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2014 Film Programme

Thursday 1 May

Captain Phillips     12A 128 min      TRAILER

Earlier this year we saw Steve Coogan playing two very different roles, this time it is Tom Hanks displaying his virtuosity as an actor as he plays the captain of a merchant ship hijacked off Somalia. The film is based on the 2009 hijacking by pirates of the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama, the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years. Barkad Abdi, a Somali with no previous acting experience, puts in a remarkable performance as the lead pirate.  While the action will have you on the edge of your seat, the film also contains central performances showing two men, each trapped in very different ways by their circumstances and place in the global order.

Thursday 5 June

Reviews

12 Years a Slave   15 134 min    TRAILER

This is the 2014 Oscar-winner for Best Film Based on an incredible true story of one man's fight for survival and freedom. In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty (personified by a malevolent slave owner, portrayed by Michael Fassbender), as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon's chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist (Brad Pitt) will forever alter his life.

             Review

As you might guess from its Certificate 15 rating, this is not always easy viewing as the evils of slavery are unflinchingly portrayed.

Read about the original memoir, published by Solomon Northup in 1853.

Thursday 3 July

The Monuments Men 12A 118 min     TRAILER

The story is based (albeit somewhat loosely) on the non-fiction book The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History, by Robert Edsel. In 1943, a team of museum directors, curators, and art historians was assembled to help in the location and preservation of artworks and buildings at risk during the invasion by the Allies and retreat by the German army, as well as the huge amount of art looted during the war.

A starry cast includes George Clooney, Matt Damon John Goodman and Hugh Bonneville. 

 

See Wikipedia for the full story and comments on the historical accuracy of the film (the Yanks seem to have marginalized the contribution of the Brits, again). There is another interesting article on accuracy in Slate.  Although the film focuses on 7 characters, there were actually 345 men and women involved. In the last year of the war, they tracked, located, and in the years that followed, returned more than five million artistic and cultural items stolen by Hitler and the Nazis. Their role in preserving cultural treasures was without precedent.  Many of them remained in Europe for up to six years following the conclusion of fighting to oversee the complicated restitution of stolen works of art.

Thursday 7 August

The Invisible Woman 12A  111 min     TRAILER

In the 1850s, Ellen Ternan is a minimally talented actress who catches the eye of the hailed British author, Charles Dickens. Bored with his intellectually unstimulating wife, Dickens takes the educated Ellen has his mistress with the cooperation of her mother. What follows is a stormy relationship with this literary giant who provides her with a life few women of her time can enjoy. Yet, Ellen is equally revolted by Charles' emotional cruelty and determination to keep their relationship secret. In that conflict, Ellen must judge her own role in her life and decide if the price she pays is bearable.

Ralph Fiennes both directs and stars and received excellent reviewsClaire Tomalin has written about researching Dickensí life and the experience of seeing her book turned into a film.

 

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