Early in 1970 at a small cinema off Oxford Circus (the Regent St Cinema?) just as the final
frame caught them, there was a dead silence. Then the rapture began, and didn’t stop.
By the time the screen had turned to sepia the audience was on its feet, whistling, clapping, loudly through tears.
It was the first time I had experienced such an outpouring at the end of a film, and the last, until the Rex reopened. Being part of that audience has stayed with me as a huge and magical moment.
The film was, and remains, faultless and holds up as fresh today as it did forty eight years ago. It is witty, sharp, a great story and the camera doesn’t miss a trick.
“I got vision while the rest of the world wears bi-foculs…” What ever happened to director, George Roy Hill?
Supposedly based on the true story of two bandits who made outlaw history in the wild, west Wyoming of the late 19th Century. It emerges as a once-only comedy of errors played beautifully to the last shot by the serendipitous, genius, pairing of Redford and Newman. Don’t miss, no matter how many times…
“Somebody say - one two three go…”
Intimacy and beauty are at the heart of this enlivened tale of star-crossed lovers.
On the South Pacific island of Tanna, young Yakel tribe member Wawa (Marie Wawa) meets fellow tribe member Dain (Mungau Dain) the grandson of her village's chief, Charlie (Chief Charlie Kahla).
With strict conventions being the cornerstone of their ancient society, Wawa is expected to partake in an arranged marriage with a rival tribesman in an attempt to bring peace and prosperity to the bad-blood between the rival tribes. Turning her back on ancient tradition, Wawa falls in love with Dain and begins to spend time with him in secret. Only her younger sister Selin knows of their forbidden romance.
Warm, fresh and emotionally engrossing, co-directors Martin Butler and Bentley Dean, as well as the members of the Yakel tribe, come together in true harmony to deliver a humanist love story that is both familiar and unlike any other.
“The Yakel people’s passion to tell this story is undoubtedly at the heart of the film’s success. Tanna has a warm, shimmering vitality. Like the trees and the birds, the frame feels alive.” (Guardian) (research Chris Coetsee) A beautiful and most extraordinary film. Come.
Casey Affleck’s burgeoning career continues to go from strength to strength as he shines in Kenneth Lonergan’s searing emotional drama.
Set against Massachusetts’ gloomy North Shore, this tragic tale follows Lee Chandler (Affleck) a young man hopelessly lost in life, as he returns to his hometown after the death of his brother Joe (another brilliant turn by Kyle Chandler) to care for Joe’s only son, 16-year-old, Patrick. His brother’s death has left Lee an unexpected, and most under-qualified, legal guardian.
With painful flashbacks to the past intermingled with turbulent scenes of the present, the source of Lee’s sorrow is slowly revealed, underpinning the complexity of his relationships with Patrick and ex-wife Randi (the reliably odd, Michelle Williams) who has remarried and has a baby on the way.
Considered front runners for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress Oscars, Affleck and Williams may have to play second string to Lonergan on the night with many predicting a Best Picture nomination. Whether or not, Manchester-by-the-Sea remains a career highlight, not only for its director but, for virtually all involved.
“His heartbreaking third feature finally confirms Lonergan as an auteur of genuine merit” (Guardian) (research Chris Coetsee). It will wring you ragged, but don’t miss.
If Mike Mills’ 2011 film Beginners was a tribute to his late father, then 20th Century Women, though less tied up with autobiography, serves as a heartfelt acknowledgement of his mother’s guidance through the tumultuous adolescent period.
Dorothea Fields (Annette Bening) is a divorced mother, born into the Great Depression, navigating her way through the enormous cultural shifts of late ‘70s America. Her 15 year old son, Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann) is experiencing changes of his own and, as he is becomes increasingly alien to her, she realises he needs more than just her input to become the moral individual she so desperately wishes him to be.
With the help of Abbie (Great Gerwig) and Julie (Elle Fanning) two offbeat women both relatively close to Jamie in age, Dorothea comes closer to understanding the youth of the day and the three of them work together to guide him through his clumsy transition into manhood.
