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Top 25 Real-Life Stories On The Big Screen Of 2015
by Daniel Dercksen·Comments Off on Top 25 Real-Life Stories On The Big Screen Of 2015
From real life to reel life
ABRAHAM South African writer-director Jans’ Rautenbach’s profound and consummate masterwork tells an unforgettable tale that will break your heart, a story that connects with who we are as South Africans and how we fit into the bigger scheme of things. Dann-Jaques Mouton delivers a riveting performance as Abraham, an artist and dreamer from Kannaland in the early 1980’s; an area in the Little Karoo that stretches from the Swartberg in the north to the Langeberg in the south, and from the Anysberg in the west to the Gamkaberg in the east. Abraham is a dedicated husband and father who struggles to provide for his young wife Katie (a superb performance by Chantell Phillipus) and their four year old daughter. Read review
JOHN If there’s one theatrical experience that was life-changing, it was DV8 Physical Theatre’s spellbinding John as screened in January 2015 as part of NT Live. It was not only one of the most provocative and fearless explorations of male sexuality, but dared to state what needs to be said about the human condition. Llloyd Newson’s distinguished vision astonished; he successfully managed to convey the absolute loneliness of a man who is hopelessly lost in live and love, masterfully contrasting John’s isolation with his claustrophobic rambling in a male sauna where naked bodies become a sea of flesh, and the utter chaotic effect of drug addiction and physical abuse. John is an incredibly complex production to pull off and succeeded admirably. Hannes Langolf lead the powerful ensemble and delivered a memorable and compelling performance.
PRIDE A film that will most definitely change your life and how you see the world. It follows two very different communities who found strength by standing together. Inspired by a miraculous true story, it is set in 1984 when Margaret Thatcher was in power and the National Union of Mineworkers was on strike, prompting a London-based group of gay and lesbian activists to raise money to support the strikers’ families. Initially rebuffed by the union, the group identified a tiny mining village in Wales and set off to make its donation in person. As the strike dragged on, the two groups discovered that standing together makes for the strongest union of all. Worlds collide and then entwine with passion, fervour and integrity in this rousing celebration of the alliance between two disparate groups of people who came together over their shared history of oppression, shattering prejudices and forging unlikely friendships along the way. The utterly delightful film from Tony Award-winning theatre director Matthew Warchus (Matilda: The Musical, God of Carnage) features a large ensemble cast led by Bill Nighy (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) and Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake) with the other roles played by a host of well-known British actors including Dominic West (300, The Wire), Paddy Considine (Dead Man’s Shoes) and Joseph Gilgun (This Is England) as well as relatively new faces such as Ben Schnetzer (The Book Thief, Posh), George MacKay (How I Live Now, Sunshine On Leith) and Faye Marsay (The White Queen, Fresh Meat).
HE NAMED ME MALALA An intimate portrait of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai, who was targeted by the Taliban and severely wounded by a gunshot when returning home on her school bus in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. The then 15-year-old (she turns 18 this July) was singled out, along with her father, for advocating for girls’ education, and the attack on her sparked an outcry from supporters around the world. She miraculously survived and is now a leading campaigner for girls’ education globally as co-founder of the Malala Fund. Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth, Waiting for Superman) shows us how Malala, her father Zia and her family are committed to fighting for education for all girls worldwide. The film gives us an inside glimpse into this extraordinary young girl’s life – from her close relationship with her father who inspired her love for education, to her impassioned speeches at the UN, to her everyday life with her parents and brothers. “One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.” – Malala. Special Feature: Bringing He Named Me Malala to the Big Screen
THE LADY IN THE VAN It tells the profound true story of Alan Bennett’s strained friendship with Miss Mary Shepherd, an eccentric house-less woman whom Bennett befriended in the 1970s before allowing her to temporarily park her Bedford van in the driveway of his Camden home. She stayed there for 15 years. The Lady in the Van is a 2015 British drama film adapted by Alan Bennett from his 1999 hit West End play of the same name, which was nominated at the 2000 Olivier Awards for Play of the Year. It is directed by Nicholas Hytner, who directed the original production at the Queen’s Theatre in London. Starring Maggie Smith and Alex Jennings, it tells the true story about an elderly woman called Mary Shepherd who lived in a battered van on the driveway of the writer Alan Bennett for 15 years. Maggie Smith has played Miss Shepherd twice before, in the original 1999 theatrical production, which scored her a Best Actress nomination at the 2000 Olivier Awards, and in a 2009 Radio 4 adaptation. Feature: Inspiration from The Lady In The Van/ Writing about The Lady In The Van/ Bringing The Lady In The Van To Life
