LFF 2018: Widows

Year: 2018
Directed by: Steve McQueen
Starring: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Daniel Kaluuya, Colin Farrell

Written by Dave Curtis

Back in 2011, I was a runner in a post-production house in London. At the same time, an up and coming director had finished filming his second feature film and was deep into the sound mix. This man would go on to win an Oscar and become one of the most wanted directors in the industry. His name was Steve McQueen.

He was just finishing Shame, his second link up with Michael Fassbender. (The first being ‘Hunger’). Steve was nice enough to answer all my questions. He enjoyed Nandos most days (he likes his chicken dry with no spices if you were wondering) and most importantly he was polite to the runners (many directors were not). It’s fantastic to see him doing so well. After the success of 12 Years a Slave it seems he has the pick of any actors or project he wishes. Fast forward to 2018 and his new film Widows opens the London Film Festival, a great honour for any British director.

Based on a British TV series from the 80s and popular book, Widows has been relocated to Chicago from London. Viola Davis plays Veronica, a recent widowed wife whose thief husband (Liam Neeson) died with his gang in their latest heist. After being threatened by a local gangster, the wives take on their husbands debts.

McQueen’s latest feels like his least personal project but also his most ambitious. It has given him the chance to try something different and use all his tricks that he has learnt from his previous films. When Widows is at its best it really does soar. The all-star cast elevates it and the smartly written script really cements it as a solid film. McQueen’s control shines through, a man so comfortable and confident in his abilities as a director.

The film starts with a bang and the tone is set.  The pacing rarely lets up and that is mostly down to the cast. Coming off the back of an Oscar win for Fences, Viola Davis once again delivers a performance which she has come to be known for. The backbone she gives Veronica is also the backbone to the film; strong and unwavering. She also has eyes of steel which are so intense. Out of a cast of so many it is always hard to mention just a few. Daniel Kaluuya is truly menacing as Jatemme Manning (the brother to Brian Tyree Henry’s Jamal Manning). He surely is the best Britain has to offer at the moment. Elizabeth Debicki offers some laughs as Alice, a fellow widow. She clearly is having fun in the role.

The director of photography Sean Bobbitt work also stands out, the camera work is exciting and ambitious. Some of the shots are inventive, in particular a scene which involves Colin Farrell having a very heated discussion in his car. The editing is also smooth which helps with the pacing and some of the music and song choices are very clever.

What Widows does well, is overshadow the very few flaws it has. Some of the characters aren’t really all there, I know the original husbands aren’t really it in but a bit depth to their backgrounds would have helped (Jon Bernthal is once again under used). Also, dare I say it, but some of the twists and shocks were a little predictable.

This is a fine piece of cinema where a great director has assembled a stunning cast who all contribute. There are no weak links. Widows is a character-driven heist film, not the other way around (the heist comes second). That doesn’t stop it being exciting, it’s very brutal and feels uncomfortably real for its entire runtime.

DAVE’S RATING:

4

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The Headliners & Hidden Gems At The 62nd BFI London Film Festival

Yesterday saw the announcement of the full line-up of films for the 62nd BFI London Film Festival (LFF), and boy is there a ton to get your teeth stuck into! But this year we have even more reason to be excited as JUMPCUT will attending and covering the festival for the first time ever!

We’ll be covering a whole range of films screening at the festival, including some of the headliners and hidden gems! JUMPCUT’s LFF Queen Sarah has kindly picked out just some of the films she thinks you are going to want to keep your eye on!

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The Headliners

Widows
Directed by: Steve McQueen
Starring: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Colin Farrell, Daniel Kaluuya

Why it is worth a watch: I mean that cast list alone is worth the admission price, but this female-fronted action thriller is also helmed by the man who brought us 12 Years a Slave, a film which previously enjoyed awards success. But the talent doesn’t end there, Widows is penned by Gone Girl writer Gillian Flynn and Hans Zimmer provides the score. This is an action movie of the highest calibre and one that will be well worth your time and money.

Screening at LFF: 10th, 11th, 12th October
UK Wider Release Date: 6th November 2018

Stan & Ollie
Directed by: Jon S Baird
Starring: Steve Coogan, John C Reilly, Nina Arianda, Shirley Henderson, Danny Huston

Why it is worth a watch: An ode to cinema, entertainment, and with two leading actors known for their brilliance as physical comedians, Stan & Ollie seems like the perfect film to close out London Film Festival. Coogan and Reilly bring beloved comedians Stan Laurel and Ollie Hardy to life on the big screen, focusing on the twilight years of their career. This is set to be a real crowd-pleaser and the most fitting curtain call for the festival.

