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.
An enchanting sequel to the 1964 Disney classic, Mary Poppins’ charm is as infectious as ever.
Julie Andrews is a tough act to follow, Emily Blunt’s take on the iconic magical nanny is distinct from her predecessor, adding a spoonful of glamour and dry wit. Set a couple of decades after the original, the Banks children, Michael and Jane, are now grown ups at the height of Britain’s Great Depression. Suffering a crisis of his own, Michael (Ben Whishaw) has recently lost his wife and has only five days to find money before his family home is repossessed. When one of his three children, Georgie (Joel Dawson) uses his father’s old unwanted kite, he is almost pulled into the air and saved by lamplighter Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda). Miraculously Mary Poppins descends with the kite, returning to help the Banks family with their grief, conjuring up whimsical underwater worlds and nonsensical trips in a china bowl. Devoted to the original, with its kites, umbrellas and a Dick Van Dyke cameo, Mary Poppins Returns immerses adults and children alike in the magic of limitless imagination. A simple plot but still supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. (research Rachel Williams) Brilliant!!
You will want to see it again and again.
The kingdom of Atlantis is fully realised in all its oceanic glory - via the endless wonders of computer wizardry - in this zany underwater adventure..
Gargantuan lobsters and crabs — hailing from the “Kingdom of Brine,” of course — rumble against weaponized sharks and an armada of creatures that swim by in a blur of bubbles. Swimming above the din with his trident is mega-tattooed Arthur (a mostly shirtless Jason Momoa), or, as he’ll come to be known, Aquaman.
The crisis of his adult life arrives when Aquaman’s half-brother King Orm (Patrick Wilson) wishes to unite the various kings of the seas under his own unscrupulous rule and lead a pre-emptive attack on all those air-breathers walking around above sea level, poisoning both land and sea. Aquaman is the only person who can stop this; his own mixed ancestry (half man, half fish… I think) will bring a spiritually amphibious peace between humans and water-dwellers.
Yes, we’re firmly back in comic book territory (again), yet at least you can’t scorn this one for playing it safe. This superhero fable leans closer to the camp classics of the eighties - such as Excalibur and Flash Gordon - but make no mistake, it’s all over the plaice. (Jack Whiting)
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.
Pitted against each other in royal rivalry, Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie’s powerful performances depict two of history’s most misunderstood monarchs in a new light, albeit an historically inaccurate light. Director Jodie Rourke spins the infamous 16th-century conflict into a visually captivating retelling. Queen of France at 16 and a widow at 18, Mary (Ronan) returns to her native Scotland to attempt to overthrow Elizabeth (Robbie) and reclaim the throne. Known as ‘The Virgin Queen’ without an heir, Elizabeth is thrown into an inconvenient power struggle with her cousin. The feud is mostly at safe-distance with tension created through letters (and an embellished face off). Although the Queens are deeply divided by their religious beliefs, they are both plagued by paranoia and threatened by betrayal in their own courts. Often manipulated by controlling courtiers and politicians, both must question whether they can trust those men around them. Ronan states the cousins are ‘turned into enemies by others whisperings’ but are interestingly ‘similar in many ways’. As Mary says of Elizabeth, “No one understands my situation except her”. The film adds depth and colour, to an historically oversimplified rivalry. (research Rachel Williams) Not to mention employing some creative cinematic guesswork. Come.
The world’s most energetic, enigmatic comedy duo attempt to reignite their film careers as they embark on what becomes their swan song; a gruelling theatre tour of post-war Britain.
Last year brought us Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool, a glorious real life story of Hollywood star Gloria Grahame's waning years spent in the U.K. Stan & Ollie, an ode to British-American comedy joyfully skips through the lens of time, chronicling their rocky but ultimately loving friendship beyond being a world-renowned double act performance.
As their career enters its twilight years, the former comedy power-duo reunite for a tour of Britain in a last ditch effort to raise funds for a big-screen comeback. As Hardy’s health begins to falter, Laurel begins to accept their glory days may indeed be long gone.
