Hugh Bonneville treads a luxurious path in Gurinder Chadha’s glossy political drama.
Set in 1947 during the partition of India, Viceroy’s House chronicles the actions of Lord Mountbatten as he is handed the complex personal and professional task of giving the country back to its people.
As events unfold, it becomes apparent that it is not only a colonial country divided but the titular house itself; one floor separating the lofty Mountbattens from their 500 Sikh, Hindu and Muslim servants.
Adapted Narendra Singh Sarila’s book The Shadow of the Great Game, the central premise details the consequences of the chastening birth of two nations and the subsequent fallout, as both a physical and metaphorical line is drawn between India and Pakistan.
Chadha’s fusion of romantic melodrama and political clout is somewhat Downton-esque in its delivery, lifted by some beautiful cinematography.
“Viceroy's House is at its best when the pomp and circumstance is kept at bay and the film is left to capture the everyday reality of life in the palace just before the British leave.” (Independent)
“Chadha's most ambitious film to date.” (Telegraph) (research Chris Coetsee).
Here’s hoping it tells of the treachery and terror of Partition. Come and see.
The king of apes has had his story told many times since 1933. Here the fundamentals have been shuffled as Kong swaps out love and tragedy for a rumble in the jungle.
Apocalypse Now and Platoon may seem like odd sources to frame a monster movie and yet Skull Island makes it work mightily in its favour. Post Vietnam war, advancing satellite technology has revealed the existence of an island previously hidden by perpetual storm clouds. Bill Randa (John Goodman) head of the shady organization: Monarch (it popped up in the 2014 Godzilla) pulls together a team of scientists, adventurers and soldiers to visit this undiscovered country. Smooth mercenary James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) is first on board, followed by fearless war photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) and a platoon of airborne infantry led by Lieutenant Packard (Samuel L Jackson).
Of course, their first instinct is to carpet bomb seven bells out of the place, awakening all manner of lost exotic beasts, and the King himself. From that moment, very expensive looking B-movie antics ensue. Big and dumb and a ton of fun (research Jack Whiting) Real huge sets built on location, with only the ridic bits in CGI…! Fun. Come.
Eight-year-old overnight sensation Sunny Pawar steals the show in Garth Davis’ biographical heart-wrencher.
Pawar plays five-year-old Saroo, the youngest of a humble family from Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh. When he is unwittingly whisked away, by train, from all that he knows, he finds himself alone, thousands of miles from home left stranded, to wander the dangerous labyrinths of Calcutta. Flash-forward 20 years and a now adult Saroo, haunted by distant memories, desperately seeks the truth behind his forgotten past.
Ultimately a film of two halves, Lion’s true strength lies in the strikingly raw performance from its youngest star, elevating the first chapter of this remarkable true story. Dev Patel’s unfaltering performance then deftly captures the angst of central character Saroo, while supporting turns from Rooney Mara and Nicole Kidman lend added emotional weight throughout the second act.
A crowd favourite at this year’s Oscars, Lion is inspirational storytelling in its boldest sense, taking you on an emotive odyssey before knocking you back with a climatic roar. (Research Chris Coetsee)
“A heartfelt film combining intelligent attention to detail with a necessary sense of the story’s simplicity and strength.” (Guardian) Come and see and be rapt.
Empowerment at full-thrust in Theodore Melfi’s feel-good bio-flick.
With the Cold War looming on the horizon, the United States and the Soviet Union are locked in a fierce battle to be crowned victor of the Space Race. Joining proceedings at Langley, and as tensions continue to rise, three patient and patriotic African-American women sit just out of the limelight.
Focus soon shifts however when Katherine Goble (Henson) a former mathematical child prodigy, is assigned to work under Al Harrison (Costner) and his team of male engineers who are coordinating the flights of first American astronaut in Space, John Glenn.
Faced with repeated attempts at racial humiliation, Katherine, with help of her two best friends Dorothy (Octavia Spencer) and Mary (Janelle Monáe) strives onwards, continues to commit to the project and with the brilliance of her mathematical calculations finds herself at the centre of the mission.
