On the Basis of Sex – the latest films coming to Portsmouth cinemas

Grab the popcorn for these new releases.

Wednesday, 20th February 2019, 9:16 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th February 2019, 10:19 am
Pictured: Felicity Jones as Ruth Bader Ginsburg in On The Basis Of Sex.

On the Basis of Sex (12A)

On June 14 1993, President Bill Clinton nominated Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court of the United States.

She was only the second woman selected for one of the highest positions in the federal judiciary and The Senate confirmed her nomination by 96 votes to three.

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Nicknamed The Notorious RBG, Ginsburg has been a trailblazing advocate for women's rights and gender equality since the 1970s, when she operated as a volunteer lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Her ascent is loving chronicled in director Mimi Leder's glossy drama On The Basis Of Sex, which focuses on the 16-year period between Ginsburg's arrival at Harvard Law School and her appearance in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals to argue for a tax deduction for caregiver expenses on behalf of a 63-year-old male client.

This hard-fought victory opened the door to gender-based discrimination cases, which underpin Ginsburg's lustrous reputation.

Screenwriter Daniel Stiepleman, who is Ginsburg's nephew, pays glowing tribute to his aunt during two hours of gently paced human drama, galvanised by winning performances from Felicity Jones and Armie Hammer.

The film opens in 1956 when Ruth (Jones) follows her husband Martin (Hammer) to Harvard Law School.

She is one of nine women granted admission to the hallowed halls of an institution that prides itself on moulding brilliant legal minds. Dean Erwin Griswold (Sam Waterston) can barely contain his disdain.

At a dinner party hosted by his wife, he invites each female student to stand up, introduce herself and explain why they are ‘occupying a place at Harvard that could have gone to a man’.

Unperturbed, Ruth excels and when Martin faces a devastating cancer diagnosis, she attends both of their classes to ensure he does not fall behind while raising their child.

Thankfully, Martin's cancer goes into remission and the family moves to New York where Ruth takes a teaching post and faces the fiercest battle of all: raising their spirited teenage daughter Jane (Cailee Spaeny).

On The Basis Of Sex is a moving and handsomely crafted valentine to a marriage that provided firm foundations for Ginsburg's war of attrition to challenge gender discrimination in law.

Released February 22. 


Cold Pursuit (15)

Revenge is a dish best served at sub-zero temperature in Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland's English-language remake of his 2014 black comedy In Order Of Disappearance.

Screenwriter Frank Baldwin transplants the stylised blood-letting from snow-laden Scandinavia to the ski slopes of a fictional Colorado town where white powder on the ground could be trafficked cocaine.

In this close-knit community, police adopt a relaxed approach to visitors smoking spliffs on the street because the local economy relies heavily on income from these pleasure-seeking tourists.

Corruption is rife, cops are largely in the pay of powerful crime lords, so the long arm of the law occasionally fails to take a gloved hand out of its pockets.

Cold Pursuit centres on a grief-stricken father, who strikes back against the criminal fraternity which murdered his son.

Liam Neeson's portrayal of the vengeance-seeking patriarch is less muscular than his bruising heroics in the Taken films.

He is an awkward fit for a film, which slaloms at dizzying speed between lurid violence and gallows humour.

Baldwin's script leaves supporting characters in the deep freeze so it is hard to muster warmth and affection when they become collateral damage.

Nelson Coxman (Neeson) is a long-serving snow plough driver in Kehoe, which welcomes thousands of tourists to its ski resorts.

Shortly after Nelson blushingly accepts a Citizen Of The Year prize from his peers, he learns that his beloved boy Kyle (Micheal Richardson) has died from a heroin overdose.

‘We didn't know our own son,’ despairs Nelson's wife Grace (Laura Dern).

‘Kyle wasn't a druggie,’ growls her husband, who rejects the findings of police detectives Dash (Emmy Rossum) and Gip (John Doman).

Grief steadily poisons the marriage and Nelson contemplates suicide.

At his lowest ebb, he learns that Kyle, who worked at the airport, was murdered by drug cartel kingpin Trevor Calcote aka Viking (Tom Bateman).

Nelson vows revenge and gains valuable intelligence from his brother Brock (William Forsythe) about Viking's well-oiled operation.

The father systematically targets Viking's henchmen and the drug lord wrongly attributes the deaths to his sworn rival, Native American cartel leader White Bull (Tom Jackson).

A bitter turf war spirals out of control and Viking's precocious son Ryan (Nicholas Holmes) is caught in the crossfire.

Cold Pursuit caters to the base desires of Neeson's core fanbase with bone-crunching fist fights and a shoot out, albeit with a hero who collapses exhausted, gasping for breath, after each exertion.

The Northern Irish leading man and co-stars fumble the macabre humour but one delayed punchline with a paraglider hits its target with satisfying split-second timing.

Bateman portrays his antagonist as a petulant, snivelling hot-head, who expects beleaguered lieutenants to clean up his mess.

Sadly, he doesn't task them with tidying up the jarring tonal shifts of Moland's frost-bitten picture.

Released February 22. 


Capernaum (15)

A 12-year-old boy survive by his wits in present-day Lebanon in director Nadine Labali's emotionally wrought drama, which has been deservedly nominated as Best Foreign Language Film at this year's Oscars.

Zain (Zain Al Rafeea) lives in cramped conditions with his parents and siblings in Beirut.

The family survives by smuggling drugs into prison.

It's an ingenious scheme: the children soak clothes in Tramadol-saturated water, which are dried and taken into prison as gifts for inmates.

The garments are placed back in water behind bars where the concealed drugs can be wrung out of the fibres.

The illegal operation hits a snag and Zain's parents decide to raise funds by selling his younger sister Samar (Cedra Izam) as a child bride.

The boy vows to make his parents pay and heads onto the streets in search of Samar.

Eventually, Zain meets Ethiopian illegal immigrant Rahil (Yordanos Shiferaw), who works as a cleaner at a rundown fairground.

She offers him shelter in exchange for taking care of her baby.

When Rahil is arrested and fails to return home, Zain finds himself in sole charge of a demanding infant and with no money for food or rent.

Released February 22.