Anthony Asquith ‘greatest hits’

We’re greatly looking forward to our screening of ‘A Cottage on Dartmoor’ tonight with composer-pianist, Joss Peach, at Fabrica in Brighton. As part of the preparations, we’ve been looking into the back catalogue of Director Anthony Asquith.

Asquith is noted for his family connections as much as for his filmography, because he was the son of the then-Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith, and is the great-uncle of Helena Bonham Carter. He entered the film industry partly to escape his high profile family background and, although often belittled because of his aristocratic lineage, he was incredibly gifted. We’ve picked out a few of his finest…

Shooting Stars (1928)

A satire of the film industry, Asquith’s first film recently had the VIP treatment, with a new restoration from the BFI in 2015. It is sophisticated in its storytelling: a love triangle, with a treacherous British starlet, who gives the title of the film a clever double meaning.

Underground (1928)

This working-class romance is like a little time capsule of 1920s London. It was only Asquith’s second film (‘Shooting Stars’ was officially credited to A.V. Bramble), but you can see the gentle humour and warmth towards his subjects that also comes through in ‘A Cottage on Dartmoor’, giving away his staunch socialist values.

Pygmalion (1938)

After the silent era, Asquith’s career declined slightly until in the late 1930s, he was involved in a number of screen adaptations of films. This, based on the play of the same name by George Bernard Shaw, staring Wendy Hiller and Leslie Howard, is delightful.

The Browning version (1951)

The first film adaptation of Terrence Rattigan’s play, Asquith’s version stars Michael Redgrave in one of the finest performances of his career, as the generally despised, but inwardly vulnerable classics teacher, ‘The Crock’, Andrew Crocker-Harris.

The Importance of Being Earnest (1952)

Asquith’s faithful adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s “Trivial Comedy for Serious People” was his first colour film, and he approached it with a characteristic understated approach – rather than being full of bold, glitzy bright colours, the film has a largely pastel palette. The breathtaking costumes designed by Cecil Beaton are also worth a mention here, and of course, Edith Evan, who absolutely made the character of Lady Bracknell her own!

As a bonus (for local interest) we recently found this little gem, also directed by Asquith – ‘On Such a Night’ – a semi-documentary film about a visit to the Glyndebourne opera! Here’s the trailer:

Hopefully we’ll see you tonight at Fabrica – for full details, and to book, please visit Eventbrite

After this, we have the launch of the Bookshop Screening Room at Waterstones Brighton next Thursday, 9 February – tickets have already sold out, but details of future screenings and a full report will be posted shortly.

Russian Fairytales: The Animation Edition

Friday’s festive screening of ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ went with a real swing – thank you to everybody who came along.

…but there’s no time to waste, it’s focus forward to our next event: Sing Russian! Earlier this summer Opera Coast approached us to create some animated projections to accompany two concerts of arias and pieces from Russian operas – one concert in Brighton and one in London. We have been beavering away ever since, creating pen and ink drawings of backdrops to create a projected ‘stage set’ for each piece in the performance. We hope you can join us at one of the concerts. Details follow at the end of this blog.

Photographs and clips will be available after the first performance, but in the meantime you might be interested to see some of the fabulous Russian fairytale animations we have come across during our research.

The Snowmaiden (2006)


Fairytales should be, in my humble opinion, 1 part magic, 1 part romance and 2 parts horror! This rather delightful 30 minute stop motion animation adheres to that formula – just check out the wood goblin… *shudders*

Rusalochka (The Little Mermaid) (1968)


An intriguingly stylised combination of hand painted cel animation and cut outs, ‘Rusalochka’ sticks somewhat more faithfully to Hans Christian Anderson’s original tale than the 1989 Disney version. Bold, experimental and beautiful to behold, this is definitely worth a watch.

The Ball of Yarn (1968)


Something about the uncanny nature of stop motion animation gives many stop motion short films a strange atmosphere, but the story of this short also adds in to that strangeness – it is about a ball of yarn, and a knitting hobby which quickly escalates and becomes something altogether more sinister.

Nalim Malinych (2015)


This imaginative mixture of styles and techniques tells a delightful tale inspired by the works of Stepan Pissakhov, famous painter, writer and storyteller in the tradition of North Russia.

Hedgehog in The Fog (1975)


This charming short film is probably the first Russian animation I ever saw. Master animator and storyteller Yuriy Norshteyn weaves a tale that is so enchanting it completely transports you. If you only settle down to watch one film from this list: get yourself and cup of tea, relax and enjoy this atmospheric little tale.

Hopefully that little taster has whet your appetite for some Russian fairy tales and folklore. If so, be sure to come along to ‘The Old Tales of Kitezh Grad’ – to book tickets, at Unitarian Church, Brighton: Saturday 10 December, 7.30pm, click here or Pushkin House, London: Friday 16 December, 7.30pm, click here.

