8 September

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Rye Lane

UK  2023  82 mins  15

As uplifting as it is street-wise, Raine Allen-Miller’s Rye Lane comes delightfully loaded with charm in the wake of an opening scene wittily located in the public loos of a Peckham art gallery. We meet Dom (David Jonsson, seen in recent TV dramas Industry and Deep State) sobbing in his cubical about his cheating girlfriend, only for him to be rescued by the mind-altering ‘drug’ that is the irresistible Yas (Vivian Oparah). As the pair tour their local streets the banter is reminiscent at times of Richard Curtis’s Love Actually (they even visit a café called Love Guac’tually). In short, the bubbling wit of Rye Lane supplies the sort of tonic we could all well do with these days.

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22 September

Blue Caftan still

The Blue Caftan

Morocco  2022  122 mins  12A

An understated masterpiece in which love and jealousy, tenderness and eroticism, misunderstanding and harmony, play out their delicate moves within the confines of a caftan shop in a deeply conservative Moroccan town. Mina (Lubna Azabal) runs the commercial side of the business while her highly skilled master-tailor husband Halim (Saleh Bakri) satisfies the needs of their discerning clientele. It’s their new apprentice Youssef (Ayoub Missioui) who finds himself challenged by what becomes a love triangle. All three performances are beautifully modulated, offering delicacy and humane acceptance in what could, in less subtle hands, be an explosive mix. (S)

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6 October

Full Time still

Full Time

France  2021  88 mins  12

A stressed-out, debt-ridden and divorced single-mum Julie (Laure Calamy, outstanding in Call My Agent) works her heart out holding down a job as head chambermaid in a central Paris hotel. Adding to her woes is the inconvenience that she lives in the outer suburbs, so is forced into a daily commute from hell. Then a transport strike paralyses her mobility just as a new job beckons. And all the while the film’s soundscape propels Julie with its mix of pulsing electronic score, agitated camera work and energised sound effects. In a film offering ‘normal’ life as its dramatic tour de force, the superb Laure Calamy becomes our gloriously relatable superwoman. (S)

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20 October

Tár still


USA  2022  158 mins  15

‘One of the most grippingly brilliant films of the last 12 months,’ says Sight & Sound. Cate Blanchett plays Lydia Tár, the first female chief conductor of a major German orchestra. Any great ‘maestro’ is entitled to her whims and complexities, and Blanchett, for whom the role of Tár was especially written, rewards us with an uncompromising and truly memorable portrayal. Newcomers to classical music needn’t fear. The film offers a highly provocative examination of real-world power play, hubris and the emotional demands of staying at the top of one’s game. As for Blanchett, this may well be the performance of her lifetime, winning Critics’ Choice Award for Best Actress at the Oscars.

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3 November

Alcarràs still


Spain/Italy  2022  120 mins  15

When the kindly promises in a handshake contract dating back to the Spanish Civil War are swept aside by full legal imperatives, a peach-farming family is told their right to the Catalan acreage they have enjoyed for generations will end. The owners, waving their legal claim, propose to cover the land in solar panels, a development that becomes the focus of the film. Meanwhile, the reactions of the farming family, from pre-teen children to grandparents (all convincingly played by first-time actors), react in a surprising variety of ways, all of which are explored with equal care by director Carla Simón. ‘The best film of the Berlin Film Festival,’ said Jonathan Romney in the Guardian. (S)

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17 November

The Eight Mountains still

The Eight Mountains

Italy  2022  147 mins  12

A satisfying take on a deepening life-long friendship. Pietro and Bruno meet as children – Pietro is the interloping middle-class schoolboy on holiday in the mountains, Bruno the local lad who milks the cows and who has much to teach his young friend about their beautiful surroundings in the Italian Alps. There are jealousies along the way, but also touchingly simple resolutions when hurt arises (for example, when Bruno falls for one of Pietro’s ex-girlfriends). The crowning expression of their friendship is the building of a cabin, higher in the mountains, over the course of one summer. And, yes, the film itself is as visually stunning as one could wish. (S)

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1 December

Return to Seoul still

Return to Seoul

Kor/Fra/Ger  2022  119 mins  15

An impulsive, devil-may-care 20-something South Korean woman who was adopted by a French family, decides on a whim to revisit the land of her birth and her birth family. In Seoul ‘Freddie’, as she now calls herself, quickly discovers that reticence is the social norm in Korea, a fact that tempts her to kick over the traces, to the offended surprise of her new friends and family. She drinks too much, she is sullen and impatient, she sleeps around casually without a thought for others’ feelings. But then she encounters an aunt whose simple courtesies shame her and teach her that arrogance isn’t necessarily the way ahead. ‘A staggering masterwork,’ says the Los Angeles Times. (S)

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15 December

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Squaring the Circle

UK  2023  111 mins  15

Pure nostalgia for Baby Boomers. Think 10cc, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Wings and many other mega-groups, and you’ll know what we’re talking about. This fascinating documentary tells the story of the maverick design team Hipgnosis that produced some of the most memorable and original album covers ever. Its hippy co-founders Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell are credited with inventing the concept of the album cover as affordable art form, conceiving fun and audacious designs that involved desert locations and flying pigs over London. Each has a tale to tell – including the truth about the burning man on the Pink Floyd cover for Wish You Were Here !

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Autumn-Winter 2023