This third Bond outing in 1964 was the first to truly hit home and stir the iconic cinematic giant it would become. It had to become iconic or lose its grip on that part of the vital mid-sixties. With Sean just coming into his own to make Bond unmistakably his own, it hit the psyche with phenomenal force. Now much copied, and surpassed here and there, it remains the hand-to-hand everybody wants to see. Goldfinger created a hit song that even now, 55 years later, won’t lie down and die. Oddjob is immortalised through his lethal, frisbee bowler, Gert Frobe had only to deliver one noteworthy line: “No Mr Bond, I expect you die”. An immortal reply, beautifully delivered. 60’s poster girl, Shirley Eaton ‘died’ naked painted in gold and the gorgeous Honor Blackman will forever be ‘Poosy Galore’. A finest hour all round. Now we have a brand new print to show on our big screen without crackle or blemish. So come, time to be shaken and stirred by Mr Connery’s immortal James Bond. An irresistible Easter Monday family treat. Don’t miss.
A touching portrait of a family affected by Alzheimer’s, What They Had delves into the difficulties of deciding what to do for the best.
Drawing from her own grandparents’ marriage, Elizabeth Chomko’s debut feature is a nuanced and compassionate exploration of how dementia affects the whole family. When Ruth (Blythe Danner) goes for a walk in the middle of the night, wandering around in a Chicago snowstorm wearing only a nightgown, her husband Burt (Robert Forster) is terrified when he can’t find her. Fortunately found unharmed in a hospital, the crisis prompts their children Nicky and Bridget (the ever reliable Michael Shannon and Hilary Swank) to come together. With Bridget’s sulky daughter Emma (Taissa Farmiga) in tow, a doctor advises the family to put Ruth into a care home - or what he calls a “memory centre”. Aware of the realities of care homes after Ruth’s own experience as a senior-care nurse, Burt is adamant that his wife should stay at home with him. A painful decision to make, the family grapple with Ruth’s future, while her past is cruelly fading from memory.
(Research Rachel Williams) A storyline now all too familiar, which luckily humour lifts, in just the right places.
A trailblazing female yachting crew are the focus of Alex Holmes's inspiring documentary.
The first Whitbread Round the World Race was held in 1973. Seventeen yachts and 167 crew took part in the gruelling challenge which encompassed 50,000 kilometres of often tumultuous ocean. Sailing itself was a very male-dominated world at the time but it was almost unheard of for women to crew, let alone captain, at the extreme end of the sport. In 1989 this all changed when 24-year old Tracy Edwards became the skipper of the first all-women team to compete.
Maiden follows their journey, both literally and metaphorically. Using interviews with the crew and archive newsreel, it tells the remarkable tale of a group of women who defied expectations. In an era dogged by institutional sexism, their achievements are all the more impressive; some of the clips demonstrate just how much they were up against before they even got out into the water.
It’s an incredible story, going well beyond the often sniffy old-school nature and macho narrative of sailing to focus on the dedication and devotion of these women; their intuition, skills and devotion to their vessel and to each other. (Research Chris Coetsee) Glorious. Don’t miss.
The White Crow has to walk a tricky line between period drama and dance movie – think Step Up 2: The Soviets. It’s all in the execution, and thankfully, this film is more graceful than that joke.
Following the rise of legendary danseur Rudolf Nureyev and his defection from the Soviet Union to the West in 1961, the film is sumptuous in its depiction of ballet during the time period. Of course, a plié is only as good as the performer, and thankfully, Oleg Ivenko turns between earnest charm and thoughtless arrogance on a dime. Most importantly, boy can he dance.
Ralph Fiennes' ambitious third directorial effort moves between three different timelines: Nureyev’s birth on a train and his deprived childhood in Ufa, Central Russia; his ballet training in Leningrad (Fiennes also plays his mentor) and early days in the Kirov Ballet; plus his time in Paris with the Kirov on tour. All three times are meticulously reconstructed, and all the settings and interactions feel truly authentic. It’s no mean feat, but Ivenko slips into Rudolf Nureyev’s slippers with ease. A joy to watch (Jack Whiting) So... Come and watch, come dancers, come all.
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.
The original, and one that kick-started a new wave of Asian horror; Ring tells a chilling tale that, twenty years on, still leaves a mark.