Having already rocketed to success stateside, Hidden Figures proves to be far more than just an inspirational history lesson, doing justice to a trio of wrongfully ignored figures and tipping the scales of praise rightfully back in their favour. (research Chris Coetsee) This is by far the most enjoyable film on the ‘Diversity’ circuit. Don’t miss.
Emma Watson falls for a beastly Dan Stevens in Disney’s tale as old as time.
When the bright and beautiful young Belle (Watson) is taken prisoner in an enchanted castle in exchange for her father’s freedom, she finds her captor to be a menacing Beast.
Locked away for eternity, she gradually befriends the castle’s enchanted staff who help her to look beyond the Beast’s monstrous exterior and glimpse the trapped soul of the handsome prince within.
As the two slowly begin to bond, a threat to their sanctuary looms large as the selfish and cruel Gaston (Evans) a rival for Belle’s affection, endeavours to hunt down the Beast once and for all.
Following the highly successful adaptations of Cinderella and The Jungle Book, this marks yet another magical entry into Disney’s recent live-action canon.
With and enchanting cast, beautifully crafted songs and a delightful eye for detail. Beauty and the Beast offers a faithful yet fresh retelling that honours its beloved source material.
“A gorgeous, magical, witty pleasure.” (Times)
“Enchanting. Sheer, rococo-spun fantasy.” (Screen International) (research Chris Coetsee)
See if you too find the ‘handsome prince’ rather a plain anticlimax after the Beast’s fabulous horny head.
David Tennant pulls every string with this charismatic portrayal of radical visionary R.D. Laing.
Laing has always been a divisive figure. Heralded by many as champion of the vulnerable during the unsympathetic Harold Wilson years, yet derided as an opportunistic narcissist whose research merely acted as a shroud for self-help.
Written and directed with an intimate understanding of the man by Robert Mullan, who interviewed the psychiatrist for his 1995 biography, Mad to be Normal addresses the fundamental truths of Laing’s revolutionary practice.
Transforming his home at Kingsley Hall and starting a psychiatric community project, he invited people suffering with schizophrenia to come and live with him. Firmly against the use of any form of medication or electric shock treatment, common practices of the time, Laing instead believed that talking with his patients and the administering of LSD were the keys to progress. “Insanity: a perfectly rational adjustment to an insane world.” (RDL)
A fascinating, engaging study of the eccentric at its heart, the film also serves as a chilling reminder of the lack of understanding of schizophrenia in 1960s; capturing the truly harrowing nature of a most crippling illness. (research Chris Coetsee) “
“Life is a sexually transmitted disease, mortality rate: 100%.” (RDL) Never mind.
Slick, shiny, and very cyberpunk; prepare your eyeballs, this one's a real stunner, and I don't just mean porcelain-skinned Scarlett Johansson.
Johansson is Major, an android with a human brain (think RoboCop with curves) she's tasked with investigating hackers and cyber-criminals in a future where terrorism can mean planting false memories into citizens’ digitally enhanced brains, or even turning them into puppets. (Wow… that’s a bit too close to now!)
Unfortunately Ghost in the Shell 2.0 dumps the philosophical components of the groundbreaking manga; it doesn't help that everything worth adapting has already been mined by other films (from The Matrix to Ex Machina). So what's left to enjoy here? Well, it's certainly more mainstream friendly; having been stripped down to Bourne Identity with robots - a straightforward, no frills amnesia thriller that chugs along at a decent pace.
This version, then, leans on the strengths of Johansson's steely gaze - with Lucy, Her, and Under the Skin, she's used to playing these types by now. And she really nails it, captivating throughout. (research Jack Whiting) Come and see.
Smurfs can be 'down with the kids' too! Modern culture has seeped into Belgian cartoonist Peyo’s creation in The Lost Village. When even they're doing selfies, it's perhaps time to rethink our lives.
Fun fact: Smurfs, though nominally male, are completely asexual, and that the blonde and womanly Smurfette is in fact a pseudo-Smurf who was created through dark magic by their arch nemesis, the balding and dim-witted wizard Gargamel (Rainn Wilson) but later switched sides.
