A night at the opera with Filmspot

Hello Filmspotters!
We are getting tuned up and ready for our screening of Mike Leigh’s delightful ‘Topsy Turvy’ this Saturday at Isfield Village Hall (6.45pm for 7pm screening, tickets £6 on the door, including wine and nibbles!). Telling the story of Gilbert and Sullivan while they were creating ‘The Mikado’, it has got us in the mood for opera!

Here are a few of our favourite opera-related films
Tales of Hoffman (1951)

We are huge fans of Powell and Pressburger here at Filmspot HQ. In this sumptuous adaptation of Offenbach’s fantasy opera, they brought together many of the team who worked on ‘The Red Shoes’. Their audatious, theatrical style works beautifully. Celebrated director Cecil B Demille is said to have written ‘For the first time in my life, I was treated to Grand Oepra where the beauty, power and scope of the music was equally matched by the visual presentation’.

The Magic Flute (1975)

Considerably lightly than many of this director’s other works, Ingmar Bergman has created an adaptation of one of Mozart’s best-loved works that is undeniably his own: a celebration of love, forgiveness, and the brotherhood of man.
Rigoletto (1993)

A shortened telling of Verdi’s masterpiece – the only criticism of this exquisite rendering of the opera is that its 30 minute run time does not do it justice. That said, it is too beautiful to overlook – Barry Purves is the master of detailed stop motion animation, sadly less known than he should be outside the animation world.
Ruddigore (1964)


British studio Halas & Batchelor’s take on Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘Ruddigore’ is notably the first UK animated TV special, as well as being the first operetta to be animated. Made with the co-operation of the D’Oyle Carte Opera Company, who provide the voices, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, who provide the music, it tells the story of a line of British baronets are cursed to commit a crime every day…or die!
Night at the Opera (1935)

Ok, possibly not an ‘opera film’ as such, but we had to include the Marx Brothers hilarious farce, in which they sabotage an opening night of an opera. A box office smash, the film is also considered to be one of the Marx Brothers’ finest films, being selected for inclusion in the US National Film Registry in 1993.

We hope to see you at Isfield Village Hall this Saturday!


Launching into Summer 2015

Hello there Filmspotters!

We’ve had a fantastic Spring, with launching our new community cinema project with Isfield Village Hall, and a very successful and atmospheric live scored screening of ‘A Cottage on Dartmoor’ at St Nicholas Church in Brighton. A full update follows below, but first, here are details of our next two screenings at Isfield Village Hall:

27 June: Topsy-Turvy

Mike Leigh’s charming ‘Topsy-Turvy’, is a musical period comedy-drama about Gilbert and Sullivan. A wonderful meditation on the creation of art, Topsy-Turvy catches Gilbert and Sullivan at a crossroads in their illustrious careers. Having scored numerous hits (like The Pirates of Penzance and HMS Pinafore), they’ve reached a creative dry spot with their latest, Princess Ida. Composer Sullivan (Allan Corduner) despairs of ever being taken seriously, and vows to write a “serious” piece, much to the consternation of librettist Gilbert (Jim Broadbent), who’s flummoxed and unyielding when asked to change another of his whimsical, “topsy-turvy” scenarios. All seems lost when, thanks to his wife’s insistence, Gilbert attends a Japanese exposition in London, and faster than you can say “Three little maids from school are we”, inspiration strikes!

22 August: Moonrise Kingdom

Wes Anderson had been away from live-action film making for half a decade before the release of ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ in 2012. A mix of romance, comedy and drama, Moonrise Kingdom is set in 1965 and centres on a pair of twelve-year-olds who decide to run away together. Cue the inevitable search party, featuring the likes of Bill Murray, Bruce Willis and Frances McDormand, and the scene is set for one of Anderson’s trademark off-the-wall pieces of cinema. Quirky, funny and with a real identity that sets it apart, ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ is an excellent film, and one that lingers around your brain long after the credits have rolled.

Tickets for both these events cost £6, and include complementary wine and nibbles! The doors open at 6.45pm, with the film starting at 7pm.

Booking is highly recommended, as our last screening was SOLD OUT (see report below), to reserve your tickets, email info@isfieldvillagehall.org.uk

REPORT: FILMSPOT SPRING SEASON

We kicked off Spring with our first event for the Isfield Village Hall community cinema, screening Life of Pi to a small, but very enthusiastic audience. We built upon this for our second, and most recent event at Isfield, showing Singin’ in the Rain to a full house.

