All the movies worth catching in the capital, from the last episode in the Star Wars saga to a furr-ious musical...
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 showing in London and gathered them here to make choosing a great movie as easy as possible. Whatever you’re in the mood for, WeLoveCinema has you well and truly covered…
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
At last, the “Skywalker Saga” culminates with The Rise of Skywalker, the ninth episode in cinema’s most famous – and perhaps beloved – franchise. In the wake of the rather controversial Last Jedi, director JJ Abrams – who helmed The Force Awakens, essentially A New Hope remade – is back behind the camera. His film, overstuffed and apologetic, is one that’s sure to be divisive. Whilst The Last Jedi set out to subvert and demythologise Star Wars, Skywalker U-turns and does the exact opposite. Starring Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac, it’s a finale that’s sure to delight some with its unashamed attempt to right the wrongs of Last Jedi and disappoint others with just how brazenly it does that. Prepare for discourse!
Acclaimed filmmaker Tom Hooper, who managed a relatively successful adaptation of beloved musical Les Miserables in spite of Russell Crowe’s vocal work, is back with yet another take on an iconic Broadway hit. What is this version of Cats, though? A nightmarish vision of feline dystopia? A spectacularly strange but stunning adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s iconic show? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and this – with its alien-ish, CG cat-human hybrids, played by stars such as Taylor Swift and Jennifer Hudson – is a movie destined to stun and repel in equal measure. Love it or loath it, Cats will lodge itself into your “Memory” and stay there forever.
Ip Man 4
We know what you’re thinking: this is still a franchise? Yep: in the same week that Star Wars bows out, the arse-kicking martial artistry of the Ip Man series reaches to its own conclusion with the no nonsense-y titled Ip Man 4: The Finale. The plot here concerns the titular Ip Man (played by Donnie Yen) as he relocates to the United States, son in tow, only to find his biggest challenge yet is racial discrimination. Expect more ludicrously choreographed set-pieces, lots of entitled American idiots getting their bones broken, and Danny Chan briefly reprising his role as Bruce Lee. It’s a film that, given its cancer-ridden protagonist, makes room for more melancholic than its predecessors. Age gets to us all – even Ip Man.
This new documentary from Lauren Greenfield (who also helmed the excellent Queen of Versailles) finds its subject in former Filipino First Lady Imelda Marcos, and works as a sort of unofficial follow-up to the 2003 documentary Imelda. But what starts as a fairly straightforward biopic about Marcos’ life, exile, and return to the country she left crippled slowly becomes something far more insidious. As Marcos refuses to come to terms with what can only be considered a rotten legacy, it makes for a truly gripping, fascinating, and – eventually – horrifying study of a woman whose reality is entirely self-created. “Perception is real, but the truth is not,” she explains at one point, which pretty much tells you everything you need to know.
Actor Tom Cullen, brilliant in romantic film Weekend, has turned his attention to writing and directing with Pink Wall, an unconventionally-structured romantic drama starring Jay Duplass and Tatiana Maslany. The story concerns a wannabe photographer and a TV producer, whose relationship is presented to us through six scenes, all of which are told out of order. It’s a little bit like musical The Last Five Years crossed with recent drama Cold War, in that we’re left to deduce what may or may not have happened between the scenes. Duplass and Maslany make for a convincing couple (Maslany is especially good), resulting in a somewhat slight but highly watchable film with a ton to say about modern relationships.
Few filmic reputations have flip-flopped as much as Shia LaBeouf’s, whose eclectic body of work has found itself interspersed with highly publicised antics from the drunkenly offensive to the artistically batty. Recently, however, LaBeouf’s rep seems to be on the up and up, and so Honey Boy – a film he wrote in rehab based on his own childhood – couldn’t have come at a better time. Documentary filmmaker Alma Har’el, making her feature film debut, directs this meta journey into LaBeouf’s life thus far, as “Otis” – a Shia surrogate played by Lucas Hedges – wrestles with his inner demons and – in a separate timeline – the complicated relationship he shares with his father (in a brilliant twist, LaBeouf plays his own old man). Deeply strange but also highly poignant, it’s a star’s soul laid bare, and one of 2019’s most original films.
So Long, My Son
This heartbreaking, poignant, and historically-minded drama from Chinese writer-director Wang Xiaoshuai unfolds over the course of an admittedly weighty three-hour-long runtime, but it’s a film – like Martin Scorsese’s recent masterpiece The Irishman – that needs you to feel the weight of the years in order to tell its era-spanning story across four decades. Beginning somewhere in the mid-1970s and culminating in the present day, So Long, My Son zeroes in on the mostly tragic tale of a couple haunted by the death of their only son. Using shifting time frames that occasionally disorientate and add mystery, it’s a sad and melancholy piece about China’s changing policies and the power of the family unit, but one that’s not without hope.
Sometimes an actor/director is given the chance to cash in their chips for what can only be referred to as a “passion project.” Edward Norton’s Motherless Brooklyn is one such film, for better or worse. Based on the best-selling crime novel of the same name by author Jonathan Lethem, the story sees a tic-addled private detective (Norton) traversing the seedy underbelly of ’90s New York in a bid to solve the murder of his mentor, played by Bruce Willis. Clearly taking its cues from classics of the noir genre like The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, and – of course – Chinatown, Motherless Brooklyn‘s heft is sure to divide audiences, though it’s a work that offers some distinct pleasures – mainly because they just don’t make films like this anymore, and also because Norton has roped in Willem Dafoe and Alec Baldwin in fun bit-parts.
Rian Johnson has taken a well-deserved break from the Star Wars universe to gift us with what might just go down as the year’s most entertaining film. Positioned as a modern take on the Agatha Christie-style murder mystery, Knives Out is a fast-paced whodunnit set in a house that – according to one of the characters – “looks like a Clue board.” It’s Christopher Plummer’s murdered patriarch, Harlan Thrombey, who draws a flamboyantly-accented Daniel Craig (having the time of his life) to interrogate the suspects: Harlan’s own family. With delicious turns from Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, and Chris Evans, and featuring a star-making performance from Ana de Armas, Johnson has crafted a relentlessly funny, clever, and razor-sharp yarn that doubles as a finger to the entitled rich.
It’s a Wonderful Life
Probably the best Christmas film ever made, It’s a Wonderful Life is back in cinemas throughout London just in time for this festive season. Both very dark and yet also incredibly uplifting, Frank Capra’s timeless tale of a man – Jimmy Stewart in one of his most memorable screen performances – who’s granted a chance to see what life would have been like if he’d never existed is packed with wonderful performances, classic quotes, and a heartfelt message that never loses its appeal. If you’ve never seen this one, now’s your chance. To quote Clarence the Angel: “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” Perfection.
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