Fiona’s Most Anticipated Films of Sundance 2019

Written by Fiona Underhill

It’s always difficult to predict what the ‘break outs’ of Sundance will be, but of course, excitement can be generated by finding out that your favourite directors or actors have new films coming out. So, here are my most-anticipated features of Sundance 2019.


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#1 – The Souvenir (dir. Joanna Hogg)

One of our best British directors, Joanna Hogg made two of my favourite films – Unrelated (2007) and Archipelago (2010) – both starring Tom Hiddleston – and I’m so excited that she has a new film out. The Souvenir stars Tilda Swinton (swoon) and Richard Ayoade (swoon again) and is set to have two parts, following a film student in the 1980s. Sign me all the way up.

 

#2 – The Nightingale (dir. Jennifer Kent)

Sam Claflin has recently gone from big-budget fantasy franchises to smaller films, many of which were directed by women (The Riot Club, Their Finest, Me Before You) and which have proven his acting chops (Journey’s End, My Cousin Rachel). He is back with a female director again here, The Babadook’s Jennifer Kent, in a film set in the early 19th century Australian outback. It sounds like he’ll be playing against type, in a more villainous role here as well. Cannot wait.

 

#3 – Blinded by the Light (dir. Gurinder Chadha)

The director of Bhaji on the Beach, Bend it Like Beckham, Bride and Prejudice and Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging comes a new film set in the 1980s (again) about a teenager finding his voice through the music of Bruce Springsteen. Featuring a fantastic British cast including Kulvinder Ghir, Sally Phillips, Rob Brydon and Hayley Atwell.

 

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#4 – The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (dir. Chiwetel Ejiofor)

One of my favourite British actors (I’ve seen him on stage as well as in multiple film and TV roles) is now making his feature film debut as a director. I have seen his 2013 short, Columbite Tantalite which shows his potential as a director. Set in Malawi and starring Ejiofor himself, as well as The Cursed Child’s Noma Dumezweni, the film follows a young boy who helps his village build a wind turbine after reading about them in a library book.

 

#5 – Animals (dir. Sophie Hyde)

After a decade of partying, Laura and Tyler’s friendship is strained by Laura’s new love and her focus on her novel. A snapshot of a modern woman with competing desires, at once a celebration of female friendship and an examination of the choices we make when facing a crossroads. Starring Holliday Grainger (an amazing British actress) and Alia Shawkat.

 

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#6 – Late Night (directed by Nisha Ganatra, written by Mindy Kaling)

Starring Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling. A legendary late-night talk show host’s world is turned upside down when she hires her only female staff writer. Originally intended to smooth over diversity concerns, her decision has unexpectedly hilarious consequences as the two women separated by culture and generation are united by their love of a biting punchline.

 

#7 – The Lodge (dir. Veronika Franz; Severin Fiala)

In this psychologically chilling slow burn, a young woman and her reticent new stepchildren find themselves isolated in the family’s remote winter cabin, locked away to dredge up the mysteries of her dark past and the losses that seem to haunt them all. Starring Riley Keough, Alicia Silverstone and Richard Armitage.

 

#8 – The Sunlit Night (dir. David Wnendt)

Between New York City and the far north of Norway, an American painter and a Russian Ă©migrĂ© find each other in the Arctic circle. Together under a sun that never sets, they discover a future and family that they didn’t know they had. Starring Jenny Slate, Zach Galifianakis and Gillian Anderson.

 

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#9 – Velvet Buzzsaw (dir. Dan Gilroy)

This film reunites Dan Gilroy with his Nightcrawler stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo. A thriller set in the contemporary art world scene of Los Angeles, where big money artists and mega-collectors pay a high price when art collides with commerce. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Toni Collette, Zawe Ashton and Tom Sturridge.

 

#10 – Little Monsters (dir. Abe Forsythe)

Starring Lupita Nyong’o. A film dedicated to all the kindergarten teachers who motivate children to learn, instill them with confidence and stop them from being devoured by zombies.

 

#11 – Mope (dir. Lucas Heyne)

Two ‘mopes’ – the lowest-level male performers in the porn industry – set their sights on an impossible dream: stardom. StarringNathan Stewart-Jarrett, star of two of my favourite TV series of all time; Misfits and Utopia.

 

#12 – Sweetheart (Director: JD Dillard)

Jenn has washed ashore on a small tropical island and it doesn’t take her long to realize she’s completely alone. She must spend her days not only surviving the elements, but must also fend off the malevolent force that comes out each night. Starring Kiersey Clemons(Hearts Beat Loud) and Emory Cohen (Brooklyn).

