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Film Preview: Military Wives

I will be honest, and I don’t mean this to be offensive to any film that is based on a true story about real people, with real life events and feelings, but I generally, and admittedly cynically, run a mile from anything that has a whiff of ‘feel-good’.

But I’ll happily (yes i can do happy) admit upfront that this film actually made me feel good. Very good.

Credit: Lionsgate UK

Starring the wonderful Sharon Horgan alongside the equally wonderful Kristin Scott Thomas, Military Wives is inspired by the true story of the world’s first military wives choir, and directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker, Peter Cattaneo.

Credit: Lionsgate UK

Read my review of Military Wives on my sister blog What the Projectionist Saw https://whattheprojectionistsaw.wordpress.com/2020/02/29/review-military-wives/

Now in cinemas across Greater Manchester, including:

Everyman Manchester

Vue Cinemas

Odeon Manchester

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Film Review: Greed

As a child i was terrified of the poem, The Lion and Albert, by Marriott Edgar.

Set at a ‘famous seaside place called Blackpool’, it was all literally a bit close to home for me (growing up in a small village about 3 miles out….)

It still haunts me. Anyway, I’ll just leave that here for now.

Michael Winterbottom’s Greed tells the story of self-made British billionaire, Richard McCreadie (Steve Coogan), whose retail empire is in crisis.

Copyright: Sony Pictures

What better way to save his flailing reputation and dwindling finances than the 60th birthday party to end all parties on the island of Mykonos.

Copyright: Sony Pictures

Go big or indeed go home (that lion though…)

Read my review of Greed on my sister blog What the Projectionist Saw – https://whattheprojectionistsaw.wordpress.com/2020/02/21/review-greed/

Opening in cinemas across Greater Manchester from 21 February 2020 including:

https://homemcr.org/film/greed/

https://www.myvue.com/film/greed

https://www.everymancinema.com/film-info/greed

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Film Review: Queen & Slim

Queen and Slim is Crash, meets Bonnie and Clyde, meets True Romance.

But most of all it’s Queen & Slim.

Copyright: Universal Pictures

Read my view of Queen & Slim on my sister blog What the Projectionist Saw –

https://whattheprojectionistsaw.wordpress.com/2020/01/30/review-queen-and-slim/

Copyright: Universal Pictures

Opening in cinemas across Greater Manchester from 31 January 2020 including

https://www.myvue.com/film/queen-and-slim

Home MCR

https://www.everymancinema.com/film-info/queen-slim

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Film Review: The Personal History of David Copperfield

Dickens, eh?

Have you ever noticed the sheer amount of old English pubs which boast the accolade that Charles Dickens once drank there?

It’s a wonder he got anything done.

Well done he did and one of the things wot he done was David Copperfield. And now Armando Iannucci did done it too.

Read my review of The Personal History of David Copperfield on my sister blog What the Projectionist Saw –

https://whattheprojectionistsaw.wordpress.com/2020/01/19/review-the-personal-history-of-david-copperfield/

Opening in cinemas across Greater Manchester from 24 January 2019 including

https://www.myvue.com/cinema/manchester-printworks/whats-on

https://www.myvue.com/cinema/manchester/whats-on

https://mobi.odeon.co.uk/cinemas/manchester_great_northern/225/

https://www.everymancinema.com/film-info/members-the-personal-history-of-david-copperfield

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News: HOME brings in 2020 with a retrospective of award-winning Mancunian screenwriter, Robert Bolt

I’m currently trying my hand at screenwriting (under the excellent tutorage of Scriptwriting North), love a regular visit to HOME and dip my toe in the world of film both here and over at What the Projectionist Saw

So battling my way through a frankly annoying barrage of emails in my inbox about Black Friday,  there was only one missive which caught my eye and promised me the ultimate gift (and not a BF reference in sight – a GOOD thing).

HOME are seeing in 2020 with their annual British Screenwriters season, 5-22 January, and there’s a mancunian cherry on the cake.

Manchester-born and educated Robert Bolt will be the subject of a celebrated season of works including the infamous and frankly quite epic Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Dr Zhivago (1965).

Happy new year to us!

Curated by Andy Willis, HOME’s Senior Visiting Curator: Film and Professor of Film Studies at the University of Salford, the season will screen three of Bolt’s award-winning collaborations with Lean: Lawrence of Arabia, recipient of seven Oscars in 1963 including Best Film and Best Director, with a Best Screenplay nomination for Bolt; Doctor Zhivago, which won Bolt his first Oscar and Golden Globe; and Ryan’s Daughter (1970), a double Oscar-winning epic romance set against a backdrop of war and political turmoil.

