Liz Buchanan leads the team behind GalleryFilm but it is the choice of the team, and sometimes on advice from the audience, that films are picked. “I hate the word iconic, but that is what we are looking for, films that changed our perceptions or made an impact on future film-makers.” The coming four films for the autumn season are good examples.
First off in September is the block-buster All the President’s Men directed by Alan Pakula and starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman. They portray Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the two investigative journalists who uncovered the Watergate scandal.” It is a ground-breaking film as it was one of the first to show an investigation led by journalists not FBI into a political cover-up, which eventually led to a president’s fall,” says Liz. The film is based on the book written by the two journalists supported by the editor of Washington Post, as they revealed the political shenanigans. It is a pure thriller but the resonance from the book and the film echoed through many years in Washington and the suffix –gate has since been plastered on to every political scandal since.
In October comes another epic film, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? It is not just a star vehicle for Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton but a potent drama by Edward Albee about manipulation in a dysfunctional marriage and the effect of alcoholism. They invite a young couple, new to the University where Burton is a professor, and Burton and Taylor use the young couple as pawns in their own marital games. The film won five Oscars including one for best direction for Mike Nichols. Taylor has never been better, or braver, in her performance as she is in portraying the drunken and bitter wife of Burton.
They say that those who remember the 60’s could not have been there. Of all the films of that exciting period, none captures that intoxicating era better than Blow Up. It is a mystery or maybe a thriller centering on a young fashion photographer, who takes a photograph of what he thinks is a murder. The plot thickens when a young woman insists on having the film. The world he inhabits is at the heart of swinging London, fashion, pop music and sex. Strangely enough it is not directed by a Brit but by Michelangelo Antonioni and produced by Carlo Ponti but the actors are all British and the film cemented their future careers. David Hemmings stars as the photographer and Sarah Miles and Vanessa Redgrave are the female leads.
“We usually have a musical for December to get us in a festive mood, “says Liz,” but this year we wanted something with a bite, not just sugar.” And the team picked Carmen Jones. “It is a marvellous film and we all liked the idea that Oscar Hammerstein looked at the opera Carmen, transferred it to an US military base, turned the 19th century Spanish into WWII Afro-Americans and changed all the lyrics but kept Bizet’s wonderful music –albeit with a faster beat – and the Toreador is now a heavyweight champion. Otto Preminger, one of Hollywood’s finest directors, turned the musical into a box office hit and made a star out of Harry Belafonte. The formidable jazz singer Pearl Bailey steals several scenes and Carmen Jones is played by Dorothy Dandridge, a role made for her.
GalleryFilm has been going for several years and become more than just a film lovers’ meeting point. “It is very social,” says Liz with a laugh,” maybe because of the complimentary glass of wine as well as the free delicious bites we provide before the film – and a second glass of wine is only two pounds.” The team also provides informative notes about the film.
“We would love to hear from our audience, and it is a very loyal one, what they would like to see. Last season a man came up to me after the screening and suggested a film and Iater found out that he was Tristram Powell, a well-known director, and in the spring we are going to show his film American Friends. We are thrilled that he has promised to come an give an introductory talk.”
GalleryFilm is already planning the spring season and their choice of films seems to be appreciated by the ever growing audience. “We are delighted that many now just turn up and buy tickets at the door and that has led to a much younger clientele.”
Each sociable evening includes a complimentary glass of wine, snacks and film notes
Linbury Room at Dulwich Picture Gallery
Bar opens at 19.00, Screenings at 19.30
£9, £7 Friends
All the President’s Men (1976) Cert 18
Monday 12 September
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) Cert X
Monday 10 October
Blow Up (1966 ) Cert 15
Monday 14 November
Carmen Jones (1954) Cert 18
Monday 12 December