LFF 2018: Wild Rose

Year: 2018
Directed by: Tom Harper
Starring: Julie Walters, Jessie Buckley, Sophie Okonedo

Written by Sarah Buddery

With A Star is Born tearing up the box office and its sights set on the big awards, Wild Rose is in many ways the UK’s answer to the Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga fronted film. Very much an underdog movie in more ways than one, Wild Rose’s story may be familiar – a small-town girl with big dreams – and whilst it doesn’t quite reach the lofty heights of the aforementioned crowd-pleaser, it is a wondrous little film that deserves far more attention than it will likely get.

Rose-Lynn (Buckley) is a feisty Glaswegian single mum who, after her release from prison, takes up a cleaning job whilst dreaming of flying to Nashville and pursuing her dreams of being a Country singer. The juxtaposition of the gloomy Glasgow skies and the “bright lights” of Nashville perfectly represent the pull between her role as a mother, and her chance to do what she loves across the pond.

What is so wonderful about Wild Rose is that Rose-Lynn’s dreams are small, she doesn’t necessarily want mega-stardom, and in fact her dreams only really span as far as getting to Nashville and there is something so charming about this. She is also someone prepared to work hard to achieve her dream, and even when the shortcuts to success present themselves to her, she approaches things with a certain degree of humility. Country music for her is her passion, her life, her reason for existing, and she simply wants nothing more than to go to the place that birthed the genre of music she treasures.

In similar stories, a character like Rose-Lynn would run the risk of seeming shallow or one-note, but she is also a person who behaves rather selfishly at times, particularly when it comes to bringing up her children. This means we as the audience feel equally torn between her two lives, much as she does herself. Julie Walters, as Rose-Lynn’s mother, provides the voice of reason in many ways, and the grounding of the character in her home-town. Watching their relationship play out is so beautiful, and the final payoff feels well-earned. There is real earnestness to these characters; they feel fleshed out and genuine, and the excellent performances are to thank for this.

Jessie Buckley as Rose-Lynn is simply revelatory. Her big voice and commanding presence seem to come out of nowhere but yet are also totally believable; her talent coming as naturally to her as breathing. She is head-to-toe “country”, but rather than appearing as if a caricature, there is an innocent quality to her that makes her so endearing. Buckley toes that line between brash and humble so beautifully, and we as the audience feel fully invested in her from the moment the film starts. Julie Walters is an absolute treasure, and as the dependable matriarch, she carries much of the film’s weight and emotion.

Wild Rose is a rapturous, crowd-pleaser of a film with toe-tapping songs and a star-making performance from Jessie Buckley, supported by the always dependable Walters. It might be a little cheesy and predictable in places, but it is a pure and spirited film that will make your heart soar and encourage you to always dream big. A truly underrated musical gem of a movie.

SARAH’S VERDICT:

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!

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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

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Year: 2018
Directed by: Oli Parker
Starring: Lily James, Amada Seyfried, Dominic Cooper, Pierce Brosnan, Colin
Firth, Julie Walters, Andy Garcia, Cher

WRITTEN BY MEGAN WILLIAMS

This is going to be a weird way to start off this review, but I have a confession to make: I’m not really an ABBA fan. I enjoy a couple of their songs but they wouldn’t be my first or even third choice of music to listen to, but despite this, still really enjoyed the film adaptation of ‘Mamma Mia!’ in 2008. Now, ten years later, Hollywood has decided we clearly needed a sequel/prequel. I call it that because of the way the plot is constructed: ‘Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again’ is set in the present day as well as the 1970’s as we are reunited with Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) as she reopens her mother’s hotel in Greece. The other plot revolves around a young Donna (Sophie’s mother, this time played by Lily James) as she graduates from University in 1979 and travels to Greece where she meets three men (one of which is Sophie’s father) and gives birth to Sophie.

For something that is a blatant cash-grab, I had fun with this charming film. The plot and songs worked well together (for the most part), and the blending of songs (most of which I didn’t know) within each scene fitted in seamlessly. Most of the cast were fantastic too although the standouts, once again, were Donna’s two best friends (played by Julie Walters and Christine Baranski in the present plot, and Alexa Davies and Jessica Keenan Wynn in the 1970’s plot). Amanda Seyfried and Lily James were fantastic and their singing voices are beautiful; they should both be featured in more musicals, and I look forward to seeing them in more films. However, this is where the positives end, unfortunately.

Nearly all of the cast were given singing parts, which is to be expected in a musical, but some of these actors should not have been granted this opportunity: Pierce Brosnan is back once again with his tone-deaf and flat voice (although it’s not for long thank goodness) but he does a passable job, acting-wise, returning as one of Sophie’s potential fathers. Dominic Cooper, who plays Sophie’s boyfriend Sky, is also not that great singing and even acting-wise. While he’s not flat, his singing and acting is very monotone and emotionless; it made me wonder whether he had signed a contract ten years ago saying he had to be in the sequel and he had had second thoughts before the filming of this one. On a final note, Hugh Skinner (who plays the young version of Colin Firth’s character) also can’t sing to save his life, and the sequence where him and Lily James perform ‘Waterloo’ is the probably the cringiest movie scene I’ve ever watched; I had my head in my hands throughout its entirety.

