Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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This article contains major spoilers for the latest James Bond movie Skyfall. Once you've seen the movie, come back here and dive in!
The James Bond franchise has always been reactionary. Not necessarily to the trends of Hollywood blockbusters, but rather, to the state of the world. The films act as a mirror to culture — Bond is a character with a lifespan, so in turn, his missions are malleable, influenced by anything happening in the moment.
In our interview with franchise mastermind Barbara Broccoli, the producer made it clear that 2006's Casino Royale, a gritty, stripped down interpretation of the 007 mythology, wasn't a random 180 degree turn. After 9/11, the days of fantastical Bond were (at least temporarily) over. With the world in crisis, the adventures of the globetrotting super spy had to drop the invisible cars, space lasers, and ice castles and become a tad more serious.
Six years later we have Skyfall, a film that continues the hot streak with Casino Royale's 007, Daniel Craig, but manages to feel even more specific in its thematic timelines. Continuing the path laid out by Casino Royale would have been easy and worked for fans of the franchise. Instead, director Sam Mendes, working with longtime series writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, along with Oscar-nominated screenwriter John Logan, took a stab at internally rebooting the franchise, daring to weave back in all the material that made a "James Bond movie" a "James Bond movie" while keeping the story uniquely modern.
The approach works wonders. It also raises questions for the series future.
Amazingly, both Casino Royale and Skyfall work as origin stories. Royale chronicles the beginnings of Bond, the events that transformed him into a distant MI-6 agent capable of carrying out any mission, however bloody. Skyfall is the origin of Bond as the product of family, a story of a group of people past, present, and future who define 007 as he grows into his own. Bond's work family was a staple of the series until 2002's Die Another Day, but Royale avoided the known characters (save Judi Dench's M) in an effort to drop Bond's cartoonish appearance and make him a human character. But archaic thinking is key to Skyfall's ideas of technological terrorism and war — you need an old school Bond to get the job done. That means the film needed the old school ensemble back too.
Mendes wears his love for early Bond on his sleeve, the days when Connery would spar with enemies using savvy wit, occasionally launching into a fist fight or ending the encounter with one well-placed bullet. But that's not the world established by Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, nor is it one that is easily accessible to today's younger audiences (read this recent horror story of a group of young people encountering From Russia with Love for evidence to that unfortunate truth). Those films go big and drop any semblance of swagger. It's all about the rough, tough thrills. Skyfall lives up to the action of previous films — the motorcycle-chase-turned-train-battle is one of the most impressive stunts of 2012 — but after the thrilling opening, the movie becomes noticeably smaller scale.
It's a talky movie, perfect for Mendes' theatrical roots. It's also fitting for the film's villain, Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem). Words and silent, Internet-based attacks are Silva's two greatest weapons, giving him plenty of time for maniacal laughing. Silva is up there in the pantheon of Bond baddies, a flamboyant, unrestrained terrorist who wipes out the population of a South Pacific nation just so he can have an island lair. He has Blofeld (of heck, Dr. Evil) goals and the wild physical flair to match. The scene where Silva removes his fake jaw to expose a drooping face is demented — and fitting for Mendes' early-Bond vision.
Mendes peppers the familiar construction with great characters: Naomie Harris' Eve is sharp, ambitious, and a great partner for Bond (what I as a Bond nut wished Halle Berry's Jinx to be back in Die Another Day). Ralph Fiennes' Gareth Mallory is sophisticated and murky — he's just involved enough in the plot of Skyfall to know he matters, but the film never gives away the big picture of his character. Ben Whishaw's Q is the hipster revisionist version of the character 2012 demands, a computer whiz that fits in at MI-6 but could easily be a trasplant resident of Dumbo, Brooklyn. Mendes even reinvigorates Dench's M with a new sense of character. She gets out of the office. She has a fear for Silva. She's finally part of the Bond franchise!
