Directed by: Peter FarrellyStaring: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali & Linda Cardellini
Based on a true story, this comedy/drama road trip film recounts how two unlikely travel companions navigate the terrifying racism of America’s Deep South in 1962. They are an African-American classical pianist Don Shirley and his driver Tony ‘Tony Lip’ Vallelonga, a working-class Italian-American bouncer. They begin their trek armed with ‘The Negro Motorist Green Book’, a travel guide for safe travel through America’s racial segregation. Initially, they don’t get on, but by witnessing and enduring the appalling injustices on the road, they gradually come to respect each other’s talents, nurturing a friendship and understanding that would change both their lives.
Directed by: Andrei TarkovskyStaring: Nikolai Burlyaev & Valentin Zubkov
A rare opportunity to see a work by Tarkovsky, one of the all-time great directors of World cinema. He only made 7 feature films but was responsible for some of cinema’s greatest moments. In Ivan’s Childhood, Tarkovsky’s first feature, he is concerned with Russia during World War 2. The film is a coming of age story featuring 12 years old Ivan (Burlyaev) who delights in the natural world. His happy pre-war childhood is contrasted with his war-time experiences fighting as a scout for the Russian army. No battle scenes are depicted and the war is imagined through the eyes of the child. Described as “one of the most beautifully shot films in history”, it is a poetic and haunting film.
Directed by: Daniel KokotajloStaring: Siobhan Finneran, Robert Emms & Sacha Parkinson
This film is drawn on the experiences of the director who grew up as a Jehovah’s Witness in Manchester. It tells the story of mother Ivanna and two daughters Alex and Luisa. They all appear to be devout Jehovah’s Witnesses. Tensions arise when Luisa fraternises with non members and becomes pregnant. She is “disfellowshipped” cutting her off from her family and the church. Meanwhile Alex becomes involved with the older Steven, an elder of the church who has moved to the area from London. The film examines the tensions that arise from the estrangement of Luisa, and from the refusal of Alex of the blood needed to help with her anaemia.
Directed by: Boots RileyStaring: LaKeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson
In this comedy satire, set in alternate present-day version of Oakland, telemarketer Cassius Green (pronounced “cash is green”) is broke, but his dead end job takes a dramatic turn when he is advised by a grizzled old timer to use a “white voice”.
This turns him into an instant success and he is catapulted upstairs to join the “power callers” and workplace luxury, and where Cassius finds out the awful truth about the corporation of which this telesales company is merely a part.
The film then becomes more twisted and surreal, as Cassius falls under the spell of the cocaine-snorting CEO, whilst his friends and co-workers organise to protest against corporate oppression. 7.45 – 9.34
Directed by: Hirokazu KoreedaStaring: Lily Franky, Sakura Ando & Kirin Kiki
A Japanese couple stuck in part-time jobs with inadequate income, become shoplifters to make ends meet. They are not alone in this behaviour, as the younger and the older of the household are also in on the act. One day the father and his son come across a young girl out in the freezing cold. Osamu’s wife agrees to take care of her after learning of the hardships she faces, and the unusual routine changes from care-free and matter-of-fact to something more dramatic as the couple open their doors to the beleaguered young girl. They seem to live happily together until an unforeseen incident reveals hidden secrets, testing the bonds that unite them.
Directed by: Sean BakerStaring: Bria Vinaite, Willem Dafoe & Brooklynn Prince
Director Sean Baker’s film is a poignant depiction of generational poverty and life on the margins of American society and has been described as capturing the timeless, magical innocence of childhood. It is set in Orlando, Florida at a budget hotel named ‘The Magic Castle’ and leads us through the lives of 6 year old feral, mischievous Moonee and her equally rebellious young mother Halley during one summer. Whilst Moonee and her friends immerse themselves in the fantasy of childhood Halley faces the harshness of reality to provide for her daughter. This is a challenging, thought provoking film with outstanding and breakout performances from the cast. Its beautiful cinematography
and lack of soundtrack create a documentary feel.
Directed by: Pawel PawlikowskiStaring: Joanna Kulig & Tomasz Kot
In post-Second World War Poland Wiktor, a conductor, intent on preserving Poland’s musical heritage, forms a music Ensemble housed in a dilapidated country villa and falls in love with his helper Zula, in what becomes a love-amongst-the-ruins romance. The Communist state however, wants music to serve as propaganda and Cold War is a film about the hardships of living in exile. Wiktor and Zula scheme to survive and keep their love and ideals intact in and beyond the Iron Curtain. Pawlikowski expertly conveys their palpably tragic yearning as they scheme to escape. Cold War comes highly lauded and is beautifully shot in black and white.
Directed by: Todd Douglas MillerStaring: Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong & Michael Collins
The story may not be new but this documentary creates a new experience of the events by meticulously restoring wide lens footage and using unseen 65mm film to create a visual experience to rival any block buster visual effects. NASA’s habit of recording everything gave the film-makers a mammoth task to catalogue and stitch together a
film with no new interviews and no new narration. The end result, which took nearly three years to make will likely make you re-evaluate how you think about and, if of a certain age, remember the Apollo landings. Screenings at IMAX theatres are planned throughout summer 2019 but if you miss those don’t miss this opportunity to see it on the big screen.
Directed by: Valeska GrisebachStaring: Reinhardt Wetrek & Meinhard Neumann
A group of German construction workers are sent to a remote part of Bulgaria to build a hydroelectric power station. The foreign land awakens the men’s sense of adventure, but they are also confronted with their own prejudice and mistrust due to the language barrier and cultural differences. Relations deteriorate when a group of workers led by Vincent annoy a group of women swimming nearby. The loner Meinhard is the only one to try and make friends. The stage is set for a showdown between the two men competing for recognition and favour from the local villagers. This is not at all a “western” but with references to the genre in the excellent cinematography of Bernhard Keller.
Directed by: Marielle HellerStaring: Melissa McCarthy, Richard E Grant, Jane Curtin
The film is based on the memoir of real life author Lee Israel, who had been a successful magazine-writer and biographer of the likes of Katherine Hepburn and Estee Lauder. She has fallen on hard times however and is struggling to make a living: drinking too much, writing too little, getting nothing published. Only her ailing cat loves her. While researching for a new biography of Fanny Brice, Lee chances upon some valuable letters from her which she sells. When Lee adds a spicy PS to one of the notes, its retail value rockets. Soon, Lee is forging Noël Coward’s signature and typing missives from Dorothy Parker… McCarthy was nominated for an Oscar for best actress for her role and Richard E Grant won best supporting actor for his.