Film reviewers: Half-price tickets

Always have a startlingly passionate opinion on film? Could you give Mark Kermode a run for his money?

We’re enthusiastic about audience feedback, your opinions on film – what you love and what gets you riled! So send us your film reviews, short or long and we’ll get them posted up here on our blog.

Reviewer half price icon 250

Getting your review to us and your half-price ticket couldn’t be easier. Wherever you see this logo we’re looking for your thoughts.

1. Call up Box Office on 01432 340555 and let them know you’re booking a reviewer’s half-price ticket for one of the films below.

2. Come along and enjoy your film – the first screening of the selected film is the only applicable one for this offer.

3. Write your quick-fire review and email it to us within 18 hours of the film to competitions@courtyard.org.uk subject titled with the name of the film.

Films in the offer this season:

robot&frankweb

Robot and Frank |  Sat 4 May 6pm

Compliance | Sat 18 May 5.30pm

Caesar Must Die | Tue 21 May 6pm

Jack The Giant Slayer | Tue 28 May 2.30pm

Much Ado About Nothing | Mon 24 June 6pm

The Reluctant Fundamentalist | Sat 29 June 2.30pm

The Courtyard reserves the write to publish or not publish reviews. Any questions send us an email or tweet us @CourtyardArts

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Dave’s Fave: The power of storytelling with In The House

Film programmer, David Gillam, talks us through his enjoyment of Kristen Scott Thomas’ latest, In The House, where a student’s captivating stories invade a couple’s life together…

Join us here at The Courtyard from this Friday, 26 April, to catch In The House on the big screen.
And if you’re a true foreign film fan, why not take up our offer of half-price tickets for reviewers? Just submit your review on Saturday, 27, and we will post the best right here on our blog!

Call the Box Office to book tickets and find out more: 01432 340555.

Kristen Scott Thomas and Fabrice Luchini, In The House

Kristen Scott Thomas and Fabrice Luchini, In The House

Dave’s Faves: Three directors’ visions in Cloud Atlas

Find out how star-studded film Cloud Atlas surprised our programmer’s preconceptions….

Think you’re up to reviewing it too? Check out the blog post below to see how your review could win you three of David Mitchell’s novels. Perfect reading material…

James D'Arcy and Ben Whishaw in Cloud Atlas

James D’Arcy and Ben Whishaw in Cloud Atlas

Great film deals, whatever you fancy…

We love film here at The Courtyard, swashbuckling blockbuster film and alternative, striking foreign film, and family fun too.

Oz The Great and Powerful

Oz The Great and Powerful

We’re bringing you some of the best deals this month so you can see the best of the pictures for a reasonable price, and be in with a chance of winning some pretty tasty prizes…

Just call the Box Office on 01432 340555 to claim any of these offers. We’ll ask you for your contact information and enter you into any competitions automatically.

EASTER HOLIDAY FAMILY FILM DEAL…

2 for 1 on tickets this Easter to OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL and THE CROODS
You can’t say fairer than that.

TWICE QUARTET! WIN A FREE LUXURY AFTERNOON TEA AT CASTLE HOUSE HOTEL…

quartet

Quartet

Buy two tickets to QUARTET and then two tickets to A LATE QUARTET and we’ll enter you into a competition to win afternoon tea for two at the Castle House Hotel in Hereford. Treat yourself and a loved one to a 4* experience… plus enjoy two brilliant films celebrating the power of classical music and some exceptional acting talent.

Plus all A LATE QUARTET pre-bookers will be entered into a competition to win a collection of Beethoven String Quartet CDs!

DEALS FOR REVIEWERS – WIN BRILLIANT READING MATERIAL!

FOREIGN LANGUAGE:

If you love having access to the best critical insight into current and upcoming film, then you need to be reading the BFI’s magazine Sight & Sound. Delivering sterling reviews and features every month, a year’s subscription could be yours when you enter our competition by purchasing a ticket for you and friend to both LORE and IN THE HOUSE

In The House

In The House

If you reckon your writing skills deserve a good read, then you can also book one of our half-price reviewer tickets to the first screenings of these films, but we need to see your review in our inbox at competitions@courtyard.org.uk within 18 hours of the screening… If it’s a good read, we’ll post it online and get The Courtyard audience reading your opinion. Please note if you participate in both foreign film competitions your friend is not eligible for a reviewer half-price ticket.

