Is a trip to the cinema on the cards this half term? If so, read on! If it’s not, you might still like to read on because there’s lots of Curzon-related news.
By now, most people will have heard the news that C.E.O. Susannah Shaw has just retired after eight transformative years in the life of the Curzon. As I write this, the quote, ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times………’ keeps running through my head.
Susannah and her team saw the Curzon through two major building projects. Firstly, the restoration of the roof, which required the vast sum of £600,000, successfully raised through a strong, effective, imaginative fundraising strategy that embraced the idea that we were all in this together, which is sincerely how so many of us felt.
Part of this roof restoration project was the ingenious fundraising idea ‘Art on the Tiles’, where thirty-nine of the 100-year-old tiles taken from the roof were turned into works of art for a special ‘Art on the Tiles’ auction which raised £22,208. If you’d like to read about the appeal and see images of the tiles, you can do so here
Secondly, the campaign to ‘Bring back the Balcony’ which was shut away from the public gaze in 1973 after a screening of ‘Cabaret’, when film-going had slumped in popularity and purse strings were being pulled very tight by the 3-day week. For decades the beautiful, curving structure gathered dust, becoming a storage site for the many vintage projectors collected by enthusiasts over the years.
‘Bring back the Balcony’ was another winning fundraising campaign and raised £85,000, of which £60,000 came from incredibly generous public donations. This was a huge success in such a volatile financial climate, but Susannah and the team’s carefully crafted fundraising strategy again paid off.
The success of these two campaigns reflected Susannah’s phenomenal work ethic, her creativity and the wonderful relationships that she has in the community. Not without high stress and anxiety, these must surely have been the best of times during her eight-year tenure.
Susannah and her team have initiated many other projects, such as the opening of the Teatro Lounge at the rear of the cinema; the special sessions for parents with babies, those with impaired hearing, those with dementia, children and autism-friendly screenings; the Front Room Cinema project set up in 2017 whereby they take the cinema out and entertain elderly people, adults with learning disabilities and youngsters from Children’s Hospice South West; the introduction of live comedy, music and performance……………………..but it’s the roof restoration and the balcony projects above that I will associate most closely with Susannah.
I imagine The worst of times must have been the lockdowns during the Covid pandemic. How many times have I written about the Curzon as being the oldest, continually running, purpose-built, independent cinema in the country, having survived two World Wars, the Spanish flu, the rise of television and the age of streaming services? I’ve made some reference to it in most of my blogs!
Given its history, I thought about how distressing it must have been for Susannah and her team to action this closure. In 2020 they were only able to open for four weeks in between lockdowns which equated to a huge loss of revenue and left the future in doubt.
However, it wasn’t all bad news! Whilst they were shut down and as worried about the future as the rest of the arts and culture sector, the roofing contractors were hard at work.
Susannah has been a leading light not just at the Curzon but on the arts and culture scene in Clevedon, and we wish her all the very best for a long, happy, healthy retirement.
Looking to the future, the Curzon has announced that a new CEO will be in place shortly. Andrew Caddy has local Clevedon family connections and has known the Curzon since he was a boy. Andrew’s career to date has included being part of the team at the South Bank Centre in London and, more recently, a senior member of the management team at the Brighton Dome and Festival.
Looking forward to his new role Andrew said:
“I have loved the Curzon since visiting Clevedon many times on holiday growing up. I am truly honoured to be chosen as the new leader of this amazing place and can’t wait to build on Susannah’s wonderful legacy by cementing Curzon’s position as the leading arts venue in North Somerset and beyond.”
Let’s look now at what’s on over half-term! The week-end Friday the 10th of February kicks off with:
PUSS IN BOOTS: THE LAST WISH
There is a screening of Puss in Boots every day during half-term at 2.30 p.m. with a sub-titled screening on Wednesday the 13th of February. It has a PG rating, and the running time is 102 minutes. Book your tickets here
The reviews are excellent, the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer gives it 95%, and the audience score is 94% which is very impressive.
Hardly surprising when you take a look at the all-star comedic cast that includes Oscar winner Olivia Colman, Ray Winstone (Black Widow), Samson Kayo (Sliced), Emmy nominee Anthony Mendez (Jane the Virgin) and Tony nominee Da’Vine Joy Randolph (Trolls World Tour).
For the first time in more than a decade, DreamWorks Animation presents a new adventure in the Shrek universe as daring outlaw Puss in Boots discovers that his passion for peril and disregard for safety have taken their toll. Puss has burned through eight of his nine lives, though he lost count along the way. Getting those lives back will send Puss in Boots on his grandest quest yet.
Academy Award nominee Antonio Banderas returns as the voice of the notorious Puss as he embarks on an epic journey into the Black Forest to find the mythical Wishing Star and restore his lost lives. But with only one life left, Puss will have to humble himself and ask for help from his former partner and nemesis: the captivating Kitty Soft Paws (Oscar nominee Salma Hayek).
