2018, Amazon Studios, 154 min, UK, Dir: Mike Leigh

In his newest film, Mike Leigh returns to the realm of historical drama that he explored with MR. TURNER, here commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester, England. Though not well-known in the U.S., this 1819 protest against Parliament met with an unexpectedly violent response from a military terrified of domestic revolution, and its chaotic climax led to wide-ranging reform within both the electoral system and modern British journalism. PETERLOO achieves breathtaking scope while preserving meticulous attention to period detail, and Leigh commands his massive crowd of extras just as deftly as he handles the remarkable ensemble cast led by Maxine Peake, Rory Kinnear and David Moorst.

1987, Universal, 94 min, Dir: Alex Cox

Born in Nashville in 1824, William Walker is one of American history’s forgotten rogues, a mercenary whose attempts to bring slavery to Central America briefly made him president of Nicaragua. Ed Harris stars in Alex Cox’s thought-provoking drama, whose deliberate anachronisms underline the fact that the more things change, the more they stay the same (the film was shot on location during the Contra War). With Peter Boyle, Marlee Matlin, René Auberjonois and a score by frequent Cox collaborator Joe Strummer of The Clash. “Without being solemn, it's deadly serious. ... WALKER is something very rare in American movies these days. It has some nerve." - Vincent Canby, The New York Times.

1963, Janus Films, 128 min, Dir: Tony Richardson

At the height of the British New Wave in the early 1960s, director Tony Richardson and playwright John Osborne set out for more fanciful territory than the gritty realism of the movement they’d helped establish. TOM JONES brings a theatrical flair to Henry Fielding’s canonical 18th-century novel, boisterously chronicling the misadventures of the foundling of the title (Albert Finney, in a career-defining performance), whose easy charm seems to lead him astray at every turn from his beloved, the well-born Sophie Western (Susannah York). This spirited picaresque, evocatively shot in England’s rambling countryside and featuring an extraordinary ensemble cast, went on to become a worldwide sensation, winning the Oscar for best picture on the way to securing its status as a classic of irreverent wit and playful cinematic expression.

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