George Rose: Death in the Caribbean

Actor George Rose travelled an unusual path from Bicester to Broadway. He lived in West Hampstead for the best part of a decade while he learned his craft from great actors and directors such as Tyrone Guthrie, Laurence Olivier, Peter Brook and John Gielgud. And after a very successful career on the stage, he died a tragic death in the Caribbean.

George was born in 1920 in the market town of Bicester, 15 miles north of Oxford. The son of a family butcher, he was educated at Oxford High School and went to see plays in the city every week. George left school at 16 to work as a secretary at Oxford University and then tried farming. After serving in the Army during WWII, George studied music at the Royal School of Music where he saw an advert for singers at the Old Vic and joined the company. With a letter of recommendation from Lawrence Olivier he got a one-year acting scholarship at the Central School of Speech and Drama; which was then at the Royal Albert Hall, moving to Swiss Cottage in 1957. Rose worked in Shakespeare at Stratford before joining Peter Brook’s productions at the Haymarket and the Phoenix theatres.

By 1948 Rose was living at 49 Howitt Road in Belsize Park before moving to 109 West End Lane in 1951. He stayed in West Hampstead and was at 21 Lymington Road in 1957, leaving by 1959.

He made his New York debut in the 1946 production of Henry IV, Part 1. He did two further Broadway productions, Much Ado About Nothing (1959), and A Man for All Seasons in 1961, when he moved permanently to New York. Rose became very successful on Broadway and won two Tony awards for his performances in a revival of My Fair Lady (1976) and in The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1986). He was particularly good at comedy roles ranging from Shakespeare to light opera, and in 1981 he appeared in The Pirates of Penzance with Kevin Kline and singer Linda Rondstadt.

Friends loved him for his warmth and eccentricities. Fellow actor Paul Scofield said George had ‘a smile like a big log fire’. In New York, George lived in a flat in Greenwich Village which he shared with a lynx, a mountain lion and other wild animals. His working life was devoted to theatre while his spare time was spent reading, cooking and listening to his collection of 17,000 records.

About 1979, George bought a holiday home in Sosua in the Dominican Republic. Friends warned him about the dangers of living there but he loved the country life as a break from New York. In 1984 he adopted a fourteen-year-old local boy called Juan and in 1986 made him heir to his $2 million estate.

In May 1988, the New York Times reported that George had been killed in a car crash in the Dominican Republic, but the local police soon said it was not an accident. Juan, now 18, his natural father and two other Dominican men confessed to having murdered the actor for fear that Rose had turned his attentions to a younger boy and was about to alter his will. The police said George had been held prisoner for eight hours. The men faked the car crash to try and hide the fact that George was beaten to death. They did not stand trial for the murder, though all but Juan were imprisoned for several years.

A few days before his death George had asked an American friend on the island to take him to see a lawyer as he wanted to change his will as he realised that Juan did not really care for him. But he never made the meeting. In a private settlement after George’s death, the penniless Juan received the house in Sosua, which he promptly sold and then he disappeared. He reappeared on the island in 1997, the year the three men were released from prison.

The Dominican authorities gave out little information about the murder as they wanted to protect the valuable tourist industry. This meant George’s friends and family were unaware of the details of his death for some time.

In June 1988, 800 people gathered in New York’s Shubert Theatre to celebrate George Rose’s life in a memorial service. Theatre producer Joe Papp referred to him as a Broadway legend. Henry Fonda once described his artistry as a marvel, and Jack Lemmon said Rose’s performances had given him the most pleasure in theatre. Cleo Laine, who appeared with him in Edwin Drood, recalled his singing and encyclopaedic knowledge of music. Lynn Redgrave said he taught her everything she knew about playing comedy and was the first person she phoned when she arrived in New York. In 1964, after George stole the grave scene from Richard Burton when they played together in Hamlet, Burton humorously said ‘Never share the stage with animals, children or George Rose’.

George Rose also appeared in more than 30 films – his IMDb entry lists 76 performances in film and TV between 1952 and 1988, and this does not include his many stage performances. Alix Kirsta wrote a very good article about Rose in the Sunday Times on 25 May 1997 which is available (along with many photos) on her website.

There was revived interest in Rose in January 2016, when Ed Dixon wrote and starred in a one man play Georgie: My Adventures with George Rose, which was performed in small theatres in New York. Dixon said he wanted to take the audience on his personal journey. In 1973, Ed had met and become friends with George who was 30 years older, when they toured together in The Student Prince. Dixon said, ‘He was famous and gay, powerful and gay, rich and gay. People couldn’t say no to George. His personality was overwhelming’. Dixon was in awe of Rose and the first hour of the play looked at his career with anecdotes and impressions of famous actors such as Laurence Olivier and Katharine Hepburn. In the last half hour Dixon tells how George had invited him to Sosua. Here, Ed said he felt uncomfortable with the young men at the house and he returned to New York. A short time later he heard about George’s death, and he was stunned and horrified as he learned the truth about his friend, mentor and idol.

Cinema on Fortune Green – Arrival in West Hampstead

FilmonFortuneGreen_ft

This Saturday, the Friends of Fortune Green is putting on its first screening of the summer. The film will be Arrival it’s a science-fiction movie from last year that got generally pretty good reviews. it will make you think and feel, but I don’t want to give too much away.

Due to popular demand, the screening will be cycle-powered. So, West Hampstead we need your leg power. There will be a couple of kid-suitable bikes for the younger audience members. But not too young as it’s a PG-13.

Arrival

As we’re almost at the longest day, and it needs to be dark for anyone to see the screen, the film will start at about 9.15pm. However, as those of you who’ve been to previous Films on Fortune Green will know, you need to get there early to bag a good spot.

It is an obvious bring-a-picnic event but Fortune Green offers other options; the Green Room is offering a hotdog, tortillas and popcorn special (best to pre-order), Nautilus has fish n’ chips (obvs) or if it’s a curry you’re after there is Bombay Nights. Whatever you chose, please take your rubbish home with you and keep the Green clean!

