January Cinema at An Lanntair

  • Published on: 7th January 2016
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This month, An Lanntair’s Programme Assistant  Oriana Franceschi gives us an insight into some of the exciting screenings in our cinema!

Tonight’s screening of Steven Spielberg’s masterly cold war drama Bridge of Spies will be our last. After the fever that accompanied the release of Spectre – and all of the iconic panache and swaggering spy antics that come with Bond’s territory- Mark Rylance’s performance as Soviet spy Rudolf Abel feels like a gentle breeze. His understated dignity is as irreproachable as the integrity of his lawyer, James B. Donovan, a role to which Tom Hanks brings a Gregory Peck-level air of decency. Combined with a slick script (lent a detectable hand by the Coen Brothers), and the beautifully crafted cinematography of Spielberg’s regular collaborator Janusz Kamiński (Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan), these performances bring to life a remarkable true story with Spielberg’s trademark lack of cynicism.

If Bridge of Spies is a study in integrity, and how that quality can transcend borders and ideologies, Scott Cooper’s Black Mass is an exploration of corruption: from the grim streets of 1980s Boston to the plush wood-and-leather interiors of the senator’s office. Heralded as the return to form of Johnny Depp – barely recognisable as real life gangster Whitley Bulger – Black Mass has been described by Empire as “compelling and powerfully acted, with just enough wrinkles to avoid the ghosts of gangster movies past.”

It’s satisfying to watch Depp take on a meatier role than we may have come to expect from him over the past two “Disney years”. Equally welcome is Lily Tomlin’s return to the big screen in Grandma, a comedic roadtrip drama from About a Boy writer Paul Weitz. “Don’t get any ideas”, writes Rolling Stone, “that Tomlin, 75, is playing some sweet old dearie fighting senility or terminal illness”. In fact, as Elle – a bad tempered poet still grieving the death of her long-time partner- Tomlin is at her cranky best. When her teenage granddaughter, Sage, turns up at her door to ask for help in accessing an abortion, an unlikely road trip begins, with a close bond forming between the two women.

A female relationship is explored intimately again in Carol on Saturday 23rd, though this is an illicit romance that hides in plain sight of 1950s conservatism. In Todd Hayne’s amour fou, love lingers in the air like perfume sprayed in an expensive department store, or smoke from a cigarette discreetly lit by another. Delighting in these details- and in the restrained ardour that might call to audience’s minds James Ivory’s Remains of the Day- Carol has gained widespread critical acclaim since its release and is considered a front runner for Best Picture at 2016’s Oscars.

Of course, if all of this is getting a bit too touchy-feely for your liking, we also have a couple of big-budget blockbusters to get your adrenaline pumping. In the Heart of the Sea stars Chris Hemsworth as Owen Chase, first mate on the infamously doomed Essex of Nantucket. This old-school adventure is a visually astounding retelling of the true events that inspired Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Described by the Financial Times as “a Hollywood movie in the best sense” and “unsparing with spectacle”, this maritime epic will be sure to blow away any cobwebs left over from the festive period.

Finally, we will be ending the month with screenings of a little-known independent sci-fi flick that one or two of you may have heard of. Star Wars: the Force Awakens has had an amazing reception both critically and in terms of its box office, which has been record-breaking in its success. Simultaneously modernising the franchise’s attitudes and ideas, and visually familiar to fans of the original films, Star Wars: the Force Awakens is being celebrated as a worthy companion to the classic 1970s trilogy that defined a genre. It has been worth the wait.

Full cinema listing are available here.