Welcoming the audience to Isfield VIllage Hall

Welcoming the audience to Isfield VIllage Hall

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The audience enjoying ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ at Isfield Village Hall

In April, we worked with the incredibly talented composer-pianist, Joss Peach, to premiere a new re-scored Anthony Asquith silent, ‘A Cottage on Dartmoor’, to a full house at St Nicholas’ Church in Brighton. The screening was very popular, with many attendees writing to us afterwards to say how much the enjoyed the film. We’re now excited to be able to offer this atmospheric film elsewhere, and hope to tour it throughout Sussex and the South of England. If you know have a venue in mind that may be suitable for a screening, do please get in touch! Keep an eye on the Filmspot website and blog for details of future screenings. We shall be uploading some short video extracts from the performance to our YouTube channel shortly – remember to follow us on Twitter and check back here for news!

'A Cottage on Dartmoor' - performance in St Nicholas' Church, Brighton

‘A Cottage on Dartmoor’ – performance in St Nicholas’ Church, Brighton

Finallywe are very pleased to be supporting Sussex Downs College students and Lewes Youth Theatre, with their exciting performance of ‘BEOWULF: The Experience’ at Newhaven Fort this Friday, 5 June. For full details, and to book your tickets, please follow this link.

In honour of our upcoming screening of Topsy-Turvy, we shall be blogging some of our favourite opera-related films in the next couple of weeks, so remember to check back soon!


Magical realism in Isfield

Happy springtime, Filmspotters!

We’re looking forward to two film screenings in April – the inaugural screening in partnership with Isfield Village Hall, as well as our upcoming screening of ‘A Cottage on Dartmoor’ at St Nicholas Church, Brighton, with live score from local pianist Joss Peach. More details next time for the St Nicholas Church screening – today we are concentrating on our Isfield event!

You may remember that last month we asked visitors at the Isfield Open Day to vote for which film they would like to watch at the first film night, on 18 April. The winner was Ang Lee’s visually stunning  ‘Life of Pi’, with ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ coming a close second place. Details of how to book for the screening follow below, but in honour of the winning film, we have been considering some of our favourite ‘magic realism’ films…

1. Pleasantville (1998)

This charming directoral debut from Gary Ross is a good example of the ‘what if…’ brand of magical realism. It is one of those rare beasts – an intelligent ‘mainstream’ American film, which hasn’t dated to be totally cringe-worthy, instead it uses its element of magic to great effect, with the ‘colour’ two modern day teenagers bring to an 1950s soap opera hinting at something a little deeper…

2. Zelig

You could write several articles on magical realism in Woody Allen films, from ‘The Purple Rose of Cairo’ to his more recent ‘Midnight in Paris’. We have chosen ‘Zelig’, though – a pseudo-documentary about an unusual character who merges into his surroundings by changing his persona and appearance completely.

3. Russian Ark

Another Filmspot favourite, this beautiful film covers 300 years of Russian history through a tour of the Winter Palace, at the Russian State Hermitage Museum. Filmed entirely in one single shot, the film brings both real and fictious characters from Russian history to life, as if they have leapt off the paintings on the walls. Visually stunning, the film plays out like a decadent dream.

4. Afterlife (1999)

Hirokazu Kore-eda is another director who has been known to dabble with magical realism throughout his career. ‘Afterlife’ presents a small group of recently deceased characters, in limbo. They are told they will recreate one single memory from their lifetime, and when they pass on to the next stage, this memory will be the only thing they take with them. A touching and poignant film, much of the emotional pull of ‘Afterlife’ comes from the fact that the memories people cherish the most are the ones that highlight the magic of the everyday.

5. Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

This indie gem is a futuristic vision of the deep south, with flourishes of magic. The most important element of the film, however, is the relationships between the two main characters, a man called Wink and his daughter Hushpuppy. With beautiful cinematography, this is a film that both transports and enchants you.

Life of Pi: 18 April, doors at 7pm

Tickets are £6, and can be purchased from the Laughing Fish public house, Isfield, or by emailing

Bring your own refreshments to this first screening, we shall be surveying the audience to see if there is interest to provide a bar at future events.

We hope to see you all at this first event in Isfield Village Hall. We shall be back on the blog in a couple of weeks with details of our upcoming live soundtracked screening of ‘A Cottage on Dartmoor’!


Isfield Community Cinema – open day this Saturday!

We are delighted to be working with Isfield Village Hall to bring regular community cinema nights to Isfield Village Hall. For those of you in the area, we shall be at the Village Hall this weekend, as part of their Open Day, from 11am – 4pm.

