Directed by: Lone ScherfigStaring: Peter Sarsgaard, Carey Mulligan, Alfred Molina and Rosamund Pike
Set in the early 1960s, sixteen year old Jenny lives with her parents in London, and is studying to be accepted into Oxford. She is bright, hard working but also naturally gifted. Her life changes when she meets David, a man over twice her age. Initially, he wants solely to expose her to cultural activities which she enjoys, but eventually their relationship does move into becoming a romantic one. As Jenny slowly learns more about David, and his constant companions Danny and Helen, and specifically how they make their money, she has to decide if what she learns about them and leading such a life is worth forgoing her plans of higher education at Oxford.
Directed by: Niels Arden OplevStaring: Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Lena Endre and Peter Haber
A film based on the first of the hugely popular book trilogy “Millennium” introduces journalist Mikael Blomkvist, hired as an investigator by a wealthy industrialist to solve the mystery of a niece who disappeared 40 years before.
It’s a gruesome account that uncovers a string of hate crimes, as well as the tattooed girl Lisbeth Salander’s emotionally disturbed history. She has a grim, spectral presence in the opening scenes, before she’s pushed too far and explodes in a moment of shocking, vengeful violence.
A traditional thriller at heart the film is beautifully photographed and skillfully crafted. Originally entitled “Men Who Hate Women” its explicit violence, sex, and use of crime scene photography has earned it an 18 certificate in the UK.
Directed by: Lee DanielsStaring: Gabourey Sidibe, Mo’Nique, Paula Patton and Lenny Kravitz
Set in Harlem in 1987, this is the story of Claireece ‘Precious’ Jones, a sixteen year old African-American girl born into a life no one would want. She’s pregnant for the second time by her absent father, and suffers constant physical and mental abuse from her mother.
School is chaotic, and Precious has reached the ninth grade with good marks and an awful secret: she can neither read nor write. Threatened with expulsion, she is offered the chance to transfer to an alternative school, which could help change her life’s direction. In the literacy workshop taught by the patient yet firm Ms. Rain, Precious begins a journey that will lead her from darkness, pain and powerlessness to light, love and self-determination.
Directed by: Gianni Di GregorioStaring: Gianni Di Gregorio and Alfonso Santagata
A late middle aged Italian bachelor finds himself relucantly looking after his elderly mother and a number of other old women as a favour to his local shopkeeper and his accountant. It is the feast day of the 15th August and everyone else in the city has left for a day out. The women do not know one another but they bond as they start to share stories of their past. The bachelor, played by the director, is surprised to find himself enjoying their company. A charming Italian film about family life and the building of respect between different generations.
Directed by: Tom FordStaring: Colin Firth and Julianne Moore
The directorial debut of former Gucci stylist Tom Ford is about a professor whose partner of 16 years has recently died unexpectedly. Colin Firth moves beyond his normal romcom roles to give a moving central performance as the professor. Although the film is about a grieving man, it has a surprisingly easy manner with moments of humour. Overall this is a film about the importance of the little things in life.
Directed by: Michael HanekeStaring: Christian Friedel, Ulrich Tukur, Burghart Klaussner and Susanne Lothar
An air of mystery hangs over a German village on the eve of World War 1 as a series of shocking events unfold in this part thriller.
Explanations are implied as we unravel the relations between villagers in a repressive society, while in counterpoint, a romance blossoms. Elegantly shot in monochrome we are drawn via each scene into a finely detailed world which appears almost timeless with its echoes of a feudal society. However in the final scene we are reminded of the ominous future waiting in the wings and left to decide how the events we have witnessed point to what was to follow.
The White Ribbon casts a cinematic spell and is arguably one of the major films of the past few years.
Directed by: Marek LoseyStaring: Alex Macqueen and Phil Campbell
The Hide is a low key British film directed by Marek Losey. The film follows an ornithologist, Roy, who, once he has sighted the elusive social plover will have ‘twitched’ the entire British list.
His day of birdwatching is interrupted by a visit from suspicious looking stranger, David, who enters the hide to shelter from the rain.
The film plays out as a small time thriller with a taut, compelling script and an unrelenting atmosphere of discomfort. The two actors are superb and both deliver outstanding performances against the bleak windswept landscape and the claustrophobic interior of the hide.
Directed by: Jan TroellStaring: Maria Heiskanen, Mikael Persbrandt & Jesper Christensen
Set in Malmo, Sweden at the beginning of the 20th Century, this is an intelligent and optimistic film with a great central performance from Maria Heiskanen as Maria, a long suffering victim of a drunken, abusive working-class husband.
Maria turns to photography and in developing a friendship with a local portrait photographer she sparks her creativity and possibly more. It is the story of a meagre life in a deeply divided and deferential society. We see the local impact of World War 1, the coming of electricity and the cinema.
“A masterpiece with a towering central performance….There are wonderful moments in this, a beautiful, tender, truthful film…. Acting of the highest order.” Philip French in the Observer.
Directed by: Lance DalyStaring: Kelly O'Neill, Shane Curry, Paul Roe and Cathy Malone
Kisses is a film about two children on a tough Dublin housing estate who run away from their respective abusive families for a glorious but dangerous day of freedom in the city.
The two leads, Shane Curry (Dylan) and Kelly O’Neill (Kylie) are newcomers, and the chemistry between them is undeniable. With nothing to lose and some money Kylie has found they go in search of Dylan’s homeless elder brother.
The opening scenes are shot in stark black and white, but the further away from home the runaways get, the more colour begins to seep into their lives, which has a terrific pay-off in the final scene!
Directed by: Richard AttenboroughStaring: John Mills, John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier and Vanessa Redgrave
Based on Joan Littlewood’s theatre production, “Oh! What a Lovely War” is a classic tribute to the soldiers of the First World War, transforming the horrors of the war into a satirical musical.
Its director, the now Lord Richard Attenborough, manages to poke fun at the Generals while also hailing the enthusiasm the troops showed despite being sent to their doom. It follows the Smith family as its male members sign up and never come back, leaving the women isolated.
Throughout the film Attenborough used the traditional image of the poppy to signify death and a final stunning shot serves to underline the massive losses.