Unsurprisingly, age-centric gags about not being able to get out of chairs, mobility scooter chases, old folk taking drugs and OAPs in the underworld are the order of the day. Echoing Hell or High Water by way of Last Vegas and a bit of Ocean’s Eleven, Michael Caine is Joe, he's at war with a New York bank that has tripled his mortgage payments. His best buds, Willie (Freeman) and Albert (Arkin) are also mad as hell, given that the steel company they slaved for is dissolving their pensions. Together they play boules, eat pie and try to guess when they are going to peg it. It's then that Joe has the not so bright idea of holding up their local banks.
The codgers watch Dog Day Afternoon as primer in what not to do, enlist the services of a professional thief and resort to being adorable when all else fails, which it does, quite often and they do grow in the adorable dept.
It’s not original, nor particularly clever, but the geriatric slapstick tickles. You could do a lot worse than kick it with these three loveable oldies. (research Jack Whiting) We’ll show anything, for ever, where Alan Arkin turns up.
At this point Marvel can roll out their most obscure collection of characters and a hit is almost certain.
And when this band of space scallywags became an immediate success in 2014, part two was inevitable. Kickstarting proceedings into gear with infant plant alien, Groot (still the voice of Vin Diesel), dancing to ELO's Mr. Blue Sky, as the rest of the gang: Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana) Drax (Dave Bautista), and, Rocket Raccoon (voice of Bradley Cooper) are fighting a giant space squid; Vol. 2 knows how to make an entrance.
They come into contact with Quill's father (Kurt Russell), a space deity called Ego. He's been searching for his son to help him with important galaxy chores. Quill, naturally, is thrilled to finally meet his only living relative; the other Guardians have their doubts that Ego is indeed the all-loving space hippy he appears to be. Just like its predecessor, Vol. 2 is like an expensive Flash Gordon with a kick-ass soundtrack. It makes very good use of Fleetwood Mac's The Chain. (Jack Whiting)
Studio Ghibli are back, sort of. This partnership with Dutch-British animator Michaël Dudok de Wit is a palette-cleansing beauty.
We open with a blue-grey vision of the sea, rising like Mount Fuji against charcoal skies – the pre-credits shipwrecking of our nameless Robinson Crusoe.
He is washed up on an archetypal desert island. Repeated attempts to sail away bring him into contact with a mysterious giant turtle, out of which a magical companionship magically. The story operates at the level of a universal myth, free of dialogue or specifics, subtly alluding to more essential, existential matters.
The Red Turtle evolves from an ambitious tale of survival into something poignant, and utterly profound. The simple way it takes on the familiar concepts of companionship, growing up and letting go, in a way that both children and adults can unpack without losing the emotional complexity, seems quietly groundbreaking. You understand why the legendary Japanese animation house chose Dudok de Wit as its first European collaborator. Allow yourself to get lost. (research Jack Whiting)
A truly breathtaking experience for any audience. As is the immortal, heart-flying Red Balloon. “The Red Balloon (1956) is one of the most beautiful short films ever made.
Filmed entirely in the picturesque back streets and narrow Parisienne alleys of the Old Menilmotant district, The Red Balloon has been acclaimed throughout the world as an immortal masterpiece of lyrical poetry…” And it is. Come.
Showing as a short double bill at the Rex. Don’t dare miss them.
The rarest malts have spent less time maturing in their oak casks than it has this Ealing remake to get off the ground.
But now that it’s ready for consumption, is it worth a swig? Like the much-loved original, it’s a gentle, inoffensive wartime comedy, based on Compton Mackenzie’s 1947 novel about a Hebridean island whose ration of whisky runs out – only for a cargo ship carrying cases of the hard stuff to wash up on nearby rocks.
The community nabs the booze but have to fight petty-minded bureaucracy to be able to enjoy it – all while looking forward to the weddings of two daughters of a local shopkeeper.
As with Dad's Army, the fascination with giving these very old, and very British hallmarks a fresh lick of paint show no signs of slowing down. Any film where humble villagers outwit officious bureaucrats — as embodied by Eddie Izzard's pleasantly blundering Captain Wagget — will have a certain charm, but it feels more like comfortable Sunday night television than cinematic fare. An easy drink, then. (Jack Whiting)
The life and times of political trailblazer Gertrude Bell is examined in Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum’s finely wrought documentary.
