February - short on days, big on essential cinema.
We're now fully in the thick of 'awards season' at Aberdeen's independent cinema and so we've got the rest of the big contenders lined up in the lead-up to the Oscars on 25th of the month.
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One of the hotly-tipped awards favourites is Peter Farrelly's thoroughly charming and entertaining Green Book, based on the true story of African-American musician Dr Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) embarking on a concert tour through the segregated Deep South in the 1960s, accompanied by his African-American driver Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen), whose views certain pose problems between them.
A little simplistic at times, but utterly delightful and funny. This could be a big winner, you won't want to miss it - screening from Friday 1 February.
Another awards darling - with 3 Oscar nominations and 3 for the BAFTAs - is Marielle (Diary of a Teenage Girl) Heller's excellent Can You Ever Forgive Me? - starring Richard E. Grant and the fabulous Melissa McCarthy, who is impressive in one of her most dramatic roles to date. McCarthy plays writer Lee Israel, a best-selling celebrity biographer who falls on hard times and discovers a lucrative market in forging letters written by stars of the past.
Both stars are adept in these prickly and caustic roles and the resulting film is truly a caper to get lost in - screening from Friday 8 February.
In Jason Reitman's The Front Runner and Reinaldo Marcus Green's Monsters and Men, we have two new arrivals on that delve deep into different parts of the American psyche at different points in history. In the former we have Hugh Jackman starring as Senator Gary Hart - the overwhelming favourite for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination, whose campaign is derailed when allegations of an extra-marital affair emerge. At a time when tabloid journalism and US politics were merging in earnest for the first time, it's a thrilling account of a pivotal era, from the director of Juno, Up in the Air and Tully.
The latter, Monsters and Men, is an award-winning drama from a debuting director that spins off the story of three characters - a witness, a black police officer and a young star athlete - from a police shooting incident in Brooklyn. Both powerful in very different ways - these are here for short runs from Friday 8 February.
IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK
Following his triple Oscar winner Moonlight, we've been eagerly awaiting the next project from director Barry Jenkins. At last, it's here.
Based on James Baldwin's book, If Beale Street Could Talk is a love story set in 1970s Harlem that exquisitely captures the African-American experience. Boasting lush cinematography and an array of nuanced performances, it's also a timeless story in many ways - of a young couple, desperate to be together as fate conspires against them. Screening from Friday 15 February, the film picked up a Golden Globe win and is nominated for 3 Oscars - for script, music and the supporting performance of the excellent Regina King.
If, like us, you grow quickly obsessed with stranger-than-fiction documentaries then you best not miss The Raft at Belmont Filmhouse. Marcus Lindeen's documentary gathers some of the original participants to chart the hidden story behind a bizarre 1970s group experiment that sent 11 people out into the Atlantic ocean on a 101-day sea adventure on a raft, with the intention of exploring the origins of violence and the dynamics of sexual attraction. Packed with archive footage and fascinating insight, this is an odd tall tale on the high seas - screening from Friday 15 February.
Best-selling author Haruki Murakami's short story Barn Burning is adapted by legendary Korean director Lee Chang-dong in Burning (Beoning) - the winner of the FIPRESCI Prize at Cannes in 2018. The dark and mysterious story sees an isolated young man fall into the apparent clutches of an old childhood friend, who brings a wealthy stranger back from a trip... This is one of the best Asian films of the year, and essential viewing for Murakami fans - screening from Friday 22 February.
The last of the big awards contenders to arrive on our screens is an irreverent look at the life and times of former US Vice President Dick Cheney (Christian Bale). Vice is directed by Adam McKay (Anchorman) and imbues this American biopic with much of the same sideways-glancing humour that made his last film, The Big Short, so dynamic and engaging. Christian Bale, in typical fashion, is intensely committed to the role and is physically transformed to play this deeply divisive character, who certainly changed the course of global politics.
Screening from Friday 22 February, it's got a top cast that includes Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, Eddie Marsan, Alison Pill and Jesse Plemons.
