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Ocean's 8. (12A.)
Directed by Gary Ross.
Starring Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna and Helena Bonham Carter. 110 mins. Released on Monday 18th
Crime doesn't pay, so they say. But George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh's 2001 decision, much derided at the time, to get a gang together to remake the 50's Rat Pack heist movie really came up trumps. And we've been paying for it ever since.
Directed by Ari Aster.
Starring Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Gabriel Byrne, Milly Shapiro and Ann Dowd. 127 mins.
According to the sides of all the best buses these days, Hereditary is “A New Generation's The Exorcist.” This is severely underselling it; Hereditary is having a tilt at all of the great horror films. Name any classic and I reckon you'll find a reference to it here somewhere. Aster's debut feature is freakishly assured, with superb performances and perfectly composed images. Where the hell did he get the nerve to do a two hour plus horror film first time out? Clearly he was born to do it.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (12A.)
Directed by J.A. Bayona.
Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ted Levine, Rafe Spall, Toby Jones, Daniella Pinada, Justice Smith, B. D. Wong, James Cromwell, Isabella Sermon, Geraldine Chaplin and Jeff Goldblum. 128 mins.
The defining aspect of the dinosaurs, as I understand it, was a stubborn refusal to kick-start the whole evolution fad. They ruled the earth for the best part of 200 million years but their extinction seems to have found them little the wiser than when they first appeared. When it comes to the cinema, this appears to be infectious. There something about dinosaurs that makes people quite militant in asserting their right to have turn-your-brain-off fun. Here we are at Jurassic Park 5 and nothing much seems to have moved on since Spielberg first started it back in 1993. Within a few minutes of the film starting, what do they decide to do? Go back to the damn island.
Book Club (15.)
Directed by Bill Holderman
Starring Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen, Andy Garcia, Craig T. Nelson and Don Johnson. 104 mins.
This movie gives as pure, and as honest, an expression of the human condition as any work of art could offer: fundamentally ghastly but made tolerable, even pleasurable, by good company and the odd drink. There is a reason why the stars are up in the sky; it's so they can descend and give glitter and wonder to junk like Book Club.
Solo: a Star Wars Story (12A.)
Directed by Ron Howard.
Starring Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Joonas Suotamo, Thandie Newton, Paul Bettany and Phoebe Waller-Bridge. 135 mins
I can understand that Disney are keen to try and get back the $4billion they paid for the rights, but four Star Wars films in less than 30 months is pushing it a bit, isn't it? You can have too much of a good thing, and increasingly people aren't so sure how much of a good thing these new Star Wars films are. Do we need a Han Solo origins tale? (Origins, origins, again with the origins; what are we all Charles Darwin?) Still, everybody loves Han Solo, don't they? Everybody except the grumpy man who once played him and approached his return to the role with a which-hydraulic-door-do-I-have-to-get-crushed-under-to-get-off-this-film attitude.
Deadpool 2 (15.)
Directed by David Leitch.
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, Zazie Beetz, Julian Dennison and T.J. Miller. 119 mins.
Deadpool 2 is the follow up to the self-referential, 4th wall breaking, meta-super-anti-hero movie that was a surprise smash, and the title is presumably ironically unimaginitatve. At one point Reynold's indestructible, largely immoral mutant mercenary has to recruit a gang to form the X Force. The applicants all have fairly lame names like Shatterstar and Zeitgeist because all the best superhero names have long since been taken. If the film wanted to be really meta and knowing there'd be a figure called The Shadow Of Its Former Self, a masked hero whose still considerable powers just don't seem so special or effective anymore.
Directed by Tony Zierra.
Starring Leon Vitali, Ryan O'Neal, Danny Lloyd, Matthew Modine and R. Lee Ermey. 94 mins.
As someone who has happily watched Jon Ronson rummage around in Stanley Kubrick's old boxes of research, regardless of its quality, there was never any doubt that I would lap up a documentary about Leon Vitali, the star of Barry Lyndon who gave up acting to become the great man's trusted assistant. Zierra's film though is actually rather good, better than I could've hoped for: it might even appeal to non-obsessives.
Directed by José Padilha.
Starring Rosamund Pike, Daniel Brühl, Eddie Marsan, Nonso Anozie, Ben Schnetzer, Denis Ménochet. 107 mins.
