Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Starring Sam Neill, Julian Dennison and Rhys Darby
Written and directed by Taika Waititi
New Zealand 2016
107 mins

The Acton Film Club is 10 years old this year - to mark that we have been showing a film that may have passed you by from every year since we started in 2009. This time the movie is from 2016 and is the first picture from New Zealand that we have ever screened.

The director of 'Hunt For The Wilderpeople' is Taika Waititi - a comedian, writer and actor whose work includes episodes of the cult TV show 'Flight Of The Conchords' and the brilliant mocumentary 'What We Do In The Shadows' which followed the lives of four vampires sharing a flat in a Wellington suburb. Waititi's hilarious, offbeat humour was also a major feature of 'Thor Ragnarok' - one of the best of the sprawling Marvel superhero franchise.

'Hunt For The Wilderpeople' is a much smaller, more intimate drama and tells the tale of Ricky, a juvenile delinquent from the city who, after his mother abandons him, is placed with his sympathetic aunt and curmudgeonly uncle in the remote countryside. When tragedy strikes Ricky runs away - only to be pursued by his uncle into the bush. The two strike up an unlikely friendship and are forced to evade the authorities who are by now looking for them...

The miraculous onscreen chemistry between this odd couple is at the heart of one of quirkiest and most beautifully played comedies you will see in a long time.

This is our final film at The Rocket until September but don't miss our annual outdoor screening on Friday July 26th - Billy Wilder's masterpiece 'The Apartment' - the very first film the Acton Film Club showed in August 2009.

Tale of Tales

Starring Salma Hayak, Vincent Cassell, Toby Jones and John C. Reilly
Written by Edoardo Albinati, Ugo, Chiti, Matteo Garrone and Massimo Gaudioso
Directed by Matteo Garrone
Italy/France/United Kingdom 2015
134 mins

The Acton Film Club started in 2009 and we are screening a film that may have gone under your radar from every year since we began - this time 2015.

Matteo Garrone burst onto the scene in 2008 with his gritty, documentary style feature 'Gomorrah' set around Naples and detailing the activities of the Camorra - a traditional Mafia style criminal syndicate. The film was unflinching in its depiction of the ruthless violence of its protagonists in one of Italy's poorest and most deprived areas.

His next film 'Reality' - set in the world of tabloid TV - won the Grand Prix at Cannes. In 'Tale of Tales' Garrone heads in a very different direction - taking the writings of Giambattista Basile - a 17th century poet and collector of fairy stories - to create a portmanteau collection of fantastical tales - strange, funny, sometimes lurid and always entertaining. The style is inflected by Chaucer, Boccacio and The Brothers Grimm - with kings, queens, courtiers and peasants caught up in the most weird and wonderful situations. A strain of dark humour is to be found throughout - with a gifted international cast making the most of their roles.

Gorgeously lensed by Peter Suschitzky and with a lush score by Alexandre Desplat - "Tale Of Tales' was seen by too few people on release. It is a marvellous, eccentric melange of a movie which will leave you smiling and possibly a little disturbed...


Starring Agata Kulesza,
Agata Trzebuchowska and Dawid Ogrodnik
Written by Pawel Pawilokowski and Rebecca Lenkiewicz
Directed by Pawel Pawilokowski
Poland/Denmark/France/UK 2014
82 mins

The Acton Film Club started in 2009 and we are screening a film that may have gone under your radar from every year since we began - this time 2014.

Perhaps the most talented and visually accomplished filmmaker working in Britain today is Pawel Pawilokovski. Born in Poland but raised and educated here Pawlikowski started out making documentaries but switched to fiction in 2001 with 'Last Resort'. He won a BAFTA Best Newcomer award for that film and has gone on to win numerous prizes including a BAFTA and an Oscar for 'Ida' in 2015. His latest - 'Cold War' - was one of the highlights of last year - a raw semi-biographical love story that charted the history of the post-war years in Europe.
Pawilokowski's films are poetic, beautiful and frequently very moving. He often shoots in black and white -  framing the shots with a painter's eye for composition.
Set in Poland in 1962 'Ida' tells the story of a young woman on the verge of taking her vows as a nun, who when she visits her aunt Wanda, makes an unexpected discovery about her heritage.
The two take off on a road trip during which Wanda encourages her niece to experience worldly pleasures before she commits to the religious life. Their subsequent experiences have a profound effect on both of them...
Agata Kulesza is luminous as Ida while Agata Trzebuchowska gives a powerful performance as Wanda - a woman scarred by the post war communist world and her part in it.
'Ida' is a sublime movie, intense, insightful and at times transcendent.