Mendes establishes a colorful cast of players in Skyfall, and it makes the movie click. But in the film's final moments, he decides to go the extra step by taking us back in time to 1962.
Chalk this up to years watching 24 and Mission: Impossible, but throughout Skyfall, I pegged Fiennes' Mallory as a mole. With Silva's past involvement with MI-6, I thought there had to be an inside man assisting him — why else hire such a big name actor to play the part of the government overseer placing hurdles for Dench's M to jump? It became clear when Bond chases Silva into the M/MI-6 hearing and a big shoot out erupts. Mallory didn't miss a shot when assisting Bond and Eve. He was a good guy. By the time Skyfall's rousing conclusions rolled around, M biting the bullet (literally) in the stone church of Bond's parents estate, his purpose was clear. We had a new M, a man, like the day's of Connery's Bond.
Replacing Dench with Fiennes paved the way for one of the franchise's most emotional moments, the maternal government figure dying in the arms of her favorite employee. It forced Bond to acknowledge his investment in M and seek shelter in new friends like Mallory. He came to terms with his family. The move was also fulfilling for fans who may have underestimated their own love for Dench's M. What we can't tell until Fiennes returns to the roll in upcoming Bond films is know if Mendes' clever play on our hearts (and our nostalgia — there's nothing quite like seeing Craigs' Bond walk through M's office like Connery, Moore, and others did in the past) will feel like a step forward or backward. Dench was an unexpected choice for M back in 1995. Fiennes (a former Bond contender himself) fits the world to a T.
My bigger worry as a fan is the reveal of Eve as Moneypenny, the face of MI-6's secretarial department. After kicking so much butt throughout Skyfall, proving she could handle situations where her life was on the line, Eve decides by the end of Skyfall to take an office job. Mallory taking on the mantle of M was logical in the wake of Dench's M's death. Eve becoming Moneypenny is on par with The Dark Knight Rises' John Blake's reveal as "Robin." Total fan service. Satisfying in the moment, but with lingering consequences. I for one want to see more of Harris' Eve, and in the gun-toting, bad guy stomping capacity. Not getting a rise from 007 whenever he stops by for a chat with M.
Mendes found a balance in Skyfall that seems unimaginable, at once a noir-like thriller and a blockbuster that can live up to today's onslaught of superhero movies. The film wrestles with an internal conflict for Bond, a guy who finds his sole purpose in life questioned by authorities and challenged by the way villains do business. With all of Skyfall's challenging material, Mendes also has his cake and eats it too, nodding to classic Bond staples — fans even see a DB5 Aston Martin blown to bits! The producers of Skyfall embraced the approach, dropping their developing storyline established in Royale and Quantum — a secret crime organization known as Quantum stepping up to be Bond's biggest headache — in favor of following Mendes one-off idea. So where will Bond go from there?
The hope is it continues to reflect the times with as small a microscope as Skyfall. The movie isn't just a film for the naughts, it's a film for 2012 specifically. Rehiring John Logan for future installments is a step in the right direction to follow Mendes' thinking, but the final act of reverting back to the old format of Bond is a gamble. Right now, all we can do is enjoy the heck out of Skyfall, but as the film ends with the series tradition of declaring "Bond will return," it's hard not to wonder if 007 will continue to straddle the classic and modern as he did this year.
What did you think of Skyfall? Go crazy in the comments — we're only talking spoilers here!
[Photo Credit: Sony Pictures]
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The Toronto International Film Festival has an impressive slate of films lined up for its 35th anniversary. The Canadian film festival will host 25 World Premieres, 15 Gala Premiers and 35 Special Presentations films from a multitude of acclaimed and upcoming directors. The most anticipated films to debut at the festival include Darren Aronofsky’s followup to The Wrestler, the stately-looking Black Swan, and Mark Romanek’s adaptation of bestseller Never Let Me Go, starring new Spider-Man Andrew Garfield. Robert Redford’s Lincoln assassination drama The Conspirator and John Cameron Mitchell’s tearjerker Rabbit Hole, and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s perplexing Biutiful are also generating some interest and buzz. Less promising features include Stone, a thriller so generic that Ed Norton's cornrows look like the most interesting thing about it, and Trust, David Schwimmer's melodramatic internet predator panic piece. But don't quote us on that, film festivals are always full of unexpected surprises, and you can never be sure what's going to become a hit.
