For the full review, click on the picture
In Cinemas Now
Toy Story 4. (PG.)
Directed by Josh Cooley.
Starring Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Christina Hendricks, Jordan Peele, Keegan Michael-Key and Keanu Reeves. 100 mins.
The Toy Stories have always been odes to duteous and unrecognised servitude. The toys put everything into pleasing their masters only for the kids to one day casually cast them aside without a second thought. There's a brutal honesty to that. It's certainly preferable to the pat Hollywood narrative about career-obsessed workaholics executives learning how to reorder their priorities and reconnect with their children and families. It's a little ironic though as it's now clear that they are going to be worked into the ground.
Diego Maradona (12A.)
Directed by Asif Kapadia.
Featuring Diego Maradona. 130 mins.
This portrait of the stumpy cheating Argentinian footballer is two hours and tens minutes of unrelenting commotion and hustle, an insight into a life without peace. Concentrating on the seven years he spent with Italian club Napoli there is barely a moment when a camera, microphone or adoring fan isn't in his face. He is the Argy in the bargy. The only relief he gets is on the football field where savage Italian defenders try to hack his legs from him. It's a 12A but some of the on-field violence is X certificate, more wince-inducing than the fights in John Wick.
Gloria Bell. (15.)
Directed by Sebastián Lelio.
Starring Julianne Moore, John Turturro, Michael Cera, Rita Wilson, Brad Garret and Jeanne Tripplehorn. 102 mins.
Julianne Moore is now of a certain age; that certain age where the best roles available to an actress are playing a superhero's mother, or maybe a superhero's adversary. The lack of decent roles for middle-aged women is an issue much harped on about, but on the occasion that one comes along, it tends to go all in. Gloria Bell is all Gloria Bell, an intense character study of a divorced woman in her fifties, worrying about her pension, being single and the pain of her children drifting away, getting her pleasure from dancing and drinking Martinis.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix. (12A.)
Directed by Simon Kinberg.
Starring Sophie Turner, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Evan Peters, Tye Sheridan, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Alexandra Smit and Jessica Chastain. 114 mins
Fox (20th Cent) seem convinced that this phoenix is not going to rise. Turning up for the only press screenings barely more than 24 hours before it is due in cinemas we were handed embargos to sign promising we would not disclose our views till the morning it appeared in cinemas. Granted the film, whose release has been delayed for various reshoots, is not a First Class addition to the X-men roster, but it is plenty enjoyable. This twelfth instalment has enough zest to overcome most of the signs of franchise fatigue. It's hard to see what got Fox so spooked in it. But what do I know? I thought the climax of Game of Thrones was splendid when on-line orthodoxy demands it be denounced as being RUSHED, RUSHED, RUSHED.
Directed by László Nemes.
Starring Juli Jakab, Vlad Ivanov, Evelin Dobos, Levente Molnár and Marcin Czarnik. In Hungarian with subtitles. 142 mins.
Nemes' remarkable first film, Holocaust drama Son of Saul, presented a period of history when civilisation had broken down. His second, set in Budapest in the long, dry, dusty summer of 1913, captures a civilisation on the brink of collapse. The Sunset is that of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, about to be buried beneath the turmoil of the First World War. This is a grand and vibrant exploration of a seemingly strong and secure society that is riven by hidden conflict - in a hat shop.
Directed by Dexter Fletcher.
Starring Taron Egerton, Richard Madden, Jamie Bell, Bryce Dallas Howard, Gemma Jones, Tate Donovan and Stephen Graham. 121 mins.
The rock star biopic is one of cinema's deadliest genres but this telling of Reg Dwight - The Rock'n'Roll years is restless and exuberant, a tale told in bold caricature and extravagant gesture: well, it wouldn't be much of an Elton John film if it wasn't. It's also shamelessly immodest. The way film has it Elton's talent is such an effortless flow of unfettered genius it's a wonder it isn't called Amadeus.
John Wick: Chapter 3. (12A.)
Directed by Chad Stahelski.
Starring Keanu Reeves, Ian McShane, Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, Asia Kate Dillon, Lance Reddick, Mark Dacascos, Jerome Flynn and Anjelica Huston. 131 mins.
Keanu Reeves is again putting on his white shirt, doing up his black tie and blowing away approximately one hundred people in the third instalment of this career resurrection hitman romp. Keanu is surely due a successfully completed trilogy and this is, almost, the perfect summation of the series. You may consider it the pick of the bunch, or you may prefer one of the previous two chapters, but I can't imagine anybody beyond the odd, obligatory nutter, feeling let down by it.
Vox Lux (15.)
Directed by Brady Corbet.
Starring Natalie Portman, Raffey Cassidy, Jude Law, Stacy Martin, Jennifer Ehle and Willem Dafoe (voice.) 115 mins.
Vox Lux features the great Scott Walker's final movie soundtrack. Walker previously teamed up with director Corbet on The Childhood of the Leader, a film which gave pretentiousness a good name: his brilliant score helped lift Corbet's sombre, painfully earnest, look,-I'm-a-serious-artist début to rapturous heights. His follow up though is just sticking with the painful and the earnest.
The Captor (15.)
Directed by Robert Budreau.
