Windsor Gardens’ most famous resident returns in
roaring fashion in this delightful seasonal sequel.
Paddington is now living happily as a member of the
Brown Family and is adored by nearly everyone in
the community. With his dear Aunt’s 100th birthday
fast approaching, he decides to get her something
extra special: a unique pop-up book of London.
Unfortunately, he is not the only one looking to get
their sticky paws on the valuable book and when
it is mysteriously stolen, Paddington innocently
falls afoul of a dastardly scheme and is framed for
the theft. Accused of a crime he didn’t commit and
facing jail, the unwaveringly optimistic bear must
clear his name.
A magnificent cast, from it’s loveable leads right
down to one villainous and brilliantly narcissistic
Hugh Grant, truly bring this story to life, ensuring a
wonderful tribute to Paddington’s creator Michael
Bond, who sadly passed away in June.
Utterly sweet and fantastically funny, Paddington
and his pals are sure to steal a heart or two this
Christmas. Come in from the cold and bask in its
warmth. Marmalade sandwiches all round. (research
Chris Coetsee) Fantastic Chris. Great too, to see a
sequel getting past the gainsayers.
Our Last Tango tells the life and love story of Argentina's most famous tango dancers.
María Nieves Rego (81) and Juan Carlos Copes (84) met when they were 14 and 17, and they danced together for nearly fifty years. In all those years they loved and hated each other and went through several painful separations, but always got back together.
Relaying their story to a group of young tango dancers and choreographers from Buenos Aires, their story of love, hatred and passion is transformed into unforgettable tango-choreographies.
These beautifully-shot choreographies compliment the soul-searching interviews and documentary moments of the film to make this an unforgettable journey into the heart of the tango.
“There's something achingly poignant about watching the octogenarian Nieves and Copes direct "themselves" - while addressing what might have been.” (Los Angeles Times)
Emma Stone serves up a career-best performance
in this glossy but triumphant crowd-pleaser.
Battle of the Sexes tells the story behind Tennis’s
famed 1973 exhibition match between 29 year-old
Billie Jean King (Stone) and 55 year-old hustler
Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) who boasted he could
beat any woman in the world.
Fighting a public battle for women in sport, Billie
Jean also internally wrestles with her sexuality.
Married to her husband Larry (Austin Stowell) she
falls for her female hairdresser Marilyn and finds
herself not only saddled with hiding the affair from
him, but struggling to keep it private from a sporting
community which is not yet ready to openly address
homosexuality. Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris,
the husband-and-wife team responsible for the
Oscar-winning Little Miss Sunshine, expertly bring
to life Simon Beaufoy’s superb script, perfectly
balancing the on-court action with the off-court
drama.More than forty years have passed since
the two stepped up to the net. Some things have
changed, some not. A timely reminder that in the
match for gender equality, it’s only the end of the
first set. (research Chris Coetsee) It may well be a
contender. Don’t miss.
Paul McGuigan’s enchanting retelling of the true-life romance between a battling young actor and Oscar-winner Gloria Grahame (Annette Bening).
Liverpool, 1981. About to take the stage in The Glass Menagerie, Grahame is suddenly struck down in pain. Shunning her pride, she calls upon her estranged lover Peter Turner (Jamie Bell) to stay at his family home nearby with his mum Bella (Julie Walters) and husband Joe (Kenneth Cranham) while she recuperates. As Jamie reflects on the memories of their once-vibrant love affair, he grapples not only with the emotions brought up by her struggle for survival, but also his duty to make contact with her family abroad, against Gloria’s wishes. Sticking closely to Turner’s 1986 memoir, McGuigan uses a series of flashbacks to stitch together a theatrical tale of lost romance, one sure to evoke memories of the old classics and to bring to the fore a filmic tenderness once a staple of Grahame’s now distant Hollywood era.
“First rate performances from the two leads, and a fine supporting cast, confirms this as an awards season contender.” (Screen International) (research Chris Coetsee) A published memoir destined for the silver screen, and so it is, but fabulous. Don’t miss. You’ll see Gloria, glorious in ‘Wonderful Life’ at Christmas.