This is a plot point in Smurfs: The Lost Village, which finds Smurfette, Clumsy Smurf (Jack McBrayer), Brainy Smurf (Danny Pudi), and Hefty Smurf (Joe Manganiello) searching the far reaches of the magical forest for Smurfy Grove, a second, all-female community of Smurfs, with Gargamel and his cat, Azrael, in close pursuit. Along the way, our Smurf heroes befriend bioluminescent bunny rabbits, get chased by fire-breathing dragonflies, and do assorted wholesome Smurfy things.
It's a microwave meal of a kids film; let them have their fill. (research Jack Whiting) Or let them eat cake…
An irrisistible choice to bring back for one more summer…
Coco (Juan Villegas) is an amiable, slightly vacant middle-aged man
who has spent his entire life working in a Patagonian service station. When it
closes he finds himself out of work, unemployable and in a desperate fix. He
drives around the countryside, doing odd jobs. In a random act of kindness he is given a huge dog – a blank knuckle of muscle.
However, this brute of a mastif has an impeccable pedigree. The clueless Coco joins forces with a trainer – Walter. The unlikely trio hit the dog show circuit.
He is smitten and bitten and before long is travelling the country, making new friends. This odd, whimsical, delightful Argentinian film made in 2005 creates swathes of emotional resonance with the gentlest touch. Director Carlos Sorin has to do little more than point his camera at his actors to elicit humour, absurdity, pathos and insight into the plight of a man, whom until now, has never had a direction in life.
A life-affirming 97 minutes where nothing happens, except everything. Come for that and their lovely faces. Don’t miss.
Clara (Sônia Braga) is a 65-year-old music critic who, in 1980, when she was a young mother of three, survived breast cancer. Now retired and long-widowed she lives in the 1940s-built Aquarius apartment block in the rapidly changing neighbourhood of Recife, Brazil. She lives alone but not lonely, visited by her adult children and attended to by a long-time serving maid, Ladjane (Zoraide Coleto).
Clara’s days of happiness are under threat from developers, intent on building a “new Aquarius” where the old one “used to exist” (“The building exists now,” Clara tells one developer. “You’re leaning on it!”). Refusing to accept a buy-out, pressures to move bear down on Clara from all sides as she becomes the last remaining inhabitant in the ghostly apartment block. Pledging to leave only upon death, she will engage in a cold war with the developers to fight for the home, her silent witness to her entire life.
Kleber Mendonça Filho’s Aquarius is an intimate character study, urgently political in its treatment of race, class, and commerce.
“A timely, inspiring parable of protest, driven by Braga's rock-solid lead performance” (FT)
(research Emma Filippedes) A Fantastic show of will and the strength it needs - every minute.
In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, Remember This House. The book was to be a revolutionary account of the lives and successive assassinations of three of his close friends who died before they reached 40 – Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. Baldwin died in 1987 leaving behind just 30 completed pages of his manuscript. This new documentary, narrated by Samuel L Jackson and directed by master filmmaker and thinker; Haitian born Raoul Peck, envisions the book James Baldwin never finished. The result is a radical, up-to-the-minute examination of race in America, using Baldwin’s original words and flood of rich archival material. This documentary is a journey into black history that connects the past of the Civil Rights movement to the present of #BlackLivesMatter. By confronting the deeper connections between the lives and assassination of these three leaders, Baldwin and Peck have produced a work that challenges the very definition of what America stands for. This vital and sharp doc demands a big screen viewing. (research Anna Shepherd) This is one not to miss - whatever you are, or not.
Just this once, believe the hype. The stars align and these two starry adorables reunite in Damien Chazelle’s fabulous storytelling musical ditty.
He has you in the palm of his hand from the opening one-take shot, when the two leads, jobbing jazz musician Ryan Gosling and aspiring actress Emma Stone, pass in their cars after all an singing/dancing traffic snarl-up an on a soaring freeway LA overpass. La La Land gets a lot of flavour from its fabulous screen heritage. It’s an indie do-over of a French New Wave-take on classic American musicals, part Top Hat, part Umbrellas Of Cherbourg, but mostly Singin’ In The Rain. Yet Chazelle deftly handles the combination, and in doing so avoids the cheese. It is equal parts corny and cool. If Emma is the heart, Ryan is its soul.
