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All films start at 7.45pm unless otherwise stated.

Thursday 18 April

BENJAMIN (15)

Benjamin is comedian and writer, Simon Amstell's romantic comedy, about a rising young filmmaker in a heightened state of insecurity due to the imminent release of ‘No Self’, his autobiographical second film about love and disconnection. As the nerves and anxiety surge, his publicist introduces him to an attractive French musician called Noah, prompting a burgeoning romance that hurls him into an existential crisis. Amstell adroitly balances affecting, bittersweet moments and toe-curling dating experiences on the cusp of reality and the ridiculous.

UK, 2018, 85 mins

Reviews: :: The Guardian :: The Observer ::

Friday 19 April

BEING FRANK: THE CHRIS SIEVEY STORY (15)

An inventive documentary investigating the mystery inside the papier-mâché head of anarchic British comedy figure Frank Sidebottom. Working from Sievey’s own exhaustive archive of old cassettes and degraded video, and incorporating interviews with loved ones and admirers (including former band members DJ Mark Radcliffe and Jon Ronson), director Steve Sullivan deftly creates a charming portrait of a mercurial, often tortured artist and musician; a wayward genius who was ultimately constrained and subsumed by his own creation.

UK, 2018, 101 mins

Reviews: :: The Guardian :: The Observer :: The Telegraph ::

Saturday 20 and Thursday 25 April

FISHERMAN'S FRIENDS (12A)

When music industry A&R man Danny arrives in Cornwall on a stag night he hasn’t planned on discovering new talent, even if ‘new’ isn’t the best description of a group of fishermen singing sea shanties in a village pub. Fisherman’s Friends, as the group will come to be known, tells the remarkably unlikely, but true, story of their rise to chart-topping success.

Daniel Mays, James Purefoy and Tuppence Middleton lead the cast in an uplifting, cockle-warming comedy with big-hearted performances.

UK, 2019, 112 mins

Reviews: :: The Guardian :: The Telegraph ::

Friday 26 and Saturday 27 April

THE WHITE CROW (12A)

In early 1960s Paris, the Cold War may be raging, but Soviet authorities have decided to send the world-renowned Kirov Ballet on tour to demonstrate the kind of cultural refinement that lies behind the Iron Curtain. Much to the annoyance of his KGB minders, one of the company’s leading dancers, Rudolf Nureyev, is immediately smitten with the City of Light and its museums, Jazz bars and social life, awakening a dangerous desire for creative independence.

Ralph Fiennes’ third directorial outing is a biopic of Nureyev, whose defection from the USSR to the west stunned the world. Ukrainian dancer Oleg Ivenko plays the inscrutable Nureyev, whose talent and temperament shook international relations.

UK/France (English, Russian and French dialogue with English subtitles), 2018, 127 mins

Reviews: :: The Guardian :: The Observer :: The Telegraph ::

Thursday 2 May

AT ETERNITY’S GATE (12A)

Willem Dafoe gives a compelling, Academy Award-nominated performance as Vincent Van Gogh in his difficult final years. Now resident in the South of France, he struggles to make a living and maintain bonds with the people in his life, including his brother Theo (Rupert Friend) and painter Paul Gauguin (Oscar Isaac).

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly director Julian Schnabel’s portrait captures Van Gogh’s ecstatic, almost spiritual creative response to the beauty of the natural world, as well as the wildly talented but profoundly lonely man capable of menacing behaviour and violent acts.

Switzerland/Ireland/UK/France/USA, 2018, 111 mins

Reviews: :: The Guardian :: The Observer :: The Telegraph ::

Friday 3 and Saturday 4 May

OUT OF BLUE (15)

Out Of Blue is Carol Morley’s stylish, offbeat noir thriller about a murder investigation and multiple realities, loosely adapted from Martin Amis’ novel, Night Train. Detective Mike Hoolihan is called out to the scene of a possible homicide at an observatory, where an expert on black holes has been shot at point-blank range. Patricia Clarkson plays the solitary recovering alcoholic detective recognising that the facts bear remarkable similarity to unsolved murders from the past and that every new piece of information seems to take her further away from understanding the crime. Clarkson captivates instantly in the lead role, ably supported by an impressive ensemble cast including James Caan, Jacki Weaver and Toby Jones.

USA/UK, 2018, 109 mins

Reviews: :: The Guardian :: The Observer :: The Telegraph ::

Thursday 9 May

3 FACES (15)

Jafar Panahi’s irrepressible, mischievous storytelling continues with 3 Faces, a perceptive sideways glance at the contradictions that exist in contemporary Iranian society.

