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Newtown  Film  Appreciation

For further information about Newtown U3A or any of the groups please contact: secretary@newtownu3a.co.uk

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Members of U3A are all welcome to join the activities of  the groups.  Contact details of leaders are given in the Programme of Events.

May's film was 'The Shawshank Redemption'

The main characters:-: Morgan Freenman as 'Red'; Tim Robbins as Andy Dufresne and Bob Gunton as Warden Norton.

This 1994 oscar nominated film is an American drama written and directed by Frank Darabont, based on a Stephen King novella.

Andy Dufresne, a successful banker, is wrongfully arrested for the murder of his wife and her lover and is sentenced to life imprisonment at the maximum security Shawshank prison where he becomes the most unconventional prisoner.  He spends 19 years in prison in 1950's Maine and shows the other inmates perseverance and provides a sense of hope and optimism in the bleakest of places and under the most difficult circumstances. 

The gritty world of Shawshank prison is populated with sadistic guards, a corrupt warden and predatory fellow inmates.  Prison rape, while not graphically shown, is very strongly implied.  Guards beat and kill an inmate and a prisoner is shot and killed.  There is also frequent profanity. However, the film also shows inmates forming a loving community of friends and support despite oppressive conditions and a sense of maintaining perseverance and hope in the darkest of hours. Robbins brings about reform and great change during his 19 years - he escapes so this very intense film has a happy ending!!
Shawshank 
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The last meeting was on Wednesday 26 May at Anne's house.  The film shown was 'Green Book'.

Viggo Mortensen
Mahershali  Ati
Director: Peter Farrelly

 Amidst rampant racism in the 1960's southern America, an African American pianist (Mahershali Ati) hires a loud mouthed Italian American bouncer  to act as his chauffeur/bodyguard driving him through his venues.

This is a deftly scripted film with a message about overcoming prejudice.  Anchored by two outstanding performances, this true story of an unlikely friendship centres on a goofy, lovable white  Italian-American from the Bronx who learns to be less racist after spending time with a cultured black man who

he is hired to drive and protect on a concert tour through the deep South.  It's often funny, with some poignant moments.

Yet the Green Book itself doesn't play much of a role in the film.  Mortensen's character Tony, takes it on the trip and  leafs through it several times.  Early on he briefly explains its purpse to his wife Delores : to provide black travellers with information about 'safe' places to stay and eat while they travel.  He'll need to refer to it to do his job, getting Shirley from gig to gig safely throughout the musician's 8 week tour. He has to get Shirley out of a tight spot on many occasions.  But after that, the book is not mentioned by name , even as the pair encounter the full gamut of racism during the trip - ranging from casual remarks to 'genteel' discrimination to violent hostility from civilians, bar patrons and police.  Indeed, we typically see it only when Tony quietly picks it up to find motels in which Shirley can safely stay.

We enjoyed the film very much but needed the lighter moments to counteract the dark racism which threaded its way throughout.

 greenbook
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We last met at Nick's house on Wednesday 23 February
The film shown was 'The Dig'

Cast:
Cary Mulligan as Edith Pretty   Archie Barnes as Robert Pretty (her young son)
Ralph Fiennes as Basil Brown Lily James as Peggy Piggott
John Flynn as Rory Lomax - Edith's cousin
Ken Stott as Charles Phillips    Monica Dolan as May Brown 

