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New films and DVDs for April 2014

Written by · Published Apr 3, 2014

12 years a slave

The wolf of Wall Street

Martin Scorsese directs this award-winning account of 1980s New York stockbroker Jordan Belfort’s pursuit of wealth.

Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Belfort, who brags about earning just shy of £1m a week in one year and has long been involved in manipulating stock prices for his own financial gain.

Heading a committed team at his Stratton Oakmont brokerage house in Long Island, it isn’t long before he attracts the attention of the FBI who are suspicious of his increasingly lavish and hedonistic lifestyle…

The supporting cast includes Matthew McConaughey, Jonah Hill and Jon Bernthal. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor (DiCaprio) and Best Director (Scorsese), and saw DiCaprio pick up the Golden Globe for Best Actor – Music Or Comedy.

12 years a slave

Award-winning historical slave-narrative drama directed by Steve McQueen and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor.

The film follows the experience of Solomon Northup (Ejiofor), an African-American living with a wife and two children in Saratoga, New York, who is kidnapped and sold into slavery by men claiming to offer him work as a circus musician.

Transported by ship to New Orleans, it isn’t long before he is given a new name and sold to William Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch), a relatively empathetic slave owner. But confrontations with the cruel and violent overseer John Tibeats (Paul Dano) leads to Solomon being passed on by Ford to the extremely abusive and alcoholic planter Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender), who rules his slaves with a whip in one hand and a Bible in the other.

Believing the only hope of regaining his freedom is to remain passive for the time being, Solomon ceases fighting against the illegitimacy of his situation until salvation is offered to him by a kindly labourer named Bass (Brad Pitt).

The film was nominated for nine Academy Awards and won three including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyong’o). It also won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama and BAFTAs for Best Leading Actor (Ejiofor) and Best Film.

The railway man

Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman and Stellan Skarsgård star in this war drama adapted from Eric Lomax’s memoirs about his experiences in a POW camp.

While serving in the Second World War, British Army officer Eric Lomax (Jeremy Irvine) is captured and held prisoner by the Japanese. He is brutally tortured and forced, along with his fellow captives, to build the Thai-Burma Railway.

Many years later an older Lomax (Firth) is still traumatised by the experience. Supported by his wife Patti (Kidman) and friend Finlay (Skarsgård), he decides to track down one of his torturers, Takashi Nagase (Hiroyuki Sanada), hoping to find the answers that will enable him to finally let go of the hatred he has held for so long.

August: Osage County

Academy Award–nominated drama directed by John Wells.

Members of the Weston family reunite at their family home in Osage County, Oklahoma when their troubled poet father Beverly (Sam Shepard) goes missing. It isn’t long before they find that he has commited suicide and the rest of the family then come to pay their last regards at the funeral.

Leaving his outspoken and drug-addicted wife Violet (Meryl Streep) behind, the rest of the family feel obligated to stay with her while she grieves for her husband. But living in such close proximity is a test for any grown family, and it isn’t long before cracks in their relationships begin to appear.

The ensemble cast includes Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Juliette Lewis, Chris Cooper and Benedict Cumberbatch. Streep and Roberts received Oscar nominations for their performances in the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories, respectively.

47 Ronin

Carl Rinsch directs this reimagining of the Japanese tale about the revenge of the 47 Ronin, starring Keanu Reeves.

With the underhand machinations of their rival Lord Kira (Tadanobu Asano) blamed for the death of their master, a group of abandoned ronin recruit British-Japanese outcast Kai (Reeves) to help plan their revenge.

Vastly outnumbered, but inspired by the teachings of Kuranosuke Oishi (Hiroyuki Sanada), Kai and the other ronin engage in a bloody battle with forces under the command of Kira’s loyal subordinate Mizuki (Rinko Kikuchi).

Inside Llewyn Davis

Joel and Ethan Coen’s award–winning drama follows a week in the life of a struggling young singer-songwriter as he tries to make it big in New York’s folk scene of the early 1960s.

In the midst of a relentless New York winter, with no job, no money and nowhere to stay, down-on-his-luck musician Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) spends his days flicking through his address book trying to find a bed, or a floor, for the night. If things weren’t bad enough, his musical partner has ended it all by jumping off of a bridge, and his lover Jean (Carey Mulligan), who just happens to be the wife of his best friend Jim (Justin Timberlake), has told him that she’s pregnant and wants an abortion.

In a last ditch bid to shed his hand–to–mouth existence, Davis, with his ever-present pet cat in tow, sets out on a road trip to Chicago in the hope of resurrecting his music career by impressing local promoter Bud Grossman (F. Murray Abraham).

Brandon King

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