Blaze

Year: 2018
Directed by: Ethan Hawke
Starring: Charles Adam, Alia Shawkat, Edgar Arreola

Written by Jessica Peña

‘Blaze’ plays out like a hardy poem come to life, as much a devastating musical as a beautiful portrait of love and tragedy. But it’s a love story of so many little corners of life, mostly the ones that defined, inspired, and befuddled underground country musician Blaze Foley. Newcomer Ben Dickey portrays the late Arkansan singer and doesn’t let his lack of acting background fool you because he is a revelation here. A singer/songwriter himself, Dickey captures the inviting and sometimes unlikable spirit of Foley, strumming the chords of a loose narrative that just wrench us in the right way. If you’re keen to the music of ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ or ‘Crazy Heart’, you’ll find a comfort in the music of unsung legend Blaze Foley.

From its inception, the journey of adapting Foley’s life story is encapsulated within the structure of three different timelines in the film: Foley’s recorded performance at the Austin Outhouse (on the night he died), his long-running love with Sybil Rosen, and the guiding of an interview with Townes Van Zandt (Charlie Sexton) looking back on Foley’s life. With such effortless direction, Ethan Hawke lets the story glide over with an immense devotion to making art and not just a standard, play-by-play biopic. As those close to the singer have said, Blaze would’ve just wanted to see art. There’s something marvelous happening as the film treks on, following Blaze and then wife, Sybil Rosen, across states and rolling out the fires and joys of living in a treehouse, life on the road, and life on the rocks. His hitchhiking way of touring brought on more troubles with the bottle than a humbling career comfort.

“I don’t want to be a star. I wants to be a legend,” Foley tells Sybil in the back of a pickup truck before the throes of a lifelong meditation of wayward aches. ‘Blaze’, as much as it teases the tropes of a sad, hardened man, plays with a formula of reliving the best memories to recover the best in us. The film is a precious, rustic adaptation of Sybil’s own book, “Living in the Woods in a Tree: Remembering Blaze Foley,” where she recollects the bittersweet moments that once were.  

Ethan Hawke’s self-proclaimed “country western opera” finds itself comfortable in lush, natural stability. The warm color palette and cinematography by Steve Cosens is one of many defining charms. Dickey and Shawkat are miraculous with chemistry, making it known that Sybil’s character is as much a highlight as Blaze is. If ever Foley had doubts about anything, it was Sybil who reignited his ability to believe again and again that people should be listening to pure talent. She’s supremely free-spirited and has a connection with Blaze that becomes just as much of a key component to the film as the musician’s many profound songs (all part of an amazing soundtrack). Even if Sybil ever questioned the beating energy of confidence, Blaze would amuse her and say it’s the feeling of being alive in the moment. And just like that, their adventures through woodsy whimsy and priceless moments entangled into a lifelong muse. It’s their love story written out like a memory and then pieced together in a heartrending puzzle.

The story of this ‘Duct Tape Messiah’ as told through the lens is almost too relished in its lingering pace midway through. If not that, audiences may not find it all that important if the style isn’t their cup of tea. It’s basked in its own backwoods style, revolting against high standards as much as Blaze Foley himself saw the outside world. The peculiar directorial choices Hawke takes are unmistakingly a comment to a bigger picture, a wider understanding. Seeing Blaze take the stage for the last time becomes something less about himself and more about the veering existence of everyday joes at the dive bar that same night. A subtle, interchanging transition, but still on par with its narrative.  

‘Blaze’ is a deserving remembrance of a man we may not have known, but spirited by a swan song legacy, we come out on the other side so touched. Ethan Hawke is surely putting out his best directorial work to date, resting on a handful of past projects but nonetheless showing an artistic precision. Ben Dickey and Alia Shawkat are mesmerizing as they live within their characters, breathing life to the best scenes of the film. ‘Blaze’ is noticeably a personal piece of work, handled with care, and the way Hawke rests this project on us is a sight to behold.

JESSICA’S RATING:

4

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!

