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Directed by James Wan.
Starring Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Defoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Temuera Morrison and Nicole Kidman. 143 mins. ***
Italian food may be among the best in the world, but it's range is limited: it's pasta or pizza, pizza or pasta. Similarly, with DC comics it's Batman or Superman; Superman or Batman, with Wonder Woman fulfilling the lasagne position. While the Wonderful World of Marvel has more Avengers than it knows what to do with, the Justice League movie demonstrated that outside of their big name characters, there's a real big drop off. But Marvel has a cinematic universe so DC and the Brothers Warner must have one too. Which means that they are obliged to bring the story of Arthur Curry/ aka Aquaman, their musclebound fish whisperer, to the big screen.
Mortal Engines (12A.)
Directed by Christian Rivers.
Starring Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Hugo Weaving, Jihae, Patrick Malahide and Stephen Lang. 128 mins.
What is it with antipodeans and post-apocalyptic dystopian fantasies on wheels? This latest from Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyen and Fran Walsh, the Lord Of The Rings writer/ producers, is Mad Max with conurbations. After a 60 Minute War, the world is made up of cities-on-wheels that go around preying on weaker towns-on-wheels. The film goes one better on the convention of casting Brits as the villain: here London is the bad guy, rampaging across the continental mainland, and St Paul's is the Death Star.
The Old Man & The Gun (12A.)
Directed by David Lowery.
Starring Robert Redford, Casey Affleck, Sissy Spacek, Tom Waits, Danny Glover and Tika Sumpter. 93 mins.
It's taken more than 50 years and just over forty films as a leading man for Robert Redford to let himself go just a little bit. I'm not suggesting he wasn't a great movie star but there was always a certain guardedness to him. He was always Robert Redford and the embodiment of what Robert Redford should stand for. Here, in what he has said is his final acting role, he plays a geriatric gentleman bank robber who held up facilities with little more than a smile and a bit of charm, and he goes about it like a weight has been lifted from his shoulders.
The Wild Pear Tree (15.)
Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan.
Starring Dogu Demirkol, Murat Cemcir, Bennu Yildirimlar, Hazar Erguclu and Serkan Keskin. In Turkish with subtitles. 188 mins
The latest film from one of Europe's most esteemed directors gives you plenty to think about, and plenty of time to think about it in. A couple of films back, in Once Upon A Time in Anatolia, Ceylan appeared to have ascended to the level of master, his filmmaking style was an amalgam of all the previous giants of European cinema. Since then though his films have become more static and talky, with a lot of the film being made up of lengthy dialogue scenes between two or three characters. Sometimes the talking is done while they are walking, but for the most part, his films seem to be a rebuke to the credo that great filmmaking is about showing not telling.
Creed II (15.)
Directed by Steven Caple Jr.
Starring Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Dolph Lundgren, Florian Munteanu, Wood Harris and Phylicia Rashad. 130 mins.
Michael Owen, the resolutely dull ex-England footballer, famously hates movies and claims to have only seen eight in his entire life. “I like factual stuff. I don't like being kidded by anything.” You'd expect me to be outraged by that but actually, I kind of understand him. Why are we so willing to be taken in, jerked this way and that, by dramatic manipulation?I
Directed by Luca Guadagino.
Starring Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Mia Goth, Sylvie Testud, Angela Winkler and Chloe Grace Moretz. Partly subtitled. 154 mins.
Right from the start, movie makers have been trying to find ways to add a bit of culture, a touch of class, to their tawdry business. Generally, this has involved the adaptations of prestigious novels and plays, and the presentation to themselves of awards for so doing. Audiences though have gradually become more confident in asserting that the great cinematic art often belongs at the other end of the scale, among the exploitation work. In this remake of the classic 70's Giallo, (substrain of Italian exploitation cinema) high art and tawdry art come together.
Directed by Mike Leigh.
