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A tearaway whisky tester and Terri the punk rock legend

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: December 05, 2013

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This is Christmas Market weekend and the city will be packed with visitors, here to sample the unique charms of Lincoln's biggest visitor attraction.

But when you've shopped till you've dropped, what then? Well, the Film Society has not one, but two films on offer to enable weary visitors to refresh themselves and recharge the batteries.

First up is The Angels' Share, a delightful film by Ken Loach. If you've never seen a Loach film – then this is a perfect place to start.

The film's main character is Robbie, a tearaway living in Glasgow. His life is as you might expect it to be – in trouble with the law, involved with a local gangster, no proper job and a pregnant girlfriend Leonie.

Her family have no time for him and want him out of her life.

All in all, things are looking bleak. But Robbie finds unexpected salvation. Firstly, probation worker Harry takes him under his wing, becoming his mentor in an attempt to help him straighten out his life. Secondly, he discovers he has a rare talent – a nose for whisky.

This improbable ability is revealed when Harry takes him to a whisky tasting. There, he finds out that whisky can be worth serious money and that a particularly rare case of the stuff is soon to be auctioned.

Seeing an opportunity, he and his friends concoct a plan through which he hopes his unusual gift will help turn their lives around.

The charms of this film lie in the performances of the main characters, notably Paul Brannigan as Robbie, John Henshall as Harry and Roger Allam as a smoothly devious whisky buyer.

This film is trademark Loach: a story of an underdog blessed with a special talent and able to make good against the odds. It can be placed in the same company as two of his finest works, Kes and Looking for Eric – and there's no better recommendation than that.

Our second film of the weekend is Good Vibrations. If the name Terri Hooley means nothing to you, then you weren't part of the punk scene of the 1970s. If you were, you'll know his name is legend. He owned a record shop, also called Good Vibrations, in Belfast at the height of the Troubles, and this is his story.

The film is played out against the backdrop of the violence and suspicion that characterised 1970s Belfast, but this only serves to highlight Hooley's extraordinary and colourful approach to life.

Despite losing an eye as a child (the result of a playground punch-up over his father's socialist beliefs which made him hated by both Protestants and Catholics), he is determined, passionate about music, an optimist convinced pop can save the city's youth and turn them against violence.

Thanks to the teenagers frequenting his shop, he becomes aware of punk, its manic energy and anarchic outlook, which was the perfect counter to the danger and intimidation that was the everyday experience of the young.

This leads him into the world of gig promotion, mosh pits, weird fashion and eventually, record production – and then to his crowning moment when he comes across Feargal Sharkey and the Undertones and records their first hit Teenage Kicks.

I was at the premiere of this film in the 2012 London Film Festival, and it was utterly memorable (not least because Hooley himself turned up – late and entertainingly 'in drink', as they say).

Richard Dormer is a revelation in the lead role, brilliantly capturing Hooley's impetuous and defiant nature and his willingness to face down authority and terrorists alike, a man of total conviction and complete ineptitude (it turns out he is a chaotic businessman), who won't take no for an answer.

He's superbly supported by Jodie Whittaker, playing his wife Ruth.

But the star turn is the music. If punk rock was the soundtrack to your youth, or the Christmas Market has simply worn you out, this film will 100 per cent re-energise, revitalise and restore you. Entertainment guaranteed!

The Angels' Share (15) – showing on December 6 at The Venue. 7.30pm

Good Vibrations (15) – showing on December 8 at The Venue. 7.30pm

Also at The Venue

Captain Phillips (15): December 7, 7.30pm. Tom Hanks stars in this gripping story of modern-day piracy.

Film Society shuts down for a couple if weeks now, until the New Year. We return on January 3.

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