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Climax

MA15+
France, 2018
Genre: Drama, Horror, Music
Language: French
Director: Gaspar Noé
Starring: Sofia Boutella, Romain Guillermic, Souheila Yacoub
What’s it about?
Climax depicts the unhinged madness that takes over a dance troupe’s party after a punchbowl of sangria is spiked with LSD. Beneath strobing lights and pounding music each dancer’s psyche begins to crumble, and creeping paranoia gives rise to a hallucinatory nightmare. Legendary art-house provocateur Gaspar Noé (Enter the Void) delivers an intensely deranged and lurid orgy of sex, drugs and club music (featuring Cerrone, Daft Punk and Aphex Twin) taking us into the forbidden reaches of heaven and descending deep into hell.

Winner of the C.I.C.A.E. Award at 2018 Cannes Film Festival prepare yourself for a visceral, hypnotic, intense and mad experience.

 

 

Anomalisa

MA15+
USA/UK, 2015
Genre: Drama, Comedy, Romance, Animation
Language: English
Director: Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson
Starring: David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Noonan
What’s it about?
From writer Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and Duke Johnson (Frankenhole) comes this stop-motion animation wonder about Michael Stone, husband, father and respected author of “How May I Help You Help Them?”, a man weighted by the mundanity of his life. On a business trip to Cincinnati, where he’s scheduled to speak at a convention of customer service professionals, he checks into the Fregoli Hotel. There, he is amazed to discover a possible escape from his desperation in the form of an unassuming Akron baked goods sales rep, Lisa, who may or may not be the love of his life. This Oscar-nominated animation is certainly not for kids. It is funny, sad, daring and haunting; it may be an animation, but this film feels real.

‘Anomalisa’ review: A Tender, Human Animation
Charlie Kaufman’s animation feature ‘Anomalisa’ is adult-only

 

A Fantastic Woman

M
Chile, 2017
Genre: Drama
Language: Spanish
Director: Sebastián Lelio
Starring: Daniela Vega, Francisco Reyes, Luis Gnecco, Aline Küppenheim, Nicolás Saavedra, Amparo Noguera
What’s it about?
Marina and Orlando are in love and planning for the future. Marina is a young waitress and aspiring singer. Orlando is 20 years older and owns a printing company. After celebrating Marina’s birthday, Orlando falls seriously ill. Marina rushes him to the emergency room, but he passes away just after arriving at the hospital. Instead of being able to mourn her lover, suddenly Marina is treated with suspicion. She battles the very same forces that she has spent a lifetime fighting just to become the woman she is now – a complex, strong, forthright and fantastic woman.

Winner of the 2018 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, it is the first film with a transgender lead to win the award, and star and co-writer Daniela Vega became the first openly transgender person to present at the ceremony. 

‘A Fantastic Woman’: Empathetic, Resonant Oscar-winning Chilean Melodrama
‘A Fantastic Woman’ star takes historic Oscars win in her stride

 

Incendies

MA15+
Canada/France, 2010
Genre: Drama
Language: French, Arabic, English
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Starring: Lubna Azabal, Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin, Maxim Gaudette
What’s it about?
When notary Lebel sits down with Jeanne and Simon Marwan to read them their mother Nawal’s will, the twins are stunned to receive a pair of envelopes – one for the father they thought was dead and another for a brother they didn’t know existed. In this enigmatic inheritance, Jeanne sees the key to Nawal’s retreat into unexpected silence during the final weeks of her life. She immediately decides to go to the Middle East to dig into a family history of which she knows next to nothing. Simon is unmoved by the posthumous mind games of a mother who was always distant and cold. However, his strong love for his sister sees him join her in combing their ancestral homeland in search of a Nawal who is very different from the mother they knew. 

Directed and co-written by Denis Villeneuve (Arrival) Incendies was nominated for the 2011 Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars. This mystery with elements of a thriller is intense and completely gripping.

Incendies: Denis Villeneuve interview
Incendies Review
Why You Should Watch: Incendies

 

Dead Ringers

M
Canada, 1988
Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller
Language: English
Director: David Cronenberg
Starring: Jeremy Irons, Geneviève Bujold, Heidi von Palleske
What’s it about?
This multi award-winning psychological thriller from David Cronenberg (The Fly) explores the bizarre lives of identical twins Elliot and Beverly, played by Jeremy Irons. Both world-renowned gynaecologists, they share everything from their clinic to their women, until they meet Claire. Beverly falls in love with her, and for the first time wishes to break the ties with his brother. However, as his attempt to love her unravels, so does his sanity, with chilling consequences. Maybe not a great date movie, but this is classic Cronenberg, even praised as his masterpiece, with a tour de force performance by Jeremy Irons, twice over.