In 1939 Suffolk, landowner and widow Edith Pretty hires local self-taught archaeologist-excavator Basil Brown to investigate the large burial mounds at her rural estate in Sutton Hoo near Woodbridge.  Brown's former employers from the Ipswich Museum try unsuccessfully to persuade him to work on a Roman villa they deem more important.  They ignore Brown, who left school aged 12, when he suggests the mounds could be Anglo-Saxon rather then the more common Viking era.
Working with assistants from Pretty's estate, Brown slowly excavates the more promising of the mounds.  One day the trench collapses on him, but they dig him out in time.  Meanwhile he spends more time with Edith Pretty and her young son Robert, finding common interest in archaeology and astronomy with them.  However, he does not become unfaithful to his wife and we see that they are an amicable couple.  His wife supports his jobs as excavator despite them being low wage.  Meanwhile, Edith struggles with her health, warned by a Consultant to avoid stress.
Barnes is astonished to uncover iron rivets from a ship, suggesting that it is the burial site of someone of tremendous distinction, such as a King.  Edith hires her cousin Rory Lomax to join the project.  News of the discovery soon spreads and Cambridge archaeologist Charles Phillips arrives, declares the site to be of national importance and takes over the dig by order of the Office of Works.  As World War II approaches Phillips Brings in a larger team including Peggy Piggott who uncovers proof that it is Anglo-Saxon in origin.  Brown is demoted to only keep the site in order, but Edith intervenes and he resumes digging.  Brown discovers a Morovingian Tremissis, a small gold coil and this is the start of the discovery of wonderful treasures.  Phillips wants to send all the artifacts to the British Museum, but Edith, concerned about war raids in London, asserts her rights.  An inquest finding confirms that she is the owner of the ship and its priceless treasure trove of grave goods.  Edith eventually decides to donate the Sutton Hoo treasure to the British Museum  requesting that Brown be given recognition for his work.  The film ends with Brown and his co-workers replacing earth over the ship to preserve it.
 At the end as the credits roll, text explains that Edith died in 1942.  The treasure was hidden in the London Underground during the war and first exhibited - without any mention of Basil Brown - 9 years after Edith's death.  Only recently was Brown given full credit for his contribution and his name is now displayed permanently alongside Edith Pretty's at the British Museum.
the dig
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We met this month at Anne's house in Tregynon to watch the heart warming 2009 film 'Invictus'  directed by Clint Eastwood, starring Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon, Tony Kgoroge and Adjoa Andoh.

It tells the inspiring true story of how Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) recently elected  President of South Africa, joined forces with the captain  - Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon) of South Africa's rugby team to help unite their country. Mandela knows his nation remains racially and economically  divided in the wake of apartheid.  Believing he can bring his people together through the universal  language of  sport, Mandela rallies S.A's underdog rugby team  - the Springboks  and they make an unlikely run to the 1995 World Cup's championship match - they win and for one day at least, 43 million South Africans are united.

A very inspiring film with wonderful performances especially by Morgan Freeman as Mandela and Matt Damon as Pienaar.
invictus_________________________________________________________________________

The last meeting was on 27 October at Nick's house.  4 members attended.

The film shown was 'The Devil Wears Prada' - a 2006 American comedy/drama directed by David Frankel.  The main characters were played by Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway.
Andy (A.H) is a recent college graduate aspiring to be a journalist who comes to New York with big dreams, and lands a job  at the prestigious 'Runway' magazine as assistant  to one of the city's biggest editors - the ruthless and cynical  Miranda Priestly (MS).
Andy's life is totally taken over by the editor who summons her day and night. With no time to herself  and the relationship with her boyfriend and friends in shreds, is this what she wants and how long can she cope with this full-on, frantic style of living.
Finally she comes to her senses realising that this madness is not for her, lands herself her dream job, reconnects with her boyfriend and friends and life returns to an even keel once again.
devil
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29 September we last met at Ralph's  for the showing of 'Witness for the Prosecution', written by Agatha Christie - not previously known for her courtroom dramas, but the film has since become one of her most adapted and best known.  It was directed by Billy Wilder in 1957 in black and white and was nominated for 6 oscars.  The main characters were played by Charles Laughton, Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich and Elsa Lanchester.

Eminent barrister Sir Wilfred Robarts (Laughton) returning to his Chambers after illness, with strict instructions from his doctor not to take on any strenuous criminal cases cannot resist the prospect of defending the affable Leonard Vole (Powers)  who is being tried for the murder of a wealthy widow.  The film twists this way and that and  contains many surprises, especially towards the end.  An interesting and enjoyable film  with fine performances from all the cast.

witness

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We met yesterday 26th February at Sally's home, battling through the flood water!  The film was 'The Children Act' written by Ian McEwan, based on his 2014 novel of the same name.  It stars Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci and Fionn Whitehead.

Fiona Maye (Emma Thompson) is an eminent high court judge in London presiding with wisdom and compassion over ethically complex cases of family law.  But she has paid a heavy personal price for her work-load and her marriage to American professor Jack (Stanley Tucci) is at breaking point.

In this moment of personal crisis, Fiona is asked to rule on the case of Adam (Fionn Whitehead) a brilliant boy who is refusing(for religious reasons) a blood transfusion which will save his life.  Adam is three months from his 18th birthday and still legally a child.  Should Fiona force him to live?  Fiona visits Adam in hospital and  their meeting has a profound impact on them both, stirring strong new emotions in the boy and long-buried longings in her.

The whole cast give wonderful performances but Emma Thompson carries the whole film.  A must see!!

childrens act

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We met twice in January as Christmas got in the way in December!

