Young director Mark Jenkin’s mesmerising debut feature chronicles the struggles of coastal life in an ailing Cornish community.
Martin (Edward Rowe) is a fisherman without a boat. While he struggles to save enough money to buy one, his brother has already refurbished their father’s vessel for tourist cruises. Their childhood home is owned by incomers who rent it to holidaymakers. Tensions build between family, locals and tourists.
Infused with earthy emotion and brittle black humour, Bait is bracingly experimental as it explores the fabric of a tiny, isolated fishing village. It is urgent and unpredictable, resolutely offbeat, but bold, moving and darkly involving. The grainy black-and-white 16mm gives the film an authentic early film makers feel. It stretches, scratches, crackles and glitters, like a weathered buffeted dinghy hugging the dockside.
A future social realist classic, its marriage of regional concerns with universal ideals makes it one of the best British films released both this year and in the recent past. (Research Chris Coetsee) It is deliberately shot entirely on 16mm film stock on an old wind-up camera, often hand-held and developed for the screen in Jenkin’s makeshift ‘darkrooms’ with tea and improvised chemicals! Don’t come for this alone… Don’t miss for all the other reasons.
Perfectly blending humour and melancholy, Awkwafina stars in this heartwarming Chinese-American melodrama.
Having emigrated with her parents as a child, Billi (Awkwafina) is now a struggling artist living in New York. Despite the distance, through regular phone calls, Billi maintains close to her Chinese Nai Nai (Mandarin for ‘Grandma’). Nai Nai (Zhao Shuzhen) is diagnosed with that familiar terminal paracite. With only weeks to live, but not to worry Nai Nai, her family decides to hide it from her. Orchestrating a last minute wedding between Billi’s cousin and girlfriend of three months, the family use it as a cover story to spend Nai Nai’s final days together. Despite her parents’ efforts to stop her, Billi flies out to see her Grandma one last time. The Farewell explores how Billi’s identity is split across two cultures, further complicated by her conflict of ethics in withholding knowledge from someone with little time to live. Based on director Lulu Wang’s own story, the film is sweet in its sorrow, exploring grief in a rare way. (research Rachel Williams) And you can bet your sweet fannydoodledoo, Nai Nai knows all along. No spoiler just guessing - from plot, latest stars and Hollywood’s irresistible shmarlz magnet. But don’t miss.
Whatever happened to Steven Soderberg’s self-proclaimed ‘retirement’ from big screen filmmaking? We’re not complaining. Flops, Logan Lucky and Unsane have headed up a welcome return nevertheless.
Ramón Fonseca Mora (Antonio Banderas) and Jürgen Mossack (Gary Oldman) are partners in a Panama City-based law firm that specializes in all kinds of not-quite-legal tricks designed to launder the fortunes of the very rich. They represent the entitled and the greedy, buy what they need and do what they want, without a thought for the consequences. The consequences as ever are borne by ordinary people - Ellen Martin (Meryl Streep) is a grandmother whose attempts to do apparently straightforward things like settle an insurance claim and buy a new condo are ensnared in complicated schemes that defy simple comprehension.
With each segment, a comic tone makes way for something more sober as Soderbergh reveals the bigger picture. All of the stories illustrate something unique about the shadowy string-pulling that makes the world go round, and it’s sinister stuff.
In true Soderberg fashion it’s a little smug and self-satisfied, but if you got a kick out of The Big Short, this is a must. (research Jack Whiting) There is no end to the con in the streaming of the gullible.
He wasn’t lying when he said he’d be back. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s time travelling cyborg returns yet again to prevent another robot from killing a girl who is key to the future of the human race.
Continuing the trend of ignoring previous instalments other than the original; declaring and solidifying that notion of ‘sequel’ by bringing back the original cast; here it’s Linda Hamilton’s hard-as-nails Sarah Connor.
Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes) is living a simple life in Mexico City when a highly advanced and deadly new Terminator (Gabriel Luna) travels back through time to hunt and kill her. Dani's survival depends on her joining forces with two warriors: Grace (Mackenzie Davis), an enhanced super-soldier also from the future, and a weary battle-hardened Connor. As the new cyborg ruthlessly destroys everything and everyone in its path on the hunt for Dani, the three are led to a bearded Schwarzenegger, a rescue T from Sarah’s past who may be their last best hope.