CLOUD ATLAS:

Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas

Review CLOUD ATLAS on the first screening, submit it to us before the second screening (deadline 7 April), and be in with a chance of winning the original book, Cloud Atlas, and writer David Mitchell’s previous two novels, Ghostwritten and Number9dream. Send your review to competitions@courtyard.org.uk with the subject ‘Cloud Atlas review’.

Plus bring a friend along and you’ll get ‘buy 1 get 1 free’ on a drink from the Café Bar. [applicable on house wine, draught beers and ciders and soft drinks]

COURTYARD CARD (14 – 25):

And Courtyard Card holders can review selected screenings and get in free, plus enter a competition to win another seminal film criticism title, Little White Lies.

CZECH FILM TOUR – DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF CZECH CINEMA…

The House

The House

If you book tickets for you and a friend to see both Czech Film Tour specials, ALOIS NEBEL and THE HOUSE at The Courtyard this March, then we’ll enter you into a prize draw to win Peter Hames’ book, Czech and Slovak Cinema: Theme and Tradition, five-star rated by Sight & Sound’s reviewer Michael Brooke.

Don’t forget we’re also offering both films for only £8 a person, so if you bring a friend on the same deal you get double the chance of winning the competition! Make sure you book the tickets in your name.

Dave’s Fave: Fire in the Blood (film screening and discussion)

Our programmer David Gillam gives a bit of thought to this eye-opening documentary. Hear his thoughts:

And come along to the screening this Friday and join in the short discussion afterward with Concern Universal:
Fire in the Blood, 22 March, The Courtyard

Guest Blog: Borderlines 2013

Written by Neil Oseman www.neiloseman.com

Borderlines Film Festival draws to a close this weekend. The UK’s largest rural film festival, centred around The Courtyard here in Hereford, is an event I have a long-standing association with. At the inaugural festival in 2003 I had a little stall selling VHS copies of The Beacon and displaying a few pieces of early concept art for an ambitious fantasy action movie called Soul Searcher. Two years later Soul Searcher premiered at Borderlines with great success. (Read my blog entry in which I total up the Ego Puff Points I acquired that weekend.)

Kes (1969. dir. Ken Loach) - photographed by Chris Menges

Kes (1969. dir. Ken Loach) – photographed by Chris Menges


Aside from a screening of Stop/Eject’s trailer, my involvement in this year’s festival was purely spectatorial. And although I normally avoid reviewing films on this site, I’m going to make an exception and say a few words about each of the events and screenings I’ve seen at Borderlines 2013. I should point out that Borderlines isn’t a film festival in the normal sense of the term; rather than inviting submissions of unreleased work, the organisers choose the best films released in the last twelve months along with some classics.

Chris Menges in Conversation

Chris is the Herefordshire-born director of photography behind Kes, The Reader, Notes on a Scandal, The Killing Fields and many others. I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t seen a single one of his films, but I was still keen to attend to further my understanding of the art of cinematography. In this respect I was slightly disappointed, as time constraints and a quite understandable desire not to bore what was largely a lay audience meant that there was little opportunity for Chris to get into the nitty-gritty of his approach to lighting. That being said, there were one or two useful gems and I came away with a general impression of an extremely modest man with a profound respect for the fragility of natural light and a gentle touch in moulding it.

Sightseers

Sightseers (2012, dir. Ben Wheatley)

Sightseers (2012, dir. Ben Wheatley)

Directed by Ben Wheatley (The Kill List) and starring Alice Lowe (Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place), Sightseers is a black comedy about a woman who escapes her overbearing mother to go on a caravanning holiday with her closet pscyhopath of a boyfriend (Steve Oram). The boyfriend promptly begins murdering people at the slightest provocation (e.g. littering) and Lowe soon joins in in an attempt to impress him. While not the kind of film I’d normally choose to see, I’d heard good things about it and, sure enough, it was great fun. Lowe and Oram, who also wrote the script, give brilliantly judged comic performances in a film which soundly lampoons the stereotypical British holiday (rain, crap caravans, even crapper tourist attractions). Heartily recommended.

