Tender and thought-provoking, The Rider explores self-definition and precarious dreams within the South Dakota rodeo circuit.
Chloé Zhao’s critically-acclaimed film is a quasi-documentary, seamlessly blending fiction and non-fiction, as the cast play versions of themselves. Despite having no prior acting experience under his leather belt, Brady Jandreau’s performance is exceptional, infusing authenticity into the film no trained actor could recreate. Based on his life as a bronco rider, we are introduced to Brady Blackburn (Jandreau) after his riding accident, leaving him with a near-fatal head injury. Warned by doctors that he may not survive another fall, Brady is conflicted between his dreams of success in the saddle and its perilous reality. Pressured by his dad (Tim Jandreau) to “man up! Be a cowboy!”, Brady’s position as a star rider not only forms his identity, but provides an opportunity to financially support his unstable father and sweet younger sister Lilly (Lilly Jandreau). Yet the risks are evident during his visit to lifelong friend and bull rider, Lane Scott (played by himself) whose own accident has left him paralysed. Through Zhao’s compassionate vision, The Rider questions how we give life meaning and the sacrifices this may entail. (research Rachel Williams) Same yarn, different saddle? Come and see.
Join Sony Pictures’ favourite monster family as they embark on a vacation on a luxury monster cruise ship, so Drac can take a summer holiday from providing everyone else’s vacation at the hotel.
Voiced by Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez and directed by Genndy Tartakovski - famed for such animated gems as Dexter’s Laboratory, The Powerpuff Girls and Samurai Jack.
Once the pack leave the port, romance arises when Dracula meets the mysterious ships Captain, Ericka. Little do they know that his ‘too good to be true’ love interest is actually a descendant of Abraham Van Helsing, ancient nemesis to Dracula and other assorted monsters.
It continues the positive premise that acceptance and tolerance of others’ differences is ultimately more rewarding than anger and revenge, a welcome message in these times of increasing social conflict and division. That this message is delivered by great comic acting, exceptional animation and plenty of laughs only goes to confirm Hotel Transylvania 3 as a uniquely charming family half-term must-see.
(Research Tim Fagg loaned by Odyssey StA)
The first major Hollywood film to feature an all-Asian cast in 25 years, about time! Crazy Rich Asians is a wildly entertaining, refreshing take on the Rom-Com.
A smash hit in the US, Kevin Kwan’s novel is here on the big screen; and everywhere else. It’s gone box office crazy with all its extravagance, glamour and wit. Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) a Chinese-American academic, is to accompany her boyfriend Nick Young (Henry Golding) to his best friend’s wedding in Singapore. Little does she know, Nick’s family are one of the wealthiest in Singapore. So wealthy that spending $1.2m on earrings is just another day. Scrutinised by Singaporean socialites who aren’t keen to lose their chance with Society’s most eligible bachelor, Rachel is bitched in the golddigger dept. Even more formidable is Nick’s mother Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh) who steals it with her steel. Rachel is a subversive rom-com heroine, she does not need saving. Intelligent and grounded, she navigates Nick’s world with a quiet confidence, following advice from her hilarious friend Peik Lin Goh (Awkwafina). It’s a win for representation, and great fun. (research Rachel Williams) “A bouncy castle of a film - with tourist brochure glare” (ST Culture) So come and bounce.
Boasting an all-star line-up of British legends, James Marsh’s gripping crime caper drills home the true story behind one of the biggest robberies in English legal history.
Déjà vu anyone? You may have had the displeasure of seeing last year’s appalling The Hatton Garden Job, a film so bad it made empty cinema seats bleed across the country. If you are however unfamiliar with the facts, the heist saw 77-year-old thief and recent widower Brian Reader assemble a gang of aged crooks for one last score. The target? Hatton Garden’s luxury safe deposit box vault, holding over hundreds of millions worth of bank notes, jewellery etc. The long quiet Easter/Passover weekend of April 2015 would do nicely.
The tale of their audacious crime and subsequent downfall is laid bare, brought to life by a wonderful cast of British film stalwarts (Michael Caine, Jim Broadbent, Tom Courtenay, Ray Winstone, Michael Gambon). Winking at their iconic screen moments of yesteryear while gunning for Ocean’s 80+, it’s a breezy affair with a dollop of murky twists and shady turns. Come and see Jim Broadbent outgeezer Ray Winstone? (Research Chris Coetsee) For the cast alone it’s worth the ride. Here once now, back early in November.