FotoJet (2).jpg

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

.
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

FotoJet (3).jpg

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

First Reformed

JC-FEATURED-IMAGE-new

Year: 2018
Directed by: Paul Schrader
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, Cedric the Entertainer, Michael Gaston

Written by Jessica Peña

In Paul Schrader’s ‘First Reformed,’ we are greeted with a heavy despair and loss of faith through another venture in character study as told through the general perspective of Reverend Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke). The screenwriter behind Martin Scorsese’s critically acclaimed ‘Taxi Driver,’ with a hefty credit on Scorsese’s ‘Raging Bull,’ brings us his latest directorial effort in yet another depiction of “God’s lonely man.” We’ve seen the austere deterioration of Travis Bickle in ‘Taxi Driver’ where a world of sin and unjust things crept into his psyche. Here in ‘First Reformed,’ the influences of modern world environmentalism and spiritual radicalism collide in a message-heavy script. It asks big questions with big intentions, but may come off slightly pretentious toward its end, with the tendency to lose a general audience. Ultimately, there’s some stellar composition of ideologies to think on, a dreadful spiral akin to ‘Taxi Driver,’ and a steely career performance by Hawke to admire here. An ‘arthouse Taxi Driver’? Sure, but not nearly as masterful.

Toller works the service and tours at a small church in upstate New York, what was once a historical stop through the Abolitionist Movement. He’s experienced his own worst times since his son died in Afghanistan, his wife divorced him, and his health is seemingly in decline. The only line of hope is the funding and support he receives from the local megachurch ran by Reverend Joel Jeffers (Cedric Kyles). One day, he meets with one of his parishioners, Mary (Amanda Seyfried), in the hope that he’ll find time to speak with her environmental activist husband Michael (Philip Ettinger). The film begins its effect on Toller’s faith as Michael admits that he doesn’t wish for the baby they’re expecting to be born into such a damaged world. He confesses his disbelief of any good in all of society, sitting across Toller, with all of his pinned research and climate radars on the laptop behind him. Ettinger, for the time he has onscreen, is vulnerable as Michael, worrisome, visibly unstable and uncertain in regards to his future. He looks sickly as the manifestation of his radical intentions overrule. With this in mind, Toller feels it is now his duty to council Michael, not expecting what follows to be his breaking point.

Schrader’s religious background is evident in the translation from literary forms to the cold, cruel narrative that fuels ‘First Reformed.’ He’s infused it with a callback to the 1951 French film ‘Diary of a Country Priest’ directed by Robert Bresson, in which an outsider priest is unwelcome, criticised, blamed for unfortunate events, and crippled into devastation. Although not entirely original in its conception, ‘First Reformed’ nonetheless offers us the tragic story of defeated hope and how climate, environmental or political, can echo through our own morality. Its isolating scenes carefully keep us close by Toller and his walk on a thin rope.

Hawke taps into an otherworldly side of his acting that showcases a reversal in faith within his character. It’s up to perspective whether Toller truly is within his character to derail so abruptly. His demeanor is secretive and felt as an obligation to both Michael and to the world so many people leave behind. “Can God ever forgive us?” he asks Reverend Jeffers, a very convincing and supportive turn by Cedric Kyles. It’s deep within Toller’s own shortcomings in life that have paved the tenacity for his disarmament. He has an illness he tries to ignore by simply downing more scotch, maybe with a dash of Pepto Bismol. We come to know of his past affair with Esther (Victoria Hill), who works at Jeffer’s fancy Abundant Life church. Toller begins to push her and everyone else aside as he tries to understand God’s answers and just how agonizing the world has truly become.

As mentioned earlier, it is no ‘Taxi Driver,’ but Paul Schrader’s ‘First Reformed’ is a heavy story with loads to unpack, maybe even daring to ask us about the state of the world’s quiet disasters. It doesn’t give us anything quite new, but the journey into despair is engaging enough. Its morbid curiosity for the downfall of man plays well and you can tell Schrader is confident in his work, even in its most divisive moments.

Jessica’s Rating

3

First Trailer for Paul Schrader’s ‘First Reformed’ Released

“A pastor of a small church in upstate New York starts to spiral out of control after a soul-shaking encounter with an unstable environmental activist and his pregnant wife.”

Directed by: Paul Schrader

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, Cedric Kyles

Release Date: May 18th, 2018

Watch This Space: August 28th – September 3rd

This week we’re excited to re-launch our weekly feature – Watch This Space. Every Monday we will be recommending films that are on TV that week, films playing at the cinema, and also remind you of those brilliant films hiding on streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, and possibly in your own collection.

In Cinemas

Rough Night: This female-led comedy finally released in the UK last Friday, with most territories getting it in June and July. You can read Fiona’s review here, in which she calls it “an enjoyable night at the cinema“.