Bell was a British noblewoman who developed a fascination with the Middle East, became fluent in Arabic, became a friend of various tribes and eventually helped advise the British on the formation of modern Iraq. (ooops)
Her importance, often overlooked in favour of the equally inspiring T.E. Lawrence, is presented via a combination of Bell’s own words (through the voice of Tilda Swinton) and ‘interviews’ with her friends and colleagues, adapted from correspondence and journal entries and channelled by a supporting cast.
Cinematically stunning, Letters from Baghdad is a colourful and charismatic portrait of an explorer, writer and diplomat, with a narration from Swinton as elegant as the passages from which she reads.
“Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum's elegant mix of voiceover, archive footage and talking heads lets "the female Lawrence of Arabia" largely speak for herself, illuminating the pivotal role she played in shaping today's Middle East.” (Total Film)
“Tilda Swinton is the perfect choice to read the letters of Gertrude Bell” (Time Out)
(research Chris Coetsee) Imperial and Colonial; come and ear the outstanding confidence of British Rule…
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.
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.
A member of The Mighty Boosh goes solo as fictional crime-buster Bruce P Mindhorn, whose bionically enhanced eye can ‘literally see truth’.
After years of figure-trimming hosiery adverts, balding has-been Richard Thorncroft (Julian Barratt) is in no position to be picky about his roles. So when a suspected serial killer (Russell Tovey) insists that he will speak only to Mindhorn, Thorncroft grabs his wig and heads across the Irish Sea to the glorious Isle of Man in search of a career revival.
With Steve Coogan heavily involved, you see very quickly that Thorncroft, in all his swaggery awfulness, is a beefed-up Alan Partridge clone, and the film is a variation on Alpha Papa, with the same drift towards accidental day-saving and a poignantly thwarted love life. Its weirdness still pays off when it's not trying too hard, and for fans of Barratt, Boosh and mock-heroic Britcoms, it will mostly hit the spot
As a bit of a primer for this, seek out A Gun for George, a short film by Matthew Holness (he of Darkplace and general cult fame) for a similar '70s detective pastiche. (research Jack Whiting) Barrett keeps a great straight face throughout. Silly, from start to finish. Come for both.
Has pirate fatigue set in yet? Not likely? The flag of Jack Sparrow is flying high with nary a dead wind in sight.
It seems Kon Tiki directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg are keen to flex their ocean muscles again, and the plodding, existential elements of the last two have been made to walk the plank. Simplicity and fun have been restored, at least in part.
Javier Bardem is the film's secret weapon as Capitán Armando Salazar, an undead pirate hunter with a complexion of sun-baked mud, tendrils of hair that drift and float like submerged seaweed, and a mouth liable to ooze inky goo in close-up.
Salazar wants to find Johnny Sparrow to lead him to the Trident of Poseidon – a weapon capable of destroying every pirate on earth; mmmm… most being already crumbly, garden fork should do it?
Enter, in common purpose, the somewhat fresher-faced Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), who needs the same magic fork to save his father, Will (sadly now dad - Orlando Bloom) Come on Hollywood, the first was only 2006!
They all play second fiddle to the film’s real heroine Kaya Scodelario’s Carina, who lashes them off the screen. (research Jack Whiting)
Nacho Vigalondo has somehow fused two ‘genres’: adorable indie rom-com, and monster movie.
Arguably these two seemingly opposite approaches to filmmaking shouldn’t work, yet, despite a budget which wouldn’t cover Kong’s left fist, Colossal comes off as a quirky idea worth watching.
Anne Hathaway lets her hair down as Gloria, a Manhattan blogger who boozes away her sorrows, like getting fired and being kicked to the curb by her live-in boyfriend (Dan Stevens). So she moves back to her old house and nabs a waitress job in a bar owned by Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) a former classmate who has always had a crush on her.
Meanwhile, a Godzilla-like creature is on the loose in South Korea, and it seems to be copying the gyrations of Gloria’s drunken nights out. What? Wait, there is a connection.
Hathaway does a great job of making emotional sense of the film’s warring elements, her teased fringe and teen-goth wardrobe suggesting an arrested adolescence to which she brings genuine pathos. There’s meaning amid the destruction, I promise? Weird, wacky, and full of heart; Colossal has to be seen to be believed. (research Jack Whiting) So, come and see… If then you do believe, get help. Fun, come.