Don't miss it.

Only Lovers Left Alive

Starring Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston
Mia Wasikowska and John Hurt
Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch
UK/Germany 2013
123 mins

The Acton Film Club started in 2009 and we are screening a film that may have gone under your radar from every year since we began - this time 2013.

Since his early movies 'Stranger Than Paradise' and 'Down By Law' in the 1980s Jim Jarmusch has established himself as one of the most fascinating and influential independent film makers working in the west. His quirky, highly contemplative style synthesises American, European and Japanese cinema - often featuring extended takes and a still camera technique with the focus on character development and mood rather than driving narrative.

Jarmusch has made films in a number of genres including comedy, western, thriller, portmanteau drama and documentary. Throughout his career he has maintained an extraordinary degree of independence - retaining the negatives to all of his pictures - a truly rare thing in modern movie making. He is a composer as well as a filmmaker and has frequently collaborated with musicians like Neil Young, Tom Waits, Joe Strummer and Screamin' Jay Hawkins - often using them in dramatic roles in his movies. His band SQURL provides the opening song 'Funnel Of Love' for this film.

In 'Only Lovers Left Alive' Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton play Adam and Eve, a pair of glamorous, ubercool vampires - centuries old and living respectively in Detroit and Tangiers. They exist in a nocturnal world - reliant on supplies of uncontaminated blood to maintain their ancient lifestyle. Among their friends is Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt) - the playwright contemporary of Shakespeare who is sometimes credited with having written some of the his greatest works.

If you don't care for horror movies don't be put off - this is no conventional vampire flick - it is infused with Jarmusch's peculiar sensibilities and eschews gore in favour of exquisite production design and what Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian called a 'sulphurous chemistry' between the two leads.

Rust and Bone

Starring Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts
Written by Jacques Audiard and Thomas Bidegain
Directed by Jacques Audiard 
France/IBelgium 2012
123 mins

Director Jacques Audiard is principally known for 'The Beat That My Heart Skipped' and 'The Prophet' - two dramas set in tough masculine worlds.  His new film is a dark comedy western - 'The Sisters Brothers' which opens here on the 5th April. In between Audiard made 'Rust And Bone', an intense and passionate love story that moves effortlessly between edgy realism and transcendental beauty.

Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts) is a drifter who hitchhikes to the south of France with his young son and meets Stéphanie (Marion Cotillard) who works in a local marine tourist park. When Stéphanie is the victim of a terrible freak accident her life changes and depression strikes. A call to Ali one day sparks a casual sexual relationship between them - but as time goes on things begin to change...
Based on a novel by Canadian author Craig Davidson 'Rust And Bone' features two wonderful and contrasting performances from the leads. Cotillard had previously excelled as the singer Edith Piaf in 'La Vie En Rose' but Schoenaerts was a virtual unknown whose unselfconscious style is a perfect complement to Cotillard's powerful portrayal. 

The soundtrack includes a score by Alexandre Desplat but also features artists as diverse as Katy Perry, Bruce Springsteen and the B52s. The combination of image and music is frequently potent and affecting - giving us a great love story and much more besides...

Le Havre

Starring André Wilms, Kati Outinen, Jean-Pierre Darroussin and  Blondin Miguel
Written and directed by Aki Kaurismäki
Finland/France/Germany 2011
93 mins

2019 is our tenth year as a film club. To mark this we will screen a movie that may have gone under your radar from every year that we have been operating.

'Le Havre' was released in 2011 - it is the 16th feature by Aki Kaurismäki - Finland's best known director, whose movies are distinguished by their deadpan humour and minimalist approach. Kaurismäki's characters are given laconic dialogue and his films have a strange detached quality which belies their subtlety and grace. His pictures have often been nominated for awards and in 2002 'The Man Without A Past' was awarded the Grand Prix at Cannes while iIn 2017 'The Other Side Of Hope' won the Silver Bear for best director at the Berlin Film Festival.

This film centres on Marcel Marx - a failed writer working as a shoeshiner in the down-at-heel French port of Le Havre. When his wife Arletty becomes ill and he crosses paths with Idrissa - an underage illegal immigrant from Africa -Marcel's life takes a different turn. He and his neighbours rally round to hide the boy from the authorities who may, or may not, be hot on their heels...

'Le Havre' is filled with the director's trademark touches - as Leslie Felperin wrote in Variety: 'Le Havre is a continual pleasure, seamlessly blending morose and merry notes with a deftness that's up there with Kaurismäki's best comic work'. It's a quirky picture full of eccentricity and humanity from one of the true auteurs working today. 