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LFF 2018: Wildlife

Year: 2018
Directed by: Paul Dano
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Carey Mulligan, Bill Camp, Ed Oxenbould

Written by Sarah Buddery

Arguably one of the most underrated actors out there, Paul Dano brings his directorial debut to LFF, also competing in the First Feature category. Known for choosing diverse and interesting roles, Dano equally brings a unique perspective to the family drama in the exceptionally beautiful Wildlife.

Initially painting the picture of idyllic family life, Wildlife is a slow burning film that gradually and carefully peels back the layers as the cracks begin to show, and the initial muted pastel colour palette eventually giving way to something richer and darker alongside this.

We view the story through the eyes of teenager Joe (exceptionally played by relative newcomer Ed Oxenbould), as his mother Jeanette (Mulligan) and Jerry (Gyllenhaal) start to drift apart from each other. This is a bold and deliberate move on Dano’s part to tell the story in this way, and indeed it is the innocence of Joe that helps make this story so captivating. Both Jeanette and Jerry visibly change throughout the course of the film, and when viewed through Joe’s eyes, we see his subtle change as well as he grows and becomes self-sufficient.

Wildlife is a devastating portrait of a fractured family unit, and the exquisitely crafted characters are written and played with such a richness. Mulligan, in particular, is absolutely sensational. There is a wonderful subtlety to her reactions, and indeed across all of the performances in this film, it is perhaps the silence and the moments of lingering pause that speak louder than anything else. It is so much a film about the things left unsaid, and there is a beautiful quietness to the writing of Dano and Zoe Kazan, and Dano’s tender direction.

This is an accomplished debut from Dano, and it takes great boldness and courage to keep things this paired back and simple, whilst still showing a great eye and visual flair. Wildlife is quietly devastating, tonally melancholic and truly beautiful in its depiction of brokenness. The directorial career of Paul Dano will undoubtedly be watched with as much interest as his acting career following this.

SARAH’S VERDICT:

4

First Trailer For Western-Comedy ‘The Sisters Brothers’ Hits The Mark

“In 1850s Oregon, a gold prospector is chased by the infamous duo of assassins, the Sisters brothers.”

Directed by:  Jacques Audiard

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Joaquin Phoenix, John C. Reilly, Riz Ahmed

Release Date: TBA

The First Trailer For Paul Dano’s Directorial Debut ‘Wildlife’ Has Arrived

“IFC Films presents WILDLIFE, the directorial debut of Paul Dano (THERE WILL BE BLOOD, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE), co-written along with Zoe Kazan (THE BIG SICK). Elegantly adapted from Richard Ford’s novel of the same name, Carey Mulligan (MUDBOUND, AN EDUCATION) delivers one of her finest performances to date as Jeanette, a complex woman whose self-determination and self-involvement disrupts the values and expectations of a 1960s nuclear family. Fourteen-year-old Joe played by newcomer Ed Oxenbould, is the only child of Jeanette (Mulligan) and Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal)—a housewife and a golf pro—in a small town in 1960s Montana. Nearby, an uncontrolled forest fire rages close to the Canadian border, and when Jerry loses his job—and his sense of purpose—he decides to join the cause of fighting the fire, leaving his wife and son to fend for themselves. Suddenly forced into the role of an adult, Joe witnesses his mother’s struggle as she tries to keep her head above water. With precise details and textures of its specific time and place, WILDLIFE commits to the viewpoint of a teenage boy observing the gradual dissolution of his parents’ marriage. 

Directed by: Paul Dano

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Carey Mulligan, Bill Camp, Ex Oxenbould & Zoe Margaret Colletti

Release Date: October 19th, 2018

Stronger

Year: 2017
Director: David Gordon Green
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany, Miranda Richardson

Written by Fiona Underhill

To be honest, by far the main reason I went to see this film was the live Q&A afterwards with Jake Gyllenhaal. This film hadn’t massively appealed to me beforehand (apart from my love for Jake) because it did seem to be that classic “able-bodied movie star plays a real-life disabled person in blatant Oscar bait”. This is the same reason that wild horses could not drag me to see the upcoming ‘Breathe’ with Andrew Garfield. I know disabled film writers who are very uncomfortable with all films about disabled people having to be ‘inspirational’ and ‘heroic’, instead of representing disabled people as nuanced and flawed humans. The other reason for my discomfort is that this is already the second film we have had on the very recent Boston marathon bombings. It seems soon to be unpicking a complex situation and casting very clear heroes and villains.

