Motion Picture Mayhem

It seems that every few weeks our local media announce the imminent arrival of a cinema in Beeston. The large empty space where the fire station / Blockbuster / that dead cheap offy once stood is, we’re told, dead close to getting a place to watch flicks.

We’re not, at least, not yet. No deal has been signed, and, even if it was, building on the site (known as ‘Phase 2’) would not begin for some time. What seems to be happening is no more than testing the water, gauging opinion.

You can already catch a film in Beeston: the wonderful Beeston Film Festival is planning its third incarnation; The White Lion puts on occasional film nights and one day soon we’re hoping to get our arse in gear and restart the Café Roya Film Club. The popularity and diversity of these events suggest we could happily welcome something more permanent and regular.

This issue, then, celebrates cinema and its connection to Beeston. We have interviews with some local stars, an examination on Beeston’s crucial contribution to films over the years, some words of advice for cinema goers and more. Plus, the usual pic n’ mix of great writing, lovely design and general Beestonian excellence. Now, top up that popcorn, slurp that coke and settle down to the main feature…

10 films (sort of) about Beeston

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Our round-up of films with links to Beeston…

GANDHI:

Not only was Richard Attenborough’s family from Beeston (well, that bit to the South with all the water), but Gandhi himself came a waltzin’ here way back in the 30’s to have a look round. The late Dickie somehow left this crucial moment out of the blockbusting biopic. A remake perhaps, mostly set round the Rylands?

BATMAN:

Right this is a big one, so strap in. You’re probably going to assume that as the latest Batman (not the one with him pointlessly fighting Superman) was filmed up at Wollaton Hall, we’re going to go for that. Nah, too easy. We’d like Wooly Park and Hall to be part of Beeston, but selfishly Wollaton rather prefers to keep it. So we won’t go with that.

Perhaps the Gotham link, then? Just over the Trent is the village where Batman’s home city was named (it’s a long story, but it’s not a coincidence: all about fools, kings, and nicknames for New York). Maybe we can ride on the coattails there? Too easy.

So perhaps, we could look at the 1989 film version of Batman, directed by senescent withered goth Tim Burton? As everyone surely knows, the crook who becomes the latex-friendly vigilante’s first victim is played by the actor Christopher Fairbank. That’s Christopher Fairbank, who played Scouse carpenter Moxey in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. Which, as previously reported here, was filmed in Beeston. But no. He was also in Alien 3 and The Fifth Element, so too easy.

Let’s instead look at Alfred, Batman’s butler. Michael Caine covers the role, but beneath that oaky cockney veneer lies a secret. Caine is a secret aficionado of avant-garde chill out tunes. No really. On Desert Island Discs a few years ago, he chose as a favourite track ‘Swollen’ by Beeston band Bent, who we featured a couple of years ago. Caine also released an album of chill out music called, wonderfully, Cained. Go on, check. Have a look at the track listing while you’re there. Oh, see track 14? Beeston through and through.

There are other links but unfortunately we only have 16 pages so we’ll leave it there.

THIS IS ENGLAND / DEAD MAN’S SHOES / ETC:

Beeston hasn’t directly featured in any of Shane Meadow’s major films (though a chunk of TIE was filmed in Bramcote), but the director has made this place his home and regularly turns up at local events. Vicky McClure, who has gone stratospheric is also a local lass, living close to the terminus the tram named after her frequently pulls up at. Rumours that This Is Beeston, an epic feature about the adventures of the staff on a local magazine, are not yet founded.

PORRIDGE:

The Movie: Sitcoms that aspire to movie form are always crap. The recent, turgid attempt to put Dad’s Army on the big screen is the latest example in a long line of rubbish. On The Buses. Are You Being Served? The Inbetweeners. Admittedly the first two were crap anyway, but rather than even attempt to polish the proverbial turd, the films just added more turd. Porridge: The Movie is a very rare example of excellence, a film that instead of throwing a ton of gimmicks into the mix, actually has an engrossing story. It’s grittier than the series, and has the ironic device of prisoners trying to break in to jail underpinning it. Ronnie Barker and Beeston’s Richard Beckinsale shine, their chemistry fizzing. Sadly, Beckinsale’s film career was thwarted by a fatal heart attack that killed him suddenly aged just 31, a fortnight after filming was completed. However, the name lives on….

