Looking Back...Again (2)

Now that the 2018 fridge magnets have arrived (and they look great !), I’m anxious to announce our summer program. But there are still a number of years to revisit in our stroll down memory lane. So this is going to be a bumper edition of ‘The Way We Were’ with some pictures thrown in for good measure.

Back in 2010, we attempted our first fully thematic season of Sports, rather than simply picking a genre. Trailers and fridge magnets were still some way in the future, and we struggled badly with the weather. The special screening of Happy Feet - namely the green-tinged and cracked Antarctic landscape - convinced me that we needed a new projector. But the undoubted ‘high’ point (chuckle!) was my introduction to that American classic Caddyshack. Much loved by so many, I honestly and objectively judged it to be one of the worst movies I have ever seen. Read my apologia here.

2012 was the first year of the season trailer. Using Microsoft MovieMaker and some low resolution film clips, I drove Thomas (and to some extent myself) insane with the constant repetition of Sinatra’s ‘Come Fly With Me’ as I strove to get the opening sequence correct.  However I was particularly proud of the Pearl and Dean-like FAFC animation I created. So proud, I never used it again...

The season had some particularly good movies, including Up In The Air and the excellent Midnight in Paris, but was also blighted by the weather, causing us to cancel half of the program. A special award went to the memorable dish Roe and Kelsey brought for The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.


2013 was the year we discovered how to program the season. With so many great recent movies to choose from, the theme of Movies about Movies picked itself. We were able to include many recent Oscar winners, including The Artist, Argo, Hugo and My Week with Marilyn, as well as Linda’s special choice, Les Miserables. Surprisingly for a season about movies, I did not produce my own movie trailer…

In 2014 we struggled to find enough choices to complete the theme of Colours, as evidenced by our stretching of the colors concept to include ‘sunshine’ and ‘dark’. The very fine Blue Jasmine opened the season and was probably the best movie of the summer, although both The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Silver Linings Playbook were also well received, as were Laurie’s Crabby Snacks as accompaniment to the latter. I was also inspired to produce the longest trailer ever…

Its nice to look back over the years, from our very humble origins to where we are ten years later, and be proud of what we achieved. For example, the evolution of our screen from lashed together door trim to the cinema-like offering of today.

As previously mentioned, the tradition of bringing food along really began in 2011 with our Food, Glorious Food season. The highpoint of that season was the pie contest for Waitress. We really do not expect people to bring food, but it is always welcome. Many thanks.

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So we will go on making memories for at least one more summer. Thanks to everyone who has supported us over the years, our regulars and the not so regulars, everyone who has ever helped make popcorn, or stacked chairs at the end of the evening. And with a breath of excitement, I will tell you that I intend to publish this year's program over the weekend. And Linda and I think this year, fittingly, has the best line-up of our ten year history !!

Looking Back...Again

Continuing our stroll down memory lane, let's take a look at a couple more summers.

2010 - ‘Food, Glorious Food’ was - for obvious reasons - one of our favorite seasons, and started a new trend on Saturday evenings.

It was also probably the last time that we chose the theme before we chose the movies, and researched hard to find a fitting set of movies. ‘Julie & Julia’ was probably the only automatic choice, but we did unearth some gems like ‘Big Night’ (which contains one of my now favorite ever movie scenes), ‘Chocolat’ and, of course, ‘Waitress’ with the fantastic Kerry Russell, which has since become a Broadway musical. Waitress was also the highpoint of the new trend that began that summer, of bringing along food to match the movies. I can’t remember everything we did, but it included Nancy’s sublime slow cooked short ribs for openers with Julie & Julia, burgers with Amy’s ratatouille relish for Ratatouille, meatball subs with Big Night and a chocolate fountain for Chocolat. Finally, we rounded the season off with a legendary pie competition for Waitress. I was so inspired by the food season that I actually made two mini movies…


By 2016 we were in our stride, and I had now got a Mac Mini. Everything FAFC-wise was at a new level, Girls On Film was our theme and Duran Duran provided not only the theme for the season, but also the design inspiration for our fridge magnet and the soundtrack for my mini movie. The films were pretty good too, with Oscar recognition for ‘Carol’, ‘The Danish Girl’, ‘Still Alice’ and the surprisingly good ‘Her’. And one of my best promos...



Ten Years After...