The Toronto Film Festival will take place from September 9-19th. For a full summary of the films appearing in the festival, check out the official list below.
The Bang Bang Club. Steven Silver, Canada/South Africa World Premiere The Bang Bang Club was the name given to four young photographers, Greg Marinovich, Kevin Carter, Ken Oosterbroek and Joao Silva, whose photographs captured the final bloody days of white rule in South Africa and the final demise of apartheid. The film tells the remarkable and sometimes harrowing story of these young men – and the extraordinary extremes they went to in order to capture their pictures. The film stars Ryan Phillippe, Malin Akerman, Taylor Kitsch, Neels Van Jaarsveld and Frank Rautenbach.
Barney's Version Richard J. Lewis, Canada/Italy North American Premiere From producer Robert Lantos, Barney’s Version is a film based on Mordecai Richler's prize-winning comic novel. Barney Panofsky (Paul Giamatti) is a seemingly ordinary man who lives an extraordinary life. Barney?s candid confessional spans four decades and two continents, and includes three wives (Rosamund Pike, Minnie Driver and Rachelle Lefevre), one outrageous father (Dustin Hoffman) and a charmingly dissolute best friend (Scott Speedman).
Black Swan Darren Aronofsky, USA North American Premiere A psychological thriller set in the world of New York City ballet, Black Swan stars Natalie Portman as Nina, a featured dancer who finds herself locked in a web of competitive intrigue with a new rival at the company. Black Swan takes a thrilling and at times terrifying journey through the psyche of a young ballerina whose starring role as the duplicitous swan queen turns out to be a part for which she becomes frighteningly perfect. Black Swan also stars Vincent Cassel, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey and Winona Ryder.
Casino Jack George Hickenlooper, Canada World Premiere Based on a true story, Kevin Spacey stars as Jack Abramoff, the former high-powered lobbyist whose bribery schemes and fraudulent dealings with Indian casinos ultimately landed him in prison, and stunned the world. It remains the biggest scandal to hit Washington, D.C. since Watergate. The film also stars Barry Pepper, Kelly Preston, Rachelle Lefevre and Jon Lovitz.
The Conspirator Robert Redford, USA World Premiere While an angry nation seeks vengeance, a young union war hero must defend a mother accused of aiding her son in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Directed by Robert Redford, the film stars James McAvoy, Robin Wright, Kevin Kline, Evan Rachel Wood and Tom Wilkinson.
The Debt John Madden, USA North American Premiere Helen Mirren, Jessica Chastain and Sam Worthington star in this thriller about three Israeli Mossad agents on a 1965 mission to capture a notorious Nazi war criminal. Thirty years later, secrets about the case emerge.
The Housemaid Im Sang-Soo, South Korea North American Premiere In this erotic thriller, the housemaid of an upper-class family becomes entangled in a dangerous tryst. A satirical look at class structure, reminiscent of the work of Claude Chabrol, this sexy soap opera is a story of revenge and retribution.
Janie Jones David M. Rosenthal, USA World Premiere Aspiring recording artist Ethan Brand gets a stunning surprise on the opening night of a tour – a strung out former groupie appears unexpectedly, pleading with him to care for their daughter while she pulls herself together. Enter Janie Jones.
The King's Speech Tom Hooper, United Kingdom/Australia North American Premiere The King's Speech tells the story of the man who would become King George VI, the father of the current Queen, Elizabeth II. After his brother abdicates, George „Bertie? VI (Colin Firth) reluctantly assumes the throne. Plagued by a dreaded nervous stammer and considered unfit to be King, Bertie engages the help of an unorthodox speech therapist named Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). Through a set of unexpected techniques, and as a result of an unlikely friendship, Bertie is able to find his voice and boldly lead the country into war.
