Archive for the ‘Going Out’ Category

Going Out Week 5: Revolutionary Road at the Reel, Loughborough

February 4, 2009

No chance of seeing The Broken this week and so plan to watch Revolutionary Road on Wednesday. It has made a big splash at the weekend box office in third place behind Slumdog Millionaire and Valkyrie. In the spirit of adventure (or more truthfully convenience) there is a chance to visit a new cinema. This will be the third new cinema this year. Going to the Reel in Loughborough (6.20 screening) which promises an ‘operating philosophy’  to provide customers  with:

  • Comfort
  • Cleanliness
  • Affordable prices
  • Friendly, knowledgeable staff giving quality customer service
  • Great pictures and sound
  • The latest movies

and most of all…. real entertainment. There, that’s got all you providers of fake entertainment worried.

The Reel is the former Curzon Cinema and an art deco survivor:


The ‘affordable prices’ kick in on Wednesdays:


Will have to think of some tricky questions to test the ‘knowledgeable staff’. Not sure about Revolutionary Road – its middle-class psychodrama isn’t it? Angst in my pants!


DiCaprio and Winslet ‘trapped in a world of encoded convention’

One question I have is why David Thompson at BBC FIlms wanted to make this particular film?


[Not] Going Out Week 4: The Faintheart Fiasco

January 29, 2009

This is the story of the ‘Faintheart Fiasco’ – at least as it felt to me. I consider myself quite savvy with all this online stuff, and yet the simplicity of the novel and innovative – nay historic promotion of Faintheart left me flummoxed and low:


I was beginning to realise that it would not be possible to see this week’s new British films in the cinema. I was on the buffers, all momentum lost. It was predictable that the arty Better Things (bleak, depressing, but stunningly directed) would not be in the multiplexes (it will be shown in the art cinema next month), but it was a little perplexing to find that Faintheart didn’t appear to be showing in the region anywhere. Faintheart is showing for todya only (Thursday) at 4.15 at the Reel Loughborough – but I can’t make that screening. However, the film’s website was offering  a chance to ‘SEE FOR FREE AT A CINEMA NEAR ME’ – or so I hoped. All  I had to do was SIMPLY  enter my postcode in an application called the ‘Heart Map’ at the film’s website on MySpace – and so I did. The idea was a popularity contest – there would be 150 free screenings on 27th January to reward the MySpace community who had been involved in this ‘user generated feature film’ according to expressions of interest in the most popular places. Leicester was in 30th place – result!


I didn’t take part in any of the MySpace community activities around the production of the film, so maybe I was a little out of the loop. I expected to be informed by email about where the screening might take place – maybe I didn’t check the ‘Notify me of screenings’ box properly. Maybe I just wasn’t getting what I was supposed to do to get in on the ‘innovative ‘ action. There was also the promise of being able to see the film for free online on the same day – but no details. This was becoming a theme.

It was only after the free screenings had begun and ended that I started to piece everything together. The launch of the film was featured on Channel Four News that evening and the film’s producer explained how the strategy was to cut out the traditionally expensive cinematic distributions costs, create some initial interest and to go as soon as possible to the more profitable bits – DVD (available 2nd February), television and downloads. Is this the future of the popular £1m budget British film?

“It’s very, very tough out there. Everything is in a state of flux. The coal face economics are a harsh reality – the cinemas take 75% of your box office and you can’t rely on DVD anymore” says Alan Niblo from Vertigo Films, one of Faintheart‘s producers.

Later I did some digging around online – found a news story posted on The Guardian website at 13.26 GMT saying that the film would be ‘launched at 6.30 this evening with free simultaneous screenings at 46 cinemas around the country, and will be available to watch on the MySpace website ( for one day only – not 150 screens then? The article advised going to the UK Film Council website to find information about screenings and to download a voucher for a free ticket. So I did.

As we all know, the UK Film Council is ‘the Government backed lead agency for film in the UK ensuring that the economic, cultural and educational aspects of film are effectively represented at home and abroad’. The website is very informative, actually, but the bit about Faintheart was only in a press release published on 23rd January- ‘UK Film Council Lottery cash delivers free public screenings of Faintheart, the world’s first user generated film’. Faintheart had already received £325,000 of Lottery funding from the UK Film Council’s Premiere Fund and had now been given a further £34,937 to pay for the film screenings in cinemas and digital distribution from the UK Film Council’s Prints and Advertising Fund which is designed ‘to give UK film fans more choice and gain exposure for films which might otherwise only have a limited distribution’.