However, after hearing Gyllenhaal speak, as a producer as well as star of the film, it is clear that he got to know the real-life Jeff Bauman very well during the development of this biopic. Also, Jeff is portrayed as a deeply flawed person, even after the tragic events that result in his legs being amputated above the knee. Before the marathon, Jeff is a young guy who works at Costco (which turns out to be extreme lucky due to their excellent health insurance), drinks too much and has an on again-off again girlfriend, Erin (‘Orphan Black’s’ Tatiana Maslany). For a significant amount of time after the bombing, he is still pretty much the same and quite unlikeable. If anything, he’s more hard-drinking, argumentative and prone to tempers and depression. Additionally, the realities of being a wheelchair user in a tiny apartment on the second floor are not shied away from, including using the toilet and shower.

Some of the most effective parts of this film come in the immediate aftermath of the bombing, when Jeff is in hospital. I found out from the Q&A that they used many of the real doctors and nurses that attended Jeff to add authenticity to these scenes. There is an excruciating section in which Jeff has his bandages changed for the first time and it is shot from his point-of-view, mostly blurred, with the doctors’ soothing tones coming from off-screen. The physical therapist who helps Jeff in the following weeks and months is also played by the real-life person. I was delighted to see Miranda Richardson, playing very much against type as Jeff’s alcoholic working-class Boston mother. The acting from all concerned is impressive, including Gyllenhaal of course. It will gall me slightly if he wins an Oscar for this though, when he has had far more interesting performances and films (‘Zodiac’, ‘Nightcrawler’, ‘Enemy,’ ‘Nocturnal Animals’) which have been overlooked.

It is after things come to a head with his girlfriend Erin, that Jeff hits rock bottom and is forced to evaluate his life. This is when the film falls into the classic ‘disabled hero’ trope, featuring montages of him getting incrementally stronger, learning to walk on prosthetic legs and turning his life around. It is the ‘triumph over adversity’ heroics and sentimentality that don’t sit well with me. However, the film could have gone further with this and does reign it in to a degree. The film also shows Jeff’s discomfort with all of the media attention, fan mail etc labeling him a hero (he even gets a catchphrase; Boston Strong!) when he does not feel like one. In summary, Stronger is not a terrible film, but not a particularly amazing or memorable one either. It is definitely saved by its performances and occasional interesting cinematography/editing. A solid addition to a genre of film that I generally do not like.

 Fiona’s Rating: 7.0/10

Watch This Space: 9th – 15th October

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

Blade Runner 2049: Fans of the original have waited 35 years for a sequel to ‘Blade Runner’, and last week their wish was granted. It may not be receiving the best numbers at the box office, but fans and critics alike can’t help but share their love the this masterpiece. Our full review will be on site later today!

Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Whilst we know it’s not December yet, we thought we’d take this opportunity to remind you that tickets for ‘The Last Jedi’ go on sale Tuesday AM (UK), and with them comes a brand new trailer! We’ll have it up on site as soon as it hits the web!

The Mountain Between Us: Idris Elba and Kate Winslet are stranded after a tragic plane crash. They must forge a connection to survive the extreme elements of a remote snow covered mountain. ‘The Mountain Between Us’ opened in UK cinemas last Friday, and our full review will be up soon!

On TV

Monday

Se7en (1995): If you discount ‘Alien 3’ because, well, who wouldn’t, ‘Se7en’ was our introduction to a master filmmaker. David Fincher has blessed us with numerous films that rightfully earn their place on countless best films ever lists, though arguably none have managed to be as high on said lists as ‘Se7en.’ It’s a crime noir starring a pre-Fight Club and Morgan Freeman as they investigate a string of murders all based on the seven deadly sins. It’s a deceptively clever thriller that keeps you engaged, guessing, and shocked at some of the truly messed up ways the sins have been visualised as murder scenes. On a personal note, ‘Se7en’ is one of my favourite films of all time. This film can be watched and rewatched countless times and you will still find new things to love about it, right up until it’s brilliant, soul-crushing climax.

