This unique 1968 animated odyssey celebrates its 50th year of deep-diving psychedelia.
Inspired by the Sgt Pepper album, this was a rare feature-length animated movie for the UK then. It would open the creative doors for much of the fantastically diverse and challenging works of animation that exist today. The band itself, by ‘68 were falling apart, amongst other things, hence they refused anything to do with it, but were buoyed by its unique creativity.
The Fab Four’s quest to save the blissful Pepperland from the monstrous Blue Meanies has never looked or sounded more beautiful. In order to preserve its quality, every piece of hand-drawn artwork has been painstakingly restored in 4K digital resolution, frame-by-frame. Similarly, (muso-geek warning:) every note and chord of the soundtrack has also been remixed in 5.1 stereo surround sound at Abbey Road.
Taking a magical mystery tour through a swirling sea of art history and pop-culture, Yellow Submarine’s sheer charm explodes through its fantastical imagery and music's own ability to transform, and spark the imagination half a century later. (research Chris Coetsee)
We, among the original (Cavern) fans, were sniffy, and hated the voices. But now… it’s fab.
Here, not for long, on the big screen. Come. Don’t miss it.
Zama marks the long awaited return of Lucrecia Martel. Well done. Here she offers a scathingly insightful perception of long unresolved, dangerous conflicts during a period of raging colonialism, and a class divide wider than the Amazon itself.
Adapted from the novel by Antonio Di Benedetto, (and widely considered one of the greatest of Argentine novels) this touching period drama follows the story of Diego de Zama (Daniel Giménez Cacho) a righteous 17th Century officer of the Spanish Crown eagerly awaiting a transfer from the small South American colony where he currently waits, stagnating. His relocation would take him to a disaster ridden Buenos Aries, but with promise of a better life, however Zama stands in an emotionally delicate place.
Despite the plot hinging on his ongoing longing, the film is not without its own turbulent subtext: a burgeoning affair, a thoroughly beguiling villain and a treasure hunt that refuses to reveal its secrets. Many more calamities await, promising to drawn you in and leave you, perhaps, with your own sense of longing…
If we accept "colonial dystopia" as a viable atmosphere, it's hard to imagine another filmmaker conjuring it better than Argentinian master Lucrecia Martel. (research Ellie Alexander-Wilson) An intriguing story, beautifully told. Come.
A sensational Rupert Everett writes, stars and directs this flamboyant biopic, detailing the ignominious final years of Oscar Wilde.
Named after Wilde's short story for children, which he tells over the course of the film, the writer battles to emerge from the darkness of his disgrace.
Offering a surprising and courageously unflattering portrait of Wilde's post-prison existence in France and Italy, The Happy Prince puts its subject under intense scrutiny. His treatment is unforgivable but he's undone by his own weakness, striking up a friendship with two urchins he extracts sexual favours from the elder, while playing fatherly storyteller to the younger. And, although prone to resilient demonstrations of strength, he is nevertheless mired in self-pity, venting his anger on those who love him most.
“A powerful parable of passion and redemption” (Guardian)
The tone throughout is sympathetic and Everett captures all the sadness of a fallen star, chiefly the despicable way Wilde is treated by the public and criminal justice system. It is his show really, igniting the spark behind Wilde's sorrow to light the way for the story to progress. (research Chris Coetsee). Everett was born to play Wilde, and a fantastic, out of the attic, portrait he paints.
A huge achievement. Come.
Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland trundle towards the end of the trail in this bittersweet comedy-drama.
Ailing couple Ella and John, determined that their final days will not be spent in care homes and hospitals, climb aboard their trusty 1970s RV and head south from Massachusetts to Florida, intent on visiting Hemingway's house in Key West. Winding through the heart of America during the 2016 presidential race, they reflect on a divided nation and the changes they have witnessed in their lifetimes as they yearn to recapture a passion for being.
Predictably, and probably rightfully so, a sizeable chunk of humour here relies on the couple’s interactions with unfamiliar modernity, but Ella’s stubbornness and John’s fastidiousness also lead to some genuinely laugh out loud moments.
Comedy aside, Sutherland’s ability to radiate dignity even as his character slips further into the fog of Alzheimer’s, is remarkable, while Mirren brilliantly shows Ella wrestling with her heartbreaking transition from spouse to carer. With an admirable level of sensitivity in the writing, director Paolo Virzì just about maintains focus on the humanity of these two imperfect, perfectly warm people. (research Chris Coetsee) It knowingly jerks for tears here and there, and succeeds. But come.