UNDERWORLD:

Kate Beckinsale is of course a brilliant actor in her own right and the Underworld series proves it. She’s had an astonishingly successful career, but took time out from filming a few years back to visit Beeston and unveil a blue plaque in memorial of her father. She also bought along her friend David Walliams, the father of her child and top-notch thespian Michael Sheen, and her then husband, the Hollywood producer Len Wiseman. That’s Len Wiseman, not Len Goodman. If a certain former editor of this magazine actually got the two mixed up when he met him, then we’re not going to talk about that here.

RUSH HOUR / TROPIC THUNDER /SMALL SOLDIERS/ LOADS MORE:

All used the ultimate protest anthem “WAR” by Edwin Starr, a resident of Chilwell until his death in 2003.

LORD OF THE RINGS:

Yeah, it was filmed down the Weir Field, wannit? No we’re joking, but we do have a connection: the film’s star, diddy Elijah Wood, released a single with Beeston band The Sound Carriers a few years back, the psychedelic “This is Normal”. It’s rather long, but unlike those films with the little lads running round on hairy feet, quite superb.

WITHNAIL AND I:

Every person whose life has ever lurched towards the dissolute is a fan of this staggeringly funny period piece. The tale of two unemployed actors at the arse end of the sixties who go on holiday by mistake is one for repeated viewings. Little known is its connection to Beeston. Y’see, Withnail was based on a real character, the actor and ‘splenetic wastrel of a fop’ Viv MacKerrell. Many in Beeston still recall the times MacKerrell would stalk the pubs of Beeston, never shy to give up his opinions or accept a drink. Sadly, the drink caught up with him, and he died in 1995 aged just 50.  Also, the film stars Michael Elphick as a Cumbrian poacher – that’s Michael Elphick who starred in Boon, largely filmed in Beeston.

TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY:

This supremely tense and talent-stuffed film version of John Le Carré’s novel is a must see, and as well as starring This Is England’s Stephen Graham, was also released in a limited edition reprint of the novel designed by Beeston stripe-specialist Sir Paul Smith. Also, Barry Foster, aka TV’s Van Der Valk, was in an earlier film about the spy unit in 1982’s Smiley’s People.

BEESTONIA:

Come on, did you really think we weren’t going to mention this underrated gem? Written by Lord Beestonia and his faithful whip Christian, masterfully directed by Melvyn Rawlinson, and starring Beeston’s answer to Jonathan Meades, Jamie Claydon. It took us a year to make. That’s twelve months of; dragging around camera equipment; chasing sunlight like we had vitamin D deficiency; fighting with the public, carpark security guards, and ducks (we’re still not sure which was worse); smacking our heads against an editing suite; and of course having tons of fun as well! The sequel is coming. No amount of family, paid work, or global annihilation (Trump?!) will stop us. 3-5 years tops!

MT

The Shane Meadows interview

An evening with Shane Meadows…

The nerves are starting to build as I sip on a red wine at Middle Street Resource Centre. In a few minutes, Britain’s best film / TV director will be arriving for a night of film, followed by a Q+A, which I’ve been asked to compere. Of course, I couldn’t refuse, but as my stomach flips again despite the best efforts of the booze, I start to question my judgement.

I’ve met Shane on several occasions, and he’s disarmingly lovely each time. A relaxed, funny, friendly chap who never acts starry -you won’t see his legs clad in leather trousers, his eyes will never be hidden behind £900 Oakleys – nevertheless, he’s an artist who has cut a unique swathe through British film over the last two decades. He probably has Spielberg and Scorsese on speed dial.

