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Films about how movies get made form a fascinating genre unto themselves. To classics like “Singin’ in the Rain” and “The Bad and the Beautiful” add the delightful comedy “Their Finest”—the story of the British film industry during the war, charged with buoying the spirits of people living in fear of the Blitz. A film crew is depicted chasing upbeat stories like the twin sisters who rescue soldiers after the retreat at Dunkirk. Standout performances from Gemma Arterton as a fledgling scriptwriter hired to bring a woman’s perspective to the big screen, and the dryly amusing Bill Nighy as a past-his-prime, but still pompous actor, who latches onto the young scenarist. The set design and clothes are rich in period detail. Accomplished director Lone Scherfig (“An Education,” “Italian for Beginners”) brings her special light touch to the proceedings, which are sure to leave you smiling.
Bill Nighy will be interviewed following the screening by ACT artistic director Carey Perloff
UK, 2016 (117 minutes)
Challenging the traditional image of the London port drinking establishment, the pomp and ceremonial type stuff, David Kennard’s documentary delves into the history of the mercantile trade between the two countries and moves to Northern Portugal, to the wonderful, moving scenes of Oporto and the hills surrounding the Douro. The British vintner-merchants who maintain their hold in Porto contrast with local farmers who work the rugged terrain of these vineyards, testifying to the huge disparity between the world of owners/distributors and vineyard workers. You will be riveted even if you don’t drink port. Joint 1st place, Rhode Island Film Festival Appearance by filmmaker
UK, 2016 (86 minutes)
The festival’s Noir Evening kicks off with this atmospheric thriller set in and around the tattered precincts of London’s Soho. Bob Hoskins scored an Oscar nomination and a BAFTA win as an ex-con hired to drive an expensive call girl to her assignations. The two become close, and he agrees to help her execute a dangerous plan. Michael Caine is chilling as the local kingpin who they cross at their own peril. Directed by Neil Jordan (“The Crying Game”).
UK, 1986 (104 minutes)
Introduced by Peter Robinson, movie critic for KALW 91.7 FM and editor of San Francisco Books & Travel magazine
A slow-burning thriller set in an overcast Belfast. A literary celebrity / television host (Conleth Hill of “Game of Thrones”) driven to shoplifting in the vague hope the adrenaline buzz might cure his writer’s block gets caught red-handed by a creepy security guard who blackmails him into becoming his “best friend forever.” In doing all he can to extricate himself from the imminent loss of his good name and his sanity, the one-hit-novelist becomes drawn ever deeper into the dark world of the blackmailer turned stalker (a nicely nuanced Stephen Graham).
“An unsettling and astutely accomplished British thriller” – Movie Review World
UK, 2015 (92 minutes)
The film will be introduced by Tony Broadbent, author of “The Smoke” series of mystery novels about a Cockney cat burglar and jewel thief in post-war London. He’s a longtime fan of Film Noir and British Noir.
“We’re not a band, we’re a group!” “Backbeat” chronicles the early days of the Beatles in Hamburg on the cusp of fame while brilliantly capturing the period (early 1960s). The story of the “bromance” between Liverpool art students John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe as each struggle to find love and true self-expression and the later influence of Sutcliffe’s German girlfriend, photographer Astrid Kirchherr. A tightly focused love story; beautifully paced, with raucous band performances popping up whenever young romance promises to over-soften the plot. Stephen Dorff and Ian Hart are perfectly cast as Stu and John, but Sheryl Lee’s performance as Astrid all but steals the show. “A thrilling spectacle that rocks the house,” Rolling Stone
UK, 1994 (100 minutes)
Five years in the turbulent youth of John Lennon, in 1950s Liverpool, torn between his legendary mother and his equally formidable aunt. Lennon’s emerging teenage angst and his inability to appreciate how deeply both women love him gives rise to a love triangle supreme. You can see the young Lennon in Aaron Johnson’s spot-on performance, and Kristin Scott Thomas is memorable as his aunt. An affecting movie about coming of age and leaving home, and the beginning of the long and winding road that ultimately leads to the birth of The Beatles. “Handsomely made…with ringingly heartfelt performances.” – The Guardian
UK. 2009 (97 minutes)
A compelling coming-of-age drama from New Zealand, “The Rehearsal” starts with a country boy named Stanley (James Rolleston, star of “Boy”) auditioning for a prestigious Auckland drama school. You immediately see what the teacher sees: Stanley is a star. This winning film, based on the first novel by Mann Booker Prize winning author Eleanor Catton, follows Stanley and other recruits through their first year as they struggle with inner conflicts, and Stanley is forced to make a moral decision about whether a steamy scandal in his girlfriend’s family is fair game for him to dramatize in a school project.
New Zealand, 2016 (102 minutes)
A day in the life of the Fab Four—the opening chord once heard never forgotten, heralding for countless teenagers the start of the ‘60s. Unendingly magical, the film brims with irreverence, anarchy and comedic flare; a brilliant crystallization of cinéma vérité, documentary film, the pop movie, and rock ‘n’ roll. Shot in black and white and superbly directed by Richard Lester, Alun Owen’s script sparkles—as do John Lennon’s many adlibs. The songs of The Beatles are as fresh and uplifting as when first heard. “The ‘Citizen Kane’ of jukebox movies,” The Village Voice
UK, 1964 (87 minutes)
All Beatles movies will be introduced by Tony Broadbent, author of “The One After 9:09,” a mystery novel that tells of the early day of the Beatles and of the guidebook “From ‘Be-Bop-A-Lula’ to Beatlemania – The Beatles Early Years in Liverpool, Hamburg and London”
Set in 1974 Lancashire in Northern England, this is a story of two teenagers whose lives are changed by the discovery of black American soul music and the wild nightclub culture surrounding it. Music offers an escape from dreary factory jobs, but the drug/binge drinking lifestyle fueling it waylays them. A great sound track and cool dance moves make us root for these lads with their helmet haircuts to establish themselves as top DJs on the Northern Soul scene. “A British Saturday Night Fever” The Radio Times
UK, 2014 (99 minutes)
The real deal Northern Soul music provided by co-presenter Mod in San Francisco