A bizarre string of deaths begin to occur in the suburbs of Tokyo, and rumours say they’re linked to a deadly videotape (VHS, remember those?). This is a story too strange for journalist Reiko (Nanako Matsushima) to pass up, and so begins her descent into uncovering the dark secrets behind the cursed cassette. Ring is not so much a straight-horror as it is a slow-burn mystery; the ghost-delivery system could hardly seem more antiquated now than the use of carrier pigeons, but the notion of an urban myth, passed about eagerly by teenagers, oddly, makes even more sense in the social media age.
This stunning restoration upgrades Sadako, the ghostly menace who resides in the static of the video, to terrifying high-definition. She became one of the most instantly recognisable screen monsters - even casual film goers can picture her reaching out of the TV - and time has done little to diminish her chilling presence. (Research Jack Whiting) A truly astonishing, chilling classic, where your cold shivers are real, not dated. Don’t miss.
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.
The unlikely but real-life tale of shanty-singing seafarers whose novelty debut album triumphantly sailed into the UK top ten.
British cinema is as well known for its charming tales of triumph over adversity as it is for the darkness of its kitchen sink grit. Just look at 2014’s Pride or last summer’s Swimming with Men and you get the picture. The latest entry to that underdog canon is Fisherman’s Friends.
When hotshot music producer and city boy Danny (Daniel Mays) arrives in the Cornish fishing Port Isaac on a stag do, a prank gone awry leaves him stranded alone in the village. Urged by his boss to try to sign the local sailors, who regularly perform in the harbour, a bewildered Danny tries to make the deal a reality. He’s unaware that this is yet another wind-up but when something in the music speaks to his romantic soul, Danny makes it his mission to bring the fishermen and their music to the world.
Director Chris Foggin’s lovely little film, while gleefully wallowing in its weirdness, smartly knows when to get serious and land some truly emotional blows. (Research Chris Coetsee) Come and see a bunch of old jumpers truly singing their hearts out.
As the Marvel universe steamrolls to its literal endgame, we’re taking a short pitstop to swiftly introduce the all powerful, all female, Captain Marvel.
It’s 1995 and Carol Danvers, an Air Force pilot played by a stoic Brie Larson, is already possessed of superpowers when we meet her in the middle of an intergalactic battle between two alien races: the Krees and the Skrulls. Her Kree mentor, Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) has trained her to join his elite star-force to banish their green-skinned, shape-shifting enemies, led by Skrull master Talos (Ben Mendelsohn - who else).
In truth, Carol doesn’t know who she is, or rather, was. She’s lost her memory. It takes a trip back to Earth to get it back (crash landing in a Blockbuster Video shop - yes, it really is the nineties). That’s where she meets future Avengers boss Nick Fury (a ‘youthful’ Samuel L. Jackson).
The best reason to see the film is Larson. At full strength, her Captain Marvel is a goddess emitting her own light, an astral version of Liberty at the battlements, sublime and terrifying. (Research Jack Whiting) So... Come and be sublimely terrified.
Director Ali Abbasi ambitiously melds crime drama, mythological fantasy and art-house horror in this Swedish thriller.
Tina (Eva Melander) is a misanthropic customs officer with an extraordinary ability to literally sniff out criminals at a busy border checkpoint. When Vore (Eero Milonoff) a mysterious man with a peculiar maggot obsession, is selected for inspection, she detects that he is hiding something impure and unidentifiable. When their instant physical chemistry brings about a robust and strange animalistic connection, the two develop a powerful bond as they begin to explore the true meaning behind their strange, unique existence.
Both central performances are exemplary. Melander and Milonoff showcase the benefit of fully committing to a challenging role. They play their odd characters as if they’d lived in their skins forever, embodying both physical and emotional awkwardness, sincerely.
Border is a very difficult film to classify, walking the line between high-art and creature-feature. Drawing on Scandinavian imagery of folklore, at its heart it’s a touching fairytale about unexpected attraction, belonging and love, juggling the worlds of human dignity and magical realism with astonishing success. (Research Chris Coetsee) Astonishing indeed Chris. Where have the Scandinavians been, to emerge so profoundly on screen in merely five-ish years…?
Rosamund Pike is the sort of actor who can make semi-decent roles seem better than they are and great roles - in films like Gone Girl - feel positively bliss-inducing.