Our first film screening is going to be on Saturday 18 April, doors at 7pm (for 7.30pm start), and we are asking visitors to the open day this Saturday to vote for which film they would like us to run at our first film night. So that you can begin your deliberations, here are the trailers for the five possible films:

Singin’ in the Rain (1954)

 

Belleville Rendezvous (2003)

Life of Pi (2012)

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

The Ladykillers (1955)

…we hope to see you on Saturday when you come to cast your vote!

The Open Day will be a great opportunity to find out about the many different activities that you can get involved in at Isfield Village Hall!

CMPCA Pop Up Cinema Club: Update

Following on from our successful screening of ‘It Happened One Night’ at St Michael’s Hall in Brighton in February, we are now looking forward to our upcoming live-scored screening of the atmospheric ‘Cottage on Dartmoor’ on Saturday 25 April, . We will be screening the film at St Nicholas Church, and we are very pleased to be joined by Joss Peach, who will perform his own score to accompany the film on piano.

Tickets cost £7 in advance, or £8 on the door

To book, email info@lja.uk.com or call 01273 328683.

 


Screwball comedies

We’re getting prepared for our screening of Frank Capra’s lighthearted and endearing It Happened One Night, this Saturday. It’s part of our ongoing series for the CMPCA in Brighton, at St Michael’s Church Hall. There are a few tickets left, so for full details, please see our main website.

In the meantime, we’ve picked out five of our favourite screwball comedies (aside from It Happened One Night), to get you all in the mood:

 

Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

Frank Capra, the director of It Happened One Night hit gold with this dark, but delightfully silly screwball comedy featuring Cary Grant. Grant plays Mortimer Brewster, who discovers a corpse hidden in window box at the house of his two sweet, harmless aunts…

The Philadelphia Story (1940)

This classic is bring rereleased in cinemas by the BFI at the moment, so do look out for screenings of it locally. George Cukor’s sparkling film is regarded as one of the best examples of the popular ‘comedy of remarriage’ – a common theme from the ‘production code era, when depictions of extramarital affairs were prohibited – a couple divorce, flirt with outsiders and then remarry.

Top Hat (1935)

Probably the best known work to come from the dance partnership of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, this musical has some some rather fun and dazzling set pieces. Irving Berlin wrote the music, with many of the songs now regarded as classics (such as ‘Cheek to Cheek’).

Design for Living (1933)

Ernst Lubitsch is the director most closely linked to the Screwball genre, and this quirky film is possibly his finest. Loosely based on a play of the same name by Noel Coward (who famously said “I’m told that there are three of my original lines left in the film—such original ones as ‘Pass the mustard'”), the film is surprising to today’s audience: it is much more racy than you would expect! It was made pre-code, and features a woman (Miriam Hopkins) leaving her husband for two  men (Frederic March and Gary Cooper).

Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Although not a hit on release (it did moderately well, but nothing to write home about), Howard Hawks’s Bringing up Baby is now widely regarded as a classic, and features on the AFI’s ‘100 Greatest American Films of All Time’ list. Katherine Hepburn is delightfully aggravating as a dotty heiress who turns the life of Cary Grant’s palaeontologist upside down.

 


2015: Filmspot’s planning a fun year!

Happy New Year, Filmspotters! We’ve been putting our programming hats on recently, and lots of exciting plans for 2015, so keep an eye on our website and blog for details. We’ve got some great cinema screenings, events and more workshops planned, so check back soon!

We are delighted to announce our first Filmspot of 2015:

Filmspot CMPCA Pop Up Cinema Present ‘It Happened One Night’
21 February, doors 7pm for 7.30pm film

 We continue the popular series of film screenings with Frank Capra’s delightful It Happened One Night. Starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert this screwball romantic comedy was the first film to win ‘the big five’ Academy Awards (best picture, director, actor, actress and screenplay).

Here’s the ever-reliable Criteron Collection’s ‘Three Reasons’ to watch It Happened One Night:

A spoilt socialite, Ellie Andrews (Colbert) has married an opportunistic aviator against the wishes of her father, who keeps her prisoner on a yacht. Ellie escapes, swimming to shore, and plans to reunite with her husband. She manages to get onto a Greyhound bus destined for New York, where she meets Peter Warne (Gable), a newspaper reporter who was recently fired for drinking on the job. He strikes a deal with Ellie, agreeing to help reunite her with her husband, provided she gives him an exclusive story. As they travel towards New York, they get involved in a series of misadventures, and they begin to fall for each other.