The formula sounds stale by now but this iteration is darker and more violent in tone, reminiscent of Cameron’s two originals. It’s edge-of-your-seat stuff. (Jack Whiting) If you can stand one more, come and see if Arnie can still do it in his slippers.
This sheep-quel mixes the same jolliness and English eccentricity with a Spielbergian sci-fi twist – and pulls it off with typical Aardman charm.
The plot plays a bit like ET with Shaun in the Elliott role. Shaun and his flock encounter Lu-la, an alien who has crash-landed near Mossy Bottom Farm. With government agents hunting her down, Shaun decides to defy farm dog Bitzer and help Lu-la return home. Shaun, the littlest of heroes, provides much delight and fun in a film that has tremendous crossover for both adults and children alike.
Aardman’s charming and stupendously popular ruminant again gets by on a steady stream of bleats, squeaks and rubbery facial expressions. The result is another great showcase for the animation house’s powers of non-verbal storytelling that’s a giddy delight for kids, and just witty and knowing enough for grown-ups eg: one visual gag involving a piece of toast resembling the monolith from Kubrick’s 2001 is classic Aardman. It’s one giant leap for lamb kind. (Jack Whiting) Nice gag Jack. Farmageddon is pure joy from the painstaking and genious animaters at Aardman’s stop-frame-click shop floor. Bring two streets...
Keira Knightley captivates in Gavin Hood's angry, urgent political thriller.
A long time effective and loyal intelligence office, Katharine is troubled when she receives an email from the NSA instructing her team to essentially blackmail members of the United Nations. Horrified, she leaks classified documents intended to strong-arm the UN Security Council into backing the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. As the hunt for the whistle blower begins, the war gets underway and Katharine finds herself facing a cat and mouse legal battle as the British government comes bearing down on her.
Official Secrets highlights many of the issues explored previously in Eye in the Sky on top of original films like All the President’s Men and Spotlight. As the characters work to unravel the personal, political, and professional implications of the leak, you always have a sense of the stakes at play. Keira Knightly gives it her all. Her initial passion for avoiding the war turns into a determination to take on the Country’s lies.
The story of an ordinary woman whose revulsion gives her the guts to take on this very dangerous game against ruthless heavyweights, is a cautionary tale indeed. Welcome to the now (then and evermore). (Research Chris Coetsee)
French filmmaker Francois Ozon shifts gears yet again in this emphatic drama surrounding the scandal of more child abuse in the Catholic Church.
Married with five children, Alexandre (Poupaud) is outraged to find the priest who had abused him as a child is still celebrating mass and teaching catechism to boys. Frustrated by the Church’s stonewalling, Alexandre decides to go to the police but finds there is no legal imperative due to the Statute of Limitations. When fellow victims Francois (Menochet) and Emmanuel (Arlaud) hear about the case, they join the cause and a pressure group is formed. As publicity begins to snowball around them, more and more grown up victims begin to come forward.
Taking an almost documentary approach with earthy characters and situations, the film barely pauses to catch breath. Ozon lays bare the hypocrisy at the heart of the established Church, its failure to deal with the serious problem of abuse in its ranks and its refusal to evolve.
Emotionally wrenching in all the right ways, it is a timely, urgent and powerfully moving drama which, like its central characters, seeks to lift the burden of silence. (Research Chris Coetsee)
Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha’s heartwarming coming-of-age fable pits the music of The Boss against a murky backdrop of Thatcher’s Britain.
Torn between cultures, young Pakistani immigrant Javed (stellar newcomer Viveik Kalra) finds himself increasingly at odds with his old-school dad’s rigid cultural expectations. Things aren’t any less stormy outside the family home where the British social fabric is starting to fray, thanks to a sputtering economy, high unemployment and a toxic backlash against immigrants.
After a starry-eyed classmate introduces him to Bruce Springsteen, Javed discovers a working-class dreamer whose lyrics resonate with his soul. Finding the courage to challenge his father and follow his ambition of becoming a writer, he sets out on his own search for meaning, resulting in a book, now this film.
This film accentuates Springsteen’s words through its visual storytelling by letting them speak for themselves, highlighting how his lyrics speak to Javed’s life without the need for cloying sentimentality. An anthem to the importance of music, it is a joyous, feel-good romp that celebrates creativity, freedom and learning to define one’s own destiny. (Research Chris Coetsee) Unbeknown to Javed, The Boss had read his book. So endorsed this film, and by doing so - Luton. Well done Bruce.