Logan Lucky: Can Jimmy Logan shake his family’s bad luck and pull off a $14 million heist? Corey shares his thought’s in a brand new review coming later today. We’ll update this article with a link when it’s up.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day (3D Special): Arnie is back! ‘Terminator 2: Judgement Day’ has been digitally enhanced and for one day only will be screening in 3D in cinemas across the UK. The film originally released in cinemas in 1991 and is back for old fans and new to enjoy on the big screen. We’ll have a special review up later this week!

On TV

Monday

Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994): Tune in to this British rom-com classic from the 90s for sharp-scripted silliness from Richard Curtis. Yes – the film is centred around bumbling, floppy-haired Hugh Grant, but it’s the eccentric ensemble that make this film both hilarious and heartfelt. If you’ve not seen it before, where have you been? If you have seen it before – cheer yourself up by surrounding yourself with a familiar group of friends and letting it wash over you like a warm bath. Tune into this classic on Film4 at 9pm. 

Footloose (1984): Kick off those Sunday shoes and go crazy for this 80s classic with a toe-tapping soundtrack and some eye-watering fashion choices. Kevin Bacon makes an appealing central character, backed up by a supporting cast that includes early Sarah Jessica Parker and Chris Penn. John Lithgow is the standout as the preacher who has declared a Southern town to be a “no-dance” zone and if you think the rebellious teenagers are going to take that lying down, then you’re mistaken! Brighten up your life with this cheesy feel-good caper. 5Star thinks you’ll love it so much that they’re playing it twice, the first beginning at 7pm, and the second straight after at 8:20pm.

Tuesday 

Shaun of the Dead (2004):  Edgar Wright’s debut feature and first entry to his Cornetto trilogy – ‘Shaun of the Dead’, stars the hilarious duo of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. ‘Shaun’ simultaneously pays homage to and parodies the ‘of the Dead’ films from the late George A. Romero in a way that is both exciting and easy on the eye. It’s truly a must-see, and you can catch it on ITV2 at 9:00pm.

Snakes on a Plane (2006): Samuel L. Jackson says enough is enough, he’s had it with the “MOTHERFUCKING SNAKES ON THIS MOTHERFUCKING PLANE”.. Need I say more? Okay, I will.. David R. Ellis’ ‘Snakes on a Plane’ gained considerable hype before the film released in cinemas 11 years ago, and despite how quickly that hype died down once it hit cinemas, I challenge you to find anyone who doesn’t know THAT line from the film. You can swear your heart out with Jackson from 9pm on Sky1.

Wednesday

About Time (2013): Combining a romantic comedy with some light science-fiction may be a somewhat bizarre mix, but Richard Curtis’ ‘About Time’ is, for my money, one of the finest romcoms of the last decade. With winning performances from the whole cast, a great sense of humour, bags full of heart, and a very fun time travel twist, it’s hard not to fall in love with the film from the very first scene. Fair warning though, Domnhall Gleeson and Rachel McAdams will ruin your base expectations of boyfriends and girlfriends for life. You can catch ‘About Time’ on Film4 at 6:40pm

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011): This undervalued and overlooked origin story within the MCU has suffered from being overshadowed by its sequels, particularly ‘The Winter Soldier’. In my opinion, The First Avenger is the superior film. With its World War Two setting, Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter and some great CGI (the wimpyfying of Chris Evans is fantastic) – ‘The First Avenger’ is one of the highlights of the MCU. If the rumours about the upcoming Infinity War are true, perhaps you should take the chance now to remind yourself of Cap’s shining greatness before shizz gets real dark. The action begins 9pm on Film4! 

Thursday

Superman (1978): You’ll believe a man can fly all over again. Richard Donnor directs the original comic-book adaptation- 1978’s ‘Superman: The Movie’. In a time before the superhero genre churned out by the book, CGI dazzling and star-studded movies year after year, travel back to more innocent, more family-friendly era with Christopher Reeve as the greatest Man Of Steel ever. A soaring soundtrack by John Williams and a wonderful cast and story help bring Superman to life in one of the most iconic, original and memorable super-hero films you all need to see. You’ll want to switch to ITV4 at 4pm to see Reeve’s in action! 

