All the movies worth catching in the capital, from a giddy take on the classic whodunnit to a tale of two Popes...
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…
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.
Atlantics is that rare beast: a debut film that arrives feeling like something from a more established and experienced director. In fact this beautifully shot and deeply original drama belongs to French-Senegalese filmmaker Mati Diop, who renders a tale of young love on the African coast with a poignancy and romance that can be felt from the very first frame. Atlantics won the Grand Prix at this year’s Cannes film festival, and – as its deeply affecting story unfolds with impressive lead performances from Mama Sane and Ibrahima Traore as its star-crossed teenagers – it manages to feel both contemporary and classical at once. Not to mention it boasts some unexpected genre-defying twists (the less said here the better).
Jennifer Kent made quite the impression with chilly horror The Babadook, definitely one of the best films of 2014. It’s taken almost five years for her to gift us with another, and so The Nightingale – a brutal and punishing epic set in early 19th century colonial Australia – arrives with lots of expectations. First things first: this isn’t quite the accessible arthouse flick with mainstream appeal that The Babadook was. Instead it’s a morally murky and fervent attack on white male aggression, as told through the plight of Irish urchin Clare Carroll (a mesmerising Aisling Franciosi), who sets out on a dangerous quest into the Tasmanian wilderness to track down the men who killed her family. Think The Revenant, but with a deeply feminist kick.
The Two Popes
A film about two old blokes meeting up for a chat doesn’t sound like the stuff of great cinema, but what if those blokes were actually Popes, and what if those Popes were played by Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce? Now we’re talking. Directed by Fernando Meirelles – he of City of God fame – and based on a script from Darkest Hour writer Anthony McCarten, The Two Popes imagines the friendly rivalry between Hopkins’ Pope Benedict and Pryce’s Cardinal Bergoglio as they come together to shoot the shit in the wake of Pope John Paul’s death. It makes for a surprisingly entertaining film that’s at its unexpected best whenever its two leads are simply together in a room, mulling over life’s big questions and indulging their Catholic bromance.
La Belle Époque
La Belle Époque‘s intriguing premise is hard to resist: What if there was a company that, for a price, would reconstruct the greatest period of your life to your exact specification, so that you could relive it all over again? It’s the sort of question you might find at the heart of a Charlie Kaufman script, though this time the task falls to French filmmaker Nicolas Bedos, who has made a sweet, magical, and handsomely shot picture about the power of nostalgia – and our obsession with the past. Its title literally means “The Good Times,” and that’s precisely what our hero (Daniel Auteuil) goes looking for when he hires a theatrical expert (Guillaume Canet) to reconstruct the 1974-era Lyon bar where he first met his wife. Voila!
It was inevitable that Frozen, the second highest-grossing animated movie ever made, should eventually wind up with a sequel, and so Frozen 2 has finally landed in cinemas in order to cast yet another icy spell over parents and children alike. Picking up a few years after the events of the original, the plot concerns a Tolkien-esque quest to pinpoint the source of a mysterious voice. Though there isn’t really anything here to match the magic of the original (mainly because the joy of the first film derived from the general lack of expectations), Frozen 2 still delivers on humorous antics and features a whole selection of brand new earworms (though, it must be said, there’s nothing as memorable as “Let it Go,” but wasn’t that a given?).
The writer-rapper-director behind the YouTube sensation that was Shiro’s Story brings us an urban tale set in Peckham and Deptford, this time unravelling with a distinctly Shakespearean vibe as two friends – played by Stephen Odubola and Micheal Ward – are made into mortal enemies when their lives diverge during a gang war. Though lots of the film feels familiar, the appearance of Rapman himself, acting as a Greek chorus of sorts throughout, is what makes Blue Story into a true original that transcends its well-worn subject matter. At times it’s a little too on-the-nose, but if you can forgive these moments – and they are easy to forgive – you’re sure to come away feeling like you’ve just sat through something pretty special.
Noah Baumbach has already established himself as one of the defining filmmakers of his generation, turning up intellectually-minded comedy-dramas in the vein of Woody Allen and Éric Rohmer. His new film, however, might be his best work yet. Loosely based on the director’s divorce with Jennifer Jason Leigh, Marriage Story stars Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson as a couple in the midst of a complicated split, told with the insight, humour, and sadness we’ve come to expect from a filmmaker of Baumbach’s calibre. It’s a beautifully realised and complicated work, packed with outstanding performances (Laura Dern and Alan Alda are marvellous in supporting roles), not to mention a sure-fire contender for Best Picture at next year’s Oscars. Driver, especially, delivers the turn of his career.
Eyes Wide Shut
Initially derided as one of Kubrick’s weaker efforts, Eyes Wide Shut – returning to cinemas for its 20th anniversary – has since found itself reappraised and is now considered by many to be amongst the filmmaker’s best works. This dreamy, eerie psychosexual drama zeroes in on Bill Harford (Tom Cruise), a doctor whose life takes an odd turn when his wife – Nicole Kidman at her most luminous – tells him she fantasised about another man. Most of Eyes Wide Shut takes place over the course of one evening, as Bill enters a not-quite-real world (emphasised by Kubrick’s fake New York sets) filled with strange sexual encounters, and eventually comes face to face with cinema’s most infamous orgy. It’s an unforgettable odyssey with arguably the best last line in movie history, and a picture made more interesting because Cruise and Kidman were a real couple at the time.
This post was categorised in Features.