Cinema City has really spun its magic

Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in Manhattan.
Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in Manhattan.

Sunday Journal reporter and Derry Journal film critic, Andrew Quinn, will be spending the next few weeks taking in all of what the City of Culture’s ‘Cinema City’ has to offer and he’ll also be looking to what’s to come when the Foyle Film Festival starts on November 20.

November 4, 7.36pm - ‘Don’t Look Now’ at the Nerve Centre

Director, Paul Greengrass.

Director, Paul Greengrass.

After arriving at the Nerve Centre to collect my ticket for the screening of Nic Roeg’s ‘Don’t Look Now’, I got chatting to a man and his mother.

The man, was originally from Derry and he picked up a copy of the Cinema City programme when meeting friends for coffee earlier that day. He’s unable to get back home as much as he would like but when he saw Roeg’s movie was due to be screened he phoned his mother and asked if she would like to go.

“This is magic,” said the man. “It’s great to see Derry putting on such an amazing celebration of cinema.”

Soon after, the lights dimmed and the movie started to roll.

Tom Hanks in Paul Greengrass' Captain Phillips.

Tom Hanks in Paul Greengrass' Captain Phillips.

The utter despair and grim reality of Roeg’s film is something that cannot and never will be equalled in words.

‘Don’t Look Now’ is such a visual film that the only way to let the movie get under your skin is to immerse yourself in it.

Even if you haven’t seen the film, chances are you’ll be familiar with its opening scene.

John Baxter (Donald Sutherland) pulls his dead daughter, Christine, from a pond near the family home. The shots leading up to Christine’s death are utterly awesome and the way in which Roeg incorporates slow-motion when John emerges from the pond clutching his daughter’s lifeless body is outstanding.

I am utterly biased when it comes to cinema and whilst others might point to Radio One’s Big Weekend or the Fleadh when highlighting the best events of 2013, Cinema City gets my vote because for me, and many others like me, there’s something magical about walking down a darkened Magazine Street on a crisp and cold November night, stepping in from the cold and walking into a small cinema to watch what many regard as one of the greatest movies of all time.

Derry’s not that bad now, is it?

November 5, 7.51pm - ‘The Night of the Hunter’ at the Nerve Centre

Four days into the Cinema City showcase and the standard of movie just kept getting better and better.

If having the whole front row to myself and my girlfriend wasn’t reason enough to celebrate then get this; the powers that be at the Nerve Centre presented a newly released copy of ‘The Night of the Hunter’ on Bluray and the results were awesome.

Charles Laughton’s movie was screened as part of the British Film Institute’s Gothic Season and at first glance it might not give rise to a similar sense of horror witnessed while watching ‘Don’t Look Now’ it still manages to get under the skin and stay there for quite of while.

I will forever remain befuddled as to why Robert Mitchum not only failed to win an Oscar but how he was only ever nominated once (Best Actor in a Supporting Role for ‘Story of G.I. Joe’ in 1946).

Mitchum’s performance in Laughton’s masterpiece is outstanding. Menacing, threatening and intimidating; Mitchum pulls off all aforementioned superlatives and then tops it all off with a big terrifying dollop of physical and psychological violence.

‘The Night of the Hunter’ was slammed by audiences and critics alike when it was released in 1955 and director, Laughton, never went on to make another movie again.

What a pity.

It’s a superb piece of cinema.

November 6, 7.39pm - ‘Manhattan’ at the Nerve Centre

Chapter One. He was as tough and romantic as the movie theatre he loved. The fourth seat in from the aisle on the right was his seat and it always would be.

Woody Allen’s Manhattan came to life for me all over again in the smaller of the two movie theatres in the Nerve Centre on Wednesday evening.

True to the magic already spun by Cinema City this week, it was the first time in a lifetime spent escaping the realities of life in movie theatres that I was actually able to ask the powers-that-be to turn up the volume. If a certain Danish beer brewer did movie experiences... you know the rest.

I spoke to a man and woman before the screening. It was the first film they had attended since Cinema City started last Friday but it wasn’t the first time they’d sat down to watch Manhattan. In fact, it was their favourite film, they even owned the DVD but the temptation of watching it on the big screen in a plush little cinema inside Derry’s historic Walls proved too much.

Of course, I and so many other film fans are counting down the sleeps left until it’s time to attend Q&A sessions with the likes of Paul Greengrass, Sam Shepard and Danny Boyle but for me, watching a film as utterly brilliant as Manhattan in a little cinema with other film fans is just as an important a cinematic experience as watching Captain Phillips and then quizzing the director afterwards.

The other film on at the same time as Manhattan was The Shining. More people went to Kubrick’s movie but after spending the previous two nights immersed in Don’t Look Now and The Night of the Hunter, I craved the kind of amusement that only Woody Allen could serve up.

Manhattan boasts one of the most memorable openings. The film was 13 seconds old and already I was smirking and I wasn’t alone. Quicker than you can say ‘Your self-esteem is a notch below Kafka’, the smirks morphed into laughs and the laughs quickly turned into tears.

Manhattan is as close to perfect film as you are ever likely to experience. The script, Gershwin’s unmistakable score, Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Mariel Hemingway and New York City - if Manhattan was a memory it would the kind of memory that remains with you for your entire life and no matter how many times you revisit it in your head, it reminds you exactly why you fell in love with movies in the first place.

Next Week

It’s hard to know where to start. The highlight of next week’s events has to be the In Conversation event with ‘Captain Phillips’ director Paul Greengrass at the Foyle Theatre at the North West Regional College on Thursday November 14 at 7pm. Tickets are a steal at £6.50 and you’d be mad to miss it.

In terms of films to go and see, there’s Wim Wenders’ ‘Wings of Desire’ tomorrow evening at 8pm at the Nerve Centre. Tickets are only £2.50 - that’s less than a pint of beer!

As part of the Sam Shepard season there will be a screening of Robert Altman’s ‘Fool for Love’ on Tuesday at the Nerve Centre at 8pm.

And if you’re a horror fan, then make sure you get along to Werner Herzog’s ‘Nosferatu the Vampire’ on Wednesday at the Nerve Centre at 8pm - it’s a cracking show.

And to think we still have the 26th Foyle Film Festival yet to come.

For more information on ‘Cinema City or to purchase tickets, visit

‘Cinema City Diaries’ will return again next Sunday.