Director: Ben Affleck.
Starring: Ben Affleck, Zoe Saldana, Elle Fanning, Sienna Miller, Chris Cooper. USA 2016. TBC mins.
Adapted from a novel by bestselling thriller writer Dennis Lehane, Ben Affleck’s fourth directorial feature is set in the roaring ’20s. Prohibition has not stopped the flow of booze in a network of gangster-run speakeasies, and Joe Coughlin (Affleck), son of the Boston Police Deputy Superintendent, long ago turned his back on his strict upbringing for the spoils of being an outlaw. But even among criminals there are rules, and Joe breaks a big one: crossing a powerful Mob boss by stealing his money and his moll. The fiery affair ends in tragedy, setting Joe on a path of revenge, ambition, romance and betrayal that propels him out of Boston and up the ladder of Tampa’s steamy rum-running underworld.
Director: Kenneth Lonergan.
Starring: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Lucas Hedges. USA 2016. 137 mins.
Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams and Kyle Chandler star in this critically acclaimed drama from writer-director Kenneth Lonergan (You Can Count On Me, Margaret) about a man’s painful home-town return. Casey Affleck gives a career-defining performance as Lee Chandler, a reclusive handyman who returns to his Massachusetts seaside home town after the sudden death of his beloved older brother. Finding he has been appointed legal guardian of his teenage nephew, he is forced to deal with a past that has separated him from his wife (Williams) and the community where he was born and raised.
Manchester By The Sea is heavily tipped for success in the awards season. In only his third feature in 16 years, Lonergan proves himself a master of detail. Heart-wrenching and emotionally powerful, this is brilliant, intense filmmaking of the very highest order.
Director: J. A. Bayona.
Starring: Liam Neeson, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Lewis MacDougall. USA/Spain 2016. 108 mins.
Liam Neeson, Sigourney Weaver and Felicity Jones star in this adaptation of the popular children’s book by Patrick Ness. Twelve-year-old Conor O’Malley (MacDougall, a bright new talent) is having a tough time of it: he is bullied at school, his mother (Jones) has terminal cancer, his father (Toby Kebbell) is largely absent, and his grandmother (Weaver) is bossy and controlling.
Feeling he has nowhere to turn, Conor receives a visit from an enormous, tree-shaped monster (voiced by Liam Neeson), who provides him with some much-needed guidance. Together, they explore the pains of growing up and life’s complexities. With great performances from all the cast, and striking imagery from members of the team behind Pan’s Labyrinth, director J. A. Bayona (The Impossible, The Orphanage) brings together fantasy and reality to superb effect in this spellbinding and deeply moving story.
Contains moderate threat and scenes of emotional distress.