Speaking of committed performances - special mention should also go to Nicole Kidman for her transformative lead role as weathered LAPD detective Erin Bell in Destroyer. The latest film from Karyn Kusama (The Man in the High Castle, Jennifer's Body), it's a tense, intoxicating modern noir about a veteran cop whose younger days working undercover amongst drug gangs comes back to haunt her. You'll forget you're watching Kidman as her character navigates this moral and existential odyssey, which further cements Kusama as a filmmaker to keep close tabs on. Screening in a short run from Sunday 24 to Thursday 28 February.
Screening during the same week is Alexandria Bombach's intimate and affecting documentary On Her Shoulders, which explores the life and renown of Nadia Murad - who survived genocide and sexual slavery at the hands of ISIS to become a committed human rights activist and an inspiration for many. Bombach's film has the intelligence to examine the implications of this new fame, as Murad bravely shares her harrowing story with the world. The film won major awards at festivals across the world and screens at Aberdeen's independent cinema from Tuesday 26 to Thursday 28 February (inclusive).
We're casting our minds back to the 1970s this month with two restored gems from visionary filmmakers of the era.
The Passenger was the last in a trio of English-language films made by Michelangelo Antonioni for MGM. Set in the heat of North Africa, it stars the one and only Jack Nicholson as a TV reporter who, upon finding the body of a fellow hotel guest dead in his bed, elects to swap identities with him. Only trouble is, with this new identity comes new, unknown dangers... Screening from Friday 22 to Monday 25 February from a new digital edition.
THE LAST MOVIE
Emboldened by the success of Easy Rider, Dennis Hopper got support from Universal Pictures in 1970 to to make a long-time pet project. Shooting in Peru for most of the year, Hopper eventually produced The Last Movie - now firmly entrenched as a cult favourite with film fans across several generations.
A hallucinatory meditation on Hollywood's economic exploitation (and also pop music), it follows a fictional Hollywood movie crew filming in Peru, and the uncanny aftermath of this production among the locals, in which stuntman Kansas (Hopper) finds himself caught up. A new digital release of The Last Movie screens on Wednesday 27 and Thursday 28 February.
A trio of magnificent cinematic wonders - new and old - on Valentine's Day. Perfect for celebrating with a loved one, solo or for 'Galentine's Day' with pals. On behalf of Belmont Filmhouse - we love you <3
CASABLANCA - THU 14 FEB at 2.30PM & 6.10PM
THE LADY EVE - THU 14 FEB at 8.30PM
KINO BAR: CALL ME BY YOUR NAME - THU 14 FEB at 7.30PM (18+ ONLY)
Aberdeen's festivel of crime fiction returns to Belmont Filmhouse with three more classic film noir tales, including Gilda - preceded by an intro by Dr Jacky Collins, who selected this year's line-up. Dr Collins is Senior Lecturer in Film & TV Studies at Northumbria University.
Support Aberdeen festivals, support your independent cinema, and see great classic movies where they belong - on the big screen.
Leave Her to Heaven - Fri 22 Feb at 8.30pm
Laura - Sat 23 Feb at 5.45pm
Gilda - Sun 24 Feb at 3.00pm
Our wee social screen downstairs has a corker of a line-up in February, with Bill Murray classics, unconventional romances and a David Fincher classic all screening for your delectation - £5/£4 tickets, comfy seats, bar service available throughout, 18+ only for all Kino Bar screenings.
Groundhog Day - Sat 2 Feb at 7.30pm
Blue Valentine - Thu 7 Feb at 7.30pm
Call Me By Your Name - Thu 14 Feb at 7.30pm
Se7en - Wed 20 Feb at 7.30pm
Ghostbusters - Wed 27 Feb at 7.30pm
Family films on Saturday mornings are a Belmont tradition, and February brings a host of great movies for everyone to enjoy - £4.50 tickets for all, big or small!
Our Filmhouse Junior line-up this month also includes two 'relaxed' format screenings, in assocation with Grampian Autistic Society. These feature slightly lowered sound, slightly raised lighting and audiences are free to move around/come and go as required. Designed to be more accessible - all are welcome, as always!
The King and the Mockingbird 'relaxed' screening - Sat 2 Feb at 11.00am
The LEGO Batman Movie - Sat 9 Feb at 11.00am
Sing - Sat 16 Feb at 11.00am
Mary Poppins Returns 'relaxed' screening - Sat 23 Feb at 11.00am