“Help the aged! One time they were just like you,” Jarvis Cocker implored us back in 1997. “Drinking, smoking cigs and sniffing glue.”
We may not all have sat on gran’s knee as she regaled us with tales of her nights on the Bostik, but there’s no denying that the spectre of old age – our own and that of the people we love – hangs over us in ways we’d often rather not think about.
There’s no getting away from it, though, with this week’s new releases, as Vortex follows a couple struggling with mental and physical infirmity, while regret and redemption are much on the mind of the elderly Siegfried Sassoon in Benediction.
Not the lightest week at the cinema, then – but those in search of a bit of big screen escapism can experience summer in the Catskills as never before, courtesy of Dirty Dancing In Concert.
Rising star Jack Lowden (Fighting With My Family) has received glowing reviews for his portrayal of the celebrated First World War poet Siegfried Sassoon in this biographical drama.
Switching between different stages of his life (Lowden’s fellow Scot Peter Capaldi plays his older incarnation), the film follows Sassoon as he becomes renowned for his anti-war verses, later embarking on a series of affairs with men before seeking a life of heterosexual and religious conformity.
It’s the latest film from Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea, Sunset Song), a man regarded by many as one of Britain’s greatest living filmmakers, and follows his well-received biopic of another poet, Emily Dickinson, in 2016’s A Quiet Passion.
This drama about a family dealing with the ravages of dementia comes as something of a curveball from Gaspar Noé, the Argentinian director famed for the provocative likes of 2002’s brutal psychological thriller Irréversible.
Conceived during lockdown and inspired in part by Noé’s experiences with his own mother, the film follows an elderly Parisian couple whose loving marriage is being increasingly and irrevocably impacted by the slow creep of Alzheimer’s.
The unnamed couple are played by two icons of international cinema in the form of veteran French actress Françoise Lebrun and Dario Argento, the legendary director of Italian giallo horrors such as Suspiria.
If the film’s unflinching approach has left some critics a little cold – Time Out opined that ‘it does start to feel like rubbernecking’ by the end – it’s also afforded Noé some of the best reviews of his career, with the Guardian’s five-star review hailing it as ‘a work of wintry maturity, and real compassion’.
The Road Dance
Set in the Hebrides in 1916, this Scottish drama follows a young woman who longs to escape the confines of her small island community – but whose life takes a tragic turn on the night of a village dance.
When Kirsty (Hermione Corfield) is sexually assaulted at a party in honour of the young men of the village about to go off to war – including her boyfriend Murdo (Will Fletcher) – she finds herself pregnant and unable to tell anyone what has happened.
Adapted from the novel by John MacKay, the film won the audience award at last year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival, and the supporting cast includes Morven Christie (The A Word) and Mark Gatiss.
In Concert screening
Dirty Dancing In Concert
Ready to feel the way you never felt before – again?
With the recent news that a 1990s-set sequel is due to go into production later this year, here’s a chance to relive the enduring 1980s favourite on the big screen, with a live band and singers performing the iconic soundtrack.
The fun doesn’t end when the credits roll either, as the film is followed by an encore party where you can sing along to all your faves.
Tickets range from £29.95 to £65.30 and can be booked from the Barbican’s website.
The 80s nostalgia doesn’t stop with Dirty Dancing – showing at City Screen and Vue on Fri 20th, a-ha: The Movie (City Screen, Vue, Fri 20th) sees the Norwegian hitmakers look back at their career, from the chart-topping glory days to the behind-the-scenes bust-ups.
There’s also a chance to go back to the future of law enforcement when RoboCop returns for a 35th anniversary victory lap (Vue, Fri 20th and Mon 23rd; City Screen, Weds 25th) – fans may or may not be pleased to hear that a ‘legacy sequel’ to Paul Verhoeven’s iconic sci-fi tale is, inevitably, currently in development.
When it comes to anniversaries, RoboCop’s got nothing on our Liz – as the Platinum Jubilee approaches, new documentary Elizabeth: A Portrait in Parts looks back over the Queen’s 70-year reign, and you can catch a preview screening at City Screen, Everyman and Vue on Weds 25th.
Trumping them both is Vampyr (City Screen, Sun 22nd), a macabre early horror landmark back in cinemas for its 90th anniversary, and famed for its surreal and hallucinatory visuals – like many a creepy big screen tale, it begins with a lone traveller arriving in a sinister fog-shrouded locale, and suffice to say the local inn won’t be scoring too highly on Tripadvisor…
On Mon 23rd, City Screen continue their Gaspar Noé Presents season with 1952’s Umberto D. – this Italian neorealist drama, about a pensioner trying to make ends meet in post-war Italy, was an inspiration for Noé’s portrait of a struggling elderly couple in Vortex.
Meanwhile, Everyman’s Nicolas Cage season comes to a spectacular conclusion on Tues 24th with one of the actor’s most highly rated films of recent years, 2018’s Mandy, a head-spinning, horror-infused revenge tale boasting demonic bikers, a chainsaw duel and a Cage freakout for the ages.
Bond is dead! Long live Bond! George Lazenby steps into Sean Connery’s shoes this week as Vue’s 007 season arrives at 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (Sat 21st), a film which survived its initial underwhelmed reception to become seen by many as one of Bond’s best, counting Christopher Nolan and Steven Soderbergh among its champions and getting a respectful nod in last year’s No Time To Die too.
Not likely to be undergoing a critical reappraisal any time soon is 2017’s little-loved The Emoji Movie, which is this week’s Kids’ Club choice at City Screen (Sat 21st, tickets £3.00) – but happily two firm family favourites are available at Cineworld and Vue, with Cineworld’s Movies For Juniors strand showing the all-conquering Encanto (Sat 21st/Sun 22nd, £2.50), and Vue’s Mini Mornings hosting the antics of Lilo and Stitch (Sat 21st/Sun 22nd, £2.49).