This is the America we dream about. For two genuinely magical hours, you can forget about the real one. (research Jack Whiting) It is Hollywood’s unabashed celebration of itself. It is why ‘they’ built 1100 seater ‘escape’ palaces, like Rex’s and Odysseys everywhere throughout the Thirties.
An Oscar for fun, without one preachy po-face, in this early Dr Strangelove 2017, will be worth its wait in smiles of small joy…
Sarah Waters' erotic novel Fingersmith (a fitting title) has fallen into the hands of Korean auteur Park Chan-wook, and it couldn't have turned out better.
We've seen the works of Waters before in BBC's Tipping the Velvet, yet here Wook has crafted a far richer, moodier tale. Transporting it from Victorian England to Japanese occupied '30s Korea, a con artist, calling himself Count Fujiwara (Ha Jung-woo), hatches a devious plan that sees him working alongside pickpocket Sook-hee to steal the many riches of beautiful heiress Lady Hideko. Isolated and bullied into an impending marriage with her uncle, Hideko takes on Sook-hee as her handmaiden. But while Sook-hee’s task is getting her new mistress to fall for the “Count”, she finds herself sexually drawn to her instead.
What’s so fascinating is how unsatisfying and often grotesque male sexuality is in comparison to the eroticism and warmth generated by the women of the film (the Count is merely an annoyance to the lesbian pair). It's a fair few shades of grey darker than what we might be used to. Proceed with caution. (research Jack Whiting) But proceed all the same. Be cautious only about the time. At 2hrs 40 the prog start time is 7pm.
Acclaimed reclusive and rebellious mid-19th-century Massachusetts poet Emily Dickinson is powerfully portrayed by Cynthia Nixon in Terence Davies sumptuous drama.
Dickinson was never afforded much acclaim while she was alive and like most great writers she only became a household name after her death. Nixon’s portrayal as the insecure and rebellious character triumphs, demonstrating a lifestyle according to values and beliefs that simply did not exist in 19th Century American society.
Her steadfast and subversive attitude were not met with the strength of a Jane Austen heroine, but a resounding doubt that ultimately denigrated her public persona into a seedy outcast.
Rich in period detail, this exquisite biopic resonates for the truth and beauty-starved American populace of today.
“Arguably Terence Davies' most profoundly personal film since Of Time and the City.” (Sight and Sound)
“In its depiction of physical pain, the film rekindles memories both of Bergman's Cries And Whispers and of the death scene in Davies's own Distant Voices, Still Lives.” (Independent)
“Davies takes what is known of the poet's life and turns it into a series of carefully poised dramatic tableaux.” (Screen International) (Chris Coetsee) Beautiful, agonising and brilliant. Don’t miss it.
Who knew that one half of a cable TV comedic pair was capable of directing one of the greatest horror films of the last decade?
Don't fear, Get Out isn't straight horror, there's more to it than that; it blends genres tropes beautifully. Part racial satire, part Hitchcock thriller, and with just enough Twilight Zone to keep genre nerds happy.
Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) is a little hesitant about meeting his girlfriend Rose's (Allison Williams) parents, and rightly so, he's black, and her folks don't seem like the sort of people who embrace diversity. At first they're all smiles "we'd vote Obama for a third term if we could" but there's something not quite right. Their two housekeepers, also black, don't seem right, and Rose's mother plays with hypnosis. Chris realises he's in over his head, but is it too late? To reveal more would spoil it, but you won't casually hear 'Run Rabbit, Run' in quite the same way again. (research Jack Whiting) Everybody (under 25) is talking about it, and Jack is being restrained. Perhaps you’d better come and see…?
Alec Baldwin has had a killer run mocking the current US president. Now his talents are put to the test gifting his snark to a newborn.
On the plus side you get Baldwin in comic beast mode, voicing a suit-wearing, briefcase-carrying baby who is resented by his seven-year-old brother Tim for tyrannically imposing his corporate-style rule on the household, while poor Ma and Pa T. (Lisa Kudrow and Jimmy Kimmel) find their waking hours monopolised. The Trumpian tiny-ness of his hands is periodically shown up when he attempts a handshake or a fistbump.
