Archive for the ‘Cinema Shows’ Category

Cinema Shows Week 32: The Taking Of Pelham 123, 10th August 2009, Odeon Freemans Park, Leicester

September 2, 2009

taking of pelham 123

Total Ticket Outlay (on 23 British feature films released in 2009) – £102.67.5

One of the earliest shocking images of cinema was when a cowboy pointed a gun at the audience in The Great Train Robbery (1903):

great train robbery

Did the audience duck and startle? Over a hundred years later Tony Scott continues the visceral assault on the senses with his high tech and doubtful US-UK co-production. The audience on this afternoon in August was about a dozen, mostly older couples I think. Why were they here on a summer’s day? Were they thrilled? It seemed all surface and gloss, though John Travolta and Denzel Washington are perfect as nasty and nice.

pelham ticket


Cinema Shows Week 24: Is Anybody There?, Cheri, Looking For Eric, and Doghouse 15th-18th June 2009

August 20, 2009

Total Ticket Outlay (on 22 British feature films released in 2009) – £97.72.5

is anybody there ticket

cheri ticket

A bumper week this one. Can’t remember the last time, if ever, that I went to the cinema four times in one week. Had to start with two trips to the Phoenix on a Monday. By 6pm I had seen two films and the rest of the evening was still stretching ahead. Strange. Nice.

The afternoon 1pm screenings are cheap and seem to be dominated by an older audience, almost as if they have come on a coach trip, but probably lured out  of their homes individually by the cut prices. Is Anybody There? is not comforting subject matter for people in their 50s and 60s, the dominant age groups in the screening. They are likely to be experiencing the problems of looking after elderly parents and options such as care homes. A retirement or care home is a sad backdrop to the film’s generational gap drama that proves to be a downer. Do the lucky ones die at home away from these waiting rooms for the befuddled and dependent? Michael Caine really gives it everything he has and the relationship with the young lad played by Bill Milner (Son of Rambow) is convincingly touching. It feels British through and through, and I was really surprised that it didn’t get wider distribution – but then outside of the reduced prices of the cosy arts cinema scene the multiplexes are dominated by youth and families. Will my wrongly titled ticket be worth anything in the future?

Is Anybody There?

Is Anybody There?

In contrast to Is Anybody There? I didn’t leave with any strong feelings about Cheri. I found Stephen Frears’s voiceover a bit wierd. It seemed incredibly out-of-keeping with the period and subjectivity of the film. I think the cool reception to the film is that it doen’t seem to have any great resonance at this time. It seems quite a strange choice of subject and no Dangerous Liaisons. Safe Liaisons?



looking for eric ticket

doghouse ticket

Out of the art cinema and back into the multiplex to complete the week’s shows. And what contrasting experiences. Ken Loach’s Looking For Eric is one of my highlights of watching new British films this year. It has a great ensemble feel, and if you want to cut through the collective action propaganda, you can do, but the ‘Operation Cantona’ sequence is a real joy. In the middle it threatens to go into dark Loachian territory – familiar, but not predictable, and ultimately uplifting. The mythology of Cantona is enhanced rather than deconstructed, like a ghostly Robin Hood.

Looking For Eric

Looking For Eric

Equally wonderful, but in a very different way was the reaction provoked by watching Doghouse at the Cinema de Lux in Leicester. I wasn’t sure whether it was completely offensive or a staggering work of post-feminist genius. Among the recent laddish horror films such as Lesbian Vampire Killers it has the most chance of attracting a cult following. We just need to decide whether we are laughing with it or at it.



Can you hear her calling, from within the house?
If you would stop barking, she might let you out
At last she opens the back gate, you’re released, you’re now free to
You’ve been waiting for this moment for sometime and now you must
Into the fields where there is laughter, there is peace and you’re
Try to hold on now before she calls you home!
You’re in the doghouse
‘Cause you’re just a dog!
(‘Doghouse’, No Doubt)

Cinema Shows Week 23: Last Chance Harvey, 8th June 2009, CDL, Leicester

August 16, 2009

Total Ticket Outlay (on 18 British feature films released in 2009) – £82.25

last chance harvey ticket

If I was choosing to see a film, I would normally give Last Chance Harvey a miss. But since it is an official British co-production, it had to be seen. It seems to have done quite well at the box office grossing over £2m in 10 weeks on release – almost a million more than Looking For Eric, which just doesn’t seem right. There is obviously more appeal for a rather slushy and extremely predictable transatlantic romcom than the highs and lows of Northern social realism. It left me feeling a bit numb and it could so easily have been written by a computer so conventional was its tribulations. A very small audience in a large theatre – no great atmosphere. A relief to leave.