Star Wars has always maintained a breezy attitude. Until now. Weighty, dense, and absolutely stuffed with story, Rian Johnson subverts expectations and gifts the series’ first truly epic instalment.
Johnson understands that Lucas’s baby has been around long enough that we can begin to get playful with its oh-so-sacred lore (purists may choke on their blue milk).
The rulebook has been torn up and expectations are thrown to the wind: The Force, Jedi, lightside and dark; they’re all deconstructed in a way that shocks and amuses. So as we pick up moments after The Force Awakens ended, with plucky Jedi wannabe Rey (Daisy Ridley) asking a now embittered Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to help his sister, Leia (Carrie Fisher, in spirit) in the battle against the First Order, he tells her to bugger off and leave him alone.
Yet, the biggest draw of this new trilogy continues to be the conflicting bond between Rey and the emotionally unstable Kylo Ren (Adam Driver, stealing it once again).
Not everything is as black and white as we’re used to in this galaxy. Fingers crossed their complicated relationship continues into the next, and final chapter. (research Jack Whiting) Please, be final.
Ana Asensio writes, directs and stars in her feature film debut; a prickling and precarious tale of survival in New York.
The opening-credits suggest a story based on true events. While this may be stretching the concept of truth a little, there is an unmistakable sense of realism to this thoughtful thriller, bristling with an authenticity of experience shared by its creator.
Having left her native Spain following a family trauma, Luciana is barely eeking out a living by working two part-time, dead-end jobs in order to scrape together her Brooklyn rent. Increasingly desperate to find a path to financial security and personal fulfilment, she accepts a paid invitation to an exclusive event for Manhattan’s elite. Descending into the depths of an elusive basement, Luciana soon discovers a poisonous warren of objectification and peril beneath the streets of this far from beautiful island.
At a snappy 80 minutes, not a moment is wasted across three spellbinding acts which together present an unmissable parable about how, both underground and above, the land of opportunity can be as ruthless as it is rewarding. (Research Chris Coetsee) Sounds and looks unmissable, so don’t miss.
There are moustaches, and then there is Kenneth Branagh’s. His wonderfully distracting, textured facial fluff is the true standout of this flashy, all-star locomotive (and true to Agatha’s original narrative).
We’re no strangers to Agatha Christie’s carriage based mystery; not only TV Poirot’s Ronald Suchet has solved the case, but the 1974 Sidney Lumet/Albert Finney show is no slouch. Branagh brings a fresh lick of 65mm paint to the proceedings.
It is rich in gorgeous colours with a stellar cast that certainly matches Lumet’s in its lustre – with Depp and Pfeiffer particularly suspicious – while the likes of ballet superstar Sergei Polunin, and our very own Dame Judi get little opportunity to strut their stuff. They don’t make too many whodunits like this anymore. But let’s face it, you’re here for the moustache; that epic special effect dwarves the grooming efforts of Finney and Suchet combined; his flowering hedge is a thing of such tortured splendour that it should be up for its own award. So when the film begins to lull, just focus your attention on those bristles. (research Jack Whiting) Peter Ustinov remains the best Hercule P. (Evil Under The Sun 1982) Same yarn different boat.
Here we go again. The acapella girl band we all fell in love with are back. Who cares if it's the slimmest of pretexts for them to get together once more?
Lo and behold, the film furnishes Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson and their half-dozen cohorts with the barest thread of an excuse to reunite: a USO tour in Europe, where they’ll basically be the warm-up act for a real-life producer, DJ Khaled, and an assortment of rival bands unfairly equipped with instruments. One of these, known as Evermoist (really), is fronted with such growl and charisma by Ruby Rose, the movie actually makes the mean-girl sideshow more enticing than its main event (a spinoff please).
Pitch Perfect 3 truly comes alive in its performance scenes, which is as it should be, and a succession of pop hits - including Britney Spears’ Toxic - will guarantee toe-taps down The Rex/Odyssey aisles. Music, at least, never lets these girls down, even if the rest of their lives fail to live up to what’s on stage. (research Jack Whiting)
Hugh Jackman steps into the spotlight as 1800s impresario P.T. Barnum in this all-singing-all-dancing rags to riches extravaganza.
