theatrical releases

EXCISION

ExcisionA truly unique horror ride into the scariest of all places - the mind of a teenage misfit! Excision is the story of Pauline (AnnaLynne McCord), a delusional teenage outcast. Pauline picks scabs. Pauline dissects road kill. Pauline fantasizes about performing surgery on strangers. Her fascinations disturb her schoolmates and her parents, Phyllis (Traci Lords) and Bob (Roger Bart). No one understands Pauline except for Grace (Ariel Winter), her younger sister who suffers from cystic fibrosis. An outcast at school and at home, Pauline is convinced that the best way to repair her estranged relationship with her family is to perform a risky operation to save her sister’s life... Excision continues a long tradition of horror films with compelling female leads, such as Scream, the original Halloween, the original A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Birds, and Psycho. Also starring Traci Lords, Ariel Winter, Roger Bart, Jeremy Sumpter, Malcolm McDowell and John Waters. Excision is Richard Bates Jr.’s directorial debut adapted from his highly praised short film, also entitled Excision, which played at over 50 film festivals internationally and garnered 24 awards from festivals such as Austin Fantastic Fest, Sundance Film Festival and Fantasia International Film Festival. Excision has just been released theatrically in the UK.

WOMAN IN A DRESSING GOWN

Woman in a Dressing GownStudiocanal and the ICO are bringing back to the big screen the underrated and long unseen Woman in a Dressing Gown, a powerful and progressive drama that follows the turmoil caused when a husband of 20 years tells his wife he is leaving her for a younger woman. Amy (Yvonne Mitchell) is a hopeless housewife - she burns meals, doesn’t finish the housework, listens to the radio too loud, and some days doesn’t event get around to getting dressed. By contrast her husband Jim (Anthony Quayle) is far more together, and still attractive. Jim has fallen in love with his young, beautiful secretary Georgie (Sylvia Syms), and when he tells Amy he is leaving her, her already fragile world threatens to fall apart. Released in 1957, this heart-wrenching, powerful drama anticipated not only the British New Wave of Social Realism, but also Betty Friedan’s ground-breaking book The Feminine Mystique. Woman in a Dressing Gown shows us that Amy’s hopelessness in the home is born out of loneliness, boredom and depression - dissatisfaction with her ‘confinement’ to the home that Friedan later labeled ‘the problem with no name’. As such the film can be heralded as more progressive, at least in terms of gender politics, than its better known successors - Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Look Back in Anger etc - because it has as its heart a middle-aged housewife, rather than an angry young man. Sensitively directed by J Lee Thompson, the film was written by Ted Willis and based on his TV drama of the same name. Yvonne Mitchell’s bravura performance won her the Silver Bear in Berlin, where the film also picked up the FIPRESCI prize and the OCIC Special Mention prize. Woman in a Dressing Gown was also nominated for two BAFTAS and won Best English Language Foreign Film at the Golden Globes.

Made in BritainStudiocanal and the Independent Cinema Office announced a summer season of theatrical screenings in celebration of some of the finest, most entertaining and quirkiest cinema that this sceptred isle has ever produced. The Made in Britain season is (cucumber) was sandwiched between the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics and gave audiences across the country the opportunity to enjoy five restored classic British films on the big screen. A national screening event every Tuesday from June 5th to July 3rd inclusive saw each film screened digitally in cinemas across the country. The films were chosen to illustrate the breadth of the work that has been produced by British filmmakers over the last century, and ranged from post-war comedy to ground-breaking sci-fi. The Made in Britain theatrical season was complimented by a special exhibition of stills and artwork from classic British cinema at the London Film Museum, and followed by an extensive retail campaign that included many more great British films – both old and new – including Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Submarine, Tyrannosaur, School for Scoundrels, Kind Hearts & Coronets, Whisky Galore!, The Dambusters, Billy Liar and The Railway Children.