This takes us back to the good old days when the primary concern of anyone caught up in a hijacking was how the toilet breaks would be managed. In the 70s, when Marxism was the fundamentalist creed, hostages tended to be in there for the long haul and when a collection of German Marxists and Palestinian revolutionaries took control of an Air France plane flying from Jerusalem to Paris and flew it to Entebbe airport in Uganda, that was the start of a nine-day ordeal finally ended (look away now those with no knowledge of postwar history) with a daring raid by Israeli marines.
Directed by Michel Hazanavicius.
Starring Louis Garrel, Stacy Martin, Bérénice Bejo, Micha Lescot, Grégory Gadebois, Félix Kysyl. 108 mins.
Or Jean-Luc Godard in Love. Just like Shakespeare. A fairly niche topic I grant you, but I can't see why they dumped the original title, Godard Mon Amour, which would at least perk the interest of the niche target audience, for one that surely wont perk the interest of any human being on the planet. This latest film from the director of The Artist drops in on Godard (perfectly caught by Garrel) around the May revolutions in 1968 when he was on the verge of moving from making bold, revolutionary, challenging films that appealed to a narrow audience; to making bold, revolutionary, unwatchable films that appealed to nobody. While making tedious Maoist yakfest La Chinoise (out on blu-ray now from Arrow Films but I just couldn't face reviewing it) he showed that he was a truly revolutionary director by falling in love with, and then marrying his leading lady, Anne Wiezemsky (Martin) who was nearly half his age
Avengers: Infinity War (12A.)
Directed by Joe Russo, Anthony Russo.
Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Josh Brolin, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Benedict Cumberbatch, Karen Gillan, Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Olsen, Tom Holland, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Pom Klementieff and Tom Hiddleston. 149 mins.
This is not the end, but it feels like the beginning of the end. This grand sequence of comic book adaptations began a decade ago with Iron Man and most of the old gang probably only have one more film left in them (next year's conclusion of this story.) I will miss them. This sequence of films has grown and deepened and may become the work that this era of Hollywood filmmaking is primarily remembered and celebrated for. Half a century ago, the people who moan about the number of superhero films in cinemas these days would have been rolling their eyes at all these cowboy films John Ford was churning out, complaining about how they were simplistic tales of good and evil that are all the same.
Freak Show (15.)
Directed by Trudie Styler.
Starring Alex Lawther, Abigail Breslin, AnnaSophia Robb, Ian Nelson, Celia Weston, Larry Pine and Bette Midler. 91 mins.
Of all the rafts of cultural indoctrination Hollywood disseminates around the globe, the most pernicious and baffling is the High School movie. No other country so venerates its education system on screen but the rites and rituals of these institutions – the prom, the homecoming, the yearbook, the big football game, the caste system of jocks and nerds – are as sinister and mystifying as those of a black mass, and just as evil. People get vexed over the state of gun crazed America but I'd counter that they are comparatively well adjusted considering the upbringings they all seem to go through.
In The Fade (18.)
Directed by Fatih Akin.
Starring Diane Kruger, Denis Moschitto, Numan Acar, Samia Muriel Chancrin, Johannes Krisch, Ulrich Tukur. In German with subtitles. 106 mins.
A perfectly executed tragic drama about grief, justice and bigotry, In The Fade is a film about messy, ugly emotions that is perhaps a little bit too neat and tidy. After a bomb attack decimates her family Katja (Kruger) has to try and deal with her numb grief. Sympathy is strained because her late husband was a reformed drug dealer that she married while he was in prison, and Turkish. Neither side of the family can quite put aside their disapproval of their union during the mourning, and the police immediately angle their investigation into looking for a former underworld associate looking for revenge.
Studio 54 (15.)
Directed by Matt Tyrnauer
Featuring Ian Schrager, Steve Rubell 98 mins.
Studio 54, again? Other than various BBC4 docs about the golden age of discos, the rapid rise and fall of the legendary 70s Manhatten discotheque has been covered in the feature films 54, with Mike Myers, and Whit Stillman's The Last Days of Disco. Do we need another look at that photo of Bianca Jagger on a white horse? Well, actually I think this straightforward account of its glory days, its aftermath and the odd couple friendship behind it – camp extrovert Rubell, introvert Schrager – makes a strong case.
Directed by Ian Bonhôte.
Featuring Alexander McQueen, Joyce McQueen, Janet McQueen, Detmar Blow, Gary James McQueen and Sebastian Pons. 111 mins.
Faced with the prospect of a screening of a documentary about a great British fashion designer at a swanky Soho establishment, I thought I ought to make a bit of an effort. So I rolled up in a 20th-century short sleeve shirt (not vintage, just unchucked), scuffed shoes and unfashionably distressed jeans. Even I though would admit that accessorising with a library copy of the Danny Baker autobiography was perhaps a prole signifier too far.
