21st November 2017 Viceroy’s House (2017). Director: Gurinder Chadha; Cert.12A

21st November 2017 Viceroy’s House (2017). Director: Gurinder Chadha; Cert.12A

In 1947 Lord Mountbatten was appointed as the last Viceroy of India, charged with overseeing the transition of British India to independence. The theme of this British-Indian historical drama is life in the Viceroy’s house, where Lord Mountbatten (Hugh Bonneville) lives with his wife (Gillian Anderson) and daughter (Lily Travers) upstairs, whilst their 500 Hindu, Muslim and Sikh servants live downstairs. The Indian political elite, including Nehru, Jinnah and Gandhi, converge on the house to agree the process of independence. Violence erupts and the decision is taken to divide the country and create Pakistan as the new homeland for Muslims. In parallel, a ‘Romeo and Juliet’ type romance develops ‘downstairs’ between Mountbatten’s manservant Jeet Kumar (Manish Dayal) who is Hindu and falls in love with the daughter’s assistant Aalia who is Muslim. Described by some as an Indian Upstairs, Downstairs, the film is lavishly produced. The visuals are vibrant and include stunning buildings, beautiful costumes and carefully-selected historical footage. The actors’ performances have also been highly acclaimed, particularly Gillian Anderson’s portrayal of an upper-class British woman of the time.

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19Th December 2017 Their Finest (2017); Director: Lone Scherfig; Certificate 12A

19Th December 2017 Their Finest (2017); Director: Lone Scherfig; Certificate 12A

Set in London in 1940, this charming comedy drama features Gemma Arterton as Catrin Cole, a fledgling scriptwriter who is hired by the Ministry of Information to help produce a war propaganda film to lift the spirits of the nation. She is partnered with misogynistic fellow screenwriter Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin) to produce the script for a major film project extolling the bravery of two sisters who use their father’s fishing boat to help evacuate stranded soldiers from Dunkirk. However Catrin discovers that their boat malfunctioned and the sisters never actually reached Dunkirk. Fearful of losing her job Catrin hides this discovery from her superiors, and the fim is produced. Catrin meets a lot of blatant male chauvinism and finds that her efforts are often dismissed or criticised by her male colleagues, but she stands her ground. Early on she clashes with the actor Ambrose Hilliard (Bill Nighy) and even her husband Ellis (Jack Huston) feels threatened by her job. As script-writing and filming progresses Catrin and Tom engage in a lot of witty banter and develop a competitive friendship which leads to affection towards each other.
The performance of Bill Nighy as the eccentric actor Ambrose Hilliard has been described as ‘colossal’ by some critics. Arterton’s convincing performance as Catrin has also been widely acclaimed, and Jeremy Irons makes a brief appearance as Secretary of War in this funny and engaging film.

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16th January 2018 La La Land (2016); Director: Damien Chazelle; Certificate 12A

16th January 2018 La La Land (2016); Director: Damien Chazelle; Certificate 12A

Winner of six Academy Awards and many other prizes, this enchanting bitter-sweet movie musical set in Los Angeles features Emma Stone as Mia Dolan and Ryan Gosling as Sebastian Wilder. Mia is an aspiring actress and survives by serving lattes to movie stars between auditions. Sebastian dreams of owning his own jazz club but plays the piano in dingy bars. Their first encounter is in a traffic jam when Mia rehearses for an audition in her stationary car and doesn’t notice that the cars ahead of her have started moving until the car behind her, driven impatiently by Sebastian, tries to overtake her and they have a brief moment of road rage. But they meet again and their relationship soon takes off. They both encourage each other to pursue their dreams but, as they achieve their aspirations, their very success threatens to rip them apart. Terrific lead performances by Emma Stone as the vivacious Mia and Ryan Gosling as the suavely charming Sebastian, a compelling script, assured direction, and some wonderful music combine to make this romantic comedy film a musical masterpiece.

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