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.
Cotillard plays Gabrielle, a Provençal lavender farmer’s daughter who’s waging a lifelong war against sexual frustration in the latest offering from French filmmaker Nicole Garcia. Inspired by romantic literature, she believes that profound passionate love is ‘la chose principale’ – the main reason to live. The kidney stones that torment her could as much be a physical manifestation of her aches of longing and unfulfillment.
Gabrielle, who at the film’s opening is nursing a wild (and unrequited) crush on the local village schoolteacher, is hastily arranged by her parents (their daughter ‘needs a man’ tout suite) to be married off to dependable bricklayer José (Alex Brendemühl). The subsequent union splutters along – but soon José packs her off to a residential alpine clinic to have her kidney stones treated.
While at the clinic, romance finally bursts into flower. Enter Andre Sauvage (Louis Garrel). He is a French lieutenant and of course ticks every nonsense box on the fantasy-man checklist.
In this tale of amour fou – loving the ideal of love, rather than an individual – Gabrielle is driven to rapturous distraction.
“A performance of tremulous commitment from Marion Cotillard” (Variety)
(research Emma Filippides) Tres Francaise, come for that and Marion, always.
Richard Gere plays Norman Oppenheimer, a bundled up, greying 60 year-old New Yorker who is permanently looking to make connections with Manhattan’s elite.
Following a chance meeting with Israel's deputy trade minister, the genial Micha Eshel, Norman uses the opportunity to blag an invite to an exclusive dinner at the home of power broker Arthur Taub. When Eshel doesn’t show, Norman is privately humiliated and is shown the door. Feeling guilty, Eshel offers his apologies and as a show of gratitude, Norman insists on buying him a pair of designer shoes…?
Deeply touched, Eshel leaves New York but three years later when he is elected Israeli Prime Minister, this one simple humility proves fateful.
Gere, who nails both his character’s bravado and insecurities, is backed by a terrific supporting roster: Michael Sheen as his concerned nephew and Steve Buscemi as a rabbi who likes to let loose with an occasional string of profanities.
But Norman’s biggest success story is writer/director Joseph Cedar, who playfully draws on his own binational background whilst deftly poking fun at the intersection of politics, business, and philanthropy. (research Chris Coetsee) Low key play never dreary. It is electric and Richard drives it in his uber-top gear. Forego the shoeshine. Don’t miss.
There are few current dancers as electrifying as the bad boy of ballet Sergei Polunin. And this handsome documentary does a fine job of capturing the physicality of Polunin at the top of his game.
Dancer is filled with breathtaking, gravity-defying athleticism as Polunin leaps from a poor childhood in Ukraine to principal at the Royal Ballet in London. The tattooed, temperamental Polunin thought nothing of adding to his highs by dancing while on coke, but the film takes a touching look at the family sacrifices to nurture his extraordinary talent.
He speaks frankly about the loneliness and monotony of his life in ballet and of his struggle to stay motivated after quickly achieving every goal he set himself, early.
The subject embodies the nuance of dance as an art form in itself: as an expression, an expulsion, a curse. What we see is an artist who has lost his passion for the art, then watch his determination to reclaim it on his own terms. It is now the result of his own raw expression of internal struggle: a profound statement of his identity as a dancer and performance artist. This is a story about something else. Come and see… then dance.
Life-savers Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron hit the sand in this update of the 90’s most famous swimwear commercial.
Johnson plays Lt. Mitch Buchannon, the beloved leader of Florida’s elite division known as Baywatch; protecting the south coast from all manner of peril.
During one of his morning patrols, Mitch discovers drugs have suspiciously been washed up on the beach of the exclusive Huntley Club, owned and operated by ruthless businesswoman Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra).
His investigations are halted however upon the arrival of disgraced Olympic swimmer Matt Brody (Efron) whose made worldwide news as the ‘Vomet Comet’ after winning two gold medals on his own but choking (quite literally) during the team relay race.
Mitch objects to his appointment. Boss, Captain Thorpe, has made a publicity deal, so is forced to accept the new tearaway into his ‘Beach Patrol’. Hindered by this boy, Mitch and his team face a sinister plot that threatens the future of the Bay.