This weekend is also the Big Lunch/Jo Cox Great Get Together, so the aim is not only to show a great movie but to bring West Hampstead together at what continues to be a febrile time. Come along, meet your neighbours, celebrate your neighbourhood.

How much does it cost? It’s free; but… this screening is more expensive than the last couple. It’s costing more than £2,000 (including £100 to Camden for use of the park). A good part of this cost is sponsored by local estate agent Benham & Reeves (thank you) but the Friends are having to dip into their reserves so – if you can afford a donation it will allow them to put on future films (and if you don’t they can’t)!

There is a second summer screening planned for August 12th. As it is during the summer holidays it will be more kid-friendly (and will start earlier), though the exact film is to be decided.

Film on Fortune Green: Easy right?

Photo via Eugene Regis

Photo via Eugene Regis

Watching a film is a great communal experience. Watching that film outdoors surrounded by your friends and neighbours is even better. But it doesn’t happen by accident. As well as taking on the role of editor of West Hampstead Life, I’m also involved with the Friends of Fortune Green (FoFG). This is the fifth year of FoFG’s outdoor film screenings, so here’s a behind-the-scenes peak at putting on the outdoor film screening of Brooklyn this Saturday (June 4th) at 9pm (doors ‘open’ around 7pm).

First decision: what film? This is the judgement of Paris. Whatever we choose some are happy, others not. But be aware, dear reader, there are several factors that limit the films we can choose. We can only start screening at sundown, which at this time of year it is c. 9pm. If the screening has to end by about 10.30pm that means the film can be about 90 minutes long. This first screening starts later (sundown in August is 8pm), so it is aimed at an older audience, but it still needs to be suitable. For example, I’d forgotten the language in the Blues Brothers (our September 2013 offering) was, well, rather blue. It prompted Javi (aged 8) to comment with a smile the next day, “it was a bit rude”. Recently we realised that  films are available for public screening more quickly than when we started back in 2012. You, the people, seem to like recent movies, as we get bigger audiences so more recent films are to the fore. Hence, Brooklyn

Photo via Eugene Regis

Photo via Eugene Regis

However, it’s not just a question of ‘putting on a DVD’. To show a film legally we need a public screening licence, which costs c. £300. We also need to hire equipment, a decent projector, a good sound system and a big enough screen. It’s not cheap, but working with the more community-minded suppliers the hire cost is c. £400. If we get the popular cycle-cinema guys back for the August screening (not promising) that will cost a bit more.

Get there early to get a good view! Photo via Peter Coles

Get there early to get a good view! Photo via Peter Coles

On top of that, we have to pay Camden £100 for putting on an event on the Green. Yes really. In all fairness it does take officer time to monitor events taking place in parks across Camden (and they are seeking to raise revenue). They also need to review our health and safety form – we have to submit one of those too. As well as that, we have to apply to Camden for a TENS (temporary events licence). It’s a cumbersome seven page on-line form to fill in. So in total around £800 to put each screening, which is why we are really grateful to the local businesses that sponsor them. Thank you Benham & Reeves! (FoFG do ask for donations at screenings, as this adds to the pot should the day come when we can’t get a sponsor and we have to self-fund and also to help fund other activities and events).

So that’s everything? Not quite. We have to publicise the films! This involves leafleting the houses in the surrounding streets with 500+ flyers , time-consuming but not too bad if you do with someone else, as well as putting up posters and sending out e-flyers. Leaflet, e-flyer and posters all need drafting and copying. On the film night we have to set up the (heavy) equipment, steward the event and at the end pack the equipment up again – in the dark. The stuff on the night is the bit most people see but it’s just final one of many steps.

Finally, not forgetting the great British weather. From about ten days in advance we keep a beady eye on the long range forecasts with anxiety levels rising and falling along with the barometer as we get closer to the date and the forecast changes. Latest update – anxiety levels have fallen since this morning’s forecast for Saturday night is OK! Might be a spot of rain early evening but on the whole it’s good and warm(ish). Phew. See you at Brooklyn in West Hampstead.

So there you are: how to put on a outdoor film screening. Not quite as simple it appears, but worth the effort.  It’s not just me, it’s a joint FOFG committee effort but if you would like to help at this or future screenings don’t be shy, speak to a steward on Saturday.

NW6 Film Club July: Amy

Amy-PosterThere has been an equal amount of buzz and controversy about the new documentary from Asif Kapadia (creator of the remarkable Senna). Amy promises to tell the story of Amy Winehouse in her own words, featuring unseen archival footage and unheard tracks. It is also the holder of a 100% ‘fresh’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes after 34 reviews, which is no mean feat.

As a result, we thought it would make an excellent choice for our next NW6 Film Club meet up on Wednesday July 8th. This is the first time we have selected a documentary in the 2 ½-year history of the film club but we feel confident that this one will bear out our choice.

So what do you need to know?

  • Everybody is welcome!
  • We are going to the 8:40pm screening at the Tricycle Cinema on the Kilburn High Road on Wednesday July 8th
  • We will be meeting from 8:15pm in the bar area of the Tricycle, and there will be post film drinks in the Black Lion opposite.
  • If you want to sit with us then please ask for Row G when buying your tickets on the night (you don’t have to)

Should be a great night, see you all there!

Mark & Nathan

NW6 Film Club May: Mad Max Fury Road

Mad Max Fury RoadThirty six years ago (yes really!) – Australian ex-doctor George Miller made his astonishing first feature, Mad Max.This low budget post apocalyptic cost less than half a million dollars to make but grossed more than 100 million – making it one of the most successful movies (dollar for
dollar) of all time.

Not surprisingly it spawned a couple of sequels, Mad Max 2 being one of those rare sequels general regarded as superior to the original.