Starring Rory Kinnear, Maxine Peake, Neil Bell, Pearce Quigley, David Moorst, Rachel Finnegan, Tom Meredith. 154 mins
Among my minor academic achievements is a History A level of an undistinguished grade, the fruit of a long and ponderous two-year plough through the 19th century. All I can remember of it were Metternich's machinations at the Congress of Vienna and the Repeal of the Corn Laws. So, I was chuffed to bits when said Corns Laws were mentioned in Leigh's film of the other topic I recall, Peterloo; a massacre after Napoleon surrendered.
Fahrenheit 11/9 (15.)
Directed by Michael Moore.
Starring Michael Moore, Donald Trump. 124 mins.
Having done Bush W, Michael Moore takes on Trump J in a film that in any well-ordered calendar would be called Fahrenheit 9/11, taking as its starting point the day after he was elected in November 2016. Two hours with an overweight egotist, an attention seeker in love with the sound of his own voice, apt to stretch the facts to fit his theory who like to hang out with celebrities while posing as a man of the people: still he's made a few good films. And surprisingly this is one of them. His previous film Where To Invade Next made him look like a spent force but this one has an unexpected force and clarity.
First Man. (15.)
Directed by Damien Chazelle.
Starring Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Shea Wigham, Ciarán Hinds, Corey Stoll. 141 mins.
In this country we like a buttoned-down hero; someone who has done some incredible act of bravery yet doesn't want to talk about it. Still, if that incredible act of bravery was being the first man to fly to the moon I think even the stiffest of upper lips might feel compelled not to keep it to themself. The story of how NASA came to chose a reserved, tight-lipped man to represent all mankind, and how that role came to weight on him to such a degree that he became something of a recluse is a fascinating topic, which this film largely ignores.
A Star Is Born. (15.)
Directed by Bradley Cooper.
Starring Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott, Andrew Dice Clay, Rafi Gavron, Anthony Ramos and Dave Chappelle. 136 mins.
The Hollywood movie packaging slot machine is nothing if not capricious. After numerous spins turned out various combinations of Christian Bale, Beyonce, Tom Cruise, Leonardo DiCaprio, Will Smith, Johnny Depp and Clint Eastwood (directing) it has decided to pay out on a fourth version of A Star Is Born with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga.
Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse. (18.)
Directed by Peter Ramsey and Bob Persichetti.
Starring Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Liev Schreiber, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Chris Pine, Kathryn Hahn, Lily Tomlin and Nicholas Cage. 117 mins.
This animated superhero flick forces audiences to deal with a couple of head-spinning concepts: the quantum mechanics of parallel universes and Sony's mind-twisting notions of how to expand its Spider-man franchise. After the first Andrew Garfield Amazing Spider-man, they had big plans for multiple spin-off films focusing on his villains: a Venom and Sinister Six films were announced. Spider-man films without Spider-man seemed like a desperate venture dreamt up by a studio struggling to keep up with the others and when the second Garfield film underwhelmed these plans were put on hold and they came to a joint custody arrangement with Marvel for the character where they get to use him every other film.
Directed by Craig William Macneill.
Starring Chloë Sevigny, Kristen Stewart, Jamey Sheridan, Fiona Shaw, Kim Dickens and Denis O'Hare. 103 mins
For a film about a naked lesbian axe murderer, this is a comparatively dull and frigid affair. In 1892, the Borden family is an affluent but grim-to-do family living in an austere, dimly lit home in Massachusetts. Father (Sheridan) is rich but tight-fisted and is constantly clashing with his strong-willed daughter Lizzie (Sevigny.) Their only point of agreement is a carnal interest in their humble Irish maid Bridget (Stewart.)
Sorry To Bother You. (15.)
Directed by Boots Riley.
Starring Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Terry Crews, Jermaine Fowler, Danny Glover and Armie Hammer. 112 mins.
I think we could say that this socio-political satire is heavy-handed, but we live in heavy-handed times so it probably levels out. Plus, writer/ director Riley's debut is heavy-handed in a very light and casual way.
Ralph Breaks The Internet (PG.)