Coogan and Reilly not only excel at creating convincing impressions of one of the most famous comic double acts of the last century, but they do an uncanny job of recreating a handful of Stan and Ollie’s famous routines, which today mostly play as mild yet expertly timed delights. Pretty much unmissable. (Research Chris Coetsee). Watch out for the comic fourway banter with their wives
(scene-stealers Shirley Henderson & Nina Arianda)
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.
Felix Van Groeningen's informative and important drama about a family coping with the effects of crystal meth addiction (not again…!)
Based on a true story, Groeningen’s powerful film follows a teenage boy in the grip of substance abuse. Adapted from Nicolas and David Sheff’s tell-all memoirs about a son’s personal struggles with addiction and his father’s battle to deal with it, Beautiful Boy adds texture to the already established conversation about the horrors of addiction and the tolls it takes on its victims and their families.
David Sheff (Carell) has done everything he can to give his son Nic (Chalamet) a good life growing up, but he’s heartbroken to learn that despite his best efforts Nic has become addicted to meth. David loves his son deeply and will do whatever it takes in order to get him clean. As he delves deeper into the warren of paternal strife, he quickly learns that there’s only so much he can do. In the end it all comes down to Nic and how far he’s willing to want to try.
Beautifully crafted, there’s an undeniable, underlying beauty to Beautiful Boy that simply can’t be underestimated. (Chris Coetsee)
A Transformers film that’s not just for Transformers fans – director Travis Knight reboots the rusty franchise with a heart-warming origin story that might actually be… good?
Fans of the franchise will recognise Bumblebee as Shia LaBoeuf’s quirky yellow VW sidekick from the first movie. He’s easily the most likeable robot in the franchise, despite not having uttered a word (yet). The year is 1987 and Bumblebee (officially B-127) runs into trouble with the evil Decepticons after landing on Earth for a scouting mission. With both his voice box and his memory damaged, he goes into hiding in a junkyard, assuming the form of a dinky, bright yellow VW Beetle. There, he is found by teenage outcast Charleen ‘Charlie’ Watson (played brilliantly by Hailee Steinfeld). The two strike up a friendship with enough genuinely heart-warming moments that you might feel like you’re watching E.T rather than a Transformers film.
It’s a welcome change from the trash-talking robots and insane plot-lines of previous entries c/o Michael Bay. Fun, fuzzy and packed with the usual robot-alien action, kids will love it and there’s enough 80s references to keep a few grown-ups engrossed too. (research Lizzie Minnis) Fantastic…
Yorgos Lanthimos is not like many other filmmakers. His projects have an off-kilter quality like no other; existing in their own little absurdist worlds.
Terrifying and wondrous in equal parts, Lanthimos (Dogtooth, The Lobster) infuses his oddball characters with deliberately stilted line delivery and a flat, emotionless demeanor. The Favourite - his first film not written by him and his partner - is his most accessible and yet surprisingly, most absurd one yet.
An outrageous satire (think Death of Stalin with frocks) has Olivia Colman as Queen Anne, a maudlin, largely bed-ridden monarch barely able to bathe and get dressed. Rachel Weisz plays her confidante and very, very close friend Sarah Churchill, who has her hand in more than just the queen’s political affairs. Their partnership is disrupted by the arrival of Abigail (Emma Stone), an opportunistic Lady fallen on hard times, who arrives at Anne’s palace in the hope of winning the queen over and restoring her own stature.
From the overt, modern sexuality to the fisheye camera shots; The Favourite is hardly typical period proceedings, and is all the more fabulous for it. (Jack Whiting)
Lee Chang-dong’s psychological thriller is an enigmatic slow-burning affair, crafted to perfection with its multi-layered narrative and outstanding lead performances.