Expect a barrage of thrills, spills and slo-mo bikini bombshells running straight at you. (research Chris Coetsee) With all its original subtlety intact, and the Hoff likely to show up, you’ll know you’re missing nothing. But you’ve missed nothing before, so come, it might sweeten your smile…
Making its debut at the Rex and Odyssey after its success at Cannes 2016 is another stunning stop motion from those who do it best: the French. Don’t be fooled by the title and animation style; this European animation is accessible, though not a light-hearted frolic. Inspired by a novel for ‘young adults’ (notice; not very young children despite it’s ??? cert) ‘Ma vie de Zuchini’ tells the tale of a golden-hearted nine-year-old suffering from the guilt of his mother’s death. Icare, nicknamed Courgette, is placed in a children’s home and after coming to terms with the local bully, takes comfort in his love for the companions he has found within and outside the orphanage. Director Claude Barras masterfully reveals each child’s unique trauma whilst preserving the charm of the film, uplifting rather than a relentless tug on the heartstrings. As life goes on for the children, it is their touching innocence and ability to empathise in spite of their troubled past which proves them to be even stronger than the adults who have left them behind.
“This beautifully tender and empathetic film addresses kids and adults alike in clear and compassionate tones that span, and perhaps heal, generations.” (Guardian) (research Grace Atkins) Come.
Rachel Weisz is perfectly cast as the desirous older woman in Roger Michell’s moody black-widow mystery.
Orphaned as a young boy, Philip (Sam Claflin) is taken in by his cousin Ambrose at his Cornish estate, the two forming an inseparable bond. After health complications sees the elder Ambrose take frequent vacations to Italy during the harsh English winter months, Phillip unexpectedly receives a letter from him telling of a wonderful woman he's met and married (Rachel).
As Ambrose's letters begin to sour over the ensuing months, Philip’s suspicions are aroused and he hastily journeys to be at his cousin’s side. Arriving at the idyllic villa, he is shocked learns that Ambrose has died and Rachel has mysteriously vanished.
Upon his return to England, he is stunned to discover Rachel has followed him. With the vast estate left to him in his cousin’s will, Phillip struggles to balance suspicion and infatuation as he looks to uncover the true motive of his enigmatic new house guest.
The second film adaptation of the Daphne Du Maurier 1951 novel, channels a Hitchcockian level of anxiety from the off, leaving little room for breath before its darkly delicious build up. (Research Chris Coetsee)
William Oldroyd's arresting feature debut explores the repressed passion and sexual deviance lurking beneath the facade of polite Victorian society.
Inspired by Nikolai Leskov’s 1865 novel Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, the story relocates from Russia to rural England and centres on Katherine (Florence Pugh), a miserable and belittled young newlywed trapped in a loveless arranged marriage to the sadistic Alexander (Paul Hilton) a man twice her age. Her new family is cold, unforgiving and offer her nothing but bitter hostility.
When her husband and father-in-law are called away on business, she finds herself succumbing to the lustful advances of groomsman Sebastian and the two embark on a passionate affair which threatens to overcome discretion with drastic and deadly consequences.
Beautifully shot and bolstered by an outstanding performance from the cool, edgy, beauty of Florence Pugh, Lady Macbeth triumphs in moving beyond the tinted vision of 19th century English life associated with Jane Austen adaptations and into something darker and wholly more realistic.
“Sometimes a glorious film appears like a cold dart out of an open sky.” (Times)
“Lady Macbeth plays like a cross between Wuthering Heights and The Postman Always Rings Twice.” (Independent) (research Chris Coetsee) Not to be missed at any cost.
Director Laura Poitras’ immersive documentary chronicles the plight of WikiLeaks founder and whistleblower Julian Assange.
A welcome departure from the usual furore over the leaks of classified US government documents and the Clinton emails, Risk instead focuses primarily on the Swedish Affair.
In 2012, Assange sought, and was given, political asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London following allegations of sexual assault and rape in Sweden, resulting in a government request for extradition and the potential of facing rendition, torture and the death penalty in the US.
With the same unfettered access to Assange she had with Edward Snowden for Citzenfour, Poitras manages to craft a remarkably in-depth report in the surprisingly short time allowed her.
At a mere 84 minutes, Risk packs a real punch, offering considerable insights into Assange himself and the unnerving cult-like circle to which he managed to gather.
An unnerving sense of mistrust lingers ominously throughout.