Taking its inspiration from a posthumous 2012 Vanity Fair profile, this narrative feature debut from celebrated documentary-maker Matthew Heineman casts Pike as journalist Marie Colvin, an American war correspondent who wrote for the Sunday Times from 1985 to 2012. It is not her story so much as it is a portrait of her late career, stringing a series of conflicts and assignments (some of them not so much assigned as actively discouraged, eventually tolerated, and finally lauded). There is not one “big story” here, but a series of them; the focus is not Colvin’s process but the psychology of a woman so magnetically pulled to shed a light on human loss and suffering that a colleague goes so far as to call it an addiction. The diagnosis feels apt.
Pike doesn’t just imbue Colvin with all of those qualities but also gives her a spine and a soul. (Research Jack Whiting) ‘Addiction to conflict’ sounds closer to just looking-for-a-fight than caring about ‘human loss’...? You decide.
From Kirk Douglas to Benedict Cumberbatch, via Martin Scorsese, there have been numerous cinematic portraits of Vincent van Gogh (and rare for one to be interesting?). Few have grappled with the man in such intense and immediate strokes as At Eternity’s Gate.
Set during the final three years of his life, it begins with his meeting of fellow painter Paul Gauguin (Oscar Isaac) late 1887, and ends with his death in the summer of 1890. The film, which stars an uncannily convincing Willem Dafoe (nabbing an Oscar nomination in the process) is at its best when it shows rather than tells. Despite being 25 years older than van Gogh, Dafoe delivers an impassioned and believable performance, his deeply lined face capturing the mix of agony and ecstasy.
In his passion filled element here, Dafoe just seems in his marvelous actorly way to have caught van Gogh’s tipsy, questing, endlessly dissatisfied, spirit. Together with director Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) they plainly understand that this man who could be violent and who did, after all, slice off his own ear had an essentially gentle soul. (research Jack Whiting) Anger always loses, with rage simply demonstrating just by how much... Come and learn.
The mischievous Jordan Peele has swiftly become a new horror auteur. The comedian turned filmmaker who gave us the surprise smash, Get Out, has deeper and darker tricks up his sleeve.
Not content with just deftly digging into racial tensions, he’s now turned a metaphorical, and in this case literal, mirror to America, and society as a whole. Think of this as a Twilight Zone episode on steroids. Adelaide, (Lupita Nyong'o) her husband and two kids take a trip to the beaches of Santa Cruz (the Jaws references come thick and fast) when they are abruptly harassed by a gang of invaders that look an awful lot like them, identical copies, to be exact. The rest of the evening plays out as like a combination of Funny Games and Psycho, as the family fend off the malevolent dopplegangers, discovering shocking truths along the way.
Us is one of those twisty-turny thrill rides that M. Night Shyamalan deeply wishes he still made, and will have you chatting and tweeting about its many, many theories and metaphors for months, if not years to come. (research Jack Whiting) One day M. Night Shyamalan might wish to make something/anything worth seeing.
Come for Lupita’s two faces. Forget the rest.
Tim Burton’s take on Disney’s doe-eyed elephant is sure to enchant audiences both young and old.
Following in the footprints of the massively successful Beauty and the Beast and Jungle Book, Disney’s industrious mission to remake their most beloved animated classics continues. The first of three sparkling live-action reincarnations to be released this year, Dumbo opens in 1919 as the struggling Medici circus train winds its way through the small towns of the Deep South. When WWI veteran Holt returns to find his horses have been sold to pay the bills, he is demoted to the elephant pen where a big-eared outcast, soon to be known as Dumbo, lives with his mother. As Dumbo’s extraordinary ability to fly quickly captures the world’s imagination, hyper-ambitious and greedy entertainment mogul V.A. Vandevere plots to exploit Dumbo and the Medici circus for his own ends.
Burton is no stranger to the circus, every one of his films a carnival of colour and enchantment. “You put on a hell of a show,” someone says to Vandevere. When he replies “That’s what you pay me for,” it’s hard not to hear Burton talking about himself in the exchange. (Research Chris Coetsee) Critics have been sniffy, so come, it will be fantastic.
I think we last showed this in June 2007/8 when it sold out before Indiana Jones!
Again it is one of those lovely surprises you get from small films about big things.
It is a charming film with echoes of Almodóvar, centred on the everyday lives of five Lebanese women in a Beirut beauty parlour.
Layal (Labaki) has been involved with a married man; Nisrine (al-Masri) is desperate for her fiancé not to find out that she is no longer a virgin; and Rima (Moukarzel) falls for a female client. Meanwhile, regular customer Jamal is simply concerned about growing old.