Little White Lies Guillaume Canet, France World Premiere Despite a traumatic event, a group of friends decides to go ahead with their annual beach vacation. Their relationships, convictions, sense of guilt and friendship are sorely tested. They are finally forced to own up to the little white lies they have been telling each other. Directed by Guillaume Canet and starring: François Cluzet, Marion Cotillard, Benoît Magimel, Gilles Lellouche, Jean Dujardin, Laurent Lafitte, Valérie Bonneton and Pascale Arbillot.
Peep World Barry Blaustein, USA World Premiere On the day of their father?s 70th birthday party, four siblings come to terms with the publication of a novel written by the youngest sibling that exposes the family?s most intimate secrets. The project's available for distribution, and stars Michael C. Hall, Sarah Silverman, Rainn Wilson, Ben Schwartz, Judy Greer, Kate Mara, Taraji Henson and Ron Rifkin.
Potiche François Ozon, France North American Premiere A bourgeois housewife (Catherine Deneuve) takes on a rough union leader (Gerard Depardieu) in François Ozon's sparkling comic war between the sexes, and the classes.
The Town Ben Affleck, USA North American Premiere The Town is a dramatic thriller about robbers and cops, friendship and betrayal, love and hope, and escaping a past that has no future. In the Boston neighbourhood of Charlestown, Doug MacCray is the leader of a crew of ruthless bank robbers. But everything changed on the gang?s last job when they took bank manager Claire Keesey hostage. Questioning what she saw, Doug seeks out Claire. As their relationship deepens, Doug wants out of this life and the town, but now he must choose whether to betray his friends or lose the woman he loves.
The Way Emilio Estevez, USA World Premiere Martin Sheen plays Tom, an American doctor who comes to St. Jean Pied de Port, France to collect the remains of his adult son, killed in the Pyrenees in a storm while walking The Camino de Santiago. Driven by his profound sadness and desire to understand his son better, Tom decides to embark on the historical pilgrimage. Along the way he learns what it means to be a citizen of the world again and discovers the difference between “The life we live and the life we choose.”
West is West Andy De Emmony, United Kingdom World Premiere Manchester, Northern England, 1976. The now much-diminished, but still claustrophobic and dysfunctional, Khan family continues to struggle for survival. Sajid, the youngest Khan, is under heavy assault both from his father's tyrannical insistence on Pakistani tradition, and from the fierce bullies in the schoolyard. His father decides to pack him off to Mrs. Khan No 1 and family in the Punjab, the wife and daughters he had abandoned 30 years earlier. The sequel to East is East, West is West is the coming of age story of both 15-year-old Sajid and of his father, 60-year-old George Khan.
Another Year Mike Leigh, United Kingdom North American Premiere A happily married, middle-aged couple are visited by a number of unhappy and lonely friends who use them as confidantes. When an unmarried friend falls for their young son, they watch as events unfold. The film stars Jim Broadbent, Lesley Manville, Ruth Sheen, Peter Wight, Oliver Maltman, David Bradley, Karina Fernandez and Martin Savage.
Beginners Mike Mills, USA World Premiere When his 71-year-old father (Christopher Plummer) comes out of the closet, Oliver (Ewan McGregor) must explore the honesty of his own relationships. From the director of Thumbsucker.
The Big Picture Eric Lartigau, France World Premiere Paul Exben is a success story. He has a great job, a glamorous wife and two wonderful sons, except that this is not the life he has been dreaming of. A moment of madness is going to change his life, forcing him to assume a new identity that will enable him to live his life fully. The Big Picture, an adaptation of the novel by Douglas Kennedy, is directed by Eric Lartigau and stars Romain Duris, Marina Foïs, Niels Arestrup and Catherine Deneuve. It is produced by Pierre-Ange Le Pogam.