The Kids Are Alright

Starring Annette Bening, Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo
Written by Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg
Directed by Lisa Cholodenko
USA 2010
107 mins

The Acton Film Club is 10 years old this year - to mark that we are showing a film from every year since we started in 2009. 'The Kids Are Alright'  is a charming 2010 comedy about a same sex couple and their family living in Los Angeles.

Nic is an obstetrician and and Jules a landscape gardener who each conceived a child using the same anonymous sperm donor. Those children - Laser and Joni - are now teenagers and when one of them decides they want to know who their father is he and his sister track down the man - Paul - who they arrange to meet. This leads to Paul coming to their home and encountering  Nic and Jules for the first time - at which point the complications begin...

'The Kids Are Alright' was the first mainstream film to feature a same sex couple as parents and is partly based on the experiences of the filmmaker Lisa Choldenko - who has herself used donor sperm to conceive. The leads are all excellent - in particular Annette Bening and Julianne Moore - two of the finest American actresses working today. 

The script is deft - a smart exploration of the modern incarnation of a very traditional family situation.
'The Kids Are Alright' was on many critics top ten lists in the year it was made but perhaps perhaps because of its themes did not have the widest release. Don't miss this opportunity to see it.


Starring Christos Stergioglou, Michelle Valley, Angeliki Papoulia, Mary Tsoni and Christos Passalis
Directed by Jorgos Lanthimos
Greece 2009
97 minutes

'Dogtooth' was released in 2009 - the year we started and is the first major film from Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos whose latest picture 'The Favourite' is currently in cinemas - enjoying rave reviews and big box office success. His other films 'The Lobster' and 'The Killing Of A Sacred Deer'  have attracted much attention - sometimes dividing audiences and critics with their surreal narratives and off-kilter characterisation.

'Dogtooth' depicts a family living in a walled compound - the grown up children have been told by their parents that the world is a dangerous place - unsafe for them to go into until they lose a dogtooth (a canine) They are misled by the parents into thinking that aeroplanes are tiny objects and that cats are incredibly dangerous and savage creatures. 

Incarcerated and unaware of normal behaviour  the children begin to experiment with sex...
In 'Dogtooth' Lanthimos shows himself to be the modern successor to the great Spanish surrealist filmmaker Luis Buñuel - the black humour and twisted reality of the dialogue and situations are at once disturbing and revealing. The cinematography is unsettling - Roger Ebert wrote that Lanthimos has 'complete command of visuals and performances. His cinematography is like a series of family photographs of a family with something wrong with it'

Just as 'The Favourite' is an historical drama like no other you have seen so 'Dogtooth' will challenge your preconceptions and give you a very strange and different take on family life.
It is a shocking and perverse drama but clearly the work of a significant artist who shows us the world in a way no other living film maker does.

Butch Cassidy And the Sundance Kid

Starring Paul Newman, Robert Redford and Katherine Ross
Written by William Goldman
Directed by George Roy Hill
USA 1969
110 mins

In November 2018 William Goldman, the award-winning screenwriter and playwright died aged 87. His films included 'The Princess Bride', 'Marathon Man' and 'All The Presidents Men' but perhaps his most famous screenplay was for 'Butch Cassidy And the Sundance Kid' - a supremely entertaining comic western based on the lives of two real-life outlaws in the last years of the 19th century.

The film teamed Paul Newman and Robert Redford as Butch and Sundance - good hearted bandits whose love triangle with schoolteacher Etta Place forms the centre of the story. Their daring and ramshackle exploits enrage the authorities who form a super-posse to track them down and kill them. 
Butch Cassidy can be seen as part of the wave of counter culture that was sweeping through Hollywood at the time in which films like 'Bonnie And Clyde' and 'Easy Rider' glorified the outsider and the outlaw. It was a new kind of western - a very long way from John Wayne, sharing some of the characteristics of the Spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone but with a lighter streak of anarchic humour.

Conrad Hall's cinematography gives the action an elegiac glow backed by  Burt Bacharach's breezy score - most memorable in the iconic sequence where Newman and Ross fool around on a bicycle to the strains of 'Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head'.

The picture made huge box office stars of Newman and Redford, who would later work again with director George Roy Hill on 'The Sting'. Their effortless chemistry  as the two loveable rogues and a series of beautifully timed set pieces make for an enduring modern classic. Goldman would famously write 'nobody knows anything' in 'Adventures In The Screen Trade' - his wonderfully astute book about Hollywood. What this great film proves is that he knew certainly knew how to write a movie...

We look forward to seeing you for the first screening of 2019 - our tenth year as a film club!