Also screening is the 1966 screen adaptation of Bolt’s internationally successful stage play of the same name, A Man for All Seasons, with Paul Scofield reprising his West End and Broadway role as Sir Thomas More – for which he was awarded an Oscar – alongside a cast including Robert Shaw, Orson Welles, Vanessa Redgrave and John Hurt and directed by Hollywood veteran Fred Zinnemann (High Noon, From Here to Eternity). Rounding off the season is Bolt’s final film, The Mission – the haunting, epic tale of a missionary in 18th-century South America starring Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons and directed by Roland Joffé – winner of the Palme d’Or at the 1986 Cannes Film Festival as well as a final Golden Globe for Best Screenplay for Bolt.

Curator Andy Willis heads up proceedings with a special One Hour Intro about Bolt and his career, commenting…

Bolt is a true Manchester success story – born in Sale and educated in Manchester, he studied at Manchester University before and after serving in World War II. We’re excited to be celebrating this brilliant writer who enjoyed critical and commercial success across such a vast range of theatre and film writing, and possessed a true knack for making history contemporary and tackling moral issues dramatically.

For more details including the full programme list and to buy tickets, head to the HOME website at https://homemcr.org/event/british-screenwriters-robert-bolt/

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FilmFear at HOME Mcr – the reviews…

7.11.19 – Updated!

Review: The Lighthouse

Review: The Dead Center

Last week I left home for HOME to throw myself royally into their annual FilmFear festival, hosted in conjuction with Film4.

image

You can read more in my round up at FilmFear and chills…Film Festival returns to HOME Mcr this Hallowe’en

Here, after surviving three spine-tingling thrills, chills and spills (and that was just in the bar before lights down), I’ll let you know how I got on from my little ‘bit on the side’ film blog, What The Projectionist Saw. Look out for further updates this week.

First up is Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse

Steptoe and Son meets Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf meets The Ring. Oh yes.

180423_A24_Day_03B_0897.jpg

https://whattheprojectionistsaw.wordpress.com/2019/11/03/review-the-lighthouse-2019/

7.11.19 – Second review in – Billy Senese’s The Dead Center…

https://whattheprojectionistsaw.wordpress.com/2019/11/07/review-the-dead-center-2018/

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FilmFear and chills…Film Festival returns to HOME Mcr this Hallowe’en

October is about Hallowe’en and Hallowe’en is basically about films.

Keep your costumes and candy (yes I know we’re British but the whole trick or treating is increasingly of the USA and essentially it was good alliteration.

Last year’s FilmFear brought us many cinematic sensations but most of all Nicolas Cage being more Nicolas Cage than Nicolas Cage has ever or will be, in – ‘Mandy’ at HOME Mcr – review here.

It also brought indie Swedish gem Videoman. – read review here

Credit: HOME Mcr

This year, HOME and Film4, brings us the biggest programme yet, comprising six days of horror, extreme cinema, cult favourites and specialist guests visiting our fine city, kicking off from Tuesday 29 October.

Highlights include:

  • a special preview of The Lighthouse, director Robert Eggers’ much-anticipated follow-up to his folk-horror debut The Witch (2015). Starring Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe as lighthouse keepers battling the elements, isolation, inner demons and more on a remote and mysterious Maine island in the 1890s. Excitingly, the film won’t be on general release until January 2020, giving us Mancunians, honorary Mancunians and visitors to HOME amongst the first to view;

The Lighthouse

  • from the producers of the aforementioned and quite wonderful MandyDaniel Isn’t Real, is a creepy imaginary-friend horror (are there any other kind?), starring Patrick Schwarzenegger;

Daniel Isn’t Real

  • a Hallowe’en night preview of Doctor Sleep, based on the Stephen King novel and starring Ewan McGregor as Danny Torrance, set 40 years after his terrifying stay at the Overlook Hotel in The Shining;

Dr Sleep

  • Billy Senese’s The Dead Center, starring Shane Carruth as a troubled doctor who becomes obsessed with the resurrected corpse of a suicide victim (that scary enough for you?).

Alongside the shiny and new, FilmFear also features three classics:

The Wicker Man

  • Masters of horror, Vincent Price and Christopher Lee (it wouldn’t be Hallowe’en without them), star in classics The Tingler (1959) and The Wicker Man (1973), respectively; and
  • Werner Herzog’s 1979 take on the infamous tale of Nosferatu the Vampyre, which brings the season to a finale on 3 November.

Accompanying the screening programme there is a ‘Bring the Family’ screening of Nicolas Roeg’s The Witches on Sunday 27 October, which has been selected by HOME’s Young Programmers.

The Witches

HOME’s Film Programme Producer, Jennifer Hall, said,

We’re looking forward to serving up another Halloween treat for horror-hungry fans and welcoming audiences of all ages to our first FilmFear “Bring the Family” screening of The Witches, a fitting contribution to the season from HOME’s Young Programmers who have also programmed The Wicker Man.”

For in between your trips to HOME, Film4 will be screening a week of chilling titles including Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! and The Midnight Man, starring Robert Englund.