It’s safe to assume the awe and majesty of Spielberg's original will never be re-captured, so it’s up to the filmmakers to craft increasingly daring and (mildly) perilous set pieces.
The park was shut down after the outbreak in the previous chapter. Now, the screenwriters are racking their brains for a sequel idea: how can we possibly get our characters back to that island again? One bright spark chimes up: an active volcano. Bingo. Universal breathes a sigh of relief and the franchise continues.
Our heroes, Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, return to Isla Nublar to save the park’s attractions from a molten demise. Other parties - ones not so pro-animal - want to capture to exploit their DNA for the government (weaponised dinosaurs?!).
What follows is some spiel about dinos having rights (with a fantastically groomed Toby Jones leading the bad side). But you're here for the running and screaming (sadly, in sensible heels this time!). Director J.A Bayona (The Orphanage, A Monster Calls) adds a gothic flare as the second half takes aim at claustrophobic horror; think Nosferatu but with more teeth. (Jack Whiting). Don’t miss this fantastic big screen sparkler: Jeff Goldblum…
Michael Anderson’s 1955 epic black & white war film is given a spectacular big screen restoration in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of one of WWII’s most iconic missions.
On the night of 16-17 May 1943, Wing Commander Guy Gibson led 617 Squadron of the Royal Air Force on an audacious bombing raid to destroy three dams in the Ruhr valley, the industrial heartland of Germany. The mission was codenamed Operation ‘Chastise'. The dams were fiercely protected against enemy aircraft. But 617 Squadron had a secret weapon: the 'bouncing bomb’.
On a box-office raid of his own, Anderson’s secret weapons were his leading gentlemen. Michael Redgrave’s vividly human portrayal of scientist Dr Barnes Wallis will continue to sell this story for generations, while Richard Todd was never better as Guy Gibson.
A powerful blend of scientific suspense and aerial action, accompanied by that marching soundtrack, The Dam Busters is very much a piece of its time, yet it remains one of the truly great war films and very well might be one of the finest flying pictures ever made? (Research Chris Coetsee)
Side bets are on the mischief of renaming Gibson’s faithful old black Labrador. Come and see.
Director Fatih Akin’s Cannes and Oscar-nominated revenge drama explores grief, violence and the cross-cultural tension of modern Germany.
Told in three distinct chapters, the film is alternatively wrenching, gripping and perplexing. Diane Kruger, who took Best Actress at Cannes for the role, plays Katja Sekerci. She lives a happy family life in Hamburg with her Turkish husband Nuri (Numan Acar) and their five-year-old son Rocco.
Returning to Nuri’s office one evening, she discovers to her horror that the area has been cordoned off by police following the explosion of a nail bomb. Following a frantic search, Katja’s life falls apart as she realises both Nuri and Rocco having innocently fallen victim to the violence. Descending into a nightmare of grief and disorientation, she desperately leads a hunt for the perpetrators and reasons behind the senseless killing.
A painfully timely thriller, In the Fade is one of prolific German filmmaker Akin’s best films since his 2004 masterpiece, Head-On, perfectly capturing the sense of a city and its victims in the aftermath of a terrorist bombing. A whirlwind of anguish, fury and injustice. (research Chris Coetsee)
One not to miss. Should be on more than once, so it will be back.
Ever since her understated Winter’s Bone, director Debra Granik, has been quite adept at chronicling marginalized individuals, but her new effort reveals a sustained tenderness she’s never before achieved.
Based on the novel My Abandonment by Peter Rock, Leave No Trace is a dark, contemplative, and finally agonizing portrait of a traumatized war vet, Will (Ben Foster), who can’t endure society, alongside his 13-year-old daughter, Thom (Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie), who lives with him in Forest Park near Portland. Granik doesn’t give the audience any bearings for a while, but it’s plain enough they have an easy, tender relationship, and that they’re careful to hide all evidence of their existence from rangers or police.
A seemingly small mistake on Thom’s part exposes them to the authorities. Hence, they are evicted from the federal land they occupy and put into the social services system. And just as they begin to settle into their new arrangement, away they go, back into the woods, leaving us frustrated and desperate to empathize?
It certainly fits into Granik’s wheelhouse: gritty, live-off-the-land filmmaking with a fascinating cast, who look like they live that life. (Jack Whiting) “a sympathetic, affecting, beautifully realised portrait of lives lived on the margins” (Empire) Come.
