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

Newsletter – 27 October 2020

ABCD Online

First of all, a reminder that Thursday October 29th at 7.30pm is the date and time set for a members Zoom meeting and get-together to air your impressions of Bringing Up Baby and, perhaps more importantly, to let us know your thoughts on ABCD’s nascent online presence.

The link for the meeting, which was given in the Programme Note sent out with the film notification, is:-

https://zoom.us/j/93926745055?pwd=V3lBUzNoVHViSlNldmZBa0kzdk40QT09

Meeting ID: 939 2674 5055         Passcode: kekq9U

Note that the duration of the meeting is set for 45 minutes.

Other topics for discussion might include:-

           Your ideas for future film titles

           Suggestions for the next film

           Frequency of ‘screenings’

           Streaming platforms other than BBC iPlayer

Finally, a reminder for those who wish to send in reactions/comments to Bringing Up Baby by Email, the address is info@abfilms.org and a convenient date for receipt of your reactions would be Wednesday October 28th, so that they can be collated for the meeting on the 29th.

As with the old A6 reaction slips, we encourage you to comment freely!

Newsletter – 3 October 2020

ABCD Online

Firstly, many thanks to all of you who completed the recent survey and commented so thoughtfully on the proposal to set up an Online Film Club. The ‘headline’ responses you returned were as follows:-

  1. Your preferred streaming platform: BBC iPlayer
  2. Choice of film: Titles suggested by Committee
  3. Your preferred viewing options: View individually at your chosen time
  4. Your preferred format for post-film discussion: Send reactions in for subsequent publication

For your interest, the full results and all the comments you returned are shown below:-

For questions 1, 2 and 3, the majority preference was unequivocal, so Committee decisions shall be guided by those results.

For question 4, there was almost equal preference for the reaction slip analogue (send in scores (A → E) with comments) and FaceBook posts, so both of these will be incorporated into the Online programme.

Although the Zoom meeting option came some way behind, it is now a widespread means of virtual communication, so we shall endeavour to set this up for group discussions as required.

New Season Online

Based on the results you returned, we’ve selected Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938) for our first Online film which, after this long period of enforced hibernation, is sure to lift our spirits and rekindle our enthusiasm for enjoying good films in as close as we can get to the ABCD Film Society atmosphere. At this stage, we are proposing to suggest further titles on a monthly basis, so look out for another announcement in about a month’s time.

Maintaining past ABCD practice, a Programme Note for the film is attached to this Newsletter, with October 29th at time 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 Bringing Up Baby in 2012, critic Derek Winnert wrote “Howard Hawks’ 1938 classic is the quintessential ’30s screwball comedy, providing a perfect showcase for the ultimate in polished zany performances from its all-time great stars Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant”

We hope you think so too!

ABCD Online Programme Note Bringing up Baby 20 Oct

Newsletter – 14 August 2020

Loss of Venue

In addition to our continuing state of ‘suspended animation’ we’ve been informed by the Health & Wellbeing Centre that, because of the way they are applying the current lockdown restrictions, they are unable to offer ‘facilities for hirers’ for the foreseeable future. This means that we are effectively homeless as, for similar reasons, our talks with Abbey Cinema re possible future use of the Old Magistrate’s Courtroom are currently on hold, pending mutual agreement on a meeting date following their recent re-opening.

ABCD Online

With so much film content now available elsewhere on various streaming platforms, we’re proposing the formation of an ABCD Online Film Club. Our intention is that this new Club would be somewhat more informal than our accustomed 45-year-old format, which we hope would in turn encourage new members and perhaps attract a wider audience of cineastes and film lovers (see 4. d) below)

To get an idea of the viability of this proposal, we would like to hear your opinion on a few matters regarding streaming platforms and forums of discussion. If you have a spare minute or so please do complete our survey.

A final consideration that we have not put on the survey but that we would like for you to think about pertains to membership fees for attending the online club. We will properly address this matter when the viability of the proposed Online Club has been fully assessed.

Please note that the deadline for receipt of your replies/comments is August 23rd.

We shall publish the results of this poll as soon as possible after the next Committee meeting.

Newsletter – 03 July 2020

Hello members and subscribers. Your Committee would like to express its thanks to everyone for your forbearance in what is continuing to be a long, difficult period for all.

The 2020/2021 season, due to start in October, will of course be subject to significant operational and social changes, about which you will have all heard in the broadcast news but, as soon as our situation becomes clear relative to the restrictions likely to be in force, we shall let you know via further Newsletters how we see the future of the Society and our new programme of films.

Abbey Cinema Re-opening

As some of you may also have done, we’ve received a message from the Abbey cinema with details of their impending re-opening on July 31st. The link to their email is:

https://mailchi.mp/theabbey.ac/29052019-rocketman-461886?e=35d133d3e1

In keeping with ABCD’s founding principle of promoting the appreciation of film and world cinema in Abingdon, we encourage you to support this initiative.

Future of ABCD

Because of the dramatic changes that have affected the Society over the past year or so, we have had to consider how best we’re able to face future film seasons. One option, which we have been actively pursuing, is to achieve an association with the Abbey cinema whereby we can use an additional screening auditorium on their premises to show our programme of films. Being associated with Abbey would be advantageous to us in many ways, not least of which would be use of their established set-up at the Guildhall and the centrality of its location in Abingdon. All of this depends – amongst a number of other yet to be negotiated factors – on the progress of some internal refurbishment work at the Guildhall, about which we hope we can update you in the not too distant future.

So, watch out for further Newsletters – but in the meantime stay safe and keep watching films!