LA GRANDE ILLUSION

La Grande IllusionStudiocanal is celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Jean Renoir’s masterpiece, La Grande Illusion, with a beautiful new restoration of the film that will be released in cinemas on April 6th 2012, including an extended run at BFI Southbank. Renoir’s poetic and poignant classic is a meditation on class, the nature of war and the death of the old European order. Aristocratic Captain de Boeldieu (Pierre Fresnay), mechanic Lieutenant Marechal (Jean Gabin) and wealthy Jewish banker Rosenthal (Marcel Dalio) are all thrown together, despite their vastly different backgrounds, as prisoners of the Germans in World War I. Separated by a successful escape, they are recaptured and reunited in an imposing fortress commanded by German aristocrat Van Rauffenstein (Erich Von Stroheim), with tragic consequences. The title and central theme of La Grande Illusion comes from a Nobel prize-winning essay by British economist Norman Angell on the futility of war and the film calls on Renoir’s own experiences as an aviator in WWI. The film was declared the ‘Cinematographic Enemy Number One’ by the Nazis after it won a prize at the Venice Film Festival and was banned. The original negative was long feared destroyed in an Allied bombing raid, though in reality it had been confiscated by the Nazis and shipped to Berlin to the Reichfilmarchiv. By chance this archive was situated in the Russian zone after the war and the negative thus found its way to Moscow. Despite being returned to France in the 1960s, the negative lay undamaged and unidentified in storage at La Cinémathèque de Toulouse until the 1990s. Having previously restored the film in 1997, Studiocanal and La Cinémathèque de Toulouse decided to complete this beautiful new restoration utilizing 21st century cutting edge technologies and the film will be preserved now for at least a century. An impassioned call for the unity of humankind across class and national boundaries, La Grande Illusion also offers a quietly subversive social analysis of European society. Following its cinema release, the film is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

THE LAST WALTZ

The Last Waltz‘This film should be played loud!’ Shot on Thanksgiving Day, 25 November, 1976, Martin Scorsese’s The Last Waltz is arguably the greatest concert film ever made. In 1976 musician Robbie Robertson made the decision to stop touring with his rock group The Band and organised the mother of all goodbye gigs at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco where The Band had made their debut as a group in 1969. The concert became an elaborate affair, starting at 5pm and lasting long into the night, with a performer guest list including Ronnie Hawkins, Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, Neil Diamond, Van Morrison, Ronnie Wood, Bob Dylan and Ringo Starr. Captured on seven 35mm cameras manned by the most brilliant cinematographers of their generation and directed by Martin Scorsese, The Last Waltz marked the end of 16 years on the road for Robbie Robertson and The Band and every one of their rock royalty mates wanted to be there to mark the occasion. Cited as one of a handful of rock concert film masterpieces, The Last Waltz is the essential film record of a cultural high point in American rock, country and blues music. Coinciding with the director’s new film on George Harrison, it bears witness to Scorsese’s early talent for the documentary form. For the first time since 1978, Park Circus reissued The Last Waltz for cinema release. Digitally restored to 2K with enhanced 5.1 audio, this is a must for fans of music, mayhem and nihilism. Full screening details are available from: www.backincinemas.com

GHOSTBUSTERS

GhostbustersDirected by Ivan Reitman and starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Sigourney Weaver, this hit film is about a trio of university parapsychologists in New York, who lose their research grant and decide to open their own business, ‘Ghostbusters’. They are soon summoned to investigate strange happenings in a Central Park West flat and discover that all of Manhattan is being besieged by other worldly demons. But will they manage to capture all the ghosts and save the Big Apple in time? This 80s cult classic will soon be back in cinemas in an all-new digital cinema presentation, ready to save the world this coming Halloween. As well as boasting an impressive cast, the much-loved sci-fi comedy is remembered for its selection of imaginative ghost effects - in particular ‘Slimer’ and the ‘Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man’.