LIFE If ever you wanted to spend a week with James Dean, the superb Life is an outstanding film that transports us to New York of the 50s when Dean was at the beginning of his career.Inspired by the true story of a friendship that developed between Magnum photographer Dennis Stock (Robert Pattinson) and actor James Dean (Dane DeHaan) when Stock was commissioned to photograph the actor for LIFE magazine in 1955, Australian screenwriter Luke Davies’s heartfelt screenplay is strikingly brought to life by director Anton Corbijn (A Most Wanted Man) Pattinson and DeHaan are perfectly cast and embody the true spirit of their characters, with equally brilliant performances by Ben Kingsley as the enigmatic producer Jack Warner and Joel Edgerton (The Great Gatsby, Warrior) as John Morris.The film is not just a biopic about Dean’s life, but the heart-warming story of a photographer who desperately wanted to capture the soul of a fledgling star and free spirit who would change popular culture from suits to jeans and from matinee idols to teenage heartthrob.Life is an ideal film for anyone who has ever had a love affair with movies, and also a film for discerning audiences looking for a film that captures the essence of true friendship and how strange encounters can alter our lives. Feature: Live Life
THE IMITATION GAME An intense and haunting portrayal of a brilliant, complicated man, it follows a genius who under nail-biting pressure helped to shorten the war and, in turn, save thousands of lives. Featuring a captivating performance by Benedict Cumberbatch as the tortured gay mathematician, cryptanalyst and war hero Alan Turing, Norwegian filmmaker Morten Tyldum’s gripping story scripted by New York Times bestselling author Graham Moore is one that will change your worldview .It’s the unforgettable story of a man whose passion was devoured by his passionate secret; a tragic tale set in 1952 when British authorities entered Turing’s home to investigate a reported burglary and ended up arresting Turing himself on charges of ‘gross indecency’, an accusation that would lead to his devastating conviction for the criminal offence of homosexuality – little did officials know, they were actually incriminating the pioneer of modern-day computing. Famously leading a motley group of scholars, linguists, chess champions and intelligence officers, he was credited with cracking the so-called unbreakable codes of Germany’s World War II Enigma machine.
WOMAN IN GOLD Art unites disparate worlds in the splendid Woman In Gold, the remarkable true story of one woman’s journey to reclaim her heritage and seek justice for what happened to her family 60 years after she fled Vienna during World War II.Helen Mirren delivers a dignified and scrupulous performance as Maria Altmann, an elderly Jewish woman who starts her journey to retrieve family possessions seized by the Nazis, among them Klimt’s famous painting Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I.Equally commanding is Ryan Reynolds, an inexperienced but plucky young lawyer who teams up with her in a major battle that takes them all the way to the heart of the Austrian establishment and the US Supreme Court, and forces her to confront difficult truths about the past along the way.If there’s one reason to watch the film it’s for the truthful synergy between Mirren and Reynolds, showing how beguiling innocence and ferocious recollections clash head on to pave the way for a brighter, and more hopeful future. Woman in Gold will capture your heart and remain with you long after leaving the cinema. It is one of those great stories where two generations connect and change the world through heartfelt passion and untiring perseverance.
SAINT LAURENT A mesmerising journey into the life and mind of celebrated French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, who is regarded as one of the greatest names in fashion history. Bertrand BonelloIt’s controversial tale draws a compassionate and elegiac portrayal of his personality, lifestyle and friendships and a darkly romantic and visually distinct period documentary and homage which is set in France mostly in the late 1960s and 1970s, reconstructing real events and where shallowness, decadence and excessiveness is present. It also focuses Saint Laurent’s (Gaspard Ulliel) troubled romance with life partner Pierre Berge (Jérémie Renier) as well as on his individual neuroses, insecurities and delusions.Yves Henri Donat Mathieu-Saint-Laurent (French pronunciation: 1 August 1936 – 1 June 2008), known as Yves Saint Laurent, was an Algerian-born French fashion designer, and is regarded as one of the greatest names in fashion history.In 1985, Caroline Rennolds Milbank wrote, “The most consistently celebrated and influential designer of the past twenty-five years, Yves Saint Laurent can be credited with both spurring the couture’s rise from its sixties ashes and with finally rendering ready-to-wear reputable.”
