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!