A claustrophobic close-up of a body, the light bouncing off the skin of an unidentified figure. This is how the film introduces us to Marvin, an aspiring actor and someone whose work is directly influenced by his upbringing. Anne Fontaine’s coming out film has its feet planted both in Marvin’s past and his present. We’re instantly thrust into his childhood and school-life as he struggles with homophobia, sexual abuse and his dawning homosexuality in working class small-town, Vosges.
Reviewed by Lee Hill
World War Two is the safe space for a great deal of recent British film, television and theatre. Last year, Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and Joe Wright’s The Darkest Hour went mano a mano to prove that while our present Oxbridge brain trust in Parliament and other corridors of power may have difficulty deciding on a latte order, times were different during the Blitz. If you dash, you can also catch actor David Haig’s play Pressure in the West End, a reconstruction of the nerve-racking planning and brinkmanship that prepared Britain for D-Day. And pub bores, particularly those whose history of cinema often begins and ends with Pulp Fiction, would lose much of their material if Band of Brothers hadn’t nailed a certain type of haunted gaze/grace under pressure/male weepie to the mast.
Freda Cooper picks her 5 must see film in this year’s London Film Festival programme.
For any self-respecting film fan, the London Film Festival is a tantalizing mix of heaven and hell. Heaven is the prospect of some wonderful films, events, red carpets and more than a sprinkle or two of good old fashioned glamour and glitz. Hell is working out how many of the 225 features in this year’s programme you can fit in without breaking the bank.
Some of the big films have already been announced. This year’s festival kicks off on 10 October with Steve McQueen’s Widows and closes on the 21st with Stan And Ollie. The American Express Gala on the 18th sees the return of festival favourite Yorgos Lanthimos with The Favourite, Mike Leigh’s Peterloo breaks new LFF ground with its screening in Manchester and the festival’s official competition includes the likes of David Lowery’s The Old Man And The Gun, Ben Wheatley’s Happy New Year Colin Burstead, Nicole Kidman in Destroyer and Sunset, the latest from Son Of Saul director, Laszlo Nemes.
But what of all the others? Whittling them just down to five must-sees is almost impossible, but we love a challenge. Here goes …….
Adapted by Ian McEwan from his acclaimed novel, based on the 1989 UK law of the same name, The Children Act asks the question: should the laws of a society, or the rules of a religion, take precedence? Set in London, around its central law courts, Emma Thompson plays Justice Fiona Maye, a High Court Judge who works on some of the most morally challenging cases, with literal life and death consequences; we are reminded of the real-life Charlie Gard, and Alfie Evans, and the public opposition those cases attracted. Early on, Fiona is tasked with rendering a ruling on the separation of conjoined twins, both of whom will die if not separated, but only one will survive if they’re parted. Faced with critical media coverage, and a heart-wrenching decision, Fiona still maintains calm as she issues her verdict; her ability to distance herself from emotion and issue a ruling show how clear-headed she is about these issues, and how seriously she takes her work in family law.
Reviewed by Lee Hill
It’s never a good sign when a film first appears at a creative friendly place like the Sundance Film Festival and then undergoes a change of title when it surfaces at your local multiplex. This is the case of The Negotiator, a ripped from “today’s headlines” (well, 70s/80s Lebanon to be exact) thriller, with a hardboiled take on Middle East realpolitk. Originally called Beirut, The Negotiator stars Jon Hamm as Mason Skiles, an idealistic American diplomat in the city circa 1972, whose life is turned upside down during a terrorist attack on his adopted home. Not only does he lose his wife, but he also loses a near adopted son, 13-year-old Karim, who turns out to be the younger brother of a key PLO member on the run.
Reviewed by Zoe Margolis
Based on the true story of Giuseppe Di Matteo, the teenage boy who was kidnapped by the Sicilian Mafia in the 1990s, and held captive for two years to prevent his father, another Mafia figure, from testifying against them in court, Sicilian Ghost Story wraps this real-life event into a fictional fantasy involving a teenage girl who is intent on finding the missing boy.
Reviewed by April McIntyre
Apostasy: “The abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief or principle” cites the dictionary, which gives audiences a hint at what to expect from director, Daniel Kokotajlo’s debut, an insight into the lives of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Kokotajo, a former Jehovah’s Witness himself for 10 years shines a light on a community about which many know very little.
The trailer for Mike Leigh’s dramatisation of the 1819 Peterloo Massacre is here. The film which is part of the official selection at Venice Film Festival,…
Reviewed by Freda Cooper (@FredaTalkingPix)
Ethan Hunt is back! It’s the sixth instalment of the Mission:Impossible franchise, but let’s put aside the logic that says there should only ever have been one film with that title. The same argument applied to the original TV series and it never bothered them, so why should Tom Cruise worry about it?
After all, this is not a series that demands too much of your thinking time. It’s all about the action, a formula that’s been paying off handsomely since 1996 and increasingly as the years have gone by. While previous offerings have been very much stand-alone affairs, it helps this time round to have seen Rogue Nation, if only to understand the interplay between Hunt (Cruise) and some of the returning characters. His long-running adversary Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) is back and this time Hunt and his trusty team of Benji (Simon Pegg) and Luther (Ving Rhames) have to make sure he’s never let loose on the world again. And there’s the small matter of some plutonium getting into the wrong hands.