Biutiful Alejandro González Iñárritu, Spain/Mexico North American Premiere This is a story of a man in free fall. On the road to redemption, darkness lights his way. Connected with the afterlife, Uxbal is a tragic hero and father of two who's sensing the danger of death. He struggles with a tainted reality and a fate that works against him in order to forgive, for love, and forever. The film stars Javier Bardem.
Blue Valentine Derek Cianfrance, USA Canadian Premiere Blue Valentine is the story of love found and love lost, told in past and present moments in time. Flooded with romantic memories of their courtship, Dean and Cindy use one night to try and save their failing marriage. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams star in this honest portrait of a relationship on the rocks.
Brighton Rock Rowan Joffe, United Kingdom World Premiere Based on Graham Greene's 1938 novel, we follow the odd relationship between a young thug on the rise in the British underground and a tea room waitress who witnesses a crime he has committed.
Buried Rodrigo Cortés, Spain/USA Canadian Premiere When Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) wakes up six feet underground with no idea who put him there or why, life for the truck driver and family man instantly becomes a hellish struggle for survival. Buried with only a cell phone and a lighter, poor reception, a rapidly draining battery and a dwindling oxygen supply become his worst enemies in a tightly confined race against time.
Conviction Tony Goldwyn, USA World Premiere Conviction is the inspirational true story of a sister?s unwavering devotion to her brother. When Betty Anne Waters? (two-time Academy® Award winner Hilary Swank) older brother Kenny (Sam Rockwell) is arrested for murder and sentenced to life in 1983, Betty Anne, a Massachusetts wife and mother of two, dedicates her life to overturning the murder conviction.
Cirkus Columbia Danis Tanovic, Bosnia and Herzegovina International Premiere After twenty years of exile, a husband returns to his hometown in Herzegovina to settle some scores with his ex-wife, armed with a new Mercedes, a sexy new girlfriend and a mangy black cat.
Dhobi Ghat Kiran Rao, India World Premiere In the teeming metropolis of Mumbai, four people separated by class and language are drawn together in compelling relationships. Shai, an affluent investment banker on a sabbatical, strikes up an unusual friendship with Munna, a young and beautiful laundry boy with ambitions of being a Bollywood actor, and has a brief dalliance with Arun, a gifted painter. As they slip away from familiar moorings and drift closer together, the city finds its way into the crevices of their inner worlds.
Easy A Will Gluck, USA World Premiere After a little white lie about losing her virginity gets out, a clean-cut high school girl (Emma Stone) sees her life paralleling Hester Prynne?s in The Scarlet Letter, which she is currently studying in school – until she decides to use the rumour mill to advance her social and financial standing.
Henry's Crime Malcolm Venville, USA World Premiere After serving three years in prison for a bank robbery he did not commit, an amiable but aimless man decides to rob the bank for real. His plan involves infiltrating a local theatre company, but his scheme gets complicated when he falls for the company?s lead actress. The film stars Keanu Reeves, Vera Farmiga, James Caan, Fisher Stevens, Peter Stormare, Danny Hoch and Bill Duke.
The Illusionist Sylvain Chomet, United Kingdom North American Premiere From the director of The Triplets Of Belleville comes a film of grace and unique beauty. Working from a never-produced script written by Jacques Tati for his daughter, Chomet tells the story of a magician who was pushed aside by rock and roll, yet finds one young girl who appreciates his magic. The film stars Jean-Claude Donda and Eilidh Rankin.
In A Better World Susanne Bier, Denmark/Sweden International Premiere The story traces elements from a refugee camp in Africa to the grey humdrum of everyday life in a Danish provincial town. The lives of two Danish families cross each other, and an extraordinary but risky friendship comes into bud. But loneliness, frailty and sorrow lie in wait. Soon, friendship transforms into a dangerous alliance and a breathtaking pursuit in which life is at stake.