There's a reason behind all this, something about a conglomerate called Puppycorp trying to corner the market on cuteness and only Boss can keep the natural adorability pecking order intact, but who's kidding who; this is an excuse for the actor to trot out his best ‘30 Rock’ inflections and spout CEO wisdom whilst in toddler form.
None of it makes any sense, yet Baldwins gravelly tones and on-the-ball timing is like a nappy that holds the mess together. (Jack Whiting) It sounds like an ugly Toy Story.
It’s being talked about, come and see why.
A movie within a movie: one mostly comic, the other mostly dramatic; Their Finest
comments on the futility of war, the flexibility of truth, the sorcery of film and the sexism of man. Wow… and all in one mainstream film - with Bill Nighy!
Gemma Arterton plays Catrin Cole, a young copywriter during the Blitz who, at the outset, is offered a job by the Ministry of Information’s Film Division to bring a female perspective to its popular propaganda shorts that ran between features at cinemas. “Obviously we can’t pay you as much as the chaps,” says her soon-to-be supervisor (Richard E Grant) after making the proposal.
After being assigned to co-script a project centred around the Battle of Dunkirk, Cole immediately begins to butt heads with crabby fellow screenwriter Buckley (the average Sam Claflin) who can’t seem to accept that he has to work alongside a woman. He of course soon morphs from callous to swoon-worthy, eventually taking a keen romantic interest in his colleague.
It's a fab period piece, and Gemma Arterton is gorgeous as always, but the more than always gorgeous, charming, joyous and gloriously himself Bill Nighy; saves the day and the film. (research Jack Whiting) Perfect. Don’t miss.
Luis Gnecco gives a towering performance as Chilean poet and activist Pablo Neruda in director Pablo Larrain’s intimate biopic.
Set in 1948, we open as the birth of the Cold War sweeps changes across Chile’s political landscape. Receiving news of the impending illegality of the Communist Party, Pablo Neruda springs to its defence.
Strongly opposed to the administration of President Gabriel Videla, he promotes his staunch views to the National Congress, denouncing the party’s political policies in the process and causes great upset. Threatened with arrest, he has no choice but to go on the run, playing a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with fascist Chief of Police Oscar Peluchonneau (Gael Garcia Bernal).
A playful and picaresque look at the poet at his peak, Neruda brilliantly blurs the line between reality and fitting flights of fantasy.
“A magical quality takes hold as Larrain pushes his two excellent leads out into the beautiful ether.” (Independent)
“Neruda is always calling attention to its own artificiality. But its sincere about wanting to do the impossible: understand, perhaps even forgive, someone who stands for everything you stand against.” (Metro) (research Chris Coetsee)
''Love is so short, forgetting is so long.''
Pablo Neruda (Love: Ten Poems) Slow, but don’t miss…
Directed by Jean Becker (son of Jacques) in 2009 “My Afternoons With Marguerite” is a sweet natured, heart in your hand, French comedy.
Set in a small, sunny town, Germain (Gérard Depardieu), a semi-literate, bumbling, fat handyman, strikes up an unlikely friendship with ninety-something Marguerite (the astonishing, real life nonagenarian, Gisèle Casadesus). Their chance meeting on a park bench sets in motion a whimsical friendship. Marguerite reads Camus to the big man, and slowly sets him on a path to self-improvement.
It’s unashamedly cosy, inimitability French, set in a leafy town where the sun always shines. The character of Germain is a strange one, a mixture of blustering assurance and low self-esteem, despite having a fabulous blonde girlfriend half his age. Such inconsistencies Depardieu pulls off with ease. However, Gisèle is the star; an actress since the 1930s, she is grace and charm and French, personified.
“It's charming, sentimental, well-acted, and any readers' group should make an outing to see it.” (Observer)
It is simply gorgeous and heartwarming. Don’t miss it this time around.
Roger Donaldson’s inspirational account lifts the bonnet on one of New Zealand’s most treasured sons and a true motor racing icon.
