Puccini’s first triumph returns to Covent Garden for the first time in 20 years in a new staging by Jonathan Kent. The exciting Latvian soprano Kristine Opolais sings the title role. A consummate Puccini soprano, Opolais caused a sensation as Madama Butterfly in 2011, and with Manon Lescaut, the bold but impressionable heroine, we will see a very different side of her. She is matched in star power by Jonas Kaufmann as her lover, Des Grieux, and Christopher Maltman as her cynical brother Lescaut. Kent’s vision of a young girl who faces temptation in the big city will surely resonate with today’s audience.
007 turned 50 with rare panache: directed by Sam Mendes, this is a contender for one of the top Bonds ever. It’s not just the more probing, psychological script, but the nuanced, inspired performances by Judi Dench, Javier Bardem and Daniel Craig of course – and stunning cinematography by Roger Deakins. This is Bond resurrected, redeemed and reinvigorated, ready to face a new half century.
Richard Eyre’s produciton of Verdi’s masterpiece has been one of the most successful opera stagings in the long and celebrated history of the Royal Opera House. We present the original, definitive incarnation of that production, starring the incomparable Renee Fleming as the ill-fated courtesan Violetta, oppose Joseph Calleja as Alfredo and Thomas Hapson as his unyielding father.
Adam (Richard E Grant) is a rich industrialist, who aspires to a more cultured world. Spurred on by playful jibes that he’s little more than a city suit living the capitalist’s dream, this frustrated amateur opera singer decides to throw an opera in his lavish country retreat. Once his friends see him belting out the notes, he feels sure it will spell the end to their shallow taunts. In fact, it might even help him win the hand of a female conductor he’s been pursuing whom, it just so happens, is the first to be recruited for his showpiece.
Probably inspired by the success of Star Wars, James Bond went into outer space in Moonraker, one of the most popular of the series. It’s got amazing aerial stunts, some of designer Adam’s most inspired sets, a creepy villain in Michel Lonsdale’s Hugo Drax and Richard Kiel is back as the giant, metal-toothed henchman Jaws.
"Irresistibly entertaining." Frank Rich, Time
"A minor masterpiece." James Monaco, The Connoisseur’s Guide to the Movies
"One of the most buoyant Bond films of all." Vincent Canby, New York Times
n the 19th Bond adventure, 007 (Pierce Brosnan) must resolve a potentially deadly power struggle between two unstable nations, with control of the world’s oil supply as the ultimate prize.
Roger Moore’s seventh and final Bond movie is absurd - but how to resist a film where the baddie is an industrialist intent on destroying Silcon Valley to create a monopoly on microchip technology (Bill Gates, meet Max Zorin)?
"A View to a Kill, is an especially satisfying encounter. Opening with a breathtaking ski chase in Siberia, A View to a Kill is the fastest Bond picture yet. Its pace has the precision of a Swiss watch and the momentum of a greyhound on the track. There is a spectacular chase up and down the Eiffel Tower and through Paris streets, which Bond finishes in a severed car on just two wheels. But none of the action prepares the viewer for the heart-stopping climax with Zorin’s dirigible tangled in the cables on top of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge." Lawrence O’Toole, Maclean’s
Timothy Dalton’s second (and last) Bond movie is one of the least typical but also one of the most satisfying on its own terms. It’s a revenge movie, for one thing, with Bond going AWOL to take on a ruthless Mexican drug baron (Robert Davi).
Bond goes to Thailand in Roger Moore’s second outing (after Live and Let Die). Christopher Lee (Ian Fleming’s cousin) is excellent as the villain, Scaramanga, and he brings out what may be Moore’s strongest performance.
"Don’t be afraid. A new world of sound awaits you…" This dense, resonant experimental thriller casts Toby Jones as a genius sound-mixer, a Brit invited to work on the post-production of an Italian horror movie in the late 1970s (something by Dario Argento, perhaps?). Almost from the first this unusual assignment comes with disturbing undertones of mystery and menace - as if the bloody supernatural thriller we hear being constructed (but almost never see) is spilling out into the sound studio…
"Utterly distinctive and all but unclassifiable, a musique concrète nightmare, a psycho-metaphysical implosion of anxiety, with strange-tasting traces of black comedy and movie-buff riffs. It is seriously weird and seriously good." Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
"A delicately detailed immersion into the world of Z-grade Italian horror cinema that ultimately may or may not be a horror film itself, Peter Strickland’s “Berberian Sound Studio” is a tense, teasing triumph." Guy Lodge, Variety
"The creepiness builds with symphonic precision until reality truly is indistinguishable from fantasy." 4 stars. Keith Uhlich, Time Out New York
Andrei Serban’s staging of Puccini’s final opera is a glorious pageant of rich colour, dance and drama. Turandot is a tale of disguised identities, riddles, ritual executions and powerful, triumphant love.
8 players with 703 years between them compete in the World over 80s Table Tennis Championships in Inner Mongolia. Terry (81) having been given a week to live, gets in sight of winning gold. Inge (89) has used table tennis to train her way out of the dementia ward she committed herself to. Australian legend Dorothy deLow is 100, and finds herself a mega celebrity in this rarefied world and Texan Lisa Modlich, a new-comer at 85 years old, is determined to do whatever it takes to win her first gold.
