Jessie Buckley is magnetic as a narcissistic Glaswegian country singer dreaming of Nashville
Following a phenomenal performance in Beast, Buckley next embodies a mouthy heroine (Rose-Lynn) who has just finished a 12-month stint in prison. As she leaves, a fellow inmate shouts “you’re gonna be the next Dolly Parton”. Hiding an ankle tag under white cowboy boots, her first stop is to hook up with an on-off boyfriend before heading home. There we find her mother, (excellent Julie Walters) who has been looking after Rose-Lynn’s children for the past year. Tension fuels their mother-daughter relationship, as Rose-Lynn struggles to commit to her own responsibilities as a mother in her 20s. As she toes the line between self-love and selfishness, the film explores how having a passion for something outside of motherhood can cause a moral conundrum. This is one Rose-Lynn mostly disregards, however, almost solely focused on achieving her musical goals. Finding work, her new employer (Sophie Okonedo) is fascinated after hearing her sing, so decides to help Rose-Lynn make it to Nashville. Wild Rose is not a cliched fairy tale, but a much grittier and nuanced journey of self-discovery. (research Rachel Williams) And Glasgow and the music are fab. You daren’t miss it.
Director Peter Farrelly uses the tried-and-true road trip formula to touching effect.
Based on actual events and set in 1962, Viggo Mortensen stars as Frank ‘Tony Lip’ Vallelonga, a New York bouncer. After his nightclub is closed for renovations, he lands a job as driver and security for the famed 50/60’s concert pianist Don Shirley. Together the two tour America’s deep south where Shirley faces repeated racist abuse. The title refers to the 20th century guidebook for black travellers to find motels and restaurants that would accept them.
The chalk and cheese relationship between Don and Tony is Green Book’s cornerstone. While most of the heavy lifting is left to Mortensen, who put on some 20 kilos to play Tony, Mahershala Ali is also perfectly cast as this incarnation of Shirley, a prodigy whose intellect and musical abilities alienate him from virtually everybody. It’s a role that just exudes dignity.
Winner of three Golden Globes and nominated for five Oscars, certainly it does feel at times like an old-school throwback to the feel-good comedy-dramas the Oscars used to reward. And there’s nothing wrong with that. (Research Chris Coetsee) eg Butch & Sundance 1969, The Apartment (1960). Critics have sniffed, blow them. Come. Its great.
Acclaimed director Paolo Sorrentino’s raucous exposé on the tumultuous late career of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Loro presents a somewhat fictionalised version of events, opening on Sergio Morra, a young playboy on the up who wants to get close to the big boss. His strategy: rent a villa opposite Berlusconi's waterfront estate in Sardinia and fill it full of semi-naked girls on a diet of free champagne and cocaine for days on end. All he has to do is wait for the scandal-plagued billionaire to lift his binoculars from across the water and reel in his catch. The deliciously decadent Tony Servillo, a Sorrentino regular, is eerily perfect here in his role as the politician. Creepy, charismatic and uncanny, he makes it so easy to understand how this man charms and wriggles his way into the lives of so many.
Sorrentino has made a name for himself both in his home country and abroad with his portraits of the lavish contradictions of his homeland. Like The Great Beauty and Il Divo, Loro revels in the hedonism of its subjects. It’s an angry, scornful vision. (Research Chris Coetsee) Don’t miss this, nor: The Great Beauty (2013) on Sunday 12th.
Calling all piglets, the nation’s favourite porky personality returns to the big screen as part of the show’s 15th anniversary celebrations.
Grab your glitter and wellies and get ready for the biggest adventure yet. Across 10 brand new episodes you can see Peppa, George and friends dance in the mud at their first family festival, celebrate Grandpa Pig’s birthday at a very exclusive restaurant and meet a squeaky group of guinea pigs when Peppa and her pals visit the farm. You will also join Peppa, George and Mummy Pig on their own trip to the cinema to watch the Super Potato film before jumping behind the scenes to get a glimpse at how TV is made.
Festival of Fun is Peppa’s second cinematic outing after Peppa Pig: My First Cinema Experience proved a big hit in 2017. Offering a whole hour of snorts and giggles, with songs to singalong to and games to join in with, it’s the perfect way to get to grips with the dark room and big, bright screen of your local cinema. The kids’ll love it too! (Research Chris Coetsee) Well done Chris for taking time to make fun-sense of nonsense.
