the David Lean Cinema’s demographic, dealing with grief and lost love in the inter-war period.
Smith plays Richard Williams, the father and coach to Serena and Venus, who have dominated world tennis for so long. Williams senior battles snobbery and racism, getting his daughters to hone their skills on neglected local courts, but his unorthodox methods are vindicated when the 14-year-old Venus makes her professional debut.
Smith excels as the larger-than-life Richard, with excellent support from Aunjanue Ellis as the girls’ more down-to-earth mother.
As previously, tickets at the David Lean Cinema are set at bargain prices, £8.50, while for those aged 65 and over, they are £7.50. Concessions (under-25s, full-time students, claimants and people with disabilities) are £5.00.
Bookings have to be made online at www.davidleancinema.org.uk, or by phone on 020 3740 5740. The cost of the service is £2 with an extra £1 if tickets need to be posted. Hours of availability will vary, so please leave a voicemail with your name and phone number for a call back. Under current restrictions, the David Lean Cinema is unable to provide personal or cash bookings.
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