Directed by: John CrowleyStaring: Saiorse Ronan, Domnhall Gleeson, Julie Walters and Jim Broadbent
This Oscar nominated film was adapted by Nick Hornby (High Fidelity) from Colm Toibin’s acclaimed novel, It tells the tale of Ellis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) a young Irish girl forced to leave her home town, and Toibin’s, of Enniscorthy for America in the 1950s in order to find work. The kindly priest Father Flood (Broadbent) finds her work and lodgings in a boarding house run by an outwardly fierce landlady, Mrs Kehoe (Julie Walters). Initially Ellis feels alone and isolated. However she bonds with fellow residents and at dance classes meets, and falls for, a young Italian-American Tony (Emory Cohen). A family emergency takes her back to Ireland where she is introduced to an eligible young Irish man, Jim (Domnhall Gleeson), and is offered a good job. She then has to decide between the men and where to live for the rest of her life. A tender story of departure and return with excellent performances, particularly by Ronan and Walters.
Directed by: Damián SzifronStaring: Darío Grandinetti, María Marull & Mónica Villa
Wild Tales is a difficult film to write about without giving away tell-tale plot details. It is a raucously entertaining collection of “six deadly stories of revenge”. The brilliance of the film (produced by Pedro Almodóvar) lies in its combination of excess and ordinariness. There is a lot of violence, staged in a manner so extreme and so comical that it verges on the cartoonish. At the same time, the young Argentine writer-director Damián Szifron roots the tales in circumstances that every cinemagoer will recognise. If you’ve ever had a parking ticket or attended a wedding that got out of hand or held a grudge from schooldays, you will recognise the motivations of the protagonists. The stories are quite different from one another but are linked by common themes. As Szifron has written, they are about “catharsis, vengeance and destruction… and the undeniable pleasure of losing control”.
Directed by: Andrew HaighStaring: Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay
There is just one week until Kate and Geoff Mercer’s forty-fifth wedding anniversary and the planning for the party is going well. Comfortably off, Left-wing, childless, this provincial couple have a week to go before the much-postponed occasion: theoretically a week of planning, dress purchasing, a bit of social fretting. But then a letter arrives for the husband. The body of Geoff’s first love has been discovered, frozen and preserved in the icy glaciers of the Swiss Alps. This event has rarely been mentioned between them but now old memories are stirred up that call into question everything that they have taken for granted.
Directed by: Ruben OstlundStaring: Johannes Kuhnke, Lisa Loven Kongsli & Clara Wettergren
In this comedy, a Swedish family travels to the French Alps to enjoy a few days skiing. During lunch at a mountainside restaurant, an avalanche turns everything upside down. With diners fleeing in all directions, mother Ebba calls for her husband Tomas as she tries to protect their children. Tomas, meanwhile , is running for his life… The anticipated disaster fails to occur, and yet the family’s world has been shaken to its core, a question hanging over their father in particular. Tomas and Ebba’s marriage is now challenged as Tomas struggles to reclaim his role as family patriarch.
Directed by: Dexter FletcherStaring: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman & Christopher Walken
Inspired by true events, this is a feel-good story about Michael Edwards (Taron Egerton), better known as ‘Eddie the Eagle’, an unlikely but courageous British ski-jumper who never stopped believing in himself – even as an entire nation was counting him out. With the help of a rebellious and charismatic coach (played by Hugh Jackman), Eddie takes on the establishment and wins the hearts of sports fans around the world by making an improbable and historic showing at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics.
Directed by: Asghar FarhadiStaring: Hediyeh Tehrani, Taraneh Alidoosti, Hamid Farokhnezhad
Rouhi, a betrothed woman who works for a local housekeeping agency, accepts an assignment to clean the home of an affluent married couple about to leave on vacation. She becomes quickly sucked into a virulent nuptial conflict of deceit, treachery, and vitriol that challenges all of her presuppositions about the nature of married life. By cloaking the events of the household (and their participants) in ambiguity, and constantly shifting the central perspective of the film from one character to another, Farhadi adds depth and complexity to the work and continually challenges the audience, forcing each viewer to rewrite their presuppositions about the characters.
Directed by: Tom McCarthyStaring: Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, John Slattery
Oscar winner Spotlight is based on enquiries by the Boston Globe newspaper into allegations of paedophile activity by Catholic priests at the turn of the century. Spotlight was the name of the paper’s special investigation team which included the editor Walter Robinson (Michael Keaton) and Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo). The team is encouraged by new editor in chief Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) and managing editor Ben Bradlee Jr (John Slattery). The films captures the excitement of a newsroom breaking a major story as well as holding attention during the painstaking background work slowly gathering enough evidence. A stong cast bring to life not only the appalling behaviour of individual priests but also the complicity of the church hierarchy, lawyers and civic authorities who allowed complaints by vulnerable youngsters to be covered up and the perpetrators to be moved to new posts to carry on as before. The film illustrates why we need bold investigative reporters and supportive media proprietors.
Directed by: Deniz Gamze ErguvenStaring: Gunes Sensoy, Doga Zeynep Doguslu & Tugba Sunguroglu
In a village in Northern Turkey, in early summer, Lale and her four sisters are on their way home from school, and innocently play on the beach with some of their male classmates. A neighbour passing by observes what she considers to be illicit behaviour and reports this to the girls’ family. The family overreacts by removing all ‘instruments of corruption’, like cell phones and computers, and their home is progressively transformed into a prison; instruction in homemaking replaces school and marriages start being arranged. The five sisters who share a common passion for freedom, find ways of getting around the constraints imposed on them, in order to determine their own lives.
Directed by: Steven SpielbergStaring: Tom Hanks & Mark Rylance
An intelligent, richly layered, riveting spy story, swirling with intrigue and nervy tension and based on the true story of lawyer James Donovan (Hanks) who represents unearthed Russian spy Rudolph Abel (Rylance) and acts as a go-between between the USA and Soviet Union. The action, at the height of the cold war, moves from the USA to Berlin, photographed with a stark and bitter beauty, as Donovan bargains for the release of a captured US spy-plane pilot. The unlikely bond between the two main protagonists is central. Rylance won the best supporting actor Oscar for this film and is a compelling on screen presence.
Directed by: Louis MalleStaring: Raphael Fejto & Gaspard Manesse
Set in the German occupied south of France during World War 2 the film, reflecting Louis Malle’s own childhood, is a deeply heartfelt experience.
Six months before D-Day a boy Jean is taken in to a Catholic boarding school and the other boys there are asked to show him kindness. A close friendship develops between Jean and another boy called Julien. Key characters’ attitudes and actions reveal the divisions in French society of the time. The ending is quiet, understated and shattering. One of the best films of the occupation, one of the best French films of all time and one of the best films about childhood ever made. This is a rare chance to see this classic.