All The Wild Horses (15.)
Directed by Ivo Marloh.
Featuring Devan Horn, Donie Fahy, Richie Killoran, Charlotte Treleaven, Ronald Van Der Velden and Monde Kanyana. 93 mins.
This sounded interesting. A documentary about the world's longest horse race, the Mongol Derby: a study of a great Mongolian sporting tradition and a peek into a totally different way of life and culture, a bit like that Eagle Huntress film with the little girl who charmed everyone that saw it. What a let down: turn's out it's Gee-gee Gumball Rally. A group of privileged westerners using GPS try to cover a 1000km course on wild Mongolian horses, changing mounts at stations every 40 km along the route. Quite a few of them have an equestrian background but many are from the fatuous professions: Commodities trader; Maitre d'; interface developer, Alexander Technique trainer.
My Friend Dahmer (15.)
Directed by Marc Meyers.
Starring Ross Lynch, Alex Wolff, Tommy Nelson, Dallas Roberts, Harrison Holzer and Anne Heche. 106 mins
Coming soon: Pennyworth, a ten-part TV series relating the early life of Alfred, prior to his employment as Bruce Wayne's butler. Smallville/ Gotham/ Solo, it's not just the big names who have their early pre-fame days riffled through for titbits of entertainment: now even serial killers get to have their origins story put up on screen.
L'Amant Double (18)
Starring Marine Vacth, Jérémie Renier, Jacqueline Bisset, Myriam Boyer, Dominique Reymond, Fanny Sage. French with subtitles. 108 mins.
It's about twins and there's lots of sex in it: so it's true to its title. Told that her stomach pains are mental, Chloe (Vacth, who was Young and Beautiful in Ozon's Jeane et Julie) seeks help from a psychiatrist Paul Meyer (Daniel Craig lookalike Renier) who then quits because he has fallen in love with her. But is there some secret in his past that will sabotage their happiness? (Spoiler – yes.)
Show Dogs (PG.)
Directed by Raja Gosnell.
Starring Will Arnett, Natasha Lyonne and the voices of Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Gabriel Iglesias, Shaquille O'Neal, Alan Cumming and Stanley Tucci. 92 mins.
The crisis in modern masculinity is now so deep it is seeping into talking dog movies. Max (voiced by Bridges) is NYPD's toughest police dog but when, in order to crack an international animal smuggling gang, he has to go undercover posing as a contestant in a Las Vegas dog show he is forced to re-examine his values. As a macho police dog he sees the contestants as silly and superficial but he and his new human FBI partner, Arnett, learn to temper their butch ways and appreciate diversity. Did that happen to Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality?
On Chesil Beach. (15.)
Directed by Dominic Cooke.
Starring Saoirse Ronan, Billy Howle, Emily Watson, Anne-Marie Duff, Samuel West, Adrian Scarborough, Bebe Cave. 110 mins
Chesil Beach, far away in time. It's 1962, the year before sex was invented according to Philip Larkin, and two awkward, virgin newlyweds are honeymooning in a posh hotel on the coast. Nervous and anxious about doing IT, impending carnality is forestalled through a series of flashbacks to their courtship: two Oxford students with first-class degrees, she (Ronan) a musician from a very well to do family, he (Howle) a history scholar from a more modest background.
Sherlock Gnomes (PG.)
Directed by John Stevenson
Starring James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Johnny Deep, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Matt Lucas and Maggie Smith. 86 mins.
Animated versions of classic tales with a cast of garden gnomes: it's not a bad idea, but if someone pitched it to you I don't think you'd rip their arms off with enthusiasm. Unless, it was being pitched you by Elton John and David Furnish, when it would become a simply marvellous idea and luvvies great and small, old and young would flood to add their vocal talents to it.
Lean On Pete (PG.)
Directed by Andrew Haigh.
Starring Charlie Plummer, Travis Fimmel, Steve Buscemi, Chloë Sevigny and Steve Zahn. 122 mins.
The point of having pets is, according to conventional wisdom, to give children an early understanding of mortality. Young Charley (Plummer) already has a keen appreciation of loss when, while working as a stable boy for low rent trainer Buscemi, he becomes overly attached to a clapped out nag on its last legs. Jockey Sevigny tries to warn him that Lean On Pete is overdue an appointment at the knacker's yard (or Mexico, as they call it in American English) but he's just too sensitive and lost a soul to deal with it.
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