Frothy festive film and something for the thinkers at The Courtyard

It’s all about the big-hitters this time of the year as we head towards awards season, but before we start devouring the meaty titles that scream “Oscar” approaching in January, there’s a few crowd-pleasing gems for hungry eyes this December


Murder on the Orient Express (12A) (Sun 10 – Wed 27 Dec) has been the hot ticket on the tongue of film-lovers, with a breath-taking all-star cast featuring favourites including Judy Dench, Johnny Depp, Derek Jacobi, and of course, the inimitable Kenneth Branagh, both behind the camera and in front of it as mega-mustachioed Poirot. Audiences have been loving it so far, The Guardian citing it a “nostalgic pleasure.”

If your celluloid tastes are a little less mainstream, then take in one of the more alternative stories on offer. Marjorie Prime (12A) (Mon 11 – Wed 13 Dec) is the intriguing tale of an eighty-six-year-old, played by Lois Smith, who spends her final days with a computer-generated ‘prime’ of her husband. Delicately told, and utterly compelling, this is science-fiction of a different nature – heart-rending and poignant to the end.


Willem Dafoe has always been one to pick up interesting scripts, and The Florida Project (15) (Sun 17 – Tue 19 Dec) is one such title. Directed by Sean Baker, infamous for his iPhone feature debut Tangerine, The Florida Project is a searingly honest and disarmingly unvarnished look at poverty line lives in the shadows of the Disney World castle and theme park. Young Moonee is mischievous and hyper-real, a star turn from child actor Brooklynn Prince.

Based on his memoir, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (15) (Sat 23 – Wed 27 Dec) follows the experience of Peter Turner, a young British actor, who met the older, eccentric Oscar-winning actress Gloria Grahame in her later days in Liverpool, and began a passionate affair. Annette Bening and new talent Jamie Bell propose an authentic and forgiving on-screen relationship that will have romance-lovers melting.

Period drama favourite Dan Stevens appears as Charles Dickens in The Man Who Invented Christmas (PG) (Fri 29 Dec – Thu 4 Jan), a sumptuous and creatively licensed romp into the tortured creation of Dickens’ most lauded Christmas tale. With Christopher Plummer in fine form as Ebeneezer Scrooge, this is classic and rousing drama to whittle away the last of those dark days of 2017.


The fun continues after Christmas, when our favourite marmalade-loving bear returns in Paddington 2 (PG) (Fri 29 Dec – Mon 15 Jan). Hooking up with some ne’er-do-wells Paddington sets a course to unmask a dastardly thief. An intergenerational pleaser, this is the perfect outing for all the family, a chance to digest all those turkey sandwiches and mince pies.

The Courtyard continues to programme relaxed screenings once a month for audiences who may appreciate a less formal environment, with cabaret layout seating, where visitors are invited to get up, walk around as needed and be as noisy as they’d like in screenings. These can be enjoyed by anyone, but might be of particular interest to those with autism spectrum disorders. Lego Ninjago (U) will be screened under relaxed conditions – Wed 20 Dec, 6pm.


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