I Saw the Devil Kim Jee-woon, South Korea North American Premiere A hard-boiled thriller from Korean master Kim Jee-woon, I Saw the Devil is a tale of bloody vengeance against a dangerous psychopath who has committed a gruesome series of murders.
It's Kind of a Funny Story Ryan Fleck, Anna Boden, USA World Premiere Stressed-out teenager Craig checks himself into a mental health clinic – where he finds himself in the adult ward. Sustained by friendships on both the inside and the outside, Craig learns more about life, love and the pressures of growing up. The comedy-drama stars Keir Gilchrist, Emma Roberts and Zach Galifianakis.
Jack Goes Boating Philip Seymour Hoffman, USA International Premiere Adapted from Bob Glaudini's acclaimed Off Broadway play, Jack Goes Boating is a tale of love, betrayal, friendship and grace centered around two working-class New York City couples. The film stars John Ortiz, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Amy Ryan and Philip Seymour Hoffman, with Hoffman making his feature directorial debut.
L'Amour Fou Pierre Thoretton, France World Premiere Yves Saint Laurent built one of fashion's most celebrated empires. This moving documentary chronicles his rise, his lifelong partnership with Pierre Bergé and their decision to auction off a lifetime of precious art and objects.
The Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen Andrew Lau, Hong Kong North American Premiere In 1920s Shanghai, hero Chen Zhen single-handedly avenges his mentor?s death by killing all the Japanese at a dojo in Hongkou, only to be showered with bullets while making his legendary flying kick. Now, years later, Chen Zhen, who is believed dead, returns in disguise to infiltrate a criminal empire and to dismantle the evil collusion that plagues the country.
Lope Andrucha Waddington, Brazil/Spain World Premiere Andrucha Waddington brings famed Spanish playwright Lope de Vega?s passionate life to the screen. The young poet returns to Madrid from war and gets his foot in the door of Madrid's most important theatre troupe – quickly charming his boss's daughter. His childhood friend, Isabel de Urbina, also falls under the spell of his poems. So much seduction eventually brings misfortune and he must flee Madrid.
Love Crime Alain Corneau, France International Premiere Dangerous Liaisons meets Working Girl in this deliciously caustic tale of office politics. Starring Kristin Scott Thomas and Ludivine Sagnier as mentor and ingénue, Love Crime is a remorseless clash of two competing egos.
Made in Dagenham Nigel Cole, United Kingdom World Premiere Sally Hawkins stars as Rita O?Grady, the catalyst for the 1968 Ford Dagenham strike by 187 sewing machinists which led to the advent of the Equal Party Act. Working in extremely impoverished conditions for long, arduous hours, the women at the Ford Dagenham plant finally lose their patience when they are reclassified as “unskilled.” With humour, common sense and courage, they take on their corporate paymasters, an increasingly belligerent local community, and finally the government itself. The film also stars Bob Hoskins, Miranda Richardson, Geraldine James and Rosamund Pike.
Miral Julian Schnabel, United Kingdom/Israel/France North American Premiere From the director of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Before Night Falls and Basquiat, comes Miral, the visceral, first-person diary of a young girl growing up in East Jerusalem as she confronts the effects of occupation and war in every corner of her life. Schnabel pieces together momentary fragments of Miral's world – how she was formed, who influenced her, all that she experiences in her tumultuous early years – to create a raw, moving, poetic portrait of a woman whose small, personal story is inextricably woven into the bigger history unfolding all around her.
Never Let Me Go Mark Romanek, United Kingdom World Premiere Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (Keira Knightley) spent their childhood at a seemingly idyllic boarding school. When they leave the shelter of the school, the terrible truth of their fate is revealed and they must confront the deep feelings of love, jealousy and betrayal that threaten to pull them apart.