So head HOME Mcr for hallowe’en this year for FilmFear and chills…

For full details of the programme, visit https://homemcr.org/event/filmfear/

Reviews of my favourites to follow…

 

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Film Review: Mrs Lowry & Son

One of my favourite sketches, amongst thousands (which, incidentally, does not include the bloody parrot one), is Monty  Python’s irreverent (could it be anything else) look at working class life:

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2q1ojy

Turning matters on their head, whilst t’father in ‘is rolled up sleeves, braces and britches, sweats over his work as an award-winning playwright in ‘ampstead, his well spoken son who previously has gone ‘poncing off to Barnsley’ to be a coal miner, returns home. Concerned about his mum, he exclaims

Look at what you’ve done to mother! She’s worn out with meeting film stars, attending premieres and giving gala luncheons…

Well there’s nowt wrong with gala luncheons, as Graham Chapman furiously retorts, and to that end, nowt wrong with gala premieres.

And so (somewhat tenuously), we come to the Gala Premiere showing of Mrs Lowry & Son, at, where else, Salford’s very own Lowry Theatre.

Starring the wonderful (and no introduction-warranting) actors Vanessa Redgrave and Timothy Spall in the title roles, the Adrian Noble directed film takes us to Pendlebury and almost exclusively to an elderly Elizabeth Lowry’s bedroom where, from a bed, she relies on  (how much this is actually required is unclear and a point which Redgrave refused to speculate on during the Q&A following the screening), berates and manipulates her ever-patient but very much grown up bachelor son.

Exuding regality (and extreme fragility when, perhaps suited), Redgrave’s Mrs Lowry is quick to criticise her son’s ‘hobby’ and any artistic aspirations (which, would always be quiet and humble) he may dare to have. Indeed any praise or commendation is reserved for the buying of sausages from the ‘correct’ butchers (although did he buy them from the father or the son in the shop because this is important…).

As we see Mrs Lowry bemoan the fact that her previous middle class standing had given way to what she sees as a low class existence in 1930s Pendlebury,

I haven’t been cheerful since 1898

the irony is, of course, there in spades, given the reverence, value and respect in the history of art which was to come to one L.S….

Occasionally venturing outside the terraced house and into the streets as our Laurie goes about his day job collecting debt, the film is careful not to litter the screen with obvious and clichéd nods. We’re not bombarded with matchstick men, cats and dogs in the frame, but we do see landscapes and scenes of inspiration for paintings which were to become.

As Timothy Spall so beautifully put it in the Q&A, Lowry saw the ‘gorgeous decreptitude’ in his surroundings.

That can only sound like an oxymoron if you’ve never seen one of his paintings. Then it makes perfect sense.

One direct and glorious reference we are treated to in the film, deals us a live version of  one of my favourite Lowrys…

Lowry was to turn down a knighthood, later in life, reasoning that as his then late mother wasn’t there to see it, there wasn’t a point. One wonders what Mrs Lowry would have thought (perhaps even if it was secretly, dressed up in critique), were she to witness her son’s legacy – right up to last night’s Gala Premiere.

Whilst we’ll never know for sure, with writer Martyn Hesford’s screenplay, we’re probably as close as dammit to guessing.

Mrs Lowry & Son is released in cinemas nationwide from  Friday 30 August.

The permanent and rather wonderful exhibition L.S. Lowry The Art & The Artist at, where else, The Lowry, is open daily and free to visit. See thelowry.com for details.

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Review: Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story

My mum told me this story of being at the cricket at Old Trafford.

Frank Sidebottom had made a glorious appearance (actual Frank – there were many pretenders to the papier-mâché head aesthetic with ‘hilarious’ consequences…)

In fact in Being Frank… John Thomson tells us of Chris Sievey getting out a scrap book he kept at home, of pictures of fan tribute Franks. Terrible, terrible, brilliant tribute Franks.

Some with square heads.

There was only one Frank and that was Chris Sievey (on this occasion, being ejected from Old Trafford for causing a distraction, prompting the ground to erupt in a chant to get him back).

It’s not even my anecdote.

Another is when a friend of a friend went to see Frank perform in a pub, leaving a bag of CDs out on the table (it was the 90s, we bought bags of CDs), only for Frank to casually swipe them on his way past. Said friend of friend never saw them again (it’s ok, it was a cold day in hell when HMV didn’t have a cheap offer on, on CDs).

Again not my anecdote.

They’re not even salacious, exciting, dramatic anecdotes. Just normal ones. But they’re mine (well, not mine).

If you want some others, look to Director and Producer, Steve Sullivan, and the family, friends and acquaintances of one Chris Sievey – the man beneath (in?) the head.

Chris Sievey passed away in 2010 and left behind not just memories of some brilliant, silly, smart, daft, wonderful performances as Frank, but an attic full of notebooks, records, tapes, art and home movies.