THE WALK A definitive dream is magnificently celebrated in The Walk, a film that showcases the craft and art of filmmaking at its finest.Although it’s a story we all treasure from the Oscar-winning documentary Man On Wire, through the eyes of visionary filmmaker Robert Zemeckis, it’s a new and fresh incarnation that takes us to New York of 1974, where Philippe Petit, an consummate French aerialist, surprised the city of New York with a high-wire walk between the towers of the almost-completed and partially occupied World Trade Center. It’s a walk you will never forget and culminates in a tense and emotional experience. When Petit (brilliantly portrayed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt), it was an overwhelming and tearful moment. Feature: Walk Your Dream
STILL ALICE Richard Glatzer & Wash Westmoreland exceptional portrait of a happily married woman with three grown children, who is a renowned linguistics professor who starts to forget words, and receives a devastating diagnosis of Early-Onset Alzheimer’s disease. FEaturing a moving performance from Julianne Moore as a woman who has to deal with the ramifications of the disease on her marriage, her family and her career.Posing as someone enquiring on behalf of a parent, Alice visits the Alzheimer’s unit of a local nursing home. Seeing a fate she cannot accept, she makes a drastic decision that will radically affect her future when she gets to the point of incapacity.Then, when summer spent at a beach house brings a sense of renewal, Alice struggles against all odds to maintain her life, her relationships, and her sense of self.
UNBROKEN Angelina Jolie’s not-to-be-missed epic drama Unbroken brings to the big screen Louie Zamperini’s unbelievable and inspiring true story about triumph over tribulation and the resilient power of the human spirit.Telling the incredible life of Olympian and war hero Louis “Louie” Zamperini, it follows in the tradition of films like The Railway Man, and celebrates the unbreakable fortitude of the human spirit. It’s a remarkable film that is best experienced cold, not knowing too much about the story. Unfortunately, it is a story that is well known, adapted from Laura Hillenbrand’s (Seabiscuit: An American Legend) enormously popular book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, and the trailer has many spoilers. Still, if you can, try to watch it without knowing too much, as it is a story that will draw you into its power until the final moments. The cast delivers superb performances, with Jack O’Connell as ‘Louie’ Zamperini and Domhnall Gleeson (Harry Potter series) and Finn Wittrock (HBO’s The Normal Heart) play Captain Russell Allen ‘Phil’ Phillips and Sergeant Francis ‘Mac’ McNamara-the airmen with whom Zamperini endured perilous weeks adrift in the open Pacific.
STEVE JOBS Set backstage in the minutes before three iconic product launches spanning Jobs’ career—beginning with the Macintosh in 1984, and ending with the unveiling of the iMac in 1998—Steve Jobs takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution to paint an intimate portrait of the brilliant man at its epicenter.Steve Jobs is directed by Academy Award winner Danny Boyle and written by Academy Award® winner Aaron Sorkin, working from Walter Isaacson’s best-selling biography of the Apple founder. The producers are Mark Gordon, Guymon Casady, Scott Rudin, Danny Boyle, and Academy Award® winner Christian Colson. Michael Fassbender plays Steve Jobs, the pioneering founder of Apple, with Academy Award®-winning actress Kate Winslet starring as Joanna Hoffman, former marketing chief of Macintosh. Steve Wozniak, who co-founded Apple, is played by Seth Rogen, and Jeff Daniels stars as former Apple CEO John Sculley. Feature: Interview with Aaron Sorkin
KIDNAPPING MR. HEINEKEN A Dutch film in English with a superb cast of actors from England, the U.S. and the Netherlands, Kidnapping Mr. Heineken is a true story about the 1983 abduction of Alfred “Freddy” Heineken in Amsterdam. Yes, that Mr. Heineken, as in beer in a green bottle. Anthony Hopkins plays the king of the hops, and he is excellent. So is the rest of the movie, a sober, no-frills account about the highest ransom ever collected up to that time—$10 million and counting. The story, based on a book by the reporter who covered the case from beginning to end and even traced one of the kidnappers to his hideout in Paraguay, is more about the five blokes who masterminded the crime than Mr. Heineken himself. Everyone involved played an integral part in the elaborate scheme, and they are all profiled, if sometimes too sketchily. Still, Kidnapping Mr. Heineken is tightly written by William Brookfield and directed with enough unfailing attention to detail by Daniel Alfredson to be a taut, realistic caper film that is also entertaining. The role of Freddy Heineken is played by Anthony Hopkins, with Sam Worthington as Willem Holleeder, Jim Sturgess as Cor van Hout, Ryan Kwanten as Jan Boellaard, Thomas Cocquerel as Martin Erkamps and Mark van Eeuwen as Frans Meijer
KILL THE MESSENGER A dramatic thriller based on the remarkable true story of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gary Webb, (Jeremy Renner), based upon the books Dark Alliance, by Gary Webb, and Kill the Messenger, by Nick Schou, with a screenplay by award-winning investigative journalist, war correspondent, award-winning novelist, and painter Peter Landesman and directed by Michael Cuesta, who was honored with the Best New Filmmaker Award from the Boston Society of Film Critics for L.I.E., which marked his feature debut as a director, screenwriter, and producer. n the 1990s, this dedicated reporter’s quest for the truth took him from the prisons of California to the villages of Nicaragua to the corridors of power in Washington, D.C. – and his investigative reporting drew the kind of attention that threatened not just his career, but his family and his life.