A masterful adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s short story, Lee relocates Burning to contemporary Korea, fiery in its critique of classism and consumerism. Jongsu (Yoo Ah-in) an aspiring writer working as a deliveryman, finds his life take a turn after being recognised by an old classmate, Haemi (Yun Jong-seo). Free spirited and flirtatious, Haemi is eager to reconnect with Jongsu, the pair sharing an intimate reunion before he agrees to look after her cat during her trip to Africa. Mysteriously we never see the cat, igniting a line of questioning about what really exists in this tale of elusive characters and peculiar absences. Picking up Haemi from the airport, Jongsu is dismayed to find her arrive with a stranger: Ben (an exceptional Steven Yeun) as inscrutable as he is extraordinarily wealthy. An odd, uneasy threeway develops, with Ben keeping what he does for a living unclear, confessing instead, his strange hobby! Ambiguous and thought-provoking, the film’s power lies in its multiple possible readings, leading to an explosive conclusion which may follow you for days. (research Rachel Williams) Come, see what you make of it.
As Colette, Knightley rapidly evolves from sheltered country girl to fearless denizen of the boudoirs and stages of Paris. As her husband Henri “Willy” Gauthier-Villars, West bursts with bombastic exuberance as the entrepreneurial author and critic who shamelessly co-opted (ie stole) the work of other writers under his own byline. Including making a fortune from Colette’s Claudine novels, promptly squandering the earnings while perpetually womanizing and doubly flirting with bankruptcy.
Lush costume designs and vivid colours bring passion to the visuals as alluring as the leads’ vivacious performances. Knightley delivers reliable work as Colette, most effectively portraying her character's maturation from manipulated maiden to uncompromising feminist icon. As Colette explores her own sense of gender identity, Knightley carries off her character's coolness with real and delicious ease.
As it dutifully unfolds, Richard Glatzer’s sturdy, structured screenplay brings Colette's life into shining relief as a champion for women who are no longer willing to quietly allow men steal credit for their achievements. A refreshing take on a well-worn tale. (Research Chris Coetsee) And… Keira is ultra fab. Come and see, and stop being irritated.
A shapeshifting Christian Bale delivers a (bald fat) Dick Cheney at his most ruthless in Adam McKay’s follow up to The Big Short.
McKay opens his tale in 1963, with a surprisingly hopeless and feckless Cheney being booted out of Yale and very nearly losing his marriage as a result of his drinking and fighting. Through sheer ambition, he gets a job alongside Donald Rumsfeld (Carell) in Congress, then in Nixon's White House. After a stint in Congress himself, he is settled into the private sector when George W Bush (Rockwell) asks him to be his vice president. Spotting a chance to grab real power, he returns to politics and makes a series of moves that changed world history.
Christian Bale and Amy Adams are astonishing as Dick and Lynne Cheney, with the latter offered up as the equal to her husband's Machiavellian scheming. Elsewhere Sam Rockwell makes for a crowd-pleasing George Dubya and Steve Carell is unlikely but effective as Donald Rumsfeld.
In an awards season crammed with contenders, it is one to keep an eye on. A highly entertaining look at an American tragedy which still resonates today. (Research Chris Coetsee)
Individual American/UK war-mongers who dragged the World into hell and closed the gates.
The final chapter in DreamWorks’ Dragon trilogy is a surprising tale about growing up, finding the courage to face the unknown, and how nothing can ever train you to let go.
Now village chief and ruler of Berk alongside Astrid, Hiccup has created a gloriously chaotic dragon utopia. But when faced with the darkest of threats to their peaceful village, Hiccup and Toothless must journey to a hidden world thought only to exist in myth. As their true destines are revealed, dragon and rider must fight together to the very ends of the Earth to protect everything they've grown to love and treasure.
Back on voice duty are Gerard Butler, Cate Blanchett and Jonah Hill with F Murray Abraham bringing fresh talent as the villainous, dragon-hating Grimmel.
A fantastic, visually stunning and poignant way to end this beloved series. While the young characters remain joyously funny, this finale also adds mature notes to their story of friendship. The franchise has, like its audience, grown up, and to that end this film grapples with more complex themes than before, making for a truly satisfying yet bittersweet conclusion. (Research Chris Coetsee) Beautiful. Bring your Dad.