Every screening sold out since its first in Sept 2006, and ever since. It will take you on an unanticipated, emotional ride. The characters are beautifully drawn, and unlike those that leave you empty, this will warm your heart. It tells the story of the Hoovers, one of the most endearingly fractured families you’re ever likely to meet. To fulfil the dream-wish of seven-year-old Olive, the whole motley family, trek to the Little Miss Sunshine pageant in California. Along the way they must deal with crushed dreams, heartbreaks and a broken-down van. The family is made up of an uncommonly natural little miss Olive, a silent, Nietzsche-reading teenager, a suicidal uncle, an embarrassingly optimistic dad, a scatty mother, and a horny, coke-snorting grandfather with a penchant for creative profanity (the wholly original Alan Arkin, got Best Supporting Oscar for this) This is a beautifully observed road movie, where sanity takes a back seat, while innocence and hope drive it every step of the way. Don’t miss this life-affirming ride on the edge of a new Spring 2019. About to hit the West End as a sanatised family musical. So come see it untampered on our big screen, before it gets withdrawn.
You’re eight years old, running around the garden, ‘treasure map’ (drawn in crayon) in one hand and a ‘sword’ (stick) in the other... is what it feels like when you watch The Goonies, no matter what age.
Richard Donner and Steven Spielberg combine forces to bring this pirate themed adventure with genuine thrills and danger long forgotten in today’s family films. A group of daring kids stumble upon an ancient map to a treasure once held by the pirate One-Eyed Willy. The map leads them to a secret cove full of traps, but a family of crooks are hot on their heels.
The Goonies walks a thin line between the cheerful and the gruesome, and the very scenes the adults might object to are the ones the younguns will like the best. I wouldn’t say it’s timeless - it falls more into the cult side - something that’s half remembered in a hazy childhood memory than in reality. But those who love it, really love it (I wore that VHS down good) and it’s an adventure that shouldn't be forgotten, because they really are, not made like this anymore. (Jack Whiting) Absolument. Bring the street.
Dame Judi Dench is the saving grace of this rather dry retelling of the KBG’s British ‘granny spy’
Based on the true story of Melita Norwood, whose history of supplying the KGB with state secrets was exposed at the age of 87, Red Joan begins with Joan Stanley (Dench) arrested for treason. An unsuspecting pensioner with a love of gardening, Joan’s neighbours are bewildered when the police turn up at her doorstep. As she is interrogated, extended flashbacks transport us to her youth in Cambridge, the young Joan (Sophie Cookson) getting most of the screen time. Fascinated by her glamorous Russian classmate Sonya (Tereza Srbova), Joan agrees to join her at young Communist meetings. It is there that she meets Sonya’s cousin Leo (Tom Hughes) his charm sweeping her away in a murky cloud of infatuation. Following Joan throughout university and the following years, the film explores how the Brit falls (or dives) into espionage and a hidden radical life. Yet for someone so radical, the film itself is not so much - instead telling the narrative through rose-tinted glasses. (Rachel Williams).
The complete opposite of M in Bond, and nothing like Anne Hathaway, (the first one) Judi once again demonstrates her unassailable chameleon talent. Come
I always thought Bananaman could do with a Blockbuster makeover, and now my dreams of a sort have been fulfilled with this next DC entry: Shazam!
It follows Billy (Asher Angel) a teenager who stumbles upon an ancient, mystical wizard that grants him the ability to transform whenever he shouts the film’s title.
Suddenly, he’s a muscled do-gooder in spandex played by a 38 year old Zachary Levi with a enough dazzling powers to set the movie spinning into the screwball stratosphere. He does what any teenager-stuck-in-an-adult-body would do, film himself testing these Superman-like abilities with his high-school buddy, Freddy, and putting it on the internet for the lols.
Trouble soon finds Billy in the form of Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong, having a blast). The yarn then pulls out all the FX stops when these two magic men go at each other during a climactic carnival. But that stuff is just white noise compared to the relationship between Billy and Freddy. If you ever thought Tom Hanks in Big could have done with the odd super-power or two, this one’s the ticket. (research Jack Whiting) Super heroes with the essential ‘Eric IS Bananaman’ fluff... is Just the ticket - indeed.