With a cast largely made up of unknowns, as is her most recent Rex sell-out, the cracking Capernaum: Caramel is Labaki’s debut feature after years of directing music videos. Nominated for the Caméra d’Or at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, it is a stylish and witty story that vividly portrays modern-day Beirut with all its contradictions.
Don’t ask, just come and be delighted by such disarming, unpretentious film-making and fantastic faces. It makes Hollywood’s contrived comedy chic-flix look silly… But how hard is that…? Still fresh, perhaps even fresher 11/12 years later… Who cares, here once. Don’t miss it now.
Is there a more consistently watchable actor than Julia Roberts? In good films or bad, Roberts is always a highlight — warm, empathetic, engaging. And so she is in Ben is Back.
When her 19-year-old son arrives home unexpectedly for Christmas, Holly (Roberts) welcomes him, then quickly hides all the pills and jewelry in her house. The prospect of Ben (Lucas Hedges) being back is apparently an alarming one.
It quickly becomes clear that Ben is a recovering addict, and lots of people will be even more conflicted about seeing him than his mom is. These skeptics include his younger sister and his stepfather, as well as other figures who will be introduced when the film shifts from a seriocomic story of a blended family to a thriller about the mean streets of suburbia.
Roberts is convincing as a parent torn between wanting to trust her son and needing to take responsibility. “This is humiliating,” he says, when she searches him in a shopping mall changing room. “This is love,” she replies. The material feels more like a play than a film, but it’s affecting in its muted seriousness. Worth it for these two bouncing off each other effortlessly. Come.
Ding ding! Stepping into the ring as the two-time Divas champion Paige is Florence Pugh, showcasing a new side to her that confirms her as one of the brightest young women around.
It’s based on the true story of the British-born WWE wrestler Paige (Pugh) who started in the ring as a teenager for her mum and dad’s Norwich-based family promotion and got a heartstopping shot at glory in the American big league.
Her family’s knockabout tale was the subject of a likable Channel 4 documentary in 2012. Now, with the corporate blessing of Dwane The Rock and directed by Stephen Merchant, it is inflated to the status of inspirational comedy-heartwarmer.
And he has a terrific cast at his command (including Vince Vaughn and Nick Frost), pinpoint timing and a gift for visual japes and physical comedy, and for underlining everyday absurdity. Just like the sport itself, genre cinema strikes a balance between convention and innovation, between what the crowd knows (expects) and the surprises; the little deviations from the usual script, that can drive it to its feet. (Jack Whiting) Brilliant enthusiastic analysis Jack. Here’s hoping the yarn can live up to it.
French filmmaker Jacques Audiard takes on the American Western in this biting adventure set during the 1851 Gold Rush.
Eli and Charlie Sisters (Reilly and Phoenix) are hired by wealthy landowner The Commodore to hunt down Hermann, (Riz Ahmed) a Gold Rush prospector with a lucrative secret. He's being tracked by fastidious detective Morris, (Jake Gyllenhaal) who decides to ditch, and pitch in with Hermann on his way to a fortune and the establishment of a new democracy in Dallas. As Eli and Charlie close in, they begin to question their lives as killers for hire and fiercely test what remains of their humanity.
A doubleheader of spirit and soul, Reilly’s tender performance as a man trying to move with the times is truly heartwarming, while loose canon Phoenix delivers laughs and pity in tragically equal measures. This unstable balancing act is mirrored musically throughout by a beautifully haunting, experimental score from Alexandre Desplat. It’s cinematic cohesion at its finest.
Quirky and understated, The Sisters Brothers sees Audiard making the genre his own, viewing the world of the Old West with a captivatingly original perspective. (Research Chris Coetsee) Perfect.
Great cast-pairing of these two as ne’re-do-well and fusspot. A great title too. Don’t dare miss.
Laika is a name that absolutely needs to be remembered, the US cousins of Aardman are still chugging along, one painstaking stop-motion shot at a time. The degree of care that goes into every detail of these films is clear to see.
And Missing Link is no slouch. Sir Lionel Frost (Hugh Jackman) plans to distinguish himself among London’s professional explorers, by procuring evidence that prehistoric beasties still walk among us. Upon receiving a letter off on spindly, stop-motion legs our hero goes, traveling to the woods where this behemoth resides. As it turns out, ‘Mr Link’ (or as he’s later called... Susan) turns out to be a very chipper mythical beast (Zach Galifianakis). He’s a gentle giant just looking for a home, and he’s surprisingly literal-minded.
