Newsletter – 11 September 2021

Online Season

For September’s film we’re promoting, at the suggestion of a member of our Committee, a most apposite and timely documentary from award-winning director Adam Curtis. Although released in 2015 (primarily as a TV documentary), its relevance to today’s reality of the failed ‘nation-building’ objectives in Afghanistan that many USA-related institutions have been tinkering with for two decades cannot be overstated. Curtis’ dense, existentialist approach may be disorientating at times but (it’s recommended) a second viewing of the film will reward you with much additional insight.

As before, we’ve produced a Programme Note for the film which is attached to this Newsletter, with September 23rd at 7.30pm being set for a Zoom meeting to exchange your impressions of it.

Note this change of date from the usual last Thursday of the month

If you wish to partake in this event, please access the link in the Programme Note for the meeting particulars. (You will of course need to have the Zoom ‘app’ installed on your computer.)

For those who wish to send in reactions individually, please Email info@abfilms.org.uk with your score (A → E) and comments. These reactions and comments will be published on the ABCD Website (https://abfilms.org.uk) and/or included in the Zoom discussion relevant to the film. You will also find the comments for August’s film The Deer Hunter on the Website.

In his paper (for academia.edu) From Falsity Everything Follows: Readings and Thoughts about Bitter Lake, Mehdi Zouaoui wrote “The West, as most of civilisation[s], is striving to depict the version of reality that it wants to spread over the world. A reality that is, to no surprise, adapted to fit the framework of [its] millennial objectives. In [his] project, Curtis aims to infantilise the reductionists’ outcomes [that] simplify the world’s problems […] by offering a novel paradigm of power-play dynamics.

The film is available to stream now on BBC iPlayer.

ABCD Online Prog Note Bitter Lake Sep 21

Newsletter – 20 August 2021

New Season Online

For our August film we’ve chosen The Deer Hunter, Michael Cimino’s 1978 thoroughly researched epic meditation on patriotism, male bonding, the horrors of war and disillusionment of the American people with their values and ideals, all set during and in the immediate aftermath of the Vietnam war. Although some critics thought the film flawed in places, it nevertheless remains a classic of 70s cinema so, with it being available for just 18 more days, we thought it opportune to revisit it for this month’s viewing.

As before, we’ve produced a Programme Note for the film which is attached to this Newsletter, with August 26th at 7.30pm being set for a Zoom meeting to exchange your impressions of it. If you wish to partake in this event, please access the link in the Programme Note for the meeting particulars. (You will of course need to have the Zoom ‘app’ installed on your computer.)

For those who wish to send in reactions individually, please Email info@abfilms.org.uk with your score (A → E) and comments. These reactions and comments will be published on the ABCD Website (https://abfilms.org.uk) and/or included in the Zoom discussion relevant to the film. You will also find the comments for July’s film The Angels’ Share on the Website.

Interviewed in 2005, Cimino said “I’m proud ot say there are no special effects in this movie. When you see 9000 refugees in the night in […] burning Saigon, that is 9000 people in the night – for real. When you see […] actors jumping out of a helicopter, that’s really the actors. Everything I asked of [them] they gave.”

The film is available to stream now on BBC iPlayer.

ABCD Online Prog Note Deer Hunter Aug 20

Newsletter – 09 July 2021

New Season Online

For our July film we’ve chosen The Angels’ Share (2012), a Ken Loach/Paul Laverty comedy with some characteristically acerbic criticisms about poverty and its corrosive effects on under-educated, jobless young men who have little prospect of social advancement. In terms of film-making technique, Loach does what he has always done – he films his mercurial characters from a distance, tracking their spontaneous behaviour almost as though he were a wild-life observer, a method he readily acknowledges one of his earliest cinematographers learned from the acclaimed Czech cameraman, the late Miroslav Ondricek.

As before, we’ve produced a Programme Note for the film which is attached to this Newsletter, with July 29th at 7.30pm being set for a Zoom meeting to exchange your impressions of it. If you wish to partake in this event, please access the link in the Programme Note for the meeting particulars. (You will of course need to have the Zoom ‘app’ installed on your computer.)

For those who wish to send in reactions individually, please Email info@abfilms.org.uk with your score (A → E) and comments. These reactions and comments will be published on the ABCD Website (https://abfilms.org.uk) and/or included in the Zoom discussion relevant to the film. You will also find the comments for June’s film Uncle Vanya on the Website.

Reviewing the film for The Guardian at its Cannes premiere, Peter Bradshaw wrote “[The] film is under no illusions about long-term youth unemployment in 2012 [but] finds some light[ness], or perhaps it is rather […] experimenting with a lighter way of addressing the issue. Robbie and his mates are no angels but the film finds a way of giving them something that real life can’t or won’t – a chance”

The film is available to stream now on BBC iPlayer.