”It makes an overwhelming case for Assange as a political prisoner. But Poitras doesn't yield to hagiography.” (Sight & Sound)
“Risk doesn't burnish the Assange myth - it injects you into the bloodstream of the Assange story.” (Telegraph) (research Chris Coetsee) If you can stand yet another of these conspiracy docs, this is the one to see.
Roger Moore injected Bond with a sense of self-parody still unmatched today.
So it is with much adoration that we present the crowning achievement of Moore's tenure as 007, (although I do have a soft spot for the terrible Moonraker). The Spy Who Loved Me has all the ingredients down just right: from Barbara Bach's cheekbones to the underwater harpoon battles; from the opening ski chase (with requisite Union Jack parachute) to the introduction of Richard Kiel's menace-turned-comic relief, Jaws. And the underwater Lotus Esprit still stands as the greatest Q invention.
The plot then. When a British and Russian nuclear sub goes missing, Commander Bond teams up with his USSR counterpart Major Anya Amasova (Bach) to find them. The investigation leads them to billionaire shipping magnate Karl Stromberg, who has a crackpot scheme to destroy life on the Earth’s surface and create an undersea kingdom.
It’s every bit as silly as it sounds, but it wouldn’t be a 1970s bond if it wasn’t. Whatever you think of the films themselves, few can deny that when it comes to the spy having that little extra cheek, nobody does it better. (Jack Whiting) Spot on Jack. Don’t miss.
Bit of an odd one for you Tom? As the first instalment of the ‘Dark Universe' kicks off with this freak show fun-ride.
Cruise is Nick Morton, a soldier of fortune who plunders ancient artifacts and sells them to the highest bidder. His plundering eventually leads him to Iraq, and the tomb of Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), an evil Egyptian princess who killed her daddy a few millennia back. One spectacular plane crash sequence later and she’s on the loose, with the idea of using Cruise as a vessel for nasty god Set's timely return.
Most of the action takes place in London, where we're also introduced to 'Prodigium', a clandestine defense force - against the many Universal cinematic monsters one might be acquainted with - led by Dr. Jekyll (a hammy, and porky, Russell Crowe). Far murkier than both the 1932 Karloff classic and 1999's fun Brendan Fraser romp, this Mummy feels more like a super-hero-origins tale. You have to hand it to Tom to bring charisma to the party, which just about shines through the dusty bandages. (research Jack Whiting) But come for Sofia Boutella . She buries all the others to background every time she appears. The fabest silly flick of the summer. Just come.
Even when director Bruno Dumont is doing funny, you need to be prepared for a bunch of people to be killed, chopped up into tiny pieces, and fed to children.
Stick with me. Slack Bay is a very surreal black comedy set in the picture-esque French countryside during the summer of 1910. It is a mystery that isn't especially mysterious, and a comedy that isn't all that funny. This seems to be a deliberate strategy rather than a failure of imagination.
Shortly before World War I, haute bourgois André Van Peteghem (Fabrice Luchini) arrives at the title’s location on the Normandy coast with wife Isabelle (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) and sister Aude (Juliette Binoche) just as rotund police inspector Machin (Didier Després) is summoned to investigate a spate of mysterious disappearances.
This vicious dissection of the French class system carries echoes of Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Delicatessen, although plenty of pratfalls and slapstick business have been imported from Laurel and Hardy, Monty Python and the Clouseau movies. A very odd allsorts indeed. (research Jack Whiting)
Gifted is one of those films systematically engineered to extract tears from as many audiences' ducts as humanly possible; whether those tears are earned or not will be up to you.
Chris Evans – who is usually seen punching supervillains and flexing his enormous biceps as Captain America – plays Frank, who's raising his seven-year-old niece Mary (Mckenna Grace) – the twist being that the girl is a genius-level math prodigy and God-level precocious moppet, the kind that blurts out both numerical square roots and smart-arse answers with ease.
Frank talks to Mary like she’s an adult – and she talks back like one. In one scene, she asks him to tell her the truth about whether there’s a God. Backlit by a vibrant orange sunset, director Marc Webb captures her in silhouette as she climbs her uncle like a small monkey. f it sounds corny, it is.