2012’s Les Mis was supposed to be the movie that showcased Jackman’s triple-treat talents as a singer, dancer and dramatic actor. Yet somehow it didn’t, his performance fell short. Here debut director Michael Gracey deservedly hands him another chance and this time around he smashes it out of the park.
Born the son of a poor cobbler, Phineas Taylor Barnum longs to rise above his lot in life and dazzle the world. Having conned his way into enough money to start a ‘museum’, he assembles the brilliant and the bizarre of marginalised society, creating a showcase of oddities which draws in the masses - a freak show, which would become the essence of the fairground, circus and showbiz.
But despite his flourishing success, he yearns for something greater, so to garner the attention, and loosen the purse strings, of the upper classes, Barnum risks it all on his chase for recognition.
Questions may be raised over certain exaggerations of his life, but showbiz is showbiz and historical haziness aside, this is nothing short of spectacle and splendour. (research Chris Coetsee)
Big screen Showbiz indeed. Come.
Aaron Sorkin has been hiding this little ace up his sleeve for a while; waiting for the right story to show off his directorial debut. And what a cracking start.
No stranger to scripts, razor sharp: The West Wing, Social Network, Steve Jobs being a few examples! Here Sorkin trusts in his own dialogue with delicious elegance, acerbic wit and dramatic force. As expected, Jessica Chastain is sensational as the heroine of the title who was on track to be an Olympic skiing champion, until a freak accident took her out of the race. Enter a very different career as she inched her way into running the most infamous high-stakes poker game in Hollywood. Chastain biting into Sorkin's script in real time and in voiceover, where the poker diva counts all the cards for you.
The film transcends its subject matter. It’s not just a story about high stakes games for the rich and famous. By the final reel, Molly Bloom has been transformed into a Joan of Arc-like martyr, albeit who speaks and behaves like Katharine Hepburn in an old screwball comedy. (research Jack Whiting) Amid the fat awards list, decent for once, this one will stay the distance. Throw your hand in. Come and win.
Diversity, acceptance and friendship are
championed in Stephen Chbosky’s heartfelt
“I’m not an ordinary 10 year-old kid” explains August
“Auggie” Pullman (the beautifully understated kid
Jacob Tremblay) with heartening earnest. Born with
Treacher Collins syndrome, a rare genetic disorder
which causes severe facial deformities, Auggie is
acutely aware of his physical appearance. Hiding
beneath a space helmet and homeschooled by his
mother (Julia Roberts) he is petrified to enter the
fifth grade at his local Prep School. Yet, supported
by his mum, dad Nate (Owen Wilson) and older
sister Via (Izabela Vidovic) Auggie bravely faces
his judgmental middle-school peers as he finally
embraces the world outside his bedroom. Faithfully
based on the 2012 bestseller by R.J. Palacio, Wonder
is a film designed to warm your heart in the most
sincerest of ways. A tearjerker for sure, but a wellcrafted
and intelligent one.
“Anchored by a terrific Jacob Tremblay, Wonder is a
warm persuasive argument for tolerance.” (Empire)
“Wonder makes serious and perceptive points
about friendship, coming of age, endurance and
basic human decency.” (Independent) (Research Chris
Coetsee) Nor does it over-cloy. Stupid: should have
run it for the whole month. Will be back.
The historical relationship between man and
mountain is exquisitely explored in filmmaker
Jennifer Peedom’s beautiful musical and cinematic
collaboration with the Australian Chamber
Orchestra (ACO). In comparing the bold exploits of
the early Everest conquerers to present-day climbers,
Mountain makes a valid and commendable point
about where we stand today as explorers while asking
two pertinent questions; what makes us attracted
eternally to danger? And what drives us into wanting
to be the first to conquer the unknown at any price?
Through the magic of the ACO, an array of pieces from
our own musical giants (Vivaldi, Beethoven, Grieg
to name but three) accompany a mixture of archival
footage and stunning contemporary cinematography,
crafting an enchanting piece of filmmaking which is
as thrilling as it is thought-provoking. An immersive,
meditative and mesmerising experience.