ABCD Online Prog Note Angels Share Jul 21

Newsletter – 12 June 2021

New Season Online

For our June film we’ve chosen Uncle Vanya (2020), a cinematic/stage collaboration between the play’s director Ian Rickson and film-maker Ross MacGibbon (Swan Lake, 2012; Sleeping Beauty, 2013; An American in Paris, 2018). Filmed at the City Varieties Music Hall, Leeds in October 2020, it benefits from a contemporary adaptation by Conor McPherson which nevertheless remains true in spirit to Chekov’s original. Members may remember that, in February 1996, we screened Louis Malle’s Vanya on 42nd Street, a modern language version featuring Wallace Shawn and Julianne Moore.

As before, we’ve produced a Programme Note for the film which is attached to this Newsletter, with June 24th at 7.30pm being set for a Zoom meeting to exchange your impressions of it. If you wish to partake in this event, please access the link in the Programme Note for the meeting particulars. (You will of course need to have the Zoom ‘app’ installed on your computer.)

For those who wish to send in reactions individually, please Email info@abfilms.org.uk with your score (A → E) and comments. These reactions and comments will be published on the ABCD Website (https://abfilms.org.uk) and/or included in the Zoom discussion relevant to the film. You will also find the scores and comments for May’s film Whitney: Can I be Me? on the Website.

Reviewing the stage production for The Guardian, Arifa Akbar wrote “[Director] Ian Rickson’s exquisite production is full of energy despite the play’s prevailing ennui. It does not radically re-invent or revolutionise Chekov’s 19th century story [but] returns us to the great, mournful spirit of [his] tale about unrequited love, aging and disappointment in middle age, while giving it a sleeker, modern beat”

The film is available to stream now on BBC iPlayer.

ABCD Online Prog Note Vanya June 21

Newsletter – 14 May 2021

New Season Online

For our May film we’ve chosen Whitney: Can I Be Me? (2017) from acclaimed and multi award-winning documentary film-maker Nick Broomfield. His first documentary Juvenile Liaison was released in 1976 but it was not until 1983 that his characteristic style of working with a minimal crew and appearing on-screen himself developed with the making of Chicken Ranch. Since then, his self-reflective filming methods (as much about the process of film-making itself as well as the ostensible subject) have influenced the work of many younger film-makers in the first decade of the 21st century.

As before, we’ve produced a Programme Note for the film which is attached to this Newsletter, with May 27th at 7.30pm being set for a Zoom meeting to exchange your impressions of it. If you wish to partake in this event, please access the link in the Programme Note for the meeting particulars. (You will of course need to have the Zoom ‘app’ installed on your computer.)

For those who wish to send in reactions individually, please Email info@abfilms.org.uk with your score (A → E) and comments. These reactions and comments will be published on the ABCD Website (https://abfilms.org.uk) and/or included in the Zoom discussion relevant to the film. You will also find the scores and comments for April’s film Foxtrot on the Website.

The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave Whitney: Can I Be Me? an 87% rating based on 67 external reviews. The site’s critical consensus reads “[The film] offers a sobering inside look at the tragic downfall of a brilliant performer, even as it leaves its audience yearning for deeper insight.”

The film is available to stream now on BBC iPlayer.

ABCD Online Prog Note Whitney May 21

Newsletter – 08 April 2021

New Season Online

For our fourth film of 2021 we’ve chosen Foxtrot from Israeli director Samuel Maoz, released in 2017. A follow-up to his award winning Lebanon (2009), the film was inspired by an incident, 20 years earlier, when his daughter, on her way to school, narrowly avoided death in a random terrorist attack. That an equally serendipitous sequence of events ensured her survival was never forgotten by Maoz and subsequently became the basis of his examination in Foxtrot of what writer Paul Auster called ‘the music of chance’.

The film won the Silver Lion award at the 2017 Venice Film festival and was Israel’s shortlisted Oscar nomination for that year.

Maintaining past ABCD practice, we’ve produced a Programme Note for the film which is attached to this Newsletter, with April 29th at 7.30pm being set for a Zoom meeting to exchange your impressions of it. If you wish to partake in this event, please access the link in the Programme Note for the meeting particulars. (You will of course need to have the Zoom ‘app’ installed on your computer.)

For those who wish to send in reactions individually, please Email info@abfilms.org.uk with your score (A → E) and comments. These reactions and comments will be published on the ABCD Website (https://abfilms.org.uk) and/or included in the Zoom discussion relevant to the film. You will also find the scores and comments for March’s film Citizen Kane on the Website.

Reviewing Foxtrot for Eye for Film, Anne-Katrin Titze wrote “Maoz seizes the heart and lets our brains catch up with the metaphors. Foxtrot is a film about family structures, […] mourning, boredom and disconnection. [It] ultimately lays open [our] complicity in the production of fate.”

The film is available to stream now on BBC iPlayer.

ABCD Online Prog Note Foxtrot 29 April

Newsletter – 08 March 2021

New Season Online

For our third film of 2021 we’ve decided, at long last, to justifiably enhance our archive of nearly one thousand film titles with possibly the most famous of them all, Citizen Kane, directed by Orson Welles.

Released in 1941, when Welles was aged only 25 years, Kane was simultaneously his debut feature film and an undoubted cinematic masterpiece.

For fifty years, Citizen Kane reigned supreme as the Greatest Film Ever in five consecutive ten-year polls of the top 100 films by Sight&Sound’s critics, until displaced by Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958) in 2012 (which we screened in 2017).