“Mills authentically encapsulates the signpost features of an era, short shorts and VW beetles, where feminism had lost its militant edge but continued to change the world; appreciating nostalgia but not wallowing in it.” (Variety) (research Heather Graves) A coming of (all) age tale. Understated, warm and tender.
The title of the second instalment in the frustratingly gargantuan series is a bit of a misnomer. Where's the darkness? It's still about as racy as a shampoo advert.
Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) is adamant that she’ll have nothing to do with Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) after her experiences in the first film. When he sends her flowers, she throws them straight in the bin. However, after running into him at a photographers’ gallery, where all the pictures are of her, she shows remarkably little resistance when he asks her out. “Okay, I will have dinner with you because I am hungry,” is how she justifies her immediate capitulation. Soon, they are back together, but this time on her terms.
The ‘Darker’ in the title isn’t referring to any increase in explicitness; it's all coated in a syrupy romance that is very careful not to offend or titillate too much. No sweating or grunting here, just slow scenes of hanky-panky accompanied by gentle, soft rock. The very definition of safe sex. (Jack Whiting) Go on Mr Darker Grey (the colour of my carpet) grease them pecs and get on with it.
Mark Wahlberg wears his badge with pride in Peter Berg’s tense account of the Boston Marathon bombing.
What had started as a day of celebration ended in a whirlwind of chaos and tragedy. As news of what had happened spread like wildfire, the eyes of the world turned to the stricken state capital
as a city-wide manhunt for the perpetrators began.
Wahlberg plays Tommy Saunders, a Police Sergeant who finds himself in the midst of the catastrophe. As a city comes together, Tommy joins the many first responders, emergency officers and valiant survivors at the heart of the scene. Facing an anxious race against time, Saunders and the Boston Police Department prepare to hunt down the bombers before they can carry out another attack.
Berg’s choice to have a fictional hero lead the line has certainly been Patriot Day’s most controversial talking point, but there is no doubt that Saunders is intentionally symbolic of Boston’s true heroes on the day, and it’s to them that this film pays its respects.
“A moving and compelling homage to a city and its spirit, as well as a gripping procedural.” (Guardian) (Research Chris Coetsee) Run for the box office.
It's down to the ingenuity of the folks behind this bonkers film that they've managed to craft one of the best on-screen versions of Batman. Christian and Ben, eat your capes.
It's also the best feature to come out of the DC stable since Nolan capped his Dark Knight trilogy with a bang. Batman (Will Arnett) is confronted by the Joker, the surprisingly sensitive arch-villain who wants the Caped Crusader to admit that they "complete" each other. He must recruit the help of a wide-eyed Robin to save the day.
Every possible bat-related joke and pun you could think of is crammed into this unstoppable, ninety minute candy rush. Aside from the obvious sight gags, there is genuine nuance to be found as it pokes fun at the entire Batman cinematic run, from Adam West camp to Tim Burton brooding. There is literally a joke-per-second rate so thick and fast that if you haven't recovered immediately from the last joke, you wont have enough time to chortle at the next. And I'm talking about the parents. (research Jack Whiting). A ridiculous, ingenius masterpiece. Not sure the kids will get it, dads will have all the fun.
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.
Amidst the lush green rainforest and bubbling volcanoes, Disney crafts a heartfelt tale of adventure that doesn't feel recycled from Frozen! 16 year old Moana (Auli‘i Cravalhowhojnk) sets out to save her home island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean from the curse laid upon it by the demi-God Maui (a critically acclaimed Dwayne Johnson! Imagine that). Moana is soon to take over from her Father as Island chief, yet despite repeated warnings to stay out of mischief, she can’t ignore the beckoning of the sea. The young princess sets out on a quest to restore the island to its former glory and her people to peace once more. Whilst the musical numbers are a classic family-friendly Disney, the film doesn’t lack stylistic attention to detail, including Maui’s tattoos taking on a hand-drawn narrative of their own (odd, but a surprisingly nice touch). The fiery personality of the young princess, combined with the absence of a love interest, fuels a moral behind the excitement. It is currently taking the US Box Office by storm.
