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In Cinemas Now
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. (PG.)
Directed by Joachim Rønning.
Starring Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Michelle Pfeiffer, Harris Dickinson, Sam Riley, Ed Skrien and Chiwetel Ejiofor. 119 mins.
Because you would be well within your rights not to know, Maleficent is the evil queen who put the curse on Sleeping Beauty. Mistress of Darkness is what we are calling 2 these days. The first one was probably one of Jolie's best roles, but ended happily ever after. 21st century Hollywood believes strongly in happy endings, but not in ever after. The need for sequels is a tough lesson for kids: all happiness is fleeting, all joy impermanent.
Gemini Man. (12A.)
Directed by Ang Lee.
Starring Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, Benedict Wong and Ralph Brown. 117 mins.
Will Smith is besides himself in Gemini Man. A brilliant but sensitive hitman, after a mere 72 kills he has decided that it is time to quit so that he can look at himself in the mirror again. But They won't let him and send a younger, cloned, mirror-image version of Smith out to kill.
Directed by Todd Phillips.
Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen and Marc Maron. 122 mins.
Like Mad Max:Fury Road, Joker was a proposition that didn't seem to make much sense when you heard they were doing it. Now I have seen it I'm not sure it makes any more sense but this standalone take on comic books' most compelling character is daring, thrilling, unexpected, ghastly and probably the last thing the world needs right now. Well, it's another bloody origins tale, isn't it?
Ad Astra. (15.)
Directed by James Grey.
Starring Brad Pitt, Donald Sutherland, Ruth Negga, Liv Tyler, John Ortiz and Tommy Lee Jones. 122 mins.
The advertising is very concerned with pushing this as a Brad Pitt movie rather than a space movie. But Ad Astra is definitely a space film, and a very fine space movie, comparable in ambition, themes and execution to the very best of this century's attempts to reach out into the void and find something similar to 2001: A Space Odyssey. But it is also very much a Brad Pitt star vehicle; as totally and utterly a Brad Pitt film as it's possible to get, short of him doing a one-man show.
Directed by Lorene Scafaria.
Starring Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, Mercedes Ruehl and Cardi B. 110 mins
Our lead review this week is a film about strippers. Of course I'd rather be covering Downton Abbey: The Motion Picture but as screenings for that have been prorogued until after our print deadline I am forced to make do with various toned ladies informing me of the ugly truths of late-era capitalism by writhing around over objectionable Wall Street bankers, rather than the procession of toffs and proles fawning over hereditary wealth and privilege.
It: Chapter 2. (15.)
Directed by Andy Muschietti.
Starring Bill Hader, Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Jay Ryan, Isiah Mustafa, James Ransome and Bill Skarsgård. 169 mins.
The poster promises that It Ends. And It does, eventually, but there is a of a lot of It about.
Scary movies with 2 in the title are generally held to be the lowest forms of cinema life but this telling of the second half of Stephen King's doorstopper arrives with the cast, production values and running length of an Oscar pleading literary adaptation. We could think of this as the horror equivalent of The Lord of The Rings trilogy.
The Souvenir (15.)
Directed by Joanna Hogg.
Starring Honor Swinton Byrne, Tom Burke, Tilda Swinton, Jack McMullen, Tosin Cole and Richard Ayoade. 120 mins.
In which is charted the flawed relationship between a drip and a cold fish. It's the 80s and Julie (Byrne) is a well-spoken, posh young thing on the verge of attending film school. She has a wide circle of friends and a soundtrack of appropriate 80s tune ranging from The Specials to Robert Wyatt. Then at a party at her flat, she meets Anthony (Burke) who is something in the Foreign Office. He comes into the film as the back of a head in a black jacket, introduced as someone's lodger, a friend of a friend. He listens with detached enthusiasm to her plan for a film about poor people in Sunderland and a bond is formed. Within ten minutes the circle of friends are gone and opera dominates the soundtrack.
Once Upon A Time In ... Hollywood. (18.)
Directed by Quentin Tarantino.
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch, Margaret Qualley, Dakota Fanning, Al Pacino and Kurt Russell. 161 mins.