Maintaining past ABCD practice, we’ve produced a Programme Note for the film which is attached to this Newsletter, with March 25th at 7.30pm being set for a Zoom meeting to exchange your impressions of it. If you wish to partake in this event, please access the link in the Programme Note for the meeting particulars. (You will of course need to have the Zoom ‘app’ installed on your computer.)

For those who wish to send in reactions individually, please Email info@abfilms.org.uk with your score (A → E) and comments. These reactions and comments will be published on the ABCD Website (https://abfilms.org.uk) and/or included in the Zoom discussion relevant to the film. You will also find the scores and comments for February’s film Morvern Callar on the Website.

Reviewing Citizen Kane in 2002 for BBCi Films, David Wood wrote “A potent metaphor for the betrayal of principles, the souring of the American Dream and an intelligent meditation on the corrupting nature of power, the film’s reputation is nothing short of gargantuan. […] What is beyond doubt is that Welles and his collaborative troupe […] and fantastic cast of leading players managed to invent a whole new cinematic vocabulary […] that influenced the future of cinema and [became], in many ways, the benchmark of film production.”

The film is available to stream now on BBC iPlayer.

ABCD Online Prog Note Citizen Kane 25 March

Newsletter – 04 February 2021

New Season Online

For our second film of 2021 we’ve chosen Morvern Callar directed by Lynne Ramsay, with a screenplay adapted from the novel by Alan Warner. The film was released in 2002.

Maintaining past ABCD practice, we’ve produced a Programme Note for the film which is attached to this Newsletter, with February 25th at 7.30pm being set for a Zoom meeting to exchange your impressions of it. If you wish to partake in this event, please access the link in the Programme Note for the meeting particulars. (You will of course need to have the Zoom ‘app’ installed on your computer.)

For those who wish to send in reactions individually, please Email info@abfilms.org.uk with your score (A → E) and comments. These reactions and comments will be published on the ABCD Website (https://abfilms.org.uk) and/or included in the Zoom discussion relevant to the film. You will also find the scores and comments for January’s film The Children Act on the Website.

Reviewing Morvern Callar for BBCi Films, Laura Bushell wrote “Capturing the mood and visuals of Alan Warner’s eponymous novel, [Ramsay] is faithful rather than slavish to its spirit – no mean feat for this cult and allegedly unfilmable book. The results are dazzling”

The film is available to stream now on BBC iPlayer.

ABCD Online Prog Note Morvern Callar Feb 21

Newsletter – 12 January 2021

New Season Online

For our first film of 2021 we’ve chosen The Children Act directed by Richard Eyre, with a screenplay adapted by Ian McEwan from his eponymous novel published in 2014. The film was released in 2017.

Maintaining past ABCD practice, we’ve produced a Programme Note for the film which is attached to this Newsletter, with November 26th at 7.30pm being set for a Zoom meeting to exchange your impressions of it. If you wish to partake in this event, please access the link in the Programme Note for the meeting particulars. (You will of course need to have the Zoom ‘app’ installed on your computer.)

For those who wish to send in reactions individually, please Email info@abfilms with your score (A → E) and comments. These reactions and comments will be published on the ABCD Website (https://abfilms.org.uk) and/or included in the Zoom discussion relevant to the film. You will also find the scores and comments for last November’s film Happy End on the Website.

Reviewing The Children Act in 2018 for Sight & Sound, Tom Charity wrote “Directed with immaculate poise and discretion by Richard Eyre, who projects us into high society with such ease [we] think [we] belong there, The Children Act is a meticulously calibrated drama worthy of Claude Sautet and not just a distinguished example of the kind of ‘masterpiece theatre’ the British film industry reliably [produces] for awards consideration.”

A thought-provoking start to 2021.

The film is available to stream now on BBC iPlayer.

ABCD Online Prog Note The Children Act Jan 21

Newsletter – 13 November 2020

New Season Online

Encouraged by your response to Bringing Up Baby, our first Online film which scored 63% (based on no less than six whole reactions!) we present Michael Haneke’s Happy End (France, 2017) for your further enjoyment. At this point in the year, with the continuing Covid restrictions in force, we are proposing that the next film will be early in January 2021, so look out for another announcement in a few weeks’ time.

Maintaining past ABCD practice, we’ve produced a Programme Note for the film which is attached to this Newsletter, with November 26th at 7.30pm being set for a Zoom meeting to exchange your impressions of it. If you wish to partake in this event, please access the link in the Programme Note for the meeting particulars. (You will of course need to have the Zoom ‘app’ installed on your computer.)

For those who wish to send in reactions individually, please Email info@abfilms with your score (A → E) and comments. These reactions will be published on the ABCD Website (https://abfilms.org.uk) and/or included in the Zoom discussion relevant to the film.

Reviewing Happy End in May 2017, critic Richard Mowe wrote “Haneke is a master of his material, revealing just enough to keep the viewer on tenterhooks but not enough to give any easy explanations”

Something to brighten these dull days!

ABCD Online Prog Note Happy End Nov 20