Set in 1969, the year before her death, Renée Zellweger embodies Hollywood icon Judy Garland. The film explores (with a little sugar) the lows of the star’s career and personal life. Departing from the glamorous image we have of those Hollywood days, Garland here is broke and desperate for a come-back after her glory days have long gone. When theatrical impresario Bernard Delfont (Michael Gambon in peerless smarm) invites her to a five-week run of shows at a London nightclub (as the greaseball did ‘for’ Laurel & Hardy). She accepts, leaving her children behind with ex-husband (Rufus Sewell). Despite the love pouring in from her fans, Garland is struggling behind the scenes with a long history of the usual addictions. Through a series of flashbacks to her traumatic childhood, young Judy (Darci Shaw) connects the dots between what she suffered as a child star and her current dependencies. So fairly useless and in rags, she tests the patience of assistant Rosalyn Wilder (Jessie Buckley) and hooks new lover Mickey Deans (Finn Wittrock). “Zellweger offers an all-singing, all-dancing, all-collapsing performance of the star at her lowest ebb” (Variety). (research Rachel Williams) Strong ironic choice of come-back star: Renée Zellweger. Begging Oscars all round...?
Nine years after the cold courage and brilliance of his last big screen offering, Four Lions (2010) director Chris Morris delivers another pitch-black comedy about police overreach and unabated racial inequality in America.
Marchant Davis stars as Moses, a semi-delusional Miami resident hoping to form an army to take on the “Oppressive Regime". But only finds four others. While his wife Venus, is fed up not being able to pay the rent. With his two sidekicks (McPherson and Mays) he recruits local shopkeeper Reza and jihadist Malik for support, unaware both are actually FBI informants. With Moses’ blind refusal to use guns/violence in his cause, the Feds need a new angle. Led by Anna Kendrick's all-too eager beaver and Denis O'Hare's dangerously desperate boss, the agency concocts an absurd scam to try and link Moses to a supply of rogue nuclear weapons.
An early pioneer among Britain's anti-authority comedy titans, Morris still appears several steps ahead in his agility in tackling the ridiculous and the taboo. This take on the robustly explored subject of terrorism feels fresh and essential. A slapstick, hilarious yet disturbing, poignant tale of injustice. (Research Chris Coetsee) Another bite at making no difference, but come for the day.
Before you all click your fingers in unison - this isn’t the beloved creepy classic from the early nineties. Instead it’s an admittedly peculiar-looking animated update.
The film places the Addamses in the 21st century to comment on how witch hunts of old have transformed into paranoid online neighborhood watch groups. Clever!
After a brief prologue depicting the morose wedding of Gomez Addams (Oscar Isaac) Morticia (Charlize Theron) the film leaps ahead to the classic Addams Family status quo. Gomez and Morticia are happily ensconced in a ghoulish haunted house with their murderously deadpan daughter Wednesday (Chloë Grace Moretz) and son Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard). Pugsley’s impending “Sabre Mazurka” is a sort of bar mitzvah-esque coming-of-age ceremony. It is set to bring the entire extended Addams family into town.
Conflict arrives in the form of a home-renovation celebrity named Margaux Needler, she’s also planning a celebration. She’s purchased a nearby village and given the place a complete make-over. She’s planning on revealing the changes on her show and making a fortune in house sales. It’s all together kooky fun. (Jack Whiting) Come, you decide on the last November Saturday matinee, how much ‘kooky fun’ you can take...
Timothee Chalamet holds the kingdom in David Michod’s epic take on Henry V.
Henry has been living precariously away from the palace ever since cutting all ties with his tyrannical father King Henry IV (Ben Mendelsohn). With only his trustee and friend Falstaff (Joel Edgerton) a brave soldier to the King, to look over him, Henry (‘Prince Hal’) has been on a destructive path which could cost him everything.
When his brother Thomas and his father die within days of each other, Henry is forced to step up to his duties, soon finding himself navigating thorny political and social issues which will eventually lead him to a deadly battle against France and its wayward prince, The Dauphin.
Chalamet is terrific in a role which could have easily been too big for the young performer. No. he is a young king who has to learn to trust his instincts to lead. Chalamet delivers every line as if his own life depends on it, growing from young philandering royal to someone who is to be feared by those who dare underestimate him.
Visually stunning and robustly acted, it puts a whole new spin on this much studied historical Shakespearian epic. (Research Chris Coetsee) No tricky pentameters to tackle.