Raincoats at Dawn, Yawn

Cinema Shows Week 21: Tormented, 27th May 2009, Odeon Freemans Park, Leicester, Awaydays, 28th May 2009, CDL, Leicester

August 14, 2009



Better watch out
There’s no way to stop it now
You can’t escape
It’s too late
Look what you’ve done
There’s no place that you can run
The monsters made
We must pray
Maybe nature has a plan
To control the ways of man
He must start from scratch again
Many battles must he win
til he earns his place on earth
Like the other creatures do
Will there be a happy end
Now that all depends on you
Supernature, supernature
Supernature, supernature
Supernature, supernature
Supernature, supernature

(‘Supernature’, Cerrone)

Total Ticket Outlay (on 17 British feature films released in 2009) – £75.25


tormented ticket 

An interesting mix of youth movies this particular week. First of all a teen horror movie aimed at the Skins generation – which isn’t me. I was, maybe slightly, uncomfortably the oldest person in the theatre. Small groups of school kids, and students having late fast lunches. It seemed to go down well with one or two screams. As an attempt to transpose the American high school slasher movie to a British secondary school I thought that it worked quite well – but I was disappointed by the supernatural killer. The other thing that struck me was the prominent safe sex message in the teenagers’s use of condoms. Bless British social conscience!

awaydays ticket 

The next day I had to attend a very late screening (10:25pm) of Awaydays. I regarded this as an intriguing prospect and wondered what the audience might be for late night cinema. It looked like I might be alone for a while, but then I was joined by a couple of young couples, and I wasn’t sure whether or not they had just wandered off the streets for somewhere to prolong their dates, or whether this was a pre-planned part of their night out. I should have asked, but I didn’t.



For me the film had great personal resonance, more so in terms of the general post-punk Northern setting than the specific football casuals scene. To those younger people in the audience it must have seemed as distant and other as teddy boys are to me. Thirty years is a long time in subculture history. My lasting memory of the experience, however, is how I left the cinema with a peculiar physical and psychological effect. I strode into the cityscape upright, feeling tough and at least two inches taller than normal. Anticipating trouble round any corner I was ready for a ruck. I would have not backed down but walked into some kind of cathartic destiny – but I made it to the Renault Clio without trouble. No danger.

The outlaw stance is so pedantic
Hate the world, it’s so romantic

(‘Young Savage’, Ultravox)


Cinema Shows Week 20: In The Loop, 18th May 2009, Phoenix, Leicester

August 14, 2009

Total Ticket Outlay (on 15 British feature films released in 2009) – £63.30

in the loop ticket

At last, finding some time to log some visits to the cinema, now several months passed. In The Loop seemed to take a while to get to Leicester, but in the end waited for it to come to the Phoenix. The plus side of screenings at (the now closed) Phoenix is that you are nearly always guaranteed quite a large audience, which is unlike many of the screenings that I go to at the multiplexes in the late afternoon or early evenings where there can be less than a dozen people. Probably about 60-80 in for the show, elderly, middle-class. The problem with television adaptation is that it can feel like you are watching a big television screen rather than watching something which is cinematic, and this particular expansion of the BBC’s The Thick Of It is no exception. It is carried almost entirely by Peter Capaldi’s wonderfully outrageous rants and one-liners as foul-mouthed government civil servant Malcolm Tucker – a more respectable disrespectful version of Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown.



Cinema Shows Week 19: Coraline 3D, 13th May 2009, Odeon Freemans Park, Leicester

July 3, 2009

Total Ticket Outlay (on 4 3D feature films released in 2009) – £29.60


With no new British films available to see in Leicester this week I was at least able to keep the 3D cinema side project going. Coraline is the fourth 3D film to be released in the UK after My Bloody Valentine, Bolt, and Monsters vs Aliens. Coraline‘s novelty is that it is the first stop-motion animated feature film to be made in 3D. I have to confess that the style of the animation linked to the gothic childhood fantasy of Neil Gaiman’s is not my kind of thing and I felt like the film created its own twilight zone of appeal between something that was not dark enough for adults and not enchanting enough for children. But I did like the jumping mice circus.