Screening at LFF: 21st October
UK Wider Release Date: 11th January 2019

The Favourite
Directed by: Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring: Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz

Why it is worth a watch: A divisive filmmaker, but certainly one that gets people talking, Yorgos Lanthimos brings his third English-language film in four years to the London Film Festival. With stand-out performances from Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone, The Favourite promises to be bizarre, bonkers, and brilliant!

Screening at LFF: 18th, 19th, 21st October
UK Wider Release Date: 1st January 2019

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Directed by: Joel and Ethan Coen
Starring: Tim Blake Nelson, Liam Neeson, Tom Waits, Zoe Kazan, Bill Heck

Why it is worth a watch: It’s the Coen Brothers! In all seriousness, the latest from the incomparable Coens promises to be wild (west) entertainment, hilarious, offbeat, and surprisingly melancholic. Dark humour and the trademark Coen brothers flair will be here in abundance

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Screening at LFF: 12th, 13th, 21st October
UK Wider Release Date: TBA

Beautiful Boy
Directed by: Felix Van Groeningen
Starring: Steve Carell, Timothee Chalamet, Maura Tierney, Amy Ryan

Why it is worth a watch: Just try and get through the trailer to this one without crying. Sometimes you just need to let it all out, and this will be the film that gets audiences at LFF reaching for the tissues. Starring man-of-the-moment Timothee Chalamet, hot off the heels of last year’s Call Me By Your Name, and Steve Carell in what is set to be another great dramatic role for him, Beautiful Boy will be the one to watch for those early Best Actor hints…

Screening at LFF: 13th, 14th, 16th October
UK Wider Release Date: 18th January 2019

Suspiria
Directed by: Luca Guadagnino
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Mia Goth, Jessica Harper, Chloe Grace Moretz

Why it is worth a watch: Full disclaimer, I am a massive horror wuss and will therefore not be seeing this on the big screen, but it would be very remiss of me not to mention it here. There is no denying the trailer is stunning, and the hype levels amongst the JumpCut team have reached fever-pitch for this one. It won’t be for everyone but it’ll certainly be a talking point. And also it has Tilda Swinton in it; you can’t go wrong!

Screening at LFF: 16th, 17th, 19th October
UK Wider Release Date: 16th November 2019

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The Hidden Gems

Wild Rose
Directed by: Tom Harper
Starring: Jessie Buckley, Sophie Okonedo, Julie Walters

Why it is worth a watch: After impressing in Beast, Jessie Buckley stars in what is set to another impressive film. A Glaswegian single mum dreams of being a country singer, how hard could it be?! This is the sort of film that will make your heart soar, and with Julie Walters also appearing, it is hard not to draw comparisons with the underdog story of Billy Elliot. This film is already set to be one of the truly underrated gems of the festival.

Screening at LFF: 15th, 16th, 20th October
UK Wider Release Date: 8th February 2019

The Hate U Give
Directed by: George Tillman Jr
Starring: Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, KJ Apa, Common

Why it is worth a watch: Adapted from Angie Thomas’ ‘Black Lives Matter’-inspired Young Adult novel, this film certainly feels like an important one, and one which is sadly still so relevant. Focusing on the young lives affected by the tragic shootings of their peers, the BFI are also offering £5 tickets to see this one for 16 to 25 year olds. Even outside of this age range, this film has a lot to offer, promising to be a powerful and timely watch.

Screening at LFF: 20th, 21st October
UK Wider Release Date: 26th October 2018

Assassination Nation
Directed by: Sam Levinson
Starring: Odessa Young, Suki Waterhouse, Hari Nef, Abra, Bella Thorne

Why it is worth a watch: Don’t let the early trigger warnings put you off, this is a film that bears everything upfront and then unleashes all hell. Assassination Nation is the Salem witch trials meets the digital generation in this thoroughly modern cautionary tale, and one which is poised to join other teen cult classics such as Heathers and Spring Breakers. Subversive and utterly unique, this could be one of the surprise hits of the festival.

Screening at LFF: 19th, 20th, 21st October
UK Wider Release Date: 23rd November 2018

Burning
Directed by: Lee Chang-dong
Starring: Yoo Ah-in, Jeon Jong-seo, Steven Yeun

Why it is worth a watch: This film wowed audiences at Cannes, which is often the mark of a successful festival film! This lean slow-burning thriller promises to have you gripped right from the start, as well as exploring complex themes such as obsession, class-conflict and suppressed male rage. It will be unlikely to have a wide cinema release, so catch this one at the festival whilst you can!