Full details of the project are on our website

Cosy and Chilling Gothic Tales from the South…

As the evenings draw in, and Hallowe’en is looming, we’re looking forward to our delightfully atmospheric (and ever so slightly sinister) screening of Charles Laughton’s ‘The Night of the Hunter’, this Saturday at St Michael’s Community Hall, in Brighton. Details of the screening can be found on our website. Be sure to pre-book your tickets to avoid disappointment – they are going like hot cakes, and there is limited capacity in the venue.

Thinking about this Southern Gothic classic has got us in the mood for more in a similar vein, so we thought we’d take a look at some other choice films from the genre – something to cosy down to, with a cup of tea, this Autumn….

Wise Blood (1979)

John Huston’s adaptation of Flannery O’Connor’s novel of the same name is an odd little film. Following the conflicted Hazel Motes (played by Brad Dourif with his signature strangeness), a young war veteran and founder and preacher of the ‘Church of Truth Without Christ’, the film affectionately takes in all manner of eccentric characters and misfits, and doesn’t miss a beat.

Sparrows (1926)

The Southern thriller, ‘Sparrows’ is classic Mary Pickford, who was easily the most powerful woman in Hollywood when she starred in and produced this film. Pickford plays Molly, an adolescent inmate living at a horrific ‘baby farm’. She looks after the children who are being held there, and plots their escape…

Down by Law (1986)

Mrs Filmspot has an enormous soft spot for Tom Waits… Mr Filmspot is less sure. One thing they both agree on, though, is this original and charming comedy by Jim Jarmusch. The slow-moving, simple camera work captures the landscape of the Louisiana Bayou beautifully, and the wisecracking camaraderie of the three principal actors (Waits, John Lurie and the ever-delightful Roberto Benigni) makes this essential viewing.

To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)

A key element in many Southern Gothic films is the idea of children and their innocence. This adaptation of Harper Lee’s masterly novel is a great partner to ‘Night of the Hunter’, in that, like in Laughton’s film, it illustrates how children can ‘abide and endure’, dealing with circumstances beyond their control.

Mud (2013)

Another film looking at an adult world from the perspective of a child, ‘Mud’ is the most recent entry on this list. Said to be inspired by the work of Mark Twain, writer-director Jeff Nichols has created a modern fairytale, which also harkens back to nostalgic ‘adventure’ films of the 1980s. Matthew McConaughey’s escaped convict is a rather perfect flawed hero. One of our favourite films to come out of the US in the past 5 years.

…All the above are fantastic films, of course… however,’The Night of the Hunter’ is surely one of the finest Southern Gothic films. We hope to see you at St Michael’s this Saturday. Wrap up warm, as the film is a bit of a chiller!

ALSO! Don’t miss our next Doodle Animation workshop – this Monday 24 October at Arts@theCrypt in Seaford. We shall be at the gallery 11am – 3pm, and you can contribute to our short film about Seaford. The workshop is absolutely free, so come and join us!

We had a fantastic time at Hyperdrive Sci-Fi and Fantasy Film Festival on Saturday. The small, but perfectly formed group of animators helped create an astonishing amount of animation in just over an hour. The final film will be released on our YouTube channel shortly, so watch this space!

 

Looking back at a busy Autumn – and a busy December!

Greetings Filmspotters!

Sorry for the silence. We’ve had a busy few months since the last post (all the way back in Autumn!). We’ve been busy with screenings and workshops across Sussex!

In September, we were delighted to revisit the ICE Field in Isfield, where we ran a fun stop motion workshop at their Arts & Crafts market, creating a short film called ‘Fish’, with the help of some young animators. We screened the rough cut of the film at our marquee screening of Spielberg’s classic, ‘Jaws’ that evening. The final edit of the film is being tweaked at the moment, but will be live on our YouTube channel by the end of the year. Keep your eyes on our blog for updates.

Preparations for our 'Fish' workshop in Isfield - the film will be available soon on our YouTube channel!

Preparations for our ‘Fish’ workshop in Isfield – the film will be available soon on our YouTube channel!

This year we took part in Scalarama during September, with a presentation of ‘The Cabinet of Dr Caligari’ at Fabrica, with a stunning live semi-improved score by Partial Facsimile. The screening was a total sell-out, and there was a fantastic atmosphere!

We had a short break until the mid-October, when we ran an exciting ‘Big Draw’ workshop at Arts@TheCrypt in Seaford. We used cut out animation to recreate, with the help of local children and families, Halas & Batchelor’s short animation, ‘The Owl and The Pussycat’. The final film is in the editing studio at the moment, but expect to see it on our YouTube channel by the end of December. We are also planning a screening of ‘Animal Farm’, with introduction by Vivien Halas, in the gallery in 2016. Once the date is confirmed, details will be posted here and on the Filmspot website.

