Cinderella Man

  • Directors: Ron Howard
  • Producers: Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Penny Marshall
  • Writers: Cliff Hollingsworth, Akiva Goldsman
  • Genres: Biography, Drama, Sport
  • Actors: Russell Crowe, Paul Giamatti

James J. Braddock is a hard-nosed, Irish-American boxer from New Jersey, formerly a light heavyweight contender, who is forced to give up boxing after breaking his hand in the ring. This is a relief and an upset to his wife, Mae, who cannot bring herself to watch the violence of his chosen profession, and yet knows without him boxing they’ll have no good income.

As the United States enters the Great Depression, Braddock does manual labor to support his family even after badly breaking his hand. Unfortunately, he can not get work every day. Thanks to a last-minute cancellation by another boxer, Braddock’s longtime manager Joe Gould offers him a chance to fill in for just this one night and make a little money. The fight is against the number two contender in the world and Braddock is seen as little more than a convenient punching bag.

Braddock stuns the boxing experts and fans with a third-round knockout of his formidable opponent. He believes that because his hand is now healed, he is fit to fight. Against his wife’s wishes, Braddock takes up Gould’s offer to return to the ring.

Mae resents this attempt by Gould to profit off her husband’s dangerous livelihood until she discovers that Gould and his wife also have been devastated by hard times.

On June 13, 1935, in one of the biggest upsets in boxing history, Braddock defeats the seemingly invincible Baer to become the heavyweight champion of the world.

Midnight Express

  • Directors: Alan Parker
  • Producers: Alan Marshall, David Puttnam
  • Writers: Billy Hayes, William Hoffer, Oliver Stone
  • Genres: Biography, Crime, Drama, Thriller
  • Actors: Brad Davis, Randy Quaid, John Hurt, Paul L Smith, Irene Miracle

On October 6, 1970, after a stay in Istanbul, a US citizen named Billy Hayes is arrested by Turkish police, on high alert due to fear of terrorist attacks, as he is about to fly out of the country with his girlfriend. After being found with several bricks of hashish taped to his body – about two kilograms in total – he is arrested. After a while, a shadowy American arrives. He translates for Billy. The police ask where Billy bought the hash. Billy tells them that he bought it from a cab driver and offers to help the police track him down in exchange for his release. He goes with the police to a local market and points the cab driver out but while the police go to arrest the cabbie, Billy makes a run for it. He gets cornered in a building and is recaptured by the mysterious American. Billy is sentenced to four years and two months’ imprisonment on the charge of drug possession. He is sent to SaÄŸmalcılar prison (closed in 2008) to serve out his sentence. In the remand centre, he meets and befriends other Western prisoners. In 1974, after a prosecution appeal (who originally wished to have Hayes found guilty of smuggling and not possession), his original sentence is overturned by the Turkish High Court in Ankara and he is ordered to serve a 30-year term for his crime. His stay becomes a living hell: terrifying and unbearable scenes of physical and mental torture follow one another, where bribery, violence and insanity rule the prison.

In 1975, Susan comes to see Billy and is devastated at what the guards have done to him. After being committed to the prison’s insane asylum, Billy again tries to escape, this time by attempting to bribe the head guard, who then takes him to the sanitarium, intending to rape him. Billy ends up killing the guard. He then puts on an officer’s uniform and manages his escape by walking out of the front door. From the epilogue, it is explained that on the night of October 4, 1975 he successfully crossed the border to Greece, and arrived home three weeks later.

Che Part Two

  • Directors: Steven Soderbergh
  • Producers: Laura Bickford, Benicio del Toro
  • Writers: Peter Buchman, Benjamin A van der Veen
  • Genres: Biography, Drama, War
  • Actors: Benicio del Toro, Franka Potente, Catalina Sandino Moreno

In Havana 1964, Che Guevara is interviewed by Lisa Howard who asks him if reform throughout Latin America might not blunt the “message of the Cuban Revolution”. In 1955, at a gathering in Mexico City, Guevara first meets Fidel Castro. He listens to Castro’s plans and signs on as a member of the July 26th Movement. There is a return to 1964 for Guevara’s address before the United Nations General Assembly, where he makes an impassioned speech against American imperialism, and defends the executions his regime has committed declaring that “this is a battle to the death”.