Screening at LFF: 19th, 20th October
UK Wider Release Date: 1st February 2019

Mandy
Directed by: Panos Cosmatos
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache

Why it is worth a watch: Yes, Nicolas Cage. Stop reading now! Just kidding, this synopsis alone is enough to make you want to see it so we’re not even going to add to it: “In a mountain-cabin idyll, lumberjack Red Miller (Nicolas Cage) lives in perfect harmony with his great love Mandy (Andrea Riseborough). But the couple’s blissful utopia is cruelly shattered when a ragtag band of Satanic cultists invade their humble abode and claim Mandy for their own. Traumatised and distraught, Red is left with no option but to exact a bloody revenge.” (Michael Blyth, BFI)

Screening at LFF: 11, 12, 17th
UK Wider Release Date: 12th October 2018

Blaze
Directed by: Ethan Hawke
Starring: Ben Dickey, Alia Shawkat, Sam Rockwell

Why it is worth a watch: Ethan Hawke is having quite the year, and fresh from his acclaimed performance in First Reformed, his latest directorial offering his heading to LFF. This biopic about a little known musician is shot with affection and true passion that is hard to replicate, and quite frankly anything Ethan Hawke is passionate about, we love already!

Screening at LFF: 20th, 21st October
UK Wider Release Date: TBA

Viola Davis Assembles Her Heist Crew In New Trailer For Steve McQueen’s ‘Widows’

“From Academy Award¼-winning director Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave”) and co-writer and bestselling author Gillian Flynn (“Gone Girl”), comes a blistering, modern-day thriller set against the backdrop of crime, passion and corruption: “Widows” is the story of four women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands’ criminal activities. Set in contemporary Chicago, amid a time of turmoil, tensions build when Veronica (Oscar¼ winner Viola Davis), Alice (Elizabeth Debicki), Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) and Belle (Cynthia Erivo) take their fate into their own hands and conspire to forge a future on their own terms.”

Directed by: Steve McQueen

Cast: Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Colin Farrell, Garret Dillahunt, Liam Neeson, Jon Bernthal, Daniel Kaluuya, Michelle Rodriguez, Carrie Coon

Release Date: November 9th,  2018

First Trailer For Steve McQueen’s Star Studded ‘Widows’ Arrives!

“From Academy AwardÂź-winning director Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave”) and co-writer and bestselling author Gillian Flynn (“Gone Girl”), comes a blistering, modern-day thriller set against the backdrop of crime, passion and corruption: “Widows” is the story of four women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands’ criminal activities. Set in contemporary Chicago, amid a time of turmoil, tensions build when Veronica (OscarÂź winner Viola Davis), Alice (Elizabeth Debicki), Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) and Belle (Cynthia Erivo) take their fate into their own hands and conspire to forge a future on their own terms.”

Directed by: Steve McQueen

Cast: Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Colin Farrell, Garret Dillahunt, Liam Neeson, Jon Bernthal, Daniel Kaluuya, Michelle Rodriguez, Carrie Coon

Release Date: November 9th,  2018

33rd Independent Spirit Awards Winners Revealed

‘Get Out’ won big at last night’s Spirit Awards, taking home ‘Best Feature’ and ‘Best Director’, with many hoping to the film repeats this success at tonight’s Oscars! Frances McDormand won ‘Best Female Lead’ for her performance in ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’, and Sam Rockwell took home the award for ‘Best Supporting Male’.

TimothĂ©e Chalamet beat Daniel Kaluuya, Robert Pattinson, James Franco, and Harris Dickinson to take home the award for ‘Best Male Lead’ for his role in ‘Call Me By Your Name’. The film also took home the prize for ‘Best Cinematography’ by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom. If there was one, Chalamet would also have won the award for ‘Most Tweeted About’ during the ceremony, in which he FaceTimed a shirtless Armie Hammer, apologised to the wet floor for almost slipping, and dramatically presented Sam Rockwell his award.

Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani received a standing ovation from the entire audience as they were announced the winners of ‘Best First Screenplay’ for ‘The Big Sick’ and Greta Gerwig was awarded the ‘Best Screenplay’ award for ‘Lady Bird’ . You can see a full list of the nights winners below!

We have a matter of hours to wait now for the biggest film award show of the year, The Oscars!