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson has a screen presence to behold; if anyone can look like they know what’s going on when the audience doesn’t, it’s him.
The ex-wrestler plays David Okoye, a soldier turned primatologist (imagine a rock hard, version of David Attenborough, with pecs ready-greased) who prefers animals to people, and who can blame him, with so many evil humans at large? He is especially close to the albino ape, George, whom he rescued when the little chimp was only two years old. He has taught George sign language, which allows the ape to give him the finger, fist bump, and how to share a joke. Cute, yeah?
Energyne (who thinks up these evil corporation names?) is meddling with science beyond their control via a growth serum; naturally, things go awry, and before long there’s a 100ft wolf and an equally gargantuan reptile tearing their way through downtown Chicago. This serum also finds its way to George, where he too morphs into what is basically an albino King Kong and throws in with the other monsters while Johnson does his thing: pilots helicopters, punches people, and shoots really, really big guns. (research Jack Whiting) Wish Dwayne Rock was in On Chesil Beach…
Ghibli lives! Sort of. The spirit of the Japanese animation house is in every frame of its successor - Studio Ponoc - and their delightfully enchanting debut.
An adaptation of The Little Broomstick by Mary Stewart, Mary (voiced by Ruby Barnhill) is a bored, lonely, curious child, (and therefore the perfect candidate for a fantastical adventure) who is exiled to the care of her great-aunt while her parents attend to some unspecified business. Mary soon discovers a broomstick in the woods, along with a rare flower that transforms her into a powerful witch. The soul of Ghibli isn’t the only thing echoed; Harry Potter fans will be glad to hear that the broomstick whisks Mary up and away to a Hogwarts-like school for witches in the clouds. But Endor College conceals a dark secret, a kind of enchanted vivisection laboratory where animals are magically tampered with.
Director Yonebayashi deftly combines Ghibli hits Kiki’s Delivery Service with Howl’s Moving Castle, and while not hitting the lofty heights of those Miyazaki classics, there is still an abundance of charm and warmth that bleeds from every hand-drawn line and brush stroke. (Jack Whiting) Stunning. Don’t miss.
Penelope Fitzgerald’s 1959 Booker-shortlisted novel is brought to wryly satirical life.
Florence Green (Mortimer) sees her dreams come true when she defies the odds and opens a bookshop in the sleepy seaside town of Hardborough, Suffolk. Ignoring opposition from the narrow-minded locals and thin-lipped town socialite Violet Gamart (Clarkson) Florence continues her focused attempt to bring good literature to the community, attracting the attention of Mr. Brundish (Nighy) a book lover, unmoved by small minds locals. Through her gradual introduction of classic contemporary works of fiction to sheltered neighbours, she stirs many long buried feelings in the townsfolk.
A time of tea, cardigans and paraffin heaters is lovingly depicted by director Isabel Coixet, just as the suitably grim-grey cinematography presents a post-war Britain aching for the expressive freedoms represented by the Philip Larkin, Vladimir Nabokov and Ray Bradbury, stocked in Florence’s shop.
For fans of the Fitzgerald novel, Nighy as Florence’s unlikely ally will please and is, as always, wonderful, yet while the story resists typically comforting clichés, it does depart slightly from its source. (Research Chris Coetsee) It doesn’t matter. The gorgeous Emily Mortimer and that Nigh man for all seasons, weathers and times, are there at its heart. You must come.
Some may baulk at yet another male dominated franchise being handed over without a fight to a female ensemble. Yet Oceans 8 shows that girls can have just as much, if not more fun, with wafer thin material.
What else does the film prove? That Sandra Bullock is just as fit to front an Ocean’s film as George Clooney, if not, rather more so. That Anne Hathaway’s comic skills and self-parody are well worth showcasing in bitchy roles. That Cate Blanchett absolutely rocks in cheetah-print coats and biker leathers.
Bullock stars as Debbie Ocean, the cheerily amoral sister of Clooney’s Danny. Thieving runs in the family it seems. She has been languishing behind bars, and the moment she is out, the high heels go straight back on as she begins to put together the crew for her biggest robbery yet: to pinch a $150m necklace at the Met Gala in New York.
Ignore the naysayers; Ocean’s 8 is slick summer escapism. Who wouldn't want to enjoy the company of eight actresses who make a zirconium plot sparkle like diamonds. (Jack Whiting). Who indeed, Jack. Come and see.
