Films around Cheltenham from March 5, 2022

The Eclectic Cinema

The Eclectic Cinema, the film club at The Playhouse, has Buster Keaton’s The General (1926) on Monday March 7 at 19:30. It’s one of the most important, ingenious and beautiful silent features ever made. Keaton plays a railway engineer during the American Civil War. A Southerner, he wants to join up to fight against the Union, but is deemed too important to be thrown into the meat-mincer. This enrages his love-object, Annabelle Lee (Marion Mack), who misunderstands and thinks he is a coward. The film cost a fortune and includes some truly breathtaking and death-defying footage, all done for real, including the famous scene of a loco crashing off a wooden bridge. It was savaged by the critics (‘Someone should have told Buster Keaton that it is difficult to derive laughter from the sight of men being killed in battle,’ wrote the rival screenwriter Robert E. Sherwood, who had been wounded in WWI.) It duly lost money, and and Keaton’s career as an independent film-maker was effectively finished. The Eclectic Cinema is showing it in a sparkling 4K restored version. Now recognised as a classic and an important response to the Civil War, it is recommended to anyone interested in trains (and who isn’t?), American’s national tragedy (who isn’t?), physical comedy and romance. Silent film is magical. (JM)

The Roses

There is a wide range of films showing next week at The Roses. Death on the Nile, Kenneth Branagh’s latest reworking of the Agatha Christie tale, starts on Saturday. Sir Ken himself is Hercule Poirot, adorned by a rather elaborate double decker moustache, with a cast of actors you sort of recognise, all in very glossy costumes. Then there is The Souvenir: Part II, directed by Joanna Hogg, and much praised by critics. It continues her semi-autobiographical story of a student who gets romantically involved with an unsuitable older man, whilst trying to find her style as a film-maker. Honor Swinton Byrne plays the student and Tilda Swinton plays her mother, which she is off-screen as well. Very cosy.

There are two opportunities – Wednesday evening and Thursday afternoon – to see the highly acclaimed Japanese film Drive my Car, directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi and based on a story by Haruki Murakami. It is a literal journey in which a grieving actor, accompanied by his female chauffeur, unravels the secrets of his late wife’s life. At the end of the week there is the opening of another reworking of a classic. This time it’s Cyrano, a musical version directed by Joe Wright and based on a stage production from 2018. Peter Dinklage stars as the lovelorn poet Cyrano, against some dramatic sets and location shots in Sicily. And finally, for one night only on Friday 11th, there is Purple Rain, starring Prince. (PW)

Here’s the Roses’s flyer for March.

The Guildhall

Belfast carries on next week and does so, repertory style, until the end of March. There are two more opportunities to see The Beatles: Get Back, directed by Peter Jackson from stitched together archive footage of their last concert on the rooftop of the Apple Corps Headquarters in 1969. Parallel Mothers, Pedro Almodovar’s latest offering also continues, and the new film of the week is Ali and Ava, directed by Clio Barnard. At last, a British social realist film that isn’t irredeemably miserable. Ali is a landlord who actually treats his tenants decently and Ava is a teaching assistant. Although they both have emotional baggage and domestic difficulties, they develop a close and believably lasting relationship.

Sneaking in for its first showing on Friday afternoon is The Duke, the last film made by Roger Michell, who died last September. It is based on the true story of Kempton Bunton, who in 1961 ‘borrowed’ Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery, demanding investment in better care for the elderly as ransom. Nothing changes, apart from, perhaps, better security at the National Gallery. Stars Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren, with rather dubious generic North-East England accents.

The Cineworlds

The new film at the Cineworlds this week is The Batman. From the trailer it looks rather exciting, with a tremendous cast, including lots of people from this side of the pond (Colin Farrell, Andy Serkis, Barry Keoghan, Rupert Pendry-Jones) and a very sexy Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz). One day someone is going to explain why this weird WWII-era fable has such a grip on Hollywood. Could they not, perhaps, find some stories that have something to say about our own era? The people in my little writing group have ideas that are just as good.

Otherwise, there is nothing new. Cyrano is on at 14:40 in one of the little screens in Cheltenham during the week, but not in Gloucester, some bureaucrat having decided that the hometown of the wonderful Ivor Gurney is not interested in poetry. (JM)

The Tivoli

The Batman, Belfast, Death on the Nile, Cyrano, The Duke. So, another week with no compelling reason to endure the dreadful viewing conditions and ludicrous prices of ‘the new face of concept cinema. Located in Regent Arcade, Tivoli is the hottest social creature in town. A space to end the day with a bang, or to start something amazing.’ Their description. [JM]

The Sherborne

At the new, improved Sherborne, Mark has Death on the Nile, but also The Eyes of Tammy Faye, which I have not yet had a chance to see but quite want to. [JM]

2 thoughts on “Films around Cheltenham from March 5, 2022

  1. Just a thank you, John, for all you’re doing..

    1. Thank you, David. I enjoy it. Come to one of our events and say hello. Lots of exciting film projects ahead.

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