In life, there are only two types of people, those who can’t see the fun or the point in rom-coms, and those who literally cannot get enough of them. Those who hate the genre will simply never get the fuss and find the whole thing rather cringeworthy at the best of time; others, like yours truly, will defend the humble rom-com until the cows come home, especially if they happen to star the brilliantly versatile and always likeable Reese Witherspoon. Written and directed by first-time filmmaker Hallie Meyers-Shyer, Home Again is flimsy and somewhat poorly executed farce, which despite its shortcomings managed to be deeply charming and given half a chance will eventually win you over.
Hitler’s rule over Europe was nothing short of horrifying for those who lived in fear of their lives. In David Leveaux’s The Exception, those times of brutal uncertainty peer through the lens with tense ambiguity reaching beyond the facade of regimented orders to show a touch of nuanced humanity.
Set in 1940’s Holland, the exiled Kaiser Wilhelm II, played with effortless fervour by Christopher Plummer, mellowing in his twilight years, hungers to be restored to his German Throne. His ever-loyal wife Princess Hermine (Janet McTeer) staunchly stands by his side, reprimanding him for his blasé attitude and his runaway opinions. With a constant threat lingering on his life through assassination attempts, Captain Stefan Brandt (Jai Courtney) is assigned to protect him by the SS. In the midst of the household is a Dutch maid, Meike de Jong (Lily James), a firm favourite of the Kaiser who becomes entangled with a romantic dalliance with Brandt, but with the threat of a spy lurking in the town.
On the surface this bizarre little Russian film could be misinterpreted as a strange fetish tale about a woman with a tail – not just a tiny one like that of Jason Alexander’s in Shallow Hal, but a full-length animalistic tail, fleshy in colour and with a mind of its own. This emotive story ventures deeper than that. It’s a story of how single women of a certain age are perceived and the aching loneliness that envelopes its victim with the longing to just fit in.
Ambitiously, writer and director Ivan Tverdovsky has tenderly touched on the story of Natasha (Natalya Pavlenkova), a middle-aged, drably dressed woman who still lives at home with her overtly religious mother. Bullied at work by two women who are old enough to know better and should have left their mean girls spirit in the playground when they left school. When she faints at work, she is subjected to a number of hospital visits for x-rays on her tail, raising her hopes that she could finally be able to do something about the one thing that has impacted her sad and lonely life.
Pickups is the third collaboration between actor Aiden Gillen and writer/director Jamie Thraves. Back in 2000, Thraves give Gillen one of his first big roles in the indie Low Down and the two have kept in touch between the former’s work in commercials and music videos and the latter’s perfor-mances in TV series like The Wire and Peaky Blinders.
Pickups is a frustrating mix of meta-fiction and character study where Gillen plays a variation on himself – Aiden, a famous actor preparing for his next challenging role as a serial killer. The film is keen to de-glamorise the world of the jobbing thespian by showing Aiden shuttling between a dreary flat in Dublin, a home in London he hasn’t been able to sell and a cottage where he clumsily tries to be the cool dad with his teenage son from a failed marriage.
Gemini makes the most of its low budget and largely unknown cast thanks to its Los Angeles setting and neo-noir storyline. This is Aaron Katz’s fifth feature and it deserves to be the film that breaks him out of the film festival ghetto his work has largely circulated in.
Lola Kirk is Jill, the wise, long suffering assistant to Zoe Kravitz’ Heather Anderson, a young star whose mercurial temperament makes the life of her agent, lawyers and directors hell. She needs some “Me” time with her secret girlfriend, Tracy, played by Greta Lee and has turned down a juicy film role. Something goes horribly wrong during this critical moment and Jill finds Heather gunned down in her cooler than thou Riad-style house in the Hollywood hills. Jill is now the prime suspect of the investigating detective, portrayed with urbane calm by John Cho.
After the more recent incarnations of 007, James Bond fans must be mourning the loss of the once-compulsory gadgets. The good news is that they’ve not gone away, they’ve just been moved elsewhere. To another franchise that treats them with even less reverence.
They’re now housed among a group of spies masquerading as an upper class gentleman’s outfitters, who made their first appearance a couple of years ago in Kingsman:The Secret Service. A title with everything you need to know. Its follow-up, Kingsman:The Golden Circle, has a more cryptic name, but the idea is still very much the same. In fact, even more of the same.
In the summer of 1980, one of the greatest tennis matches in the history of the game took place when two of the most accomplished players met in the Wimbledon final. In Borg McEnroe, Director Janus Metz brings the story of the two men to life in this beautifully crafted biopic and takes a look at the dynamic which existed between them on that fated fortnight. Staring Shia LaBeouf in the McEnroe role, and Sverrir Gudnason as the great Björn Borg, the film not only does a fantastic job in keeping the suspense going till the very end, but also manages to recreate the era almost perfectly, right down to the dodgy haircuts and questionable fashion sense. And it is even better if like yours truly, you had no idea who had won the infamous match all those years ago.
Check out the new Red Sparrow trailer staring Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, and Mary-Louise Parker. Ballerina Dominika Egorova is recruited to ‘Sparrow School’ a Russian intelligence…
Directed by Michael Cuesta (Homeland, Six Feet Under) and staring Teen Wolf’s Dylan O’Brien, American Assassin hopes to bring a new action hero a la James Bond or Jason Bourne, but sadly lacks the charm and humour of the first and the subtlety of the latter. Written by Stephen Schiff and adapted from Vince Flynn’s popular 2010 novel of the same name, the film tells the story of hot-headed CIA black ops recruit operative Mitch Rapp, who under the instructions of cold war veteran Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton) must learn to control his own anger and emotion in order to defeat his country’s enemies and those who personally wrong him.