The last thing you’d want to see is Eli Roth (Hostel, Cabin Fever) maestro of the macabre near a children’s film, but his background gives just enough of a dark tinge to this fantasy fable.
Based on a popular book of the same name, this adaptation adds another wonderful entry into the the gothic family fantasy sub-genre.
Orphaned Lewis Barnavelt (Owen Vaccaro) is sent to live with his uncle Jonathan (Jack Black). His uncle happens to be a warlock, and soon enters a world of magic and sorcery. But this power is not limited to good people: Lewis learns of an evil wizard who wanted to bring about an apocalypse. To do this, he constructed a magical clock with black magic, as long as it exists it will keep ticking, counting down to doomsday. This clock is hidden somewhere in his house, where uncle Jonathan now resides. Lewis and his uncle must find the clock before it's too late, and before Isaac's wife, Selena (Cate Blanchett) reaches it. A deliciously wicked seasonal treat for the family. (Jack Whiting)
Visionary filmmaker Spike Lee does battle with this formidable, and incredibly, a true tale of race relations and bigotry across the US Mid-West.
In 1972, Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) was the first black detective in the Colorado Springs police department. Faced with (routine) discrimination and casual mistreatment from his peers, he is called upon to go undercover at a civil rights rally. Instead he somehow uses his position to investigate and expose the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.
Remotely and cautiously building a relationship with KKK 'Grand Wizard’ David Duke through telephone conversations, Ron then recruits his Jewish partner Flip (Adam Driver) to impersonate him, meet and infiltrate the Klan in the (white) flesh. As the pair find themselves in an escalating grapple to counter the group’s shady activities, they must also challenge the indifference of their commanding officers and the surrounding community.
Blackkklansman walked away with the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes this year and will no doubt stand as a front runner when Oscar nominations roll around. Both timely and urgently vital, it is a film that deals with both the past and the present to thundering effect. (Research Chris Coetsee) Brilliant. Don’t miss.
Standing in the shadows of her husband’s acclaimed literary career, Glenn Close’s performance of a wife’s late-life crisis is exquisitely multi-layered.
As its title suggests, Joan Castleman (Close) is defined by her role as an esteemed novelist’s wife: her own talent as a writer masked through decades of self-sacrifice. Based on Meg Wolitzer’s novel, The Wife is set in Clinton-era 1992, when Joan’s husband Joe (Jonathan Pryce) is informed that he has won the Nobel Prize in Literature. As such, a magazine cover will replace Bill Clinton with Joe, setting up parallels between the successful man and supportive wife standing behind him. Leading up to the ceremony in Stockholm, Joan’s desire for recognition begins to emerge. Through flashbacks to her younger self, played by Close’s daughter (Annie Starke) we see how she bonds with Joe (her married professor at the time) over their determination to write. After a lifetime of supporting his success, she warns a fan seeking to be his biographer (Christian Slater) that she is too interesting to be ‘painted as a victim’. A fascinating character, this tense dark comedy explores Joan’s need to reclaim her identity after years of compromise. (Rachel Williams) Lots of big acting but might be fun.
The directing duo who graced us with the loveable Rex classic Untouchable, has returned with this riotous ensemble comedy about the preparations for a chateau-set wedding.
At the centre of the action is Max (Jean-Pierre Bacri), the head of a catering company with wedding planner duties, whose motto is 'We adapt'. That phrase is tested to its limit with the impending nuptials of groomzilla Pierre (Benjamin Lavernhe) and his bride-to-be Héléna (Judith Chemla). Max's problems begin when egotistical wedding singer Etienne, aka DJ James (Gilles Lellouche) turns up as a last-minute replacement and quickly picks a fight with Adèle (Eye Haidara) Max's foul-mouthed second-in-command. Other disasters soon follow, including a bout of food poisoning, an unexpected power outage and the fact that one of the waiters is in love with the bride.
Like expert jugglers at a slapstick circus, the directors keep most of the characters and their faults and needs neatly in the air, with the rhythm hardly flagging and the tone buzzy and bustling throughout without becoming exhausting. C'est la Vie! relashies in its off-kilter characters, and has a sweet, sentimental heart, which builds to a good-natured, ludicrous high. (Jack Whiting) French and fabulous. Don’t miss.