 

Tuesday

Southpaw (2015): Directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, ‘Southpaw‘ is the gritty drama about a successful pro boxer who goes off the hinges after his wife is shot at a press event. Gyllenhaal delivers a strong and heavyweight performance as Billy “The Great’ Hope, a husband and father who wins titles in the ring, but ultimately loses himself outside. He’s on top of the world, beating opponents to a pulp with a fight fueled by anger. Hope must rehabilitate himself in order to take back his life and the custody of his daughter. Gyllenhaal’s character is aggressive and the onscreen punches are impressive. If you want something decent and gritty that isn’t afraid to throw punches, this is your film. Catch this knockout boxing drama on Film4 at 9pm.

Wednesday

Locke (2013): One of Tom Hardy’s most astonishing performances makes for an audacious film. Almost entirely a one-man monologue delivered over the course of a long night-time road trip. We watch as Locke slowly unravels and details of his career and personal life are revealed through a series of confessional phone conversations. Remarkable that this film was made at all and I’m very glad it was. Alongside ‘The Drop’ – one of Hardy’s best but underseen roles. Highly recommend.

Dirty Dancing (1987): An iconic soundtrack runs throughout this 80s classic, set in the 60s and telling the tale of a summer romance. Rich girl Baby meets bad boy and dirtier dancer Johnny and an illicit affair is sparked. Throw in a watermelon, a botched abortion and a corner where NOBODY puts Baby and you have one of the most quotable films of a generation. Again, if you haven’t seen it, why not? Rectify this immediately!

The Green Mile (1999): In the season of Stephen King adaptations, why not visit one of the most profound and heart-breaking? Tom Hanks (one of Hollywood’s most reliable actors) stars as Paul Edgecomb, who accompanies men down the ‘mile’, the walk cons take to the chair, to the death. When he meets the simple and naive John Coffey (played to perfection by Michael Clarke Duncan), a giant of a man accused of murdering two young girls, Paul begins to question John’s guilt.

Legally Blonde (2001): Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) has everything: hot shot law student boyfriend, top spot in a prestigious sorority house, a stellar fashion sense, and the most infectiously lovely personality. When her sure-to-be future husband unceremoniously dumps her for being too blonde, she is determined to win him back. Using her unstoppable willpower and wit, she gets into Harvard Law School, and brings all her charm, a splash of pink and her chihuahua with her. Riotously fun and positive, Legally Blonde is the perfect antidote to the darker nights.

Thursday

License to Kill (1989): Rewind 17 years before Daniel Craig made James Bond a badass, and you’ll find Timothy Dalton doing it just as good if not better this time in the darkest 007 film of all. Going up against drug baron Robert Davi with the aid of the kick-ass Carey Lowell, Dalton shoots, stabs, water-skis, parachutes and punches his way into the heart of a dangerous drug cartel to bring them down from the inside in a mission of revenge. Blistering action, brutal violence and a real film of it’s time. The world wasn’t ready for a darker 007. Well, they are now. Enjoy!

Titanic (1997): What can be said about the biggest film in the world? I can’t imagine there are many people left who haven’t seen it. It’s a classic tale of boy meets girl, girl meets enormous blue diamond, iceberg meets boat, floating door not big enough for two people. Despite all the cliches, the second half of the film is still quite thrilling and visually spectacular. Get it in your eyeballs.

Friday

GoldenEye (1995): The Cold War is over, but there are plenty of reasons for James Bond to thrill us in the wake of a 6 year absence from an early end to Timothy Dalton’s run in 1989. Old and new cast and crew come together to take 007 to new heights with classic elements laced with a new, modern twist. Pierce Brosnon re-introduces Bond to a new generation of fans going up against rogue agent Sean Bean from bringing the world to it’s knees with a hi-tech super-weapon. With death-defying stunts, loud action sequences, a rousing theme and all the martinis, girls and guns we’ve come to expect from 007, it’s a new era but one that proves nobody does it better still.

Last Action Hero (1993):  The film that easily divides many Arnold Schwarzenegger fans, this is actually far cleverer than it appears and delves into the self-parodying track of spoofing the action genre and Hollywood in general. Director John McTiernan makes sure the action is played out tongue-in-cheek as we jump from inside the silver screen and beyond when Arnie goes up against villain Charles Dance. As long as the film is understood to be a mockery of the thing it tries to be, it comes across more enjoyable than if watched to be a serious actioner. And don’t worry, there are many Arnie one-liners a plenty here. “Iced that guy, to cone a phrase!”

Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part I (2011): The Twilight Saga lives on with its second to last installment, based on the novel Breaking Dawn. Bella Swan, the average girl who fell hard for vampire stud Edward Cullen, gets married and soon becomes impregnated with a half-mortal, half-immortal child. Seen as a potential threat to the local wolf pack and humans, the Cullen family must help Bella survive her pregnancy, and protect their livelihood in Washington. The young Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson reprise their roles in this fairytale drama that grossed big box office numbers among book and film fans alike.Catch the popular endearing story on E4 at 9pm.

Gladiator (2000): It’s Friday, and we all know what that means. A cosy night in, all snuggled up in front of the TV with snacks aplenty. And what better way to spend your Friday evening by watching Ridley Scott’s epic ‘Gladiator’, a 155-minute spectacle that throws you into the gladiator pits of Ancient Rome. With mesmerising cinematography by John Mathieson and career-defining performances from Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix, ‘Gladiator’ is an epic that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with other grand, cinematic spectacles like ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and ‘Ben-Hur’. A must-see.

 

Hiding Online / In Our Collection / Out This Week

 

Wonder Woman (2017): Yesterday we were treated to the final ‘Justice League’ trailer in which we saw Wonder Woman, along with Bruce Wayne, assemble the League to save the world. As of today, ‘Wonder Woman’ is yours to take home on DVD/Blu-ray in the UK! With it’s record breaking run at the box office almost complete, we can probably expect more records to be broken on her home release.

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994): Allllrriigghhttyy then! 1994 was a very good year for Jim Carrey. During this breakout year he starred in not one, not two, but three comedy classics. Dumb and Dumber and The Mask were great for Carrey to showcase his talents, but Ace Ventura was the one that he really was allowed to let loose in. With his rubber face cranked up to 11 and his limbs in a non stop hurricane of madness, Ace is a character that Jim Carrey looked like he had the best time playing. It shines through in his performance. The premise is simple. Ace Ventura is hired by the Miami Dolphins to find their missing mascot, Snowflake the Dolphin. What follows is 87 minutes of pure 90s gold. With support from Courtney Cox and Sean Young, Jim Carrey’s Ace Ventura Pet Detective is an easy, fun comedy which will keep you entertained for all its duration. They don’t really make them like this anymore so catch it while you can.

Fast Five (2011): The Fast and Furious franchise, whether you love it or hate it, can be an entertaining breakaway from the mundaneness of everyday life. The absurd car chases, the improbable yet insanely fun shootouts, even the fast-paced fight sequences in which the franchise is renowned for is especially present in the fifth instalment; ‘Fast Five’. Arguably the best in the now 8-film series, ‘Fast Five’ is relentless in its presentation, and with the addition of Dwayne Johnson’s hulking Hobbs joining the rest of the charismatic roster, ‘Fast Five’ rejuvenated a franchise that most felt was on its way out. Popcorn entertainment has never looked so good, so be sure not to miss it!

The Notebook (2004):  If you’re a hopeless romantic, the latest addition to the Netflix roster is for you. Adapted from a Nicholas Sparks novel (king of the rom-com), The Notebook is a story of everlasting love told in two timelines. With notes of The Princess Bride (‘Always’) and Romeo & Juliet (forbidden love), the lead characters are so irresistible to root for. Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams as Noah and Allie bring to screen one of the most authentic representations of first love and teenage love, one that is sure to make you feel sentimental. Watch this under a blanket with a hot cup of cocoa.

A huge thank you to contributors this week: Dave Curtis, Chris Gelderd, Jessica Peña, Rhys Bowen-Jones, Fiona Underhill, Corey Hughes, Sasha Hornby

wts

Okja

Year: 2017
Director: Bong Joon Ho
Starring: Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, An Seo-Hyun, Jake Gyllenhaal

Written by Fiona Underhill

‘Okja’ has been one of my most highly anticipated films of the year. South Korean director Bong Joon Ho’s ‘Snowpiercer’ is one of my favourite films. ‘Okja’ also features ‘Snowpiercer’s’ Tilda Swinton, along with Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano and ‘Breaking Bad’s’ Giancarlo Esposito – it really feels like dream casting, almost tailor-made to appeal to me.

Of course this film is unusual for several reasons – the main one being that it has been released on Netflix with little opportunity to see it on the big screen.  There are some cinema showings of it (mainly in big cities), but significantly, these have been after the film debuted on Netflix. This fact caused much controversy at Cannes Film Festival – with people debating whether it should be shown at a film festival or if it should be eligible for competition. It feels ridiculous to me that ‘OJ – Made in America’ can be considered eligible for film awards and ‘Okja’ could not be. It is absolutely time that Netflix and Amazon are recognised as the significant film production and distribution companies they now are. Certainly when they allow directors to take risks, have final cut and follow their unique vision, as they have done with Bong here. 