"It is about ageing, mortality, friendship, ambition and love. The stories stay with you for hours, weeks, after the credits have rolled. But perhaps its most powerful achievement is to leave us with a more humane conception of sport, and of life itself."
Matthew Syed - The Times
"What a heart-warmer… ’Inspirational’ barely covers it." Anthony Quinn, The Independent
"An unabashed crowdpleaser bouncing between sweetly satirical and sincerely moving." Total Film
Based on a notorious historical incident in which the sixteenth century French town of Loudun was swept up in tide of witch-hunting mania, Ken Russell’s searing movie kept censors busy all over the world with its shocking imagery and no-holds-barred assault on ecclesiastical hypocrisy. Forty years on it retains its power, not least for the astounding, career-best performances from Oliver Reed and Vanessa Redgrave, Derek Jarman’s bold production design, and the electrifying score by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.
"The pinnacle of Russell’s astonishing career, blending the exuberant visuals and musical underpinning of his most most exotic fantasies wieh a serious undercurrent of outraged political intent… a fearsome, breathtaking masterwork." Mark Kermode, BBC
"A garish glossary of sado-masochism… a taste for visual sensation that makes scene after scene look like the masturbatory fantasies of a Roman Catholic boyhood." Alexander Walker, Evening Standard
Candida Brady’s documentary looks at the growing global crisis of trash, highlighting how human health and the environment are threatened by the pollution from burning and discarding waste. Visually and emotionally the film is both horrific and beautiful: an interplay of human stories and ecological disruption. But it ends on a message of hope: showing how the risk to our survival can be averted through sustainable pathways that provide economic solutions while protecting our air, water and food resources
"Crucial viewing for realists and alarmists both." 5 stars! Joe Neumeier, NY Daily News
Earlier this year, London’s Royal Academy of Arts mounted the first ever retrospective devoted to the portraiture of Edouard Manet. Spanning this enigmatic and, at times, controversial artist’s entire career Manet: Portraying Life brought together works from across Europe, Asia and the USA. Documentarian Phil Grabsky was granted exclusive access to explore the exhibition with the kind of intensive scrutiny (and learned insight) most art-lovers can only dream of.
"Once again the film proves that seeing an exhibition through a camera (especially an HD one) is far better than not seeing it at all." Roberta Smith, New York Times
Matinee screening Aug 24 (only) All Ages Show, Under-19s welcome.
Evening shows introduced by Bond expert Murray Gillespie
Released in North America in May 1963 - 50 years ago - the very first James Bond movie was an adaptation of Ian Fleming’s sixth Bond novel..Set for the most part in Jamaica, the story involves the assassination of a British MI6 officer. Bond’s investigation draws him ever closer to the mysterious Dr No. Not just the first but one of the best Bond films, this establishes the key ingredients which have made the series so popular for so long.
When MI6 gets a chance to get their hands on a Lektor decoder, Bond is sent to Turkey to seduce the beautiful Tatiana (Daniela Bianchi), and bring back the machine. With the help of Kerim Bey (Pedro Armendariz), Bond escapes on the Orient Express, but might not make it off alive. Sean Connery, Daniel Craig and Timothy Dalton have all cited From Russia With Love as their favourite Bond film.
"Highly immoral in every imaginable way; it is neither uplifting, instructive nor life-enhancing. Neither is it great film-making. But it sure is fun." Richard Roud, The Guardian (1963)
When doctors diagnosed 19-year-old rock star Jason Becker with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, they said he would never make music again and that he wouldn’t live to see his 25th birthday. 22 years later, without the ability to move or to speak, Jason is alive and making music with his eyes.
Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet is a feature-length documentary film that tells the incredible story of a guitar legend who refuses to give up on his dream of being a musician despite the most incredible odds. It is a story of dreams, love, and the strength of the human spirit.
"This heartfelt documentary is also, more subtly, a tribute to the squadron of caregivers that has enabled Mr. Becker not only to survive for an extraordinarily long time but also to continue to compose music, using virtually the only part of him that still moves, his eyes." Neil Genzlinger, New York Times
"Inspiring heartbreaker of a documentary." Joshua Rothkopf, New York Times
Based on Arthur C Clarke’s short story ‘The Sentinel’, 2001: A Space Odyssey redefined the sci-fi genre. With its radical structure (a single cut elides 4 million years), scant dialogue and oblique narrative this was the first movie to emulate the philosophical seriousness of writers like Clarke and Philip K Dick, and the first to see that special effects could become an integral component in the art-form.
November 7, 2008, the Danish (Bahamas-registered) cargo vessel CEC Future was boarded by Somali pirates. For 70 days the international crew was held captive at gunpoint while the pirates and the Danish owners negotiated.
This evening Vancity Theatre presents two films inspired by this story, one a documentary (Stolen Seas), the other a dramatic feature (A Hijacking) written and directed by Tobias Lindholm, whose last film was The Hunt.
Assembled from three years’ worth of visits to the dangerous "hot zone" off the coast of Somalia, Payne’s riveting film gives us both the wider context that explains the piracy from all sides, and takes right inside the actual hijacking, incorporating footage shot by the Somalis during the incident.
"Riveting…a dense, sometimes dangerous 90-minute immersion in a world where lawlessness applies to all sides." Peter Debruge, Variety
"A documentary of such ambitious scope you might need a remote control and a notebook to keep up with it." Omer M Mozaffar, Chicago Sun-Times