Members’ Choice 2018-19 Spring

The Pawnbroker USA 1965.  Members’ Choice 

IMDb 7.8. RT 100%.

Oscar-nominated Sidney Lumet drama starring Rod Steiger as an embittered Nazi concentration camp survivor, faced with the pressures of running a pawnshop in Harlem.  One of the first films to deal with the Holocaust.

mixture of European art movie (the Resnais-like flashbacks that punctuate the narrative) and American ciné-vérité (it was shot on the streets of New York)” Time Out.

Closely Observed Trains. Czechoslovakia 1966.  Members’ Choice 

Imdb 7.7. RT 100%

Oscar-winning Czech New Wave coming of age comedy-drama, about a shy young clerk at a village train station navigating love life difficulties. Set in German occupied Czechoslovakia near the end of WW2.

shows us that our petty destinies are inextricably linked to bigger events outside our lives … Menzel does this with tenderness, charm and guile, as well as producing an extremely funny film”. Derek Malcolm, Guardian.

Free Solo. USA 2018.  Members’ Choice 

IMDb 8.6. RT 98%.

Oscar-nominated documentary about Alex Honnold’s attempt to become the first person to climb the vertical rock face El Capitan in Yosemite National Park without ropes or safety equipment.  His preparation is interrupted by falling in love with a new girlfriend.

“heart-stopping account of an ostensibly impossible endeavor… a dramatist’s instincts, a novelist’s empathy and an instinct for visual grandeur that deserves the biggest screen in the best theater you can find. …a piece of portraiture that’s as stirring as it is thrilling”. Wall Street Journal.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. France 1964.

IMDb 7.9. RT 98%

‘Film in song’ from French New Wave director Jacques Demy and composer Michel Legrand, a worldwide hit at the time and later an influence on Damien Chazelle’s ‘La La Land’. A shop assistant (Catherine Deneuve in her first major film role aged 20) and mechanic’s romance is interrupted when he is drafted to fight in the French-Algerian War.

has stood the test of time as beautifully as Deneuve and seems likely to enchant future generations as fully as it has audiences over the past decades.” LA Times.

Three Identical Strangers. USA 2018.

IMDb 7.7. RT 96%.

BAFTA-nominated documentary about triplets separated at birth who meet as strangers when adults, leading to emotional repercussions and unexpected revelations which show that truth can indeed be stranger than fiction.

“an extraordinary documentary that starts as a feelgood human interest story and, by the end, has you questioning the nature of existence. As far as documentary subjects go, this one is nonpareil” Guardian

Hale County, This Morning, This Evening. USA 2018.
IMDb 6.8. RT 96%.

Oscar-nominated experimental documentary from RaMell Ross, shot over 5 years from 1300 hours of footage, showing the small moments that make up the real lives of an African-American community in Hale County, Alabama.

“the film works as a collage of everyday moments that dovetail seamlessly between the sublime and the banal. Indeed in its most mesmerising scenes, the alchemy of duration and focus elevates these moments to something more profound”  Observer.
The Breadwinner. Ireland/Canada/Luxemburg/USA 2017.

IMDb 7.7. RT 95%

Oscar-nominated Animated adaptation of Deborah Ellis’ Young Adult novel from director Nora Twomey. An Afghan girl living in Kabul under the Taliban disguises herself as a boy to provide for her family.

The wretched treatment of women under the Taliban, the benighted lot of Afghanistan, the impact of war on children. Not the most obvious subjects for a family animation, but The Breadwinner tackles them all with devastating economy. … a more elegant expression of female suffering would be hard to find.” The Times.

Il Divo. Italy 2008.

IMDb 7.3. RT 92%.

Oscar-nominated political biopic from Paolo Sorrentino (The Great Beauty) about the career of Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti.

a deeply strange and utterly hypnotic film, almost traumatised with its own information overload and by the frenetic accumulation of data pointing to one conclusion: that Italy’s politicians have tainted the country with corruption and secret shame. Toni Servillo’s Andreotti is a macabre masterpiece.” Peter Bradshaw, Guardian.

The Captain. Germany 2017.

IMDb 7.4. RT 86%.

World War II drama based on true events. A German army deserter finds a Luftwaffe captain’s uniform and pretends to be a soldier of that rank, becoming emboldened by the authority the uniform grants him.

brave and uncompromising indictment of human nature … a real-life case of an individual being corrupted by the power vested in a uniform — and an illustration of the way that others respond to such an authority figure, offloading impunity for their own villainous impulses onto someone else.” Variety

Capernaum.  Lebanon 2018.

IMDb 8.1. RT 82%.

Oscar-nominated drama based on true events, about a 12 year old Beirut slum child who sues his parents for having brought him into the world. From ‘Caramel’ director Nadine Labaki.

social-realist blockbuster – fired by furious compassion and teeming with sorrow, yet strewn with diamond-shards of beauty, wit and hope… a film that already feels like a landmark.” Robbie Collin, Telegraph.

Rosa Luxemburg. West Germany, 1986.

IMDb 7.0. RT n/a.

Margarethe Von Trotta’s political biopic of
the Polish Marxist and pacifist who co-founded the German Communist Party. This year marks the centenary of her murder.  Cannes Best Actress Award winner.

Rosa Luxemburg is one of the most fascinating figures in modern European political history … von Trotta’s film, with a fine, soberly intelligent performance by Barbara Sukowa, is a first-rate introduction to an extremely complicated personality.” NY Times.

Tulip Fever. U.K./USA 2017.

IMDb 6.2. RT 10%.

Period drama based on Deborah Moggach’s novel. An artist falls for a young married woman (Alicia Vikander) while he’s commissioned to paint her portrait during the Tulip mania of 17th century Amsterdam.

Tulip Fever isn’t a disaster. The first half is actually fairly decent. … the “downstairs” passion between Grainger and O’Connell has a degree of realism and eroticism. Eigil Bryld’s cinematography is crisp and colourful.” Guardian.
Amin. France 2018.

IMDb 6.1. RT n/a.

A Senegalese migrant worker sending money back to his family and living a solitary existence in Paris enters into a romance with the French woman he works for. From ‘Fatima’ director Philippe Faucon.

this measured, methodical, deeply empathetic filmmaker gives voice to those who form France’s sizable and diverse underclass” Hollywood Reporter.

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