I have mentioned some of ‘Okja’s’ more ‘big-name’ actors above, but they are actually not the stars of the film. At the centre of the story is a 12 year old girl; Mija (An Seo Hyun) and of course – the CGI creation that is Okja. Okja is absolutely a central character in the film – she has an almost mystical connection to Mija and her eyes have been imbued with humanity, an impressive achievement by the effects team. Swinton plays Lucy Mirando – head of a large global corporation that has genetically engineered a ‘super-pig’ – enormous hippo-like creatures. She acts as if they are environmentally-friendly (leaving a minimal footprint etc) and further pervades these ‘eco’ credentials by sending 26 out to the best farmers all over the world to be raised over a period of ten years. This is turned into a competition to see who can raise the most super of the super-pigs. Mija’s grandfather is one of the farmers raising a super-pig and Okja has very much become part of their family, isolated in the mountains of South Korea. These early scenes, set in the picturesque countryside, deserve to be seen on a big screen. 

Jake Gyllenhaal plays ‘Doctor Johnny’ – a Steve Irwin dialled up to 11 – as the public face of the Mirando Corporation, ostensibly sent out to check on the health and welfare of the super-pigs. It is the most outlandish performance by an almost unrecognisable Gyllenhaal, but he does well to hint at the character’s insecurities underneath all of the bombast. The MVP for me (as is often the case), is Paul Dano, as Jay, the head of ‘ALF’ – an animal rights activist group who stage a convoluted ‘rescue’ mission. The group is a band of misfits, including one who whose extreme veganism has left him weak with hunger and a Korean translator who wields more power than he should. There is an impressive lorry chase and a sequence with Okja rampaging through a subterranean mall in Seoul – the production values of the action and CGI are as high as anything you would expect if the film were getting a wide cinema release. 

Once the action transfers to New York, Swinton gets to really stretch her acting muscles, playing both Lucy and her sister Nancy. The production design is every bit as lush and outrageous as you would expect, after ‘Snowpiercer’. Lucy puts Mija in a matching ‘Mirando-designed’ kimono for the big press event – another scene where Swinton’s character’s hubris is punctured and she comes crashing down to earth.  Swinton plays this beautifully – she is truly one of the finest actors working today.

Towards the end of the film, the message does become slightly preachy – by showing the concentration-camp-like conditions of the meat factory. Yes, there are huge problems with the commercial meat production industry and this highlights them in an unusual way. But, I’m sorry to say, ‘Okja’ is not enough to put me off my bacon. 

Although I really liked ‘Okja’, it didn’t quite meet up to my (extremely high) expectations. It did get a little too sentimental and manipulative for my tastes. Visually, it was a huge treat and the central performance by Seo Hyun was exceptional. The wider ensemble cast were also all fantastic, providing humour as well as showing the vulnerable side of seemingly powerful characters. I’m a proponent of this type of bold, risk-taking singularly visionary film-making, whatever platform it chooses and I hope we get to see much more like it. However, I was a little disappointed by ‘Okja’ – I need to keep my anticipation in check next time! 

Fiona’s rating: 8.5 out of 10

 

David Espinosa’s Latest Movie Is Set To Give Cinema Listings A New Lease Of ‘Life’ This Spring.

Establishing a prime spot at this year’s Super Bowl, ‘Life’ tells the story of a breakthrough discovery made by an international space crew; a benign single celled organism finally cements theories that life exists beyond Planet Earth. Following preliminary research, the crew soon face the desperate consequences of their discovery as they realise this particular lifeform is more intelligent than they had anticipated.

With the writers of ‘Deadpool’ and a stellar cast boasting Rebecca Ferguson, Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds, ‘Life’ promises to be one heck of a sci-fi thriller. The movie has certainly enjoyed teasing fans on social media by tweeting a healthy barrage of GIFs, one tweet earlier this week read:

It has been almost three years since Alfonso Cuaráœčn’s multi Oscar winning ‘Gravity’ rearranged cinema’s well-ordered cosmos, and of course lest we forget the ground-breaking ‘Interstellar’, ‘The Martian’ and ‘Thunderpants’. Space movies have resonated with audiences for many years and ‘Life’ appears set to add to Hollywood’s already impressive repertoire.