KES

KesSet in Yorkshire, this moving drama focuses on Billy, a young working class boy, who is bullied both at home and in school, and whose expectations lead no further than following his brother into the pit as a coal miner when he grows up. Everything changes when he finds a young Kestrel falcon, whom he names ‘Kes’ and starts training. Helped and encouraged by his English teacher and fellow students, Billy finally finds a positive purpose to his unhappy existence, until tragedy strikes. Regularly cited as one of the best British films of all time, Kes was based on Barry Hines’ novel ‘A Kestrel for a Knave’ and features brilliant performances by David Bradley, Colin Welland, Lynne Perrie, Freddie Fletcher, Brian Glover and Bob Bowes. Originally released in 1969, the film won two BAFTA Awards and is being re-released in a new restored version from Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios and Park Circus. It will screen in an extended run at BFI Southbank in London (9-24 September) as part of the BFI’s retrospective celebrating the director’s 75th birthday and 50-year career in film and TV. Further details are available from www.bfi.org.uk

LA PISCINE

La PiscineLovers Marianne (Romy Schneider) and Jean-Paul (Alain Delon) spend their lazy summer holiday in a magnificent villa near St-Tropez. The main feature of the villa is a swimming pool, stage for most of the action. After a visit Marianne invites former lover Harry (Maurice Ronet) and his beautiful teenage daughter Penelope (Jane Birkin) to stay with them for a few days. From the first moment, a certain uneasiness and tension begin to develop between the four. In an apparently calm environment, a crisis eventually develops, in which these four oddly-related, intelligent people with their respective strengths and weaknesses, will be caught in their own game. Cinematographer Jean-Jacques Tarbès allows the camera to linger on Delon and Schneider, soaking up the Mediterranean sun, whereas three-times Academy Award-winning composer, conductor and pianist Michel Legrand's music illustrates the changing mood in the film. With original scenario written by Jean-Emmanuel Conil and adaptation/dialogue by screenwriter/actor Jean-Claude Carrière and director Jacques Deray, the slow-burning, sensual thriller was rediscovered when La Piscine returned to cinemas last Autumn, opening at BFI Southbank and key cities.

THE LAVENDER HILL MOB

The Lavender Hill MobDirector Charles Crichton’s much-loved 1951 classic stars Alec Guiness as Henry Holland, who has worked faithfully for 20 years as an unassuming bank agent for the delivery of gold bullion. A shy retiring man, completely inconsequential to his employers, he has long dreamt of a way to execute his plan of the perfect gold robbery - the only catch being how to move the gold on once stolen. One day he befriends Pendlebury (Stanley Holloway) of Gewgaws Ltd, a maker of souvenirs. Holland remarks that, with Pendlebury’s smelting equipment, one could forge the gold into harmless-looking paperweight Eiffel Towers and smuggle the gold from England into France. Soon after, the two plant a story to gain the services of professional criminals Lackery (Sid James) and Shorty (Alfie Bass). Together, the four carefully plot and carry out their ingenious crime. Guiness and Holloway provide a masterclass in comic timing and there is a delightful cameo by Marjorie Fielding as an elderly lady with a taste for hard-boiled crime fiction. Stalwarts such as John Gregson and Sydney Tafler offer solid support and there are early screen appearances by Audrey Hepburn, Robert Shaw and children’s television icon Valerie Singleton as a posh schoolgirl. With an original Oscar-winning screenplay by T E B ‘Tibby’ Clarke and immaculate photography by Douglas Slocombe, including a tour-de-force descent of the real Eiffel Tower, this engaging caper is one of the most exuberant of all the Ealing comedies. A digitally restored version of The Lavender Hill Mob returned to cinemas last year and is now available on DVD and Blu-ray (OPTIMUM OPTBD1926). Blu-ray extras include an introduction by Martin Scorsese, astonishing restoration comparisons, a behind the scenes stills gallery, the restored trailer, and interviews with Charles Crichton and T E B Clarke.

WHISKY GALORE!

