Brantford Film Group
Thursday, January 10
The last days of the Irish poet/playwright Oscar Wilde (Rupert Everett) are stirringly imagined in this well-crafted film. After his release from jail (having been convicted of “gross indecency”), and his consequent European exile, Wilde settles in France. Humiliated and impoverished, the target of expatriate British homophobic rowdies, the ailing Wilde flashes back to his glory days as a literary giant, respectably married (Emily Watson plays his now estranged wife.) with 2 sons, and then to his ill-fated decision to renew his disastrous affair with Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas (Colin Morgan).
Although Wilde may have paid a serious societal price for indiscreet passion in the hypocritical world of the 19th C. British elite; lead actor/writer/ director Rupert Everett powerfully persuades us that Wilde is ultimately redeemed by his own unflagging courage and brilliant wit. (Look for actors Colin Firth and Tom Wilkinson as they also contribute to Everett’s “Oscar” efforts.)
1 hour 45 minutes
English, French, Italian with English subtitles
Thursday, January 24
Nic Sheff (Timothee Chalamet) is both beautiful boy and beast in this hopeful and heartbreaking biographic tale of a young addict caught for years in a seemingly relentless cycle of recovery and relapse. The film focuses on the devastating impact Nic’s addiction has on the rest of his family. Presented from the perspective of Nic’s loving middle-class father, David Sheff (Steve Carell), director Felix van Groeningen highlights the family’s struggle, its altered dynamics and the different strategies adopted to cope with Nic’s ongoing addiction. Ultimately David realizes that he cannot save his wayward son: he can only be there for him. However acceptance and hope could have the critical transformative power to restore Nic from lost and degraded addict to beautiful boy.
American drama, biography
Thursday, February 7
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
After her biographies on bygone celebrities were published in the
1970’ s and 1980’s, Lee Isreal (Melissa McCarthy) realizes that her work is no longer selling. Plagued by both alcoholism and financial troubles, she is fired as a copywriter at the New York Times. How will she pay her bills? In desperation, Isreal decides to rely on her well-honed biographic writing skills: she will forge letters purportedly from deceased members of the literary elite. Her friend and drinking buddy, con artist Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant), promotes and sells her work for big money to both private collectors and archivists. The more intimate and detailed the letters, the higher the prices they will command. For a time, the two miscreants revel in their creative duplicity. Eventually the FBI catches up with Isreal and charges her with fraud. Ultimately however the irrepressible Lee Isreal draws on her extraordinary talents by writing memoirs about her literary escapades. Published in 2008, these memoirs were highly acclaimed and guaranteed to pay her bills. Crime can pay, and fact is fiction in Marielle Heller’s deftly directed biography of an infamously ingenious biographer.
1 hour 47 minutes
American drama, comedy, biography
Thursday, February 21/19
The Children Act
Fiona Maye (Emma Thompson) is a British High Court judge who must rule on life and death matters involving minors as set forth by the principles of the Children Act of 1989. Inevitably the emotional toll from Fiona’s job affects her personal life. After 20 years of marriage, Jack (Stanley Tucci) desires intimacy no longer offered by his wife. (He plans to enter into an affair with a younger colleague.) Jack feels that Fiona is married to her work, rather than to him .
In the meantime, Fiona must decide on the fate of a minor, Adam Henry (Fionn Whitehead), a 17 year old Jehovah Witness who has refused on religious grounds, to undergo a life-saving blood transfusion. She visits him in hospital: he is a talented young man, a budding poet and musician. What will she decide?
Fiona is at a crossroads both professionally and personally. With Emma Thompson’s nuanced and stellar performance, director Richard Eyre and writer Ian McEwan draw a deeply affecting portrait of a complex modern woman, continually forced to straddle logical, moral and emotional contradictions in order to uphold important legal principles that inform British institutions.