‘Life’ takes to UK and US movie houses on 24th March
 it’s already in my diary.

Written by Mark F. Putley

 

Top 10 Boxing Movies

Written by Patrick Alexander

Sports play a major part in the way the world works; from Superbowl Sunday to the World Cup final, pretty much everyone follows one sport or another. The problem is, the popularity of sports in general dictates that Hollywood tries and tries to churn out successful sporting movies, but sporting movies are notoriously hard to get right. That said, boxing seems to be one of the few sports that does work on film, and I’m here to prove it with 10 great boxing movies. Before we crack on with this list, I have to give some honorable mentions to a few films that didn’t quite make it into the top 10. 


Rocky III (1982): When you think of boxing movies, you naturally think of the ‘Rocky’ franchise, but we can’t have seven ‘Rocky’ films in here can we? In this third film, the villain Clubber Lang (played by Mr. T) makes a strong case for himself and this is a great film, but not quite as good as some of the others in the series.

Cinderella Man (2005): One of Russell Crowe’s finest works, with a fantastic Paul Giamatti supporting role, but this film’s old-old-old school mentality lulls a hair too much to sneak into the top ten.

The Boxer (1997): Keeping it simple with the title, ‘The Boxer’ stars Daniel Day Lewis as a killer. But ‘The Boxer’ is not even his best film about being an Irish Revolutionary. I mean, come on Daniel; what kind of warped sequel to ‘In the Name of the Father’ is this? 

Okay, on with the real winners…


fatcity

10. Fat City (1972); Directed by John Huston; Starring Stacy Keach, Jeff Bridges

Synopsis: Two men, working as professional boxers, come to blows when their careers each begin to take opposite momentum.

Verdict: A real old school boxing flick and the godfather of all boxing movies, pre-dating both ‘Rocky’ and ‘Raging Bull’. Stacy Keach, as Tully, carries the film’s focus in his showdown with a young Jeff Bridges. ‘Fat City’ is everything you want it to be; non-formulaic, aware of its angle, full of classic 70s dialogue, and a rip-roaring bout that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Had the story aged better over time, ‘Fat City’ would, indubitably, deserve to be ranked higher.


the-fighter-7

9. The Fighter (2010); Directed by David O. Russell; Starring: Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg

Synopsis: A look at the early years of boxer “Irish” Micky Ward, and his brother who helped train him before going pro in the mid 1980s.

Verdict: Micky Ward sure does come off as a prick, but with Bale and Wahlberg in tow, the director Russell actually makes you want to root for Ward by the end. Dysfunctional in nature, Dicky Eklund’s portrayal absolutely ties together what would have been a rather bland stint without him. Docked points for sub-par boxing scenes by Marky Mark, ‘The Fighter’ has a candor and a degree of authenticity which allows it to keep it’s head above water among the all-time boxing greats.


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8. Ali (2001); Directed by Michael Mann; Starring Will Smith, Jamie Foxx

Synopsis: A biography of sports legend, Muhammad Ali, from his early days to his time in the ring.

Verdict: Will Smith brings to life the childhood hero of many, Muhammad Ali. We’ve all got posters on our walls of the man who could truly float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. From his “Thrilla in Manila” to his personal journeys stateside, Ali fought more powers than just Sonny Liston and Joe Frazier. Smith’s wily persona of the world-class champion lands a devastating blow on this list amongst the great boxing flicks of old.


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7. Southpaw (2015); Directed by Antoine Fuqua; Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Forest Whitaker

Synopsis: Boxer Billy Hope turns to trainer Tick Wills to help him get his life back on track after losing his wife in a tragic accident and his daughter to child protection services.

Verdict: A vociferously flashy, most glamorous, Eminem-infused battle blast, ‘Southpaw’ attacks both fast and strong. Gyllenhaal is so unbelievably ripped and his surreal training sequences totally make this film. Fighting Miguel ‘Magic’ Escobar, the fiery Colombian antagonist only makes you root for Billy Hope and his lost hope even more. Some may call ‘Southpaw’ formulaic and chalk this one up to bias based on its recent release, but Antoine Fuqua gets everything right from tight boxing sequences, to max-level grandeur, to a hard-hitting lefty landing a wonderful wallop into this top ten.