Predator (1987): You can see how great Arnold Schwarzenegger is as an action and comedy star when you remember one year after shooting up the jungle in ‘Predator’, he was playing simple-minded Julius opposite Danny DeVito in ‘Twins’. But I digress. No family-friendly comedy here. It’s just balls to the wall action and suspense to the highest level when Arnie and his tobacco chewing, machine gun toting, foul-mouthed squad turn from hunter to hunted, going up against the alien life-form known as The Predator. With direction from John McTiernan, special effects from Stan Winston and support from the likes of Carl Weathers, Jesse Ventura and the late Sonny Landham, this is classic Schwarzenegger – when you’ve finished watching, don’t forget to “GET TO THE CHOPPA!”. Get in on the action on Film4 starting at 10:45pm

Friday

Inception (2010): This one is a no brainer… It’s on TV this week, therefore you need to watch it! Christopher Nolan assembles an impressive cast, which includes the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy and Marion Cotillard, and if that line-up alone doesn’t sell it then you’re still in for a treat. Nolan keeps your full attention for the entirety of the film’s 2 and a half hour runtime, as we venture from dream to dream and watch DiCaprio and his team attempt to plant an idea in the mind of a CEO by using their dream-sharing technology. 

Role Models (2010): Having recently watched this film again, I can whole-heartily say that this film is still as funny as it was 7 years ago. Paul Rudd and Sean William-Scott are sentenced to community service and are sent to ‘Sturdy Wings’, an organisation that pairs children with adults to help build friendships. Rudd and Scott meet their matches when paired with Augie (a LARPing geek) and Ronnie (a foul-mouthed youngster), and hilarity ensues. The fun takes place over on 5Star at 11:15pm.

Hiding Online / In Our Collection

Kill Bill – Vol I and II (2003, 2004): Do yourself a favour and watch Tarantino’s masterpieces, featuring one of cinema’s greatest creations – Uma Thurman’s The Bride. The first is the all-action, kung fu heavy whirlwind featuring mind-blowing set pieces such as the House of Blue Leaves. The second is a different beast, exploring The Bride’s relationship with the titular Bill, a tour de force by David Carradine. Choosing which is better out of the two is a Sophie’s Choice for me. Do yourself a favour and watch both. Both films arrive on Netflix September 1st

Dead Poets Society (1989): O Captain My Captain. A tender central performance by Robin Williams can get a little schmaltzy at times, but this coming-of-age poetic film is worth your time for some classic lines and heart-warming scenes. The ensemble cast of High School students is a “who’s who” of current film and TV, Ethan Hawke, House’s Robert Sean Leonard and The Good Wife’s Josh Charles all got their breakthroughs here. As an English teacher, I have to say I aspire to the level of inspiration William’s Mr Keating brings to his lessons in literature and life. ‘Dead Poet’s Society’ will arrive on Netflix September 1st. 

Bronson (2008): Nicolas Winding Refn’s stylistic masterpiece, ‘Bronson’, is a biopic that explores the anarchic life of notorious British criminal Charles Bronson, played emphatically by the sublime Tom Hardy. Whilst it might not be everybody’s cup of tea, I can’t recommend it enough. Give it a go if you think you’re hard enough.

Deep Blue Sea (1999): Whilst no other shark movie can really hold a candle to the mighty ‘Jaws’, ‘Deep Blue Sea’ is one of the better ones out there. It’s ludicrous of course, but that is exactly what you should expect and want out of a movie about harvesting the brains of DNA-altered sharks to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. It has Samuel L. Jackson, terrible CGI sharks and plenty of gruesome deaths, what more could you want really?! ‘Deep Blue Sea’ is heading to Netlfix on Friday! 

A huge thank you to contributors this week: Fiona Underhill, Chris Gelderd, Sarah Buddery, Rhys Bowen Jones, and Corey Hughes.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Year: 2017
Director: Luc Besson
Starring: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke 

Written by Fiona Underhill

Well, it’s difficult to know where to start with this one. I am a fan of the director – I loved ‘Leon’ and ‘The Fifth Element’ and I have managed to avoid his more poorly received offerings (I’m looking at you, ‘Lucy’). I haven’t read the comics that this film is based on, although they certainly sound intriguing. As for the actors involved – well I’ve only seen Cara Delevingne in a small part in Anna Karenina before this, so wasn’t really sure what to expect. I would be interested to see her play a British character in a role, as I don’t think she has yet (in any of her high-profile work). As for Dane DeHaan, well there will be more on him later. 