I also feel that the 3D doesn’t add much to the experience. Without having compared it to the 2D version, I sense that the depth is exaggerated, and interestingly the film doesn’t use much of the gimmicky pointing things out of the screen stuff you normally get with 3D. But if you don’t bring the action out of the screen there might be a perception that the 3D isn’t adding value. The greater sense of depth might not be enough to convince people that 3D films are a premium experience for which they have to pay more for their tickets. Still searching for that great 3D experience that will make it a long lasting and valued part of film grammar.


Cinema Shows Week 17: Genova, 25th April 2009, Phoenix, FAQ About Time Travel, 27th April 2009, CDL, Shifty, 29th April 2009, Odeon Freemans Park

July 3, 2009

Total Ticket Outlay (on 14 British feature films released in 2009) – £58.80




Let’s call this week ‘the Neopolitan’ – three different flavours of film in three different cinemas. On the Saturday at The Phoenix, and so a reasonable audience of about 40. It seems like there are always about 30-50 for screenings there, and so it feels like a much more social experience than going to a lot of the late afternoon or early evening multiplex screenings that are often almost deserted. Genova has to be a nailed on choice for the art cinema circuit. It’s primary goal is to create an emotional effect with a strong sense of place and middle-class family in turmoil, trying to find their equlibrium following the death of the mother. And it did make me feel, but unremarkably so, and with no great impact. Michael Winterbottom is British cinema’s most prolific director, but seeing the latest Winterbottom film can’t be regarded as a memorable event. And Genova rather than Genoa? Avoiding any chance  of awful punning jokes? “Genoa?” “No, never met her”. Vanilla.

Second up at an after-work screening at the Cinema De Lux was FAQ About Time Travel. It isn’t as funny as Shaun of the Dead, but a comic masterpiece compared to Lesbian Vampire Killers. I was carried along for most of the film’s plot about time travel and paradoxes, but in the end the cleverness of the script just fizzled out without any satisfying sens of what was going on. Shared the cinema with three couples. Strawberry.

Thankfully, chocolate, the richest and most satisfying experience of the week – Shifty at the Odeon Freemans Park. For an ultra-low budget film it is a bit of a gem. OK, it has a predictable television social realism feel, but the acting is really good and the twist lifts the whole thing. I can remember ambling back in the sunshine through Nelson Mandela Park towards the station in a wonderfully carefree mood. And this despite being the only person at the screening, what I call a ‘singularity’. The first in my year of British film.


Cinema Shows Week 14: The Damned United, 6th April 2009 and The Boat That Rocked, 8th April 2009, Odeon Freemans Park, Leicester

May 15, 2009

Total Ticket Outlay (on 11 British feature films released in 2009) – £42.35



Two visits to the Odeon Freemans Park this week. A pair of films about, I guess, now historical popular culture – football in the 1970s and pop music in the 1960s. Only 5 0r 6 people in the cinema to see The Damend United. These late afternoon/early evening sessions can feel quite lonely in such large thetares. Saw The Boat That Rocked on ‘Orange Wednesday’, so busier and half-price tickets. And a different audience for once – perhaps 20-30 people, in family and frienship groups – quite unusual. A ‘Richard Curtis’ factor?

I have a personal interest in The Damned United since it is on my home ground of West Yorkshire. As a child and young adult I lived in Gawthorpe a village, near the town of Ossett, next to the city of Leeds. Ossett is the birth place of David Peace, the author of the novel on which the film is based. Peace is about 10 years younger than me, but we went to the same secondary (Batley Grammar School).

I didn’t like Leeds United as a child – I thought they were cocky and glamourous – I liked underdogs, and went occasionally to rugby league (Dewsbury, Wakefiled Trinity). Clearly the film is an appeasement to the family of Brian Clough – much lighter than the novel. Without finding the cinematic equivalent of Peace’s dark narrative and repetitive prose style, the film is pleasant enough. Interestingly I came away thinking about Don Revie more than Clough. I wanted to go away and look at his England record for instance. As much as the film is about what happened next to Brian Clough, it also gets us to think about what became of Revie who with hindsight had peaked with his blessed celebrity hard nuts at LUFC – he did OK, but failed to qualify for a major tournament:




The Boat That Rocked experience has to be one of the low points so far, perhaps even worse than Lesbian Vampire Killers. Leaving was a relief. As an ensemble of sex-obsessed young men (and token lesbian) this crowd could have been in any context – workers at a supermarket or whatever. At least The Damned United was a satisfying celebration of ‘the best manager England never had’, but The Boat That Rocked‘s celebration of the importance of recorded music was a nightmare – those dreadful cutaways of teenagers listening to pirate radio under the bedclothes and people in a state of wild abandon. Yuk!


