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The Big Sick (15.)
Directed by Michael Showalter.
Starring Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano and Adeel Akhtar. 116 mins.
The comedian Simon Munnery (League Against Tedium) once did a sit down, non-character, confessional routine where he told the story of how he met his wife. He was on stage in Australia, doing badly, when he heard a female shout out, “Don't die.” The irony there being that he would then be diagnosed with cancer and she'd have to assist him through a bout of chemotherapy. The Big Sick is almost the same story but this time it is the female audience member Emily (Kazan) who gets sick after making an encouraging heckle to Pakistani comedian (Nanjiani.)
Directed by Christopher Nolan.
Starring Fionn Whitehead, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy. 106 mins.
If there's one thing British cinema can do it is a war film. Dunkirk may be the quintessential British war film in as much as it is primarily concerned with overcast skies, a miserable time at the beach and endless queuing. It may also lay claim to being the ultimate summer blockbuster – it's a relentlessly tense dramatic situation conveyed almost entirely by sound and fury.
The Beguiled (15.)
Directed by Sofia Coppola.
Starring Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Colin Farrell, Elle Fanning and Oona Laurence. 95 mins.
Given Hollywood's desire to disinter anything from the past that was successful, it's amazing that nobody ever remakes Clint Eastwood films. (Other than a very honourable Japanese version of Unforgiven.) We have not seen a Hugh Jackman Dirty Harry, a Duwayne Johnson Every Which Way But Loose or even a Leonardo DiCaprio version of the Outlaw Josey Wales, directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. Now we have Farrell, ever so discretely, not so's you'd notice, filling Eastwood's shoes in Coppola's version of his 1971 tale of a wounded Yankee soldier during the civil war being looked after by the staff and students at an all girls school in Virginia.
It Comes At Night (15.)
Directed by Trey Edward Shults
Staring Joel Edgerton, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Carmen Ejogo, Christopher Abbott, Riley Keough, Griffin Robert Faulkner. 91 mins
As the title suggests, this is a scary film; it just isn't the scary film that the title suggests. It's a reflection on the great myth of survivalism. Deep in the woods, Edgerton has barricaded his family away in their big house, after a plague has caused society to collapse. Behind a locked red door, the rest of the world is a great unknown.
Baby Driver (15.)
Directed by Edgar Wright.
Starring Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Eiza González, Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx. 113 mins.
Ansel Elgort is so baby faced, so gentle and nonthreatening, he's like a teddy bear that's received an all over Brazilian wax. In the 80s he'd have been a Corey (or a Cory.) To a manly man he looks so smooth you can't quite believe that anything in the form of genitalia would be allowed to blemish his physique. (Though being a manly man you wouldn't spend a moment contemplating Ansel Elgort's genitalia.) He's 6”3' but on screen his hulking frame doesn't carry any sense of threat or menace. So, all in all, he's a very strange choice for the lead in a crime thriller, even if he is only the getaway driver.
Transformers The Last Knight (12A.)
Directed by Michael Bay.
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Laura Haddock, Josh Duhamel, Isabela Moner, John Turturro and Tony Hale. 149 mins.
The thing about Anthony Hopkins is that he really loves acting. He'll be 80 this year but still wants to be in anything and everything, to orate against the dying of the light. Laurels aren't to be rested on, they are to be spread around. He doesn't need the work; but he needs to work. His desire to keep acting is such that he doesn't much care where he does it, or who he does it for. No doubt he'll be thesp-shamed for putting out for the fifth Transformers movie but his pleasure in performing is so infectious, so guileless that he brings joy to something that is generally joyless, and partially redeems a series of films that are generally worthless enterprises, made by people who have long since lost any belief in their value.
Song To Song (15.)
Directed by Terrence Malick.
Starring Rooney Mara, Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender, Natalie Portman, Berenice Marlohe, Cate Blanchett and Holly Hunter. 129 mins.
In the early eighties comedian Jasper Carrott came up with a radical formula for filling an hour of ITV's Friday night schedule. With some mates and a film crew but no script, he would fly to Spain and make a film about three friends going on a package holiday, and see what hilarity they could come up with on the hoof. The answer was very little, and he never did anything like that again. (The programme, Carrott Del Sol doesn't appear on his Wikipedia page.) Three decades on esteemed director Terrence Malick has adopted a similar formula: he gets groups of Hollywood stars, gives them a vague idea of a plot but no dialogue and lets them loose on barren terrains in the hope that they will come up with some profound insights. They don't.