Dead Ringers review: Cool, clinical and confrontational

 

Holy Motors

MA15+
France, 2012
Genre: Drama
Language: French
Director: Leos Carax
Starring: Denis Lavant, Edith Scob, Eva Mendes, Kylie Minogue
What’s it about?
From dawn to dusk, we follow Monsieur Oscar, a shadowy character who journeys from one life to the next. He is, in turns, captain of industry, assassin, beggar, monster, family man. He seems to be playing roles, plunging headlong into each part, but there are no cameras present. Monsieur Oscar is accompanied only by Céline, the slender blonde woman behind the wheel of the vast engine that transports him through and around Paris. He’s like a conscientious assassin moving from hit to hit, in pursuit of the beautiful gesture, the mysterious driving force, the women and the ghosts of past lives. But where is his true home, his family, his sanctuary?

Winner of the 2012 Prize of the Youth at Cannes, this film from Leos Carax (Bad Blood) is an unforgettable experience, visually spellbinding and unashamedly confounding all at the same time.

Holy Motors: Denis Lavant interview
Holy Motors: Cheat sheet
Holy Motors Review

 

Clouds of Sils Maria

MA15+
France, Switzerland, Germany, 2014
Genre: Drama
Language: English, French
Director: Olivier Assayas
Starring: Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart, Chloë Grace Moretz, Brady Corbet, Lars Eldinger
What’s it about?
At the peak of her acting career, Maria Enders is asked to perform in a revival of the play that made her famous years ago. But back then she played the role of Sigrid, an alluring young girl who disarms and eventually drives her boss Helena to suicide. Now she is being asked to take on the other role, that of the older Helena. She departs with her assistant Valentine to rehearse in a remote region of the Alps. A young Hollywood actress with a penchant for scandal, Jo-Ann is to take on the role of Sigrid. Maria looks at Jo-Ann and sees an unsettling reflection of herself.

Written and directed by Olivier Assayas (Personal Shopper) the film was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and features complex and incredible performances from the female leads including Kristen Stewart who took home the César Award for Best Supporting Actress (becoming the first American actress to win a César Award). 

Interview with Juliette Binoche 

 

Wadjda

PG
Saudi Arabia, 2012
Genre: Drama
Language: Arabic
Director: Haifaa Al-Mansour 
Starring: Waad Mohammed, Reem Abdullah, Abdullrahman Al Gohani, Ahd
What’s it about?
Wadjda is a 10-year-old girl living in a suburb of Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. Although she lives in a conservative world, Wadjda is fun-loving, entrepreneurial and rebellious. She’s determined to fight for her dreams, which include saving enough money to buy a bicycle, so she can race her friend Abdullah. Wadjda lives at home with her parents, who are loving if a little distracted. Her father isn’t around much, and her mother is convinced he’s busy looking for a second wife. The story is tailored to highlight the pressures and difficulties faced by women in Saudi Arabia, with a rare glimpse into their lives behind closed doors and the warm relationships between mothers and daughters.

Written and directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour (Mary Shelley) the film is the first feature to be made in Saudi Arabia and the first film to be made by a female Saudi filmmaker. Heart-warming, provocative and charming, you’ll love the rebellious Wadjda.

Wadjda: Haifaa Al-Mansour interview
‘Wadjda’: A film about female triumph

 

Shoplifters

M
Japan, 2018
Genre: Drama, Crime
Language: Japanese
Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Starring: Lily Franky, Sakura Ando, Mayu Matsuoka, Jyo Kairi, Miyu Sasaki, Kirin Kiki, Sosuke Ikematsu 
What’s it about?
After one of their shoplifting sessions, Osamu and his son come across a little girl in the freezing cold. At first reluctant to shelter the girl, Osamu’s wife agrees to take care of her after learning of the hardships she faces. Although the family is poor, barely making enough money to survive through petty crime, they seem to live happily together until an unforeseen incident reveals hidden secrets, testing the bonds that unite them.

Winner of the 2018 Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or and nominated for the 2019 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, this is another masterpiece from writer/director Hirokazu Kore-eda. The film explores the meaning of family and is told with charm and nuance (you may need a tissue). 

Palme d’Or Winner ‘Shoplifters’ Asks: What Makes A Family?
Hirokazu Kore-eda’s ‘Shoplifters’ wins Palme d’Or at Cannes

 

Ida

PG
Poland, 2013
Genre: Drama
Language: Polish
Director: Pawel Pawlikowski
Starring: Agata Kulesza, Agata Trzebuchowska, Dawid Ogrodnik, Joanna Kulig
What’s it about?
In 1960s Poland, a novitiate brought up by nuns in a convent, is set to take her vows, but discovers that she is actually Jewish. She discovers an aunt she never knew existed and together they uncover a dark family secret dating back to the Nazi occupation. Winner of the 2015 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida is visually beautiful and moving. It is a film about identity, family, faith, guilt, socialism and music.

Pawlikowski said, “I wanted to make a film about history, which wouldn’t feel like a historical film, a film which is moral, but has no lessons to offer. I wanted to tell a story in which ‘everyone has their reasons’, a story closer to poetry than plot.”

Ida Review
A Minute With: ‘Ida’ director Pawlikowski on Oscars, Poland
‘Ida’ Wins Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film

 

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