This is one of those films where the destination is much less important than the journey, and the slower pacing of the third act allow us to savour the stunning vistas that establish each new setting. While not as grand or quite as exciting as Kubo and the Two Strings (their magnum opus) Missing Link is nevertheless a rare and wonderful specimen. (research Jack Whiting) Fantastic and very funny. Don’t miss.
Paolo Sorrentino’s (2012) film is a withering portrait of the city of Rome and one sceptical inhabitant of its la dolce vita.
As Jep Gambardella (Sorrentino regular Toni Servillo – Il Divo, Consequences of Love and now Loro) celebrates his 65th birthday, he thinks back on his life, which has also been the life of the city, and realises he has spent most of it searching on the rooftops and in the gutters for what he calls La Grande Bellezza: The Great Beauty.
Aristocratic ladies, social climbers, politicians, high-flying criminals, journalists, actors, decadent nobles, artists and intellectuals, whether authentic or presumed, attend parties at antique palaces, immense villas and the most beautiful terraces in the city.
“Pure couture cinema” (Guardian)
“No night-stalking tribute to Italian cinema. Servillo’s super-dry presence creates a most pungent screen character” (Sight&Sound) (research Anna Shepherd 2012)
Sorrentino plays with Rome’s Mellenial ego. A mass of interlocked facts, characters and anecdotes casts an eye over the marble palaces and terraces stalked by the beautiful hedonists of Berlusconi’s era
Startling in its originality, and breathtaking in its vibe. It is unashamedly art-house and unapologetically Italian. Here once. Don’t miss it for either world.
Carol Morley follows up The Falling with this transcendent neo-noir mood piece.
Patricia Clarkson plays Mike Hoolihan, a jaded New Orleans homicide detective investigating the bizarre murder of astrophysicist Jennifer Rockwell. She dresses in dark suits, is an ex-alcoholic and gives off a smokey aura of your classic 1940's sleuth. She's alone, she's isolated and her latest case might just break her. As her investigations threaten to unravel, cracks begin to emerge in Mike's own past until she eventually realises she needs to resolve her own personal trauma in order to reveal the mysteries of Jennifer's death.
Clarkson is known for character parts, but her central performance is quite unlike anything she has embarked on before. A supporting cast of Toby Jones, Jacki Weaver and James Caan are all excellent in their respective roles but the heavy lifting is undeniably done by Clarkson. She carries this film and is rewarded with a rapt enthralled audience.
Morley presents something unique with Out of Blue, something not quite of this world. Its layered, cyclical nature is vaguely reminiscent of Hitchcock’s Vertigo yet its jarring nature veers into David Lynch territory. It’s an evocative, befuddling mystery. (Research Chris Coetsee) Come and be that rapt, enthralled audience. Don’t miss.
Defiant Iranian director Jafar Panahi explores the masculinity and patriarchal rules of his homeland in this witty and reflective arthouse drama.
Following his arrest during anti-establishment protests in 2009, Panahi has completed nine of his twenty-year ban on making films. Under these seemingly impossible circumstances, he has produced four experimental projects. His latest, a penetrating road movie set in hostile rural territory near the Turkish border, sees the director and fellow compatriot Behnaz Jafari playing versions of themselves.
When an aspiring actress called Marziyeh sends the pair a video in which she hangs herself, they travel a treacherously long and winding road from the bustling city of Tehran to the girl’s remote farming village where they soon discover that old traditions die hard.
Like in most of his recent films, Panahi masterfully wields allegory and symbolism to convey far more than what is taking place on-screen, beautifully packaged into a concise and engaging story. Winner of best Screenplay at Cannes in 2018, 3 Faces is a brilliant study in female repression, patriotism and artistic freedom in post-Islamic revolution Iran. (Research Chris Coetsee) Gloriously defiant indeed. Don’t miss.
David Kross stars in this charming true story set against a backdrop of top-tier football and postwar anger and intolerance.
In the history of the oldest cup competition in world football, the tale of goalkeeper Bert Trautmann is legendary. A Nazi prisoner of war, he would suffer years of abuse after becoming the first German footballer to play in the British football league after WWII. He had to convince teammates, supporters and Manchester’s Jewish community of his right to play. He went on to make over 500 appearances for City during his 15-years, including the 1956 FA Cup Final during which he broke his neck but incredibly continued to make vital saves until the final whistle. Trautmann would later be voted the club's best ever player. But this is just part of his remarkable story.
