Author: <span class="vcard">Andrew Emerson</span>

Image courtesy of Amazon Studios.

*** (out of 4)

As its title suggests, Mike Leigh’s Peterloo is a film about the Peterloo Massacre. For those who aren’t familiar: after the Duke of Wellington defeated Napoleon in 1815 at the Battle of Waterloo, England fell on financial hard times. Angered by the socioeconomic inequality that industrialization had generated, some 80,000 working-class people gathered for a political rally at St. Peter’s Field in Manchester on August 16, 1819. Fearing a violent uprising, authorities ordered soldiers to forcibly disperse the crowd. In the ensuing chaos, 18 people were killed and hundreds more injured, and because of this, the overall event is now generally acknowledged as a “turning point” in modern English history.

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Image courtesy of The Orchard.

(NOTE: A version of this article originally appeared here.)

*** ½ (out of 4)

Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego’s Birds of Passage takes us to the Guajira Peninsula, a desert region in northern Colombia that also serves as the home of the indigenous Wayuu people. At the film’s start, a Wayuu clansman named Raphayet (José Acosta) wants to marry a fellow clanswoman named Zaida (Nathalie Reyes). Unfortunately, Zaida’s family, particularly her mother Úrsula (Carmiña Martínez), doesn’t take to him, and as a result, they demand that Raphayet pay an unusually hefty dowry. In order to meet their request, Raphayet decides to get into the drug trade – a decision that ends up carrying tragic consequences for him, Zaida, and everyone else in their community.

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