Film

Suite Française

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Suite Française centres on the relationships between French people and their German occupiers during the Nazi occupation of France from June 1940. The film is based on a novel written by Jewish author Irène Némirovsky. It was one of a series of five she planned to write, but was unable to complete, as she was taken from her hiding place in Paris in 1942 and eventually murdered in Auschwitz. Her daughters had the novel published in 2004 to international acclaim.

Mommy

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On paper, this award winning film by the acclaimed young director Xavier Dolan is packed with “issues”. It is set in a fictional Canada after the 2015 election. Reformed public health laws have shifted the landscape for parents and teachers of children with special needs.

Inherent Vice

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This entertaining movie has been described as a “surfer noir” and Joaquin Phoenix’s private investigator, Doc, as not so much a “gumshoe” as a “gum sandal”. It is the first film to be based on a novel by Thomas Pynchon and is suffused with dope smoke, paranoia and trippy episodes. The novel, which was published in 2009, renders 1960s Los Angeles counter-culture with aching nostalgia.

Selma

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Early in 1965 civil rights activists and leaders agreed to focus their efforts on registering black voters in the Southern states of the US in the face of violent opposition. The campaign culminated in a 50-mile march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery, the state capital. This film documents the three-month campaign, and especially Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s involvement in it. It is a powerful story told in a sensitive manner.

Love is Strange

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This is the second in a trilogy of films directed and co-written by Ira Sachs exploring the challenge of relationships. Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina) decide to get married after 40 years together. However, shortly afterwards their relationship is tested when George is sacked from his job as choir master because the Catholic Archdiocese objects to their marriage.

White God

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In contemporary Budapest 13 year old Lili reluctantly moves into her estranged father’s tiny flat when her mother takes up an overseas academic post. Her friend, the gentle giant Hagen, comes too, which doesn’t go down well with her dad. When a neighbour falsely claims Hagen has attacked her, Lili’s father throws him out. Hagen is brutalised by street life in a series of exploitative and abusive encounters.

Testament of Youth

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Testament of Youth

Testament of Youth is based on Vera Brittain’s remarkable First World War memoir. Published in 1933 and covering the years 1900 to 1925, it is an account of falling in love, coming of age and devastating wartime loss. Vera lost her brother Edward, her fiancé Roland Leighton and close friends Victor Richardson and Geoffrey Thurlow. They, along with almost three-quarters of a million British soldiers perished in the trenches and on the battlefields of Europe.

A Most Violent Year

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This is the story of Abel and his struggle against organised crime and the unions to make his fuel company a success. From this brief description it would seem to be a right wing story of the individual’s fight against “vested interests”. However, the film plays around with this common sense bourgeois morality and explores the inevitable corruption that a life lived according to capitalist ideals will lead to.
It is a gangster movie that isn’t a gangster movie. Abel is familiar with the world of organised crime but refuses to be a part of it.

Stations of the Cross

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Most people brought up in the Catholic religion will have followed the Way of the Cross, a spiritual meditation on the journey of Jesus from death sentence to crucifixion. It is a story told in blood, as Jesus stumbles and falls on the road to his death at Golgotha. The Passion, as it is referred to, is a central tenet of Catholicism. In 1965 the Second Vatican Council abandoned the Latin mass and other older elements of the Catholic tradition. Before that, children were taught that Jesus died because of their sins, thus placing blood, suffering and guilt at the centre of Catholicism.

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