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Suffragette: The story that must be told and retold

By on October 18, 2015

Rousing factual drama Suffragette is a story that needs to be told and retold, writes Ruth Allen. In contrast to the unsettling Sicario, The Intern is an easy watch – while The Program, chronicling the rise and fall of Lance Armstrong, is a must watch …


(Run time: 106mins; Director: Sarah Gavron; Cast: Carey Mulligan, Meryl Streep, Helena Bonham Carter, Ben Whishaw, Brendan Gleeson, Anne-Marie Duff)

Synopsis: The story of the foot soldiers of the early feminist movement, women who were forced underground to pursue a dangerous game of cat and mouse with an increasingly brutal State. These working women had seen peaceful protest achieve nothing. Radicalized and turning to violence as the only route to change, they were willing to lose everything in their fight for equality – their jobs, their homes, their children and their lives.

An outstanding, all-star cast features in this powerful and important historical drama from director Sarah Gavron (Brick Lane, 2007), one that brings a watershed moment in British history to life. Suffragette is written by Abi Morgan, (Shame, 2011; The Iron Lady, 2011; BBC serial The Hour, 2011) who has managed to pack in every social and historical aspect of the story of the foot soldiers of the struggle for equal franchise and women’s rights in this rousing factual drama.

At the turn of the twentieth century in Britain, women are still struggling to have their voices heard. In a valiant attempt to get women’s voting rights passed, the Suffragette movement develops more militant tactics. Led by the determined Emmeline Pankhurst (Meryl Streep), their number includes Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan) whose forward-thinking views clash with those of her husband Sonny (Ben Whishaw).

As the women’s strength grows, they are forced to confront brutal oppression of the state in the form of the police force led by Inspector Steed (Brendan Gleeson). Nevertheless, despite short term set-backs, wheels have been set in motion and the country is set to change forever.

Entertaining and educational, Suffragette is a story that needs to be told and retold to remind each new generation of the struggle and suffering on the road to the equal franchise.

Sicario (15)

(Run time: 121 mins; Director: Denis Villeneuve; Cast: Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin)

Synopsis: An idealistic FBI agent is enlisted by an elected government task force to aid in the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the U.S and Mexico.

Director Denis Villeneuve (Enemy, 2013; Prisoners, 2013; Incendies, 2010) brings us this compelling and atmospheric thriller, which plunges audiences into an unfamiliar and violent world where no-one can be trusted.

Emily Blunt gives a strong performance in this dark, gritty and credible drugs cartel thriller as Kate Macer, a dedicated FBI agent with an impressive track record of tackling growing cartel activity on the US-Mexican border.

Her efforts bring her to the attention of task force leader Matt (Josh Brolin) who enlists her skills to help bring down a notorious yet elusive cartel figurehead, one responsible for the violence that has swamped towns on the Mexican border.

Teaming up with Matt and the mysterious Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), Kate soon realises that she’s caught up in a bloody conflict beyond her understanding. Before long, she begins to question her loyalties, as well as those of her superiors.

Sicario is a nerve jangling thriller, viscerally depicting the brutal and fatal decline of Mexico as the result of decades of drugs cartel warfare. Cinematographer Roger Deakins uses every aspect of the landscape to echo the bleak and tragic narrative.

It’s an unsettling two hours of chilling cinema with compelling performances that create a claustrophobic vision of hell, leaving the impression of a world where no-one can be trusted.

The Intern (12A)

(Run time: 121 mins; Director: Nancy Meyers; Cast: Anne Hathaway, Robert De Niro, Rene Russo, Anders Holm, Reid Scott, Nat Wolff)

Synopsis: Ben Whitaker, a 70-year-old widower discovers that retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Seizing an opportunity to get back in the game, he becomes a senior intern at an online fashion site, founded and run by Jules Ostin.

In this multi-generational comedy, directed and written by award-winning filmmaker Nancy Meyers (It’s Complicated, 2009), Something’s Gotta Give 2003) The Holiday 2006), Robert De Niro (Taxi Driver, 1976), Raging Bull, (1980), Silver Linings Playbook, 2012) and Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables, 2012, The Devil Wears Prada, 2008) star together as an unlikely pair.

Recently widowed 70-year-old Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro) becomes the world’s oldest intern when he discovers that retirement isn’t what he was hoping it would be. Frustrated at not having a job, he decides to become an intern at a cutting edge online fashion site located in the same building he worked in as old school and ‘old tech’ management.

The weirdness of this set-up is not lost on the company’s thirty-something CEO, Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway), but after a while, both Ben and Jules begin to realise that each of them can learn something from the other.

In The Intern, De Niro stars as Ben Whittaker, a 70-year-old widower who has grown tired of retirement. Seizing an opportunity to get back in the game, he becomes a senior intern at an online fashion site, founded and run by Jules Ostin (Hathaway).

With one of the more interesting on-screen pairings of recent years, De Niro and Hathaway develop great chemistry, and the themes of ageism and modern working in the digital age are timely.

The film’s multi-generational cast also features Rene Russo (Thor), Anders Holm (Workaholics), Andrew Rannells (Girls), Adam Devine (Pitch Perfect), Celia Weston (No Reservations), Nat Wolff (The Fault in Our Stars), Linda Lavin (Wanderlust), Zack Pearlman (The Inbetweeners), newcomer Jason Orley, and Christina Scherer (Living with Uncle Charlie).

The Intern is an easy watch thanks to solid performances which only begin to flag a little in the second half.

The Program (15)

(Run Time: 103 mins; Director: Stephen Frears, Cast: Ben Foster, Chris O’Dowd, Guillaume Canet, Denis Ménochet, Edward Hogg, Lee Pace, Dustin Hoffman)

Synopsis: When an Irish sports journalist becomes convinced that champion cyclist Lance Armstrong is using performance-enhancing substances to fuel his Tour de France victories, he begins hunting for evidence that will take down the legend.

Director Stephen Frears (Philomena, 2013, The Queen, 2006, High Fidelity 2000) tackles the celebrated case where a sporting legend was toppled, bringing this true story to the big screen with a cast featuring Ben Foster, Chris O’Dowd, Dustin Hoffman, Guillaume Canet and Lee Pace.

Like Alex Gibney’s thorough documentary The Armstrong Lie, this dramatization chronicles Lance Armstrong’s improbable rise and ultimate fall from grace, but this time from the viewpoint of sports journalist David Walsh (Chris O’Dowd) who becomes increasingly sceptical that the cyclist’s abilities are natural.

All the cast excel and Ben Foster is spectacular with an obvious advantage in having a strong physical resemblance to Armstrong.

Based on Walsh’s book The Seven Deadly Sins, The Program focusses more on Armstrong’s drug deceptions and blood transfusions with shady Italian doctor Michele Ferrari (Guillaume Canet) than on the journalistic investigation.

We also see a totally egotistical Armstrong, cold hearted and prepared to win at all and any cost. His grand hubris takes him to the top and ultimately destroys all his achievements.

The film ends with Armstrong’s now infamous Oprah Winfrey interview where he admitted that he lied and cheated during all seven Tour de France wins.

Stick around for a nice touch over the final credits – Leonard Cohen’s Everybody Knows.




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