• celebrating 20 years of film at reel people •

Flashback: Season 2003/04

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Rabbit Proof Fence

In 1901 the Australian government built a transcontinental fence in Western Australia to contain the exploding population of rabbits. Not long after it introduced a scheme by which all mixed-race children were taken away from their Aboriginal mothers and the Aboriginal part bred out of them through two generations of enforced marriage to whites. This film is the true tale of one poverty-stricken family in 1931, when three little girls, each with a different itinerant white father who'd worked on the fence, were taken away from their mother and sent to a special school 1,500 miles away. We follow their escape and heroic journey home as they use the fence as a guide. A gripping, unsentimental tale with a haunting score by Peter Gabriel.

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Rabbit Proof Fence promotional photo

Nine Queens

The two central characters are both petty conmen who not only try to con each other but practically everyone else they meet. The nine queens of the title are a set of Weimar Republic stamps that are worth a fortune, presuming they are not fakes. What is unusual about the film is the way it cons its audience too - you never quite know who is going to do what to whom next. An entertaining and amusing piece of film-making.

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Nine Queens promotional photo

The Quiet American

Caine plays Thomas Fowler, the Times's man in 1950s Saigon - a weary expatriate, drinking regularly and abundantly in his favourite haunts, but conscientiously filing copy. Fowler lives with a beautiful Vietnamese girl called Phuong. This domestic and professional contentment is upended with the arrival of a quietly spoken young American aid worker, Alden Pyle (Brendan Fraser). He badgers Fowler with naive visions of a "third force" to save Vietnam, saves his life during a night raid and falls in love with Phuong. Pyle turns out to have direct links with a renegade Vietnamese army commander and directly assists in the planting of horrific bombs, targeted at civilians.

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The Quiet American promotional photo

Lilo and Stitch

This is a Disney cartoon about a destructive gremlin-like mutant, the result of a failed experiment on planet Truro, who is exiled to Earth. He lands in Hawaii where he's adopted by the cute little orphan Lilo (pronounced Leelo), who names him Stitch and introduces him to the music of Elvis Presley. The CIA and extra-terrestrials intervene, but the loveable creature becomes a member of Lilo's family.

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Lilo and Stitch promotional photo

Donnie Darko

Donnie Darko, is a sad loner set apart from family and society. The movie is a combination of fantasy and reality, of the apocalyptic horror movie and the high school comedy. It is the autumn of 1988 in the weeks leading up to the presidential election. Donnie has received an announcement from Frank, a 6ft rabbit with a head like a satanic emissary, that the world is going to end in 28 days, six hours and 42 minutes. That's around Halloween and before the election.

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Donnie Darko promotional photo

Chicago

Roxie Hart is a hardworking gal who dreams of showbiz glory. A no-good low-life uses her sexually and tries to dump her, so she fills him full of lead. Pending trial, Roxie winds up in the women's prison, meeting über-vamp Velma Kelly, a nightclub chanteuse who has just handed her sister a one-way ticket to Violentdeathville for fooling around with her husband. Billy Flynn is an appallingly venal criminal lawyer who specialises in this kind of case, adept at manipulating juries but credulous newspapermen as well, spinning them sensational tales to create the publicity and marketing deals which are going to pay his monster fee. What glorious songs! Razzle-Dazzle, All That Jazz - these are fabulous show tunes.

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Chicago promotional photo

The Hours

This film is about a day in the life of three women on the verge of a nervous breakdown, separated from each other by a continent, an ocean and many decades. The movie is about being pinned down by social conventions and familial obligations, creating structures to make them bearable and thinking of breaking free from these fetters and liberating others.Suicide, contemplated or achieved, occurs in all three strands. To emphasise this, the movie begins and ends with Woolf's suicide.

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The Hours promotional photo

City of God

This electrifying picture is part tender coming-of-age film and part gang-warfare epic from the Brazilian slum, or favela, told from the viewpoint of the children who manage to be both its underclass and its criminal overlords. It's a movie with all the dials cranked up to 11, an overwhelming, intoxicating assault on the senses, and a thriller so tense that you might have the seat in front of you gripped in both fists.

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City of God promotional photo

Finding Nemo

This is an adventure, in which an apprehensive, over-protective clown-fish father traverses the sea in search of his missing son. The youngster was scooped up near his reef home by some monstrous, two-legged land creature in scuba gear and deposited into a Australian dentist's fish tank, populated by a colorful crew of fellow captives who help little Nemo hatch an escape plan. In the meantime, Marlin - his fretful father - ventures deeper into the deep blue than he has ever dared before, determined to find the boy.