What’s perhaps more surprising is the 30 year gap between the third installment and the fourth, Mad Max Fury Road, which is this month’s Film Club choice.

Mad Max 4 should provide quite a contrast to our recent more restrained Film Club movies. That said, for all its high octane action, this movie is getting plenty of critical support too – currently a massive 99% on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s even being attacked as being “feminist propaganda“!

More than filling Mel Gibson’s shoes is the always superb Tom Hardy – whilst Charlize Theron apparently is at least his equal.

To get the full sensory overload we’re going to see it at the Imax Odeon Swiss Cottage on Wednesday 20th May at 9pm.

Tickets aren’t cheap but you can get a discount with Meerkat Movies. By all means tweet/search using #nw6filmclub to pair up. It could well be busy so best book well in advance.

We’ll meet in the bar at 8.30pm and assemble there after for a drink if we’re still conscious.

See you there!

Nathan, Mark and Jonathan

NW6 Film Club April 22nd: Force Majeure

ForceMajeureFor a while it’s seemed like you can’t turn on the TV without coming across yet another high quality Scandinavian drama series. It’s a remarkable achievement for a relatively small population a long way from the resources of Hollywood. The Nordic Noir phenomenon has also had some success in the cinema and now we have a new Swedish film getting rave reviews: Force Majeure.

The Times calls it “one of the most perceptive and savagely funny films of the year”; the Standard “a gripping film with a superb cast,” and the Guardian says it’s “compelling, intelligent and grimly entertaining”. It also warns that its not a date movie. So, the perfect film to see with your Film Club friends!

Force Majeure tells the story of a Swedish family on holiday in the French Alps. A tragic event changes everything and the film follows the repercussions. It may not sound like a cheery premise but many reviews describe the film as darkly funny. Come along and decide for yourself whether it’s a comedy, a tragedy or both.

We’re seeing the film at our usual home The Tricycle, but not on the usual day! We’ll be going to the 8.40pm screening on Wednesday April 22nd. As usual, we’ll meet in the bar beforehand from 8.10.

We’re delighted that once again there’s a special NW6 Film Club discount. Just quote WHAMPFILM when you book online or on the phone and you get £1 off.* To get the discount you must book ahead of the screening, if you just turn up on the day you’ll have to pay full price, and unfortunately it can’t be combined with other offers so if you’re already a Tricycle member, you’re better off using that to get £1.50 off.

As usual – book Row G if you want to sit with the rest of us (you don’t have to).

The film will end fairly late but hopefully there will be time to head to the Black Lion across the road for a very quick drink and discussion.

See you there,

Nathan, Mark and Jonathan

FILM CLUB FAQ
How do I join Film Club?
There’s no membership as such. Just come along to the screening and join us in the Tricycle bar beforehand to say ‘hi’.

How often does Film Club meet?
Usually once a month. The exact date depends on the schedules at The Tricycle (our usual home) and other local cinemas.

How can I hear about future Film Club events?
Just subscribe to the West Hampstead Life weekly newsletter, check the website or follow @NxNW6 on twitter.

* T&C’s: Limited offer, advance booking only. Not available retroactively or in conjunction with any other offer. Available at management’s discretion.

NW6 Film Club March 22nd: Still Alice

Still AliceWe’re now in that delicious post-Oscars season when the award-winning films we’ve heard so much about finally get a UK release and we get to see what all the fuss is about.

This month we’re going to see Still Alice, which won Julianne Moore a Best Actress Oscar. Perhaps surprisingly, this is her first despite having been nominated four times before. But by all accounts she gives an astonishing performance, quite possibly the best of her career – high praise indeed given her superb record. The rest of the cast is impressive too with Alex Baldwin and Kristen Stewart playing supporting roles.

The film is the story of a linguistics professor diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. It’s based on a novel written by a working neuroscientist, which was itself a phenomenon: it was self-published but went on to reach the New York Times bestseller list.

What’s also unsual is that the film is co-directed by a married couple – Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer. What’s more, Richard has ALS, another degenerative neurological disease, making this a film of immense personal significance.

The Telegraph calls it “astonishing” and gives it 5 stars. Mark Kermode in the Observer calls it “uplifting”.

We’re seeing it at our usual home The Tricycle, and we’ve negotiated a special NW6 Film Club discount.

Just quote WHAMPFILM when you book online or on the phone and you get £1 off. To get the discount you must book ahead of the screening, if you just turn up on the day, you’ll have to pay full price, and unfortunately it can’t be combined with other offers so if you’re already a Tricycle member, you’re better off using that to get £1.50 off.

As usual – book Row G if you want to sit with the rest of us (you don’t have to).

We’re seeing it on Sunday 22nd March. The film starts at 8.15pm and we’ll be in the bar from 7:45.

Afterwards we’ll head to the Black Lion across the road for a drink and discussion. The film isn’t too long so there should be time.

Hopefully see you there,

Nathan, Mark and Jonathan

NW6 Film Club February 8th: Selma

SelmaWith awards season in full swing we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to high quality movies.

After the superb Birdman, Film Club is going to see another Best Picture Oscar nominee. Selma is a film about Martin Luther King Jr and his fight for equal voting rights. MLK is a towering figure in American history: he has streets in over 700 US cities named after him not to mention his own birthday as a national holiday.

Which makes it extraordinary that this is the first major movie telling any part of his life story (at least I can’t think of any – please comment below if I’ve missed one).

The other astonishing fact about this movie is the sheer array of British acting talent. King himself is played by Brit David Oyelowo (for me best known as Danny from Spooks) and Tom Wilkinson is President Johnson. With King’s wife also British (Carmen Ejogo) and Tim Roth playing a major role – this is a real testament to the quality of British actors.

The film itself is getting rave reviews and numerous award nominations (as well as getting 99% positive review on Rotten Tomatoes). With racial politics in America as important an issue now as it’s ever been this is set to be a powerful and timely film.