Directed by Rich Moore, Phil Johnston.
Starring John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, Jane Lynch and Alan Tudyk. 112 mins.
I bet there were meetings about the title. At some point an executive came up with the market research that the franchise had sufficient audience awareness that it wouldn't be necessary to include the verb “wreck" to identify that this was Wreck-It Ralph 2. This time the arcade game character Ralph (Reilly) goes into the internet to try and save the game of his best friend Vanellope (Silverman) and the result is much funnier and smarter than the original.
White Boy Rick (15.)
Directed by Yann Demange.
Starring Richie Merritt, Matthew McConaughey, Bel Powley, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rory Cochrane, Eddie Marsan, Bruce Dern and Piper Laurie. 111 mins.
Pretty much ever since On The Waterfront, Hollywood has been making cautionary tales about the perils of being an informant. No pursuit – not drug taking, not organised crime, not being a sexually active teenager around Halloween – has been so certain to result in a sticky end. The view from the bridge is that a grass's lot is not a happy one.
Three Identical Strangers (12A.)
Directed by Tim Wardle.
Featuring Eddy Galland, Robert Shafran, David Kellman, Evan LeRose, Adrian Lichter and Silvi Alzetta-Reali. 97 mins.
As the title spells out, this is the story of three triplets who were separated at birth, adopted and meet up accidentally. In 1980, Bobby turns up at college and is greeted by everybody as an old friend, specifically an old friend called Eddie. After they meet and their story hits the papers a third identical stranger, David, gets in touch. A nice, amazing story but as this all happens in the first twenty odd minutes you are wondering how they are going to fill the rest of the time. The answer is with a turn for the worst and revelation of the sinister motives behind their separation.
Directed by Kore-Eda Hirokazu.
Starring Lily Franky, Sakura Ando, Mayu Matsuoka, Kairi Jyo, Miyu Sasaki and Kilin Kiki. In Japanese with subtitles. 121 mins
The family that nicks together stays together in this latest drama from Hirokazu, which made off with the top Barn D'Or prize at this year's Cannes film festival. Like a Japanese Shameless the family, centred around the benign figure of Granny (Kiki), are as thick as thieves: so close that nothing comes between them and the world, they steal the friendships that bound them together.
Won't You Be My Neighbor (12A.)
Directed by Morgan Neville.
Featuring Fred Rogers, David Newell, Francois Clemmens, Joanne, Jim, John and Elaine Rogers. 94 mins. In cinemas November 9th
When Geoffrey from Rainbow died a few months back the nation's reaction was, ah, that's a shame. In America a documentary about a children's TV presenter known as Mr Rogers has become a runaway success, the highest grossing biographical documentary ever. It has tapped into a national mood of fear and uncertainty, providing a figure that seemed to unify left and right. Which not even John Noakes could do.
Directed by Matthew Holness.
Starring Sean Harris and Alun Armstrong. 85 mins
Probably all you need to know about this British chiller is that the (very eerie and effective) music is by the (ex-BBC) Radiophonic Workshop. They provided the original Doctor Who theme tune as well as many other innovative, groundbreaking piece of electronica. As the creator of Garth Marenghi's Dark Place, first time director Holness is a man who likes to look backwards for his scares. Their sound married to the menacing look of 70's public information films create an exercise in putting the retro willies up anyone of a certain age.
Directed by Matteo Garrone.
Starring Marcello Fonte, Edoardo Pesce, Nunzia Schiano, Adamo Dionisi, Francesco Acquaroli and Alida Baldari Calabria. Italian with subtitles. 103 mins.
Dogman's star roles are two figures who would usually be in support. Marcello (Fonte) is a weedy, Corporal Klinger-from-MASH lookalike who runs a little dog grooming business on a rundown seafront facade. Along with the other small business owners they are bullied and tormented but the thug Simone (Pesce) a hulking piggy-eyed brute who in any well-ordered narrative would never rise above the rank of goon, the lug hired to stand beside the real villain as backup menace.
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