“Where Sherpa, Peedom’s Bafta award-nominated
2015 documentary, was a critique of the Everest
industry in which local guides take disproportionate
risks for wealthy and thrill-seeking foreigners,
Mountain is an unashamed tribute to the (largely
western) adventurers who are willing to risk
everything climbing the world’s great heights.”
(Guardian) (Research Chris Coetsee). Breathtaking,
spectacular, gigantic, nuts, unfathomable and
gorgeous. Come, feel tiny in the vast vast vast highwild.
“Does anyone even play board games anymore?” Chimed one studio exec as they wrote a blank cheque to greenlight Welcome to the Jungle.
How do you re-introduce a bizarre nineties fantasy starring Robin Williams to a new (mostly attention deficit) generation? Simple: video-games, and The Rock. This new digital landscape couldn’t be further from the dark fable of the original. Here it’s all fast paced action, explosions, and body-swap slapstick; that’s not a bad thing, mind you. Rather than having all sorts of scary things emerge from an ancient board-game; four teens get sucked into the Atari-esque computer and take the form of their in-game avatars: Jack Black, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart, and of course, Mr Johnson himself leading the pack. To get back home to the real world, the four avatars have to group together to complete the game. They have three lives each. This allows the filmmakers to indulge in a few enjoyably morbid gags in which characters fall off cliffs or are gouged by wild animals.
Sure, the video-game references feel out of date and there’s no replacing Robin Williams, but this Jumanji gets by on the self-mocking tone and the charms of its heroes. (research Jack Whiting)
Aardman are the little tribe fighting the giants, and putting their faith in old-fashioned storytelling and unassuming comedy. There’s something, more than heartening, about seeing actual fingerprints on clay models, it is painstakingly beautiful.
And what a treat the Wallace and Gromit creators have bestowed upon us now. Early Man focuses on an insular, small-minded tribe who live in a giant crater, cut off from the outside world. They’re surprisingly diverse for such a small group, with varying skin colours and accents, and voices supplied by the likes of Timothy Spall, Selina Griffiths, and Richard Ayoade. Mop-topped young Dug (Eddie Redmayne) is inquisitive and smart by comparison with the rest of his tribe. They’re soon forced out, and into the barbarous Badlands, by the gnashing metal and looming mammoths under the possession of Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston) who subdues his population with the thrill of the Sacred Game... Yep you got it... darts?
These little gap-toothed, eyes-too-close-together characters are every bit as expressive as their digital counterparts; and Aardman, Laika (Paranorman, Kubo) and indeed stop-motion animation in general, should be championed and preserved. (research Jack Whiting) Got it here early, for the whole half term! No excuse then, don’t miss it.
An 86 year old saves a film made by an 80 year old. Wow! Diversity indeed.
The outrageous fortunes and misfortunes of J. Paul Getty (and Ridley Scott’s cool head!) receive a full-blown biographical blowout in this sensational tale of kidnap and ransom.
When a ragtag gang abduct grandson J. Paul Getty III and demand a ransom of $17 million, they quickly realise just who they are up against. Refusing to pay up and unmoved by the despair of his former daughter-in-law, Getty turns to his chief deal-maker Fletcher (Wahlberg) as a hostage negotiator. Does he have his relatives’ best interests at heart, or is he just keeping the price down?
Ridley made worldwide headlines with his decision to replace a disgraced Kevin Spacey with his original more fitting choice: Christopher Plummer, as the billionaire oilman. Pulling off the seemingly impossible; scheduling frantic reshoots over just 12 days to meet the original release date, whilst producing a seamless screenplay? No mean feat. Hats off Ridley. It’s a triumph.
Plummer is gripping, his timing flawless. Both he and electrifying Michelle Williams garnered Golden Globe nominations. Given their performances, Oscars may well follow. Top dollar. (research Chris Coetsee) 52 years later, Capt von Trapp saves the day, again.
Mildred Hayes, there’s a name you won’t forget in a hurry. Frances McDormand is a hurricane of no-nonsense that’ll not so much sweep the awards season, as tear it up, kicking the Academy square in the balls.