What an absolute delight this film turned out to be. Not content with just being the best animation of last year and this..? Spider-Man swoops in and claims its title as the best superhero film 2018 too.
Peter Parker aka Spider-Man, is killed in battle, leading New York to mourn such a superhero loss. Meanwhile, High-School teenager Miles Morales’ artistic inclinations don’t altogether please his cop - Dad. One night, Miles’ uncle Aaron takes him to a hidden tunnel in the subway system to spraycan a mural, where Miles is bitten by a radioactive spider. Soon, he’s developing spider powers of his own. But that’s just the beginning. The Kingpin has opened a portal to multiple dimensions, sending different variations of Spider-Man (multiple real-life iterations of the character) into Miles’ own universe.
Thanks in part to the kings of self-referential comedy eg 21 Jump Street and Lego Movie writing/directing duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller and their striking art style, Spider Verse is both a love letter to the Stan Lee & Steve Ditko character and a celebration of comics as a medium. (research Jack Whiting) Well said Jack. Wow! A lucky generation to enjoy cinematic ‘realism’ after imagining for themselves, from the page...
January is turning out to be a great month for fans of frocks and frills. Together with Dangerous Liaisons and Tulip Fever, we’re treating you to three saucy period pieces (of varying quality and tone) in one month alone.
Set in the early 1800’s, Jean Dujardin plays the outrageously mustachioed Captain Charles-Grégoire Neuville. He proposes marriage to Pauline (Noémie Merlant), but is then called away to the wars. Pauline pines away as the Captain doesn’t write, so her sister Elisabeth (Mélanie Laurent) forges ardent letters from the Captain, full of romance and heroism, to save Pauline from wasting away in melancholy.
Neuville arrives back in town alive and well, although he’s turned into a drunken lout and looking for a way to cash in on his engagement. He finds she’s married a nobleman so he crashes the family estate, boasting about his exploits, with only Elisabeth aware that he’s a con artist. But he’s onto her as well, and the rest of film consists of one long cat-and-mouse game. Return to the Hero is a frothy confection that sits somewhere between Jane Austen and a French bedroom farce. (Jack Whiting)
In a biopic which is both humorous and melancholic, Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant are partners in crime in this compelling tale of literary forgery.
An adaptation of Lee Israel’s confessional memoir, McCarthy’s nuanced performance makes a hero out of an otherwise abrasive, closed-off character with only enough love to give wholeheartedly to her cat. Having already written a few celebrity biographies, it’s 1991 in New York and Lee Israel’s writing is no longer in vogue. After being fired from her day job, an accumulation of unpaid rent and an ill cat in need of pricy medication results in a financial conundrum. In a fateful moment, Lee comes across an original letter by actress and comedian Fanny Brice. Stealing and selling the letter to a book dealer, Lee turns her hand to a different type of writing: forging letters by deceased stars. Forming a friendship over one too many shared whiskeys in a gay bar, with the flamboyant drug-dealer Jack Hock (Grant) they join forces in a scam which becomes increasingly risky. Tenderly conveying their shared loneliness, McCarthy and Grant’s chemistry makes the duo’s fascinating alliance all the more heartwarming.
(research Rachel Williams). Much hype. Come and see why?
Director Karyn Kusama’s sour, noir-flecked police drama showcases an unforgettable tour de force from Nicole Kidman.
Kusama specialises in strong, often conflicted female characters. Between stints in television, she has delivered Jennifer’s Body, about a possessed cheerleader, the science-fiction drama Aeon Flux, starring Charlize Theron and 2000’s Girlfight, a first film both for Kusama and lead actor Michelle Rodriguez. Destroyer is no different.
