Films around Cheltenham from 30 April 2022

The Roses

Here all week – it’s Downton Abbey: A New Era. Posh people in posh frocks go to the French Riviera with a retinue of faithful lackeys who Know Their Place. (PW)

Click here to see the full Roses film programme for May, apart from Downton. Newsflash: there isn’t much of it.

The Guildhall

At long last – the Guildhall steps away from the mainstream for a week with two foreign language films. One is The Worst Person in the World, which was shown at the Roses last week. The other is Compartment No. 6, an international co-production directed by the Finnish director Juho Kuosmanen, which shared the Grand Prix (i.e., second prize after the Palme d’Or) at Cannes in 2021 with Asghar Farhadi’s film A Hero. A Finnish student (Seidi Haarla) and a Russian miner (Yuriy Borisov) have to share a compartment on the long train journey from Moscow to Murmansk and, though appearing at first to have nothing in common, slowly get to know one another. (PW)

[It looks good to me. About friendship as much as romance, but also about sexuality. ‘There’s a small animal inside each woman,’ says someone’s babushka in the trailer, drinking with the ill-matched fellow-travellers. ‘You have to learn to trust it.’ I don’t think she was talking about intestinal parasites.

Despite being Finnish, it’s in Russian. Would we have been allowed to show this at the Cheltenham International Film Festival? Are we boycotting Russian people, their language, their culture, or their regrettably old-fashioned ideas? We don’t seem to be boycotting their money. Ask the Cabinet, or the Sochi-Cheltenham twinning fraternity, now strangely quiet except those campaigning to boycott Russia. JM.]

The Cineworlds

Cineworld has Downfall Abbey (sorry, that’s the next one, with the late Bruno Ganz making a guest appearance as a German politician arriving to discuss appeasement). More interestingly, it has a new French film called Happening. Directed by Audrey Diwan, and apparently based on her own life, it has been widely acclaimed. Pamela Weaver saw it to evaluate it for Cheltenham Film Society. This is what she said about it: ‘Based on an autobiographical novel it is a sobering reminder of the time in the early 1960s when abortion was a criminal offence in France and pregnancy for a young unmarried woman meant social ostracism and the end of all ambition and aspiration. The style of the film is as much that of a thriller, a race against time, as it is social comment. Hard to watch at times with some graphic scenes.’

From Thursday, there’s Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. This is a Marvel Studios epic, directed by Sam Raimi. It stars Ben Cumberbatch, the world’s least likely sex symbol, plus Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams and Elizabeth Olsen. I note that Elizabeth Olsen’s breasts have their own support group on Reddit. They’re fairly unremarkable, in my opinion, but that tells you something about the market for these films.

Sadly, ‘strange’ ordinary kids, who perhaps like breasts but are also told that is weird or unacceptable, often find themselves in the real ‘Multiverse of Madness’: even without consuming as many psychotropic drugs as Hollywood’s power-brokers. If that happens, and they need somewhere to recover in peace and quiet, they’ll be lucky to find a bed anywhere within 100 miles. As Ben Elton used to say, ‘Not very funny, but I thought it needed saying’.

Gloucester Cineworld does not get the French film, but it does get an Indian film called Jana Gana Mana. Typically, while Cineworld wants brown people’s money, it can’t be bothered to supply even basic information about the film, for instance who directed it and what language it is in. I can tell you it is directed by Dijo Jose Antony and it’s in Malayalam. it’s a crime thriller, about the a policeman who investigates a rape and may or may not take the law into his own hands, a not-uncommon occurrence in the country. I’ve discovered that from reading the English-language Times of India. Their critic complained about the subtitles. Cineworld’s site says the film is subtitled. The IMDB trailer has no subtitles. Who knows?

‘Jana Gana Mana’, incidentally, is Bengali and it is the title of the national anthem of the Indian Republic. Here’s a translation by Rabindrath Tagore:

Thou art the ruler of the minds of all people,

dispenser of India’s destiny.

Thy name rouses the hearts of the Punjab, Sindh, Gujarat and Maratha,

of the Dravida, Orissa and Bengal.

It echoes in the hills of the Vindhyas and Himalayas, mingles in the music of the Jamuna and Ganges

and is chanted by the waves of the Indian Sea.

They pray for thy blessings and sing thy praise.

The saving of all people waits in thy hand,

thou dispenser of India’s destiny.

Victory, Victory, Victory to thee.

It beats ‘God Save The Queen’. I mean, what kind of rhyme is ‘She ain’t no human being’? (JM)

The Tivoli

The Tivoli has Downturn Abbey, in which some British film executives check into a former stately home, now a Travelodge, to brainstorm new ideas. They decide against. (Horror/Farce.) Plus there are those other films you’d have seen last week if you wanted to waste your money.

The Sherborne

The Bad Guys, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Fantastic Beasts Dumbledore and, from Friday, Operation Mincemeat. Sigh.

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