Film

Elle

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Elle is impeccably filmed and edited with stellar acting performances that grasp the attention of the audience. It intends to shock, infuriate and rile up the viewer.

However, it must come with a warning: this film could act as a serious trigger for anyone who has experienced domestic abuse or rape and as an insult to those of us who actively fight against women’s oppression.

Certain Women

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Certain Women is made up of three stories involving four women in and around Livingston, Montana. Like Reichardt’s 2010 western, Meek’s Cutoff, at first glance little happens and nothing seems resolved. Yet, also like the previous film, the understated performances and spare dialogue convey huge amounts — of heartbreak, anger, loneliness and yearning.

The Death of Stalin

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Before the inevitable “buts” appear, let me just nail the fact that this is an excellent movie — intelligent, witty and showcasing some seriously bravura film acting. There are no buts in the statement that if it opens in a cinema near you, you should see it. If it doesn’t, travel.

As the title suggests this is about that punch the air moment in 1953 when Joe Stalin dies and a Monsters Ball breaks out as the blood-soaked dotards on the Soviet Politbureau duck and dive to seize his crown as general secretary.

The Party

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Potter conceived her latest movie as a kind of State of the Nation comedy exploring contemporary politics, particularly Brexit Britain.

She has assembled a fine ensemble cast including Timothy Spall, Kristin Scott Thomas, Patricia Clarkson, Cillian Murphy and Bruno Ganz. But the director has had to work with a micro budget and it shows.

It is set in one location — the ground floor of a London townhouse; it’s in black and white shot from one hand held camera; and it runs in real time — a spritely 70 minutes.

Toni Erdmann

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Maren Ade’s film takes on modern life, gender, family and the neoliberal bullshit of the corporate world. Ines, our protagonist and hero, works as a business consultant in Bucharest.

She is smart, driven and committed to the world in which she works and the money she makes. She lives fast, she gives a lot and she expects a lot back.

Moonlight

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Set against the blazing Florida glow during the height of the crack cocaine epidemic in the US, Moonlight documents the turbulent life of Chiron, a young black man. We see him at three pivotal stages in his life — aged ten, 16 and in his early 30s.

From boy to manhood, the film tracks his key relationships: that with his drug-addicted mother Paula (powerfully played by Naomie Harris), which is disintegrating; with his closest friend Kevin; and with the surrogate parents he finds in the form of local drug dealer Juan and his girlfriend Teresa.

Denial

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In 1992 a group of Jewish socialists came together to write an Anti Nazi league pamphlet, “Holocaust Denial: The New Nazi Lie”, in response to the rise of Holocaust deniers, and in particular the British Nazi, David Irving.

The emergence of Holocaust Denial in the 1990s was not a coincidence. The British National Party (BNP) was making advances, as were Nazis elsewhere in Europe.

In 1993 the BNP won a council by-election in the Isle of Dogs, east London, and in the same year black teenager Stephen Lawrence was murdered near the BNP HQ in Welling, south London.

Silence

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Here is a movie adapted from a book by Shuaku Edo, a Japanese Catholic. It tells the story of two Jesuit missionaries in 17th century Japan. It is directed by a man who was “educated” in a Jesuit seminary until he was 14, and the film is dedicated to “Japanese Christians and their padres”. It was given its world premiere at the Vatican. So it is hardly a bolt from the blue that this movie is in-your-face propaganda for that bastion of obscurantism, misogyny and child molestation, the Catholic church.

The Unknown Girl

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“A good doctor controls their emotions in order to make a correct diagnosis.” This is the advice that young medic Jenny Davin tries to impress upon her intern Julien in the opening scenes of The Unknown Girl. Yet it is her barely suppressed emotions that drive Jenny into the obsessive mission at the heart of this captivating film.

Life, Animated

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Life, Animated is an award-winning film adapted from a book of the same name by Ron Suskind about his son, Owen. Owen is a young man with Autism Spectrum Condition.

The film centres on the way that Owen’s lifelong special interest in Disney animated films has acted as a way for him to understand aspects of the neurotypical (non-autistic) world. It helps him to communicate and consider how other people might think differently from him.

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