Norwegian Wood Tran Anh Hung, Japan North American Premiere Adapted from Haruki Murakami's bestselling novel. Watanabe, a quiet and serious college student, becomes deeply devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman with whom he shares the tragedy of their best friend?s death. When Naoko suddenly disappears, Midori, an outgoing, vivacious and supremely self-confident girl marches into Watanabe's life. The film stars Kenichi Matsuyama, Rinko Kikuchi and Kiko Mizuhara.
Outside the Law Rachid Bouchareb, France/Algeria/Tunisia/Italy/Belgium North American Premiere Bouchareb's follow-up to Days of Glory is an epic French gangster movie in the tradition of Once Upon a Time in America. The film follows three brothers from childhood in Algeria through turbulent years in Paris, as their paths diverge towards radical politics and violent crime.
Rabbit Hole John Cameron Mitchell, USA World Premiere A family navigates the deepest form of loss in John Cameron Mitchell's screen adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize winning play by David Lindsay-Abaire. Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart deliver captivating performances as a husband and wife who fight to save their marriage in the life that begins again after tragedy.
A Screaming Man Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, France/Belgium/Chad North American Premiere One of Africa's preeminent film artists, Haroun returns to themes of family and loyalty in war-torn Chad. A father and son work together at the pool of five-star hotel, but the civil war forces life-and-death choices upon them.
Stone John Curran, USA World Premiere. Robert De Niro and Edward Norton deliver powerful performances as a seasoned corrections official and a scheming inmate whose lives become dangerously intertwined. Stone weaves together the parallel journeys of two men grappling with dark impulses, as the line between lawman and lawbreaker becomes precariously thin. The film also stars Milla Jovovich and Frances Conroy.
Submarine Richard Ayoade, United Kingdom World Premiere British comic Richard Ayoade delivers his hotly-anticipated feature debut Submarine. One boy must fight to save his mother from the advances of a mystic, and simultaneously lure his eczema-strafed girlfriend in to the bedroom, armed with only a vast vocabulary and near-total self-belief. His name is Oliver Tate.
That Girl in Yellow Boots Anurag Kashyap, India North American Premiere Ruth is searching for her father – a man she hardly knew but cannot forget. Desperation drives her to work without a permit, at a massage parlour, where she gives "happy endings? to unfulfilled men. Torn between several schisms, Mumbai becomes the backdrop for Ruth's quest as she struggles to find her independence and space even as she is sucked deeper into the labyrinthine politics of the city's underbelly.
Tamara Drewe Stephen Frears, United Kingdom North American Premiere Based on Posy Simmonds? beloved graphic novel. When Tamara Drewe returns to the village of her youth, life for the locals is thrown upside down. Tamara – once an ugly duckling – has been transformed and is now a minor celebrity. As infatuations, jealousies, love affairs and career ambitions collide among the inhabitants of the neighbouring farmsteads, Tamara sets a contemporary comedy of manners into play.
The Trip Michael Winterbottom, United Kingdom World Premiere Follow two good friends in this hilarious road movie as they embark on a tour of the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales of Northern England, eating, chatting and driving each other crazy. The film stars Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon.
Trust David Schwimmer, USA World Premiere Safe and sound in their suburban home, Will and Lynn Cameron (Clive Owen and Catherine Keener) used to sleep well at night. When their 14-year-old daughter, Annie, made a new friend on-line – a 16-year-old boy named Charlie – Will and Lynn didn?t think much of it. But when Annie and Charlie make a plan to meet what happens in the next twenty-four hours changes the entire family forever. Charlie is really a 40-year-old serial pedophile (Tom McCarthy) and, once Annie?s rape comes to light, it becomes a touchstone event that reverberates through the entire family.
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger Woody Allen, United Kingdom/USA/Spain North American Premiere Woody Allen's latest comic ensemble piece follows a group of Londoners struggling with failing marriages, restless libidos, the perils of aging and desires that drive a series of decisions with unforeseen consequences. The film stars Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Anthony Hopkins, Gemma Jones, Lucy Punch and Naomi Watts.