MEANTIME
1984, Janus Films, 102 min, UK, Dir: Mike Leigh

Mike Leigh’s slow-burning depiction of economic degradation in Thatcher’s England is the culmination of the writer-director’s pioneering work in television. Unemployment is rampant in London’s working-class East End, where a middle-aged couple and their two sons languish in a claustrophobic public-housing flat. As the brothers (Phil Daniels and Tim Roth) grow increasingly disaffected, Leigh punctuates the grinding boredom of their daily existence with tense encounters, including with a priggish aunt (Marion Bailey) who has managed to become middle-class and a blithering skinhead on the verge of psychosis (a scene-stealing Gary Oldman, in his first major role). Informed by Leigh’s now-trademark improvisational process and propelled by the lurching rhythms of its Beckett-like dialogue, MEANTIME is an unrelenting, often blisteringly funny look at life on the dole.


TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY
2011, Focus Features, 122 min, France/UK/Germany, Dir: Tomas Alfredson

The long-awaited feature film version of John le Carré’s classic bestselling novel is set in England in 1973 as Cold War tensions wreak havoc on international relations. After a Hungarian mission goes bloodily awry, the head of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, known as Control (John Hurt), is forced out of the agency along with his top lieutenant, George Smiley (Oscar nominee Gary Oldman). But Smiley is soon rehired in secret to identify a Soviet mole at SIS, and as the list of suspects narrows, the emotional and physical tolls on the players enmeshed in the deadly international spy game escalates. With Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy and Colin Firth.


DARKEST HOUR
2017, Focus Features, 125 min, USA/UK, Dir: Joe Wright

Within days of becoming Prime Minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) must face one of his most turbulent and defining trials: exploring a negotiated peace treaty with Nazi Germany, or standing firm to fight for the ideals, liberty and freedom of a nation. As the unstoppable Nazi forces roll across Western Europe and the threat of invasion is imminent, and with an unprepared public, a skeptical King, and his own party plotting against him, Churchill must withstand his darkest hour, rally a nation and attempt to change the course of world history. With Kristin Scott Thomas. “Hidden behind fake jowls and a receding hairline, Gary Oldman delivers one of the great performances of his career as Winston Churchill.” - Peter Debruge, Variety


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