To describe its story in a linear fashion doesn't do justice to the intricacies of its vision. Similar to Lynne Ramsay’s terrific You Were Never Really Here, the film relies heavily on flashbacks and meticulously deployed poetic imagery as it follows Detective Erin Bell, a ramshackle, stumbling, hungover wreck of a cop who must reconnect with people from a disastrous undercover assignment in her distant past in order to make peace..
Her barely competent police work seems to be motivated not by a thirst for justice or even revenge, but by half-crazed desperation. Kidman sells this masterfully, evoking a woman who is so used to being damaged that she's all but given up on being anything but entirely broken. An unmissable, career-best from Ms Kidman. (Research Chris Coetsee) Tough but worth seeing. Come.
What a brilliant sugar rush The Lego Movie was, also a cautionary tale on mega corporations and a meta-clever skew of brand culture.
The sequel may not reach the same heights but there is plenty of joy here. Since we said goodbye to construction worker Emmett (Chris Pratt) everything is no longer awesome. In the live-action world, Finn and his sister Bianca are gamers at each other’s throats. Bianca’s Lego Duplo characters are now space invaders who’ve turned Bricksburg into Apocalypseburg. The gang doesn’t think Emmet is man enough to take on General Mayhem and Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi... etc. Enter a very reluctant Batman (Will Arnett). To save the kidnapped Lucy (Elizabeth Banks) Enter to the fold: Rex Dangervest! (don’t even...)
Phew... Lego 2 feels erratic and tends to jump all over the place, but there’s enough fervent energy in the arresting visuals alone, and the foundations set by Lord and Miller with Lego1 are still very much present. It is still awesome. (research Jack Whiting) Over 8’s: take the dog out instead. A ridiculous concept as was Ghostbusters. However, here they’ve taken toddler’s building blocks and made trillions ($) from things kids can’t ‘do at home’. As did Ghostbusters ($) with no Legoland.
In the late seventies, Star Wars came along and made sci-fi ‘cool’, but it was Ridley Scott’s horror masterpiece that turned the outer reaches of space into a hellish landscape.
Before then it was flying saucers and little green men from Mars; hardly the stuff of nightmares. Alien changed all that. A ragtag crew of space truckers: Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Harry Dean Stanton et al are on their way home when an unknown signal draws them to an eerie planet... Curiosity leads John Hurt to stick his face into something better not sniffed, receiving a warm hug from its inhabitant. The true terror begins back aboard Nostromo, as the new creature grows, stalking the crew through its dark corridors.
Restoration 40 years has done nothing to dull Scott’s visionary work of art. But what truly cements Alien’s status as a classic isn’t just fear, but fascination. Yes, HR Giger’s bio-mechanical monstrosity is a work of deep, dark imagination; but also, like the hulls of the ship, it holds a haunting beauty. These elements combine to form a sinister twin to Kubrick’s 2001. (research Jack Whiting) Heavy chains, dripping. Dirty dark ducts. Come, it’s alright, no one will hear you scream...
Kenneth Branagh directs and stars in this tender, intelligent dramatisation of Shakespeare’s final years.
In 1613, a misfiring cannon during a performance of Henry VIII or ‘All Is True’ burns down the Globe Theatre, leaving Shakespeare bereft. He heads home to Stratford, where his wife Anne (Judi Dench) and unmarried daughter Judith live in the splendid home that his plays have funded. William is a distant figure, an absentee father who has spent 20 years managing his theatre at the expense of his family. Returning from his celebrated life as a playwright allows time for him to grieve for his dead son Hamnet and as scandal comes and goes around him, William wallows in Hamnet's memory, unprepared to face the truth.
Working on a relatively intimate scale after the extravagance of Murder On The Orient Express, All Is True sees Branagh benefiting hugely from dialling it down as both director and actor. Branagh’s lead provides a richly coloured, but personably modest focus, while elsewhere Dench and McKellen, as the Earl of Southampton, are quietly superb. A compassionate ode to a literary master. (Research Chris Coetsee) It will be a delight with nobody better than Branagh playing his hero ‘Shakerags’ (Kemps Jig).