We’re seeing it at our usual home – The Tricycle – on Sun 8th Feb.
The film starts at 8pm and we’ll be in the bar from 7:30.

Everyone is welcome, and you can book in advance or turn up on the day Book Row G if you want to sit with the rest of us (you don’t have to).

Afterwards we’ll head to the Black Lion across the road for a drink and discussion if it’s not too late.

Hopefully see you there,

Nathan, Mark and Jonathan

NW6 Film Club January 11th: Birdman

BirdmanFilm Club is back in 2015 with a movie that looks like it’s going to set the quality bar high for the new year.

Birdman is an extraordinary film from the visionary filmmaker Alejandro Iñárritu. It stars Michael Keaton; once a Hollywood A-lister thanks to his role as the superhero Batman, but an actor whose recent career hasn’t exactly been triumphant.

He plays an actor – once a Hollywood A-lister thanks to his role as the superhero Birdman – but whose recent career hasn’t exactly been triumphant.

As you can probably tell, this a satire on Hollywood that uses clever casting to blur onscreen and offscreen truths. It’s also a technical masterpiece, much of it filmed in a single take (or at least appearing as such).

Strange, funny, unique, beautiful and fun are just some of the adjectives being used in rave reviews. It has already won many awards and is a hot tip for Oscar success.

We’re going to see it at Kilburn’s Tricycle Cinema on Sunday 11th January. The film starts at 8pm and we’ll be in the bar from 7.30.

Everyone is welcome, and you can book in advance or turn up on the day. Book Row G if you want to sit with the rest of us (you don’t have to).

Afterwards we’ll head to the Black Lion across the road for a drink and discussion if it’s not too late.

Hopefully see you there,

Nathan, Mark and Jonathan

NW6 Film Club December 8th: St Vincent

St VincentAfter a great turnout for The Imitation Game, NW6 Film Club is back at the Tricycle on Monday December 8th, for another bargain night.

The movie is St Vincent – the story of a misanthropic hard living old man who unexpectedly ends up looking after a 12 year old boy. This may sound like a familiar set up – but apparently its elevated by superb performances from both from the leads.

Bill Murray has a career to die for and this is said to be one of his best – high praise indeed – while newcomer Jaeden Lieberher gives Bill a run for his money with an astonishingly assured performance as the teenager.

Since it’s the last Film Club of 2014 we’re planning to meet a little earlier: 7.30pm at the Black Lion on Kilburn High Road, for food and drinks. The pub does excellent 2-for-1 burgers on a Monday so you can enjoy bargain food as well as bargain cinema.

At the Tricycle, Monday tickets are just £6 and if you’re a Brent Resident then take along proof of address and you get a ticket for even less (£4.50). The film itself starts at 8.45pm so you might want to get your ticket first and then come and join us in the pub.

Everyone is welcome, and you can book in advance or turn up on the day Book Row G if you want to sit with the rest of us (you don’t have to).

Once again – we’re not meeting in the Tricycle bar but in the Black Lion pub opposite from 7.30. Do tweet us if you’re coming, or just turn up!

See you there,

Nathan, Mark and Jonathan

NW6 Film Club November 17th: The Imitation Game

imitationgameFew people’s lives seem more deserving of the cinematic treatment than Alan Turing’s. His achievements are astonishing: laying the mathematical foundations for all modern computers and helping the Allies win the Second World War by breaking the Enigma code. But his life encompassed tragedy as well as triumph – he was persecuted by the state for his homosexuality, with terrible consequences.

With such an epic life story it’s amazing that there hasn’t been a movie about him before (though there have been plays, books, documentaries and a made-for-TV film starring Derek Jacobi). A film about the Enigma story was made, though it strangely omitted Turing, replacing him with a very heterosexual fictional lead. But finally, Turing’s story is told in The Imitation Game. Lets hope it’s worthy of the man himself. The buzz is certainly extraordinary – it opened the London Film Festival and won the top award at the Toronto Festival.

It seems that if you want a portrayal of a repressed and socially awkward British genius there’s only one actor to turn to: Benedict Cumberbatch. His performance is reportedly so remarkable that it has even won over Turing’s family. With a cast that includes Keira Knightley, Mark Strong and Charles Dance, this looks set to be another showcase for British talent (albeit with a Norwegian director).

For a change, we’re going to see it on a Monday night, which thanks to the Tricycle’s generous Monday pricing means bargain tickets of just £6. Brent residents do even better; take along proof of address and you get a ticket for just £4.50.

The film is at 8.40pm, on Monday November 17th. As usual, we’ll meet in the bar beforehand from 8:15. Everyone is welcome, and you can book in advance or just turn up on the day. Book Row G if you want to sit with the rest of us (you don’t have to).

Afterwards we’ll head to the Black Lion across the road for a drink and discussion if it’s not too late.

See you there,

Nathan, Mark and Jonathan

NW6 Film Club October 19th: ’71

71-poster-400After the last month’s Film Club movie – the wonderful Pride – we are going to see another British film dealing with a troubled period of recent British history.

The movie is ’71 and whilst it’s probably not going to have the feel-good factor of Pride, it’s getting spectacular reviews (97% on Rotten Tomatoes) and great audience feedback.

The film is set in Belfast at the height of The Troubles and follows an English paratrooper as he fights to survive, alone, in a seemingly hostile land.

Don’t worry if you’re not an expert on the politics of Northern Ireland. By all accounts this film avoids big “P” politics and uses the real-life situation as the backdrop to a suspenseful thriller that should have everyone biting their nails. With great performances and superb direction from first-timer Yann Demange, this is lining up to be one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year so far:

“This taut drama about a British soldier caught behind enemy lines in Belfast is a cracking debut” The Guardian
’71 hurtles along, visceral and daring.” This Is London
“This is a tense, gripping thriller that combines real-world relevance with high-concept entertainment.” Empire

The film is on at the slightly earlier than usual time of 5:30 on Sunday 19th at the Tricycle Cinema. We’ll meet in the bar from 5pm and there should be plenty of time to chat about it over a drink afterwards.