Despite feeling like an age has passed (it has, fourteen years to be exact) in the film world we pick up mere seconds later as the spotlight falls squarely on the supermum.
The Incredibles’ blundering attempts to stop mole-like villain Underminer have left a trail of chaos. The Parrs end up living in a sleazy motel. It looks as if they will have to get ordinary, civilian jobs to pay the rent. A marketing tycoon Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) thinks the time is now to get the Incredibles back into the public’s good graces and he believes Helen, aka Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) is the perfect poster child, so he launches a campaign to make superheroes popular again. Mr. Incredible, aka Dad is stuck playing Mr. Mom at home, totally unable to cope with Violet’s boy problems, Dash’s adolescent rebellion and baby Jack-Jack’s rapidly increasing powers. Cue for the return of fashion guru Edna Mode to take the demon baby in hand for his very own super suit.
Incredibles 2 is a delight for all ages and may be the best superhero film since Big Hero 6. It is absolutely worth the wait. (research Jack Whiting) Find an excuse or a child, but don’t miss.
If growing up as a teenage girl isn’t complex enough, Desiree Akhavan’s coming-of-age drama explores the difficulty of finding who you really are in a place that aims to stamp it out.
Caught kissing the prom queen, Cameron Post (Chloë Grace Moretz) is shipped off by her aunt to God’s Promise - gay conversion therapy loosely disguised as a Christian camp. The approach taken isn’t explicitly violent, rather unveiling the subtle emotional abuse contained within bible study and group therapy. Led by Lydia Marsh (Jennifer Ehle) and her brother Rick (John Gallagher Jr) who insists he has overcome his own attraction to men, the camp aims to ‘cure’ its disciples of SSA (same-sex attraction). Cameron gravitates towards Jane (Sasha Lane) and Adam (Forrest Goodluck) a rebellious pair who grow marijuana in the woods and refuse to succumb to the camp’s indoctrination. Despite the inhumanity of the setting, there is humour and warmth imbued throughout, especially within the trio’s alliance. Moretz’s performance is her best yet, expressing self-disgust and defiance with maturity. Her character’s sexual exploration is nuanced and contemporary, balancing the horrors of homophobia with the beauty of newfound intimacy. (research Rachel Williams). Oh dear, no sniggering mind - this is teenage serious!!
And there I was thinking the first Mamma Mia mined all of Abba’s greatest hits; little did I know how monstrously extensive their catalogue is. Here we go again indeed.
Five years after the events of the last film, on the Greek island of Kalokairi, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is pregnant with Sky's (Dominic Cooper) child while running her mother's (Meryl Streep) villa. Her relationship with Sky has been turbulent for some time, giving her cause to doubt that she can survive without her mother, Donna. We then dive into Donna’s past, where the majority of the sequel takes place, with Lily James standing in for a younger Streep. We find out how her group, The Dynamos were formed as well as the handsome fellas in her life. The biggest draw for this sequel, fan or not, is Cher. Her mere presence elevates this musical considerably. Watching her sing ‘Fernando’ to Andy Garcia is one to remember. (Jack Whiting)
French provocateur Gaspar Noé unleashes his most ‘accessible’ film to date: a dance horror hybrid that begins with pride and joy, and ends with terror and disorientation.
Opening on the delightful hooks of Cerrone’s Supernature (the pulsing rhythms of French disco and electronica are wonderfully woven into the narrative) and a one-take dance sequence that’ll leave you wanting to applaud, our troupe of performance artists are enjoying a post-rehearsal party the only way a group of performers can - with more dancing.
This bout of euphoria is cruelly interrupted when the homemade sangria, which someone has spiked with an hallucinogen, begins to take its warped hold. The film then takes a sharp turn in its second half as the group lose their minds and inhibitions. What was once heaven is now hell, and Noé captures the onscreen nightmare with a surprising amount of finesse; weaving and spinning the camera around the action as though you’re being given the guided tour of a demonic nightclub. This is the red velvet cake to Mamma Mia’s profiterole; a deliciously decadent descent into madness. (Jack Whiting) Sounds perfect, french to the core. Don’t dare miss.
Next up in a recent wave of Winnie the Pooh films is Christopher Robin: a nostalgic adventure which explores the importance of reconnecting with childhood when adult life weighs you down.