Stepping away from the pitch, The Keeper focuses chiefly on Trautmann’s relationship with his first wife, Margaret Friar and reconciliation with his time in the War and the will to become a British footballing hero. It’s a celebration of how forgiveness and persistence can bring home more than just a winner’s medal. (Research Chris Coetsee) Goal! Chris. As kids in Goodison’s ‘boys pen’, we saw Bert play, mostly his green jumper.
It’s been nearly fifty years since Love Story showed that audiences will pay good money to watch pretty young lovers slowly dying, and five since The Fault in Our Stars revived this morbid subgenre with notable commercial success.
Set in a hospital, the romantic melodrama centers on the unrequited romance between two 17-year-old cystic fibrosis patients Will, played by Sprouse — all fluffy hair and brooding, faux-adolescent intensity — and Stella played by Haley Lu Richardson, who, at 24, is one of the best and most appealing actresses of her generation. So not only is their budding romance haunted by the very real specter of early mortality, they can’t even hold hands, let alone kiss.
The film is riddled with clichés - which is to be expected in this genre, of course, but Five Feet Apart doesn’t deserve to be simply dismissed. There’s a sincerity here that undoes many of its excesses, thanks largely to the grounded performance by Richardson, and for a genre so easily accused of cold manipulation, Five Feet Apart feels different. They come across as real people, not just props for another cry fest. (research Jack Whiting) Forgot to give this an evening slot. Watch out for it in June.
Since IT became a horror phenomenon in 2017, every Stephen King novel under the sun is getting its due (again) and Pet Sematary is next in line.
Itself a remake of the 1989 film, and based on one of King’s earlier (and, some say, lesser respected) novels, Pet Sematary tells the age old cautionary tale of how not to bring loved ones back from the grave. Sometimes dead is better (stayed dead).
Louis Creed (Jason Clarke) a Boston doctor tired of living in the big city, moves his family to rural Maine (a King staple). Everyone seems to like their rustic new house, even Church the cat. Trouble is, the nearby freeway means it isn’t long before poor Church becomes roadkill. Distraught, the daughter Ellie takes the deceased cat to the local graveyard from whence the dead and buried return alive and, well, unwell. Things go from bad to worse when there’s a bigger family tragedy, forcing the father to return to the cemetery for/with a solution…
Pet Sematary has its fair share of bumps and screams, wrapped in a wicked sense of humour. It’s old-school creepy fun. (Jack Whiting) Humour? Come, see what you can find.
I always thought Bananaman could do with a Blockbuster makeover, and now my dreams of a sort have been fulfilled with this next DC entry: Shazam!
It follows Billy (Asher Angel) a teenager who stumbles upon an ancient, mystical wizard that grants him the ability to transform whenever he shouts the film’s title.
Suddenly, he’s a muscled do-gooder in spandex played by a 38 year old Zachary Levi with a enough dazzling powers to set the movie spinning into the screwball stratosphere. He does what any teenager-stuck-in-an-adult-body would do, film himself testing these Superman-like abilities with his high-school buddy, Freddy, and putting it on the internet for the lols.
Trouble soon finds Billy in the form of Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong, having a blast). The yarn then pulls out all the FX stops when these two magic men go at each other during a climactic carnival. But that stuff is just white noise compared to the relationship between Billy and Freddy. If you ever thought Tom Hanks in Big could have done with the odd super-power or two, this one’s the ticket. (research Jack Whiting) Super heroes with the essential ‘Eric IS Bananaman’ fluff... is Just the ticket - indeed.
Acclaimed director Paolo Sorrentino’s raucous exposé on the tumultuous late career of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Loro presents a somewhat fictionalised version of events, opening on Sergio Morra, a young playboy on the up who wants to get close to the big boss. His strategy: rent a villa opposite Berlusconi's waterfront estate in Sardinia and fill it full of semi-naked girls on a diet of free champagne and cocaine for days on end. All he has to do is wait for the scandal-plagued billionaire to lift his binoculars from across the water and reel in his catch. The deliciously decadent Tony Servillo, a Sorrentino regular, is eerily perfect here in his role as the politician. Creepy, charismatic and uncanny, he makes it so easy to understand how this man charms and wriggles his way into the lives of so many.