The Wall (15.)
Directed by Doug Liman.
Starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, John Cena and Laith Nakli. 88 mins.
In a change of pace from making large Hollywood pieces like Mr & Mrs Smith and The Edge of Tomorrow, Liman has come up with a feelbad Iraq War movie that is pitched on such a itsy bitsy teeny ween scale, it would probably be better served put on as a stage show. Stringing out the climax of Full Metal Jacket, the script leaves one soldier (Johnson) stuck behind a wall, and another (Cena) laid out in full view of a sniper. Seems like a tense situation, but its credibility is blown by the theatrical contrivance of turning it into a dialogue with the enemy.
Hounds of Love. (18.)
Directed by Ben Young.
Starring Emma Booth, Ashleigh Cummings, Stephen Curry, Susie Porter, Damian de Montemas, Harrison Gilbertson. 108 mins.
They're coming, but not in the trees. These Hounds of Love are ordinary people, living ordinary lives who prove capable of extraordinary depravity. In 1987, John and Evelyn White (Curry, Booth) prowl the streets of Perth looking for young girls to abduct and eventually murder. They have ideas above their station.
Directed by Thomas Kruithof.
Starring François Cluzet, Denis Podalydès, Sami Bouajila, Simon Abkarian, Alba Rohrwacher and Philippe Résimont. French with subtitles. 89 mins
Duval (Cluzet) is a jobless accountant who finds himself recruited into the shady world of espionage and surveillance, possibly because the recovering alcoholic is such a grey, passive figure he already seems comprehensively spooked. In the run up to an election he approached by the mysterious Clement, played by Podalydès (pardonez moi, Denis Podalydès de la Comédie Française) to spend his days alone in a room, 9 to 6, transcribing the cassettes of politically sensitive wiretaps. It's the spy world but the trainspotting end of it – he just notes down everything that hears.
War For The Planet Of The Apes (12A)
Directed by Matt Reeves.
Starring Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Terry Notary, Steve Zahn, Karin Konoval and Amiah Miller. 140 mins. Partly subtitled
The War for The Remakes of The Planet Of The Apes has been decided, and the result is a total and glorious victory. Six summers ago the remake of the fourth film in the original series had seemed like a desperate act but it paid off and now, rather than starting to tail off as franchise fatigue set in, this new series has reached a pinnacle with this third installment. It is bold and brave, a riveting and engrossing drama in a summer where formula, even if it is smart inversions of formula, has dominated.
David Lynch The Art Life. (15.)
Directed by Rick Barnes, Olivia Neergaard-Holm and Jon Nguyen.
Starring David Lynch. 88 mins
Around the time of Elephant Man, Mel Brooks described David Lynch as Jimmy Stewart From Mars (a tired, overused quote, but in over 40 years nobody's topped it) and the film shows us his “super happy” childhood, his reasonable and generally supportive parents and how this shaped his unique outlook. It's a portrait of a weirdo born of perfect American contentment.
Cars 3 (PG.)
Directed by Brian Fee.
Starring Owen Wilson, Cristelo Alonzo, Chris Cooper, Armie Hammer, Nathan Fillion, John Ratzenberger and Paul Newman. 109 mins.
I spent a lot of time during the latest installment of Pixar's living racing car series marvelling at the quality of the animation. To some extent you probably do that in all Pixar films but here I was really taken by the attention to detail and, how incredibly life-like and detailed it all is: the authentic bits of rubble on the racetrack; the reflection in the shiny chrome. This was because there was almost nothing else to grab your attention. After the overblown spy drama approach of Cars 2, this returns the series to the folksy, be true-to-yourself race car drama of the original.
Spider-man: Homecoming (12A.)
Directed by Jon Watts.
Starring Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr. 133 mins
Homecoming is a damn strange word to find post colon in a superhero movie title. What next? Captain America: Spring Break? Thor: Harvest Festival? Homecoming is indicative of two essential elements of the film. Firstly, that this is a proper teenage, high school Spider-man. Our new webslinger Holland, and all his little school friends, genuinely look like they are in their midteens. This could be a much slicker and bigger budgeted version of the kind of American teen dramas that Nickelodeon turn out. There isn't the Grease factor of having actors who are in their late twenties pretending to worry about growth spurts and acne.
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