Films around Cheltenham from 29 May


Cheltenham International Film Festival moves into its second week, again showing lots of films you won’t be able to see anywhere else. Today (Sunday) we have three films, including a free screening of The Crying Game, with producer Steve Woolley in attendance (it says here).

16:00 • Parabola Arts Centre • Notes on a Scandal • 1H 32M • DRAMA • 2006 • UK • ENGLISH

Bizarrely billed as ‘Judi’s: Notes on a Scandal’, which won’t please director Richard Eyre, this is a strong adaptation of Zoë Heller’s second (and penultimate) novel. Heller is a journalist, and this is a ‘ripped-from-the-headlines’ story calculated to touch the hot buttons of Daily Telegraph readers in 2003, and still relevant now newspaper are history. A middle-aged female teacher (Judi Dench) is drawn to a younger colleague (Cate Blanchett). The colleague, it emerges, is an affair with a male pupil (Andrew Simpson). The older woman uses this information to coerce the younger. Written by Patrick Marber, one of those young writers whose first play opens at the National Theatre. The film is directed with great economy, efficiency and intensity by Richard Eyre, who had been director of the National and understands actors. With Bill Nighy, Tom Georgeson, Michael Maloney and Joanna Scanlan, and a score by Philip Glass. Almost universally praised, although the Houston Chronicle said it was a melodrama: ‘overstatement saturates just about every piece of this production’. (JM)

18:00 • Parabola Arts Centre • The Crying Game • 1H 52M • CRIME / DRAMA • 1992 • UK • ENGLISH

A very important film of its day, written and directed by the Irish wunderkind Neil Jordan, and liberally studded with the anxieties of that era. An IRA volunteer (Stephen Rae) and his unit (led by Adrian Dunbar) capture a black British soldier (Forest Whitaker, not British, but good for the American box-office) using a honeytrap with Miranda Richardson as bait. The soldier is used as a lever to try and get an IRA prisoner released, but he expects to be killed. Forming an understanding with Rea’s character, he pleads with him to contact his girlfriend back in England. And then there’s one of the most famous twists in late-20th century cinema. If you have seen it, don’t tell anyone. The film was a sensation and a great success, especially in America, despite audiences’ lack of interest in the unromantic realities of The Troubles in Ireland. Helped along its way by the enthusiasm of an American company called Miramax, owned by a couple of brothers: Bob and Harvey Weinstein. It would not be made today. Stephen Woolley is an interesting man, who has had the same hairstyle since the hippie 1970s (or he did last time I saw him). If you attend the Q&A, ask him what happened to Palace, his company and the bright hopes of the British Film Industry when it was last relevant. Here’s a useful background piece. You could also ask about Stoned, the only film he’s ever directed, which explores the murky swimming-pool exit of Cheltenham boy Brian Jones. I liked it. Nobody else did. (JM)

21:00 • Parabola Arts Centre • The World After Us (Le monde aprés nous) • 1H 25M • DRAMA • 2021 • FRANCE • FRENCH WITH SUBTITLES

I wrote the blurb for this film, so I’ll just recycle it. ‘Labidi (Aurélien Gabrielli), a young writer with exactly one published story to his credit, sleeps on the floor of an apartment in Paris belonging to his friend Aleksei (Léon Cunha da Costa). Labidi has written a promising first draft for what will be his first novel, about the Algerian War, and the future looks bright. During a visit to Lyon, Labidi visits his Muslim parents’ bar and meets a student named Elisa (Louise Chevillotte, currently appearing in Paul Verhoeven’s controversial Benedetta). He approaches her, gets her phone number, and while he remains the struggling writer, he begins to dream of their future, living together in an apartment beyond their means. Love will do that to you. In her first feature, the writer-director takes us on an alternately alarming and amusing journey through the roller-coaster life of a young Parisian, balancing the demands of a new relationship and literary ambition. The film charms through its engaging characters and moments of real emotion, set against a backdrop of contemporary urban concerns. It also boasts appealing music, mixing a cello-based score with jazz, pop and dance tunes.’ I would add that the direction is channelling American mumblecore, which will irritate people who like to listen to the dialogue, even in foreign languages. Trigger warning: includes smoking, but it’s France so that’s OK. (JM)

I was going to direct you to the Parabola Arts Centre’s website so you can find your way there, but it has been hacked. Oh dear. Take a look if you don’t believe me. You’d have thought Cheltenham Ladies College would have the money and expertise to prevent that, but apparently not. So here’s a map instead, courtesy of (shudder) Google.

Perambulation to the Parabola

As we said last week the country focus is on Ukraine. On Wednesday there is Olga, the story of a young Ukrainian gymnast, directed by Elie Grappe who we hope will join us via Zoom for a Q&A session. Then Friday sees the UK Premiere of Rhino, directed by Oleh Sentsov. Sentsof is currently serving with the Ukrainian army. If he is able to get to a phone or a laptop it is hoped that he too will be able to take part in a Q&A. All three films are showing at the Parabola Arts Centre.



As it is half term week the Cineworlds in Gloucester and Cheltenham both have two animated features: Boonie Bears: Back to Earth and The Bob’s Burgers movie. There’s a lot of alliteration going on there but beyond that I am not qualified to comment on either. Minions: the Rise of Gru starts next Friday.  For grown-ups, Men, a horror story, directed by Alex Garland and starring Jessie Buckley, Rory Kinnear and Paapa Essiedu opens on Wednesday. Wouldn’t you think by now that young women, even fictional ones, had worked out that a remote cottage next to a wood is the last place to go if you are trying to recover from a personal tragedy?  (PW)

Roses Tewkesbury

The Roses picks up two films that have been doing the rounds on the commercial circuit: The Lost City and Dr Strange in The Multiverse of Madness. It is also showing, as part of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, the late Roger Michell’s film Elizabeth: A Portrait in Part(s). On Thursday 2nd June (or the following Monday, if you are at the Festival) and not to be missed is Playground, directed by Laura Wandel. It is an outstanding piece of cinema dealing with school bullying and sibling loyalty, told entirely from the point of view of a seven-year old girl – quite literally as the camera is at the child’s eye level throughout.

The full film programme for the Roses in June is available here. There is some interesting stuff coming up. (PW)


The Guildhall has Fantastic Beasts: the Secrets of Dumbledore and a new release: The Road Dance directed by Richie Adams, a romantic melodrama set on a Hebridean island just before WW1. My spies, admittedly Scottish,  tell me that it is much better than some of the reviews suggest. (PW)


No new screenings here I’m afraid. Dr Strange, Top Gun, Downton, Mincemeat and Everything Everywhere carry on. Benediction continues for a second week – worth catching before it disappears. (PW)


Downton Abbey, The Lost City and Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Need I say more? (PW)

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