Christopher (Ewan McGregor) has grown up considerably after leaving the Hundred Acre Wood, all youthful innocence lost in the face of a mid-life crisis. A married father in 1950s Britain, work comes before family as he refuses to join his wife Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) and daughter Madeline (Bronte Carmichael) on a trip to his childhood home in Sussex (fool). Thankfully Britain’s best loved bear returns to revive Christopher from his slump, naturally voiced once again by Jim Cummings. When Pooh is unable to find Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet and co, he steps through Christopher’s door and ends up in London. Although Christopher is unenthused by the idea, Pooh convinces him to travel to the Hundred Acre Wood to help find his friends. The storytelling falters with its mixture of tones, yet A.A. Milne’s characters remain as charming as ever, warming Christopher’s heart which has grown weary over time. Sweet like honey, Christopher Robin does its best to capture the sentimentality of the original. (research Rachel Williams) Come as a child, perhaps bring some.
Nicolas Roeg (Walk About, Don’t Look Now) captures the spirit of Roald Dahl in this dark and witty adaptation of the 1990’s classic.
After being orphaned, 7 year old Luke is sent to England with his grandmother, where he stumbles across a convention of witches. The Grand High Witch (Anjelica Huston) reveals a plan to turn all children into mice - and now poor Luke is the test subject! Luke’s grandmother (Mia Zetterling) explains, with scrumptious detail, that witches loath children, they have square toes and wear masks to hide their real, hideous faces. Enough to make any child squeal. With the help of Mr Stringer (Rowan Atkinson) Luke must fight back against the witches.
Largely faithful to Dahl's gleefully nasty and mischievous edge, the film stands out for Jim Henson's outstanding animatronics. While theoretically made for children, in true Dahlian fashion, the film delves into outright horror - some scenes are mockingly intense and made to frighten grown ups more!
It has a genuinely fabulous twisted flavour, equal parts funny and scary.
Here to celebrate the re-opening of The Roald Dahl museum in Great Missenden, after fantastic restoration from flood damage. Come for the film, then fly off to Missenden… (research Beth Wallman)
Kelly Macdonald pieces together a perfect performance in Marc Turtletaub’s graceful drama.
Based on a remake of Rompecabezas, a 2010 Argentine film by Natalia Smirnoff, Puzzle presents a sympathetic character study of a sheltered, downtrodden Connecticut housewife, who finds a new lease of life in a 1,000-piece jigsaw.
Receiving the initially thoughtless and throwaway present from husband Louie and her two children, Gabe and Ziggy, it soon transpires, to the surprise of herself and her family, that she has a knack for puzzling.
As completing puzzles becomes Agnes’ burning passion, the pride she begins to feel knowing she’s best at something re-plants a smile on her face and puts a much needed spring in her step, neither of which have been there for quite some time. Through her newfound energy, Agnes begins to come into her own like never before.
A rare starring role for Macdonald, she finds the emotional complexity of Agnes without a second thought, like breathing. This is her film and she is outstanding, delivering one of the finest performances of her career, rounding off a charmingly modest piece of cinematic escapism. (Research Chris Coetsee) It is more than escapist. Kelly Macdonald is rare indeed, and here she finds that missing lost piece…
Director Peter Jackson's revolutionary restoration provides a documentary window into the First World War like never before.
The Great War proved to be a landmark in cinema history, the first time that the horrors of war could be caught on camera. Many hours of dramatic footage were filmed on the battlefields, capturing the realities of conflict in remarkable and unprecedented detail.
Jackson, best known for directing The Lord of the Rings trilogy, has created this stunning documentary using original film reels from the Imperial War Museums’ extensive archive, much of it previously unseen. Accompanying, is a host of fascinating interviews conducted with servicemen who fought in the conflict. Footage has been photographically colour treated and transformed with modern production techniques, while sound has been enhanced and redesigned from the ground up, providing a unique if sombre sense of life at the front.
This year marks the centenary of the armistice. We know much about the horrific impact of this conflict on its soldiers, especially the brutal scale of the casualties which decimated a generation. “This painstaking restoration reaches through the mists of time, offering a fresh understanding of their plight.” (Research Chris Coetsee) Heartbreaking. They would never be kissed.
Don’t let the trailer fool you, there are no cheap scares here. The Little Stranger is a compelling meditation on the past, and much more than just a ghost story.