March 1957, Guevara deals with debilitating bouts of asthma as his group of revolutionaries meet up with Castro’s group. Together, they attack an army barracks on May 28, 1957. On October 15, 1958, the guerrillas approach the town of Las Villas. The Battle of Santa Clara is depicted with Guevara demonstrating his tactical skill as the guerrillas engage in street-to-street fighting. Near the film’s end they are victorious. With the Cuban Revolution now over, Guevara heads to Havana, remarking “we won the war, the revolution starts now”.

The second part begins with Guevara arriving in Bolivia disguised as a middle-aged representative of the Organization of American States hailing from Uruguay, who subsequently drives into the mountains to meet his men. The film is organized by the days that he was in the country. On Day 26, there is solidarity among Guevara’s men despite his status as foreigner. By Day 67, Guevara has been set up for betrayal. He tries to recruit some peasants only to be mistaken for a cocaine smuggler. On Day 100, there is a shortage of food and Guevara exercises discipline to resolve conflicts between his Cuban and Bolivian followers.

Guevara grows sick and by Day 280 can barely breathe as a result of his acute asthma. On Day 302 Tania Bunke, Juan Acuña Ñunez, and several others in Che’s forces are massacred by the Bolivian Army as they attempt to cross the Vado del Yeso. By Day 340, Guevara is trapped by the Bolivian army and while wounded is surrounded and captured. The next day, a helicopter lands and a Cuban-American CIA agent Félix Rodríguez emerges. Guevara says, “I don’t talk to traitors.” Rodriguez responds, “You executed my uncle”. The Bolivian high command are then phoned and give approval for Guevara’s execution. He is killed on October 9, 1967, and his corpse lashed to the landing skids of a helicopter and flown out.

Girl Interrupted

  • Directors: James Mangold
  • Producers: Douglas Wick, Winona Ryder
  • Writers: James Mangold, Lisa Loomer, Anna Hamilton Phelan
  • Genres: Biography, Drama
  • Actors: Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie, Clea DuVall, Brittany Murphy, Jared Leto, Elisabeth Moss, Travis Fine, Vanessa Redgrave, Whoopi Goldberg

Susanna Kaysen (Ryder), 18 years old in April 1967, “voluntarily” (her parents essentially force her to go there, and she is not free to leave until the staff approves her release) checks herself into the fictitious Claymoore Hospital (based on McLean Hospital, the actual institution featured in the memoir), after an overdose of aspirin and her stay extends for over a year.

She befriends fellow patients Polly “Torch” Clark (Elisabeth Moss), a burn victim; Georgina Tuskin (Clea DuVall), a pathological liar; Daisy Randone (Brittany Murphy), a sexually abused girl with an eating disorder and who cuts herself; Janet Webber (Angela Bettis), an anorexic; Cynthia Crowley (Jillian Armenante), whose only disorder seems to be a proclivity to dress like men and is there because her parents don’t want to see her; and others, and forms a small troupe of troubled women in her ward. Susanna is enchanted in particular by Lisa Rowe (Angelina Jolie), who has been diagnosed as a sociopath (as in the book, it is left to interpretation whether she actually is one). Lisa is a force to be reckoned with: she is magnetic, rebellious, won’t take her medication and verbally abuses the other patients. Lisa befriends Susanna and together they start causing trouble. Lisa encourages Susanna to stop taking her medications and/or trade them with others, and generally resist the influences of therapy (referred to by the patients as “ther-rape-me”).

At the end of the film, Susanna states that by the 1970s, most of her friends were released and some she saw and some never again. But there wasn’t a day “her heart doesn’t find them.”

The Last King of Scotland

  • Directors: Kevin Macdonald
  • Producers:
  • Writers: Novel, Giles Foden, Screenplay, Peter Morgan, Jeremy Brock
  • Genres: Biography, Drama, History, Thriller
  • Actors: Forest Whitaker, James McAvoy, Kerry Washington, Simon McBurney, Gillian Anderson

The film opens in Scotland in 1970 as Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy) graduates from medical school. Faced with the dull prospect of joining his bourgeois father in the family’s village practice, he decides instead to seek adventure abroad by taking up a position in a Ugandan missionary clinic run by Dr. David Merrit (Adam Kotz) and his wife Sarah (Gillian Anderson). Garrigan quickly becomes attracted to Sarah; she enjoys his attentions, but refuses to engage in an extramarital affair with him. This reveals that one of Garrigan’s character flaws is his attraction to married women; this will become significant later in the film.

