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The Irishman

The Irishman is a crime drama that feels like the final segment from three of the genre’s giants, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Martin Scorcese.  A stand alone piece the film feels nostalgic, familiar  and almost conclusive of the body of work the three of them have produced in the world of mobsters, power and politics. It’s like a parting gift for the audience to indulge in with them, one last time. Based on the 2004 memoir I Heard You Paint Houses, The Irishman dramatizes the life of Frank Sheeran (De Niro), a lowly paid Philadelphia truck driver who moonlighted as a killer for mafia bigwigs Russell Bufalino (Pesci) and Angelo Bruno (Harvey Keitel).  After joining the ranks Frank Sheeran is introduced to James Hoffa (Al Pacino) the American labour union leader who served as the President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT),  a familiar but fading name from history who during…

White Riot

Rubika Shah’s “White Riot ” captures the rise of the extreme right during the 1970’s,  and the counter grass roots movement  started by Red Saunders when he set up Rock against Racism (RAR) and Temporary Hoarding  their in-house fanzine. Temporary Hoarding reported stories and issues that mainstream British media ignored, like immigration, the Catholic side of the Northern Ireland conflict, and the police’s controversial “suspected persons” (sus) powers. Outraged by a racist speech made by Eric Clapton, music photographer Red Saunders writes a letter to the music press, calling for rock to come together and be a force against racism.  NME, Melody Maker, and Sounds all publish the letter, mobilising the  people of the East End and up and down the country against the rising National Front. Ironically, it was in Hackney and Bethnal Green that the National Front won most of its support, two of London’s most diverse and poorest boroughs at the time. The National Front began…

Clemency

Writer-director Chinonye Chukwu’s delivers a gut-wrenching, devastating drama on the death penalty that deservedly won the Grand Jury prize at Sundance, making Chuwaka the first black woman to win the award. Warden Bernadine played by Alfre Woodard, is preparing for her 12th execution, she is methodical, calm and capable of keeping her emotions firmly in control even when the opening execution does not go to plan and we witness the prisoner suffer unnecessarily for a longer than he should have, she still remains in charge and gets the job done and we believe that she hasn’t been as effected as some male members of her execution team. This is as far removed from the truth as can be imagined, the death around her is destroying  her peace of mind, her marriage as she spends more time at the local bar with her work colleagues than at home with her husband…

The Last Tree

“The Last Tree” is a period piece set in 1990’s London and follows young Femi’s journey, settling back in with his birth mother after a having lived with a foster care family in Lancashire.  Femi goes from being sidelined as the only black child in his white classroom in Lancashire to experiencing a new angle of racism where he is now being sidelined as the darkest child in his black classroom in London, all of which sums up the multiple layers and dimensions that contirbute to  race, identity and home in today’s world. His life is switched from living a pretty idyllic childhood in Lancashire with a loving and caring foster mother and family coming to live with his birth mother, played by Gbemisola Ikumelo, who is about tough love and survival. They are  constant at loggerheads with each other whilst also having to share a claustrophobic high rise flat in London…

This Way Up

Aisling Bea’s “This Way Up” offers a fresh look at the issues of mental health, love and loneliness in London and how it impacts the lives of two sisters trying to piece a normal life together. Bea plays Aine, who, after suffering a nervous breakdown and is trying to get her life back on track. She has a  great job teaching English to foreign students, which she loves, here she’s animated and engaging with her students, often going beyond her call of duty.  She’s committed and threatens to “Brexit the @£$% out of them” if they dont so their homework. The dialogue and references to current day issues provide further depth to the backdrop of this story. Shona, her sister is the other meaningful and important relationship in her life, both sisters have a close and loving bond. Shona obsesses over Aine’s safety and mental welfare throughout the series, but…

Late Night Magic

Mindy Kaling and Dame Emma Thompson dish up pure comic gold while re-imagining the male-dominated world of the chat show.  “Late Night”  is warm, witty and funny and on no account do you need to be a champion for diversity or equality in the workplace to appreciate the film. Emma Thompson as Katherine Newbury is an acerbic, detached talk-show host who is facing declining rating’s, she is out of touch with the real world and is shortly will to be replaced. Katherine has her all-male team of writers with whom she has little patience or even knowledge of their names, quickly assigning them numbers 1-10 instead, she enters her writer’s room realising that she is need of fresh talent, a woman if possible. In come’s Molly Patel, played by Mindy Kaling, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed determined to make an impact and leave her mind-numbing factory job somewhere outside of Manhattan behind her. Emma and Mindy have great…

The Farewell

“The Farewell” is a rich family drama that provides a poignant observation of  Chinese life when  Billie,  played by the brilliant Awkwafina, returns from New York to spend time with her dying grandmother. Nai Nai has been diagnosed with cancer everyone knows of her impending death, however, the family have decided to keep the news from her.  Although this is done in the best spirit possible to protect her the ethics behind the decision really trouble Billie who is struggling with her grandmother not knowing the truth. A family wedding is planned, at which Billi’s cousin, who grew up mostly in Japan, will marry his girlfriend. The gathering also gives extended family members the opportunity to pay their respects to the dying matriarch, although no one is to shed a tear or mention her illness. This leads to comical and at times very moving moments where the charade could be exposed whilst…

Half The Picture: 0.006% of Hollywood Directors From BAME Backgrounds

“When you see the same kinds of stories over and over from the same perspective, it’s not representative of people living in society; women’s voices are certainly marginalised and women of colour are basically erased.” – Amy Adrion Half The Picture (2018), directed by Amy Adrion, comes at a pivotal moment for gender equality in Hollywood. Successful women directors tell the stories of their art, lives and careers in a film that doesn’t pull any punches about what the realities are for women in the industry, specifically in Hollywood. Nevertheless, it still manages to offer an inspiring sense of fight and hope and the first glimpse of a future that values women directors’ voices equally to those of men. Amy Adrion’s documentary feature began life being funded solely on credit cards, similar to many of us starting our projects, and gathered momentum as more interviews were conducted and finances were…

Depicting Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene’s history and existence are a long and complicated matter and she has remained a woman who is still the source of much speculation and rumour, so how did the writer of Mary Magdalene actually go about developing the screenplay and what were her sources of inspiration? Mary Magdalene has the reputation in Western Christianity as being a repentant prostitute or loose woman; however, these claims are not supported by the canonical gospels. The identity of Mary Magdalene is believed to have been merged with the identity of the unnamed sinner who anoints Jesus’ feet in Luke 7:36–50. From the New Testament, one can conclude that Mary of Magdala (her hometown, a village on the shore of the Sea of Galilee) was a leading figure among those attracted to Jesus. When the men in that company abandoned him at the hour of mortal danger, Mary of Magdala was one…