Sorrentino has made a name for himself both in his home country and abroad with his portraits of the lavish contradictions of his homeland. Like The Great Beauty and Il Divo, Loro revels in the hedonism of its subjects. It’s an angry, scornful vision. (Research Chris Coetsee) Don’t miss this, nor: The Great Beauty (2013) on Sunday 12th.
Jessie Buckley is magnetic as a narcissistic Glaswegian country singer dreaming of Nashville
Following a phenomenal performance in Beast, Buckley next embodies a mouthy heroine (Rose-Lynn) who has just finished a 12-month stint in prison. As she leaves, a fellow inmate shouts “you’re gonna be the next Dolly Parton”. Hiding an ankle tag under white cowboy boots, her first stop is to hook up with an on-off boyfriend before heading home. There we find her mother, (excellent Julie Walters) who has been looking after Rose-Lynn’s children for the past year. Tension fuels their mother-daughter relationship, as Rose-Lynn struggles to commit to her own responsibilities as a mother in her 20s. As she toes the line between self-love and selfishness, the film explores how having a passion for something outside of motherhood can cause a moral conundrum. This is one Rose-Lynn mostly disregards, however, almost solely focused on achieving her musical goals. Finding work, her new employer (Sophie Okonedo) is fascinated after hearing her sing, so decides to help Rose-Lynn make it to Nashville. Wild Rose is not a cliched fairy tale, but a much grittier and nuanced journey of self-discovery. (research Rachel Williams) And Glasgow and the music are fab. You daren’t miss it.
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.
Calling all piglets, the nation’s favourite porky personality returns to the big screen as part of the show’s 15th anniversary celebrations.
Grab your glitter and wellies and get ready for the biggest adventure yet. Across 10 brand new episodes you can see Peppa, George and friends dance in the mud at their first family festival, celebrate Grandpa Pig’s birthday at a very exclusive restaurant and meet a squeaky group of guinea pigs when Peppa and her pals visit the farm. You will also join Peppa, George and Mummy Pig on their own trip to the cinema to watch the Super Potato film before jumping behind the scenes to get a glimpse at how TV is made.
Festival of Fun is Peppa’s second cinematic outing after Peppa Pig: My First Cinema Experience proved a big hit in 2017. Offering a whole hour of snorts and giggles, with songs to singalong to and games to join in with, it’s the perfect way to get to grips with the dark room and big, bright screen of your local cinema. The kids’ll love it too! (Research Chris Coetsee) Well done Chris for taking time to make fun-sense of nonsense.
Every screening sold out since its first in Sept 2006, and ever since. It will take you on an unanticipated, emotional ride. The characters are beautifully drawn, and unlike those that leave you empty, this will warm your heart. It tells the story of the Hoovers, one of the most endearingly fractured families you’re ever likely to meet. To fulfil the dream-wish of seven-year-old Olive, the whole motley family, trek to the Little Miss Sunshine pageant in California. Along the way they must deal with crushed dreams, heartbreaks and a broken-down van. The family is made up of an uncommonly natural little miss Olive, a silent, Nietzsche-reading teenager, a suicidal uncle, an embarrassingly optimistic dad, a scatty mother, and a horny, coke-snorting grandfather with a penchant for creative profanity (the wholly original Alan Arkin, got Best Supporting Oscar for this) This is a beautifully observed road movie, where sanity takes a back seat, while innocence and hope drive it every step of the way. Don’t miss this life-affirming ride on the edge of a new Spring 2019. About to hit the West End as a sanatised family musical. So come see it untampered on our big screen, before it gets withdrawn.
You’re eight years old, running around the garden, ‘treasure map’ (drawn in crayon) in one hand and a ‘sword’ (stick) in the other... is what it feels like when you watch The Goonies, no matter what age.
Richard Donner and Steven Spielberg combine forces to bring this pirate themed adventure with genuine thrills and danger long forgotten in today’s family films. A group of daring kids stumble upon an ancient map to a treasure once held by the pirate One-Eyed Willy. The map leads them to a secret cove full of traps, but a family of crooks are hot on their heels.
The Goonies walks a thin line between the cheerful and the gruesome, and the very scenes the adults might object to are the ones the younguns will like the best. I wouldn’t say it’s timeless - it falls more into the cult side - something that’s half remembered in a hazy childhood memory than in reality. But those who love it, really love it (I wore that VHS down good) and it’s an adventure that shouldn't be forgotten, because they really are, not made like this anymore. (Jack Whiting) Absolument. Bring the street.