In their quest, Puss and Kitty will be aided – against their better judgment – by a ratty, chatty, relentlessly cheerful mutt, Perro (Harvey Guillén, What We Do in the Shadows). Together, our trio of heroes will have to stay one step ahead of Goldilocks (Oscar nominee Florence Pugh, Black Widow) and the Three Bears Crime Family, “Big” Jack Horner (Emmy winner John Mulaney, Big Mouth) and terrifying bounty hunter, The Big Bad Wolf (Wagner Moura, Narcos)
Check out the trailer:
“A cat always lands on its feet — and Puss In Boots: The Last Wish does so with considerable style, rapier wit, and surprising substance.” Ben Travis Empire Magazine (Top critic)
“The animation style is warm and uses high colour, the film’s visual richness giving the impression almost that we’re stepping into a picture book. It’s very appealing.” Veronica Lee The Arts Desk
“The Last Wish is visually gorgeous with an attention to detail you might not expect given it’s a sequel to a spin-off of a two-decade-old film.” The Independent Clarisse Loughrey
The evening of Friday 10th February, there is a screening of the wonderful, romantic comedy:
The film is preceded by live jazz music in the bar at 7.00 p.m. from the Andy Christie Trio. The film starts at 8.00 p.m. It has a U rating, and the running time is 118 minutes. Book your tickets here
The reviews are excellent, the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer gives it 97%, and the audience score is 93% which is very impressive.
Roman Holiday, widely regarded as one of the most charming romances in screen history, was first released in 1953. It was directed by William Wyler and starred Gregory Peck (as Joe Bradley), Audrey Hepburn (as Princess Ann) and Eddie Albert (as Irving Radovich)
It received ten Academy Award nominations, including best cinematography, best original screenplay and best leading actress, winning the latter two.
Princess Anne embarks on a highly publicised tour of European capitals. When she and her royal entourage arrive in Rome, she begins to rebel against her restricted, regimented schedule. One night Anne sneaks out of her room, hops into the back of a delivery truck and escapes her luxurious confinement.
However, a sedative she was forced to take earlier starts to take effect, and the Princess is soon fast asleep on a public bench. She is found by Joe Bradley, an American newspaper reporter stationed in Rome. He takes her back to his apartment. The next morning Joe dashes off to cover the Princess Anne press conference, unaware that she is sleeping on his couch. Once he realises his good fortune, Joe promises his editor an exclusive interview with the Princess.
This classic romance in romantic Rome returns to the big screen with a beautiful 4k restoration.
Check out the trailer:
“A rom-com colossus, and one that has been aped and emulated in everything from Notting Hill to Trainwreck to Jennifer Lopez’s recent Marry Me…” Kevin Maher Times (Top critic)
“With Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn turning in superb performances, Roman Holiday is 118 minutes of sheer entertainment.” Milton Luban Hollywood Reporter (Top critic)
“For lovers of romantic comedies through the ages, Roman Holiday remains a favourite”. James Berardinelli Reel Views (Top critic)
Balcony tickets are now on sale for this event! It’s the perfect film to capture the excitement of the historic balcony re-opening.
The new look for the balcony was conceived by Susannah and Bristol Architects, Dittrich, Hudson Vasetti, and features a variety of seating, ranging from traditional flip-up seats to laid-back sofas. All the seating has been re-purposed. The flip-up seats are original to the Curzon, and the sofas and armchairs have been sourced from Clevedon’s Changing Lives and Bristol’s Sofa Project. In all cases, they have been completely re-upholstered to comply with modern fire regulations and covered in sumptuous velvets.
The main benefit, as well as the new angle from which to view the screen, is space. There’s generous seating with a table for drinks and snacks and room to stretch out and relax. A bar is planned for the balcony lobby, but for now, customers can bring their drinks up to the balcony just as they can for the main auditorium.
To pre-book tickets for the balcony online, you need to sign up for membership which is free. To book, you simply choose your film, and when you select your seats, choose ‘balcony’ from the drop-down menu. They’ve been selling quickly – so you need to book fast! Any unsold balcony tickets will be available to non-members at the door.
A film that has proved very popular at the Curzon remains for another three screenings on Saturday the 11th, Sunday the 12th and Tuesday the 14th of February at 7.30 p.m.
With such a fabulous list of people working on it (see below), it’s not surprising that Fabelmans does so well on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer, which gives it a score of 92% and an audience score of 83%.
Directed by Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans is written by Spielberg and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner (Angels in America, Caroline, or Change), who has earned Oscar nominations for his screenplays for Spielberg’s Lincoln and Munich. The film is produced by three-time Oscar nominee Kristie Macosko Krieger (West Side Story, The Post), Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner. The film is executive produced by Carla Raij (Maestro, co-producer of West Side Story) and Josh McLaglen (Free Guy, Logan).
The film stars Gabriel LaBelle (The Predator, American Gigolo series) as 16-year-old aspiring filmmaker Sammy Fabelman; four-time Academy Award nominee Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea, My Week with Marilyn) as his artistic mother, Mitzi; Paul Dano (The Batman, There Will Be Blood) as his successful, scientific father, Burt; Seth Rogen (Steve Jobs, An American Pickle) as Bennie Loewy, Burt’s best friend and honorary “uncle” to the Fabelman children, and Academy Award nominee Judd Hirsch (Uncut Gems, Ordinary People) as Mitzi’s Uncle Boris.