I went to see Being Frank previewed at HOME Mcr a few weeks ago and spent 100 minutes that Thursday morning, catapulted into the world of Frank Sidebottom and, indeed, the somewhat lesser known but equally if not more ludicrously fascinating world of Chris Sievey.

Punctuated by previously unseen footage of home videos, art, music and memorabilia, we hear people speak with love, warmth, raw honesty, sometimes sorrow but mostly with laughter, of the person who was a one-man band of creativity and energy.

I sat there and laughed until I cried. Fancy crying on a Thursday morning in t’pictures. Pretty sure I wasn’t the only one.

Frank Sidebottom was and is legendary in these here parts of the North West. And getting to know the brilliant Chris Sievey more only enriches your love for Frank.

Find out:

  • What scuppered Chris getting on TOTP with band, The Freshies,
  • Why his ex-wife ended up having to take the home phone off the hook,
  • What Chris and Bob the Builder have in common; and
  • Just what happened to the head of Little Frank’s girlfriend…it’s dark (it’s not)

By the time, the first time (and only time) we see Chris emerge from within ‘the head’ you won’t be shocked.

Oh hi Chris

(If you know, you know)

You’ll have come to know them as one of the same (although I must be the only person on earth not to have figured out the method behind the voice…)..

With contributions from Jon Ronson, John Cooper Clarke, John Thomson, Johnny Vegas and some other people not actually called John or variations thereof (Mark Radcliffe), it’s a poignant, brilliant, silly, moving, wonderful journey into the head of Frank, the mind of Chris and, well, Timperley.

I do declare it to be the antithesis of bobbins.

Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story is out this Friday 29 March, at HOME Mcr and in cinemas across the U.K. and Ireland.

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Head HOME for Christmas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and so on and so forth.

In fact, let us not mess around.

Let’s just go straight to Chris Rea. Ish.

Because this year, Mancs, Honorary Mancs, Visitors to Manc…

I’m going HOME this Christmas…

Why, you ask? Well I can’t wait to see those faces.

Whose, you ask?

Well everyone who frontline works there from Box Office to Bar. But of equal measure, I can’t wait to see some of the films and theatre productions that HOME Mcr are treating us to this yuletide season. Because, frankly readers? We’ve all been very good and have swerved the naughty list.

First up, At Home in the 80s.

I love three things (I mean I love more but for the purposes of the here and now, I love three):

  • Being at HOME
  • Christmas
  • The 80s

And so those clever people combine all three with their season of films inspired by this devastatingly brilliant decade.

Image courtesy of Park Circus/Disney

We all live for nostalgia at Christmas and these films deliver it in spades:

  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit?;
  • An American Werewolf in London;
  • This is Spinal Tap (watch out for more on this on sister blog What the Projectionist Saw;
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark;
  • Bill and  Ted’s Excellent  Adventure; and
  • Heathers.

Image courtesy of Park Circus/StudioCanal

We love the 80s and this is the only decade to bring us significant films.

Hey, who said that? HOME and I beg to differ. What about the era of slapstick?

Guess what, reader, HOME are bringing this to us as well with a season of Slapstick featuring the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and The Marx Brothers in:

  • A Night at the Opera;
  • One Week/Sherlock Jr – a Buster  Keaton double bill accompanied by live musicians HarmonieBand; and
  • Modern Times – again, watch out for feature on film blog What the Projectionist Saw, coming to a screen near you…

For full film listings head to www.homemcr.org/cinema

I love slapstick and I love HOME. But is there a second cultural medium bringing the two concepts together? I hear you ask (you’re saying a great deal today, reader).

Why yes! HOME may be inviting you into their intimate grown up cinemas this Christmas, but they haven’t shut up shop at their theatre spaces.

For older children (and adults), the Dutch musical explosion that is Slapstick (anyone know how to do an umlaut on a laptop – anyway there should be two dots of the ‘a’), hits HOME, with an ode to the timeless comedy of Messrs Chaplin, Keaton, Marx, Laurel and Hardy, with five world class performers combining musicianship, mayhem and physical comedy to bring a show that will mesmerise from start to finish. Running from 13-22 Dec.

For the little Mancs, Honorary Mancs, Visitors to Manc, (let’s say between the ages of 2-4)there is the delightful White, a fully immersive show where the little ones sit on bean bags in a magical white tent and hear the story of two friends in a magical white world whose job it is to watch over the birds and their precious eggs. Sarah Jessica Parker described the show as

One of the greatest experiences of a lifetime and the best 40 minutes of my life.

and you can’t argue with SJP. Running from 13-23 Dec.

And so we have it, for all details of dates, tickets and the venue itself, head to www.homemcr.org

For Christmas, there’s no place like HOME (I know it’s twee, but it works so…)