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Finding Nemo promotional photo

The Girl from Paris

A very charming and utterly French film about a young Parisian woman (Mathilde Seigner) who abandons a dull career in computing to follow her dream: taking over a farm in remote, rural France. She buys one from cranky old farmer, Adrien, and to his intense chagrin makes it far more profitable than he ever could with her new business methods. But then a hard winter sets in, and she needs his help.

The Girl from Paris promotional photo

The Pianist

Roman Polanski’s Holocaust movie is based on the true-life memoir of Polish pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman. Gaunt Adrien Brody plays Szpilman, a famous pianist who at the moment of the 1939 Nazi invasion is broadcasting live on Warsaw radio; the studio is blown to pieces. He and his family are moved into the notorious ghetto. They refuse to join the Jewish ghetto police; Szpilman's celebrity nevertheless allows him to pull strings. Just as his family is loaded on to the cattle trucks headed for Auschwitz, Szpilman is hauled off and allowed back into the devastated city, to fend for himself and deal with his survivor-guilt as best he may.

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The Pianist promotional photo

Calendar Girls

In April 1999, the real-life ladies of the Rylstone and District Women's Institute in Yorkshire produced a cheeky nude calendar to raise money for a hospital that had cared for one of their husbands before he died of cancer. They could hardly have known that their story was going to be the female Full Monty. Or maybe they could. The ladies obviously had a brilliant, untrained knack for publicity and a shrewd sense of how appealing their naughty-but-nice calendar was going to be.

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Calendar Girls promotional photo

The Man without a Past

A welder, played by Markku Peltola, turns up in Helsinki looking for work, dies in hospital after getting savagely beaten by muggers but is then reborn as a man with no memory and joins a community of homeless folk living in genteel contentment in empty container units. From here, the nameless man embarks on a diffident courtship of the Salvation Army lady, Irma (Kati Outinen), who won an acting award at Cannes for this performance.

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The Man without a Past promotional photo

Dirty Pretty Things

A very entertaining, intelligent thriller. Ejiofor plays Okwe, a Nigerian "illegal" in London, hotel-portering by night, minicabbing by day, and all the time chewing dodgy herbal leaves to keep him alert. Audrey Tautou is Senay, a young Turkish woman, also illegal, earning a pittance as a maid in the hotel where Okwe works, and the incomparably sinister Sergi Lopez is the hotel manager, who tells his employees that London hotels are places where strangers come to keep secrets, and wise people look the other way.

One morning, Okwe is brusquely instructed to clean up a room where a guest has been with a prostitute, and has to unblock a lavatory overflowing with blood - a gripping scene in which nausea gives way to astonishment, then fear as Okwe realises that the obstruction is caused by a human heart.

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Dirty Pretty Things promotional photo

Master and Commander

Based on the best-selling novels of Patrick O'Brian, the film stars Russell Crowe as "Lucky" Jack Aubrey, who pits his crew of the H.M.S. Surprise against a much better armed and ruthless privateer, in a chase that takes him all the way to the far side of the world.

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Master and Commander promotional photo

Son of the Bride

Rafael is the good-looking 42-year-old manager of a popular restaurant in Buenos Aires that his Italian immigrant parents created. He's troubled by unreliable suppliers, unsympathetic bank managers, a difficult ex-wife, an alienated young daughter, a young lover from Spain he doesn't properly appreciate and a restaurant chain that's trying to buy him out. His mother is in a nursing home suffering from Alzheimer's, and his charming father wants to give her a full-scale church wedding to make up for the civil ceremony he'd insisted on 44 years before. Not surprisingly, Rafael has a heart attack, which puts things into perspective, if not into order.

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Son of the Bride promotional photo

Whale Rider

Whale Rider is set in a small coastal Maori village, and behind it lies the myth of Paikea, the founder of the community. While crossing the Pacific from the tribe's ancient lands 1,000 or more years ago, Paikea was rescued by a whale on which he rode ashore in New Zealand. His statue stands on the roof of the tribal meeting house. Ever since then, the title of chief has descended by the male line. The village's current chieftain is desperately trying to keep ancient traditions alive in the face of corrupting modern life. The old man won't countenance the idea of his granddaughter, now a confident 12-year old, being considered as the possible leader.

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Whale Rider promotional photo

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