"Eye-watering visuals, earworm songs and heart-swelling messages about respect for the past and hopes for the future." (Guardian) (research Grace Atkins) Sounds Fab. Bring the street.
Inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s book of the same name, The Jungle Book is the 19th animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series. Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, it was the last to be produced by Walt Disney, who died during the production. The plot follows Mowgli, a feral child raised in the Indian jungle by wolves, as his friends Bagheera the panther and Balloo the bear try to convince him into leaving the jungle before the evil tiger Shere Khan arrives.
“I thought you were entertaining someone up there in your coils” purrs nasty tiger, Shere Khan, (the glorious and unmistakable voice of George Sanders) while Kaa the Snake endeavours to squeeze Mowgli the Man Cub into his horrible clutches. This animated Disney/Kipling feature is the last to be supervised by Big Walt himself. It is chock full of laid back lines (with Phil Harris’s Baloo the bear, getting the best). Together with great early stop-frame knockabout animated gags and eternal songs… “It’s a slight tale with the characters and songs are pretty much perfect for viewing time and again.” (Empire) It is delicious from start the finish. Don’t miss a single beat… “Ooobe do…”
Barry Jenkin’s immensely powerful coming-of-age drama hits lunar heights.
Moonlight follows Chiron, a young black boy from a rough neighbourhood in Miami. Struggling to deal with his mother Paula's crippling drug addiction alongside coming to terms with his sexuality, he squarely faces the toils of self-discovery as he tirelessly searches for his place in the world.
As he witnesses a series of transformations in his life, the film’s central narrative is divided into three defining chapters, each detailing an important fragment of Chiron’s character as he progresses through childhood, adolescence and adulthood.
Both Barry Jenkins’ script and direction conjure feelings of romance and wistfulness, masterfully balancing the two not only with skill but subtle precision and offering a refreshing if haunting perspective on today’s society.
Boasting an impressive and ever expanding list of accolades, this is one of the must-sees of Oscar season.
“Moonlight takes the pain of growing up and turns it into hardened scars and private caresses. This film is, without a doubt, the reason we go to the movies.” (Time Out)
“An indelible portrait of an imperilled life, "Moonlight" is a devastating depiction of masculinity, race and identity.” (Screen International) (research Chris Coetsee). Another for the don’t miss dept.
Nostalgia can be a powerful tool when in the hands of the right film-maker, and thankfully, Danny Boyle knows how to coax the right memories. Welcome back boys.
The story may be driven by extortion, prostitution, addiction and even Death Wish-style revenge, but its primary concerns are friendship and memory. Drawing on Irvine Welsh’s 1993 novel and its 2002 sequel, Porno, and set twenty years after Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) quietly slipped out with everyone's drug money, we’re back in Edinburgh, where it's almost as though time stood still. He finds Spud (Ewen Bremner) on the verge of suicide, Sickboy (Jonny Lee Miller) still holding a grudge, and Begbie (Robert Carlyle) well, let’s just say he’s been promoted to true villainous status.
Silly name aside (there's only one T2, and that stars Mr. Schwarzenegger) this new-age Trainspotting manages to revel in the present, look to an optimistic future, and reminisce about the past just beautifully. And while the nostalgia is handled without a hint of subtlety, it’s too powerful not to reminisce yourself. If you have any fondness for the original, this a drug worth taking. (Jack Whiting) “This better not be shite Danny”, came advice shouted from the next tower block.
During the bloodiest battle of World War II, one man saved 75 men without firing or even carrying a gun.
Desmond Doss believed that war was justified, but killing was always wrong, and became the only American soldier to fight on the front lines without a gun. He worked as an army medic, evacuating the wounded from enemy lines, and his bravery was awarded by becoming the first conscientious objector to earn the Congressional Medal of Honour.