Another Hollywood actor to turn to indie film-directing, Jonah Hill’s coming-of-age debut explores a teenager’s newfound rebellion and identity in a group of L.A. skateboarders
Its title already a giveaway, it’s the mid 90s (with an excellent soundtrack to set the tone), and 13-year-old Stevie (Sunny Suljic) is searching for a place of solace from his abusive home. With a cold bully as an older brother (Lucas Hedges) and a loving but distant mother (Katherine Waterston), he feels rootless until discovering a crew of skate punks. Comprised of ‘Fourth Grade’ (Ryder McLaughlin), ‘Fuckshit’ (Olan Prenatt), Ruben (Gio Galicia) and Ray (Na-kel Smith), these cool, older boys educate Stevie in ‘sex, drugs and skaterat culture’. Eager to fit in and find his place, Stevie’s willingness to throw himself into risky turns gradually grants him a position in a community where being tough is everything. Mid90s explores how we grow as adolescents through the people we model ourselves after. Its DIY feel and thrilling skating stunts are well-matched with the irresistible humour Jonah Hill is known for. A solid debut feature which offers a gloriously unsentimental slice of teenage rebellion. (Rachel Williams)
Laika is a name that absolutely needs to be remembered, the US cousins of Aardman are still chugging along, one painstaking stop-motion shot at a time. The degree of care that goes into every detail of these films is clear to see.
And Missing Link is no slouch. Sir Lionel Frost (Hugh Jackman) plans to distinguish himself among London’s professional explorers, by procuring evidence that prehistoric beasties still walk among us. Upon receiving a letter off on spindly, stop-motion legs our hero goes, traveling to the woods where this behemoth resides. As it turns out, ‘Mr Link’ (or as he’s later called... Susan) turns out to be a very chipper mythical beast (Zach Galifianakis). He’s a gentle giant just looking for a home, and he’s surprisingly literal-minded.
This is one of those films where the destination is much less important than the journey, and the slower pacing of the third act allow us to savour the stunning vistas that establish each new setting. While not as grand or quite as exciting as Kubo and the Two Strings (their magnum opus) Missing Link is nevertheless a rare and wonderful specimen. (research Jack Whiting) Fantastic and very funny. Don’t miss.
Comic capers come easy for the French, so it takes a hotshot young filmmaker like Romain Gavras to rejuvenate the genre with verve and visual sophistication.
A crook goes for one last job. It’s not long before the plan skids entertainingly out of control. François (Karim Leklou) is a meek, small-time drug dealer in the Paris suburbs who wants to go straight by securing the North African franchise for a brand of frozen ice pops. Unfortunately, his mother, the brassy swindler Danny (a flamboyant Isabelle Adjani) gambled away his savings. To earn maximum cash in minimum time, François and his motley crew, including a taciturn conspiracy theorist played by Vincent Cassel, set up a deal in a garish Spanish resort.
It’s “Hollywood” in all the best ways, though it’s also sneaky smart. If you have any friends that refuse to read subtitles, this is the film to convert them. It helps that every single one of the performances is extraordinary, with Cassel delivering an uncharacteristic belly laugh with virtually every line. It’s as if France remade Snatch, only made it better. (Jack Whiting) Better tales from France. Better told. The rest US/UK hang out to snatch them into ‘effin’ gangsta language ‘we’ will better understand.
The end is nigh. It feels like the Marvel train has been rolling on for decades, but we’ve reached the apex - at least, sort of - with Endgame. Think of it as a series finale.
Concluding not only the story started by last year’s Infinity War, but also wrapping up ten years of superhero adventures. After Thanos claimed a surprising victory and decimated half of all life in the universe, the remaining Avengers are left picking up the pieces. Spirits are low, but Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and the recently joined Captain Marvel must band together to defeat the big bad, whatever it takes.
The sense of finality with Endgame will mean the stakes really are this time (I promise): Will half of the universe be restored? Which one of our beloved heroes will perish? Will Captain Marvel save the day just in time? Where did Jeremy Renner get his ridiculous haircut? All these questions, and more, will (hopefully) be answered in a satisfying manner. What you will be guaranteed, however, is three hours (yes, three) of explosive entertainment. (Jack Whiting)
Well here’s a first. A major studio film to bear no directorial credit whatsoever. An anonymous committee of animation pros was subsequently assembled to finish the job.
The film takes two elements that have always tested well among the under-tens – talking animals and theme parks – and snapped them into a framework that recalls the split-level reality of Pixar’s Inside Out. Our heroine June (voiced first by Sofia Mali, then Brianna Denski) is a spirited suburban preteen who spends her waking hours designing small-scale log flumes and loop-the-loops for her collection of plush toys. Her faith in play is first tested when her mother is hospitalised with an unnamed condition then reaffirmed when she ventures off the beaten track on the way to maths camp and discovers the Disneyland of her daydreams has become a reality.