BEST FEATURE: Get Out

BEST DIRECTOR: Jordan Peele (Get Out)

BEST FEMALE LEAD: Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

BEST MALE LEAD: Timothée Chalamet (Call Me by Your Name)

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE: Allison Janney (I, Tonya)

BEST SUPPORTING MALE: Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

BEST SCREENPLAY: Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird)

BEST EDITING: Tatiana S. Riegel (I, Tonya)

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: Faces/Places

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Sayombhu Mukdeeprom (Call Me by Your Name)

BEST FIRST FEATURE: Ingrid Goes West

BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY: Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick)

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD: Life and Nothing More

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD: Mudbound

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM: A Fantastic Woman

PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD: Summer Shelton

KIEHL’S SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD: Justin Chon

JEEP TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD: Jonathan Olshefski

BONNIE AWARD: Chloé Zhao

SEATTLE STORY AWARD: Matty Brown

Black Panther

Year: 2018
Directed by: Ryan Coogler
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis,
Martin Freeman

WRITTEN BY ANDREW GARRISON

While this is far from the first black superhero movie, it is still very important. Diversity is a gift, allowing us to see new stories and points of view we may have not yet considered. It opens our world to new exciting possibilities. Marvel Studios has grown increasingly diverse over the past decade, but this is the first time a primary non-white protagonist emerges. I was excited about this movie even before ‘Captain America: Civil War’ arrived. I thought Black Panther was a character the Marvel universe needed. Coming into this movie with high hopes, it did not disappoint.

‘Black Panther’ follows the return of T’Challa (Boseman) to his home, Wakanda, after the events of ‘Captain America: Civil War’. He is to be crowned king but must face the mistakes and adversaries of the past and attempt to guide his people toward the right future. This film has the most talented cast that Marvel has used to date. Chadwick Boseman plays the Black Panther very well. He dives into the character and never lets up. The main antagonist is Erik Killmonger played by Michael B. Jordan who delivers a stirring performance. Lupita Nyong’o is incredibly cool throughout this film, she nearly steals the movie from Boseman, which is an impressive feat all its own. You know you are watching something special when the secondary characters feature the likes of; Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Daniel Kaluuya, Andy Serkis, and Martin Freeman. Everyone did wonderful work in their roles.

This film may be fantasy, but it is loaded with profound concepts for the world we live in. Things that needed to be said and heard by the masses were exposed. This movie highlights some ugly truths about our own world. Things we need to accept as issues and then get to work finding resolutions. Granted it is early, but the cinematography, set designs, costumes, and makeup are flawless throughout this film and I hope will receive some award nominations in the future. You don’t just learn about Black Panther and his close circle, you learn about the spiritual, political, and social culture of Wakanda in stunning detail. This is a very fleshed out world, better than anything Marvel has done to date in this regard.

The music throughout this film is aesthetically pleasing, perfectly sewn into the film at the right moments. Combine that with excellent sound and CGI, and you have a film that is well-made all around. There are humor and action throughout, but the humor is tamed. It knows when it can be funny and when it needs to be serious. (Think ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ and not ‘Thor: The Dark World’.) The film mixes in periods of drama and character development with intense actions scenes. Marvel has gotten a bit more brutal in recent years. The violence was still very much PG- 13, but it was very much fitting of that rating. When the action goes down, it is some of the most impressive I’ve seen from any superhero film to date.

While I enjoyed ‘Black Panther’, it does have a few issues. Anyone familiar with these Marvel movies over the past decade knows they have some flaws. Without spoiling anything, this movie carries on a recurring Marvel issue regarding the fate of it’s villains. This by no means ruins the movie, but it is a fact that Marvel isn’t going unnoticed amongst fans.

While I tried to avoid a lot of news about this film, I was hearing a lot of hype for Killmonger as Marvel’s best villain. He has a compelling story, but there was so much of it glossed over. I wanted to know more about this character and he never fully developed as I hoped. There are a couple of decisions the movie makes that I didn’t like. I felt Marvel had built up something and then wasted a great opportunity. While not often, sometimes the camerawork would be erratic and hard to follow. ‘Black Panther’ wasn’t just a Marvel superhero movie, it was a rattling of the cages type film. It spoke a lot of truth that we often sweep under the rug about the world we live in. It raises awareness and then offers the global society an olive branch. ‘Black Panther’ is well-crafted in every sense of the word. Director Ryan Coogler continues to astound, and this may be the most beautiful Marvel movie made yet.

ANDREW’S RATING: 8.8/10

Killmonger Takes On T’Challa In Brand New ‘Black Panther’ Trailer

“T’Challa, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king.”

Directed by: Ryan Coogler
Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Andy Serkis, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Forest Whitaker, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Bassett, Martin Freeman, Sterling K. Brown
Release Date: 16th February 2018

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