Hope to see you there,

Nathan, Mark and Jonathan.

Local filmmaker sheds light on Great Train Robbery mystery

Simon Howley, a West Hampstead film maker, has spent two years producing a new documentary about the Great Train Robbery.

A Tale of Two Thieves features interview footage with one of the last surviving gang members, Douglas Gordon Goody, now 85 years old and living in Spain. He reminisces about the notorious 1963 robbery that shocked the nation. More than £2.6 million was stolen (the equivalent of almost £50 million today), and the train driver was badly beaten.

Simon, who has lived in West Hampstead for 20 years, travelled regularly to Spain during the production of the film to meet Goody and gradually built up a relationship with him. It wasn’t the original plan. “We set out to make a TV series about a rock legend, which never happened, but through our meeting with his management team we were introduced to Gordon Goody.”

Film producer Simon Howley (right) with Douglas Gordon Goody

Film producer Simon Howley (right) with Douglas Gordon Goody

Through meetings with Goody, the truth behind another kind of legend was uncovered – the identity of the man known only as “The Ulsterman”, the insider who passed vital information to the rest of the gang that enabled them to carry out the robbery. Goody broke a 50-year silence to name The Ulsterman as postal worker Patrick McKenna. The film production team hired a private detective to track down and identify the man in an attempt to piece together the missing elements of the story. It turned out McKenna had died some years earlier.

Simon says he and his team were not initially drawn to the project, thinking that the Great Train Robbery had been covered so many times that it was “old hat”; but upon meeting Goody “we realised that there was actually lots of life left in the story and a very strong new angle – first naming and then finding the mysterious insider.”

The film’s UK release was last Friday. No local screenings are slated as yet, but the documentary is available to buy on DVD from Amazon, or look out for it when it airs on TV in the new year.

goody_final_lg

NW6 Film Club September 14th: Pride

PrideAs the dark nights and drizzle approach there’s something to look forward to: NW6 Film club is back!

Our next film is Pride, a British movie that some are calling the new Full Monty.

It’s not always easy to predict a Brit Hit – who would have thought a movie about speech therapy would be a runaway success? Two themes that do feature in a lot of successful British films are industrial disputes (Billy Elliot, Brassed Off, Made in Dagenham) and sexuality (My Beautiful Laundrette, The Crying Game, Kinky Boots and many others).

Pride brings the two subjects together to tell the story of the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners campaign.

It’s one of those “so ridiculous it must be true” stories and early signs are promising – all 11 reviews currently on Rotten Tomatoes are positive. And if that’s not reason enough to see it, it has a superb British cast including local regulars Bill Nighy and Imelda Staunton.

What’s more, some scenes were even filmed locally.

We’re seeing the film at 8pm on Sunday 14th Sep at the Tricycle. As usual, we’ll meet in the bar from 7:30.

Everyone is welcome, and you can book in advance or turn up on the day (it pretty much never sells out on a Sunday night). Book Row G if you want to sit with the rest of us (you don’t have to).

Afterwards we’ll head to the Black Lion across the road for a drink and discussion.

See you there,

Nathan, Mark and Jonathan

NW6 Film Club July 21st – Boyhood

The next Film Club will be the last before we take a short summer break, but it should be a good one.

Boyhood_large

The film is Boyhood – a movie as unusual as its creator and the only film to be Film of the Week twice on West Hampstead Life! Director Richard Linklater is truly one of cinema’s unique talents. He’s made everything from mainstream comedy (School of Rock) to obscure animations (Waking Life).

He made the wonderful romantic Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight trilogy and now he’s back with perhaps his most ambitious project yet.

Boyhood follows the life of a child, Mason, from the age of 7 through to 19 – nothing too unusual there. What is unique is that it was filmed using the same actor growing up on screen in a sort of realtime – taking 12 years to complete.

The result is, by all accounts, phenomenal. Mark has already seen it called it “unique and brilliant”. On Rotten Tomatoes it currently has a very rare 100% rating. This could well be the film of the year. It’s so good Mark is going to come and see it again!

Because of the Monty Python codgers being broadcast live it’s not showing in the usual Sunday night slot. Instead we’re going to go to the Tricycle’s Monday night showing on July 21st at 8pm. That means we can benefit from the Monday night reduction: tickets are only £6 – what a bargain!

As usual, we’ll meet in the bar from 7:30.

Everyone is welcome, and you can book in advance or turn up on the day (it rarely sells out). Book Row G if you want to sit with the rest of us (you don’t have to).

If there’s time for a swift half afterwards then we’ll head to the Black Lion across the road for a drink and discussion.

See you there,

Nathan, Mark and Jonathan

NW6 Film Club June 1st – Jimmy’s Hall

After the mega-budget monster mayhem of Godzilla, NW6 returns to its usual home of the Tricycle for an all-together smaller scale drama – Jimmy’s Hall (not to be confused with Jimmy Hall – the harmonica player from Alabama). This is the latest film from veteran British director Ken Loach – with rumours that this might be his last. Loach has made almost two dozen films – including Kes, The Wind That Shakes the Barley and, my personal favourite, Land and Freedom.

Jimmy's Hall

His films are often political and Jimmy’s Hall is no exception. It’s based on a true story and deals with the tension between politics and religion in 1930s Ireland. But don’t let the politics put you off; Loach always seeks out the human stories behind the issues and whilst his films often deal the brutal realities of life, The Independent has called this one of his “sunniest, most optimistic films“.

The film is on at the Tricycle Cinema on Sunday 1st June at 8.15pm.

As usual, we’ll meet in the bar from 7.45pm. Everyone is welcome, and you can book in advance or turn up on the day (it very rarely sells out on a Sunday night). Book Row G if you want to sit with the rest of us (you don’t have to).