Coinciding with Garrigan’s arrival in Uganda, General Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker) is concluding a successful coup d’état to overthrow incumbent president Milton Obote. The two men meet at the scene of a minor car accident, where Garrigan treats Amin’s injured hand. Amin who admires Scotland for its long resilience under English rule, is delighted to discover the doctor’s nationality. Garrigan is impressed by Amin’s charisma, affability, and by his vision of an egalitarian golden age for Uganda. Their friendship is cemented when Amin exchanges his military shirt for Garrigan’s “Scotland” T-shirt. Some days later, Amin invites Garrigan to become his personal physician and to take charge of modernising the country’s health care system. Garrigan accepts, leaves the clinic, and moves to Kampala.

Forty-eight hours later, Israeli forces stormed Entebbe and liberated all but one of the hostages. International public opinion turned against Amin for good. When he was finally overthrown in 1979, jubilant crowds poured onto the streets. His regime had killed more than 300,000 Ugandans and expelled tens of thousands of Asians who had made Uganda their home for years. Amin died in exile in Saudi Arabia on 16 August 2003. Nobody knows if that was the date he dreamed about.

Coco avant Chanel

  • Directors: Anne Fontaine
  • Producers: Caroline Benjo
  • Writers: Edmonde Charles Roux, Anne Fontaine, Camille Fontaine
  • Genres: Biography, Drama
  • Actors: Audrey Tautou, Alessandro Nivola

Several years after leaving the orphanage to which her father never returned for her, a young Coco finds herself working in a provincial bar. She’s both a seamstress for the performers and a singer, earning the nickname Coco from the song she sings nightly with her sister. A liaison with Baron Balsan gives her an entree into French society and a chance to develop her gift for designing increasingly popular hats. When she falls in love with English businessman Boy Capel further opportunities open up, though life becomes ever more complicated.

Hollywoodland

  • Directors: Allen Coulter
  • Producers: Glenn Williamson
  • Writers: Paul Bernbaum
  • Genres: Biography, Crime, Drama, History, Mystery, Thriller
  • Actors: Adrien Brody, Diane Lane, Ben Affleck, Bob Hoskins, Molly Parker, Robin Tunney, Caroline Dhavernas

The movie begins in Beverly Hills on June 16, 1959, at the home of TV star George Reeves with a police investigation underway and Reeves’ lifeless body on his bed. The police rule the death a suicide. The focus of the film then shifts to Louis Simo, a private investigator more interested in generating an income than in devotion to his clients. A man named Chester Sinclair is paying Simo to spy on his wife under the impression that she is cheating on him. Simo simply accepts his money and takes pictures outside of a building where she goes to from time to time. On a visit to see his son, Simo reacts to the boy’s lackluster demeanor and asks his ex-wife Laurie what is wrong. She tells him it’s because the actor who plays Superman has shot himself. Simo learns from a former colleague on the police force that the Reeves suicide has aspects that the cops don’t want to touch. Simo, sensing the potential for making a name for himself, begins investigating the case and notes several apparent conflicts with the official version of Reeves’ death. Simultaneously Simo bickers with Laurie over his failures as a father, particularly now when his son seems so troubled.

The story of Reeves’ quest for fame and success and Simo’s realization of how that quest is paralleled in his own existence causes the detective to reevaluate his life. Simo watches another home movie, this one of himself and Laurie and their son in happier days. The film ends with Simo coming to Laurie’s house wearing a suit and tie, and greeting his son hopefully.