The film visualizes the gears and pulleys of June’s creations, producing exciting action scenes that make fantasies function efficiently. It’s a simplistic, nuts and bolts animation that pales in comparison to something like Missing Link, but is a fun enough ride. (Jack Whiting) Feels like the first under-tens/preteen, Saturday kids matinee for ages. So bring them in and run for it.
The unlikely but real-life tale of shanty-singing seafarers whose novelty debut album triumphantly sailed into the UK top ten.
British cinema is as well known for its charming tales of triumph over adversity as it is for the darkness of its kitchen sink grit. Just look at 2014’s Pride or last summer’s Swimming with Men and you get the picture. The latest entry to that underdog canon is Fisherman’s Friends.
When hotshot music producer and city boy Danny (Daniel Mays) arrives in the Cornish fishing Port Isaac on a stag do, a prank gone awry leaves him stranded alone in the village. Urged by his boss to try to sign the local sailors, who regularly perform in the harbour, a bewildered Danny tries to make the deal a reality. He’s unaware that this is yet another wind-up but when something in the music speaks to his romantic soul, Danny makes it his mission to bring the fishermen and their music to the world.
Director Chris Foggin’s lovely little film, while gleefully wallowing in its weirdness, smartly knows when to get serious and land some truly emotional blows. (Research Chris Coetsee) Come and see a bunch of old jumpers truly singing their hearts out.
Alice Rohrwacher's enchanting Italian fable about exploitation, devastation and redemption.
In a cut-off corner of Italy, an extended family is still living a feudal existence, exploited by the Marchesa and her family, as they try to keep their tobacco plantation running. Lazzaro, the saintly, tousle-haired youth of the title, is generally treated like the village idiot. He represents the bottom rung of an already lowly social caste yet his generosity overflows. No task is ever a troublesome burden for him. When his friendship with local the Marquis Tancredi causes the farm to scatter, what begins as a commentary on rural squalor turns into something altogether more hypnotic and hazy.
Rohrwacher merges a variety of storytelling styles, including a mash-up of Italian filmmaking from neorealism to Felliniesque flights of fancy. This unique narrative, fuses social commentary with fantasy, hence won Best Screenplay at Cannes last year (2018). An occasional glimpse of a Walkman or a cell phone help to anchor the events in its specific era, but otherwise the story wanders loosely through history. Both out-of-time and timeless, this is a beautiful, if somewhat disorienting drama. (Research Chris Coetsee) It is all of those things and a million more. Don’t miss.
There’s a lot to say about Ella Fitzgerald that goes beyond the stock superlatives. And happily, Just One of Those Things addresses the lack of attention accorded Ella as a subject worthy of thoughtful chronicle.
Ella Fitzgerald was a 15 year-old street kid when she won a talent contest in 1934 at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem. Within months she was a star. This fascinating documentary follows her extraordinary journey over six decades as her sublime voice transforms the tragedies of her own life and the troubles of her times into joy.
Fitzgerald was aesthetically an unlikely star; a woman who didn’t fit society’s conventional idea of a traditionally glamourous, slender beauty. She rallied against sexism and racism in her day to day life. Marilyn Monroe is credited as demanding the prestigious Hollywood club, Mocambo open its doors to Ella. One of the film’s poignant moments witnesses Fitzgerald speaking out against racism on a radio show…the piece was never broadcast. There’s a thrill of hope for a future in which Ella Fitzgerald’s music lives on. We loved her as kids despite her being ‘parents music’. Her voice and style transcended, and does now will on and on.
In a suspenseful Spanish thriller about a teenage kidnapping, Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem’s sizzling chemistry elevates this sophisticated whodunit drama to another level
In the Iranian auteur’s first Spanish language film, Asghar Farhadi brings his fascination with intricate webs of secrets and lies to wine country Spain. Returning to her village after emigrating to Argentina, Laura (Cruz) is introduced as she attends her sister’s wedding - a lively and entertaining family affair. But all celebration abruptly comes to a halt once Laura’s teenage daughter Irene (Carla Campra) goes missing during the reception. Ominous newspaper clippings about past kidnappings are found next to her sleeping brother in their hotel room. When Laura is texted ransom demands by the kidnapper(s) and threatened not to tell the police, she must take matters into her own hands. Her husband still in Argentina, she turns to former lover Paco (Bardem) for help - a past romance, of which ‘everybody knows’. Exposing the fault lines within this deeply complex village, the film’s title (Todos lo Saben) runs throughout. The implications of what is exposed, are earth-shattering. Superb twists and turns. (Research Rachel Williams) A fantastic Spanish thriller. Come for those twists, turns and... Ricardo Darín.
