Directed by: Amma AsanteStaring: David Oyelowo & Rosamund Pike
A UNITED KINGDOM is based on extraordinary true events. In 1947, Seretse Khama, the King of Botswana, met Ruth Williams, a London office worker. They were a perfect match, yet their proposed marriage was challenged not only by their families but by the British and South African governments. The latter had recently introduced the policy of apartheid and found the notion of a biracial couple ruling a neighbouring country intolerable. South Africa threatened the British: either thwart the couple or be denied access to South African uranium and gold and face the risk of South Africa invading Botswana.
Directed by: Hannes HolmStaring: Rolf Lassgard, Bahar Pars & Filip Berg
Stepping from the pages of Fredrik Backman’s international best-selling novel, Ove is the quintessential angry old man next door. An isolated retiree with strict principles and a short fuse, who spends his days enforcing block association rules that only he cares about, and visiting his wife’s grave. Ove has given up on life. Enter a boisterous young family next door who accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox while moving in and earn his special brand of ire. Yet from this inauspicious beginning an unlikely friendship forms and we come to understand Ove’s past happiness and heartbreaks. What emerges is a heart-warming tale of unreliable first impressions and the gentle reminder that life is sweeter when it’s shared.
Directed by: Kenneth LonerganStaring: Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges & Michelle Williams
Set in a beautiful New England fishing town seen in a landscape of frost and chill, a mystery unfolds. Casey Affleck won the best actor Oscar for this role, and is mesmerising as Lee, a Boston janitor who has to return from exile to the place he left, following a terrible tragedy, to care for his dead brother’s son. Lee, dealing with grief, returns to face his past. The sombre weight of the film is offset by some wonderfully comic scenes. Hedges gives a glorious performance too as teenage Patrick. Hailed as a masterpiece, Lee’s heart breaking loss is our gain in this meticulously rich film.
Directed by: Theodore MelfiStaring: Taraji P Henson, Janelle Monae & Octavia Spencer
Those of us old enough to remember when early astronaut John Glenn went into space will have a picture in our heads of the mathematicians, scientists and engineers behind the mission. This film based on the non-fiction book by Margot Lee Shetterly illustrates that not all of them were our imagined white males but included young black women such as Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan. Shetterly’s parents worked at Cape Canaveral giving her background knowledge of the space programme. The film tells how, in a desperate search for the talent needed to beat Russia in the space race, NASA became a reluctant employer of a diverse workforce by moving this trio from a segregated block for black pre-computer “number crunchers” to the mainstream development facility once they had recognising their talents in mathematics and engineering. Hidden Figures is a heartwarming tale of their success and teamwork against the odds in an era of discrimination.
Directed by: Charles LaughtonStaring: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters & Lillian Gish
In this eerie 1955 classic, a tall, handsome preacher – his knuckles tattooed with “love” and “hate” – roams the countryside spreading the gospel and leaving a trail of murdered women in his wake. Now his sights are set on $10,000 and two little children are the only ones who know where it is. “Chill…dren!” the preacher croons to the terrified boy and girl hiding in the cold, dark cellar. A brooding evil pervades Charles Laughton’s brilliant directorial venture – his first and only. Spellbinding, ominous and hauntingly suspenseful, this extraordinary film noir remains one of the most frightening movies ever made.
Directed by: Ana KatzStaring: Julieta Zylberberg & Andrés Milicich
The anxieties of a new motherhood are reflected in the protagonist’s uneasy relationship with a stroller-pushing acquaintance. The unexpected friendship serves as a catalyst to explore class conflict, female solidarity and the responsibilities of single motherhood.
This deceptively simple and reflective feature is more of a character study than the low-boil thriller it sometimes appears to be turning into. It’s the sort of film that improves significantly with post-viewing consideration, as one works one’s way back through it. Ana Katz stars, co-wrote and directed the film. My Friend From The Park is a competently crafted, unassuming production that puts its faith in the quality of the screenplay and the conviction of the performances.
Directed by: Denis VilleneuveStaring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner & Forest Whitaker
Sci-fi is a rare genre at Film Club, but don’t let that put you off one of the most thoughtful releases of last year, exploring ideas of language and the past and the future. If you missed this one in the cinema it’s a great film to see on the big screen. When twelve mysterious spacecraft touch down on earth, scattered across the globe, a civilian team is brought together by the military to investigate and try to communicate with these strange beings. As mankind is possibly on the verge of global war, the team race against time for answers.
Directed by: Mia Hansen-LoveStaring: Isabelle Huppert, Andre Marcon, & Roman Kolinka
Isabelle Huppert as Nathalie delivers a note-perfect, warm, wry performance as a philosophy teacher who faces unexpected constraints and freedoms when her domestic life unravels. Mostly shot near Paris, with excursions to Brittany and the Alps, Nathalie’s life is in flux. Her former lover Heinz (Marcon) taunts her about her shifting politics but he has a secret. A film about the passing of time and life’s expectations and disappointments. The chaos of life is distilled as a warm, thoughtful drama. Huppert won several awards for her role in the film.
Directed by: Mick JacksonStaring: Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson & Timothy Spall
Based on the acclaimed book ‘History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier’, this film recounts Deborah E. Lipstadt’s legal battle for historical truth against David Irving (Timothy Spall), who accused her of libel when she declared him a Holocaust denier. In the English legal system, in defamation cases, the burden of proof is on the accused. It was therefore up to Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz), astonished to find that people expect her to debate on equal terms with sinister deniers, to prove the essential truth that the Holocaust occurred.
Directed by: Taika WaititiStaring: Sam Neill, Julian Dennison & Rima Te Wiata
Raised on hip-hop and foster care, defiant city kid Ricky gets a fresh start in the New Zealand countryside. He quickly finds himself at home with his new foster family: the loving Aunt Bella, the cantankerous Uncle Hec, and dog Tupac. When a tragedy strikes that threatens to ship Ricky to another home, both he and Hec go on the run in the bush.. Equal parts road comedy and rousing adventure story, director Taika Waititi (WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS,) masterfully weaves lively humour with emotionally honest performances by Sam Neill and Julian Dennison. A hilarious, touching crowdpleaser, HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE reminds us about the journey that growing up is (at any age) and those who help us along the way.