His incredible story is brought to the big screen with Mel Gibson in the director's chair, and Andrew Garfield receiving ‘deserved’ award nominations for his portrayal.
Expect heavy a uncompromising battlefield, with some calling the devastating confusion of close combat, the most violent ever captured on film…
“Gibson has made a movie that's nearly pathological but he nonetheless counterbalances it with an understanding of the psychological devastation that war wreaks.” (New Yorker)
“A fantastically moving and bruising war film that hits you like a raw topside of beef in the face - a kind of primary-coloured Guernica that flourishes (and disturbs) on a big screen.” (Telegraph) (research Matt Snowden). Perhaps for anti-violence, war should be seen in all its visceral horror? You decide.
Imagine an animated X factor; but instead of weepy teens, the spotlight is on pigs in leotards and various other charismatic critters. Illumination is most notable for creating Despicable Me yet Sing is more reminiscent of Zootropolis, without the political subtext and a whole lot more showbiz. Part-time impresario and full-time Koala Buster Moon’s (Matthew McConaughey) theatre is on the brink of financial collapse. In a desperate attempt to save it, he plots a singing competition. The contestants flood in, including a pig housewife (Reese Witherspoon) a porcupine with an equally prickly attitude (Scarlett Johansson) and of course, a Gorilla with a passion for piano. Sing continues to tick all the typical talent show boxes, as the painfully shy underdog (under-elephant) stuns the audience and leaves the other over-confident creatures in the shadows. The fun is infectious, but is it enough to restore Buster’s theatre to its former glory?
“The breakneck pacing and the fizzing energy of the storytelling make this an unexpectedly joyful experience.” (Guardian)
“Sing swiftly makes it clear that it’s not here for anything other than a good time. And a good time it has” (NME) (research Grace Atkins). It should teach the X-Factor something, but its not listening.
César Award winning actress Isabelle Huppert is spellbinding in Paul Verhoeven’s defiant psychological thriller.
Michele Leblanc a brisk, stylish Parisian, runs a video game company with an iron fist. She has no qualms about pushing her staff to the limit, alienating those closest to her or betraying her best friend.
When she is raped by a masked assailant who breaks into her home, she's clearly shaken but fights against her instinct to panic. Tough and unflinching, she refuses to go to the police for reasons that gradually become clear as she finds her own way of dealing with the trauma; a process that involves identifying and seeking out her attacker.
Verhoeven’s first film in 10 years, this droll, harrowing and remarkably complex movie represents the latest twist in a unique filmmaking career and stands out as one of the most enthralling, if darkly disturbing, thrillers in recent memory.
“Elle takes a deep dive into dangerous territory; toxic misogyny or a disturbing provocation. The sheer mastery of Huppert’s controlled performance leaves no doubt.” (Time Out) (research Chris Coetsee) “Each monstosity is greeted with a shrug, a low-cut dress, then canapes. What delicious reserve, delicious nerve, what sumptuous non-acting acting.) (CL ST Culture) Do not miss.
It’s 1879 in rural Brittany and one young girl can’t get the big stage out of her mind. Félicie (Elle Fanning) leads a simple life as an orphan living in the country, but has dreamed of being a ballerina all her tiny orphaned life. Determined not to let her lack of anything hold her back, Félicie decides to flee everything she holds dear for the unfamiliar bright lights and city sights of Paris. She is alienated and frightened but passionate about ‘la danse’. By assuming the identity of a pampered city girl, she becomes a ballet student at the Grand Opera House. The training is rigorous and the jeers of ‘You will always be nothing’ from the usual ‘ballet bitches’ prove even harder to conquer. With help from her friends Victor (Dane DeHaan) and Odette the caretaker (Carly Rae Jepsen) Driven now, Félicie shows she can do it, and dreams really do come true. It's a cheesy moral, but the stunning visuals and foolish charm of the central characters certainly compensate for what might be lacking in the plot. (research Grace Atkins) “A cheesy moral”? Never, this is Disney, where dreams always come true… and it’s fabulous.