8 January - we met at Nick's home to watch 'Mrs Lowry and Son' starring

Timothy Spall and  Vanessa Redgrave and hardly anyone else.  It is a biographical drama set in Pendlebury, Greater Manchester chronicling the life of the renowned artist L.S.Lowry and considers the relationship between him and his overbearing, bed-ridden and bitter mother Elizabeth who has reservations over her son's career in painting.  She tries to dissuade him from pursuing his passion whilst never failing to voice her opinion at her disappointment in him.  The two leads gave a masterclass in acting but on the whole it was an inert and dismal film and considering the life he endured, it was surprising how Lowry produced the work he did.

 lowry

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29 January - We met at Anne's home to watch 'The Monuments Men' This was directed by George Clooney and written and produced by Clooney and Grant Heslov.  The film has many star actors  including George Clooney -

Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh

Bonneville and Cate Blanchett. It is a fact-based World War 11 drama about a platoon  who are sent to Germany in order to rescue  creative masterpieces - including statues and paintings from Nazi thieves and return them to their legal owners.  The film makes a profound point in a subtle way - that the Fuhrer's ambition if left unchecked would have been world-altering, in the most unsettling of ways.  The hunting down of the treasures mostly hidden in mines was exciting and fast-moving but we were reminded of the atrocities of  war by the huge containers filled with gold fillings from the teeth of prisoners.  Many treasures were recovered, but many destroyed by the retreating  Germans. There was a very short time-slot for recovery as the Russians were advancing  and they too wanted the   globally important cultural artifacts.

monuments
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The last meeting was on Wednesday 27th November at Ralph's home.  He chose the film 'Salmon Fishing in the Yemen'.
It stars Ewan McGregor as Fred Jones, a fisheries expert who is approached by Harriet (Emily Blunt) on behalf of an extremely rich Middle Eastern client with a plan to introduce salmon into the waterways of Yemen.  Despite Fred's protests, he soon finds himself working on a project that seems not only frivolous but absolutely unfeasible in the arid land of Yemen.  Yet as the mission begins, they find that hope can spring - even in the most unexpected places!  The local people who were not consulted about the project, retaliate by sabotage - but all is not lost  and the  scheme is started once again, this time working with the locals.
 It was written by Oscar winning screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (The Full Monty, Slumdog Millionaire) and featuring hilarious performances from the stellar cast, the film is an unmissable tale of overcoming the odds!
salmon
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The last meeting took place at 2 pm. on Wednesday 25 September at Anne's house.  The film was 'Hampstead' starring Diane Keaton and Brendan Gleeson as the main characters but also starred James Norton, Lesley Manville, Phil Davis and Simon Callow.  It was listed as being 'funny, uplifting and full  of heart' although all of us agreed that it lacked comedy.  Inspired by true events, Hampstead tells the story of an American widow who, one day when exploring the gorgeous area surrounding her home in Hampstead Village, meets a man who lives off-grid in his own private paradise on the Heath and the two strike up an unexpected romance.  However, when unscrupulous property developers threaten to uproot the man, destroy his home and build luxury flats in its place, the widow is determined to fight back to defend the Heath as well as the man she loves.

hamstead

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We last met on Wednesday 28 August at Nick's home.  The film we watched 
was 'About  Schmidt' starring Jack Nicholson.  It was a winner of 2 Golden Globe Awards and whilst it was  entertaining it was one of those slowwww films.  He was a completely joyless man who had arrived at several of life's crossroads all at the same time.  To begin with, he retired from a lifetime of service with an Insurance Company and he felt utterly adrift.  His wife of 42 years dies suddenly  and he is lost without her unable to do anything for himself.  He then discovers his ex boss  and wife had an affair many years ago.  Schmidt feels that his soon to be married daughter (who lives some distance away) could do better.  He sets out on a journey of self-discovery,
exploring his roots across Nebraska in the 35-foot motor home in which he had planned to drive around the country with his late wife.
Nothing much interests him along the way.  He spends the night before the wedding at his future son-in-law's house, whose mother is a happy free spirit who gives him some medication for an aching neck - this results in  Schmidt spending  the wedding day in a doped haze. He then returns to an empty home. On retiring, Schmidt decided to send 22$ a month to Africa to adopt a little
orphaned 6 year old boy to help with his upbringing.  He would write to him at regular intervals telling him how mad he was at everyone, how his wife and daughter were annoying him and anything he could think of at the time of writing - really unburdening himself  and saying how he had not made a difference to anyone in his life.  The little boy's letter was the first he had received and was written by a nun who said she read all Schmidt's letters to his foster son as he was unable to read or write.  The little boy had sent a drawing of 2 figures, one tall, one short, holding hands.  Schmidt burst into tears - he HAD  made a difference to someone.

aboutschmidt

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The last meeting was on Wednesday 31st at Sally's home.  The film shown was 'The Aviator'. The film was a 2004 American epic biographical film directed by Martin Scorsese.  It stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes, Kate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn and Kate Beckinsale as Ava Gardner.