Palme d’Or winner at Cannes, Shoplifters is a humanist masterpiece about a makeshift family’s existence on the margins of Japanese society.
Director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s latest feat follows the Shibatas, tied not by blood, but by crime. We are introduced to father figure Osamu (Lily Franky) and his son Shota (Jyo Kairi) as they move expertly through a supermarket, exchanging secret hand gestures before shoplifting. A poverty-stricken family also comprised of Osamu’s wife Nobuyo (an incredible Sakura Ando) Aki (Mayu Matsuoka) and grandmother (Kirin Kiki) they must steal food, alongside their other real jobs, to survive! When Osamu and Shota discover a little girl Yuri (Miyu Sasaki) covered in burn marks and starving in the cold, they accept her as one of their own, although Nobuyo is reluctant at first. When an unforeseen incident reveals hidden secrets, their familial bond is put to the test. A compassionate and moving exploration of people failed by the existing state system, Kore-eda’s film also redefines the meaning of family, to the loved ones we choose to depend on. With every meaningful shot, every breathtaking scene, each masterful layer composes a powerful story not to be missed. (Rachel Williams)
Director Peter Farrelly uses the tried-and-true road trip formula to touching effect.
Based on actual events and set in 1962, Viggo Mortensen stars as Frank ‘Tony Lip’ Vallelonga, a New York bouncer. After his nightclub is closed for renovations, he lands a job as driver and security for the famed 50/60’s concert pianist Don Shirley. Together the two tour America’s deep south where Shirley faces repeated racist abuse. The title refers to the 20th century guidebook for black travellers to find motels and restaurants that would accept them.
The chalk and cheese relationship between Don and Tony is Green Book’s cornerstone. While most of the heavy lifting is left to Mortensen, who put on some 20 kilos to play Tony, Mahershala Ali is also perfectly cast as this incarnation of Shirley, a prodigy whose intellect and musical abilities alienate him from virtually everybody. It’s a role that just exudes dignity.
Winner of three Golden Globes and nominated for five Oscars, certainly it does feel at times like an old-school throwback to the feel-good comedy-dramas the Oscars used to reward. And there’s nothing wrong with that. (Research Chris Coetsee) eg Butch & Sundance 1969, The Apartment (1960). Critics have sniffed, blow them. Come. Its great.
So you’ve won an Oscar (only just) for best picture, what next? Well, if you’re Barry Jenkins, you carry on making the films close to your heart; and James Baldwin’s prose couldn’t be more personal.
Set to the backdrop of 1970’s New York, Fonny (Stephan James) and Tish (KiKi Layne) have known each other since toddlers before they fall in love in young adulthood. Fonny, a little older, plans to be a sculptor. She’s just become pregnant when he is arrested and falsely charged with rape. Left alone to tell her news to both families, Tish and her clan work together to clear Fonny’s name and get him back before their baby is born.
If proof were needed that his other directing achievement was far from a one-off, Beale Street pulses and dances through every frame, in all its gorgeous romantic melancholy and refined outrage; with characters staring longingly into the camera, like an open invitation into a characters’ soul; whether it be trauma, or pure longing, it’s there for all to see (oh dear). Together with a lush, sweeping score, If Beale Street Could Talk is both delicate, and powerful. (research Jack Whiting) Come, see what all the fuss is about.
What happens when you cross Harry Potter with King Arthur? You get a wholesome, British-set fantasy adventure.
There aren’t many kids’ films that actually blank a sense of childlike wonder, yet Boy Who Would Be King does just that. Louis Serkis (son of Andy) plays Alex, a likable kid who’s running away from bullies when he pulls Arthur’s sword Excalibur out of a chunk of concrete on a building site. It takes the arrival of Merlin (Patrick Stewart) – ageing backwards, he’s now a teenager in a duffel coat played by Angus Imrie – to explain that Alex must defeat Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson) - who draws some humorous Brexit comparisons as she proclaims Britain “lost and leaderless” - and her army of undead demon knights. With his best mate Bedders, Alex gathers a crew of knights to save the Earth.
