Maxine Peake gives a formidable performance as an aspiring female comedian standing up to a violent husband and the sexist Northern England club circuit. If you think that modern comedy is still lacking in gender equality, then this tough, streetwise British film shows that it’s also made giant strides since the in-your-face chauvinism of working men’s clubs in decades past. And yet, ill-treatment by men is something our eponymous heroine is grimly used to, from childhood beatings to an abusive husband (scriptwriter Tony Pitts, on terrifying form).
More a film about the power of laughter and how to transform pain into humour than a straight-up comedy, Funny Cow is a fitting showcase for Peake. So often dazzling on stage and television, she’s hilarious and heart-breaking here. There’s fine support too from cast-against-type Paddy Considine as her middle-class paramour and a swooning, melancholic soundtrack by Richard Hawley.
Comedy 2000 97 mins Director: Simon Cellan Jones
Daniel Craig impresses in a tough but sensitive portrait of a man living with schizophrenia
Under the Tree
Comedy 2017 89 mins Director: Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson
A neighbourly dispute over an obtrusive tree spirals violently out of control, in this cutting Icelandic comedy from the producers of Rams.
Talk About Jacqueline
Comedy 1942 70 mins Director: Harold French
Jacqueline journeys to the French Riviera to escape her controversial past and find an eligible bachelor in this comedy-drama lead by the wonderful Carla Lehmann.
Oh, Mr. Porter!
Comedy 1937 84 mins Director: Marcel Varnel
A bumbling railway worker played by Will Hay is appointed as stationmaster in the isolated, and apparently haunted, Northern Irish town of Buggleskelly.
Drama 2016 88 mins Director: John Carroll Lynch
Harry Dean Stanton gives the performance of a lifetime as an irascible nonagenarian maverick in a New Mexican town, grappling with his mortality.
The Marvellous Mabel Normand: The Leading Lady of Film Comedy
Comedy 2018 78 mins Director: Mabel Normand
Discover early Hollywood's irrepressible comic pioneer, showcased in this delightful package of short films in which she appears alongside fellow greats Charlie Chaplin, Fatty Arbuckle and Oliver Hardy.
Best Films of 2018
Drama 2016 103 mins Director: Maysaloun Hamoud
Three strong, independent Israeli-Palestinian women try to square their liberated, hedonistic lifestyles with the stultifying restrictions of conservative family life, in Maysaloun Hamoud's charming and vital drama.
God's Own Country
Drama 2017 105 mins Director: Francis Lee
A troubled young sheep farmer falls for a hired hand in this stunning debut from Francis Lee.
Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami
Documentary 2017 115 mins Director: Sophie Fiennes
Grace Jones is laid bare in this intimate and electrifying insight into the fascinating world of a pop-cultural phenomenon.
Comedy 2017 71 mins Director: Sally Potter
Following some unexpected revelations, a celebration quickly takes a turn for the worse in Sally Potter's razor-sharp comedy.
The Death of Stalin
Comedy 2017 107 mins Director: Armando Iannucci
Chaos and comedy ignite in Armando Iannucci’s acerbic satire, as Soviet officials frantically react to the passing of their glorious leader.
The Florida Project
Drama 2017 112 mins Director: Sean Baker
Tangerine director Sean Baker presents another visionary take on the wild ups and dangerous downs of life in America’s underbelly, featuring an Oscar-nominated turn from Willem Dafoe.
Featuring Maxine Peake
Featuring Paddy Considine
Drama 2016 92 mins Director: Paddy Considine
Paddy Considine directs and stars with Jodie Whittaker in this emotional knockout - the story of a boxer rebuilding his life after a near-fatal injury.
Drama 2015 113 mins Director: Justin Kurzel
Fassbender is ferocious as the Scottish king in Justin Kurzel’s red-blooded and viscerally atmospheric Shakespeare adaptation.
Comedy 2010 97 mins Director: Richard Ayoade
Richard Ayoade’s sweet and quirky directorial debut about a Swansea teen’s travails with his distant girlfriend and warring parents.
Comedy 2014 120 mins Director: Matthew Warchus
The smash culture-clash comedy tells the incredible true story of how miners and a Gay Pride support group come together to fight a common cause.
Monsters and Men
Drama 2018 96 mins Director: Reinaldo Marcus Green
Unravelling the aftermath of a police killing of a black man - and how it affects the lives of three separate individuals. With John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman).
Drama 2008 25 mins Director: Ian Clark
A girl in love, a pop star in peril and a gang on the run - watch it play out!
Drama 1982 73 mins Director: Stephen Frears
Ian McKellen stars in Stephen Frears' TV play as Walter, a man with learning difficulties who's put in an institution after the death of his mother.
Documentary 1958 13 mins Director: Rollo Gamble
Daniel Farson meets people affected by polio in a series of studio interviews and a filmed report with a man paralysed after contracting the disease.
Documentary 1974 98 mins Director: Stephen Dwoskin
The account of a close, personal relationship as experienced by a disabled man.
Documentary 1958 13 mins Director: Rollo Gamble
Despite the bleak title, there is some hope in this film about disabled schoolchildren.