So I think I can sum ‘Valerian’ up by saying; The Visuals = Good Bonkers, The Plot = Bad Bonkers. Believe me, it’s all bonkers. The visuals and effects in this film are insanely rich, detailed and sumptuous – it is an absolute feast for the eyes. It is easy to see where the enormous budget was splurged in this film, but unfortunately, I don’t think there is a hope of it making much of a profit. I could make some comparisons between ‘Valerian’ and the Star Wars prequels, but having rewatched ‘The Phantom Menace’ recently (don’t ask me why), it is clear to see that CGI has moved on in leaps and bounds in the last 15 years or so. 

I don’t really know where to begin with the plot to this film. There is an alien world which relies on pearls to be reproduced by feeding one to an aardvark-like creature, who then ‘poops’ out hundreds more – yes, really. Their planet is destroyed and a small group of the aliens manage to make it to ‘The City of a Thousand Planets’ – an enormous expanding space station, in which nearly all known species of the universe are represented. They need to find the one surviving pearl-pooping creature to be able to establish a new world for their people. Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) work for the government of the human population, as special operatives and they become embroiled in the plot to protect this unique alien creature and return it to the ‘right’ hands. 

Unfortunately, the dialogue in this film leaves much to be desired. The opening sequence features a fairly excruciating scene in which Valerian and Laureline TELL the audience everything they might need to know about their characters through clunky exposition. However, I can see why – if we didn’t have the characters telling us that Dane DeHaan is a ‘ladykiller’, it may be be difficult to work this out for ourselves. Dane DeHaan appears in two films this year, in which he is the romantic lead – to Cara Delevingne (the supermodel) and to Oscar-winning actress Alicia Vikander (in ‘Tulip Fever’ – out later this year). And I’m sorry, I just ain’t buying it. Don’t get me wrong, I liked him in ‘Chronicle’. But I do  wonder who has decided he has big-budget, mainstream leading man status. 

Back to the positives – how this film looks. As well as the CGI, the costumes are also incredible. There is an awesome sequence featuring Rihanna as a nightclub entertainer, who can change her appearance at will. Surprisingly, Ethan Hawke features – in a flamboyant performance – as the nightclub owner. Luckily, this part comes in the second half, when things are starting to flag in this overlong film. As well as Delevingne, there is more British acting talent involved – Clive Owen as the Commander and Sam Spruell as the General of the military outfit Valerian and Laureline work for. I do feel slightly sorry for middle-aged men with British teeth getting close-ups in super high definition these days. I couldn’t take my eyes off a blackhead on Owen’s top lip during his scenes, which may say something about how the mind wanders during films which are at least 30 minutes too long. 

Well – ‘Valerian’ is probably going to be looked back on as a giant turkey, which isn’t entirely fair. Of course, it is garishly multi-coloured bobbins on an insanely huge scale. It is, mostly, entertaining and the visual feast is almost worth your time and money. I just wish a more charming leading man (it isn’t often you’re praying for an Efron) could have been found to helm the madness and to give you someone to root for. However, if you’re looking for a 3D spectacular – this is it. Just a shame that it came out on the same weekend as ‘Dunkirk’, a visual feast of a very different type, but still something that has harmed ‘Valerian’, I think. I hope this doesn’t end up being some sort of death-knell for Luc Besson’s career, but at the same time wonder how on earth he managed to raise such a big budget for this level of craziness. Perhaps he should go back to something on the scale of ‘Leon’ next time. THAT I would like to see.

Fiona’s rating: 6.5 out of 10

 

Watch This Space: August 31 – September 6

Welcome to your weekly go-to film guide – WatchThisSpace – where we recommend what to watch in the cinema and on the television, and remind you of those brilliant films hiding in your DVD collection.

IN THE CINEMA

Get ready for a weekend full of “youth culture” references. At the top of the bill is ‘American Ultra’, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart. Despite these big names, this film has received rather mediocre reviews across the board (6.5 on IMDb and 50 on MetaCritic). If you want a more positive opinion on this stoner-action-comedy, check out our review.

Over in America, cinema-goers have had the privilege of seeing ‘Dope’ for more than two months now, and it’s finally the turn of the UK to witness this indie film success story. A strong young cast, entertaining narrative and delightful soundtrack have seen this film garner praise from pretty much everyone, including us. Read our review here.

Another rousing success which came out of nowhere this summer, will finally hit the big screens across the UK. From a director better known for his horror works, comedy-drama ‘Me & Earl & The Dying Girl’ was hugely popular around the film festival circuits this year, and should be the pick of the weekend’s cinema releases.