At the bottom of the press release was a PDF downloadable ticket voucher for the free screenings


and details of the 46 screenings including 9 across the Midlands and in Leicester at the Showcase Cinema de Lux:


I had missed a screening opportunity of a unique event. At the time of the screening I was sat in my office less than a mile away – I should have been there.

I am left with a number of questions to which I would like to find answers:

  1. Why was the method of distributing the ticket vouchers and advertising the screenings so convoluted and difficult?
  2. How many people attended the screenings?
  3. What was the technology that was used to show the films in cinemas at such late notice?
  4. On what was the £34,937 of lottery funding for the free screenings actually spent?

I’m sure there are more things to think about, but that will do for now, and I hope to be back with some answers fairly soon.

Going Out Week 3: Clubbed and My Bloody Valentine 3-D

January 20, 2009

Wednesday is going to be the hot day for me in the cinema this week. I plan to watch two films tomorrow. This may be the start of a new side project – to watch all the 3-D film releases in 2009, because I think that it is going to be quite a significant year for digital 3-D technology. This sudden bunching of going out reflects narrowed opportunities in terms of personal travel arrangements and free time. Practically, Wednesday is the only night I can see Clubbed and the afternoon is the only time for My Bloody Valentine 3-D, to which I have invited the first year students to come along and experience the new technology for themselves.

This will involve a couple of firsts for me. Clubbed (7pm screening) is on at the City Cinema , Abbey Street, Leicester – never been there before (my cinema-going has been habitually elsewhere), and My Bloody Valentine 3-D (2.25 screening) is on at the newly opened Cinema de Lux, Highcross, Leicester. You may see me there, or if not, in my lower moments you may find me daydreaming of being recognised in the street as ‘The Every British Film Man’ and a ‘come and get me offer’ from the new Richard & Judy show.



Going Out Week 1

January 6, 2009

With no new British films on general release this week (2-8 January) there is a chance to focus on British films that are still new but were released at the end of last year, and to find a British film to watch in the cinema this week. December 2008 was quite a busy month for releases around Christmas. Of the 38 films of all kinds released that month, about 10 have some claims as British films, quite a significant proportion:

  1. Caught in the Act (Matt Lipsey, 2008)
  2. The Children (Tom Shankland, 2008)
  3. Summer (Kenny Glenaan, 2008) UK-GER
  4. Dean Spanley (Toa Fraser, 2008) UK-NZ
  5. Inkheart (Iain Softley, 2007) UK-USA
  6. A Bunch of Amateurs (Andy Cadiff, 2008)
  7. Stone of Destiny (Charles Martin Smith, 2007)
  8. The Tale of Desperaux (Sam Fell and Robert Stevenhagen, 2008) USA-UK
  9. Far North (Asif Kapadia, 2007)
  10. Mum and Dad (Steven Sheil, 2008)

[Source: Film Distributors’ Association,]

It is quite likely that some of these films will be new to many areas in 2009. Looking forward to the end of this project, there might well be British films that are released in December 2009 that will be difficult to see before the year’s end, and so careful planning might be needed. Far North, for instance, is only showing in 6 places in the UK at the moment.

So, what to watch this week? Mum and Dad would be my first choice, but it isn’t showing locally. Not only is it upholding a fine British tradition of shocking family values (tagline: ‘parents can be bloody murder’) in the horror film, but it is of interest from a number of aspects. It is available as a simultaneous cross-platform release – cinema, DVD, VOD, and TV – ‘Stay in. Go out. Your choice’. The empowerment of digital media values! I should wait to go out, but I might end up having to stay in – unless I download it and show it to some friends in public (that’s not illegal, right?).


Mum and Dad also has a production context of note. As the BBC Film Network reports the average cost of British feature film in 2006 was £1.5m whereas Mum and Dad was the first film made under London Film’s Microwave scheme to make films for £75,000 (topped up to £100k from other sources). This is microbudget feature filmmaking in mainstream cinema terms. Of local interest is that the £25,ooo top up funding for the film was provided by EM Media, the regional agency that supports film and media in the East Midlands (‘Placing media at the heart of the creative economy’). The film was shot on location in Nottingham, but set near Heathrow Airport.

The choice for this week’s outing will be Dean Spanley which is showing at the Phoenix, Leicester’s arts cinema. This is likely to have been on limited release so far, and therefore new to Leicester in 2009. According to the London Film Festival, it promises ‘peculiarly English quirks and ticks’. Dean Spanley is an adaptation of a short novel by Lord Dunsany (Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 1876-1957), an Anglo-Irish peer. The film is a certified UK-New Zealand co-production with a New Zealand director but a story of Edwardian English eccentricity and Hindu Transmigration of Souls – what could be more British than that? I will be at the 6.05 screening on Thursday.