Cathy Come Home (dir: Ken Loach, 1966, cert n/a)
Ken Loach’s standing as a committed filmmaker ready to tackle social injustice was really solidified with the broadcast of the Wednesday Play ‘Cathy Come Home’ on the BBC in 1966. The gritty documentary style was a revelation and shocked a captive audience, there was only one channel, with its portrayal of homelessness and unemployment. Watched by an astonishing 12 million people, a quarter of the UK population at the time, viewers had never seen anything like it before. Though Loach himself has downplayed the influence of the film, it led to the formation of the homeless charity Crisis and raised awareness levels to a degree that had never been seen before. Actress Carol White was given money in the street for years afterwards by people convinced she was actually homeless. A landmark in social realist film-making.
Mon 28 Nov 7.30pm at Thimblemill Library, Thimblemill Rd, Smethwick B67 5RJ

I, Daniel Blake (dir: Ken Loach, 2016, cert 15)
Loach is angry and so will you be after viewing the tribulations of the titular Daniel as he strives to negotiate the bureaucratic behemoth of state welfare. No sitting on the fence here and the message is certainly hammered home but when the rhetoric of the right wing press is likewise hammered into popular consciousness maybe it’s the only way. An important antidote to the vile class stereotyping so beloved of the Daily Mail and its ilk and the most relevant film you will see this year. You have been told.
Tue 29 Nov to Thu 1 Dec various times at Electric, Station Street, Birmingham B5 4DY £8.70 Fri 2 Dec to Thu 8 Dec various times at Lighthouse, Chubb Buildings, Wolverhampton WV1 1HT £8

Mean Girls (dir: Mark Waters, 2004, cert 12) + comedy from Luisa Omielan
A teen comedy with  a grown up soul. Do you dare immerse yourself in the bitchy world of The Plastics as Lindsay Lohan’s Cady starts life at the terrifying North Shore High School. Tina Fey’s script crackles along at a blistering pace and is littered with dialogue so sharp it will make your ears bleed. Hilariously biting satire and so culturally relevant Barack Obama’s dog quotes it on Twitter. Now ‘would you like us to assign someone to butter your muffin?’ Before the screening there will be a comedy performance from Birmingham’s very own Luisa Omielan. Shut up! Part of the cinematic time machine season.
Wed 30 Nov 8.15pm at Electric, Station Street, Birmingham B5 4DY £8.70

Black Girl (dir: Ousmane Sembene, 1966, cert n/a)
Sembene’s first feature was a sensation on release and is an essential film of the sixties. The first sub-Saharan African film to gain widespread acclaim is, at its most basic, the simple tale of a Senegalese woman moving to France to work for a wealthy white family. However, there is nothing simple about Sembene’s film. It’s a multi layered and complex study of colonialism and identity featuring a stunning performance from M’Bissine Thérèse Diop. Her portrayal of Diouana’s creeping isolation and awareness is powerful and harrowing. A moving and difficult drama that demands to be seen.
Thu 1 Dec 6pm at mac, Cannon  Hill Park, Birmingham B12 9QH £8

One More Time With Feeling (dir: Andrew Dominik, 2016, cert 15)
Conceived, in part, to spare Nick Cave having to talk with journalists about the death of his son, Dominik’s film documents the recording of Cave’s sixteenth album in the aftermath of the tragedy. Stark, compelling and beautiful, the pain of losing a child is an incomparable and viciously deadening level of emotional grief. It hangs heavy over the film as Cave struggles to finish his album the Skeleton Tree. There is a poignant moment when he comments. “We all hope for this dramatic event in our life that we can write about, but this trauma, it was very damaging to the creative process.” Raw and hypnotic.
Thu 1 Dec 8.30pm at Electric, Station Street, Birmingham B5 4DY £8.70

Blue Collar (dir: Paul Schrader, 1978, cert 18)
So lets just think about this for a moment. Paul Schrader’s directorial debut after scripting films like Taxi Driver and Raging Bull; starring a wired Harvey Keitel, an against type Richard Pryor and the bullish genius of Yaphet Kotto. What a mix. What a classic film. The triumvirate of acting heavyweights turn in powerhouse performances as struggling Detroit auto workers hatching a scheme that will solve all their financial problems. You know it’s not going to end well and it’s worth noting that Schrader had a mental breakdown during filming as he continually clashed with his actors. Intense? You better believe it. Deserving of rediscovery. Screened as part of the BFI Black Star season.
Sun 4 Dec 6pm at mac, Cannon  Hill Park, Birmingham B12 9QH £8

Boyz N The Hood (dir: John Singleton, 1991, cert 15)
It may be a quarter of a century since a 23 years old John Singleton wrote and directed this seminal movie but the themes explored are as relevant today as they were then, if not more so. Tre, Doughboy, Ricky and Jason “Furious” Styles Jr. try to survive on the hard streets of South Central LA drowning in drugs, poverty, gangs and police harassment. Powerful and shot through with a sharp and gritty realism, there is a simmering undertone of violence throughout. Not only one of the greatest directorial debuts ever but in Ice Cube’s portrayal of Doughboy a remarkable acting first too. It ain’t no fairy tale. Part of the cinematic time machine season.
Sun 4 Dec 4pm at Electric, Station Street, Birmingham B5 4DY £8.70

Gimme Danger (dir: Jim Jarmusch, 2016, cert 15)
You might think a marriage between one of the most influential bands ever formed and their wildly enigmatic singer with one of the coolest filmmakers at work today was a partnership that couldn’t possibly fail. Well you’d be right to a degree. Jarmusch’s study of Iggy Pop and the Stooges has a soundtrack that can’t fail and his reverence is obviously pronounced and affectionate if a little cloying at times. The footage of James Osterberg Igging out or reminiscing is compelling and edgy. Unfortunately the rest of the band are pretty dull in their screen time and we get no mention of Bowie and how he fitted into the Iggy Pop myth. Still worth your time, what a noise those boys made.
Sun 4 Dec 3pm at Electric, Station Street, Birmingham B5 4DY £8.70

Czechoslovak Christmas Night Special at Gunmakers Arms
Christmas isn’t complete for Czechs and Slovaks without watching the Russian fairytale Mrazik (dir: Alexander Rou, 1965, cert n/a). Released in 1965 and roughly translated as Jack Frost or Father Frost, pretty much everyone in the Eastern Bloc knows the film by heart and just have to singalong. Join the Czech and Slovak Club of Birmingham and Brum Cinema Addicts for this special screening, eat lots of sausage and sing your heads off.
Sat 3 Dec 8pm at Gunmakers Arms, 93 Bath Street, City Centre, B4 6HG Birmingham £2


Mon 28 Nov - Sun 4 Dec
Giles Logan
Published on:
Thu 27 Oct 2016