16th January 2018 La La Land (2016); Director: Damien Chazelle; Certificate 12A

16th January 2018 La La Land (2016); Director: Damien Chazelle; Certificate 12A

Winner of six Academy Awards and many other prizes, this enchanting bitter-sweet movie musical set in Los Angeles features Emma Stone as Mia Dolan and Ryan Gosling as Sebastian Wilder. Mia is an aspiring actress and survives by serving lattes to movie stars between auditions. Sebastian dreams of owning his own jazz club but plays the piano in dingy bars. Their first encounter is in a traffic jam when Mia rehearses for an audition in her stationary car and doesn’t notice that the cars ahead of her have started moving until the car behind her, driven impatiently by Sebastian, tries to overtake her and they have a brief moment of road rage. But they meet again and their relationship soon takes off. They both encourage each other to pursue their dreams but, as they achieve their aspirations, their very success threatens to rip them apart. Terrific lead performances by Emma Stone as the vivacious Mia and Ryan Gosling as the suavely charming Sebastian, a compelling script, assured direction, and some wonderful music combine to make this romantic comedy film a musical masterpiece.

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27th February 2018 After the Storm (2016); Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda; Cert: PG; (subtitles)

This bitter-sweet comedy drama about three generations of a Japanese family was nominated for several film awards, including the Cannes Film Festival, the Chicago International Film Festival and the Asian Film Awards. Told with gentle humour and compassion, the story is about the value of personal bonds, the ability to forgive, and the need to realise that you can’t always have the life you want.
Ryota (Hiroshi Abe) is a former writer turned private detective who wastes his money on gambling and fails to support his beautiful ex-wife Kyoko (Yoko Maki) and their son. He also suspects his sister of trying to get money out of his widowed mother Yoshiko (Kirin Kiki), but his sister is equally suspicious of him. In an attempt to regain control of his life Ryota tries to get back with Kyoko during a stormy night at his mother’s house. But Kyoko, who has a new boyfriend, tells him it’s over and Ryota fears losing the relationship he has with his son. He then uses the storm to create a strong bond with his son, repeating some of the experiences he had with his own father when he was a boy.
Hiroshi Abe’s performance as the seemingly ne’er-do-well Ryota has been especially praised by film critics, as has the performance of of Kirin Kiki as the wise-cracking granny Yoshiko.

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20th March 2018 Whisky Galore! (1949); Director: Alexander Mackendrick; Cert: PG

Based on real events during WWII and filmed on the island of Barra, this classic tale of anti-authoritarianism is about people on a Scottish island untouched by the war until they run out of whisky. In the inevitably gloomy atmosphere of this whisky drought Sergeant Odd (Bruce Seton) returns to the island and courts Peggy (Joan Greenwood), the daughter of the island’s shopkeeper Joseph Macroon (Wylie Watson), and Macroon’s other daughter gets engaged to meek and teetotal schoolteacher George Campbell (Gordon Jackson). Then, by a stroke of amazing luck, a ship carrying 50,000 cases of whisky is wrecked on a reef! The islanders conspire to keep the whisky, but Captain Paul Waggett (Basil Radford), the stuffy English commander of the Home Guard, wants to confiscate the precious liquid cargo. There enfolds a tussle with the islanders who show a dogged team spirit and engage in all kinds of subterfuge to hold on to ‘their’ whisky, including hiding it in the most unlikely places. Nominated for the BAFTA award for best British film in 1950, this satirical comedy was regarded by critics as the best and most representative film from the short-lived Ealing Studios. It was also unexpectedly popular in the United States where it was renamed ‘Tight Little Island’, and in France where it was retitled ‘Whisky à gogo’ and was said to have changed French drinking habits.

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17th April 2018 Irreplaceable (2016); Director: Thomas Lilti; Cert: 12; (subtitles)

Jean-Pierre (François Cluzet) is a middle-aged doctor firmly established in a rural area of France. He works very hard looking after his patients who value him for both his dedication and his unsentimental manner. When he is diagnosed with a brain tumour and has to undergo treatment himself, he finds it hard to take advice from others. He feels his status is threatened when he is told to take on another doctor to help him with his practice and Nathalie (Marianne Denicourt), who is just out of medical school, arrives to take on some of his work. She also reminds him of his illness which he would rather blot out as he confronts his own mortality. Their relationship is prickly and he is unkind to her. An inevitable clash between them follows.
This thoughtful and engrossing drama of French rural life in the 21st century also bristles with humour and moments of irony. The film was well received by critics, and François Cluzet was nominated for best actor at the César Awards for his convincing performance as the hard-pressed and troubled country doctor.

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