10 years2009 was a momentous year by any standard. The first ever Black President of the United States was sworn in, ushering in a new era of hope for many people. However, the idea of a that shining new future was still dulled by the long shadow of the sub-prime mortgage crisis, as the world struggled with economic recession and job losses.

And in the dark summer of 2009, while we all feared H1N1 swine flu, and mourned the death of the King of Pop, a little brightness was shone into the world from the projector lamp in our backyard.  Back in 2009, armed only with a bedsheet, some door trim, a borrowed projector and a guitar amp, Folly Avenue Film Club brought moving images to life under the stars, and a grand tradition - nay, a movement - was born. 10 years later, we come together to celebrate a decade of popcorn, dewy grass, mosquito bites, loud frogs and some of the best movie watching experiences one can imagine.

Over the last 9 years, our little cinematic gathering has evolved at a rate which would even make Darwin proud. Advanced projection systems, hi fi quality sound, top quality catering are all things to which we still aspire unfortunately, but we have come a very long way, and become organised in a way only my wife could have been responsible for. And we have enjoyed every last little moment of what we have put together.

6a00d8341f76ef53ef017eeade1a3c970d-640wiThere are two things that have made the last nine years such a pleasure to have experienced. The first, and most important is people. We have had different sets of ‘regulars’ at different times, reflecting the passage of time and the inevitable changes in people’s lives. Jobs take people away, babies make it difficult for new parents to get out at night, but for the new friendships we have forged and the socials bonds that we have strengthened through love of movies, we are so grateful.

The second - and also most important - element are the movies themselves. As you should know, every summer our movies are loosely herded into a theme. Over the years we have progressed from selecting a theme which allowed us to spotlight a deserving group of movies, to basically picking the best movies from the previous couple of years, and inelegantly bolting a label on them. This rather crude method has been hugely successful, and in recent years we have had the best possible seasons.

Before we announce the theme for our celebratory tenth season of Folly Avenue Film Club, we thought we would take a little stroll down memory lane. Over the next couple of weeks, we will revisit some of our previous seasons, hopefully stirring up some memories, and whetting the appetite for our new line-up.

In 2009, with our modest technical set-up, we put together a program of our favorite musicals, including Moulin Rouge, Chicago and of course - the best musical movie of all time - Singin’ In The Rain. We learned an early lesson in 2009 that outdoor activities necesitate close attention to the weather. A number of nights were washed out by rain and we STILL haven’t shown Mamma Mia !

By 2015, we were in our stride. Our movie selection policy had matured, and our mastery of the presentation side had expanded to include pre-show trailers and even promotional videos. Here is something I put together to promote and celebrate the theme of ‘Based on a True Story’.

Stay tuned for more journeys down memory lane and some other movie related posts as we build towards Summer 2018, and the announcement of this year’s theme.

What is it they say about babies and bathwater ?

So first of all, apologies for the last minute rescheduling of our recent movie The Light Between Oceans. We obviously were tempting fate by having a season with a water theme, because this is the second time we have been rained out. Having said that, we were pleasantly surprised by how many people were able to show up on a Sunday night, particularly our neighbours from Princeton Farms. Thank you for turning out - it gave us pause to think whether Sunday might be a better choice for people. We’re going to stick with the schedule we have for now, but if we have another postponement we’ll probably try this again.

The-light-between-oceans-heroine-alicia-vikander-picturesAs for the movie…if last week’s Promised Land was noticeably lacking in water, then The Light Between Oceans made up for it in spades - and buckets. A windswept rock called Janus Rock, storms a-plenty, boats adrift – lots of climate, but perhaps sadly lacking in atmosphere. The story is unfortunately very workman-like. After losing two infants through miscarriage, the couple at the centre of the story, Tom and Isobel Sherbourne (played by Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander) find a baby adrift in a rowboat. The isolation of their lighthouse home allows them to pass it off as their own, until they come across the grieving mother whose husband and baby was lost at sea. Tom Sherbourne, racked with guilt, leaves her clues to the baby’s origin until the deception is uncovered, and he is jailed. The baby-now-child is returned to her family, and everyone lives unhappily ever after.

328534_214I’m being a bit cynical about the plot, because in all honesty by the end of the movie I really didn’t care what happened to any of the characters, and what should have been an emotional payoff was rather limp. Rachel Weisz, who plays Hannah Roennfeldt – the baby’s birth mother – delivers a rather confusing performance which includes a ‘wisdom of Solomon’ moment when she is prepared to give up her daughter for the common good – this comes completely out of nowhere, with hardly any justification. The coda of ’20 Years later’ – Isobel’s death and the grown Lucy-Grace’s visit to a still stoic Tom seems like a rushed afterthought, and not as profound as it was probably meant to be.