TESTAMENT OF YOUTH In 1914, Vera Brittain overcomes the restraints on women of the time to become a student at Somerville College, Oxford. When World War I breaks out, her brother Edward, her fiancé Roland Leighton, and their friends Victor and Geoffrey, are sent to serve at the front lines. Brittain follows their sacrifice, leaving college to join the Voluntary Aid Detachment as a nurse tending the wounded and dying (both British and German) in London, Malta and France. A British woman recalls coming of age during World War I – a story of young love, the futility of war, and how to make sense of the darkest times. Directed by James Kent with Kit Harington, Alicia Vikander, Taron Egerton, Colin Morgan. Feature: Adapting the book into a screenplay / Interview with screenwriter Juliette Towhidi
LEGEND From Academy Award winner Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential,Mystic River) and Working Title (The Theory of Everything) comes the true story of the rise and fall of London’s most notorious gangsters, Reggie and Ronnie Kray, both portrayed by Tom Hardy in a powerhouse double performance. Together, the Kray Twins take over the city. But as their reign expands, power-struggles, fierce madness, and a woman diminishes their bond; the weak link that could cause their empire to collapse. Legend is a classic crime thriller taking us into the secret history of the 1960s and the extraordinary events that secured the infamy of the Kray twins. Read the review. Behind the scenes feature: Writing The Screenplay
McFARLAND, USA Based on the 1987 true story, Disney’s “McFarland, USA” follows novice runners from McFarland, an economically challenged town in California’s farm-rich Central Valley, as they give their all to build a cross-country team under the direction of Coach Jim White (Kevin Costner), a newcomer to their predominantly Latino high school. Coach White and the McFarland students have a lot to learn about each other but when White starts to realize the boys’ exceptional running ability, things begin to change. Soon something beyond their physical gifts becomes apparent–the power of family relationships, their unwavering commitment to one another and their incredible work ethic. With grit and determination, the unlikely band of runners eventually overcomes the odds to forge not only a championship cross-country team but an enduring legacy as well. Along the way, Coach White realizes that his family finally found a place to call home and both he and his team achieve their own kind of American dream.Niki Caro (Whale Rider, North Country) directs McFarland, USA, from a screenplay by Christopher Cleveland & Bettina Gilois and Grant Thompson, and a story by Cleveland & Gilois
FOXCATCHER Based on true events, it is a rich and moving story of brotherly love, misguided loyalty and the emotional bankruptcy that can accompany great wealth and power. Writer-director Bennett Miller (Capote) examines the perilous relationship between an eccentric multi-millionaire John du Pont (Steve Carell) and Olympic Gold Medal-winning wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum), who is struggling in obscurity and poverty in Wisconsin when he is invited by the wealthy heir to move on to his lavish estate to form a team and to train for the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Schultz seizes the opportunity, eager to step out of the shadow of his revered older brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo), a prominent wrestling coach and Gold Medal winner himself.
BIG EYES From the whimsical mind of director Tim Burton, it tells the outrageous true story of one of the most epic art frauds in history. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, painter Walter Keane had reached success beyond belief,revolutionizing the commercialization of popular art with his enigmatic paintings of waifs with big eyes. The bizarre and shocking truth would eventually be discovered though: Walter’s works were actually not created by him at all, but by his wife Margaret. The Keanes, it seemed, had been living a colossal lie that had fooled the entire world.A tale too incredible to be fiction, Big Eyes centers on Margaret’s awakening as an artist, the phenomenal success of her paintings, and her tumultuous relationship with her husband, who was catapulted to international fame while taking credit for her work.It is directed by Tim Burton (Ed Wood) and written by Golden Globe winners Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (The People vs. Larry Flynt and Ed Wood)
EVEREST Mount Everest seduces mountaineering extremists into her magical spell and challenges their humanity to the utmost extreme in the gruelling Everest, an awe-inspiring journey of two different expeditions to reach the summit of the world’s highest mountain and fiercest predator. Inspired by the tragic events surrounding an attempt in 1996, Everest documents the real-life ordeal suffered on 10 May, 1996, when Rob Hall, the safety-conscious and meticulous leader of New Zealand-based Adventure Consultants, and Scott Fischer, the highly experienced mountaineer and team leader of the Seattle-based Mountain Madness, led their teams on a final ascent toward the highest point on Earth: the summit of Everest, 29,029 ft. (8,848m) above sea level – or the cruising altitude of a 747.Everest is not a disaster film that solely relies on visual effects like San Andreas, Deep Impact, World War Z or Armageddon, where we were bombarded by a visual effects extravaganza and special effects, but a character-driven narrative in the tradition of Alive, Twister, and The Impossible, where we bond with the characters and are taken on an emotional journey. It’s a film about people and how they deal with life at its most challenging, and also a film showing how relentless and unpredictable Mother Nature can be.
THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING The extraordinary and uplifting story of one of the world’s greatest living minds, the renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, and of two people defying the steepest of odds through love. The film, based on the memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, by Jane Hawking, is directed by Academy Award winner James Marsh (Man on Wire). In 1963, as a cosmology student at the storied U.K. university Cambridge, Stephen (portrayed by Eddie Redmayne of Les Misérables) is making great strides and is determined to find a “simple, eloquent explanation” for the universe. His own world opens up when he falls deeply in love with an arts major, fellow Cambridge student Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones of The Invisible Woman). But, at 21 years of age, this healthy, active young man receives an earth-shattering diagnosis: motor neuron disease will attack his limbs and his abilities, leaving him with limited speech and movement, and will take his life within two years. Read more
SELMA In spring of 1965, a series of dramatic events changed the course of America and the modern concept of civil rights forever — as courageous marchers, led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., attempted three times to carry out a peaceful procession from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama on a quest for the basic human right to vote. The shocking confrontations, the triumphant final march and the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that followed are now an indelible part of history. But the vitally relevant, vitally human story of Selma – from the political battles in the halls of power to the grit and faith of people on the street to the private, inner struggles Dr. King faced – has never been seen on the movie screen. Ava DuVernay’s Selma, brings the power of all that went into creating that hard-won moment of long awaited justice to cinema with an uncompromising immediacy. The film chronicles a string of astonishing historical details, large and small — including the intense, adversarial relationship between Dr. King and President Lyndon Johnson, the troubling involvement of the FBI and the unbreakable spirit of ordinary men and women who sacrificed and united around voting rights
AMERICAN SNIPER From director Clint Eastwood comes American Sniper, starring Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle, whose skills as a sniper made him a hero on the battlefield. But there was much more to him than his skill as a sharpshooter. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle is sent to Iraq with only one mission: to protect his brothers-in-arms. His pinpoint accuracy saves countless lives on the battlefield and, as stories of his courageous exploits spread, he earns the nickname “Legend.” However, his reputation is also growing behind enemy lines, putting a price on his head and making him a prime target of insurgents. He is also facing a different kind of battle on the home front: striving to be a good husband and father from halfway around the world. spite the danger, as well as the toll on his family at home, Chris serves through four harrowing tours of duty in Iraq, personifying the spirit of the SEAL creed to “leave no one behind.” But upon returning to his wife, Taya (Sienna Miller), and kids, Chris finds that it is the war he can’t leave behind. A two-time Oscar nominee for his work in Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, Cooper heads the cast, which also includes Sienna Miller, Luke Grimes, Jake McDorman, Cory Hardrict, Kevin Lacz, Navid Negahban and Keir O’Donnell. Oscar-winning filmmaker Clint Eastwood (Jersey Boys, Unforgiven) directed American Sniper from a screenplay written by Jason Hall, based on the book by Chris Kyle, with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice. The autobiography was a runaway bestseller, spending 18 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, 13 of those at number one.
ROSEWATER Based on The New York Times best-selling memoir Then They Came for Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity, and Survival written by the BBC journalist Maziar Bahari, Rosewater marks the screenwriting and directorial debut of The Daily Show host and executive producer Jon Stewart. In June, 2009 Tehran-born Bahari, a 42-year-old broadcast journalist with Canadian citizenship living in London, returned to Iran to interview Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who was the prime challenger to controversial incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. As Mousavi’s supporters rose up to protest Ahmadinejad’s victory declaration hours before the polls closed on election day, Bahari endured great personal risk by submitting camera footage of the unfolding street riots to the BBC. Bahari was soon arrested by RevolutionaryGuard police, led by a man identifying himself only as “Rosewater,” who proceeded to torture and interrogate the journalist over the next 118 days. In October 2009, with Bahari’s wife leading an international campaign from London to have her husband freed and Western media outlets including “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” continuing to keep the story alive, Iranian authorities released Bahari on $300,000 bail and the promise he would act as a spy for the government. It features a powerful performance by Gael García Bernal as Maziar Bahari, a journalist who was interrogated and tortured over 118 days in Iran