Starring Ethan Hawke, Noomi Rapace, Mark Strong, Christopher Heyerdahl, Bea Santos, Thorbjørn Harr. 90 mins.
As a follow up to their Chet Baker film Born to Be Blue the director/ star pairing Budreau/ Hawke have dramatised the 1973 bank siege that originated the term Stockholm Syndrome, the condition where people who are kidnapped become sympathetic to their captors. Hawke's character takes over a bank and takes three people hostage, most prominently Bianca (Rapace), as he demands the release from prison of a friend (Strong), some money and a fast car.
Division 19. (15.)
Directed by S. A. Halewood.
Starring Jamie Draven, Linus Roche, Alison Doody, Clarke Peters, Will Rothhaar and Toby Hemingway. 92 mins
This is a dystopian futuristic drama, much like all the other dystopian futuristic drama because in fiction all our bad endings end in much the same way whereas in reality our horrorshow always finds some novel little twist nobody saw coming. Division 19, shot in 2013, edited in 2017 and originally due out last year, presents a mishmash future amalgamation of London and America, with everything paid for in Korean Won. It's got bits of everything but borrows mainly from Fight Club, District 9, V for Vendetta, Divergence and Johnny Depp's Dior adverts.
Sometime Always Never. (12A.)
Directed by Carl Hunter.
Starring Bill Nighy, Sam Riley, Alice Lowe, Jenny Agutter, Louis Healy and Tim McInnerny. 89 mins.
An unclassifiable mediation on scrabble, tailoring, cheap substitutes, ice cream van decoration and loss, this is a British film not like the others. Within five minutes, as father and son Nighy and Riley are shown driving along against an obviously fake back-projected landscape, it clicks that what we have here is a British equivalent of a Wes Anderson film. It has that very precise visual style, perfect lighting, everything in its place and characterisations that are, for want of a better word, quirky/ far-out/ offbeat/ way-out. It's Wanderson, but not so arch or stylised as to be detached/ separated/ adrift from reality.
We The Animals. (15.)
Directed by Jeremiah Zagar
Starring Evan Rosado, Josiah Gabriel, Isaiah Kristian, Sheila Vand, Raúl Castillo and Terry Holland. 93 mins.
This coming of age tale of the youngest of three sons Joshuah (Rosado), growing up in a dysfunctional family living in backwoods New York state, is supposedly a film adaptation of an unfilmable novel, though I'm not sure you'd guess that from watching it. Is that a good or a bad thing?
Late Night. (12A)
Directed by Nisha Ganatra.
Starring Emma Thompson, Mindy Kaling, Hugh Dancy, Denis O'Hare, Ike Barinholtz, Amy Ryan and John Lithgow. 102 mins.
The world of the American late-night chat show – those nightly ritualised glee hours of co-ordinated whooping, clapping, quipping, smugging, advertising and almost no real chat – are an integral part of American post-war culture, a tradition born in the fifties and passed down from Carson to Letterman to Leno to Kimmel. And throughout that time British people have looked at them and said “I don't get it. What are they clapping about? why are they so hysterical?” No matter how hard we try to understand, how many times we try to imitate, they remain a mystery. So speaking from a position of total ignorance, (and even allowing for the Yanks horrendous taste in limeys that saw then anoint Piers Morgan as an adjudicator of their talent) I just can't believe that Emma Thompson could have been the host of the Tonight Show for 28 years.
Directed by Olivia Wilde.
Starring Beanie Feldstein, Kaitlyn Dever, Billie Lourd, Skyler Gisondo, and Jason Sudeikis. 102 mins. Out on Monday.
Millennials are the Generation Whine that makes the rest of us feel a bit less guilty about messing up the planet. Having ****ed their future all they have is now: this is their time, which means that this is their time to do their high school comedy, to show us what a Mean Girls, a Clueless or a Dazed and Confused would look like in 2019. It's the last day of high school and the two most conscientious students, having secured their places in top colleges, decide that on the night before graduation it is finally time for them to party.
Directed by Guy Ritchie.
Starring Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Billy Magnussen, Nasim Pedrad and Marwan Kenzazi. 128 mins.
Because there is no future in Disney's scheming, the world's most powerful movie studio is continuing to feed only on its past. Aladdin is one of four reasons why today Disney is the world's biggest entertainment brand. Between 1989 and 1994, a series of smash hit animations magically resurrected the Brand and this summer the Brand is excavating a couple of those classics. Beauty and The Beast got its live-action remake a couple of years back, a new Lion King is on its way and now we get the remake of the funny one, the one with Robin Williams in. (The Little Mermaid, the first of the four films, seems to have been entirely passed over – for the moment anyway.) Except this isn't really a live action version of the animation; it's more a screen version of the stage musical version of the animation.
High Life (18.)
Directed by Claire Denis.
Starring Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, André Benjamin, Mia Goth, Lars Eidinger, Agata Buzek. 113 mins.
A shonky assemblage of wannabe Tarkovsky sci-fi metaphysics done on a Blake 7 budget, High Life finds Robert Pattinson floating across the universe with only a baby daughter for company. He cuts an understandably pensive figure: he might just be the only human male left in the whole universe and he's traversing deep space in what looks like a brown cardboard box.
------------ For a full list of the available reviews, check out the LIBRARY page ----------