He arrives, I chat to his wife and tell her of my nerves. “Oh, don’t worry. He’s really nervous tonight”. As he’d been on the telly a few days before receiving a BAFTA in front of the UK’s finest, this is both baffling and consoling.

He’s here for a fundraiser. Beeston Resource Centre has had a rocky time in the past, with funding always uncertain and closure often looming. However, it’s wonderfully wavered all storms, due to the invaluable support it gives many. We are never less than amazed when we visit at the sheer amount of stuff they do there: it’s an incredible resource, hence the name. However, the charity that runs it, Beeston Community Resource, can’t be too complacent, so when Shane offered to help out with a themed evening, there was no hesitation in their response. And here we are, with Shane putting together a fantastic set of films.

He had been spending time recently viewing some of his early short films – two had snapped in the projector so he realised he needed to digitise them for archive purposes, doing a bit of tidying up on the way. At the Centre he treated the audience of eighty to an insight into some of his earlier work: ‘The Datsun Collection’, made in 1994 was, he said, the second film only he had made and the first to feature other people! From 1995 he showed ‘The Zombie Squad’, a film completed and shown in a single day, and which had never had another public viewing. Having given himself the challenge of ‘a film in a day’  far more volunteers turned up to be in the film than he had expected and his solution was to create a group of zombies who didn’t need to learn any lines. A surprise for many of us was that Shane himself appeared as actor in these two early shorts, and in the scatalogical ‘Le Donk and His Arsebag’ featuring the comic genius of his good friend, Paddy Considine.

A break for wee and wine, and we’re back for the Q+A. Any nerves dissolve as Shane joins me in front of the audience. He recalls when I gave him a Beestonian t-shirt at a Café Roya Film Club “I’ve still got it. You gave me one in small. I’ll get into it one day”.

Our family growing up never made it on the telly -well, Crimewatch maybe…

I ask about his appeal, his unique touch “back in my childhood I remember being able to shifting from belly laughs to utter fright in no time at all. That ‘light and dark’ has subconsciously made its way into what I do” He tells of how when making Dead Man’s Shoes, perhaps one of the most terrifying revenge films ever made, the cast and crew would be belly laughing off camera throughout.

That’s his favourite film, as well “I was really depressed at the time. I’d made a bad mistake and had a horrendous experience trying to make a big, celebrity driven piece, rather than go with my instinct (he’s referring to Once Upon a Time in the Midlands) . Y’know how there is that saying “the phone stopped ringing”, well, that’s very true, it literally didn’t ring”.

“I knew I had to trust my instincts and make a film that was mine. We made Dead Man’s Shoes for just £700,000, not a lot in film. I threw myself into it, and it worked”.

He talks about his previous ambitions as a singer -he was in a band with Considine, who talk the duties behind the drums – and looked perplexed when I asked him what he’d have done if he’d not made film making such a success.

What does his two young boys think of daddy’s fame “They’re just starting to realise that I do a strange job. It’s not the fame, I don’t think that is apparent, but they see me on telly and that makes them sit up. It’s strange. Our family growing up never made it on the telly -well, Crimewatch maybe….”

There are some real surprises thrown in. The incredibly complex scene in This is England ’90, where Vicky McClure’s Lol confesses to murdering her father round the dining table, was done in one take, using a complex nine camera set up “You should have seen what that room looked like. Looked like the TARDIS”. There is the very real chance of another instalment of the This Is England story, but not on the telly “It might be interesting to do a film sometime along the line. Get the characters together. Whatever year we do, we’ll show it in that many cinemas…who knows?”

More likely to appear soon is his much delayed biopic about legendary British cyclist Tom Simpson, who -spoiler alert – died while tacking a mountain on riding the Tour de France. The project, working with the brilliant screenwriter William Ivory, has been on the cards for some time, delayed in the past when Shane was invited to film the return of The Stone Roses, which became the rockumentary -thank you – Made of Stone.

That would be a departure from his past work, but that’s what makes Shane such a fascinating director: his obvious pleasure in having the chance to follow his interests and his instincts. We are very lucky to have him in our midst.