Billionaire Howard Hughes is a successful public figure, a director of big budget films, a passionate lover of Hollywood leading ladies and an aviation pioneer who helps build TWA into a major airline.  But, in private, he remains tormented suffering from paralysing phobias and depression.

The film is 10 minutes short of 3 hours and on the whole we did not enjoy the first 3/4 of the story - it almost became a farce - the setting was 1920's and 1930's with a great many parties with very loud music and people shouting at each other in a attempt to be heard above the entertainment.  In fact everyone shouted throughout the film. The last quarter of the film was more bearable but sad as the health of Hughes deteriorated and he became more obsessed with his phobias.  There is no doubt that he was a brilliant aviator but that couldn't save the film as far as we were concerned!

 aviator
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We met on Wednesday 26 June at Ralph's home in Berriew. The film was 'The Descendants' starring: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller and Nick Crause.

 George Clooney plays a workaholic Hawaian real estate lawyer with a cheating wife and two children who he barely knows.  When a tragic motor boat accident leaves his wife in a coma, not only must Matt struggle with the stipulation in her will that she be allowed to die with dignity, but he also faces pressures from relatives to sell their family's enormous trust land.  Angry and terrified at the same time Matt tries to be a good father to his young daughters as they too try to cope with their mother's possible death.

 Rather a lot of swearing but still an enjoyable film as we watch Matt get to know his daughters all over again.  Wonderful scenery too.

descendants

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The last meeting was on Wednesday 29th May at Anne's house in Tregynon.The film shown was a Merchant Ivory film 'Before The Rains', a bold, intensely beautiful tale of romance torn between two worlds.

Southern India in the 1930's: against the tumultuous backdrop of growing national unrest an idealistic young man T.K. finds himself torn between his ambitions for the future and his loyalty to the past when people in his village learn of an affair between his British boss Moores (Linus Roache) and local village girl Sanjani.  As he struggles with the new found freedom that revolution threatens to bring to a culture steeped in tradition, loyalty and honour, T.K.witnesses first-hand the tragedy, betrayal and intense passion which are ignited in a country teetering on the brink of history.

beforerains

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The last meeting took place at Nick's home in Abermule on Wednesday 24 April.  The film shown was 'Memoirs of a Geisha' Winner of 3 Oscars in 2006 and starring Suzuka Ohgo and Togo Igawa.
This story is a rare and utterly engaging experience - it tells the extraordinary story of a geisha, summoning up a quarter-century from 1929 to the post-war years of Japan's dramatic world of eroticism and enchantment, exploitation and degradation.
A young peasant girl is sold as servant and apprentice to a renowned geisha house.  She is sold by her father,  together with her older sister to pay for medicine for her dying mother.  She tells her story many years later from the Waldorf Astoria in New York.  Her memoirs conjure up the perfection and the ugliness of life behind rice-paper screens, where young  girls learn the art of geisha - dancing and singing, how to wind the kimono, how to walk and pour tea and how to beguile the land's most powerful men.

geisha

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The last meeting was on Wednesday 27th March  at Sally's home near Shrewsbury.The film 'LOVING' starred Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga.

In 1958 in the state of Virginia, the idea of interracial marriage was not only considered to be immoral to many, it was also illegal.  When Richard and Mildred fall in love, they are aware of the eyes staring at them and the words said behind their backs.  It is when they get married, however, that words and looks become actions, and the two are arrested.  The couple decide to take their case all the way to the Supreme Court in order to fight for their love .

New laws were passed and they won their case.

If you want action and a fast-moving film - this is not for you, but it is a true story of just an ordinary couple who wanted to live together as husband and wife. It was interesting to see how accepted Joel was by the black community and how  unacceptable Mildred was to the white community. Shame on us!

loving

We meet on the last Wednesday in the month at each members' house.

The films chosen are those that do NOT regularly appear on the various television channels and which have a decent story and/or have an innovative content.

A number of films are chosen by the host, the one shown is selected by the attendees.

The next meeting will be  announced shortly.


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