Probably unfairly, I had misgivings that the original book might be of a certain type – a genre dominated by the likes of Nicholas Sparks, producing movies which tend to be saccharine-laced and contrived. The contrivance was certainly on show, but I would probably have enjoyed any kind of artificial flavoring, if it only it provided something more tasty to remember…

FAFC presents THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS - Sat 1st July (and some words about Promised Land...)

With the rain delays, the movies are coming thick and fast. So fast, I am struggling to get into the preview/review/preview cycle with only 6 days between movies.

ImagesLast week, Promised Land seemed to me to contain a little unfulfilled promise. Like so many previous movies we’ve shown, particularly the sports ones, this movie wasn’t about its ostensive subject matter. Like Invictus was not about rugby but national reconstruction, and Bend it Like Beckham was not about soccer, but cultural emancipation, Promised Land was not about fracking. It was about the loss of innocence, nostalgia for the good old days and self-discovery. The story was engaging enough, though the HUGE plot twist was somewhat far-fetched. My main takeaway were the unconvincing nature of Matt Damon’s character, and his conversion. This so-called powerful executive who had just landed a mega-job with his devious energy multi-national was completely thrown off his game and floundered when confronted by a High School science teacher. He then went on to be charmed by the life of this small town and it’s ‘salt of the earth’ people – which was supposedly just the same as the multiple other towns he had previously worked on to build his corporate reputation. This meant that the arrival of the denouement is anticlimactic and just a little confusing. I also had a problem with a crucial hole in that plot twist that went a long way to spoiling the entire premise for me. Ask me about it next time you see me.

AaTheLightBetweenOceans_main-imageThis week, we have The Light Between Oceans, a period piece which promises to be a three-Kleenex number. A hunky, Teutonic couple (Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender) living in a lighthouse find a baby floating out at sea in a lifeboat and raise the child as their own, until…

Please join us on Saturday evening (1st July) for the movie. We are at the height of summer now, so we are starting a little bit later due to the light. We will be setting up around 7.30pm, but will not start the movie till after 8.30pm.

See you there !


After our showing of Manchester By The Sea last Saturday, we've had our own domestic drama which has set me back from putting down some words about the movie. Linda collapsed on Monday night with complications from her surgery and the subsequent diet, and spent a few days in hospital. She's home now recovering, taking things very easy, watching what she eats, and generally being fussed over. In a month or two, we'll probably gloss over some of the details in our recollections of this week, and this will soon be behind us.

MaxresdefaultFor Lee Chandler, Casey Affleck's character in Manchester By The Sea, every detail of the tragic events that threw his life into turmoil are with him every second of every day. I've written before about the different experience of viewing a movie for the second time once the plot points are understood, and here it only serves to amplify what a terrific performance this is from Casey Affleck, from the very start. From the penance-like drudgery of janitorial work in a frozen Quincy, through alcohol-inspired masochistic bar-fights, Affleck's character alternates between self-punishment for the terrible mistake he made, and maintaining the emotional force-field that holds back a torrent of grief that would overwhelm him. The strength of this performance is the under-statement that is his norm - Lee functions robotically, coldly, almost dismissively as a survival mechanism for his grief. When his defences waver, through contact with beer or closeness to the great love of his life, he becomes unstable. He recognises that he cannot keep his equilibrium if he stays - "I can't beat it". Every tiny jab at Lee's emotional core - from the townsfolk, or from his own tortured conscience - is there in Affleck's performance.

Casey Affleck will probably never get a role as important as this one in his career, but when given something as precious as this, he absolutely delivered one of the most impressive performances ever to win the Best Actor Oscar.

5 Days to Opening Night !

479697012You would think I would have no trouble dealing with all this internet-y email-y stuff, but there were definitely some issues getting the switch over right. It means that email invites for this weekend's movie went out late, and that you may have been receiving email alerts with last year's logo. Hopefully this is sorting itself out now, hopefully there is still time for you to make plans.

One thing I was able to get right was my usual little taster of the coming season, which I share here. If you weren't in the mood before, take a look at this and start marking your calendar ! See you on Saturday.