Tim Burton’s take on Disney’s doe-eyed elephant is sure to enchant audiences both young and old.
Following in the footprints of the massively successful Beauty and the Beast and Jungle Book, Disney’s industrious mission to remake their most beloved animated classics continues. The first of three sparkling live-action reincarnations to be released this year, Dumbo opens in 1919 as the struggling Medici circus train winds its way through the small towns of the Deep South. When WWI veteran Holt returns to find his horses have been sold to pay the bills, he is demoted to the elephant pen where a big-eared outcast, soon to be known as Dumbo, lives with his mother. As Dumbo’s extraordinary ability to fly quickly captures the world’s imagination, hyper-ambitious and greedy entertainment mogul V.A. Vandevere plots to exploit Dumbo and the Medici circus for his own ends.
Burton is no stranger to the circus, every one of his films a carnival of colour and enchantment. “You put on a hell of a show,” someone says to Vandevere. When he replies “That’s what you pay me for,” it’s hard not to hear Burton talking about himself in the exchange. (Research Chris Coetsee) Critics have been sniffy, so come, it will be fantastic.
The French master Luc Besson came through with what is one of the oddest guardian-child relationships (who adopts who). In this his English language debut, Jean Reno plays Leon, the coolest assassin ever, with fantastic new (then) child-star: Natalie Portman as Mathilda.
At only 12-years-old, Mathilda returns one day from running an errand to find her dysfunctional, family wiped out after a corrupt undercover police raid, led by psychotic cop, Stansfield (a terrifying, Gary Oldman). As luck would have it, it turns out she lives next door to a very quiet assassin: Leon. Reluctantly he takes her in. Let the story begin.
The film has everything it needs to be an action thriller in every detail, high on emotion. Outstanding performances, mind-blowing action, loads of tension and violence, on top of which is a truly amazing screenplay.
“Having one career highlight performance in a film is a treat. Having three is just spoiling us” (Total Film)
“Reno's performance of hangdog loyalty lends his character pleasing sympathy, while Besson's heavily stylized direction builds tension around sexy violence.” (Film4) What a tepid writing for a film so hot.
The three performances are shining-brilliant from the start. One of the most thorough thrillers from the last 25 years.
Nicholas Hoult’s tender portrayal anchors this fantasy-flecked account of the mind behind Middle Earth.
As a child, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (b: 3.1.1892. SA d: 2.9.1973. UK) befriends a group of fellow writers and artists at school. Their bond of fellowship grows with the years. When his mother dies prematurely, John is forced to relocate to the industrial heart of Birmingham where he is put into the care of the strict Father Francis. He meets and falls in love with Edith, said: the inspiration for Eowyn? (Lily Collins) but finds it difficult to commit to a leap of faith, turning his attention instead to his writing. When War breaks out, John’s fervent imagination turns his hellish trenches trauma into a tour of monsters and dragons as the world he knows and the fellowships he cherishes are threatened.
Tolkien wasn’t the first to unleash a world of elves and wizards, but fantasy literature, and now very firmly: film, has since leapt from minority interest to cultural phenomenon. Karukoski creatively provides a warming glimpse into the past of one of the literary world’s most successful authors, thankfully without over-glorifying him. (Research Chris Coetsee) Low key is the key to a great show from the two leads. Come.
An Icelandic eco-warrior with a difference is the unlikely heroine of this distinctive comedy-drama about our warring relationship with nature.
Halla (Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir) is known to her friends as a quiet and upbeat choir mistress. However, her seemingly unadventurous life covers up a dark secret. Halla is also ‘The Mountain Woman’, an environmental activist waging a one-woman war on the local metal industry to protest and protect the breathtaking Icelandic rural landscape. When the chance to realise her dream of becoming a mother presents itself, she finds herself with a difficult decision to make.