Set in the stark and imposing landscapes of Western Mongolia, The Eagle Huntress traces its heroine’s quest to break through traditional gender barriers and become the first female to compete in the community’s annual Golden Eagle competition.
Aisholpan Nurgaiv is a 13-year-old nomad Kasakh girl, whom has long been fascinated by her father and grandfather’s age-old hunting practice. Dating back beyond the time of Genghis Khan this method trains wild eagles to hunt game in tandem with their keepers.
Although her own family are behind her 100% there are certain things the conservative elders will not allow. Girls cannot hunt for Eagle, they’re too weak and inept (of course, they would say that). Nevertheless, the exuberant, and seemingly fearless, Aisholpan believes fervently that girls can do anything boys can do. She goes on to complete her training with ease and is granted entrance into the competition. Against some 70 much more experienced men, she shines, her natural gift would not be denied.
“Combining superb National Geographic-style photography with a storyline that plays out like a thrilling real-life folktale.” (Independent) (research Heather…) Otto Bell’s first feature is a soaring documentary of a child’s journey into determination. Don’t miss.
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.
The claws are really out this time as Hugh Jackman’s reign as the Wolverine comes to a mature, bloody, and satisfying close.
It’s Mad Max meets Unforgiven as we catch up with Logan (Jackman) - now old, grizzled and lacking that magic healing - while working as a limo driver in dusty Mexico City. He's taking care of a weary Charles Xavier (a wonderfully foul-mouthed Patrick Stewart) once professor and father figure to Logan, now fighting a brain disease he cannot control. But we're in a future where the mutant age has passed; what were once celebrated super-heroes are now remnants of a bygone era. It’s no country for old X-Men.
When Laura, a young mutant girl, played by outstanding newcomer Dafne Keen, falls into Logan's protection, the three of them find themselves in a cross-country chase to the Canadian border with nefarious government mercenaries hot on their heels.
Logan takes thematic and visual cues from Sam Peckinpah to latter-day John Wayne, but underneath the blood and dirt, however, lies an emotional core that is newly exploited in comic book films. Is this the swansong Jackman deserves…? (research Jack Whiting) Never mind, Hugh will be back Jack.
It doesn’t matter that it was made here In Berkhamsted at Ashlyns school and the Rex. Is it any good? Would you come on a Saturday to watch two kids from the Shires pretending to be Rambo? Ten years ago it was hyped to the elbows by all, as the saviour of British film comedy. But what if it is a complete Madonna? Garth Jennings (latest: Sing) seems like that nice boy your gran would like. Even worse you would willingly buy things you already have from smiler, producer, Nick Goldsmith. They kept their promise in March 2007 to show it here at The Rex first, for the Ashlyns kids who were in the film.
It turns out to be great little film, energetic, warm and surprisingly funny, with beautifully unself-conscious performance by the two boys, Bill Milner and Will Poulter, and from all the local kids.
A great example of light-touch, low-key directing, letting them shine without ‘acting’.
It launched a prizewinning Hollywood career for Will Poulter, and lower key success for Bill Milner. It also boasts the last appearance of the legendary Eric Sykes. Come, and welcome, if you were one of the kids in it.
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…
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.
This deliciously retro melodrama uses its roots in late '60s sexploitation and Hammer Horror to tell a surprisingly powerful feminist parable.
Writer/director Anna Biller fully utlises every trick in the book to create a loving recreation of the era, from its deliberately camp performances to the Technicolor style, (all done the hard way - no computer trickery) it simply oozes charm.
Elaine (a simply intoxicating Samantha Robinson) is a femme fatale with a curious profession; she is a white witch with occult powers and leaves a trail of lovers in her wake. Woebegone, lovelorn and, indeed, dead. These handsome chaps have become a gallery of castrated swains who have sacrificed themselves for Elaine, as she demurely presides over her secret occult court of predatory lust.
