Films around Cheltenham from 21/8/21

A reminder that two of YourScreen‘s season of films are coming to an end on Saturday (22/8/21), The Outside Story and Summer Survivors. I hear that YourScreen are trying to extend the run of Summer Survivors, and I have been in touch with the distributors about the possibility of an actual screening of it later in the year. More about the YourScreen films.

Window to the Sea is available until September 5, Calamity until September 12, and Time for Love and Those who Remained until September 19.

Newly available is But Beautiful, Erwin Wagenhofer’s documentary about people, especially women, trying to live joyful and simple lives in harmony with nature, by growing things, building things and making music. As someone says here, ‘You cannot go to the shopping mall to buy happiness. You’ll never find it.’ The film is intended as an antidote to the prevailing note of despair in most campaigning environmental cinema: pessimism is the original sin of the Left. I hope to look at the film properly later.

Flower Power


Well, things have perked up a bit at the Guildhall in Gloucester. Here’s their current film schedule. On Friday (27/8/21) they have Nowhere Special (2021). A single-parent window-cleaner in Northern Ireland knows he is dying and needs to find a family for his four-year-old son.

If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.

This could be mawkish and manipulative, but director Uberto Pasolini knows what he is doing. He was a producer for years, creating The Full Monty (1997), then became a writer-director with a couple of really worthwhile films. Machan (2008) was a delightful comedy about some Sri Lankans who turn up in Germany pretending to be the country’s national handball team so that they can quietly disappear into the world of illegal immigration. Still Life (2013) was a searing, well-crafted film about a lonely London bureaucrat (Eddie Marsan) whose job is to locate the next-of-kin of local people who die with no will and testament. In doing so, he becomes involved in one particularly intense family story.

I have not seen Nowhere Special yet, but my son and his girlfriend saw it in Bath and were bowled over. They told me everyone in the cinema was in tears. Even allowing for exaggeration, this is clearly a film that has a visceral impact, even on the young and heartless. Even hard-bitten Deborah Ross of the Spectator was churned up: ‘Be warned,’ she wrote, ‘you will need to keep a box of tissues to hand, if not all the tissues in the world.’ Unaccountably, the Guildhall is showing it at 4pm, but that’s up to them. It’s back again the following Tuesday evening and Wednesday afternoon.

Also on Friday (27/8/21), there is Ben Sharrock’s Limbo, which I have seen. It’s a brilliant comedy about the reality of being an asylum seeker, especially when you have been sent to live on a remote Scottish island. There’s a touch of Kaurismäki in the way it extracts quirky, faintly absurd humour from a desperate human situation. It couldn’t be more topical, really. If you don’t fancy the Guildhall – what are you worried about? – you can wait until February 2022, when Cheltenham Film Society is showing it, but only to members.

The Roses

The Roses in Tewkesbury is showing Off The Rails all week, and the less said about that the better. The word ‘lazy’ comes to mind. A group of middle-aged female stereotypes float around various picturesque European destinations enjoying unlikely adventures and giggling at menopause jokes. The high point comes when someone gives birth under a tree and then goes to a party. Judi Dench, Sally Phillips, Ben Miller, Jenny Seagrove, Peter Bowles, Franco Nero – are you broke? Sadly, the last film of Kelly Preston, wife of John Travolta.

The Sherborne

Sadly, The Sherborne in Kingsholm is still showing The Croods 2 and Jungle Cruise, so nothing to report there.

The Multiplexes

The biggest grossing film in the world right now is Free Guy, which is on at both Cineworlds and Vue in Stroud. It’s a high-concept comedy about a bank worker who discovers he’s just a minor character in a violent video game. Starring Ryan Reynolds, the Hollywood star known to football fans as the new owner of Wrexham Football Club: go figure, as they say. According to my little sister (the one who didn’t warn me about Off The Rails), it’s sweet and funny but it helps if you know something about video games, at least to start with.

Otherwise, the new films are The Night House and Reminiscence. The Night House is a well-liked psychological horror about a widow (Rebecca Hall) left alone in the lakeside house her husband built her. Hall is apparently very good. Reminiscence is a glossy post-apocalyptic time-shifting tale about a ‘private investigator of the mind’ (Hugh Jackman) who pursues a missing client (Rebecca Ferguson). ‘Although Reminiscence isn’t lacking narrative ambition, its uncertain blend of sci-fi action and noir thriller mostly provokes memories of better films,’ says Rotten Tomatoes. Ouch!

The Courier, The Suicide Squad, Don’t Breathe 2, etc, continue.

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