Moviola in January

THE Moviola year begins with Judy, the new biopic of Judy Garland, starring a never-better Renee Zellweger, in what ought to be an Oscar/BAFTA winning performance as the star at the end of her career, in London for a sell-out but roller-coaster season at the Talk of the Town night club.

Although the film, directed by Rupert Goold, focuses on the last months of the singer’s life, it also looks back to her years as a child star, and the brutal treatment she received from studio bosses, led by Louis B Mayer, in the filming and marketing of The Wizard of Oz. There are scenes that make you shudder, but also make you grateful that some things in the movie world have improved. No child star could be starved, drugged and bullied as the teenage Judy was.

It’s a compelling, haunting performance, that captures both the charisma and the self-destructive nature of a woman who was never allowed to be a child or know love without strings or selfish demands. Close your eyes and you could be hearing the actual voice of the tragic, drug-addled star. British actors Rufus Sewell, Michael Gambon and Jessie Buckley co-star as Judy’s ex-husband Sidney Luft, impresario Bernard Delfont and Judy’s kind but exasperated minder Rosalyn.

Judy is on screen at Hawkchurch, Winsford, Yetminster, Bransgore, Sherborne, Royal Wootton Bassett (RWB Academy), Stogumber, Crowcombe, Shrewton, Bourton, Nether Wallop, Hanging Langford, Edington, Bothenhampton, Steeple Ashton, Calne, Great Bedwyn, Clayhidon, South Petherton (David Hall), Tatworth, Winterslow and Netherbury.

One of the most unusual and interesting films on Moviola’s January diary, at venues including Odcombe village hall, is The Peanut Butter Falcon, a modern Mark Twain-style story. Directed and written by Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz, it stars Shia LaBeouf as a fisherman on the run, and Zack Gottsagen as Zak, a 22 year old with Down syndrome, who lives in a retirement home in North Carolina where he is cared for by social worker Eleanor (Dakota Johnson). Zak dreams of becoming a professional wrestler and attending the wrestling school of his hero, the Salt Water Redneck. He sneaks out of the home late at night and stows away on a fishing boat. The Peanut Butter Falcon is also at Wookey Hole and Somerton (Parish Rooms).

Knives Out is a critically acclaimed murder mystery, written and directed by Rian Johnson and starring Christopher Plummer, Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas and Jamie Lee Curtis.When renowned crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Plummer) dies just after his 85th birthday, debonair Det Benoit Blanc (Craig) arrives at his estate to investigate. From Harlan’s dysfunctional family to his devoted staff, Blanc sifts through a web of red herrings and self-serving lies to uncover the truth behind Thrombey’s untimely demise. Catch this contemporary whodunnit at Watchet, Hinton St George, Warminster (Civic Centre), Milborne Port, Halstock, Hythe, East Stour, East Knoyle, Stogursey and South Petherton (David Hall).

Moviola’s other January films are: The Lion King at Kingsbury Episcopi and Royal Wootton Bassett (RWB Academy); Blinded By The Light  at Fontmell Magna and South Petherton (David Hall); Yesterday at Ringwood (Greyfriars), Motcombe, Ditcheat (Jubilee Hall), Downton, Boscombe (Shelley Theatre), Alderbury, Teffont and Holwell; The Souvenir at Codford (Woolstore Theatre); Sorry We Missed You at Chard (Guildhall), Nunney, Brockenhurst, Crowcombe, Westbury-sub-Mendip, Martock and Churchinford; The Goldfinch at Cheddon & West Monkton; Rocketman at Colyton, Hardington Mandeville and Rode; Gloria Bell at Pewsey (Bouverie Hall); Mrs Lowry and Son at Watchet and Norton St Philip; The Current War at Winsford; The Biggest Little Farm at Crowcombe.

Prepare for a Downton Abbey overdose with dozens of Moviola screenings in January and February. January venues are Beaminster (Public Hall), Colerne, Frogham, Nether Stowey, Bishopstone (near Salisbury), Castle Cary (Caryford Hall), Marnhull, Boscombe (Shelley Theatre), Bishopstone (near Swindon), Collingbourne Ducis, Fordingbridge and West Camel (Davis Hall). More on this very enjoyable film in our February Moviola round-up.

Moviola screenings are at village halls unless otherwise stated. For dates see the Arts Diary for more information on the films and the venues, visit www.moviola.org

Pictured: Renee Zellweger as Judy; Shia LaBoeuf and Zack Gottsagen in The Peanut Butter Falcon; a scene from Knives Out.