Films for May from the Save The David Lean Cinema Campaign

By - Tuesday 30th April, 2013

Save the David Lean Cinema Campaign programmer Philip Howard has four more reasons to join the Spread Eagle’s art-house community

Sadly, these doors have remained closed since 21 April 2011.

Once again, the Save The David Lean Cinema Campaign is pleased to present a film season at the Spread Eagle pub in Katherine Street. Before our March season, I wrote about the principles we follow when putting a season together. To recap, we try to show films in the character of those formerly screened at the David Lean Cinema, and to increase the choice of films locally by not screening those programmed by the Fairfield Halls and other local venues. We’re also restricted in which films we can screen due to the Spread Eagle’s Public Video Screening License, which offers, via Filmbank, a wide but not fully comprehensive range of films, which become available at their DVD release date.

Rust and Bone is a powerful drama, centring on the alliance between two traumatized characters

Our May programme went through a number of drafts and, while the final selection is my responsibility, the campaign committee provided a great deal of useful advice. One film which was always in the programme is Rust and Bone. It’s a powerful drama, centring on the alliance between two traumatized characters, one of whom (played by Marion Cotillard) has a serious physical injury while the other (Matthias Schoenaerts) carries emotional scars.

This film, Untouchable, had been on our radar for some time

Our audiences have always been keen on French cinema, as shown in March by the large turnout for Les Adoptes, which had received an extremely limited release and little press coverage before we screened it. Therefore, when putting the May programme together, we were willing to accompany Rust and Bone with a second French production. This film, Untouchable, had been on our radar for some time, as two committee members had seen it on cinematic release in 2012. However, it had appeared briefly on the Filmbank catalogue before seemingly being withdrawn. My occasional checks during the winter were only rewarded in mid-March, when Untouchable reappeared, and we immediately added it to the draft programme. There’s some similarity to Rust and Bone in that it’s broadly a two-hander considering themes of disability and identity, but Untouchable is far more of a comedy and is about a platonic male friendship rather than an intensely physical relationship.

The nature of that relationship in Rust and Bone affected another programming choice. I considered The Sessions, a much more mellow drama featuring acclaimed performances from both Helen Hunt and John Hawkes. However, we are aware of the preferences of some audience members in terms of adult material, and it seemed inappropriate to include two films with relatively strong sexual content in the same programme. Given that The Sessions is a more recent release, I decided to hold it over, and hope that we’ll be able to screen it in July.

English Vinglish should provide an easy introduction to Indian cinema which many of our supporters will enjoy

The emerging theme around identity led to a suggestion from a committee member that we consider what would be the campaign’s first Asian-made feature, English Vinglish. This gentle comedy follows a woman who, despite being a successful small business owner and mother, feels out of place in middle-class Indian life because of her poor command of English. Events conspire to send her to New York, where she joins a language class. While I was sceptical at first, and a viewing confirmed that it’s not my kind of film, it’s competently directed and has a sympathetic central performance from Bollywood legend Sridevi. It should therefore provide an easy introduction to Indian cinema which many of our supporters will enjoy.

A Better Life, Chris Weitz’s moving story of immigrant life in Los Angeles, has not been shown elsewhere in Croydon or on terrestrial television

Our fourth selection has, not for the first time in campaign history, required us to turn a problem into an opportunity. I had selected Silver Linings Playbook, which may need no introduction to Croydon Citizen readers but surprisingly had not been programmed by the Fairfield Halls. Alas, I failed to communicate the draft programme to our hosts at the Spread Eagle before they put together their own April screenings… which featured Silver Linings Playbook on 29th April! Other films were considered for our May selection, but at around 160 minutes each Zero Dark Thirty and Cloud Atlas were too long for a venue without true cinema seating, Great Expectations and Amour had been programmed by the Fairfield, and another pair of features which were thematically perfect fits for the David Lean tradition had to be rejected because they simply weren’t good enough. The Filmbank cupboard appeared bare – until I reached back a year, to the earliest days of our Spread Eagle residency. At that time, with no arthouse provision since the April 2011 closure of the David Lean Cinema in the Clocktower, we were presented with an embarrassment of riches, and were unable to find a place in the programme for every ‘David Lean film’ which was new to Filmbank at the time. I realised that A Better Life, Chris Weitz’s moving story of immigrant life in Los Angeles, had still not been shown elsewhere in Croydon or on terrestrial television, and should therefore be ‘new’ to, and welcomed by, our audiences. Our May programme was, at last, finalized.

The full schedule is as follows (all films at 2:30 and 8:00pm):

Tuesday 7th May: Untouchable (15) 2011 France/Belgium 112 mins

Tuesday 14th May: A Better Life (15) 2011 USA 93 mins

Monday 20th May: Rust and Bone (15) 2012 France 118 mins

Tuesday 28th May: English Vinglish (PG) 2012 India 134 mins

To receive regular updates from the campaign, please ask to be added to our membership list. Email:

Philip Howard

Philip Howard

I'm a lifelong Croydon citizen, growing up in Park Hill and Old Coulsdon, and now living in Sanderstead. Professionally, I'm a researcher for the National Offender Management Service, and have nearly completed a PhD in Forensic Psychology. Off-duty, I volunteer for the Save The David Lean Cinema Campaign, go to galleries and gigs, am a fan of Crystal Palace FC, Surrey CC and the New York Mets, and try to be a better triathlete while acquiring a growing collection of aches and pains.

More Posts

  • Adrian Winchester

    The word of mouth regarding ‘Untouchable’ has been exceptionally good, so if you’re coming to this, arrive early to be sure of getting a seat!