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6. Rocky IV (1985); Directed by Sylvester Stallone; Starring Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren

Synopsis: After iron man Ivan Drago, a highly intimidating 6-foot-5, 261-pound Soviet athlete, kills Apollo Creed in an exhibition match, Rocky comes to the heart of Russia for 15 pile-driving boxing rounds of revenge.

Verdict: In the fight that single-handedly ended the Cold War, Rocky goes toe-to-toe with the juiced-up Russian cyborg machine, Ivan Drago, who inexplicably felled the great Apollo Creed. Rocky lights our hearts on fire by selecting the hard way out in defeating his Russian nemesis. Through snow-clogged sprints and intense cabin training, Rocky once again shows us that there are no demons out there incapable of being defeated. A 15-round packed-punch of emotion, passion, and defeating the Soviets lands ‘Rocky IV’ a place in the throes of greatness.


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5. Undisputed (2002); Directed by Walter Hill; Starring Wesley Snipes, Ving Rhames

Synopsis: When heavyweight champion George ‘Iceman’ Chambers lands himself in prison, the resident gangster arranges a boxing match with the reigning prison champ.

Verdict: Outside of having, pound-for-pound, the greatest boxing sequence of all time in film history (and you can take that to the bank), ‘Undisputed’ brings the unique concept of prison boxing to the table, an advantage unbeknownst to any other of its contemporaries. Iceman Chambers vs. Monroe Hutchens is right up there with Balboa vs. Creed, in terms of strength of fighting skills plus high class drama. The total underdog of the list, ‘Undisputed’ will wow you with its technical, authentic feeling final round. A must-see for boxing fans everywhere.


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4. Creed (2015); Directed by Ryan Coogler; Starring Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone

Synopsis: Everyone’s favourite former World Heavyweight Champion, Rocky Balboa, serves as trainer and mentor to Adonis Johnson, the son of his late friend and former rival Apollo Creed.

Verdict: After the abomination that was ‘Rocky Balboa’, ‘Creed’ gets the franchise right back in line with technically savvy, intense boxing, led by magnificently deft camera work throwing us into all angles of the ring. Throw in real life boxer, Tony Bellow, playing the indomitable ‘Pretty’ Ricky Conlon across the ring from Adonis Johnson (Creed), and the authenticity levels are unparalleled. With great training montages, including a dirt bike sidled run up the steps to victory, ‘Creed’ supplants not only Southpaw as the best boxing flick of 2015, but perhaps may be the #1 boxing picture of the past decade.


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3. The Hurricane (1999); Directed by Norman Jewison; Starring Denzel Washington, Liev Schreiber

Synopsis: The story of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a boxer wrongly imprisoned for murder, and the people who aided in his fight to prove his innocence.

Verdict: One of the better “outside the ring” stories of the bunch, elevated by a Mt. Rushmore performance by Washington. Washington, as Rubin “Hurricane” Carter fights not only his weary opponents in the ring, but the racism and hate that imprisoned an innocent man, until love overflows to bust him out. A real knockout punch right into the sixteenth round, ‘The Hurricane’ will box a hole right into the throws of your heart.


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2. Rocky (1976); Directed by John G. Avildsen; Starring Sylvester Stallone, Carl Stone

Synopsis: Rocky Balboa, a small-time boxer, gets a supremely rare chance to fight the heavy-weight champion, Apollo Creed, in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect.

Verdict: The ultimate underdog story. The picture that made you believe you could conquer any obstacle in life by running up a few steps in front of a local museum. Bill Conti’s epic soundtrack, Rocky Balboa’s finest clash with Apollo Creed, and the city of Philadelphia’s soul combine to make ‘Rocky’ an all-timer. With Burgess Meredith, a world class stick man, and the darling Talia Shire along for the ride, Rocky conquers every mountain, both real and metaphorical on its climb to the top (well, nearly the top).


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1. Raging Bull (1980); Directed by Martin Scorsese; Starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci

Synopsis: An emotionally self-destructive boxer’s journey through life, as the violence and temper that leads him to the top in the ring, destroys his life outside it.

Verdict: A legendary, poetic performance by the menace of a boxer, Robert De Niro playing Jack La Motta. This it the film that makes any young kid want to be a boxer and perhaps evokes a raging bull inside all of us. ‘Raging Bull’ is filled with demons, relief, and a pleasantly insane narrative. Viciously brutal boxing sequences mixing slow beating and frenetic flurries of blows, plus a heart of gold, mean Scorsese’s finest work tops this list.