All the movies worth catching in the capital, from a new Scorsese classic to a Victorian flight of fantasy...
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 the film that finally pairs Helen Mirren with Ian McKellen or a documentary on one of the world's most infamous politicians, WeLoveCinema has you well and truly covered…
Just when you thought Martin Scorsese had said everything he could possibly say about the mob and gangsters, along comes The Irishman, his most ambitious movie yet – and a sure-fire candidate for best film of the year. As one of Scorsese's longest gestating passion projects, based on a 2004 true-crime book, it zeroes in on the life of former mob hitman Frank Sheeran, who narrates the story of his long and morally dubious career from the confines of an old people's home. Much has been said about The Irishman's gargantuan, three-and-a-half-hour length, not to mention the de-aging technically that allows Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino to appear as much younger men, but it's in the sadder, more melancholy moments where the picture truly thrives – like one epic funeral for the entire gangster genre.
Up, up, and away! Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones reunite after their first pairing in Oscar-winning film The Theory of Everything, with Redmayne back as yet another scientist – the real life Victorian meteorologist James Glaisher, whose belief that the weather can be predicted urges him on a record-breaking hot air balloon voyage to the stars. To carry out his experiment, he teams with plucky pilot Amelia Wren, played here by Jones in a movie-stealing turn. The Aeronauts might fall short in the script department, but director Tom Harper (Wild Rose) still manages to deliver an old-fashioned, euphoric spectacle packed with stunning visuals and an array of heart-pounding set-pieces. See this one in IMAX.
Adapting a play to the cinema is never easy, given that the mediums are so different and ask completely different things of an audience: Luce provides a smooth enough transition from screen to stage, though, in what is a gripping and thought-provoking take on the acclaimed play by JC Lee. Its story concerns the plight of an African-American all-star student, the titular Luce (played with mesmerising ambiguity by Kelvin Harrison Jr.), who was adopted by white, middle-class parents (Tim Roth and Naomi Watts, reuniting having survived Michael Haneke's Funny Games) after years spent as a brainwashed child soldier in Eritrea. An incident at school sets the plot in motion, but to say anymore would ruin Luce's surprises.
The Good Liar
Strange, but true: Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen, two great British talents ideally suited to one another, have never appeared in a movie together – until now. The Good Liar – directed by Bill Condon – finally gives us a cinematic union we never knew we needed in the form of a thrilling mystery that unfolds with the twists and precision of a proper page-turner. Makes sense, given it's based on a bestselling novel of the same name by Nicholas Searle. The plot zeroes in on a career con man, played by McKellen, who targets an unsuspecting widow in an attempt to steal her fortune (Mirren). Nothing, however, is as it seems. It's an implausible ride, sure, but the sort that indulges in its Patricia Highsmith-esque antics to marvellous effect.
A documentary about Gorbachev is one thing, but having Werner Herzog conduct the interview? Now, there's an idea. Meeting Gorbachev sees the acclaimed Bavarian filmmaker sitting down for an in-depth chat with 90-year-old Mikhail Gorbachev, the eighth and final President of the Soviet Union, for a rare conversation. It makes for a fascinating talk, of course, though it's one that never quite goes to the weird places you'd expect from a meeting of two giants – mainly because Gorbachev refuses Herzog's attempts to put words in his mouth or depict him as a Herzogian character. Herzog clearly has huge amounts of respect and awe for his subject, however, which is perhaps both this film's blessing and its curse.
You have to hand it to anyone willing to take the reins for a follow-up to The Shining, Stanley Kubrick's seminal horror masterpiece and a film that has somehow managed to avoid a sequel for close to four decades. Best known for his work on TV series The Haunting of Hill House and horror yarns like Oculus and Gerald's Game (also based on a book by Stephen King), writer-director Mike Flanagan manages a visually stunning – if narratively muddled – continuation of the story as we catch up with a middle-aged Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor) battling alcoholism and a vampirish death cult who prey on children who “shine.” It's a slow-burner, packed with great performances, and – in its final act – heaps of fan service.
Sorry We Missed You
Esteemed director Ken Loach, who made his name in the 60s with the iconic Kes and more recently with benefits drama I, Daniel Blake, is back with yet another socially-minded tale set in modern Britain. Sorry We Missed You, a scathing attack on a culture that forces workers to make ends meet in a culture of zero-hour contracts, hones in on a delivery driver named Ricky (Kris Hitchen), his carer wife, Abby (Debbie Honeywood), and their two kids. Loach isn't messing around: his film – scripted deftly by Loach's frequent collaborator Paul Laverty – depicts a family struggling in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. Sorry We Missed You is certainly on the bleak side, but it's also a timely, relevant work with a deserved target.
A cross between Lord of the Flies, Apocalypse Now and, uh, Dogtooth, Monos is an incendiary nightmare – a hallucinogenic journey into the heart of darkness that feels at once indebted to a number of well-known pop culture classics and yet somehow fiercely original. Set atop a misty mountain in the wilds of South America (and later in the oppressive, sweating heat of the jungle), it hones in on a group of child soldiers tasked with guarding a single prisoner. Isolated and restless, they have developed strange rituals and customs. Unfolding with an ominous, apocalyptic vibe, aided by Mica Levi's industrial score and some truly gorgeous cinematography, Monos is an endlessly mesmerising descent into a truly maddening chaos.
The Last Black Man in San Francisco
San Francisco has proven to be one of cinema's most photographable cities, setting the scene in movies as diverse as vehicular action classic Bullitt to Hitchcock's Vertigo. Now comes a timely lament for this ever-changing landscape, starring Jimmie Fails – in a film based on his true life story – as a man who is slowly losing his sense of self against a backdrop of gentrification. The Last Black Man in San Francisco, which co-stars Danny Glover, follows Jimmie as he pursues his dream to attain the Victorian-style house that used to belong to his family before they were pushed out. Directed by Joe Talbot, this is an indie that feels bigger than its budget – an audacious, electric, and melancholy original that refuses to be pigeon holed.