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All films start at 7.45pm unless otherwise stated.

Tuesday 16 and Thursday 18 October

FACES PLACES (12A)

Faces Places is a deeply charming and life-affirming documentary following the filmmaker Agnès Varda, and enigmatic street artist and photographer, JR, on a road trip across rural France in JR’s “magic” truck, which resembles a huge camera and doubles as a photo studio that spits out oversize polaroids.

Working from Varda’s stated premise of examining what it takes to make a meaningful piece of art, they explore villages and meet their residents, all the while creating large-scale portraits in unconventional locations.

Faces Places is a real joy, an invitation to consider creativity that sheds new light on the transformative power of art and friendship.

France (French dialogue with English subtitles), 2017, 94 mins

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

Friday 19 and Saturday 20 October

KING OF THIEVES (15)

A stellar British cast brings the astonishing true story of the Hatton Garden Hiest to the screen. Man On Wire and Theory Of Everything director James Marsh’s crime drama is led by Sir Michael Caine, who joins Jim Broadbent, Ray Winstone, Michael Gambon, Tom Courtenay and Charlie Cox as the retired and bored veteran criminals planning a major robbery in London's jewellery district; but w hat starts off as their last hurrah quickly turns into a nightmare.

UK, 2018, 108 mins

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

Tuesday 23 October

TEHRAN TABOO (15)

Tehran Taboo provides a rare glimpse into Tehran’s stratified society, in which sex, drug use and other taboos must be concealed beneath the veil of 'morality' and the public propriety demanded by Iran's oppressive theocratic regime. Director Ali Soozandeh uses an eye-popping colour palette and a combination of rotoscoping, motion capture and hand-drawn animation, to create a unique aesthetic and compelling comic book feel, to tell interweaving personal stories of three women.

Lively and captivating, Tehran Taboo has earned comparisons with Persepoli and Waltz With Bashir, exploding the double sexual and gender standards of traditional Iranian public life.

Germany/Austria (Persian dialogue with English subtitles), 2017, 96 mins

Thursday 25 October

THE GENERAL (U)

Buster Keaton is at his sublime best, co-directing and starring as Johnny Gray, a Southern railroad engineer who loves his train engine, The General, almost as much as he loves Annabelle Lee (Marion Mack). At the start of the Civil War he attempts to enlist, but fails when he is deemed too useful as an engineer to be a soldier; misunderstanding, all Johnny knows is that he's been rejected, and Annabelle, thinking him a coward, turns her back on him. When Northern spies steal the General and, unwittingly, its passenger Annabelle, Johnny must use every means possible to catch up to the engine, thwart the Yankees, and rescue his darling Annabelle.

The General is a true cinematic landmark, a virtuoso slapstick comedy romance, with an unflagging momentum carried by Keaton’s deadpan humour and impeccable timing.

USA (b/w, silent with live accompaniment), 1926, 79 mins

 

This screening is supported by the BFI Film Audience Network and is part of the BFI Comedy Genius season. The film will be complemented by live musical accompaniment from Stephen Horne, silent film musician and composer.

Friday 26 October

LUCKY (15)

Harry Dean Stanton’s last role provides a perfect tribute in this funny and touching portrait of an ageing maverick staring down mortality. He plays Lucky, a fiercely independent 90-year-old atheist, who has out-drank, out-smoked and out-lived all of his contemporaries in his a small desert town in New Mexico. When a fall jolts Lucky from his comfort zone, he begins to vary his routine and undertake an unexpectedly late-in-life journey of self-exploration.

Director John Carroll Lynch‘s impressive cast includes Tom Skerritt, Ed Begley Jr and, in a rare acting role, David Lynch, as an appropriately eccentric bar buddy with a fugitive pet tortoise.

Touching and powerful, Lucky is a fitting coda to an iconic and brilliant career spanning six decades.

USA, 2018, 88 mins

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

Saturday 27 October

THE LITTLE STRANGER (12A)

Adapted from Sarah Waters’ acclaimed novel, The Little Stranger is a Gothic thriller set in the long hot summer of 1948, when Dr Faraday is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall, where his mother once worked as a housemaid. Home to the Ayres family for more than two centuries, the Hall is now in decline, and its inhabitants at the centre of a ghost story that Faraday will soon discover he is entwined in.

Lenny Abrahamson directs an atmospheric tale drawing understated performances from a strong British cast headed by Domhnall Gleeson and Ruth Wilson.

Ireland/UK/France, 2018, 111 mins

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

Tuesday 30 October

HALLOWEEN (18)

++ Halloween Special ++

John Carpenter’s archetypal horror introduces the most cinematic of bogeymen, Michael Myers, the homicidal maniac and mental hospital escapee, back in the small town of Haddonfield, Illinois, to kill again; and its heroine, Laurie Strode (played in full Scream Queen mode by Jamie Curtis), whose sister was Michael’s victim fifteen years earlier.

USA, 1978, 89 mins (+ optional 15 min Q+A)

A newly recorded Q+A with John Carpenter will follow this screening.

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.

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

Thursday 1 November

THE RIDER (15)

Chloé Zhao’s award-winning impressionistic drama casts real-life wrangler Brady Jandreau as a South Dakota cowboy struggling to chart a new course after a terrible injury sustained in the saddle. Barely recovered from a near-fatal accident, young bronco rider Brady attempts to regain control of his fate, torn between pursuing his career in rodeo against the doctor’s advice or quitting while he still can.

Zhao’s strikingly authentic film uses non-professional actors (and real-life riders) to play semi-fictionalised versions of themselves, to ask the question, What does a cowboy become when he can no longer ride?  To explore the mythology of the American west and notions of masculinity in the aftermath of tragedy.