Participants creating their 'cut out puppets' for our Big Draw 'Owl and the Pussycat' workshop at Arts@TheCrypt in Seaford

Participants creating their ‘cut out puppets’ for our Big Draw ‘Owl and the Pussycat’ workshop at Arts@TheCrypt in Seaford

Participants learning about Stop Motion animation at Arts@TheCrypt in Seaford, part of our 'Big Draw' event.

Participants learning about Stop Motion animation at Arts@TheCrypt in Seaford, part of our ‘Big Draw’ event.

We are continuing with our series of screenings at Isfield Village Hall, our most recent event in October, with a screening of ‘Animal Farm’ introduced by Vivien Halas, who gave a fascinating insight into her parents’ work.

This December, we have two events to round-off a very successful 2015:

Filmspot CMPCA Pop Up Cinema Club present

An American in Paris

Friday 4 December, doors 6.45pm
Tickets £7, advance booking essential
Email info@lja.uk.com or telephone 01273 328683 for tickets
Tickets include a glass of mulled wine

Vincente Minnelli’s An American in Paris is one of the most elegant, colourful and fun of the MGM musicals from the 1950s, it features Gene Kelly as a cheerful ex-GI, called Jerry Mulligan, struggling as a penniless  artist in Paris. His world is turned upside down when he meets the enchanting Lise Bouvier, played by a young Leslie Caron in her screen debut, and at the same time attracts the attention of a rich American heiress, who is interested in more than just his paintings!

Featuring classic songs by George and Ira Gershwin, and some of the most decadent choreography routines on film, this promises to be a fun evening: served up with the usual Filmspot CMPCA Pop Up Cinema Club festive cheer!
Here’s the trailer:

Isfield Village Hall and Filmspot present

Paddington and White Christmas

Saturday 12 December at Isfield Village Hall
Paddington 2.45pm; White Christmas 6.45pm
Tickets £6 per film (£12 for family of four
– 1 child free with each paying adult
Email info@isfieldvillagehall.org.uk to book
We are delighted to be presenting a family matinee screening of favourite bear, Paddington, in this recent motion picture adaptation of Michael Bond’s beloved books. Featuring an all-star cast, and state of the art animation, this delightful film will appeal to all ages.
In the evening, join us for a real festive classic – White Christmas. Featuring Irving Berlin’s unforgettable music, as well as splendid musical routines from the four stars – Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen, nothing could be better for getting you in the mood for Christmas!
Here are the trailers for both films!:

We hope to see you at one of our events in December – and also wish you a very merry Christmas!

Late summer season

Hello Filmspotters!

A quick update, as it’s been a while! We’ve been keeping busy here at Filmspot HQ – planning for our upcoming late summer season, which is all happening over the next couple of weeks. Listings of all our upcoming screenings follows at the end of this post.

On 22 August, we’re continuing with our series of screenings at Isfield Village Hall, with Wes Anderson’s delightful ‘Moonrise Kingdom’. Here’s the trailer:

Due to this upcoming screening, and being at the height of the school holiday period, we have been thinking about camping in films! Here are some of our favourites:

Nuts in May [1975]

Ah, Nuts in May – I’m sure we have mentioned this elsewhere on the blog, but this is certainly a favourite here at Filmspot HQ. Surely everybody knows of someone (or a couple) as irritating and odd as Keith and Candice Marie? Before any camping trip, it’s always worth warming up with a couple of verses of the Zoo Song. Mike Leigh has a lot to answer for…

Blair Witch Project [1999]

It’s difficult to fathom now, after seeing so many copy-cat ‘found footage’ horror films and spoofs, but this was once a startlingly good, and frightening, film. Definitely not one to revisit before a woodland camping trip!

Stand By Me [1986]

This classic 80s coming of age film perfectly captures the atmosphere of almost never-ending summer holidays – very like the Italian thriller, ‘Io non ho Paura’ (not about camping, but also definitely worth a watch).

 

Familia Rodante [2004]

This is sort of the Argentinian version of ‘Little Miss Sunshine’. This film makes you wonder how you would get on with 12 members of your family, travelling 1000km in a beaten-up camper van?

Sightseers [2012]

Ben Wheatley’s ingenious comedy horror definitely channels ‘Nuts in May’ – but somehow he takes the ‘irritating know-all happy campers’ characters to the next level.

…so now you’re in the mood for a camping trip? Possibly not! Well, why not join us as Isfield VIllage Hall on Saturday instead, for a very good movie? Tickets for Moonrise Kingdom cost £6 each on the door, with the event starting 6.45pm for 7.30 film start. Drinks and nibbles are being provided by Isfield Village Hall.

Our other upcoming Late Summer screenings and events:

5 September: JAWS in the Isfield ICE Field (with animation workshops taking place throughout the day)

10 September: DAS CABINET DES DR CALIGARI with LIVE SCORE from Partial Facsimile at Fabrica Brighton

Full details are on our website.

We hope to see you soon!

 

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!

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’!