ON TELEVISION

Monday 21:00 GMT: Jason Bourne crashes into your living room to get your week off to an explosive start. Tune into ITV2 on Monday night to see ‘The Bourne Identity’, the first installment of this fantastic trilogy. Once you’ve experienced this adrenaline-pumping thrill ride, you’ll be straight down the DVD store the next day to pick up the rest.

Thursday 21:00 GMT: Ian McEwan’s novel ‘Atonement’ is probably his most famous work, and much of that success is owed to this film adaptation. On More4, this is an emotional wartime drama starring two of Britain’s finest in James McAvoy and Keira Knightley. It also stars someone I know personally as an extra, so I have to suggest this one really – look out for the man on the bandstand reading the words out of a hat in the beach scene.

Friday 23:05 GMT: Film4 is showing the classic psychological thriller ‘The Sixth Sense’. If you’ve seen it before, then it’s still more than worth a watch. If you are yet to see this film however, then get ready for one hell of a ride.

Sunday 18:40 GMT: This week’s family film is out of this world, quite literally. ‘ET: The Extra Terrestrial’ is as iconic as they come, so sit back and see the weekend away in style with the family classic on ITV2.

Sunday 21:00 GMT: If you fancy something somewhat darker to see yourself into next week, then make sure you switch on Film4 this Sunday night. As far as we’re concerned here at JumpCut UK, ‘Shutter Island’ is the epitome of everything that’s right with cinema; Di Caprio, under the direction of Scorsese is surely enough to get your attention. This dark psychological thriller will have you questioning everything you deem to be real, even your own existence. You’ve been warned.

DIG IT OUT

This is our favourite part of the WatchThisSpace section. We delve into our own DVD collection and pick out some amazing films, that may not instantly spring to mind when you’re stuck for inspiration to make your movie night a success. Maybe you’ve never seen a film that we pick – or even heard of them for that matter – but you’re gonna have to trust us on this one, and Dig It Out.

The Prestige: The list of reasons we could use to get you watching this film is endless, but we’re sure the mention of ‘Star Wars’ will get your attention. Last week, the guys at ‘The Force Awakens’ HQ released a short teaser clip to Instagram, which featured the voice of Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke. Serkis may be better known for his contributions to motion-capture acting, but he is just as adept when it comes to traditional acting. Look out for him in a supporting role in this magical film.

Whiplash: On Tuesday, JK Simmons will turn 60. The writers at JumpCut UK absolutely love ‘Whiplash’ and that is in no small part down to JK Simmons and his role as the ferociously ruthless music instructor Terrence Fletcher, a performance which nabbed the Oscar for Actor in a Supporting Role at the 2015 Academy awards. Get ready to tap your feet and cover your eyes as you enjoy the ensemble of Jazz music and terrifying abuse. You can read our review of ‘Whiplash’ here.

Dead Man’s Shoes: One film that you may not have heard of, but you need to add to your DVD collection as soon as possible, is ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’. This is a gritty, British film from the messiah of the realist film industry, Shane Meadows. This grizzly tale of revenge may not be light viewing, but it’s a brilliant and enthralling film which we guarantee you will want to watch again. Paddy Considine is absolutely fantastic in this film, but if you’ve seen him in cult comedy ‘Hot Fuzz’, then be prepared to see him in a whole new light.

Training Day: Here’s one just for the hell of it. This 2001 crime-thriller is an action-packed, devastating film full of guns, drugs and violence, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. In another Oscar-winning performance, Denzel Washington stars as a rogue detective, opposite Ethan Hawke, and is just as ruthless and fearsome as JK Simmons’ ‘Whiplash’ character. If you haven’t seen ‘Training Day’ before, then you had better get with the program, quick!

This week’s WatchThisSpace was compiled by Jakob Lewis Barnes and Nick Deal

The Magnificent Seven Cast Takes Shape

This is the second remake of Akira Kurasawa’s 1954 film ‘Seven Samurai’ but Hollywood just can’t leave it alone. The John Sturges version of 1960 was packed with big stars, and that’s exactly what MGM are lining up for the January 2017 release of this gritty Western.

Director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Equalizer) will be meeting some familiar faces on set including Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Peter Sarsgaard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Luke Grimes and Matt Bomer. True Detective writer and producer Nic Pizzolata has been a part of the mix so perhaps this remake of ‘The Magnificent Seven’ will cross creepy with the unforgiving.

Written by Wan Tyszkiewicz