How wonderful to have a local film club where you meet other people interested in really good films, films you might have missed the first time around or been desperate to see again – and preferably in nice company with a glass of complimentary wine in your hand. This is what Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery organises each month.
The season started with 84 Charing Cross Road in January and now for February there is The Verdict, a film that won five Academy Awards. It is an unusual courtroom drama directed by the star director Sidney Lumet based on a screenplay by David Mamet and it stars Paul Newman, James Mason and ever glorious Charlotte Rampling. Paul Newman is an alcoholic lawyer on the skids and in order to save his reputation he takes on what is seen as a hopeless medical malpractice case. He fights against the smart lawyers provided by the Catholic hospital and the Church. It is a truly gripping drama and Newman is at his best.
March offers another courtroom drama, but a totally different case. This is To Kill a Mockingbird, one of the world’s most popular books and a film that won three Academy Awards including Best Actor for Gregory Peck. Harper Lee’s novel, her first and only one until her second one was published last year to little acclaim. This is her masterpiece and it has lost nothing of its significance since she won the Pulitzer Prize for it in 1960. The film premiered in 1962 and also stars Robert Duval at the beginning of his stellar career. Peck acts as a lawyer who defends a black man against a fabricated rape charge and it exposes the not so hidden racism in the society of the time.
Finally in April, the season ends with We have a Pope. “I don’t know whether to classify it as a drama or a comedy,” says Liz Buchanan, who heads the GalleryFilm team. It tells the story of Cardinal Melville who finds himself unexpectedly elected Pope, a role he does not want at all. He panics and disappears and when found a psychoanalyst is pulled in by the bewildered team around the reluctant Pope to find out how the Pope can be made to take on his onerous task. The psychoanalyst is not religious at all and their discussions are both inspiring and philosophical and the result might be a surprise to those who have not seen this film before. It stars Michel Piccoli and Nanni Moretti, who also directed the film. A real treat and seldom shown.
When asked what makes GalleryFilm special Liz ponders for a second or two. “I think it is the atmosphere. It’s like a good club where everyone feels welcome. There is a complimentary glass of wine and we provide some quite delicious bites also for free and if someone wants a second glass we charge less than half of pub prices, so a good deal all around,” says Liz with conviction. There are also film notes handed out, which sets the film in a perspective, gives full details of the people in and behind the film and how many awards it has garnered.
“What is so nice,” continues Liz, “is that so many come back again and again and bring friends who might not have heard about our films. We have one group who meets up for supper beforehand and then comes on to the film in order to make an evening of it. So, if you want to see a good movie in good company this is where to come.”
Bar opens at 7.00pm Screenings at 7.30m.
Each screening includes a complimentary glass of wine and snacks plus film notes.
Linbury Room, Dulwich Picture Gallery
Monday 15 February
To Kill a Mockingbird
Monday 14 March
We have a Pope
Monday 11 April
Tickets available online www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk
at the Friends Desk in the gallery
by phone 020 8299 8750 Mon-Fri 10.00am – 4.00pm (£2 handling fee)
if not sold out, at the door on the night.