Silver Linings Playbook

Winning Best Actress for Jennifer Lawrence at the Academy Awards and Best Adapted Screenplay for David O. Russell (who also directs) at the Baftas, Silver Linings Playbook has certainly been much talked about in recent weeks.

Silver Linings Playbook (2012, dir. David O. Russell)

Silver Linings Playbook (2012, dir. David O. Russell)

I was surprised to find the film is really just a formulaic romantic comedy, albeit one that starts off in darker territory than most. Bradley Cooper plays a manic depressive just out of a psychiatric hospital who strikes up a relationship with Lawrence’s recently widowed character after she tells him she can get a letter to his estranged wife. In return, Cooper must learn to dance so he can partner with Lawrence in an upcoming contest. Silver Linings Playbook is solidly acted by both the leads and the great supporting cast, which includes Chris Tucker and Robert de Niro. It’s also consistently funny throughout, but like many romcoms it sheds its unique elements as it enter its third act – forgetting the mental health issues of its lead characters – in order to play out the same old clichés. This is particularly disappointing from such a lauded film, but depsite this flaw I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.

Blackmail

Although not a particular fan of Hitchcock, I was keen to see Blackmail – one of the portly auteur’s silent films – because it was a unique opportunity to see a movie with live musical accompaniment. This came courtesy of Stephen Horne, a master of the art – so much so that he somehow played the flute and the piano simultaneously at a couple of points. What staggered me was the revelation that there was no score; the music was entirely improvised.

Blackmail (1929, dir. Alfred Hitchcock)

Blackmail (1929, dir. Alfred Hitchcock)

As for the film itself, it had been digitally remastered to such a high quality that I sometimes forgot that I was watching a movie over 80 years old – often only the captioned dialogue, under-cranked gaits and occasional clunky pacing gave it away. The cinematography was beautiful, with some typically inventive camera moves from Hitchcock and a lot of charming humour which held the attention despite a very slight plot (detective’s girlfriend commits murder in self-defence and tries to escape the law). All in all, this screening was an enriching experience and it was very gratifying to see the accompanist’s amazing art kept alive and kicking.

A Liar’s Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman

A Liar's Autobiography (2012, dir. Bill Jones, Jeff Simpson & Ben Timlett)

A Liar’s Autobiography (2012, dir. Bill Jones, Jeff Simpson & Ben Timlett)

Best known as the dead one from Monty Python, Graham Chapman succumbed to cancer in 1989, but not before writing his autobiography and recording it as an audiobook. That recording forms the spine of this film, as Chapman narrates his (alleged) life story from beyond the grave while fourteen different animation houses provide the visuals. While not a Monty Python film, there are many common traits – surreality, silliness, rudeness and the vocal talents of messrs. Jones, Gilliam, Palin and Cleese (but not Idle). In a non sequitur worthy of Monty Python, Cameron Diaz cameos as the voice of Sigmund Freud. And like much of the Pythons’ work, A Liar’s Autobiography is never quite as funny as you hoped it would be. This fact, coupled with a highly episodic narrative, meant the film was just starting to outstay its welcome when it wrapped up and ended. Nevertheless, it’s a delightfully creative film and one which seems a fitting tribute to a man who was not the messiah, but was definitely a very naughty boy.

Herefordshire Media Network

The network presented five pieces by its members: four short films and the trailer for Stop/Eject. The first short was Injured Birds, a gentle tale of an 11-year-old boy’s search for adventures in a rural town during the summer holidays.

Men Can't Make Beds (dir. David Jones)

Men Can’t Make Beds (dir. David Jones)

This was the second time I’d seen it, and I again enjoyed its charm, warmth and humour. Two short films directed by Rachel Lambert for The Rural Media Company were screened, both made on a participatory basis with people living in sheltered housing. Getting Close was a low-key drama highlighting some of the issues faced by the participants, while A Letter Every Day took the form of an oral history in which an elderly lady recounted her brief marriage to a man who was tragically killed in the second world war. This latter was an engaging story and cleverly illustrated with tableaux of miniature figurines found by the camera amongst the ornaments of the lady’s living room. But the highlight of the evening for me was Men Can’t Make Beds, a live action slapstick comedy in the vein of Tex Avery cartoons. Directed by David Jones of Wind-up World Films, the film made great use of a delightfully rubber-faced lead actor (Lawrence Russell) and exaggerated music and sound design to produce five minutes of wonderful silliness.