USA, 2017, 103 mins

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

Friday 2 November

MANDY (18)

In a mountain-cabin idyll, lumberjack Red Miller (Nicolas Cage) lives in perfect harmony with his great love Mandy (Andrea Riseborough). But the couple’s blissful utopia is cruelly shattered when a ragtag band of Satanic cultists invade their humble abode and claim Mandy for their own. Traumatised and distraught, Red is left with no option but to exact a bloody revenge.

Panos Cosmatos directs an oddball nightmarish fantasy yarn that is horrible and ludicrous, equal parts supernatural splatter horror and hypnotic, Cronenberian gallery installation, centred on an all-time-great Nicolas Cage freakout performance.

USA/Belgium, 2018, 121 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.

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

Saturday 3, Tuesday 6 and Thursday 8 November

THE WIFE (15)

Joe Castleman (Jonathan Pryce) is being given the Nobel Prize for Literature, and he and wife Joan couldn’t be happier. But from the moment the couple arrive in Stockholm, tensions rise; as long-kept secrets are in danger of being illuminated by a nosy, insistent would-be biographer and past indiscretions are brought to the fore.

Glenn Close gives a masterful performance as a Joan, who has spent forty years sacrificing her own dreams and ambitions to support those of her husband with grace and humour, but is now beginning to question the compromises and choices that she has made.

A hugely enjoyable, poignant drama adapted from Meg Wolitzer’s 2003 novel, The Wife is a celebration of womanhood, self-discovery and liberation.

UK/Sweden/USA, 2017, 100 mins

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

Friday 9 and Saturday 10 November

A STAR IS BORN (15)

Bradley Cooper directs and co-stars in this supremely watchable update of the timeless love story, playing Jackson Maine, a gravel-voiced country-rocker seemingly at the peak of his fame, but personally and emotionally running on empty. One night, when low on booze, he makes a detour to a nondescript bar, where he discovers an unconventionally beautiful and talented young singer. Lady Gaga is bewitching in Streisand's shoes as Ally, whose glorious career soars while Jackson’s spirals downwards.

UK/USA, 2018, 136 mins

Tuesday 13 November

SKATE KITCHEN (12A)

Camille is an introverted 18-year-old skateboarder, recuperating from a startling injury on Long Island, where she lives with her single mother. Camille has promised that she’ll hang up her board, but after discovering “The Skate Kitchen,” a subculture of girls whose lives revolve around skating, on Instagram, she bravely seeks them out. The sexually fluid, rambunctious big-city girls quickly adopt the naive Camille as part of their gang, and she’s soon featuring in their trick videos and experiencing a wild life.

Crystal Moselle follows up The Wolfpack with this poetic, free-wheeling and funny film that focuses on young female skateboarders in New York City, to capture the experience of women and the importance of camaraderie and self-discovery.

USA, 2018, 106 mins

Thursday 15 November

DOGMAN (15)

A masterful tale of twisted friendship from Gomorrah director Matteo Garrone.

Marcello is an unassuming dog groomer living in a grotty seaside village near Rome, eking out a meagre living and running petty errands for local thieves while trying to be a good father to his devoted young daughter. After making the mistake of supplying cocaine to the local bully Simone, Marcello finds himself trapped in a perilous relationship and led towards further, ever more serious criminality.

Garrone’s visceral and intelligent drama has an understated, tragicomic atmosphere, detailing the minutiae of lives on the margins, aided in no small part by Marcello Fonte’s terrific central performance which deservedly earned him the Best Actor award at Cannes.

Italy/France (Italian dialogue with English subtitles), 2018, 102 mins

Friday 16, Saturday 17 and Tuesday 20 November

FIRST MAN (12A)

Damien Chazelle reunites with his La La Land star Ryan Gosling, in an elegant, epic biopic, relating the last leg of the space race from the perspective of the aeronautical engineer turned NASA astronaut who would go on to win it. Gosling’s thoughtful character study brings Neil Armstrong back down to earth, to suburbia and the domestic fallout from his single-minded commitment to the mission, through the slow build-up of the 1960s and the pain of failed launches, bungled tests and tragedies.

USA, 2018, 138 mins

Thursday 22 November

UTØYA - JULY 22 (Cert TBC)

Utøya – July 22 recounts the murderous attack on a youth summer camp on Utøya island in 2011 by far-right terrorist Anders Behring Breivik from the perspective of 18-year-old Kaja. Filmed on Utøya island in a single take, director Erik Poppe’s camera ceaselessly follows Kaja, starting with her and her friends’ shock at the news of the initial bombing in nearby Oslo and their seeking reassurance that their relatives are safe. But their sense of their own isolated security is shattered as shots ring out. As the threat grows closer, minute by minute, Kaja tries desperately to survive, hiding from Breivik and marshalling and bringing some small comfort to younger children, even as she searches for her own missing sister.

Utøya – July 22 isn’t easy viewing, but it’s a lucid, critical reminder of the tremendous cost of mass tragedy and a powerful memorial to its young survivors, who refused to let Breivik kill their ideals.

Norway (Norwegian dialogue with English subtitles), 2018, 92 mins

Friday 23 November

A SIMPLE FAVOR (15)

Paul Feig’s unexpected detour from comedies such as Bridesmaids and The Heat, is a fresh, stylish Gone Girlesque film noir starring Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively. Adapted from Darcy Bell’s best-selling novel A

Simple Favour centres around mommy blogger Stephanie, who seeks to uncover the truth behind her wealthy, beautiful best friend Emily’s sudden disappearance. She is joined in her search by Emily’s husband Sean, but is soon embroiled in troubling ambiguities and the revolving question of who is duping whom. This is a hugely entertaining thriller filled with twists and betrayals, secrets and revelations, love and loyalty, murder and revenge.

UK, 2018, 117 mins

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