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La Passion de Dodin Bouffant
This mouthwatering and sensual exercise in haute cuisine and late-flowering romance is set in 1885 and almost totally within the confines of a rustic kitchen in a chateau. This is our closing film of this year’s French Film Festival.
Tran Anh Hùng, the Vietnamese director, now living in France, of ‘The Scent of the Green Papaya’ based the film on the book ‘The Life and Passion of Dodin-Bouffant, Gourmet’ by Marcel Rouff. Peerless cook Eugénie (Juliette Binoche) has worked for the famous gourmet Dodin (Benoît Magimel) for the last 20 years. As time went by, the practice of gastronomy and mutual admiration turned into a romantic relationship. He realises, however, that while he schmoozes the rich and famous in the dining room, she remains in the kitchen but is clearly hugely responsible for his august reputation. There is talk of marriage, but Eugénie values her independence too much in a relationship that she considers should be of equal parts. Both Binoche and Magimel who were together in life for a considerable time, exude an effortless rapport. Chosen as France’s Oscar contender. Warning: Another film like the recent ‘Delicieux’ that should not be seen on an empty stomach! (Subtitles)
France/Belgium 2023 Tran Anh Hùng 134m
A novelist who is fed up with the establishment profiting from "Black" entertainment uses a pen name to write a book that propels him to the heart of hypocrisy and the madness he claims to disdain.
At once broadly comedic and bitingly barbed, ‘American Fiction’ is the story of Thelonious “Monk” Ellison (an outstanding Jeffrey Wright), a writer and malcontent who unwillingly finds himself back in his East Coast hometown. There he is confronted with the family turmoil he tries to avoid, heightened by growing irritation with the expectations he feels from the literary establishment about what “Black literature” ought to be. This is an extremely funny movie that lands some sharp blows, and a stellar feature debut from seasoned TV writer Cord Jefferson, where he confronts our culture's obsession with reducing people to outrageous stereotypes.
USA 2023 Cord Jefferson 117m
When people in Littlehampton - including conservative local Edith - begin to receive letters full of hilarious profanities, rowdy Irish migrant Rose is charged with the crime. Suspecting that something is amiss, the town's women investigate.
Fiery Rose Gooding (Jessie Buckley) has little in common with the pious Edith Swan (Olivia Colman) aside from them being neighbours in the seaside town of Littlehampton in the 1920's. But one day, Edith starts receiving scandalous letters written with foul language as eccentric as it is obscene, and she immediately accuses Rose of being the poison pen writer behind them. As Rose stands to lose her freedom and the custody of her daughter, and outrageous letters continue to blight the town, police officer Gladys Moss (Anjana Vasan) begins to suspect something is amiss. Together with a group of resourceful women, Gladys endeavours to solve the mystery, liberate Rose, and catch the real culprit. Inspired by a real historical event from the 1920s, the charming seaside town of Littlehampton was a place where everyone knows everyone, and everyone is always on their best Christian behaviour. Filming for this thoroughly enjoyable and very funny film took place principally in Arundel throughout the Autumn of 2022. No doubt we will delight in recognizing our local surrounds on the big screen.
UK 2023 Thea Sharrock 102m
Jeder Für Sich und Gott Gegen Alle
A young man named Kaspar Hauser suddenly appears in Nuremberg in 1828, barely able to talk or walk, and bearing a strange note.
When young German man Kaspar Hauser (a remarkable performance from Bruno S.) is suddenly released from an existence of inexplicable confinement, he is forced into regular society. Barely capable of communicating, Hauser is exploited in a circus sideshow until he is taken under the wing of the kind-hearted Professor Daumer (Walter Ladengast), who slowly helps him acclimatize to conventional life, even teaching him to read and write. Despite his best efforts, however, Hauser may not be able to escape the horrors of his past. Based on the true story of a 16-year-old youth who appeared out of nowhere in a German square in 1828, this is one of Herzog’s most remarkable films and now with a 4K remaster, it is a must see on the big screen. Look out also for ‘Werner Herzog: Radical Dreamer’ and ‘Aguirre, Wrath of God’ also screening in February.
West Germany 1974 Werner Herzog 110m
A screenwriter drawn back to his childhood home enters into a fledgling relationship with a mysterious neighbour. Adapted by Andrew Haigh from a Japanese story, this unusual romance is aching, gorgeously shot and shimmering with sadness.
One night in his near-empty tower block in contemporary London, Adam (Andrew Scott) has a chance encounter with a mysterious neighbour Harry (Paul Mescal), which punctures the rhythm of his everyday life. As a relationship develops between them, Adam is preoccupied with memories of the past and finds himself drawn back to the suburban town where he grew up, and the childhood home where his parents (Claire Foy and Jamie Bell), appear to be living, just as they were on the day they died, 30 years before. Haigh, cinematographer Jamie D. Ramsay (‘Living’), and editor Jonathan Alberts utilize a lot of brilliant techniques to keep Adam slipping between worlds, to never fully resolve whether he is dreaming, is seeing ghosts, or is already one himself. A deeply moving film about loss and loneliness with a quartet of performances that blend together in a breathtaking way.
UK 2023 Andrew Haigh 105m
This late addition to our Awards season programme recognizes a fearless, and mesmerizing film from start to finish, where three British teenage girls go on a rites-of-passage holiday.
Tara (Mia McKenna-Bruce), Skye (Lara Peake) and Em (Enva Lewis) arrive in Malia, Crete, intent to treat the resort town as their own hedonistic Neverland. A thousand miles from home – and their GCSE results – they’ll drink, “hook up” with boys, and have the best summer of their lives. But this amazing debut from Molly Manning Walker is no female offering of ‘The Inbetweeners’, it is 97% rated on Rotten Tomatoes, and has been hailed as one of the best British films of the year, and recognized as such with three Bafta nominations including Outstanding British Film.
Walker often lets the camera linger on McKenna-Bruce’s face and eyes that convey all the things she can’t find the words for. It is a shattering performance and made all the more devastating because it is so subtle. This coming-of-age story centred on a sexual awakening, in Walker’s hands (as both writer and director), produces results of unusual emotional intensity.
UK 2023 Molly Manning Walker 98m