Side by Side

Side by Side (dir. Christopher Kenneally)

Side by Side (dir. Christopher Kenneally)

Keanu Reeves produces and interviews for this documentary about the transition from photochemical to digital technology, not just in capturing motion picture images but in editing them, manipulating them for visual effects, exhibiting them and archiving them. Views are canvassed from some of the biggest names in the business: George Lucas, who drove much of the change, James Cameron, a staunch supporter of digital 3D filmmaking, Christopher Nolan, one of the few directors still shooting on film and physically cutting his negative, and many others. Sadly, the film doesn’t let any of these filmmakers go into great depth, instead giving a history of the last twenty years’ technical upheavals, with which most viewers (if they’re interested enough to see Side by Side in the first place) will already be familiar. So while containing a few telling nuggets (such as several DPs bemoaning the lack of mystique and power they now wield when everyone can see the images they’re capturing immediately on set), this documentary overall has the feel of a slightly overlong DVD bonus feature.

Thanks to the team at Borderlines for a great festival.

Deserved winners? A round up of Oscar successes

That there was no runaway, overall winner at the Oscars this year was great testament to the quality of film that’s been hitting our cinemas in the past few months. And though the ceremony was the usual hotbed of crying dramatists, bad jokes and phenomenal haute couture, no-one could deny there were some stellar films being given their rightful accreditation.

Suraj Sharma and tiger in Life of Pi.

The range across genres was also something to behold; magical realism and the celebration of storytelling that was Ang Lee’s Life of Pi picking up the Director’s, Cinematography, Visual Effects and Original Score gongs; the tense and understated precision execution of Ben Affleck’s 70s thriller Argo gaining him Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay and Film Editing; Daniel Day Lewis picking up Best Actor in the most unsurprising announcement ever for his lead role in Lincoln, Spielberg’s intense, action-free, epic portrayal of a legend of American history; and perhaps a bit of a surprise, the lovely Jennifer Lawrence taking home the Lead Actress Oscar for her role as maniacally honest Tiffany in David O’Russell’s leftfield romantic comedy, Silver Linings Playbook. Yes, we gasped as she fell on the stairs, but frankly did any lead actress ever look quite so glamorous falling upstairs? Somehow, her flappability made her all the more likeable.

LINCOLN

As well as the expected nods to Christoph Waltz for his role in Tarantino’s Django Unchained and to Anne Hathaway for her depiction of Fantine in Hooper’s Les Misérables, it was great to see Haneke’s Amour walk away with the Foreign Language award, though many will have argued that he has waited too long to receive his Best Director Oscar. Pride rose up when our own Brit songstress Adele took the award for Skyfall, and despite his atrocious Australian accent, no-one could argue at Tarantino claiming his Original Screenplay award. And though we could debate ‘til kingdom come the various powerful and engaging aspects of all the documentary nominees, it was gratifying to see the gong fall into the hands of Bendjelloul and Chinn for Searching for Sugar Man, a captivating investigation into the affects of fame.

Django Unchained

So overall, a strangely satisfying Oscars. Whether it was a sign of the times, or something more underhand and strategic, it certainly felt a more democratic portioning of prizes to some outstanding behemoths of modern filmmaking.

And as a nice little treat for you, and to ask you to not forget the power of the short form, have a quick watch of this trailer for Oscar winner for Animated Short Film, Paperman, Disney animated and directed by John Kahrs. It’s too delightful.

Don’t forget to get in quick to catch the Oscar-winners, runners up and some brilliant eclectic and archive classics at this year’s Borderlines, starting tomorrow, and in the upcoming March – April Courtyard Film programme…. And tweet us your opinions on this year’s Oscars @CourtyardArts

Written By: Toki Allison, Deputy Marketing Manager