The costumes and makeup further the immersion that you're witnessing a Dario Argento classic; that it also manages to tackle sexual politics with a wink and a smile is nothing short of stunning (just like Robinson herself, who simply swallows the screen). It's one psychedelic trip you'll want to take again. (research Jack Whiting)
Wow… One not to miss, for all kinds of reasons. Find one and come.
The year is 1954, and Illinois-based businessman Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) is always on the road, driving from town to town trying to flog the new five-spindle milkshake mixer to restaurants and diners. There is no doubt that Kroc is a hard salesman, with a quintessentially American will to win, but he is yet to find the product he was born to steal.
Enter San Bernadino, California; the home of brothers Dick and Mac McDonald’s (Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch) bustling burger joint. There are no plates, no cutlery, no tedious waiting times and the restaurant is run with seamless efficiency. Kroc is in awe of what the brothers have created. He sees the unprecedented speed and simplicity of their service model has the potential to go countrywide. The quality-obsessed brothers bring Kroc into their business, unbeknownst that they’ve invited a snake into the garden.
“It tells an old-fashioned fable of good capitalism versus evil, the twist being the chief hero and villain is in fact the same person.” (Variety) (research Heather Graves) Come, if only to hate the dollar-hungry bastard salesman who created this Global phenomenal, easy, ugly, lowest com-dom and loathsome curse on an unstoppable, social and environmental wasteland.
The spirit of Tarantino is alive and well in this blistering copy of Resevoir Dogs, which takes place almost entirely inside a tumbledown warehouse. (Dull cliché 1)
In this warehouse (set in '70s Boston... shot in Brighton!) (Dull cliché 2) a delegation from the IRA led by Cillian Murphy is collecting a shipment of assault rifles from a yawping South African gun-runner, Vernon (Sharlto Copley) and his greasy crew.
Suave middleman Ord (Armie Hammer) and enigmatic facilitator Justine (Brie Larson) (Dull cliché 3) make the third party, and closest things to sympathetic characters, but when the bullets start swarming, they become as brutal and reckless as the other scumbags.
Alongside Murphy on the IRA side is grizzled Frank (Smiley) while Vernon’s associates include Martin (Ceesay) Harry (Reynor) and Gordon (Taylor) each of whom has his own agenda. Now we're acquainted with the players, let the bullets fly. It's sharp, lean, and the dialogue unloads as fast as the rounds-per-minute. Ben Wheatley likes to dabble in sub-genres (gangster-drama-cum-cult-horror anyone?) (Dull) and Free Fire proves he ain't quitting. (research Jack Whiting)
There seems something of look-at-me about Ben Wheatley than come and see what I’ve made for you. Up to you.
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.
Asghar Farhadi follows his Oscar winning A Seperation with another Best Foreign Language winner.
School teacher and actor, Emad Etesami (Shahab Hosseini) is directing and starring in a production of Arthur Miller’s classic Death Of A Salesman at a time of unexpected upheaval in his domestic life.
Emad's wife, Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti) is in her new apartment in an unfamiliar part of the city when she hears the downstairs doorbell. Thinking it can only be her husband, she buzzers him in and returns to what she was doing. Bad move. When Emad does get home, he finds blood on the stairs, and Rana in hospital.
There is a formal pleasure and fascination in the way Farhardi juxtaposes the grim, complex scenes of the couple’s real life with the scenes from Arthur Miller’s tragedy, with its formal demonstrations of emotion. Messy realism and classically proportioned tragedy are set down, side by side. The Salesman is a well-crafted, valuable thrilling drama. (research Jack Whiting) It’s more than that now Jack. It is a symbol, or Farhadi himself has become symbolic of defiance against the US ban. They wouldn’t let him in, then they would. He didn’t go. So, won both Oscar and stand-off.
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.