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He Named Me Malala: The story of a true hero

By on November 13, 2015

Inspirational and intriguing, He Named Me Malala is the film everyone should see, says Ruth Allen. Coming of age tale from Australia Paper Planes charms, Brooklyn is elegant and understated … but there’s a  price to pay in black comedy Kill Your Friends.


(Run time: 88mins; Director: Davis Guggenheim; Cast: Malala Yousafzai, Ziauddin Yousafzai).

Synopsis: An intimate portrait of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai, who was targeted by the Taliban and severely wounded by a gunshot when returning home on her school bus in Pakistan’s Swat Valley.  The then 15-year-old was singled out, along with her father, for advocating for girls’ education, and the attack on her sparked an outcry from supporters around the world. She miraculously survived and is now a leading campaigner for girls’ education globally as co-founder of the Malala Fund.

This is the film that everyone should see.  Oscar winning director, Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth, 2006) uses animation, archive footage and new interviews with the now 18-year old Malala and her father, Ziauddin to retell her incredible story.

Having been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, Malala now campaigns around the world against injustice and for education.

We learn the story behind Malala’s name – from the teenage Pashtun ‘Joan of Arc’ who inspired the Afghan forces to fight on against the British Imperialists during the 1880 Battle of Maiwand.

We also see Malala’s warm and sincere relations with her brothers, her worries about her school grades and interest in cricketers and film stars.

A truly inspirational and extraordinary person, Malala has remained level-headed and humble as she passionately and tirelessly campaigns for education and against injustice.  This film is a fitting tribute to a true hero for our times.


(Run time: 97mins; Director: Robert Connolly; Cast: Ed Oxenbould, Sam Worthington, David Wenham, Terry Norris)

Synopsis: When Dylan’s talent for creating paper planes suddenly emerges, he needs the help of family and friends in order to fulfil his dream of reaching the World Paper Plane Championships in Japan.

Director and co-writer Robert Connolly (The Bank, 2001; Balibo, 2009; The Slap, TV mini series, 2011) brings great imagination and charm to this children’s film, about a young Australian boy’s passion for flight and his challenge to compete in the World Paper Plane Championships in Japan.

Dylan, aged 12 (the talented Ed Oxenbould from The Visit, 2015) lives with his severely depressed, unemployed father, Jack (Sam Worthington), who is in grief-stricken meltdown over the death of Dylan’s mother.

While coping with this and the fact that he doesn’t have the latest smartphone and is being harassed by a school bully, Dylan discovers he has a talent for a very old fashioned pastime – paper-plane throwing.

This is a very warm and likeable coming of age drama with an excellent cast and a believable inter-generational script by Robert Connolly and Steve Worland.

The scenes with Dylan’s grandfather (Terry Norris), a wily old ex-pilot and charmer in his old folk’s home are particularly charming and amusing.

Paper Planes is entertaining fun for all the family about a pursuit and competition that you probably didn’t know existed.


(Run time: 112mins; Director: John Crowley; Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson, Emory Cohen with Jim Broadbent, Brid Brennan and Julie Walters)

Synopsis: A young woman, Eilis, moves from small town Ireland to Brooklyn, New York where, unlike home, she has the opportunity for work and for a future – and love, in the form of Italian-American Tony. When a family tragedy brings her back to Ireland, she finds herself absorbed into her old community, but now with eligible Jim courting her. As she repeatedly postpones her return to America, Eilis finds herself confronting a terrible dilemma – a heart-breaking choice between two men and two countries.

Director John Crowley (Is Anybody There?, 2008; Boy A, 2007) superbly transfers to the screen this 2009 Colm Tóibín prize-winning novel, adapted by Nick Hornby.

With a mesmerising central performance from the totally convincing Saoirse Ronan (Lost River, 2014; The Grand Budapest Hotel, 2014; Atonement, 2007) as Eilis, Brooklyn is a sweeping, romantic drama that has been superbly crafted with an excellent ensemble cast.

Eilis Lacy is living in Enniscorthy, County Wexford, with her widowed mother and older sister, Rose.  Prospects and opportunities are limited and she only has a Sunday job at the grocery store run by the waspish Miss Kelly (brilliantly played by Brid Brennan).

Suddenly, and almost unwittingly, she finds she has the opportunity of a new life in Brooklyn, New York. Homesick at first and under the watchful eye of kindly local priest, Father Flood (Jim Broadbent) and living in a boarding house run by Mrs Kehoe (Julie Walters), Eilis starts work in a department store.

Soon she meets a decent young man, Tony (Emory Cohen) and is transformed into a modern, independent young New York woman.  Then tragedy forces Eilis to return to Ireland and she must decide where her heart really lies.

Brooklyn is a brilliantly modulated film with a sensitive music score by Michael Brook (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, 2012) and beautiful cinematography by Yves Bélanger (Dallas Buyers Club, 2013).

Period recreation of the 1950s in Ireland and Brooklyn are faultlessly executed by Production Designer François Séguin and Costume Designer Odile Dicks-Mireaux.

Brooklyn is a beautiful, elegant film compiled of small, understated moments, with a magnetic, unforgettable central performance from the talented Saoirse Ronan.


(Run time: 103mins; Director: Owen Harris; Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Craig Roberts, James Corden, Tom Riley, Joseph Mawle, Georgia King)

Synopsis: London, 1997; the British Music Industry is on a winning streak. 27-year-old A&R man Steven Stelfox is slashing and burning his way through the music business, where careers are made and broken by chance and the fickle tastes of the general public. Fuelled by greed and ambition,  Stelfox lives the dream, as he searches for his next hit record. But as the hits dry up and the industry begins to change, Stelfox takes the concept of “killer tunes” to a murderous new level in a desperate attempt to salvage his career.

Adapted from music industry insider John Niven’s cult novel, this pitch-black, venal portrait of the hard-partying, morally bankrupt world of 90s pop is the debut feature of Owen Harris, director of television shows Black Mirror (2013), Misfits (2010), Secret Diary of a Call Girl (2007), Skins (2007) and The Gamechangers (2015). 

Nicholas Hoult stars as unscrupulous Britpop-era talent spotter Steven Stelfox in this scabrous music biz satire. In 1997, there’s no cooler place to be than London. With Britpop reaching its zenith, and Blur and Oasis riding the Cool Britannia wave, the greedy, cynical, satanic, 27-year-old A&R man Stelfox will stop at nothing to find the next hit. Misanthropic and cocksure, this drug-addled music business fixer despises his boss (James Corden) more than anyone.

But just how far is he prepared to go to advance his career?

It’s hard to care about the loathsome Stelfox or any of his victims and the revelation that in the ‘90s people in the music business were interested only in money and not art is hardly earth shattering.

Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max: Fury Road, 2015; Warm Bodies, 2013; X-Men: Days of Future Past, 2014; A Single Man, 2009) dominates the screen with his  performance as the sardonic, twisted, Machiavellian Stelfox. Music fans will enjoy the well observed, black comedy send-ups of the era’s most popular genres.

For a final verdict on the film, one is tempted to steal and paraphrase Woody Allen’s Diane Arbus joke from Manhattan (1979): Kill Your Friends feels like American Psycho – with none of the wit.





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