Director Benedikt Erlingsson’s first film, Of Horses and Men, was one of the most startlingly original, audacious features of the past decade. While Woman at War isn’t quite as weirdly wonderful, its tremendous central performance and rousing theme offer a far more focused and driven story. Hot on the heels of the Avengers and Captain Marvel, Halla is the very opposite of the MCU’s ever-prevailing heroes. Yet clad in a her own knitting, running around Iceland with a bow and arrow, she’s just as much a force to be reckoned with. (Research Chris Coetsee). It is fabulous, so we’ve scheduled three evenings whether you come or not.
Claire Denis (35 Shots of Rum, Let the Sunshine In) goes completely left field and delivers her English language debut via the coldness of outer space in this intoxicating sci-fi drama.
Robert Pattinson, who continues to develop his art-house credentials (albeit not his humourless face). He is Monte, who along with his baby and a handful of other convicts, is hurtling through space. This crew has been taken from jails and sent on a suicide mission to harvest energy from black holes. That leads us to, the only unforgettable, Juliette Binoche, who plays a ‘foxy’ doctor tasked with caring for the prisoners. Instead, this unhinged doc is obsessed with harvesting their eggs and semen for her own nefarious use (oh dear).
We’re aware, and mostly welcoming of cliches in film but High Life goes far in the opposite direction; existing at such a cosmic remove from established cinematic grammar that it feels like a lesson in how to experience film anew. So take a chance. Leap into the void, but don’t expect a smooth trip. (research Jack Whiting) Drop acid about 6:45 for the one decent trip you’ll have and the only way you’ll get through this pretentious testicle. Alternatively, come by Charabanc.
Five decades in the making, this unforgettable concert film captures the magic of an artist at the peak of her powers.
Over two days at Los Angeles’ New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in 1972, Aretha Franklin recorded the legendary gospel album Amazing Grace, performing to a rapt audience, including the likes of Mick Jagger, the songs she sang in her childhood. Visionary director, Sydney Pollack had the insight to capture this truly momentous moment in musical history. His skill lay in capturing Franklin’s talent as she found herself back in an environment that nurtured her, surrounded by her real audience, moved deeper by the power in her voice.
Painstakingly reassembled by producer Alan Elliott, Aretha’s triumphant performance can finally see the light of day. At the centre of it, she seems at once completely invested and coolly removed. She pours out her songs, her voice flowing one into the next. Meanwhile her congregation sporadically throw their hands in the air, dance in the aisles, saunter in and out. Perfectly imperfect.
Amazing Grace: less a conventional documentary, more an astounding historical document, a rapturous living history to the magnitude of Aretha. (Research Chris Coetsee) Don’t miss Aretha or Ella (Wed 15th)
We now have a film that nobody knew they wanted: a detective noir starring Ryan Reynolds as a caffeine-addicted Pikachu. What a world, eh?
No need for re-introductions here, the world of pokémon - a breed of fighting creatures from a Nintendo game that spawned a global phenomenon - is already well established here. The setting is Ryme City, a metropolis where humans and pokémon live side-by-side, although they cannot understand each others’ languages. The only person who can understand Pikachu is Tim (Justice Smith) a lonely teen from out-of-town investigating the death of his father. Tim’s dad was mixed up in some shady Pokémon dealings involving secret experiments. But is he really dead? What does Pikachu’s amnesia have to do with it? Or the local mega-corporation, run by Bill Nighy?
Detective Pikachu’s template is clearly Who Framed Roger Rabbit, with Reynolds capturing the cuddly little critter in the same sarcastic manner he tackled Deadpool, and his brand of humour is what helps digest the more ‘out there’ elements of this film which is, well, all of it. (Jack Whiting) Do kids get this stuff? Best to take one with you, because you wont.
Featuring an outstanding lead performance from Zhao Tao, Ash Is Purest White is a sweeping (and highly compelling) story of love, vengeance and revolution.
Moving from 2001 to 2006 and finally 2018, the Chinese auteur’s latest film tracks the turbulent relationship between Qiao (Tao) and the mobster Bin (Liao Fan). In 2001 Bin is attacked by a rival gang, Qiao saves him. By not snitching, she takes the rap Bin and the gun and gets a five years inside. Jumping ahead to 2006, we find ourselves in the most thrilling chapter as Qiao gets out of jail, and chases the now disappeared Bin. After instructing her at the beginning about ‘jianghu’, the code of “righteousness and loyalty” in the criminal underworld, she is the one upholding it after taking the rap for him. Putting the art of con into con-artist, she survives through a series of witty and inventive scams, such as manipulating cheating men. This epic tale explores the transience of relationships in the rapidly changing culture in cities of a constantly shifting new-world China. (research Rachel Williams) It sounds like a jumble, but the film unravels it beautifully. Don’t miss it.
