Directed by: John MaddenStaring: Judi Dench, Dev Patel, Bill Nighy & Tom Wilkinson
This all-star uplifting comedy follows a group of English pensioners as they flee the grim and expensive UK, and head off for India hoping to start a new life.
They are enticed by advertisements for the newly restored Marigold Hotel in Jaipur, a seemingly luxurious sanctuary for ‘the elderly and beautiful’, but it turns out to be a dilapidated place, run by young, relentlessly optimistic entrepreneur Sonny (Dev Patel of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ fame). The film shows how India touches the characters’ lives in different ways as they start afresh, and they are transformed by their shared experiences, discovering that life and love can begin again when you let go of the past.
Directed by: Asghar FarhadiStaring: Leila Hatami, Peyman Moadi, Sareh Bayat, Sarina Farhadi
Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language film. Set in contemporary Iran, it is a compelling drama resulting from the marriage break up of a privileged couple who can’t agree on the big decisions in life, but the consequences of their separation are worked out in the film.
As a result a group of people who are equally complex and flawed are bound together by the untidy minutia of everyday life. A flawless ensemble cast and the natural realism of the photography focus on the emotional state of the characters and the film increasingly tightens the emotional strings. Widely seen by critics and audiences as deservedly a fine film.
Directed by: Tate TaylorStaring: Emma Stone, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer
Set in Mississippi during the 1960’s, this is the story of an unlikely friendship between three very different, extraordinary women. Skeeter (Emma Stone) is a southern society girl who returns from college determined to become a writer, but turns her friends’ lives (and the town’s) upside down when she decides to interview the black women who have spent their lives taking care of prominent southern families. The first to open up to her is Aibileen (Viola Davis), her best friend’s housekeeper. This initially dismays the tight-knit black community, but soon more women come forward to tell their stories. They have a lot to say! A film which highlights some of the changes ‘under way’ during these turbulent times – 1960’s USA.
Directed by: John FordStaring: Henry Fonda, Charley Grapewin, Jane Darwell, John Carradine
A rare chance to see this classic film on the big screen. Adapted from John Steinbeck’s novel of the same name, it presents Henry Fonda in arguably his greatest role.
The film depicts the plight of the Joad family, migrant farmers from Oklahoma in the 1930’s, who are forced to flee their share-cropping, along with thousands of other families, when the land turns into a dust bowl. The family take all the meagre possessions they can load onto their vehicle and head for California, where they are promised work and a new home. John Ford’s direction and the striking photography capture the plight of the family. The film portrays human endurance amidst hardship.
Directed by: Francois OzonStaring: Catherine Deneuve, Gérard Depardieu and Fabrice Luchini
Set in 1977 in a provincial French town, POTICHE is an adaptation of the 1970s eponymous hit comic play. Catherine Deneuve is Suzanne Pujol, a submissive, housebound ‘trophy housewife’ (or “potiche”) who steps in to manage the umbrella factory run by her wealthy and tyrannical husband (Fabrice Luchini) after the workers go on strike and take him hostage. To everyone’s surprise, Suzanne proves herself a competent and assertive woman of action. But when her husband returns from a restful cruise in top form, things get complicated. Gérard Depardieu plays a former union leader and Suzanne’s ex-beau who still holds a flame for her.
Directed by: Tom Kingsley, Will SharpeStaring: Chris Langham, Simon Amstell and Amanda Hadingue
Made on a miniscule budget this very British film follows a dysfunctional family whose otherwise mundane existence is spun in to disarray when they are accused of murder.
Tom Thompson was taking his dog for a walk when he comes across Blake. Sympathetic, he invites the stranger back to his home for a hot meal. However during the course of the dinner Blake suddenly dropped dead. Months later, a friend of the family relays the story to his therapist who immediately leaks it to the press. In no time, the Thompsons gain a notorious reputation as the “Family of Killers”. What unfolds is a subtle and surprisingly moving black comedy that strikes a careful balance between solid laughs and sinister undertones.
Directed by: James MarshStaring: Nim Chimpsky, Stephanie LaFarge and Herbert Terrace
Directed by James Marsh (Man on Wire) Project Nim is a documentary that features the chimpanzee Nim who was the subject of a research project in the 1970’s.
Shortly after his birth he was removed from his mother and delivered to New York, where he became part of an experiment to determine whether an ape raised in close contact with humans could develop a limited language based on American Sign Language. Following Nim’s extraordinary journey through human society, and the enduring impact he makes on the people he meets along the way, the film is an unflinching and unsentimental biography of an animal we tried to make human. What we learn about his true nature – and indeed our own – is comic, revealing and profoundly unsettling.
Directed by: Lynne RamsayStaring: Tilda Swinton, Ezra Miller and John C Reilly
This adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s 2003 Orange Prize winning novel of the same name is a powerful drama with a twist. Tilda Swinton (I Am Love) plays Eva the mother of the eponymous, Kevin (Ezra Miller).
Kevin has committed an appalling crime the full extent of which is revealed (earlier than in the novel) and is followed by flashbacks to Kevin’s early years. The audience is forced to consider if the crime could have been anticipated from the scenes we witness of Kevin as a small child. It also considers the nature versus nurture debate. That is to say can apparently good parents produce evil children or is their behaviour the fault of the parents. The film and its stars have won, or been nominated for, numerous awards. Tilda Swinton’s performance as Eva has been singled out as extraordinary.
Directed by: Denis VilleneuveStaring: Lubna Azabal, Melissa Desormeaux-Poulin and Maxim Gaudette
This powerful and deeply moving drama was an Academy Award nominee. After the death of their mother, twins Jeanne and Simon are called into her office to be read her will. They are shattered when they discover that they have a half brother, and the will asks them to deliver two letters. Jeanne must take hers to the father they never knew, and Simon must track down the half-brother that they’ve never met. As Jeanne travels to the Middle East, we learn through flashbacks about her mother’s early life in a country torn apart by civil war. We then follow Jeanne’s struggle to learn the truth about her mother’s past.
Directed by: Paddy ConsidineStaring: Olivia Colman, Peter Mullan and Eddie Marsan
Paddy Considine is best known as an actor (Red Riding and Submarine) and this film is his first as a director. It is an uncompromising look at life on a tough estate similar to the one where he grew up. An angry unemployed widower Joseph (Mullan) finally realises that he needs help after a disturbing incident when he kills his own dog. He is taken under the wing of kindly Christian charity shop worker Hannah (Colman). However, Hannah has her own dark secret which is revealed as the story progresses as well as the meaning of the film’s metaphorical title. The film has won numerous awards despite missing out on widespread distribution. Olivia Colman was awarded Best Actress jointly with Tilda Swinton (see April) for her role.