1hour 45 minutes
Thursday, March 21
In La Bolduc, director Francoise Bouvier pays a touching tribute to Quebec music legend, La Bolduc (Debbie Lynch White) by showcasing her meteoric rise from a plain working class girl, Mary Travers, to French Canada’s first folk music icon (its best-selling recording artist). As a successful musician, singer and songwriter, Mary revived and popularized a traditional form of Quebec folk music, “turlutte”, dismissed at first by many as inferior and rustic. It was a musical format that enlivened comic songs, traditional folk dances and protest-songs.
However Mary’s popularity came at a price. Quite young, she married Edouard Bolduc (Emile Proulx-Cloutier), a factory worker, and had many children. When the Depression hit, Edouard lost his job and Mary was forced to work, performing as a musician in order to support the family. Within a short time, her unexpected fame as a performer, created problems at home: unemployed Edouard was resentful of her success, and she felt guilty and unhappy, when compelled to leave her children to go on tour.
To survive the Depression, Mary could not uphold the traditional demands and family expectations made of women in French Canadian society. Struggling in her own life with the same problems that most other working women of her generation experienced, it is not surprising that her creative lyrics about the everyday lives of ordinary people, should inspire contemporary reformers, struggling to improve the harsh, often brutal social conditions of working women and the working poor in French Canada. Don’t miss this memorable rags-to-riches tale which is as lively and hauntingly beautiful as the music of the chanteuse extraordinaire that it celebrates.
Canadian drama, biography (French with English subtitles)
Thursday, April 4
Ironically although British Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) prevails over many historically significant events: Acts of Union, The War of Spanish Succession, and a prolonged and costly war with France for control over North America; the queen herself is often disempowered by the political and sexual intrigues that rule her opulent court. To support the aging and ailing queen, her best friend and advisor, Sarah Churchill, the Duchess of Marlborough (Rachel Weisz), steps in and effectively rules the country through her secret confidences with the queen. Down on her luck, Sarah’s cousin, Abigail Hill (Emma Stone) begs for employment at court. By clever scheming, Abigail rapidly rises through the ranks, from menial scullery maid to lady-in-waiting (becoming Baroness Masham through a fortuitous marriage) to Keeper of the Privy Purse. Using flattery and manipulation, Abigail rivals and succeeds her cousin as Queen Anne’s favourite, persuading the queen to exile the Marlboroughs. Will Abigail ultimately prevail? She will have to continue to dance the courtly dance of the royal favourite, requiring delicate footwork, to ensure dignity over humiliation. Clearly director Yongos Lanthimos’ film itself will be a favourite, with its darkly comic illustration of The Favourite’s fancy footwork.
Irish, British and American historical comedy
Thursday, April 25 to be determined
Thursday, May 9 to be determined
Thursday, May 16
Rose-Lynn Harlan (Jessie Buckley) is a talented singer/musician from Glasgow who dreams of becoming a Nashville Country and Western star. The road to Nashville will prove a daunting for her. Recently released from prison after serving a year for a drug offence, Rose-Lynn wears an ankle bracelet under her cowboy boots. She can’t return to her old singing job because she can’t violate her curfew.
As a young single mother, she returns to her mother’s (Julie Waters) home to take over the care of her two children. To support them, she lands a job as housekeeper for the wealthy Susannah (Sophie Okonedo). After hearing Rose-Lynn sing while she vacuums, Susannah becomes her most enthusiastic fan and patron. She organizes her own 50th birthday party as a group fundraiser to finance Rose-Lynn’s dream. Against all the odds, Rose-Lynn makes it to Nashville, only to discover that Glasgow is where she ultimately belongs: her home city whose character is as gritty and high spirited as her own.
In Glasgow, she returns to both her family and to the stage, proving that growing up and taking responsibility doesn’t mean having to give up on your dreams. Jessie Buckley delivers a stunning performance that transforms director Tom Harper’s Rose-Lynn Harlan into a Scottish wild rose, an uncultivated beauty glowing with prodigious talent.
1hour 41 minutes
British comedy, drama