April season now on sale
For April we continue to present the best new releases, including animated black comedy Anomalisa, the futuristic High-Rise starring Tom Hiddleston and British comedy Eddie the Eagle. Our Under the Radar series continues to present brilliant new independent films, including the pick of world cinema such as the touching French drama Marguerite and insightful Indian drama Court. April’s event cinema features Matthew Bourne’s 2015 production of The Car Man and more live broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera and the Bolshoi Ballet. Along with a great selection of classic movies, there is also a further chance to see some of this year’s top award-winners.
One of the highlights of this months selection of top independent films from around the world is the multi-lingual film Court, a prize-winner at the Venice and Mumbai film festivals. This drama is a quietly devastating, absurdist portrait of injustice, caste prejudice and corrupt politics in contemporary India. Set in Paris in 1921, Marguerite was a big hit in France, telling the tale of an enthusiastic opera singer who believes she has talent but does not realise she is terribly off-key. Other highlights of the Under the Radar selection include the comedy Black Mountain Poets, which sees two con-artist sisters on the run take refuge at a Poetry Retreat in Wales, assuming the identities of internationally renowned poets. With a cast including David Morrisey, gripping British thriller The Ones Below tells the story of a couple expecting their first child, who discover an unnerving difference between themselves and the couple who move in below them, who are also expecting a baby. The programme also includes two fascinating documentaries, starting with Mavis!, which explores the incredible life and career of gospel and soul legend and civil rights icon Mavis Staples and her family group The Staple Singers. The film features rare archive footage and conversations with friends and contemporaries including Bob Dylan, Prince and Bonnie Raitt. Battle Mountain is an immersive observational documentary about former world champion cyclist Graeme Obree’s epic journey, to see whether he can still cut it as he approaches his fiftieth birthday. Following the screening there will be a Q&A with Obree and director David Street in the Filmhouse.
The latest big releases include the acclaimed new film drama from writer and director Charlie Kaufman, Anomalisa, nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars. This touchingly funny black comedy follows a lonely middle-aged man (played by David Thewlis) who begins to reconnect with the world around him when he meets an extraordinary stranger, Lisa, voiced by Jennifer Jason Leigh. Tom Hiddleston stars in High-Rise, the new film from Ben Wheatley (Kill List), which is adapted from JG Ballard’s visionary novel. The story takes place in an isolated community in a luxury tower block, where rising tensions and class warfare lead to anarchy. The cast also features Sienna Miller and Jeremy Irons. Writer/director Robert Eggers won a directing award at the Sundance Festival for his debut feature, The Witch, which follows a Puritan family in remote 1630s New England, torn apart by the forces of witchcraft, which may be real or imaginary. Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman and Christopher Walken star in feel-good comedy Eddie the Eagle, the true story of Eddie Edwards, the notoriously tenacious British underdog ski-jumper who charmed the world at the 1988 Winter Olympics. Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford star in newsroom drama Truth, based on the real-life 2004 controversy caused when a producer and news anchor broadcast a report about George W Bush’s military service record. In biographical drama The Man Who Knew Infinity, Slumdog Millionaire’s Dev Patel plays a self-taught India mathematics genius who in 1913 is accepted into Cambridge University and forges a bond with the eccentric professor GH Hardy (Jeremy Irons). For younger audiences, animated family comedy, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip, sees the talking chipmunks head on an adventure to Miami, following a series of misunderstandings, to stop their human father from proposing to his girlfriend. Families can take advantage of a special Easter Holiday offer of one adult and one child ticket for just £11 for screenings of this film.
April’s classic movie selection features some brilliant portrayals of strong female central characters, starting with the 1934 historical drama The Scarlet Empress, starring Marlene Dietrich as Catherine the Great. Billy Wilder’s 1944 noir thriller Double Indemnity follows an insurance salesman who is coerced into fraud and murder by a provocative housewife, played by Barbara Stanwyck. In the 1950 drama All About Eve, Anne Baxter plays an aspiring actress who is taken under the wing of a Broadway legend (Bette Davis), only to use the ageing diva as a springboard for her own career.
The University of Northampton’s Cult Film Club choice for April is a 1971 vampire chiller from Hammer. Starring Peter Cushing, Twins of Evil tells the tale a pair of identical twins who come under the influence of the evil Count Karnstein. Shown in association with Q-Film, Derek Jarman’s 1976 film Sebastiane, with Latin dialogue and English subtitles, recounts the life of a devout Christian soldier in the Roman Imperial Army who is martyred after refusing the advances of his pagan captain.
There are also further chances to see some of the recent Oscar-winning movies. Scooping three awards including Best Actor and Director, The Revenant stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a frontiersman who was brutally attacked by a bear and left for dead. Steven Spielberg’s cold war drama Bridge of Spies earned Mark Rylance an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor. Brie Larson, who stars in the touching mother and son drama Room, has added a Best Actress Oscar to her award collection. Winning Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, Spotlight tells the true story the Boston Globe’s team of investigate journalists who exposed the Catholic church’s systematic cover up of child abuse. Finally, The Big Short, about a group of men who benefited from anticipating the credit bubble collapse, picked up the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.
As part of our popular programme of live screenings and event cinema, Met Opera Live broadcast their breath-taking production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly live from New York. Later in the month there is also the chance to see their production of Donizetti’s tragedy, Roberto Devereux, in which Queen Elizabeth I is forced to sign the death warrant for the nobleman she loves. Live from Moscow, the Bolshoi Ballet present Don Quixote, the tale of Cervantes’ eccentric hero. Dance-lovers can also see Matthew Bourne’s stunning dance thriller The Car Man, loosely based on Bizet’s opera Carmen, which was filmed live at Sadler’s Wells, London, in August 2015. Marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, Shakespeare Live! From the RSC is a special event directed by Gregory Doran and hosted by David Tennant, featuring performances of some of the greatest dramatic scenes ever written, played by some of our greatest actors, as well as songs, comedy, dance and music, all celebrating the Bard’s legacy. Later in the month there is also a screening of the 1995 film of Richard III, preceded by an exclusive documentary and followed by a post-film discussion with screenwriter and actor Ian McKellen and director Richard Loncraine, broadcast live from BFI Southbank. Taking a closer look at the remarkable collection of 181 Renoir paintings at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, Exhibition on Screen: Renoir explores one of the most fiercely debated yet influential artists.