All the movies worth catching in the capital, from a feminist crime drama to the big screen incarnation of a TV favourite...
Out and about this week? Fancy a film but can’t make your mind up what to see? Look no further: we’ve assembled the best of what’s on in London and gathered them here to make choosing a great movie as easy as possible. Whether it’s an American classic back on the big screen for its 50th anniversary, or a groundbreaking documentary shot in the middle of a war zone, WeLoveCinema has you well and truly covered…
Slick, sexy, and relentlessly entertaining from start to finish, Hustlers arrives as one of the year’s most unexpected triumphs. Think of this empowering feminist tale as a reverse Wolf of Wall Street, in which a group of strippers fight back against the greedy bankers who brought the financial system to a halt in 2008. Constance Wu – fresh from a squeaky clean role in Crazy Rich Asians – is dynamite as “Destiny,” a stripper draw into the hustles of the title. Funny, relevant, and boosted by the brilliantly authentic camaraderie between the girls, Hustlers also contains what might just be Jennifer Lopez’s greatest screen performance to date – as Ramona, she’s resourceful, tantalising, and completely mesmerising to watch. Oscar?
For the majority, it’s impossible to imagine what trying to live your every day life in the midst of a war zone is actually like; this riveting documentary gets about as close as most of us will come. Recorded using a handheld camera during the Siege of Aleppo in worn-torn Syria, For Sama hones in on a student-turned-filmmaker named Waad al-Kateab (who shot the footage), her husband, and daughter, Sama, as they attempt to survive five years within Aleppo’s city walls. The footage was later edited together by director Edward Watts, and the results are terrifying, brutal, and ultimately life-affirming. Surviving a war zone is one thing; raising a baby as bombs are dropping around you is another. If you only catch one documentary this year, let it be this one: deservedly, it won the Prix L’Œil d’Or at Cannes back in May.
Joanna Hogg’s films have always been prized by a small amount of dedicated fans, but The Souvenir is so good she won’t remain a secret for much longer. Set in the 1980s and based on Hogg’s own time as a film school student in London, this is a deep and fascinating treasure box whose appeal cannot be explained in a single paragraph – still, we’ll try. Starring Honor Swinton Byrne (daughter of Tilda, also here) and an arrogant, charismatic Tom Burke, the story – minimalist, melancholy, dreamy, and not at all for the impatient viewer – centres on a young woman’s romance with a mysterious and troubled older man. As always the case with Hogg, she refuses to paint in black and white; you get back whatever it is you put in.
Downton Abbey enjoyed six hit seasons on ITV, and now – perhaps due to the popularity it experienced across the pond – it’s a fully-fledged film. Though it doesn’t exactly attempt to be anything more ambitious than a plus-sized episode, which will probably do just fine for the legions of fans awaiting a bumper instalment. The story, set in 1927, concerns King George V and Queen Mary, who send Hugh Bonneville and his wife, played by Elizabeth McGovern, into hysterics when they announce a visit to the proud establishment of the title. Maggie Smith is here, too, of course, on brilliantly sardonic form – to the point that it occasionally feels like they just made the film so she could spout some particularly acidic lines. A must for fans.
Get Downtown Abbey showtimes in London.
Shot in North Macedonia, this observational documentary from directors Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov hones in a remarkable woman in her fifties named Hatidze, who spends her days harvesting honey using only wild hives, making sure to never take more than half. Honeyland unravels as a beautifully shot, life-affirming portrait of a distant world struggling to survive, made doubly interesting by Hatidze’s remarkable human spirit. Completely fearless – she is happy to have bees swarming around her with little protection – and endlessly optimistic, she makes an totally riveting subject. As an intimate portrait of rural life, Honeyland really soars – especially as some new, troublesome neighbours arrive and threaten everything.
Get Honeyland showtimes in London.
This new film from Argentinian director Benjamín Naishtat, set in his native land in 1975, follows a lawyer named Claudio (played by actor Dario Grandinetti) who has knowingly turned a blind eye to the terrifying regime surrounding him in order to enjoy a more peaceful life. Things change, however, when Claudio is attacked by a stranger, triggering a series of events that ultimately turn his life upside down. A dark thriller that will keep you well and truly hooked until it reaches its climax, Rojo is also a seething political satire about a particularly terrifying point in Argentine history in which anyone could disappear into thin air without a trace. Rojo means “red,” of course, and this is a film deserving of its angry title.
This strange but highly watchable Norwegian drama is all about its lead performance. Jill (played by Ylva Bjørkaas Thedin) is just shy of fourteen, but has been left with no real choice but to take care of her little brother and also her mum, who suffers from depression and is prone to mood swings. It’s a job that, at first, Jill handles with a kind of resigned necessity. Then one day something awful occurs, and there is no going back. Phoenix – the debut film from writer/director Camilla Strøm Henriksen – unfolds as a story of somebody trying to navigate a situation totally out of their control. Thedin is brilliantly authentic as the troubled teen, whilst the film separates itself from the pack by way of a number of surreal touches.
Get Phoenix showtimes in London.
Still remembered today for its oft-quoted line, “I’m walkin’ here!” and for its unforgettable use of Nilsson’s sad sack classic “Everybody’s Talkin'”, Midnight Cowboy is back on the big screen to celebrate its 50th anniversary – and with a brand spanking new 4K restoration to boot. Winner of the 1969 Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director and starring Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman, it tells the genuine, heart-warming story of two pals trying to make it in an unforgiving and soul-crushing 1960s New York. Handling male friendship with a tenderness rarely glimpsed in films at the time, Midnight Cowboy remains a bonafide classic of late-60s cinema and a career high for its two lead actors.
Get Midnight Cowboy showtimes in London.
The Shiny Shrimps
Have you noticed? Films about awkward situations amongst male swim teams are officially in vogue. First there was Sink or Swim, and then there was the Rob Brydon-starring Swimming With Men. Now there’s the brilliantly titled The Shiny Shrimps, an amusing comic caper that’s sort-of inspired by true events. Sharing its DNA with camp classic The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, this fun and easy-going yarn hones in on a swimming champion – played by the aptly-named Nicolas Gob – who is sentenced to join an all-gay swim team after he’s caught making homophobic remarks. Story-wise, there isn’t much to The Shiny Shrimps, but it does do its best to wring ever bit of humour out of its admittedly delicious premise.
Director Mark Jenkin has given cinema lovers something truly unique with his latest, a film that cleverly explores present-day issues by way of a gloriously-rendered past. There’s no getting around Bait‘s stunning retro look, of course: Jenkin filmed his Cornwall-set drama on 16mm monochrome stock and then processed it using coffee grounds. The result is a black-and-white delight that feels like it’s been dug up on a beach somewhere, and yet Bait – with its story of fishermen being driven out by tourism – also feels about as contemporary as they come. There was a chance this could have ended up feeling like an extended gimmick, and yet the opposite’s true: as a brilliant tale of divided Britain, it casts an 89 minute-long spell.
Get Bait showtimes in London.
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