The Fabelmans is a semi-autobiographical story loosely based on Spielberg’s adolescence and first years as a filmmaker told through an original story of the fictional Sammy Fabelman, a young aspiring filmmaker who explores how the power of films can help him see the truth about his dysfunctional family and those around him. The film is dedicated to the memories of Spielberg’s real-life parents, Leah Adler and Arnold Spielberg, who died in 2017 and 2020, respectively.
Spielberg had conceived the project as early as 1999, with his sister Anne writing a screenplay titled I’ll Be Home. He had reservations about exploring his family’s story because of concerns that his parents would be hurt, and the project was withheld for 20 years. Spielberg revisited the project with screenwriter and frequent collaborator Kushner in 2019 while making West Side Story and completed the screenplay by the end of 2020. Development on the film officially began soon after.
Check out the trailer:
There are two opportunities to see the next film, which is:
“This could have been sentimental and soggy, a “magic of the movies” endeavour. There is some of that, but this is more than that. It’s about family, and the complexity of family, and it’s intensely personal, moving, absorbing and full of love.” Deborah Ross The Spectator (Top critic)
“The Fabelmans left me with a floating feeling of happiness.” Peter Bradshaw The Guardian (Top critic)
“The result is neither as sentimental nor as moving – if those adjectives can be separated – as the director’s more personal 20th century films. It does, however, feel complete in itself. Cleanly shot. Immaculately performed.” Donald Clark Irish Times (Top critic)
There is a screening on Monday the 13th of February and Thursday the 16th of February, at 7.30 p.m. TÁR has a 15 rating, and the running time is 158 minutes. Book your tickets for Monday here and Thursday here
The reviews are again excellent, the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer gives it 91%, and the audience score is 73% which is very impressive.
The director of this psychological drama is Todd Field, and the stars are Cate Blanchett, Mark Strong, Noémie Merlant, Nina Hoss, Sophie Kauer, Julian Glover, Allan Corduner, Sylvia Flote, Lucie Pohl and Sam Douglas
Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett), the ground-breaking conductor of a major German Orchestra, is at the height of her career as she’s preparing both a book launch and a much-anticipated live performance of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. She has conducted with the great orchestras of Cleveland, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, and New York.
Lydia and her wife, the orchestra’s concertmaster, Sharon Goodnow (Nina Hoss), have a young daughter, Petra. Lydia also co-founded a program to mentor aspiring young female conductors. One of her former students, Francesca, works as Lydia’s personal assistant in the hopes of one day becoming her assistant conductor. When Lydia is accused of misconduct, her life begins to unravel.
Check out the trailer:
“It’s a phenomenal picture, supported by top-tier crew.” Wendy Ide Observer (UK) (Top critic)
“Grappling with what it means to be an artist in the modern era has seemingly brought the best out of both Field and star Cate Blanchett, who has unquestionably delivered the performance of a lifetime.” Ian Freer Empire Magazine (Top critic)
“It’s basically everything you are certain will bore you to death, but it doesn’t here. It’s riveting. The film is 157 minutes long and doesn’t drag for a single second.” Deborah Ross The Spectator (Top critic)
Despite the strong reviews, there has been some criticism of Tár. In an interview with the Sunday Times leading American conductor Marin Alsop slammed the film calling it “anti-woman”. There also seems to be much controversy about the ending, which I’ve resisted reading about because this is a film I definitely want to see.
And finally, sandwiched between TÁR on the 15th of February is:
THE BARBER OF SEVILLE
This is a live performance starting at 7.00 p.m. and lasting 3 hours and 45 minutes. ACT I is 105 minutes, there is a 25-minute INTERVAL, and ACT II lasts 65 minutes. It has a 12A rating. It is sung in Italian with English subtitles. Book your tickets here
When Rosina falls in love with a mysterious young suitor who calls himself Lindoro, she must use all her cunning –and a little help from her local barber –to outwit her calculating guardian Dr Bartolo.
Expect heart-melting serenades, ridiculous disguises and a fairy-tale ending waiting just out of reach. From the barber’s famous opening number ‘Largo al factotum,’ with its cry of ‘Figaro! Figaro!,’ to Rosina’s feisty aria ‘Una voce poco fa,’ Gioachino Rossini’s comic opera is a riotously entertaining affair. Rafael Payare makes his Royal Opera House debut conducting an outstanding international cast that includes Andrzej Filończyk, Aigul Akhmetshina, Lawrence Brownlee and Bryn Terfel.
Check out the trailer to get a hint of the fun and mischief to expect
As it’s a live performance, there are no reviews.
And that’s it for the half-term!
I’m so pleased that Susannah is retiring on such a high note. I talked about the worst of times being the lockdowns during the Covid pandemic, but Susannah being such a positive person, probably feels the best of times far outweigh the worst. She achieved so much, and her pièce de resistance must surely be galvanising the community and grant funders who saw the heritage and cultural value in reopening the glorious piece of social architecture, which is the balcony. Bravo Susannah!