Panahi’s new work sees Iranian actor Behnaz Jafari playing herself, distraught after receiving an apparent suicide note from a girl whose family forbid her to pursue studies at a drama school. Prompting a road trip, with Panahi in tow, to Iran’s rural north, where frequently farcical encounters and more dramatic interventions astutely reveal a myopic, patriarchal world view lurking beneath the veneer of quaint local traditions and rituals of hospitality.

Iran (Persian, Azerbaijani and Turkish dialogue with English subtitles), 2018, 101 mins

Reviews: :: The Guardian :: The Observer ::

Friday 10 May

US (15)

Jordan Peele follows up his Oscar winning hit Get Out with his latest horror, one of the most anticipated films of the year, described as a ‘new nightmare’.

Haunted by an inexplicable and unresolved trauma from her past, and compounded by a string of eerie coincidences, Adelaide is consumed by an increasingly sense of dread. When night falls and the family return to their holiday home, her paranoia elevates to high-alert as the silhouette of four figures are seen holding hands as they stand in the driveway.

Lupita Nyong’o and Elisabeth Moss give superb performances in an intensely unnerving horror film.

USA, 2019, 116 mins

Reviews: :: The Guardian :: The Observer :: The Telegraph ::

Saturday 11 and Thursday 16 May

THE SISTERS BROTHERS (15)

John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix star in French film-maker Jacques Audiard’s (A Prophet, Rust and Bone) subtle, darkly funny Western marking his English language debut. In 1850s Oregon, Eli and Charlie, are the quarrelling Sisters brothers, disreputable guys who are in fact assassins, working for the shadowy ‘Commodore’ (Rutger Hauer). Their new mission is to travel to San Francisco and ‘whack’ an individual with the unlikely name of Hermann Kermit Warm (Riz Ahmed), with the aid of a pompous private detective. Yet all is not what it seems, and gradually Eli and Charlie, like Butch and Sundance before them, begin to suspect there may be some pretty persistent people on their own tails.

The Sisters Brothers is a broad and appealing film, featuring salty and garrulous dialogue, occasional gory violence and a delightfully offbeat wit.

France/Spain/Romania/Belgium/USA, 2018, 122 mins

Reviews: :: The Guardian :: The Observer :: The Telegraph ::

Friday 17 and Saturday 18 May

WILD ROSE (15)

Jessie Buckley is irrepressible and charismatic in this inspiring comedy drama about a would-be country singer weary of her hum-drum life in Glasgow. Buckley plays Rose-Lynn Harlan, fresh out of prison and struggling to reconnect with her young children, while dreaming of the bright lights of Nashville. Wild Rose features excellent performances from Sophie Okonedo, and Julie Walters, but it is Buckley’s vocal chords, raising the roof with her joyous delivery of country music’s proverbial ‘three chords and the truth’, that demand your attention.

UK, 2019, 100 mins

Thursday 23 May

LORO (18)

The Great Beauty director, Paolo Sorrentino returns to the tumultuous sleaze of recent Italian politics last seen in Il Divo, with a no-holds-barred satire of the life and misfortunes of the corrupt, scandal-ridden Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his inner circle. Ambitious and salacious, Loro presents infamous events, both known and imagined, in a cynical, sharp-eyed portrayal of power and how to obtain it.

Sorrentino regular Toni Servillo plays Berlusconi, in a thought provoking character study that doesn’t glamorise the corruption and vulgarity we see on screen.

Italy/France (Italian dialogue with English subtitles), 2019, 151 mins

Further information regarding scenes used by the BBFC to determine the film's certification, may be found at the extended classification link – please note that this page contains spoilers.

Friday 24 and Saturday 25 May

RED JOAN (12A)

Renowned British theatre director Trevor Nunn casts Judi Dench as Joan Stanley, an unassuming retired physicist with a clandestine past. Adapted from the bestselling novel by Jennie Rooney and inspired by the life of British KGB agent Melita Norwood, the film finds Joan living quietly in suburban London in 2000 before she is charged with providing intelligence to Russia during the Cold War. Nunn’s well crafted thriller flashes back to 1938 and Joan (Sophie Cookson) studying physics at Cambridge and falling for Leo, a young socialist firebrand. Inevitably she has to face an ideological dilemma.

UK, 2018, 101 mins

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Stoke Film Theatre, College Road, Stoke-On-Trent, Staffordshire ST4 2EH Registered Charity no. 504600