Yet even the fact that the movie borrows heavily from Good Will Hunting, Five Easy Pieces, family tragedies, custody-battle courtroom dramas, other feel-good flicks and every egghead-vs.-justice folks class-conflict you've ever seen – it's totally forgivable. Cuteness reigns. (Jack Whiting)
Move aside Batman, Superman. In fact all male super-heroes can step down; Wonder Woman’s the new crusader sans cape.
The radiant Gal Gadot slips perfectly into the gold bangles as Diana of Themoscyra, Princess of the Amazons; crafted from clay and brought to life by Zeus himself.
Yes it sounds silly, but director Patty Jenkins has stuck close to the nearly eighty-year-old source material, resulting in campy fun along the lines of Christopher Reeves-era Supes.
She’s thrust into the 'world of men' when Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) an American spy fleeing from German soldiers during World War I, enters her land. She believes Ares the god of war, is behind the great conflict and agrees to aid Steve and the allies, leading her to 1918 London where the fish-out-of-water antics begin (the locals aren't fashion-forward enough for Diana's thighs). She soon finds herself in the trenches and on the frontlines, and it's here the gleaming red and gold costume is donned, artillery is deflected, and arses are kicked. (research Jack Whiting) “Remotely feminist? She is little more than a male bondage fantasy, trussed up in (not much) leather with sexy role-play manacles as indestructible weapons.” (Camilla Long ST Culture) It’s a silly BlockB. It has no other label.
Not to be confused with Rock Lobster – the 1979 new-wave super hit - Rock Dog is a bit like Footloose with animals.
Luke Wilson voices the puppyish dude who relinquishes a life guarding sheep from mafia-style wolves and heads with his guitar to the big city, where he meets pop-god Angus Scattergood (Eddie Izzard).
After finally wearing his father (J.K. Simmons) down, Bodi’s journey from the snowy climes of Stone Mountain to the urban environment is made with the intention of meeting Scattergood. Living a solitary existence in a big white house with only a robot butler for company, the musical moggy (dressed all in black and also sporting Izzard’s signature red nails) has little time to deliver a new single to his record label or risk being dropped. Luckily for the stressed kitty, a talented, eager pup has just arrived on his doorstep.
The definition of ‘rock’ here seems to be winsome be-yourself ballads with a smattering of acoustic guitar. So anyone hoping for heavy riffs might want to just put on some Black Sabbath CDs instead. (Jack Whiting) Sounds nuts so come.
A bit like when Home Alone 3 was the first one without Macaulay Culkin, the change of casting for this installment may feel a little strange to begin with.
Kids grow up yet franchises must go on, so here we are with the fourth(!) film in the series which subs in a new wimpy kid (Greg Heffley is now played by Jason Drucker), annoyed at the prospect of a family road trip in which mum (Alicia Silverstone, but with glasses) has banned “all electronic devices”. Mixing the diary approach and the road trip structure means story is light, and it’s left to the characters to work their way through a series of scrapes. Think the recent Vacation reboot, but better.
Kids may be able to relate to Greg’s plight, and a silly joke about him becoming a meme called “Diaper Hands” induced a loud giggle, though parents may roll their eyes at the visceral, gross-out quality of the comedy.
For adults the 90 minutes will feel like a long haul indeed. (Jack Whiting)
Brian Cox works hard in Jonathan Teplitzky’s timely ‘lesson’ in political leadership.
It opens 96 hours before the Allied invasion of Normandy: D-Day. The man who announced “we shall never surrender” four years earlier is a shell of that Churchill.
Exhausted and haunted by guilt over the disastrous Gallipoli debacle in 1915, where hundreds of thousands lost their lives, he fears this invasion will have the same horrific results.
Falling into depression and the bottle, it is the unwavering support of wife Clementine (a shrewd Miranda Richardson) which he needs most to bring him out of his funk and inspire him on to ‘greatness’.
Whilst benefitting from smart screenwriting and handsome photography, Churchill ultimately relies on its fine lead. Cox’s performance of an old man railing against the dying of the light is
Lear-esque. A once confident statesman and World leader fearing his place in history is in jeopardy.
“Churchill goes beyond stock images of the machine gun wielding British bulldog in the homburg. It shows his weaknesses.” (Independent) (Research Chris Coetsee)
“What is this film on? It turns the arch bullying, eccentric tough guy into a wobbly-lipped moany snowflake. This might have been a clever counterintuitive film but…?” (CL ST Culture) You decide.