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From Saltburn to Vertigo – what’s coming up at the Cambridge Arts Picturehouse

Sponsored feature | Our film critic, Mark Walsh, look at what’s coming up at the Cambridge Arts Picturehouse.


Promising Young Woman feels an apt description for Emerald Fennell (well, 38, which still feels young to me), and after the success of her previous film – which won the Outstanding British Film BAFTA and an Oscar for its screenplay – Fennell approaches very different territory with a look at the class divide through the eyes of a first year university student.

Barry Keoghan is Oliver Quick, struggling to find his way at Oxford University and finding himself unable to blend in with the generally more affluent students populating the corridors. A chance meeting and offer of help to Felix (Jacob Elordi) sees him make his first bond, and eventually secures him an invite to spend his summer break with Felix’s family, including his eccentric parents (Richard E Grant and Rosamund Pike), his sister (Alison Oliver), his fellow student and cousin Felix (Archie Madekwe) and their hanger on, “Poor Dear” Pamela (Carey Mulligan reuniting with Fennell after their last Promising partnership).

Keoghan initially seems stymied by shyness but, once brought into the family embrace, begins picking at the threads of the upper relationships on a one-to-one basis, gradually worming his way into their infections before testing the strengths of their family bonds. Keoghan moves between effortlessly charming and subtly sinister, his motivations always teased at arms’ length; only Madekwe seems suspicious and their sparring proves a particular highlight. Grant and Pike offer oddball delights as the lord and lady of the manor, and Fennell’s examination of the social and moral divide between the classes offers delectable drama with a sprinkling of pitch black fun.

Saltburn opens on Friday, November 17.

C’e Un Soffio Di Vita Soltanto

This documentary, whose title roughly translates to “there’s only a breath of life”, tells the story of Lucy, a granny in her nineties who is still remarkably full of life. It’s also a remarkable life she’s lived, not least for being one of the few to survive the Dachau concentration camp, but also because Lucy began life as Luciano; she is now the oldest transsexual woman in Italy.

The film by Matteo Botrugno and Daniele Coluccini charts Lucy’s life through the 1900s, from an abused child to a homosexual boy and a transvestite, through early hormone therapy and eventually gender reassignment surgery. It’s an insight not only into what makes us human in all of our complex forms, but also a journey through a period of history of incredible transition and change. Revisiting days past through fading photos, Lucy’s life is one of triumph over the most challenging adversity.

C’e Un Soffio Di Vita Soltanto is screening with a Q & A on Tuesday, November 21.

Sight and Sound Top 10 - Vertigo

We reach number two in the countdown of last year’s Sight And Sound poll with a film which has been ever present in the decennial poll of critics since 1982 and topped the previous vote in 2012. Alfred Hitchcock’s seminal thriller was his fourth and final collaboration with James Stewart and their darkest exploration of the nature of obsession and attraction.

John “Scottie” Ferguson (Stewart) is a detective who retires after a fellow policeman falls to his death in a rooftop chase. An old college friend asks him to do some private work, following his wife, who’s been acting strangely. After saving her when he leaps into the bay beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, they spend time together but she then falls from a bell tower with Scottie unable to save her because of his acrophobia. But when revisiting some of the moments they shared together, Scottie sees another woman who seems to bear a remarkable resemblance.

Hitchcock the director is on masterful form, and the shot indicating the onset of Scottie’s aversion to heights and development of vertigo, as he hangs from the roof and the camera tracks back while zooming forwards has been often imitated (think Spielberg in Jaws with Roy Scheider on the beach for another famous example) but his gradual descent into Scottie’s paranoia and anguish is constantly compelling. While Stewart was more recognised as the American everyman, his psychological torment is perfectly illuminated by Robert Burks’ cinematography and Bernard Herrmann’s typically nerve-shredding score. Vertigo’s return to the cinema screen is the ideal opportunity to determine if you rank it at the top of your Hitchcock, or all-time, lists.

Vertigo is screening on Sunday, November 26.

Watersprite Young Film Programmers - Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

John Hughes is one of the most recognisable American directors of the last half a century, having told readily identifiable stories of American life that have captured the imagination and become icons, as well as making a name for Chicago in the world of cinema.

Most people will have a favourite, whether it be his direction of The Breakfast Club or Planes, Trains and Automobiles, or his writing in Pretty In Pink or Home Alone. But for this critic, peak John Hughes absolutely has to be the high school senior and his increasingly unlikely adventures around the Windy City.

Ferris is a master of slacking, but even he realises that faking illness yet again might be as far as he can push his luck, so he needs to make his final day off before graduation count. He doesn’t want to experience the day alone, so needs to extract his girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) from school without attracting the suspicions of school dean Ed Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) or being undermined by his disdainful sister (Jennifer Grey). He can’t do any of this without the assistance of his best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck), but there’s only one problem: Cameron is actually ill and wants no part of it.

Hughes set out to make his film a love letter to Chicago, squeezing in as many Chicago landmarks as he could, but it’s also a love letter to the pleasures of life and making sure it doesn’t pass you by. Ferris should be detestable, but a never-better Matthew Broderick oozes charisma and keeps you on board with Ferris’s grand schemes, even down to the tense foot-chase finale. When I grow up, I know it’s wrong but I want to be Ferris Bueller.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is showing on Monday, December 4.

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