Martin McDonagh returns to a world of hard-as-nails, yet complex and vulnerable protagonists, and upending one’s expectations. Seven months after her daughter was horrifically raped and murdered, Mildred Hayes emblazons the roadside billboards of the title with signs taunting police chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) about the lack of arrests. This opens a whole can of worms on the townsfolk. Beneath the cracker caricatures, however, even Ebbing’s most apparently unsympathetic residents, specifically Sam Rockwell, have complex lives and motivations.
Three Billboards feels like high-intensity comedy circuit training; causing strains in ethical muscles you didn’t even know you had. It is a film that continually forces you to question your own reactions: is it okay to laugh at this bit; is it okay to cry here? Thanks to McDonagh and his livewire star, Three Billboards is a renegade western, and a masterpiece that will leave its mark for years to come. (research Jack Whiting)
It previewed triumphantly at the Rex for our 13th anniversary in December.
Gary Oldman finds himself at the front of the Oscar pack in Joe Wright’s patriotic Second World War epic.
With continental Europe falling to Hitler and Britain's army stranded on the French coast, England's faith in their Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain is at an all time low. 65 year-old Winston Churchill is voted into the position by Tories backed into a corner by a Labour Party who would accept no other. Churchill's heavy drinking and judgement are called into question by his own party and the King, but with the weight of the nation on his shoulders, the man many consider a warmonger must lead them through their Darkest Hour. Intriguing sub-plot.
Oldman is in fine form as he takes this larger-than-life portrayal to dizzying heights, perfectly capturing a man forever haunted by his fateful part in the Battle of Gallipoli as he weighs up the possibility of leading more troops to the slaughter.
A masterclass in character study and a rousing period piece, Darkest Hour may stand as the best of this year's movies about Churchill and Dunkirk.
“This isn’t an uncritical celebration of British bulldog spirit but a nuanced portrait.” (Independent) (research Chris Coetsee) A remarkable, unrecognisable Gary Oldman as the jowly old man.
Steven Spielberg’s new film about Nixon’s attempt to gag the US press remains disturbingly relevant. Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep star as The Washington Post’s editor, Ben Bradlee and its proprietor Kay Graham at pains to and about exposing leaked government lies about the Vietnam War. These where the infamous ‘Pentagon Papers’; and the scoop that paved the way for the Watergate exposé. This cover-up, spanning three decades and four U.S. Presidents, pushed the country’s first female newspaper publisher to join an unprecedented battle between journalist and government. Ever the master storyteller, Spielberg has no trouble drawing you in. As soon as you enter the newsroom you’re hooked. It’s a rousingly watchable film, a true thriller, from first-time screenwriter Liz Hannah.
“The Post is a timely reminder of the struggle between press freedom and Government lies” Peter Greste (Guardian)
“Spielberg's riveting newspaper drama could be subtitled: 'FAO Trump'” (Independent)
“The back and forth of these two acting heavyweights and the subtleties of their differing stances as they wrestle with the magnitude of their decision, is where the film comes alive.” (Empire)
A potential film of the year? On-song and not to be missed now, at the beginning. So don’t.
His name is John Cena, the WWE superstar and now Hollywood go-to actor for physical comedy and deadpan delivery. And now he’s voicing a bull.
This gently subversive Madrid-set feature from animation studio Blue Sky (Ice Age, Rio) follows an adorable, flower-sniffing bull named Ferdinand (Cena). “Is it OK if that’s not my dream?” the baby bull asks his father of fighting. When he discovers that he has no choice, Ferdinand scarpers, hoofing it to a flower farm, where he befriends a human girl and her shaggy sheepdog. Ferdinand’s passivity (and flower obsession) isn’t explicitly coded as queer, though the film hints that this might be...
When Ferdinand’s trying to inch his way around a gorgeous pueblo in the midst of its annual flower festival. Striking terror into all who see him, he retreats inside a doorway, only to find himself in any anxious bull‘s equivalent of Room 101. A china shop. The tip-toeing gymnastics that follow are like a top-notch short you could watch on repeat. The visual gag is such an obvious yet genius blend of tropes, it is worth the film alone. (research Jack Whiting) But come and watch it all. It might be the first transgender bull-in-a-chinashop kids tale you’ll see this year.