Prepared to be wowed as Natalie Portman takes the stage, embodying a swaggering rock diva who tends to burn down everything in her path.
Raffey Cassidy plays Celeste, a teenage survivor of a school shooting. At a memorial for her deceased classmates, Celeste sings a song about her ordeal. The media attention transforms her into a star. Seventeen years later and Celeste, now played by Portman, is a pop music icon. She’s a drug-taker, day-drinking, entitled nightmare, who pretty much ignores her teenage daughter (weirdly, also played by Cassidy) and is a massive pain in the butt for her manager, played brilliantly by Jude Law.
“A Dark Star is Born” as Robbie Collin accurately coined; Bradley Corbet’s surging, shimmering music drama has all the veneer of Bradley Cooper’s Oscar swooner, but peel away the glossy finish and a far more sinister tale emerges. The film concludes with Portman singing rousing, electro anthems (all written by pop-powerhouse, Sia) as Celeste carves out a safe harbour in the blinding glare of the spotlight. This woman refuses to bear the burden of the film’s title - to be a voice of light. (Jack Whiting) Wow... over to you. See Natalie Portman’s breakout role - Leon (Sat 8th)
The fine dining of action films returns for another helping of exquisitely choreographed chaos. How can they possibly top the dizzying of Part 2 Oh boy, do they certainly try.
The man, the myth, the legend: that is Mr. John Wick is a retired hitman that strikes fear into his enemies (funny, considering how doe-eyed Keanu Reeves is naturally). Due to the escalating events of the previous chapter, concluding with him breaking House Rules, Wick has a $14m bounty on his head. Naturally, this attracts the attention of every contract killer in the area. No longer in favour with the underground assassins network headed up by Ian McShane, he must use all his wits to navigate his way out of NYC alive.
Taking cues from South Korean thrillers such as Oldboy and The Villainess, Chapter 3 is a rich, colourful spectacle. From the first punch to the final bullet, it’s truly transcendent action cinema. In an age when unconvincing computer effects and erratic camera work rule the ring, the dynamic duo of Reeves and stuntman-turned-director Chad Stahelski show us how it’s done. (Jack Whiting) Love that: “every contract killer in the area”... needs to be handy for the shops.
Beanie Feldstein and Kaityln Denver deliver laugh after laugh in the best coming of age comedy since Superbad, or simply for ages, which ever rocks you.
Molly and Amy are the two no-hopers intent on making a name for themselves on the last weekend of term. Realising they should have worked less and partied more the girls set out on a mission to cram four years of fun into one last night.
Booksmart is the first major starring role for Feldstein, after scene-stealing performances in Lady Bird and Bad Neighbours 2, and she makes the absolute most of the opportunity, making every line a little bit funnier with her spirited delivery. Denver, less flashy but equally as essential, makes Amy the sturdy emotional backbone of the story. Both of them perfectly sell their half-cooked teenagers on the verge of beginning the journey of discovering the real-world is nothing like they expected…
Told from a wildly original, fresh and modern perspective, Booksmart is an unfiltered comedy about best friends and the bonds we create that last a lifetime. Capturing the spirit of our times, it’s a coming of age story for a new generation. (Research Chris Coetsee) Raise a glass to them, they’re going to need it.
The White Crow has to walk a tricky line between period drama and dance movie – think Step Up 2: The Soviets. It’s all in the execution, and thankfully, this film is more graceful than that joke.
Following the rise of legendary danseur Rudolf Nureyev and his defection from the Soviet Union to the West in 1961, the film is sumptuous in its depiction of ballet during the time period. Of course, a plié is only as good as the performer, and thankfully, Oleg Ivenko turns between earnest charm and thoughtless arrogance on a dime. Most importantly, boy can he dance.
Ralph Fiennes' ambitious third directorial effort moves between three different timelines: Nureyev’s birth on a train and his deprived childhood in Ufa, Central Russia; his ballet training in Leningrad (Fiennes also plays his mentor) and early days in the Kirov Ballet; plus his time in Paris with the Kirov on tour. All three times are meticulously reconstructed, and all the settings and interactions feel truly authentic. It’s no mean feat, but Ivenko slips into Rudolf Nureyev’s slippers with ease. A joy to watch (Jack Whiting) So... Come and watch, come dancers, come all.
