Director Greta Gerwig’s eagerly anticipated new adaptation of American literary landmark Little Women (PG, pictured) and additional Christmas week screenings of Downton Abbey (PG) are among the seasonal cinema highlights at Lighthouse, Poole’s centre for the arts.

With a cast that reunites Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet with the director of the acclaimed Lady Bird and also features Emma Watson, Laura Dern and Meryl Streep as Aunt March, Gerwig’s version is the eighth film of Louisa May Alcott’s coming-of-age novel and is almost certain to be acclaimed an instant classic.

As is the runaway box office hit of the year Downton Abbey with public demand to revel in the upstairs/downstairs goings-on in the Crawley household showing little sign of abating.

In a typically wide-ranging cinema programme there are the first local screenings of Sundance hit Judy and Punch (15), a live action reinterpretation that turns the traditional puppet show on its head leading to a fierce, darkly comic female-led revenge story; and the only local showing of veteran journalist and campaigner John Pilger’s urgent new film, The Dirty War on the NHS (cert tbc), in which he investigates his view that one of the last bastions of true public service is being dismantled by stealth.

Other documentaries include the long-suppressed Yves St Laurent: The Last Collections (PG), an acerbic, sometimes shocking fly-on-the-wall piece commissioned by the legendary designer’s partner that was filmed 20 years ago but has been unseen since 2007.

The cinema also hosts a series of classic Christmas films featuring White Christmas (U), It’s a Wonderful Life (U), Elf (PG) and Die Hard (15), as well as Emma Thompson’s seasonal rom-com Last Christmas (12A) and the sequel Frozen 2 (PG).

Further highlights include Knives Out (12A), the murder mystery starring Daniel Craig, Chris Evans and Jamie Lee Curtis, and Le Mans ’66 (12A) that teams Matt Damon and Christian Bale as visionary Ford car designer Carroll Shelby and British driver Ken Miles who took on the might of Ferrari at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Widely acclaimed French romantic comedy La Belle Epoque (15) casts Daniel Auteuil as a disillusioned man in his sixties who stages a re-enactment of the moment he met his wife in the hope of rekindling their passion; while The Good Liar (15) reunites Gods and Monsters director Bill Condon with Ian McKellen as a career con man who grows to care about his latest mark (Helen Mirren).

Lighthouse benefactor Ian McKellen also appears in a stellar cast with Judi Dench, James Corden, Idris Elba and Taylor Swift in director Tom Hooper’s ambitious, CGI-enhanced staging of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats (cert tbc).

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Published 26 November 2019