The arduous, seven-year long wait for the sequel to Gnomeo & Juliet - the cutsey animated film that was basically an Elton John musical in disguise - is finally upon us.
Ignoring Shakespeare's tragic ending, the star-crossed garden gnomes from the first film (voices of James McAvoy and Emily Blunt) are alive and well and find themselves in London when their owners rather fancifully move from Stratford-upon-Avon (how on earth can they afford it?). There they team up with top ornamental detective Sherlock Gnomes (Johnny Depp, whose name was left out of the marketing for obvious reasons??) to investigate the kidnapping of gnomes across the city.
Thinking that it’s his adversary Moriarty (now imagined as a puffy yellow pie mascot with a sharp-toothed grin and lame meta villain jokes) the overly proud Holmes and his dutiful Watson, (Chiwetel Ejiofor) venture around the capital with Gnomeo and Juliet, but with only 24 hours to find the gnomes before they are smashed. Elton John fans will get a kick out of the soundtrack; for the rest of us, it’s more of the same garden variety. (Jack Whiting)
Prepare yourselves; we’re cranking up the 70mm projectors and lacing up those mammoth reels. Overture, curtains, interval; it’s all there.
A technical marvel; Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi opus was indeed ahead of its time. This single ‘unrestored’ transfer goes back to the original print, which would never have happened if not for an effort to preserve the film in 1999, when the restoration team at Warner Bros were persuaded to clean up old negatives and strike new interpositives. In layman's terms you’re seeing it as it was in 1968.
Kubrick always intended to invoke an emotional response rather than hard analysis despite the film feeling, in places, as cold and sterile as the monolith itself. I can't pretend to know what really happens in the closing act, when Dave (Keir Dullea) truly heads toward infinity and beyond, but the series of images that follows is staggering to say the least. 2001 is a jaw-dropping piece of cinema that has lost none of its awe 50 years down the line. What we’re doing is to simply showcase this uncompromising film in its most uncompromised form. (research Jack Whiting) This original gaffer-tape sci-fi creation anticipating 2001 from 1968, is still being copied in 2018. Dont miss it here & now.
Has it come to this? The desecration of a literary
classic? Or perhaps a much needed modern twist?
Beatrix Potter would surely be startled.
It’s actually… not terrible? If you can stomach James
Corden being, well, James Corden, and his version of
Peter having a supposed tearaway charm founded on
deception, theft, greed and a seemingly pathological
anti-human bloodlust. At the start of the film, Peter
tries to insert a carrot into the exposed gluteal
cleft of Mr McGregor (poor Sam Neill) while the
elderly gardener is tending to his vegetable patch.
A jape which ends with McGregor dying of a heart
attack. Domhnall Gleeson (giving it 110 percent) is
Farmer McGregor’s nephew and heir, who has been
working in Harrods but is continually passed over for
promotion. He hates the countryside but swoons at
the sight of Beatrix Potter or ‘Bea’ (Rose Byrne).
This makes Peter extremely jealous and sparks full-on
warfare, Peter Rabbit is deliberately abrasive and
uneven to the extreme. Its riotous approach won’t
appeal to anyone hoping to spend a few soothing
moments in the company of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle and
Jemima Puddle-Duck, but its ballsy energy can be
rather enjoyable. An anti-Paddington, so to speak.
(research Jack Whiting) Come and see.
Rob Brydon sculls, rolls and dives in Oliver Parkers splashy comedy-drama.
Brydon plays Eric Scott, a man suffering from a midlife crisis, not knowing where to turn or what to do next. Following a moment of realisation floating at the bottom of his local pool, he decides that rather than sit around feeling sorry for himself, he’ll reinvigorate his life by diving into the world of male synchronised swimming, believing he can win back the affections of his wife Heather (Jane Horrocks) in the process. (‘Formation drowning’ - TW’s 90s radio wit). Joining his local team, Eric finds an unlikely brotherhood in his fellow swimmers as they train for the world championships in Milan.
It’s all tremendous fun? With a cast of unlikelies Daniel Mays, This is England’s Thomas Turgoose and Rupert Graves of Sherlock fame, it makes for a plucky, diverse group who inevitably bounce off each another, both comically and under water.
As Mays’ character Colin sums up: “We're just a bunch of middle-aged men who want to meet up in trunks that are too small for us, and make funny little patterns in a pool.’ (research Chris Coetsee). Brydon’s unsurprising attempt at a Full Monty, treads water in the shallow end.