The violence and dehumanisation of the drug trade collide with native tradition in directors Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra’s epic crime drama.
Following the duo’s sublime work on 2016’s Embrace of the Serpent, their latest feature is another exploration of wealth, power and the corruption they bring. Offering spirituality, intrigue and drama, this visually exquisite work chronicles a Wayuu family's rise and fall during the early days of illegal drug trafficking in northern Colombia.
Unlike many films about drug gangs, it doesn’t luxuriate in violence. It’s an unexpected take on the cartel crime thriller, concerning itself predominantly with the threat of brutality or its horrific aftermath, not the act itself. Gallego and Guerra care less about staging perfectly choreographed bullet ballets than showing the damage done to the spirit of a community.
Birds of a Passage is an emotional, searing tragedy of a society’s determination to hold on to traditional life. Framed as an elder recounting memories as a cautionary tale to future generations, it’s a powerful, innovative exploration of a profoundly beautiful culture and their pivotal time in Colombian history. (Research Chris Coetsee) Dangerous living, beautifully drawn. Don’t miss.
Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen make a surprisingly loveable double act in Jonathan Levine’s screwball, often touching comedy.
Theron plays Charlotte Field, the secretary of State to a feckless boob president who decides to make a run for the White House herself. Rogen is Fred Flarsky, a journalist who’s first seen infiltrating a white-supremacist gang and heartily shouting, “F*** (Daily Mail censored) the Jews!”
Fred bumps into Charlotte at a reception and uh oh... No? Yes! She was his babysitter when he was 13. Once the pleasantries are over, Field hires Flarsky to write jokes for her speeches on account of her needing to lighten up. Of course, he ends up charming the pants off her. But can something real develop between these polar opposites as they bond over Boyz II Men and dance to the soundtrack of Pretty Woman?
The result is a gleefully retro and raunchy funfest. That the rom and the com both land is a tribute to the leads. Sure, Rogen has played this kind of loveable schlub before, but here he hones it to perfection. And Charlize shows a cool, refreshing flair for comedy that plays effortlessly alongside Seth’s shtick. (Jack Whiting) Rom & Com indeed. Best night for miles.
If we’ve learnt anything from the insanely popular Bohemian Rhapsody, it’s that we should never take biopics for granted again.
Rocketman stars Taron Egerton as music legend Reginald Kenneth Dwight aka Elton John, Bryce Dallas Howard is Reg’s mum...!? Jamie Bell is Elton’s esteemed songwriting partner Bernie Taupin, and Richard Madden his manager John Reid. Director Dexter Fletcher, best known for taking over from Bryan Singer on the Queen biop: ‘Bo-Rhap’ (to us in the know) yet unlike the glossy Freddie parade, Dexter takes Rocketman in an audacious and unconventional direction, making it a far more satisfying and entertaining tale in the process.
Rocketman doesn’t shy away from Elton’s dark side of drug and alcohol abuse and depression, and treats his career as a surreal, out of body experience. The highlight is the piano-playing prodigy elevated high into the air during a rousing rendition of Crocodile Rock.
Egerton not only embodies Elton, but he does all of his own singing; it takes a moment to adjust your ears, but Egerton comes scarily close to the pop legend’s vocal range. I think it's gonna be a long long time before we see a biopic this flashy again. (research Jack Whiting) There is a god after all.
For fans of talking domesticated animals, it’s been a long three years since we last got to spend time with Max, Snowball, Gidget, and the gang. The wait is finally over.
Max (a Jack Russell voiced by Patton Oswalt) faces some major changes after his owner Katie gets married and now has a child, up to the point he becomes overprotective. On a family trip to the countryside, Max meets a farm dog named Rooster (voiced by Harrison Ford) and both attempt to overcome his fears.
Meanwhile, Gidget (a cat) tries to rescue Max's favorite toy from a cat-packed apartment, and Snowball (a rabbit) sets on a mission to free a white tiger named Hu from a circus.
As with the first surprisingly fun installment - not just content with slapping on the animal related gags - the sequel attempts to further explore the question every pet owner has wondered: what are my pets really up to when I’m not at home? Whether it really answers that question is another matter entirely. For now just soak up the silliness. (Jack Whiting) There’s lot’s of it, you may need a towel. Fabulous fun. Come.