Domhnall Gleeson is Faraday, a Warwickshire country doctor of humble origins who finds himself called, in the summer of 1948, to Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for centuries. But the family matriarch, Angela (Charlotte Rampling) still rules as if by divine right. Angela’s son Roderick (Will Poulter) has returned from the war covered in burn scars that underscore his even more serious PTSD. His sister Caroline (Ruth Wilson) appears normal enough, but at Hundreds Hall, looks can be deceiving. Has Angela really ever got over the death of her first daughter, Susan. She was only 8 when she died, 30 years before? Could it be her spirit making the room bells ring?
Lenny Abrahamson’s film is as much an account of a thwarted love affair as it is a haunted house chiller. The mood here is that of The Turn Of The Screw. The real terror is in their minds. (research Jack Whiting)
A rare ghost story for a Thursday evening. Beware if you live in a rambling old house...
Britain’s beloved bumbling idiot spy is back, as Rowan Atkinson’s unrivalled talent for slapstick comedy guarantees laugh-out-loud enjoyment.
In the third instalment of the franchise, moments of second-hand embarrassment strike us again as Johnny English wreaks havoc. When the country is hit by a devastating cyber attack, all of its agents’ identities are exposed. Left with no other option, the British PM (Emma Thompson) is forced to bring back ex-spy 00 Johnny to save the nation. Unaccustomed to a digital world powered by smartphones, social media and VR, he is determined to stick to his analogue ways, speeding around the Riviera in a vintage Aston Martin. Joined by his long-suffering sidekick Bough (Ben Miller) the duo investigate the source of the attacks. With the addition of former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko, playing femme fatale Ophelia, and villainous tech billionaire Jason Volta (Jake Lacy) the film has all the ingredients for a 007 spoof. While lightheartedly exploring contemporary issues such as data security, GDPR anyone? the film still contains much of the original’s charms, with all of Atkinson’s timeless facial contortions and pratfalls. (research Rachel Williams)
You know what’s coming and as much as you try not to, you’ll fall about. Well I will.
Gaga and Cooper’s raw vocals invite you into the soundscape of their characters’ sweeping love story: luminous, thrilling, and achingly moving.
It’s the fourth remake of the 1937 original and an impressive directorial debut by Bradley Cooper, well-rounded by his own leading performance as Jackson Maine. A legendary country singer-songwriter, known for his deep Southern drawl and trademark rancher’s hat, we join him looking for another drink. He finds the only a drag bar open. The spotlight is on Ally (Lady Gaga) the only non-drag performer, giving a mesmerising rendition of ‘La Vie en Rose’. Lady G, known as a shapeshifter, here presents a new side to herself, one refreshingly natural. After the show they ‘connect’ by singing together in a car park, leading Jackson to invite Ally on stage before an arena of his adoring fans, where they perform her electrifying original song ‘Shallow’. Their natural and immediate chemistry takes you with them. This Star Is Born is born to be seen. (research Rachel Williams) Inseparable from the music they make, one beautiful two-part harmony is inevitable. Moreover and so rare, it is impossible, watching these two so naturally falling in love on screen, not to fall with them. Don’t dare miss.
Prepare to get muddy. This austere drama, set in the aftermath of the Irish potato famine, is a wicked jolt.
It is 1847, the worst year of the famine that saw a million people die and some two million uprooted. Amid this political and personal horror, deserter Feeney (James Frecheville) begins a rollercoaster ride of revenge, taking out crooked cops, posh army officers and a callous rent collector. To take Feeney down the British send in WMD Hannah (Hugo Weaving) a disgraced officer who served with him in Afghanistan (the first debacle, that is.150 years earlier).
And all the while, Feeney comes closer to his ultimate target: landowner, Lord Kilmichael, played by Jim Broadbent. Fictional, but presumed to be inspired by Ireland’s most hated absentee landlord, the Earl of Lucan. (altogether now: Nanneee...!!)
As a historically accurate social lesson, it is limited, closer to unreliable. But taken as a revenge western aka Peckinpah/Eastwood, it is tremendous, rattling along at the pace of a hungry dog in full pursuit. Fun for those who like their films violent and uncompromising. That’ll be the matinee audience then Jack. (research Jack Whiting) Not the sensitive take on it, you had hoped? Come and see.
The age-old Bigfoot legend is turned upside-down in this delightful, smart and colourful animated tale.
Himalayan yeti Migo (voiced by Channing Tatum) challenges the origin story of his isolated village high above the clouds. Etched in stones, it says that yetis were birthed by mammoths, who hold up the yetis’ icy land on their backs.