Born of humble beginnings in Auckland, New Zealand in 1937, Bruce McLaren’s determination to make it to the summit of global racing was founded at an early age. Having battled a life-changing childhood illness, he consistently fought the challenges and adversities that faced him on his way to the top. Following a single dream, McLaren’s unfaltering commitment to his vision would take him the extra mile to see his name become synonymous with the sport that he loved and create a dynasty that lives on to this day.
A film already teeming with unprecedented access to the McLaren family archives, there are also a plethora of contributions from his many peers including Mario Andretti, Emerson Fittipaldi, Lothar Motshchenbacher and Sir Jackie Stewart to name but a few.
An exploration of pioneering spirit, tenacity and passion, McLaren is a documentary which artfully peels back the layers of Britain’s most cherished motor racing empire to provide a compelling ode to never giving up on a dream. (Research Chris Coetsee) This is a special screening on this date. Bigger than just for race fans.
The gorgeous Hollywood stars and impressive sets might fool you into thinking this is the next Gravity, but basically it's not. And no joking; it’s about a killer octopus monster from Mars.
A team of scientists (Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds et al) aboard the ISS are eagerly awaiting a dirt sample retrieval from the red planet. They're in luck when said soil contains a single-celled organism. At first the translucent anemone comes across as almost cute. First contact is made via a tendril handshake. They dub it 'Calvin', naturally. But this isn't E.T and Calvin doesn't stay cute for long. The little bugger escapes through the ventilation and begins its bloody rampage through the ship.
Yes, it's a blatant rip-off of Ridley Scott's first Alien shocker, but that's not to say it is bereft of intelligence or tension. No, there’s plenty of each, alongside enough nail-biting action to fill the vacuum of space. Gyllenhaal and Ferguson's commitment to this slick B-movie, stop it feeling completely weightless. (research Jack Whiting) Didn’t like Gravity, it was a very clever, overblown cinematic-techno fest. Life has less to marvel at, so is much more fun…
Warren Beatty helms this wishful, wistful tale which pays a heartfelt tribute to the Hollywood of a bygone era.
Amongst the glitz and glamour of late 50’s L.A, Marla Mabrey (Collins) is one of a hoard of contract actress working for billionaire producer Howard Hughes (Beatty). Her new driver, Frank (Ehrenreich), instantly falls for the pretty starlet and together they break Hughes cardinal rule: under no circumstances can a gentleman in his employment date a contract actress. Evading the iron-hand and eagle eyes of their boss, the two star-crossed lovers must try to make a life for themselves whilst battling to survive in the cruel world of showbiz.
Boasting a who’s who of acting talent, Rules Don’t Apply certainly feels like a product of the world’s most famous entertainment industry, and Beatty’s lavish period production echoes fond memories of the filmmakers early acting days, a throwback to the last waltz of Hollywood’s Golden Era.
“It’s fitting in a way that one of the key forces behind New Hollywood, the movement that overturned the old studio system, should go out in the guise of one the last true moguls.” (Guardian) (research Chris Coetsee) Give Warren one more chance…
Ritesh Batra’s follow-up to award-winner The Lunchbox is a symphony of mystery with Jim Broadbent masterfully conducting every scene.
Broadbent plays Tony Webster, a grouchy and embittered retiree and divorcee whose relatively stable relationship with his heavily pregnant daughter Susie is one of the few positives to blossom from an otherwise turbulent marriage.
When Tony is unexpectedly bequeathed an ill-fated diary from the mother of his first love Veronica (Rampling) he slowly reveals the buried secrets of his youth to astonished ex-wife Margaret. Painful memories of the past are brought to the surface as old feelings of jealousy and resentment begin to stir once more.
Adapted from Julian Barnes’ Booker-winning novel of the same name, this is a film which champions its literary roots whilst squeezing every drop from its stellar leading duo.
“What begins as a nostalgic and humdrum family drama grows more and more compelling the darker it becomes.” (Independent)
“With his very nicely judged performance – lugubrious, droll, self-pitying and slightly scared, Broadbent controls the pace and tone of every scene, and the film as a whole.” (Guardian) (Research Chris Coetsee) Forget the masterclass, come for passion which bleeds and oozes from old aching hearts.