This film set the pace for the ‘screwball’ comedy – and was one of the first ‘odd couple’ films, featuring the eventual romance between two people with very different personalities from different social stations. The film is as breezy, light and fun as it was on initial release, and represents a director and two actors all at their peaks!

Tickets £5 in advance (£6 on the door, subject to availability). Advance booking recommended, by emailing info@lja.uk.com or telephoning 01273 328683.

2014 round up

Last year was a great 5th year for Filmspot, featuring a programme of WWI films for Newhaven Fort, screenings of silent and cult films as part of the Scalarama Festival, outdoor screenings in Isfield, a screening for the hard of hearing in Seaford  and a continuing programme for the CMPCA in Brighton. We finished the year with a bang, though, with our first Filmspot Animation Workshop, at the Crypt Gallery, Seaford, as part of The Big Draw. We invited people to help us create a fantasy version of our local landscape, which we then brought to life by animating flick book animations also created by the participants. We are so pleased with the resulting film, which can be seen here:

Special thanks to everybody at the Crypt Gallery for being so supportive – we hope to bring some film and animation events to Seaford again very soon! Finally, thank you again to the wonderful Penguin Cafe for giving us permission to use their very uplifting track ‘Pale Peach Jukebox’ on the film.


Alternative fairy tales

We’re really excited about our screening of Jean Cocteau’s gothic masterpiece, ‘La Belle et La Bete’ this evening (Saturday 25 October) at St Michael’s Hall, Brighton. Full details follow at the end of this blog – there are very limited tickets available for this screening, so get in quick!!

In honour of this, we’ve concocted a list of five rather alternative fairy tale films! So here goes…

5. Little Otik, 2000

This film is certainly not for everyone (particularly not for anybody planning to have children in the near future!), but Czech auteur Jan Svankmajer created a dark masterpiece which is in turns brutal, tragic and absurdly funny. It is based on the story Otesanek by Czech writer, poet and historian K.J. Erben, about a childless couple who bring a baby-shaped tree stump to life with horrifying consequences.

4. Tideland, 2005

Terry Gilliam’s dream-like Tideland plays out like a quirky, morbid update of Alice in Wonderland. Based on a book by Mitch Cullen, the story centres around Jeliza-Rose a girl who is left abandoned when her rockstar father dies of an overdose. She descends into a world of her own imagination, accompanied by her dolls (which are really just the heads of a selection of Barbie dolls) and her neighbours, Dickens, a mentally handicapped young man, and his rather eccentric sister, Dell.

3. The Singing Ringing Tree (Das singende, klingende Bäumchen), 1957

Here’s a nice piece of retro-kitch for you! This colourful German children’s film was originally serialised in the UK on the BBC in the mid-60s. It really is the archetypical fairy story, but with the madness turned up several notches. It follows the fate of a beautiful but haughty princess, who says she will only marry a prince if he brings her the fabled ‘singing ringing tree’ – along the way, the prince comes a cropper to an evil dwarf, who turns him into a bear!

2. Kirikou and the Sorceress, 1998

French animator/ director Michel Ocelot’s enchanting ‘Kirikou’ films are a refreshing antidote to  the rather heartless manufactured films that seem to be churned out one after another for children these days. Based on elements of folk tales from West Africa, it entries on an extraordinary newborn boy called Kirikou who saves his village front he evil clutches of Karaba the Sorceress. Although an enormous success in France, his work has not had as much exposure here in the UK – partly because of TV networks being reluctant to show a ‘family’ film which features realistic nudity. It’s a shame, because the film is delightfully upbeat, colourful and unpatronising.

1. Kwaidan, 1964

To end on something both relevant for our fairy tales theme, and also Hallowe’en, coming up at the end of next week. The title of this translates as ‘ghost stories’, and is a series of four short films based on the Japanese folk tales collected together by Lafcadio Hearn. Directed by Mitsaki Kobayashi, the films have many fairy tale elements, for example, the etherial appearance of Yuki-Onna (a ghostly apparition who resides in snowy landscapes). This hauntingly beautiful compendium of folk tales is definitely one to watch if you haven’t already!

Hopefully you are now feeling inspired for some fantastical cinema, so why not join us for our special screening of Jean Cocteau’s La Belle et La Bete tonight (25 October) at St Michael’s Hall, Brighton? There are limited tickets left, so it is advisable to book in advance  by emailing info@lja.uk.com – tickets are £5 in advance, and a limited number will be on the door for £6. Doors open at 7pm, for a 7.30pm film. We hope to see you there!


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