Comedian turned director Joe Cornish returns seven years after Attack the Block, to direct a kind of film they just don’t make anymore: expansive live-action adventure tales, unabashedly aimed at young people, not the adults charged with taking them to the cinema. (Jack Whiting) Right. You’ve been told, no point in trying the duffel coat trick. 39 is 39. How old is writer: Joe Cornish btw...
In a year of exceptional foreign-language films (Cold War, Shoplifters, and Burning and more to come) Capernaum might get lost in the shuffle, but don’t let it; this heartbreaking film has an undeniable emotional pull.
Zain (Zain Alrafeea) is a 12-year-old boy in Beirut, deeply embittered by his poverty, by his parents’ failure to protect him from it and by the humiliatingly ineffective accommodations they have made to get money. They have effectively sold his beloved 11-year-old sister Samar (Cedra Izam) in marriage to their landlord’s creepy son. An arrangement that is bound to have consequences... Now arrested and incarcerated in Lebanon’s notorious Roumieh prison, Zain is launching a lawsuit against his parents, suing them for being born...!! This is a legal stunt apparently encouraged by a Current Affairs show on local television as a way of publicising the suffering of child poverty.
Nadine Labaki’s (Caramel) sensational drama, turns the plight into a social-realist blockbuster (Slumdog Millionaire is an obvious point of comparison). Fired by furious compassion and teeming with sorrow, yet strewn with diamond-shards of beauty, wit and hope, Capernaum is one you must see. (research Jack Whiting) Nadine Labaki’s fabulous Caramel is back at the Rex in April/May. Don’t miss either.
A bow to Affleck’s real-life ingenious spy: Tony Mendez who died in February.
This beautifully drawn account of a real event, skilfully plays the truth against undoubted, delicious poetic license to make a riveting tale, of a catastrophic real-world moment and turning it in as a thrilling tight-lipped caper.
When Iran’s revolutionary guard seized Tehran’s US Embassy in 1979’ six staff managed to escape, finding frantic refuge in the Canadian ambassador’s official residence. Plotting their only hope of escaping alive, a hapless US black-ops committee ‘hire’ the best CIA extractor. Enter big Ben Affleck playing the real-life hero-huge: Tony Mendez.
Two ingenious contrasts. Tehran: a thriller so tense you'll be chewing every gasp. And a Hollywood sweet relief. Two jaded old-Hollywood ‘been-theres’ Alan Arkin and John Goodman take on Argo as the ‘best worst idea’. Big Ben’s stoic walk-on part is directorily squashed under the weight of these two mammoth supporting roles. Mr Arkin’s unequivocal verbal brush-off has become the occasional Rex maxim for absurd complaints. Won 3 fat Oscars (2012/13) And… today by happy chance, 26th March 2019 we celebrate the sharing of Alan Arkin’s, with my brothers’ birthday. One dead man celebrated, ‘two’ birthdays. Winning on points…
The rousing true story of the case that made Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s career.
In Mimi Leder's first significant feature since 2000’s Pay It Forward, Felicity Jones pitches Ginsburg as a funny, ambitious and very serious law student. Following her struggles to be taken seriously enough to get a job while juggling her home life with beloved attorney husband Marty, we begin with her college days as a young Harvard law student before marching through to the groundbreaking gender discrimination case that cemented her status as a champion for women’s rights.
On the Basis of Sex comes hot on the heels of January’s RBG, a comprehensive biographical piece that not only made the Oscar shortlist for Best Documentary but also proved potent at the box office. Shining brightest when conveying Ginsburg’s unrelenting drive to succeed despite the sexist obstacles thrust in her path, this is a dramatisation which lionises its subject, particularly throughout a closing act which provides a thundering account of this moment in the feminist movement.
With her stock at an all-time high, it seems the celebration of the Notorious RBG has reached its crescendo? (Research Chris Coetsee) Don’t miss.