One day, having fallen partway down the mountain, Migo is nearly hit by a crashing plane. He sees the tiny unconscious pilot, proof that the yeti villagers’ longtime myth of a hairless smallfoot “monster” is actually a fact. As he sets out on a determined adventure to prove that his discovery is real, Migo slowly comes to terms with the reality that yetis and humans have remained ignorant of each other for generations, and why.
Animated movies regularly deal with significant real-world issues in overly-diluted fashion, but Smallfoot happily shuns this convention. At first a simple fish-out-of-water story, slowly it sneaks up on you, revealing its true intentions as a clever morality tale about the costs and benefits of telling the truth, a big, furry message that feels particularly timely. (Research Chris Coetsee) Brilliant. Bring the street.
Ryan Gosling soars in Oscar-winning director Damian Chazelle’s subtle, poetic, nerve-racking retelling of the most dangerous, audacious mission in human history (in a Morris Minor of swiss-army-knife technology).
While still holding the grief of losing their young daughter, test pilot Neil Armstrong and wife Janet prepare for the upcoming Gemini space project’s rigorous training programme. Submersing himself deeper into it, Armstrong channels his ability to close off the lingering pain of loss to serve his unnerving capacity to focus. As Gemini moves into the legendary Apollo missions, Armstrong’s headstrong approach singles him out as the perfect candidate to lead NASA, America and mankind into an uncertain future.
Perfectly cast, Gosling and Foy carry the emotional weight of the film as a loving couple whose family tragedy has driven a wedge between them. He buries himself, finding refuge in his work, but she has no outlet for her growing anxiety in his increasing isolation. Their feelings both individually and as parents are beautifully expressed through outstanding, understated performances.
Chazelle, whose work on Whiplash and La La Land gave no indication of his ambition to make a space-race drama, has succeeded in thinking this big. It’s a thunderous, unmissable piece of filmmaking. (Research Chris Coetsee) Fantastic. Come.
Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively shine in this savagely entertaining thriller from Bridesmaids director Paul Feig.
Stephanie Smothers, a widow living in a posh Connecticut suburb of New York, counting out the days until her clueless husband Sean’s life insurance money runs out, and meanwhile attempting to make a go of it with her vlog where she offers helpful life hacks to busy mums.
After striking up a friendship with the seductive Emily (Lively) Stephanie and Sean find themselves turning amateur sleuths following their newfound friend’s sudden disappearance. Throughout their investigations, affection grows between the two but as strange events begin to pile up, they soon realise the bulk of them seem to be connected to Emily’s mysterious past.
Feig takes a deliciously dark turn into neo-noir by way of spiky social satire. Forget hard-boiled detective, here at the centre of his very unusual yarn is an enigmatic femme fatale to rival any from the golden age of Bogie and Bacall. A comic mystery that smacks of a wittier Gone Girl, A Simple Favour gradually ventures into more off-the-wall territory. It’s wildly funny, delightfully devious and an unanticipated joy ride. (Research Chris Coetsee) Anticipate an off-the-grid joy indeed. Don’t miss.
Now here’s a first: a film based entirely on an Instagram feed (we must look forward to it being the last). A perfect amalgamation of fantasy and reality through the lens of a coming-of-age tale.
This sun-drenched story introduces Rachelle Vinberg as Camille, a lonely teen who just wants to skate. She struggles to forge a connection with her peers in the Long Island suburb she calls home, and so escapes to New York City to find an Insta-famous female skate collective: The Skate Kitchen.
Following on from her awards documentary, The Wolfpack, Crystal Moselle’s latest offering is based on her own 2016 short: That One Day, which features much of the same cast. Real members of The Skate Kitchen play thinly disguised versions of themselves. The years of chemistry between the crew and their familiarity with skater slang adds authenticity to the film’s dialogue, talked as naturally as an ‘ollie’?
New York itself becomes a skate park, beautifully filmed by Moselle. In her dedication to represent youth culture in an authentic way, she captures ‘teen angst’, insecurity and gender politics earnestly, so separating this from the rest. (research Jack Whiting) A welcome matinee experiment for teenage girls, none younger than 15 or older than19.
The fiery and occasionally controversial life of the Russian ballet giant is the subject of this immaculate documentary portrait from co-directors David and Jacqui Morris.