Afterwards we’ll head to The Black Lion across the road for a drink and discussion.

See you there,

Nathan, Mark and Jonathan

Godzilla – Opening night screening event

Up from the depths, 30 storeys high…. breathing fire all over the sky… Ballymore. GODZILLA

Godzilla

Thursday May 15th is the opening day of Godzilla and before the screening sells out completely we dived in and got the best 24 Odeon Premier seats in the house for a Film Club special opening night screening at the Swiss Cottage IMAX. Read on for more on the film and how you can join us.

West Hampstead Life‘s film correspondent Mark says, “Godzilla is a huge icon of Japanese cinema and hopes for this latest incarnation are sky high. With an excellent cast including Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston and with red hot Welsh director Gareth Edwards at the helm – this should be the blockbuster of the year.”

The plot synopsis is basic enough: “The world’s most famous monster is pitted against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity’s scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence”.

I’m sure everyone’s familiar with the general Godzilla concept, either from the 1980s cartoon series or the original Japanese films from the 1950s. Godzilla – originally devised as a metaphor for nuclear war – has fluctuated between being the outright enemy, the hero and sometimes the lesser of two evils.

It’s relatively unusual for a mainstream action film to have such an ambiguous character at its heart and it will be interesting to see whether Edwards is able to stick to his aim of capturing the essence of the original Japanese Godzilla while satisfying a contemporary blockbuster audience.

As you’ll see in the trailer, this 2014 reboot leans on the backstory, which is encouraging, and Legendary Pictures has a good track record with the Christian Bale Batman films of understanding the light and dark that makes all the best fictional characters interesting.

This will be the fourth of our #whampIMAX premiere nights after Dark Knight Rises, Skyfall and Man of Steel.

We all meet for a drink in the Odeon’s upstairs bar first and we’ll be talking to the cinema about arranging snacks etc. as well, which they’ve provided before. Then there’s plenty of time after the film to head back to the bar to dissect, criticise or heap unconditional praise on what we’ve just seen. Or talk about the weather.

To get your hands on tickets for the May 15th 7pm screening, simply mail with your name, mobile number and whether you’d like 1 or 2 tickets. The tickets are £20 each and I’ll contact you regarding payment. This is strictly first-come-first-served.

Film Club April 6: The Double

The Double

What do you get if you cross Dostoyevsky with The IT Crowd? Possibly The Double, a movie from Richard Ayoade (star of TV comedies and director of the impressive debut Submarine) based on a novella by the giant of Russian literature. It’s not a pairing you might expect but, judging by the reviews so far, it’s a good one.

The story on which the film is based was itself inspired by the writings of Dostoyevsky’s contemporary Nikolai Gogol. Gogol also inspired the book and movie, The Namesake. The film The Double itself has a namesake, the 2011 spy thriller staring Richard Gere. However that was pretty dire… so back to the film in question.

With the stellar pairing of Jesse Eisenberg (x 2) and Mia Wasikowska, an intriguing premise, and a great trailer it looks like it could be a hit. The Guardian gave it 5 stars – but what will film club make of it?

I hope you can join us at the Tricycle Cinema on Sunday 6th April. The film starts at 8pm and as usual, we’ll meet in the bar from 7:30.

Everyone is welcome, and you can book in advance or turn up on the day (it pretty much never sells out on a sunday night). Book Row G if you want to sit with the rest of us (you don’t have to).

Afterwards we’ll head to the Black Lion across the road for a drink and discussion.

See you there,

Nathan, Mark and Jonathan

Film Club March 9: Grand Budapest Hotel

GrandBudapestHotelWes Anderson is one of those directors whose films you can spot without even a glance at the credits.

His trademark elements: meticulously detailed perfectly composed shots, a timeless retro ambiance, quirky characters and dialogue, and Bill Murray.

If you check all those boxes you’ve got a Wes Anderson film. What his films don’t necessarily have is lots of action. But now Wes is back with Grand Budapest Hotel which has all the above, plus a gun fight, chase scenes, even a jail break.

With a spectacular cast (Ralph Fiennes, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Tilda Swinton to name just a few) and equally spectacular reviews (currently 91% on Rotten Tomatoes) – this looks like it could be the most accessible (and profitable) Anderson film to date.

But what will NW6 Film Club make of it? Is it as perfect as his beautiful composition, or as imperfect as his flawed characters?

To find out, join us at the Tricycle Cinema on Sunday March 9th at 8:30.
As usual, we’ll meet in the bar from 8.

Everyone is welcome, and you can book in advance or turn up on the day (it pretty much never sells out on a sunday night). Book Row G if you want to sit with the rest of us (you don’t have to).

Afterwards we’ll head to the Black Lion across the road for a drink and discussion.

Hopefully see you there,

Nathan, Mark and Jonathan

Film Club: Dallas Buyers Club Feb 9th

The envelope has been opened and the award for February’s NW6 film club offering has been decided. And the winner is… Dallas Buyers Club on February 9th at The Tricycle.

DallasBuyersClub

Yes, it’s awards season and so our screens are packed with high quality offerings. The next of the main Oscar contenders to get a UK release is Dallas Buyers Club: the true story of an unlikely hero who fought the medical establishment to get the AIDS drugs he needed. With six nominations, including best picture and best actor, and an impressive 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it looks set to be a strong contender.

A few years ago, the idea of Film Club going to a Matthew McConaughey movie might have seemed ridiculous. Although his mainstream rom-com offerings were always successful, they were largely devoid of critical success. Matthew’s acting style tended towards the wooden, earning him the nickname Matthew Mahogany.

Over the past few years that has changed, with Matthew taking on a series of challenging roles in independent films: from Mud to Magic Mike and now Dallas Buyers Club. For his latest role he not only had to lose his plank-like acting style but also his bodyfat – shedding a reported 23kg. It paid off and he’s received rave reviews and his first Oscar nomination.