The New World

  • Directors: Terrence Malick
  • Producers: Sarah Green, Terrence Malick
  • Writers: Terrence Malick
  • Genres: Adventure, Biography, Drama, History, Romance
  • Actors: Colin Farrell, Q Orianka Kilcher, Christopher Plummer, Christian Bale

The film begins with a young Native American woman offering a prayer to Mother Earth. While never referred to by name, she is understood to be Pocahontas. The woman and others from her tribe witness the arrival of three ships. It is Virginia, the year 1607, and the ships are part of the Jamestown Expedition, sent by English royal charter to found a colony in the “New World.” Aboard one of the ships we see a man, later identified as Captain John Smith, below decks, in chains. While initially sentenced to death by hanging for his mutinous remarks, once ashore, Smith is pardoned by Captain Christopher Newport, the leader of the expedition.

While the prospects for the settlement are initially bright, disease, poor discipline, supply shortages, and tensions with the local Native Americans (who Newport calls “the naturals” rather than “the savages” used by Radcliffe in the 1995 Disney film) place the expedition in jeopardy. Smith is given the opportunity to restore his reputation by taking a small group of men up river to seek trade while Newport returns to England for supplies. While on this mission, Smith is captured by a group of Native Americans and brought before their chief. After being questioned, the captain is nearly executed but is spared when one of the chief’s daughters (the same young woman from the beginning of the film) throws herself across his body, saving his life.

Embracing her husband, Pocahontas and Rolfe make arrangements to return to Virginia. However, on the outward passage, she falls ill and suddenly dies. The film ends with images of Pocahontas and her young son playing in the gardens of their English estate as Rolfe, in a voice over, reads a letter, addressed to their son about his deceased mother. In the film’s closing moments, Pocahontas says “Mother, now I know where you live”, having found peace through her strength to grow past her wounds, the film ends with images of nature.

Il divo

  • Directors: Paolo Sorrentino
  • Producers: Francesca Cima, Fabio Conversi, Maurizio Coppolecchia, Nicola Giuliano, Andrea Occhipinti
  • Writers: Paolo Sorrentino
  • Genres: Biography, Drama
  • Actors: Toni Servillo, Anna Bonaiuto, Piera Degli Esposti, Paolo Graziosi, Giulio Bosetti, Flavio Bucci, Carlo Buccirosso

The story of Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti, who has been elected Prime Minister, by Parliament, seven times since it was established in 1946. The narration spans the period since the seventh election of Andreotti as Prime Minister of Italy in 1992, until the trial in which he was accused of collusion with the Mafia.

Der rote Baron

  • Directors:
  • Producers: Dan Maag, Thomas Reisser, Roland Pellegrino
  • Writers:
  • Genres: Action, Adventure, Biography, Drama, Romance, War
  • Actors: Joseph Fiennes, Til Schweiger, Lena Headey

In 1906, a young Baron Manfred von Richthofen (Matthias Schweighöfer) is out hunting deer when he encounters an aeroplane overhead. Enchanted, he follows it on horseback, waving his arms like a bird.

Ten years later, Lieutenant Richthofen is serving as a fighter pilot with the Imperial German Air Service along the Western Front. After dropping a wreath over the funeral of an Allied pilot, Richthofen and his fellow pilots Werner Voss (Til Schweiger)and Friedrich Sternberg encounter a squadron of enemy planes led by Captain Lanoe Hawker. Richthofen shoots down Canadian pilot Arthur Roy Brown (Joseph Fiennes). After pulling Brown out of the wreckage of his plane, Richthofen assists Nurse Käte Otersdorf (Lena Headey) with applying a tourniquet to the Canadian’s wounded leg.

Later, after successfully shooting down and killing “the notorious Captain Hawker,” Richthofen awarded the Pour le Merite and promoted to command his own private aerial squadron. There, he is soon joined by his brother Lothar von Richthofen. He orders his men to avoid killing enemy pilots unless absolutely necessary and is enraged when Lothar deliberately strafes and kills a British pilot who has already been forced into a landing.

Later, during an aerial dogfight, Richthofen again encounters Captain Brown, who has escaped from a German POW camp after being nursed by Käte. Both are forced to ditch their planes in no man’s land and share a friendly drink. Brown expresses hope that they will not meet again until after the war is over and tells Richthofen that Käte has feelings for him. When Richthofen asks how he can be so sure, Brown retorts, “She bitched about you for weeks.”

The camera pans to a funeral wreath left by the Royal Flying Corps, “To our friend and enemy, Manfred von Richtofen.”