Monday morning this week found me getting a bit teary at my desk. (And no, not because it’s January and it’s cold and I wanted to be back in bed.) The news was full of inspiring women speaking up for themselves, amplifying the voices of others – and perhaps, finally, being heard.
At the 2018 Golden Globes, the #TimesUp movement was the talk of Hollywood. The black dresses on the red carpet were, as actress Amber Tamblyn explained, not a fashion statement. ‘It is a statement of action. It is a direct message of resistance. Black because we are powerful when we stand together with all women across industry lines. Black because we’re starting over, resetting the standard. Black because we’re done being silenced and we’re done with the silencers. Tonight is not a mourning. Tonight is an awakening.’
On 5th October, New York Times journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey published a story detailing decades of sexual harrassment allegations against Hollywood mega-producer Harvey Weinstein. This predatory behaviour had been part of the rumour mill for years, but previous attempts to publish anything substantial had fallen foul of Weinstein’s far-reaching influence.
This article went off in Hollywood like a bomb. Within days, Weinstein had been sacked, and more women were coming forward. On 10th October, the New Yorker published a piece by journalist Ronan Farrow accusing Weinstein of many more counts of sexual harassment and assault. High-profile actresses like Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow joined the chorus.
And it didn’t stop there. Emboldened, women – and men – across the entertainment industry spoke about their own experiences of being sexually harassed, assaulted and intimated at work. Their stories implicated Kevin Spacey, Steven Segal, producer Brett Ratner, comedian Louis CK, and many more. They lifted a lid on a toxic culture where powerful men feel entitled to do whatever they want, without fearing consequences.
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Young jazz drummer Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) is determined to be not only great, but ‘one of the greats’. He’s already studying at a top musical school, the Shaffer Conservatory, but what he really wants is to catch the attention of teacher Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). He knows that if he’s accepted into Fletcher’s legendary studio band, his chances of a high-level musical career will be far greater.
But Fletcher is feared by his students as well as admired, and Andrew is about to find out why. Brutal and uncompromising, Fletcher will make Andrew cry, sweat and quite literally bleed in order to push him beyond his limits. Is this man a genius who knows that hard discipline is the only way to make great art? Or is he a bullying tyrant whose manipulative power games can only destroy his young protégé?
The Scoop –As human and subversive as it is noisy and brash, Mad Max: Fury Road is a journey like no other.
In the post-apocalyptic desert that was once Australia, former warrior for justice Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) has been reduced to his basest survival instincts. Captured by men who serve the tyrannical warlord Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), Max is imprisoned and has his blood drained into sick soldier Nux (Nicholas Hoult).
Meanwhile Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), one of Joe’s lieutenants, is sent on a mission to collect gasoline from a nearby town. But en-route she drives her truck wildly off course, and Joe realises that she has kidnapped five of his ‘wives’ – young women kept for breeding – and is making a desperate bid for freedom.
When Nux and the other soldiers set off in pursuit, Max is brought along – and so begins a terrifying odyssey through the wasteland.
The Scoop – An intelligent drama which manages to be both restrained and powerful.
It’s 2001, and the Spotlight investigative team at the Boston Globe are looking for their next big story. They’re dubious when their new boss, Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber), asks them to dig deeper into a case involving an abusive priest, John Geoghan. The documents are all legally sealed, and any attempt to access them will be viewed by the Church as a hostile move. In a city where Catholicism is part of everybody’s life, the Globe doesn’t want to alienate its readers.
But when journalists ‘Robby’ Robinson (Michael Keaten), Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James) start asking questions, they realise that Geoghan is just the tip of the iceberg. Not only are there more abusive priests in Boston than anybody had guessed, but the cover-up encompasses powerful figures from the Church and across the city.
Shining a light into this story will involve not only confronting the painful experiences of the many victims, but also coming to terms with the shocking complicity of everyone involved.
The Scoop – At once delicate and deeply powerful, Room finds hope in the midst of unimaginable horrors.
Jack (Jacob Tremblay) is turning five. He’s excited to celebrate his birthday by making a cake with his beloved Ma (Brie Larson). Jack’s life is happy and colourful, filled with daydreams and imaginary friends. Jack’s world is the size of a single room.
But now he’s bigger, Ma wants him to know something. The world outside, the pretend world he thought only existed on TV, is real. And Ma is concocting a plan to escape the clutches of their captor, leaving Room behind forever.