Even though some truly magnificent films use the Once Upon A Time ruse in their title I've never liked it. It always felt like an admission of failure, a way of getting around not coming up with a decent title of their own or a lazy way to try and associate an unremarkable but probably too long action film with the work of Sergio Leone. ….Hollywood - The 9th Film From Quentin Tarantino, isn't up there with America, Anatolia or West, but this comedy-drama about Hollywood prior to the Tate Lo Bianca murders is perhaps the first to really fit the title.
Singin' in the Rain. (U.)
Directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen. 1952.
Starring Gene Kelly, Donald O' Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen, Millard Mitchell and Cyd Charisse. 102 mins
Is the sun in your heart? Are you ready for love? Do you walk down the lane with a happy refrain? Then there must be a smile on your face because Hollywood's greatest musical – Hollywood's greatest entertainment? - is back in cinemas, heading up the BFI musical season. Seriously, what other film could they choose?
The Day Shall Come. (15.)
Directed by Chris Morris.
Starring Marchant Davis, Anna Kendrick, Denis O'Hare, Kayvan Novak, Danielle Brooks and Adam David Thompson. 88 mins
Nearly a decade after Islamic terrorist comedy Four Lions, the master of subversive TV and radio comedy Chris Morris has returned with a new project: another film about inept terrorists. Set in Miami, it focuses on the flotsam and jetsam getting scooped up in the FBI's vast Homeland security trawling nets. Moses (Davis) is a delusional would-be black power leader, planning to head up an uprising against white European oppressors and "the cranes of the gentrifier." Hendrick is an FBI agent trying to drum up a genuine threat to impress her boss (O'Hare.)
Directed by Rupert Goold.
Starring Renee Zellweger, Jessie Buckley, Finn Wittrock, Rufus Sewell, Michael Gambon and Andy Nyman. 118 mins.
The Judy is Garland and her film is a less cheerful rerun of Stan & Ollie: a faded Hollywood icon on a tour of England promoted by Bernard Delfont (Gambon.) It starts with the young Garland (Darci Shaw) receiving a pep talk on the yellow brick road with Louis B Mayer who is trying to crush her spirit by insisting her specialness meant that she would have to forgo the attributes of a normal childhood: free time, fun, food. (In his obsession with controlling the food intake of his female stars Mayer is a forerune rof Harvey Goldstein.) Three decades later she is bankrupt, has four ex-husbands, can't sleep, survives on booze and pills and is doing a six week residency at the Talk Of The Town, (with Lonnie Donnegan as a support act) hoping to earn enough to get back custody of her children.
Hitsville: The Making of Motown. (12A.)
Directed by Gabe Turner, Benjamin Turner.
Featuring Berry Gordy, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Lamont Dozier, Martha Reeves and Jamie Foxx. 110 mins. In cinemas September 30th.
The title suggests a documentary but this plays more like a corporate video commissioned to celebrate the company's 60th anniversary. Hitsville is well named; covering Motown's first decade or so, from its founding in 1959 to the decision to relocate to LA in 1972, it is all the hits and none of the duds. Our guides are founder Berry Gordy and chief collaborator and song writer Smokey Robinson, who start by congratulating themselves on their brilliance in realising how brilliant the other was. It then continues by celebrating their brilliance in building up the greatest record label known to man in a humble two story detached house in the suburbs of motor city Detroit.
The Shock of the Future. (15.)
Directed by Marc Collin.
Starring by Alma Jodorowsky, Philippe Rebbot, Geoffrey Carey, Teddy Melis, Clara Luciani, Laurent Papot and Corine. 78 mins.
As Vic Reeves once remarked, it's always good to see a woman handling complicated machinery. Le Choc Du Futur is just a woman, Ana (Jodorowsky), in a room in Paris in 1978 with a bunch of synthesizers. Facing a wall of buttons and wires and knobs, she's trying to make the music of the future. Throughout the day various creepy guys pop round to assist or harass her.
Mrs Lowry and Son. (PG)
Directed by Adrian Noble.
Starring Vanessa Redgrave, Timothy Spall, Stephen Lord, David Schaal, Wendy Morgan and Michael Keogh. 91 mins.
The Mrs Lowry in question is the mother of L.S, him that painted matchstalk men and matchstalk cat and dogs. It's 1934, he was a devoted son to a bedridden, joyless, viciously snobbish mother who was constantly putting him and his art down, blaming his late father for having to move out of their middle-class home and live in a back-to-back two up two down in Salford with the proletariat. He's had to put up with this all his life; you only have to do 90 minutes.