MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN
2019, Warner Bros., 144 min, USA, Dir: Edward Norton

Lionel Essrog (Edward Norton), a lonely private detective living with Tourette syndrome, ventures to solve the murder of his mentor and only friend, Frank Minna (Bruce Willis). Armed only with a few clues and the engine of his obsessive mind, Lionel unravels closely guarded secrets that hold the fate of New York in the balance. In a mystery that carries him from gin-soaked jazz clubs in Harlem to the hard-edged slums of Brooklyn and, finally, into the gilded halls of New York’s power brokers, Lionel contends with thugs, corruption and the most dangerous man in the city to honor his friend and save the woman who might be his own salvation.


LIFE IS SWEET
1990, Park Circus, 103 min, UK, Dir: Mike Leigh

This early example of Mike Leigh’s signature comedic-realist style follows a working-class family through a series of hilarious misfortunes during a few summer weeks in North London. Fostering improvisation among his actors to develop characters from the inside out, Leigh layers the film with idiosyncratic personalities, including the vaudevillian shop clerk Wendy (Alison Steadman), her naive chef-turned-businessman husband, Andy (Jim Broadbent), and their constantly bickering twins, Natalie (Claire Skinner) and Nicola (Jane Horrocks). The story kicks into gear when Andy purchases a run-down food truck - a spontaneous decision that sends the family into chaos. “There are scenes here that are funnier than those of any other movie this year, and other scenes that weep with the pain of sad family secrets, and when it's over we have seen some kind of masterpiece. This is one of the best films of the year.” - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.


VERA DRAKE
2004, Warner Bros., 125 min, UK/France, Dir: Mike Leigh

In this heart-wrenching story of injustice set in 1950s London, Imelda Staunton plays the selfless Vera Drake, a woman whose compassion leads to her downfall. A housecleaner, Vera works hard to care for her working-class family, while searching for ways to serve her community - one of which is performing abortions for young women. But this is a crime in the eyes of her government, and the abortions must be kept a secret, driving a wedge between Vera and everyone she loves. An Oscar nominee for Best Director, Best Actress and Best Original Screenplay (though it was filmed without a script), this thoughtful period piece remains surprisingly relevant. Featuring Eddie Marsan, Phil Davis, Lesley Manville and Sally Hawkins.


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