Whisky GaloreIn February 1941 during the Second World War, a ship called the SS Politician left Liverpool, heading for Jamaica with 250,000 bottles of whisky on board. Two days later the ship ran aground outside Eriskay in The Outer Hebrides, Scotland, during bad weather. Unable to resist the temptation, the locals helped themselves to as many bottles as they could before the authorities arrived to restore order. Alexander Mackendrick’s 1949 directorial debut, Whisky Galore! was based on a novel of the same name by Compton MacKenzie (who makes a convincing acting appearance here). Set in 1943, it turned this true story into a beguiling Ealing comedy about the ‘SS Cabinet Minister’. The film was beautifully shot on the island of Barra and stars the splendid Basil Radford as a stuffy English commander of the Home Guard (shades of Captain Mainwaring), Bruce Seton as an English Sergeant courting the local shopkeeper’s daughter (sexy Joan Greenwood), James Robertson Justice as an irascible doctor, Gordon Jackson as a mild schoolteacher, Jean Cadell as his outrageously domineering mother, John Gregson, James Woodburn and Duncan Macrae. This sublime, gleefully anarchic comedy opened in a digitally restored version at Edinburgh Filmhouse last year and was also released in this stunning restoration on DVD and Blu-ray, with extras that include an audio commentary by British cinema expert John Ellis; an original TV documentary; The Real Whisky Galore! with islander Angus Campbell; Hilary Mackendrick, Sandy Mackendrick’s wife of more than forty years, in conversation; trailers; and behind the scene stills.

GILDA

GildaBorn as Margarita Carmen Cansino in Brooklyn, New York, in 1918, Rita Hayworth was the daughter of Spanish flamenco dancer and a Ziegfeld girl. With her extraordinary beauty and vulnerable charm, the actress and dancer went on to become one of the top film stars of the 1940s and beyond, appearing 61 films over 37 years. Her erotic appeal was reached its peak in Charles Vidor’s controversial black-and-white film noir, Gilda, made in 1946 with George Macready as her crooked Buenos Aires casino-proprietor husband, Ballin Mundson, and Glenn Ford as a cynical down-and-out gambler, Johnny Farrell, who goes to work for Ballin. It transpires that Johnny and Gilda once were lovers and that their romance ended in bitterness. After proclaiming a still burning hate for each other and then sharing a kiss, witnessed by Gilda’s husband, their secret is revealed. The consequences prove to be deadly in this atmospheric tale of power and obsession. Soon audiences will get the chance to re-visit memorable sequences such as the iconic moment when the beautiful Gilda is introduced on screen, Johnny’s amusing encounters with a grumpy washroom attendant, and Rita Hayworth’s steamy song and dance numbers. Gilda returned to cinemas last year, opening at BFI Southbank, Filmhouse Edinburgh, Irish Film Institute and key cities. Screening details from: www.bfi.org.uk and www.backincinemas.com

CUTTER’S WAY

Cutter's WayCzech-born director Ivan Passer’s 1981 intriguing and unusual thriller is set during carnival time in Santa Barbara, Californi. Based on the novel Cutter and Bone by Newton Thornburg, the film stars John Heard as the boozy, belligerent Vietnam veteran Alex Cutter, who recklessly seeks revenge on the killer of a young girl found brutally murdered. Cutter’s aimless best friend Richard Bone (the always excellent Jeff Bridges) is falsely accused of the crime after his car broke down one rainy night and was abandoned near to where the girl’s body is found. Together with Cutter’s troubled alcoholic wife Mo (a touching performance by Lisa Eichhorn), both anti-heroes are caught in a nightmarish personal triangle, rippling with secrecies, as they join forces with the dead girl’s sister Valerie (Ann Dusenberry) in a crazy scheme to blackmail a local bigshot businessman, J J Cord (Stephen Elliott). Their plans culminate in a surreal, anarchic climax in which Bone is finally forced to make a fatal decision. ‘The routine grind drives me to drink, tragedy I take straight.’ – Alex Cutter. In celebration of its 30th anniversary, this cult, noir-influenced classic was re-released in cinemas, opening at BFI Southbank, Irish Film Institute and key cities. As well as an extended run of Cutter’s Way, The Jeff Bridges Season at BFI Southbank included many other fine films featuring this much underrated actor.

[new classics]