Let’s dance, put on your red shoes and dance the blues
Let’s dance, to the song they’re playin’ on the radio

Let’s sway, while colour lights up your face
Let’s sway, sway through the crowd to an empty space
(‘Let’s Dance’, David Bowie)

Cinema Shows Week 13: The Age of Stupid, 30th March 2009, Phoenix, Leicester

May 4, 2009

I was rather hoping that The Age of Stupid (‘drama-documentary-animation’) would be a more moving and emotional experience, but it left me a bit flat. I had read that it would be possible to organize your own screening of the film, and imagined I might do that, but this seemed less exciting a prospect after seeing it. However, whatever the ‘let downs’ of the film, the idea of being able to have DIY screenings is , I think, the most interesting part of the project.

The screening was supported by local environmental activist groups and a short introduction given. I guess the film is preaching to the converted. We are all concerned about the impending global catastrophe that the film dramatizes, but I suppose that many people like myself are fellow travellers who are not prepared to get involved in campaigns. Having picked up an ‘action pack’ containing such things as stickers and certificates for climate heroes and villains, it is likely to remain an ‘inaction pack’ collectible (at least until the tides rise).

I quite liked the drama bits framing  the documentary video with glum Pete Postlethwaite staring out of the screen through his computer interface as the ‘man living alone in the devasted world of 2055’ ( we have to imagine the worst), and I really liked all the animation inserts. But I found the documentary parts the least engaging. Yes, you get a global perspective, but the links seemed tenuous, and the content underwhelming. I was expecting to be much more shocked or appalled, but I was surprised by how understated it all seemed.


However, please do not let this stop you organizing your own screening of the film, and other independent films that will be offered in the near future. The filmmakers have set up an ‘Indie Screenings’ facility where licences to show the film can be purchased so that you can become a film exhibitor. If not the ‘future of film distribution’, it is certainly a development that we should support (ooh, er, that sounds a bit active for me). Time to contact the village hall committee…


Cinema Shows Week 12: The Young Victoria, 23rd March 2009, Phoenix, and Lesbian Vampire Killers, 26th March 2009, Odeon Freemans Park

April 17, 2009
  • Total Ticket Outlay (on 9 British feature films released in 2009) – £34.92.5 

young_victroria_ticekt lesbian_ticketr



“Lesbian Vampire Killers, please”. These are four words that I never thought I would have to utter. I shared a largely empty cinema with I think three other people who were sat together. Young. I heard the occasional laugh-out-loud, but humour was  in short supply. Such a ‘come on’ title (tit-le?) deserves a more titillating and funny treatment. Too much treading carefully – a vampire farce filtered through ‘Scooby Doo’ ‘goings-on’ in ‘deepest’ Norfolk? I think Horne and Corden are good performers, but this is gruel-ing stuff. Thin and unsatisfying. Time to revisit Cannon and Ball’s The Boys in Blue (1982) I think, to see if the bottom has been scraped.

Earlier in the week I went to see The Young Victoria. I would normally give films like this a miss. Not ideal stuff for a republican with a dislike of heritage films. I was expecting something sexier, but I was given a lesson in succession politics, and felt like I was learning quite a lot. Chris was not happy with the puffy sleeves on the women’s dresses – something about them being out of fashion by then, at least in fashionable circles, but perhaps not at court. Hate to get into debates about realism, especially in costume drama. The highlight of the experience was being surrounded by representatives of the ‘grey pound’. At least 50 in the audience – average age 60-65. And all sat  together in the central section as if they had come together on a coach trip. I heard one woman chatting at the box office that she had heard that the film wasn’t very realistic – meaning playful with the truth. How real do you want your nightmares?


Though many teardrops are bound to fall
True love can conquer all
When you’re, when you’re young and in love

(”When You’re Young and in Love’, The Marvelettes)