These films were shown in SEASON SEVEN at Aylsham Picture House (September 2018 to February 2019)

Starring Maxine Peake, Paddy Considine, Tony Pitts, Alun Armstrong, Stephen Graham and Lindsey Coulson

Funny Cow is a comedy drama with music by Richard Hawley. It follows the ups and downs of a female comic finding her feet in the working men’s clubs in northern England in the 1970s. It has been described by the writer and co star Tony Pitts as ‘an unsentimental commentary’ on the culture in which he grew up. Peake’s misfit, who we only know by her stage name, Funny Cow, tries to bring round her largely misogynistic audiences with the sort of non PC humour current at the time, but finds that it is more about surviving than being funny. The story is told through a series of flashback cameos from her childhood onwards, her usually brutal relationships to her desperation to succeed on stage against all the odds and advice.

Directed by Adrian Shergold. 102 minutes. 2018

Starring Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, and Isabelle Huppert

Georges begins employing nurses, who do not work out satisfactorily, but in spite of pleas from their daughter (Huppert), he will not relinquish care in spite of the strain it puts upon him.

The film is inspired by an identical situation that occurred in the Haneke family. The issue that interested the writer/director was how to manage the suffering of someone you love.

The movie was considered by many to be the best film of 2012 and it won dozens of prizes worldwide, including the Palme d’Or, and a BAFTA and an Oscar for Best Foreign Film.

Directed by Michael Haneke. 127 minutes. 2012.

Starring Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou and George Macready.

Kubrick examines the contrast between the hell of battle and the comfortable surroundings of the general’s chateau HQ.

This is a harrowing and effective film that bears comparison to All Quiet on the Western Front, and the split between officers and men is sharply delineated. The film was banned in France until 1976!

Directed by Stanley Kubrick. 86 minutes, 1957

Starring Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett, Anjelica Houston, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum and Michael Gambon..

The plot concerns Steve Zissou (Murray), a down at heel Cousteau manque, persuing a revenge mission against the jaguar shark that devoured his best friend. As a long time but failed documentary maker, Zissou and his team are bankrolled to film their chase by Ned Plimpton (Wilson), who believes Zissou is his father. Also aboard the ageing research vessel Belafonte are his ex-wife Eleanor (Huston),a group of unpaid interns and a motlet crew of filmmakers.

Amongst the adventures they steal equipment from a rival team, are kidnapped by pirates and suffer a helicopter crash.

The shark is eventually found, and a successful documentary is made.The film is a hilarious and often moving tribute to the underdog who makes good in the end.

Directed by Wes Anderson. 119 minutes. 2004

Starring Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Lucas Hedges and C. J. Wilson.

The film is a sombre portrayal of almost primeval confrontation between the characters, their past, their present and the industrial no frills town of Manchester by the Sea. Affleck deservedly won the Oscar and BAFTA for best actor of 2017.

After the death of his elder bother Joe, Lee Chandler ( Affleck) is shocked to find Joe has made him sole guardian of his nephew Patrick ( Hedges). He leaves his janitor job in Boston and returns to Manchester by the Sea where his working class family have lived for generations. There, he is forced to deal with a past that separated him from his wife Randi ( Williams) and the community where he was raised. Lee is seething with anger and pain and bares the burden of a terrible tragedy: He is brilliantly played by Affleck. Hedges gives a marvellous performance as the vulnerable yet worldly teenager.

Directed by Kenneth Lonergan. 137 minutes. 2017


Starring Maryana Spivak, Marina Vasilyeva, Aleksey Rozin and Matvey Novikov.

From the director of Leviathan, the film is initially a portrait of a failed marriage in its awful final stages. Boris (Rozin) and Zhenaya (Spivak) are separating, already with new partners but still living in the same flat with their twelve year old son Alyosha who is the cause and symptom of their divorce. After a particularly nasty row, Alyosha disappears. The couple’s unhappiness is magnified by rage and self hatred.

The police, uninterested and bureaucratic, are happy to cede responsibility for the search to volunteers and the wrecks and abandoned buildings of the search add to the feeling of desolation. Reports from mortuaries and hospitals of boys matching Alyosha’s protract their ordeal.

The film confronts us with the most ghastly of crises – was the lovelessness of their family to blame? Does the moral paucity of the state play its part? The Russia of Zvyagintsev’s film looks barren and bleak but its brilliance and compassion are compelling.

Directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev. 127 minutes. 2017.