Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 215: Sat Aug 3

Dance With A Stranger (Newell, 1985): Picturehouse Central, 2pm

Picturehouse Central introduction:
Birds' Eye View have curated a ‘Reclaim The Frame : Vintage’ season as part of the BFI FAN Film Feels: Obsession, on the theme of Women and Obsession. Join us for a double bill of two unique and under-screened female-made thrillers from the 1980s plus specialist talks and a creative writing workshop, tapping into one’s own obsessive capacities!

British noir Dance With A Stranger (1985) starring Miranda Richardson and written by Shelagh Delaney (A Taste of Honey), is based on the true story of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in Britain following her conviction for the murder of her lover. Ellis's murder trial in the 1950s became a national obsession, later informing the debates leading to the abolishment of the death penalty in 1965. Dance With A Stranger explores what it means to commit a ‘crime of passion’ and how class and gender can inform the criminal justice system.

Smooth Talk (1985) directed by Joyce Chopra and featuring a young Laura Dern in her debut lead role as Connie, a teenage girl who is pursued by an enigmatic older man. Atmospherically crafted Smooth Talk won the Grand Jury prize in the dramatic category at Sundance Film Festival. It unsettlingly contracts two types of sexual obsession - a teenager's sexual curiosity and tendency to 'crush' and an older man's fetishisation and manipulation of innocence.

In addition, the audience are invited to an extended introduction from three specialist speakers, plus a post-screening discussion led by Mia Bays, Birds' Eye View's Director-At-Large and Oscar-winning producer. Following the films there will be a workshop in the Picturehouse central bar private Snug area, hosted by the award winning poet and creative writing facilitator Be Manzini where the audience can explore their own objects of obsession, through words and images.

Time Out review of Dance With A Stranger:
Newcomer Miranda Richardson is Ruth Ellis, peroxided 'hostess' in a Soho drinking club and the last woman to be hanged in Britain for the murder of her upper middle class lover. Not so much star-crossed as class-crossed, the affair has all the charm of fingernails on a blackboard, and it's filmed with a merciless eye for the sort of bad behaviour that Fassbinder made his own. But what the movie captures perfectly is the seedy mood of repression, so characteristic of austerity Britain in the '50s. Richardson gives full rein to the two things that British cinema has hardly ever had the guts to face: sexual obsession and bad manners. And, since this is England, it's the latter that finally sends her to the scaffold. It's shot, designed and acted with an imaginative grasp that puts it straight into the international class.

Chris Peachment

Here (and above) is the trailer.

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