Dame Judi Dench is the saving grace of this rather dry retelling of the KBG’s British ‘granny spy’
Based on the true story of Melita Norwood, whose history of supplying the KGB with state secrets was exposed at the age of 87, Red Joan begins with Joan Stanley (Dench) arrested for treason. An unsuspecting pensioner with a love of gardening, Joan’s neighbours are bewildered when the police turn up at her doorstep. As she is interrogated, extended flashbacks transport us to her youth in Cambridge, the young Joan (Sophie Cookson) getting most of the screen time. Fascinated by her glamorous Russian classmate Sonya (Tereza Srbova), Joan agrees to join her at young Communist meetings. It is there that she meets Sonya’s cousin Leo (Tom Hughes) his charm sweeping her away in a murky cloud of infatuation. Following Joan throughout university and the following years, the film explores how the Brit falls (or dives) into espionage and a hidden radical life. Yet for someone so radical, the film itself is not so much - instead telling the narrative through rose-tinted glasses. (Rachel Williams).
The complete opposite of M in Bond, and nothing like Anne Hathaway, (the first one) Judi once again demonstrates her unassailable chameleon talent. Come
Another Hollywood actor to turn to indie film-directing, Jonah Hill’s coming-of-age debut explores a teenager’s newfound rebellion and identity in a group of L.A. skateboarders
Its title already a giveaway, it’s the mid 90s (with an excellent soundtrack to set the tone), and 13-year-old Stevie (Sunny Suljic) is searching for a place of solace from his abusive home. With a cold bully as an older brother (Lucas Hedges) and a loving but distant mother (Katherine Waterston), he feels rootless until discovering a crew of skate punks. Comprised of ‘Fourth Grade’ (Ryder McLaughlin), ‘Fuckshit’ (Olan Prenatt), Ruben (Gio Galicia) and Ray (Na-kel Smith), these cool, older boys educate Stevie in ‘sex, drugs and skaterat culture’. Eager to fit in and find his place, Stevie’s willingness to throw himself into risky turns gradually grants him a position in a community where being tough is everything. Mid90s explores how we grow as adolescents through the people we model ourselves after. Its DIY feel and thrilling skating stunts are well-matched with the irresistible humour Jonah Hill is known for. A solid debut feature which offers a gloriously unsentimental slice of teenage rebellion. (Rachel Williams)
Comic capers come easy for the French, so it takes a hotshot young filmmaker like Romain Gavras to rejuvenate the genre with verve and visual sophistication.
A crook goes for one last job. It’s not long before the plan skids entertainingly out of control. François (Karim Leklou) is a meek, small-time drug dealer in the Paris suburbs who wants to go straight by securing the North African franchise for a brand of frozen ice pops. Unfortunately, his mother, the brassy swindler Danny (a flamboyant Isabelle Adjani) gambled away his savings. To earn maximum cash in minimum time, François and his motley crew, including a taciturn conspiracy theorist played by Vincent Cassel, set up a deal in a garish Spanish resort.
It’s “Hollywood” in all the best ways, though it’s also sneaky smart. If you have any friends that refuse to read subtitles, this is the film to convert them. It helps that every single one of the performances is extraordinary, with Cassel delivering an uncharacteristic belly laugh with virtually every line. It’s as if France remade Snatch, only made it better. (Jack Whiting) Better tales from France. Better told. The rest US/UK hang out to snatch them into ‘effin’ gangsta language ‘we’ will better understand.
The end is nigh. It feels like the Marvel train has been rolling on for decades, but we’ve reached the apex - at least, sort of - with Endgame. Think of it as a series finale.
Concluding not only the story started by last year’s Infinity War, but also wrapping up ten years of superhero adventures. After Thanos claimed a surprising victory and decimated half of all life in the universe, the remaining Avengers are left picking up the pieces. Spirits are low, but Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and the recently joined Captain Marvel must band together to defeat the big bad, whatever it takes.
The sense of finality with Endgame will mean the stakes really are this time (I promise): Will half of the universe be restored? Which one of our beloved heroes will perish? Will Captain Marvel save the day just in time? Where did Jeremy Renner get his ridiculous haircut? All these questions, and more, will (hopefully) be answered in a satisfying manner. What you will be guaranteed, however, is three hours (yes, three) of explosive entertainment. (Jack Whiting)