HARD TIMES
1975, Sony Repertory, 93 min, USA, Dir: Walter Hill

Walter Hill’s debut feature as director is this no-holds-barred tale of a bare-knuckle boxer (Charles Bronson) in Depression-era New Orleans and the fast-talking promoter (James Coburn) who parlays Bronson’s talents as a pugilist into quick money. “There's the temptation, with material like this, to fashion parables and give the characters portentous speeches about the meaning of it all. But HARD TIMES never steps back from itself, never lectures us. Its theme is buried in its material, and it's a hard-edged action film all the way.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.


HELLO DESTROYER
2016, 110 min, Canada, Dir: Kevan Funk

Kevan Funk’s startling debut feature is an elegant film about the inelegant realities of being a hockey enforcer and literally fighting one’s way to the big leagues. Tyson Burr (Jared Abrahamson, TIFF Rising Star 2016) plays for the minor league Prince George Warriors; in his role as the team’s tough guy, Tyson is expected to protect the more skilled players. Although thoughtful and somewhat shy off the ice, he is told constantly by the team’s coaches that his only route to the professional ranks is by being aggressive on it. When his violent play leads to the serious injury of an opposing player, Tyson suddenly finds himself on the wrong side of the team, the league, the community and even his family. An astute critique of the culture of violence inherent in Canada’s national sport, HELLO DESTROYER is also a fascinating drama of identity, masculinity and isolation - if Ingmar Bergman had made a film about hockey, this would be it. Winner of five Vancouver Film Critics Circle awards, including Best Canadian Film.


CREED
2015, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/New Line Cinema/Warner Bros., 133 min, USA, Dir: Ryan Coogler

Writer-director Ryan Coogler reunites with FRUITVALE STATION star Michael B. Jordan for the latest round of the beloved ROCKY saga. Adonis Johnson (Jordan) wants to follow in the footsteps of his father, boxer Apollo Creed, and seeks out former champ Rocky Balboa (Academy Award nominee Sylvester Stallone) to show him the ropes. Though this crowd-pleaser has some of the best fight choreography you’ve ever seen, it’s the courageous central characters that give CREED such a powerful punch. With a screenplay written by Coogler and Aaron Covington, the film also stars Tessa Thompson and Phylicia Rashad.


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