Tracing the dancer’s journey from poverty-stricken childhood in the Soviet Union to Royal Ballet behemoth, contemporary interviews with Nureyev and his friends and dance partners are laid over footage of the performer not just on stage but fooling around at home, always swarmed by paparazzi. The arrival of this footage at a cinematic level brings the physicality of the art form to life, the animalism and strength behind the structure of dance coming through alongside Nureyev’s wry sense of humour.
The Rudolf Nureyev Foundation gave the Morris’s access to a wealth of old VHS tapes, including unseen footage of his more avant-garde performances. His early years, meanwhile, are illustrated by interpretative dance sequences choreographed by Russell Maliphant. It’s a risky strategy, but it pays off.
Essential viewing for anyone with even a passing interest in ballet and dance, Nureyev chronicles the rise and fall of one of the last century’s greatest dancers and performers, an extraordinarily magnetic figure whose legacy continues to live on. (Research Chris Coetsee) Come, glimpse this extraordinary man and huge symbolic figure in the ‘60s Cold War circus.
An affecting adaptation of the bestselling novel, The Hate U Give explores a teen’s activist awakening after witnessing the horrors of police brutality.
Starr Carter (a powerful performance by Amandla Stenberg) finds her identity split between home life in her predominantly black neighbourhood, Garden Heights, and the wealthy (mostly) white private school she attends. Well-versed in code-switching, she presents different versions of herself to adapt. Yet when she witnesses the shooting of her childhood friend Khalil (Algee Smith) the disconnect between Starr’s worlds shatters. Driven home from a house party by Khalil, the pair are pulled over. Remembering ‘the talk’ given by her dad (Russell Hornsby) instructing her how to survive when stopped by the cops, she puts her hands on the dashboard. When Khalil foolishly reaches for a hairbrush!? he is shot (of course!) and Starr is handcuffed next to her dying friend. As his death ignites national outrage, Starr is conflicted by the politics of speaking up. Stenberg praises the “timeless way the story portrays #BlackLivesMatter and brings empathy and humanity to these experiences.” Inflected with youthful romance and humour, it is both entertaining and deeply moving. (research Rachel Williams) An intelligent film, not cut and dried or over-cliched. Come.
Writer/director Drew Goddard returns to pack in even more twists, turns, and subversons than he did with Cabin in the Woods in this all-star chamber opera.
Set in 1969, the film has an ace in the hole in its title character: The El Royale, a once-luxurious hotel on the border between California and Nevada which is now in near terminal decay. A group of guests arrive here for reasons which only very slowly become clear. Among them is a whisky-quaffing priest (Jeff Bridges) a fast-talking salesman (Jon Hamm) a soul singer (Cynthia Erivo) and a femme fatale (Dakota Johnson). None of them are what they seem. Chris Hemsworth even turns up halfway in, with a mean and violent streak (and no shirt).
Linear clarity gets shredded as Goddard - taking perhaps a few too many pages from the book of Tarantino - gleefully dabbles in forward-backward-sideward storytelling, but at 2 hours and 21 minutes, this can get heavy going. Thankfully, El Royale is still crammed with enough depraved delights to make you consider checking in. (research Jack Whiting) Must check running times more carefully. Come and see how far you get.
Bohemian Rhapsody is a foot-stomping celebration of Queen, their music and their extraordinary lead singer, Freddie Mercury,
The film traces the meteoric rise of the band through their iconic songs and revolutionary sound. They reach unparalleled success, but in an unexpected turn Freddie (Rami Malek), surrounded by darker influences, shuns Queen in pursuit of his solo career. Having suffered greatly without the collaboration of Queen, Freddie reunites with the band in time for Live Aid. While bravely facing a recent AIDS diagnosis, he leads the band in one of the greatest performances in the history of rock. In doing so, Queen cements its legacy.
Those hoping for a deep dive into Freddie’s private life may be left feeling short changed; this is nothing more than a glorified Wiki entry - covering all the basics, yet with so much pizzazz, gorgeous set design and attention to the era, it’s easy to get swept up in its kinda magic. Forget the behind-the-scenes faffing with directors etc, although Dexter Fletcher picks up the pieces nicely. This is Malek’s film. (research Jack Whiting) Malek’s film through and through. He might raise it above expectations, but he can’t polish one of the most overrated, overplayed songs and over-haired cringe-pop videos - ever.