THERE aren’t many British directors who take on the challenge of making movies set in the Wild West. Lean on Pete is not your typical coming of age drama either.

This is down to director Andrew Haigh’s touch. After writing the screenplay based on the 2010 novel of the same name, about a boy who saves a horse and goes on a journey of discovery through the poor rural west, he’s managed to direct a film that reflects life in parts of America that are rarely seen.

The Yorkshire-born Haigh has previous for translating books into successful screenplays and directing them. Based on In Another Country by David Constantine, Haigh wrote and directed 45 Years starring Tom Courtney and Charlotte Rampling which scooped the prizes at the Berlin International Film Festival and nods at the 88th Academy Awards. Lean on Pete is all about a boy’s search for belonging in American contemporary society and for those that like their films not to shy away from the hard stuff, this emotionally powerful film is for you.

For those musical lovers, the Tony award winning, Broadway success An American in Paris is a must see. The 1951 MGM Gershwin musical movie of the same name, starring Gene Kelly, went on to win an Academy Award for best picture. Clearly solid foundations to create one of the biggest stage productions to hit the West End.

Now, not only do you not need to spend £800 on flights to New York or even have to trek down to London to see the latest theatre delights but If you miss the original live performances at your local cinema, you can still catch the encores and this classy new musical delivers everything you want from a screen to stage adaptation. An American in Paris promises to scratch any large scale musical itch you maybe harbouring.

After last week’s Nothing like a Dame documentary reliving memories with some of Britain’s finest female actors, now comes the chance to venture into the past of their male counterpart, none other than Sir Ian McKellen. McKellen: Playing the Part looks at the rise of this much-loved thespian from humble beginnings, to conquering the stage and then to grossing world audiences in big hitting Hollywood movies such as Lord of the Rings and X-Men. The documentary also charts McKellen’s long history of campaigning for LGBT rights, putting himself in the spotlight through a time when many looked away.

2018 seems to be the year of anniversaries and after celebrating Grease last week, now comes two more films hitting milestones. The lesser known but equally great, The Piano, is celebrating its 25th anniversary. The period drama set in New Zealand, starring Sam Neil, Harvey Keitel and Molly Hunter and scored with a best-selling sound track, won three BAFTA’s and three Academy awards. For anyone into spicy period drama’s, this is worth getting down to see.

Another celebrating a milestone, is Stanley Kubrick’s Sci-fi master piece, 2001: Space Odyssey. 50 years since its release, it still mesmerises. An original film which raised sci-fi to a whole new level, inspiring directors such as Christopher Nolan and James Cameron. However, this classic is showing for 1 night only, so don’t miss out. The film on the 29th June will start with an introduction from Professor Robert Shail, Director of Research at the School of Film, Music and Performing Arts at Leeds Beckett University. This is a unique opportunity to see such an amazing visual spectacle on the big screen.

Philip Duguid-McQuillan