Films around Cheltenham from 30 October 2021

The Cineworlds

New at the Cineworlds this week are Antlers (2021), Last Night in Soho (2021) and, from Friday, Spencer (2021).

If you go into the woods tonight… 

Antlers is directed by Scott Cooper, of whom I know nothing, and produced by Guillermo del Toro, who is, as we know, very good with special effects and prosthetics. It’s a horror about a ‘legendary ancestral creature’ who lives in the woods and scares a middle-aged woman and a child. Judging by the title – shades of Elephant!, the dreadful musical being put together in The Tall Guy (1989), the early Richard Curtis romcom – it’s not a hamster.

The Sixties (other decades are available)

Edgar Wright, having recently given us a documentary about the dreary Sparks, now brings us Last Night in Soho, a horror about a young fashionista who can transport herself back to the Sixties, where she meets a singer called, with startling originality, Sandie. Then it turns into some sort of slasher thing, with cameo appearances from genuine Sixties people like Terence Stamp, Rita Tushingham and Diana Rigg, who died after finishing it. The young stars, Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy are very appealing, and there’s Matt Smith, if you’re a fan. Really, though, it looks like a copy of a copy to me. Edgar Wright wasn’t born until 1974, and his understanding of the 1960s doesn’t seem to go very deep. Do yourselves a favour and dig out Julien Temple’s Absolute Beginners. True, it was about 1958, and it is bonkers, but it was based on authentic source material and has some of the energy of the period.

Spencer is directed by Pablo Larraín, an interesting film maker who took the Hollywood shilling with Jackie (on TV this week), and has now turned in an account of the Charles/Diana marital disaster, ideal for anyone who hasn’t seen all the others. It’s a vehicle for Kristen Stewart, who is given full rein to explore the former Lady Diana Spencer’s supposed mental disintegration, accompanied by visions of Anne Boleyn and a grating score by Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead fame. At some point, Hollywood will lose interest in these dreary people, but it doesn’t seem to be happening just yet.

The Tivoli

No Time to Die, Dune, The French Dispatch, all mentioned last week, plus Last Night in Soho, mentioned above.

The Sherborne

No Time to Die, The Addams Family 2. What a waste.

The Guildhall

The Boss Baby 2, The Alpinist (see below) and Annette. The new film is Sweetheart, a Scottish coming-of-age about lesbian stirrings on a caravan site. I’m sure everyone involved in it means well, but I don’t see it bringing people back to the cinemas, do you? On the other hand, I should say that Stephen Ilott, who has actually seen it, said its ‘modest but superb cast make it witty and engaging’ and gave it 4 our of 4.

The Roses

The horror! Someone can’t work out how to crop a widescreen picture!

Some interesting bits and pieces at The Roses. Tomorrow (Sunday 31 October) at 19:30, it has Censor (2021), a new British horror set at the time of the video nasty scare of the 1980s. Anyway, if you are between 18-25, or prepared to say you are, I can probably get you in for nothing if you come at 18:00 and volunteer to join the Roses’s youth programming panel. I would do it. It’ll be interesting and worthwhile. Tell your children/grandchildren. I’ll be hanging around the foyer.

Otherwise, it’s £9.00 with the various concessions. As of today (Saturday), they seem to have sold 0 tickets, so don’t rush to book.

On Monday and Tuesday it has The Alpinist, an interesting but slightly bogus American documentary about a free climber (someone who clambers up terrifying mountains without ropes) and his domestic traumas. Not the best mountaineering film ever made, by a long way, but we are not exactly spoilt for choice this year.

On Tuesday and Thursday, there is a French romantic comedy-drama, Gagarine (2020), about a young North African boy trying to save a grim housing estate in Paris named after, and opened by, the cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin back in the days when French local government was run by the Communist Party (they don’t like to talk about that now). It’s charming, although possibly a slightly sugar-coated account of modern inner-city life. Directed by Fanny Liatard, who wins my Name of the Week Award, and based on an earlier short: she was up for the First Feature award at Cannes in 2020, but it was cancelled due to Covid. If you don’t fancy the trip to Tewkesbury and the Roses (lovely venue), you can wait until Cheltenham Film Society shows it at the Bacon Theatre, next April.

Are you sure you know how to use a spirit level, Jean-Claude?

Cité Gagarine, meanwhile, is no more.

It’s not a film, but I couldn’t help noticing that on Thursday, 4 November, The Roses has a live talk by John Lydon, the former Johnny Rotten, billed as I Could Be Wrong; I Could Be Right. What he won’t be is poor. Tickets range from £30 to £75, this for a VIP package which includes ‘Meet & Greet’, a lanyard and a ‘limited edition art print’ by the wizened former punk-rocker, described as ‘a legend and an icon, a revolutionary and an immortal’.

I can remember when he wanted to destroy passers-by. Now he wants to mug them.

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