The film is on at the Tricycle on Sunday 9th Feb at 8.30pm. If you want to book, then we suggest you select Row G (this way you can book online). There’s no compulsion to sit with us though, and you can book in advance or turn up on the day (it pretty much never sells out on a Sunday night).

We’ll meet in the bar from 8pm and head to The Black Lion across the road for a drink and chat afterwards. Everyone’s welcome, so see you there!

Nathan, Mark and Jonathan

Mandela for NW6 Film Club Jan 5th

If you’ve been super organised and got your 2014 diary already then here’s a date for it: NW6 Film Club on Sunday 5th Jan.

We’re kicking off the New Year with what should be a great start: the biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. There couldn’t be a more appropriate time to look back at the life of this unique leader – the film’s London premier was on the very day of Mandela’s death.

MandelaLongWalkToFreedom

Despite the subject matter, this film is another triumph for UK talent. Its director (Justin Chadwick), writer (William Nicholson) and stars (Idris Elba and Naomie Melanie Harris as Nelson and Winnie) are all British. The film is based on Mandela’s autobiography – and his life certainly has enough drama to compete with any Hollywood script.

But is the movie the tribute such a great man deserves? Or is it impossible to capture his epic story in a mere 2 1/4 hours? Come along and find out.

We’re returning to The Tricycle in Kilburn, where the film starts at 7pm.
http://www.tricycle.co.uk/current-programme-pages/cinema-program/cinema/mandela-long-walk-to-freedom/

We’ll meet at 6:30 in the Tricycle Bar, which also does light food.

As usual, we have a reserved block of seats so if you book by phone (020 7328 1000) or at the box-office, mention the Film Club if you want to sit with the rest of us (you don’t have to!) Unfortunately you can’t book a seat in that block online – but the film is unlikely to sell out so you should be able to just turn up on the day.

As usual, follow @NxNW6 and we’ll let you know if it’s filling up. If you can, drop us a tweet to let us know you’re coming. Hopefully everyone will have recovered enough to go for a drink and discussion after the film.

Hopefully see you there,

Nathan, Mark and Jonathan

Whampfilm Review 2013

It’s been a fantastic year in local film with the opening of a new cinema, some great one-off events and the introduction of the NW6 Film Club.

We continue to be spoilt in NW6 and NW3 with the sheer abundance of places to watch films. If you haven’t had the chance to check out the latest addition to the group (the cinema at the JW3), then we cannot recommend it enough – it’s akin to a private screening room and all for the same price as a ticket to the Vue.

Elsewhere we ran a series of one-off film events from the opening night of Man of Steel at the local IMAX to the regular monthly strand of the NW6 Film Club that took in less commercial films such as Trance, The Bling Ring and, most recently, Blue is the Warmest Colour across local independent cinemas.

Thank you to all of you who attended these events, they would be nothing without you.

The film club kicks off again in January next year with the much anticipated Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom at the Tricycle on Sunday 5th.

Hopefully we will see a few of you there.

We have listed some of our favourite films of the year below, let us know what we’ve missed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the five that just missed the cut?
Upstream Colour, SpringBreakers, Blue is the Warmest Colour, Captain Philips, Stories We Tell.

Our full list of films of the year is up here: http://letterboxd.com/nxnw6/list/best-of-2013/

Have a good Christmas and New Year and see you all in 2014,

Mark

NW6 Film Club is back!

December 8th 5.30pm – Blue is the Warmest Colour – JW3

by Nathan Williams

After a slightly extended break (sorry about that!), the film club returns with a special event: an epic romance that’s received rave reviews at a stunning new venue.

The film is Blue Is the Warmest Colour – the story of a passionate affair between two women based on a graphic novel. The film is controversial, both because of its explicit nature (one sex scene reportedly took 10 days to shoot) and because the author of the original novel disowned it as a straight person’s fantasy. Others have been much kinder. It won the Palme d’Or at Cannes and has been getting great reviews.

It’s not often that The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph agree on something but both have given this film 5 stars.

It’s been called “an extraordinary, prolonged popping-candy explosion of pleasure” (Telegraph) and “a film of extraordinary richness and emotional complexity” (Independent). But what will NW6 make of it?

We’re seeing the movie at the neigbourhood’s latest addition to an already stellar collection of cinemas: JW3.

This new Jewish Community centre has a luxury 60 seat cinema that shows a wide variety of films. It also has a cafe/bar where we’ll gather after the film to discuss the movie and enjoy a drink or food.

The film is at 5.30pm on Sunday December 8th. It’s three hours long, so you definitely get your money’s worth – but as it should starting at 5.30 prompt there will be plenty of time to chat afterwards.

We’ll meet around 5pm in the cafe and we recommend you book your cinema ticket in advance as we’ve no idea how popular it will be. There’s a special event page here.

We’ll have a reserved block so, if you book by phone, mention the film club if you want to sit with the rest of us (you don’t have to!)

As usual, follow Mark’s @NxNW6 twitter account and the #nw6filmclub hashtag for the latest and if you can, drop us a tweet to let us know you’re coming.

Hopefully see you there,

Nathan, Mark and Jonathan

JW3 Cinema

JW3 cinema: comfortable and eclectic

As keen readers of this website, you will have of course know about JW3, the brand spanking new Jewish community centre that has opened on the corner of Finchley Road and Lymington Road. But had you caught up yet with the fact that it has its very own cinema? Clearly, I had to investigate.

The JW3 centre officially opened late last month, and cost a reported £50m. It is aiming to become a cultural hub for north-west London and beyond. The facilities are impressive: a large hall with the capacity to hold concerts, theatre shows, weddings and bar mitzvahs and a kosher restaurant. They also include a 60-seat screening room which hosts both recent cinema releases as well as Jewish film festivals.