The night finishes with a vote of thanks courtesy of Radio Nottingham’s John Holmes, and a final glass of wine. A great night had by all, and £1,000 in the Resource Centre’s coffers. Cheers Shane. CUT!

Matt Turpin & Colin Tucker

Gossip from the Hivemind: May 2016

Early reports of late eighties kids-tv hero Pob roaming the streets of Beeston were found to be a case of mistaken identity, as confirmation came in that actually it was Michael Gove. The queen-conversation snitch was at Boots to talk about why leaving the EU will automatically gift everyone in the UK a billion pounds, some chocolate and three kittens. Using Boots, whose history of tax-avoidance has been reported in this publication over the years, and who recently were found to be exploiting the NHS for profit was probably not the best choice. Or maybe it was perfect.

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Spotted heartily applauding was erstwhile used car salesman and current head of Broxtowe Borough Council Richard Jackson. After recently failing to abolish Broxtowe Borough Council, now he has the eye on the EU. As his boss Anna Soubry MP is a staunch pro-European, we can only imagine the icy atmosphere on a Friday night down the Conservative Club

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Inside this issue, our new editor Christian met with the guy behind the ‘unsafe cycle lane’ graffiti along the tram route. Not wanting to be outdone, the council threw some new paint of their own down. Now, the unsafe utterly baffling routes are a deep red colour. Not at all helpful, but it does a great job of disguising the blood from accidents

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Being a mischievous bunch, we weren’t going to let April 1st pass without a prank on our Facebook page. So we led with a hoax claiming that the Chilwell army base had been bought by Donald Trump, who planned to build a leisure resort there. Oh how we laughed. And then someone pointed out we totally missed the obvious joke that it could have been bought by the outgoing president and renamed “Chetwyn Baracks Obama”. We kicked ourselves

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Huge congrats to local film legend Shane Meadows, who picked up another BAFTA late last month to further decorate his crowded mantelpiece. We recall when filming Beestonia: The Movie (YouTube it kids!), we bumped into him on Chilwell Road. “Can we grab a photo of you, if that’s ok?” we asked. “If you’re filming, I’ll be in it” said the guy behind Dead Man’s Shoes and This is England. A quick script change later, and we found ourselves directing our favourite director. Not only a massive talent, but a damn fine chap as well

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Booze of the World

Often, the best way to take the pulse of a town is to check out its pubs. The health of these is the health of an area: if they are boarded up, run down, or too terrifying to enter, it’s a safe bet that the surroundings aren’t going to be great.

On that basis, Beeston is in rude health. We’ve long had a strong reputation for pubs: Beeston has often been mooted with having the highest density of drinkeries in the UK. We’re right by the source of the best water for ale in the world: the beer that the Trent is brewed into is world renowned. Of course, the only way to prove this is to go out there and get some hard-core journalism done: to visit every pub in Beeston to give a comprehensive picture of how we’re doing. You might have spotted us a few Saturdays ago, first strolling, then staggering, then crawling between pubs.

This isn’t the first time: four years ago The Beestonian, then a fledgling magazine, took a look round and printed up the results. We’d expected to register a decline, all these years over. We were surprised to find that this wasn’t the case.

You’ll find the results inside. Pubs are famously under a hell of a lot of pressure, with greedy Pubcos and loss-leading booze in supermarkets just two challenges pubs must counter. How they do this was the most revealing part of the survey: rather than stay the same and slip into decline, they’ve diversified, changed what they offer and created a much stranger estate of boozers than ever before. Very few pubs are just straight forward pubs anymore, and the imagination, entrepreneurism and sheer verve of some were inspirational, and testament to the spirit of Beeston. We even found a new, albeit micro, pub had opened.

Also within you’ll find pages stuffed to the margins with stories, news and all things Beeston. This town does not sit still, making our mission to celebrate the place one we never take lightly. So if you see one of the team at the bar while reading this, they probably won’t say no to a pint. Cheers!

LB