Keen to check out the centre, we went to see Woody Allen’s latest, Blue Jasmine, last Saturday night. The experience was excellent, akin to a private screening room (think great comfort and relaxed atmosphere). We booked ahead (advisable) and our seats were unreserved, so my advice would be to get there early. Tickets were priced at £12 (equivalent to the multiplex and notably cheaper than the Everyman), and there are no pre-film trailers or advertisements.

If you are thinking of heading down and, based on my experience, you really should, it’s worth noting that the JW3 cinema will offer an eclectic programme. It won’t necessarily screen the latest blockbusters so check its website as well as the NxNW6 film listings on these pages to check out what’s on when. There are regular slots for “Golden Oldies”, family films, and all manner of other film delights, such as the Misogynists Film Club (don’t worry, it’s “a feminist celebration of the terrible portrayal of women in cinema”), and even some Israeli TV.

With six cinemas all within walking distance of West End Lane [Ed: you walk faster than most people!], we were already spoiled for choice. With the addition of this new jewel, we now have an embarrassment of riches. Let me know what you think.

Film on Fortune Green: We’re on a mission from God

Yes! Sanity prevailed. The people spoke (well, 186 of them did) and the overwhelming winner in the vote for August 31st’s Film on Fortune Green is The Blues Brothers.

This classic musical comedy from 1980 stars Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi and was directed by John Landis. It features cameos from some of America’s musical legends – most famously Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and James Brown. It also has one of the best (and longest) car chase sequences of all time and spawned a thousand tribute bands, imitators and wannabes.

It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark… and we’re wearing sunglasses.

The film starts at 7.45pm, and will once again be bike-powered (volunteers are very welcome indeed), but come earlier to grab a good spot and bring a picnic. It is a 15 certificate, though that’s really for a few swear words (always in context, of course) rather than anything more disturbing for younger kids. It’s really a glorified cartoon – and brilliant for it.

These film nights are getting more and more popular and this one should be even better. Bring your dark glasses and thin black ties and lets get our whampblues on.

Jake and Elwood Blues – They’re on a mission from God
Rapt audience for Back to the Future in June

Vote for the next Fortune Green film

Everyone agreed that the screening of Back to the Future in June was a huge success, and the Friends of Fortune Green raised enough money that night to put on another bike-powered summer film on Saturday August 31st.

Photo via Mark Stonebanks

Mark “The Hills are Alive” Stonebanks, chair of the FoFG, is determined that it should be a musical, but is leaving the choice up to the Great Whamp Public. He’s come up with a shortlist based on some early suggestions and you can vote for your favourite.

The choices are:

  • Bugsy Malone (1976, Jodie Foster, dir Alan Parker – famous for the custard gun scene)
  • Fame (1980, Irene Cara, dir Alan Parker – famous for legwarmers (but not as good as the TV series))
  • Footloose (1984, Kevin Bacon, dir Herbert Ross – famous for the theme tune)
  • The Blues Brothers (1980, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, dir John Landis – famous for being bloody brilliant)
  • Les Misérables (2012, Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, dir Tom Hooper – famous for being entirely in song)

You have to go the Friends of Fortune Green event site to vote (scroll down when you get there). Far be it from me to sway your vote in any particular direction. I shall just leave you with this.

NW6 Film Club: The Bling Ring on July 14th

It’s nearly time for the next instalment of NW6 Film Club, and this month’s offering is not only a great pick, but also one of the most eagerly awaited films of the year.

Sofia Coppola’s films have fallen into two distinct camps: either they focus on the reality of celebrity, especially its claustrophobic qualities (Lost in Translation, Somewhere), or they feature teenagers who are desperate and isolated from society (The Virgin Suicides). It could be argued that The Bling Ring contains elements from both strands.

The Film Club screening is at The Tricycle Cinema in Kilburn at 8pm on Sunday 14th July. We’ll meet in the bar at the Tricycle from 7.30pm. There’s no need to tell us you’re coming – though a tweet is always welcome.

You can book through the Tricycle Box Office on 020 7328 1000 – we will have a reserved block right in the centre of the cinema so mention “NW6 Film Club” if you want to sit with us (or don’t if you don’t!). It’s unlikely to be booked out so feel free to come along on the night as well.

After the film we’ll go to the Black Lion opposite the cinema for a drink and a chat. We’ll wait at the top of the stairs for a few minutes after the film finishes and head over together but if you miss us there then just head over.

The film is 90 minutes long, so there should be time for a good post-movie discussion. As always, follow @NxNW6 for updates on Twitter (or the #nw6filmclub hashtag), and hopefully we will see you on Sunday 14th.

Mark (@NxNW6) and Nathan (@nathankw)

NW6 Film Club: Once more unto the breach

A slightly different tack for June’s NW6 Film Club – and a discount price! The Tricycle is one of the cinemas that’s teamed up with the Globe Theatre to show three productions from last year’s season at the open-air theatre on the South Bank.

First up is perennial crowd-pleaser Henry V, on Sunday June 9th. The screening starts at 5.30pm and there’s a Q&A afterwards with artistic director Dominic Dromgoole, Jamie Parker who plays the title role, and Brid Brennan who plays Queen Isabel. The screening includes the interval.

The production was very well received by the critics (see here, and here), and is always apt whenever the country finds itself in conflict – be it to support or criticise the idea of war and leadership. If you’re not sure about Shakespeare, this might be a good one to try out. The story is easy to follow, there’s not too much witty wordplay or sub-plots involving twins, and it’s fairly action-packed.

The Tricycle has very kindly given us a discount for this screening. Normally, tickets are £15, but NW6 Film Clubbers can get them for £10. To benefit from this, either ring the box office on 020 7328 1000 or book online using code “NW6FilmClub”.

You do need to book in advance for this one and we don’t have a pre-booked block of seats. However, we’ll meet beforehand in the bar as per usual, and we’ll also have a table reserved in the bar for the interval. What’s not to love?

See you there!
Mark, Nathan and Jonathan