Overall, ‘Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!’ was a fun, charming but blatant cash-grab that, for the most part, works really well and although a couple of the cast members shouldn’t have been given singing parts, this gets overshadowed by the rest of the cast. If you’ve seen every other film that’s out at the moment but still want another trip to the cinema, I’d say check this one out.

MEGAN’S RATING:

3

Here We Go Again! First Trailer For ‘Mamma Mia’ Sequel Arrives

“Ten years after ‘Mamma Mia! The Movie’ grossed more than $600 million around the world, you are invited to return to the magical Greek island of Kalokairi in an all-new original musical based on the songs of ABBA.”

Directed By: Ol Parker

Cast: Meryl Streep, Julie Walters, Christine Baranski, Amanda Seyfried, Lily James, Dominic Cooper, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgård, Colin Firth, Alexa Davies, Jessica Keenan Wynn, Jeremy Irvine, Josh Dylan, Hugh Skinner

Release Date: July 20th, 2018

 

Paddington 2

Year: 2017
Director: Paul King
Cast: Ben Whishaw Sally Hawkins, Brendan Gleeson, Michael Gambon, Hugh Grant, Hugh Bonneville, Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters, Imelda Staunton. 

WRITTEN BY ABBIE EALES

The 2014 ‘Paddington’ film took everyone by surprise. Having had to recast the voice of Paddington himself when Colin Firth stepped away from the project, many of the already sceptical folk were worried that the end product might be a bit of a mess. However, it ended up being in many critics’ top ten lists of the year and Ben Whishaw’s voicing of Paddington left us all convinced he was the only man for the job. It was an absolute delight and has become a staple family favourite.

Given the joy with which the first film was met, this second outing had a lot to live up to. Luckily it more than exceeds expectations, with Paul King and Simon Farnaby’s script being both riotously funny, supremely touching and even politically savvy.

‘Paddington 2’ centres around the titular bear’s wish to find the perfect birthday present for his Aunt Lucy, who is still living out in Peru. Paddington is still living with the Brown family in Windsor Gardens and is a firmly established member of the community. Visiting Mr Gruber’s antique shop he finds a one-of-a-kind pop-up book (or popping book, as Jim Broadbent’s Gruber would have it) featuring London landmarks. However, upon discovering how much it would cost, Paddington decides to earn the money by getting a job to buy it for his favourite Aunt. Cue some hilarity involving first electric clippers and then a plastic bucket. Meanwhile a wonderful steam fair is opened nearby by Hugh Grant’s fading star, and neighbour to the Browns, Phoenix Buchanan. Plans for Paddington’s perfect present are then scuppered when the ‘popping book’ is stolen, leading to Paddington and the Browns working to unmask the thief.

Whishaw yet again turns in a wonderful vocal performance as Paddington, the kind-hearted bear who believes that being kind can make the world a better place. You completely fall in love with his vulnerability and optimism, ending up really rooting for the little bear.

The whole Brown family are warm and a little nuts, with more wonderful performances by Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins. Hugh Grant is magnificently unhinged as fading star Buchanan, bringing a little Machiavellian menace to his music hall shenanigans.

The production design is wonderful, from an incredible sequence featuring the ‘popping book’ itself to the Brown’s fabulous house and design of Windsor Gardens, with a less-twee Wes Anderson feel to it all.

The supporting cast are all universally incredible, with some of British comedy’s biggest names appearing in tiny, but brilliant, roles. Paul King’s previous life as director of ‘The Mighty Boosh’ really shows again, as he has an absolutely brilliant grasp of comedy timing and lends the whole affair a wonderfully off-kilter feel.

‘Paddington 2’ is as whimsical and joyous as the first film, with some genuinely hilarious moments of comedy and beautifully drawn characters. It balances this with some really great action sequences and some moments of real peril for Paddington and the Browns, which will have you both on the edge of your seat and possible shedding a tear.

It’s a film that will delight children and adults alike and will undoubtedly be a firm festive favourite for many years to come.

ABBIE’S RATING: 9.5 OUT OF 10

 

Paddington Is On A Mission In New ‘Paddington 2’ Trailer

“The much-anticipated sequel to the worldwide hit family film finds Paddington happily settled with the Brown family in Windsor Gardens, where he has become a popular member of the community, spreading joy and marmalade wherever he goes. While searching for the perfect present for his beloved Aunt Lucy’s hundredth birthday, Paddington spots a unique pop-up book in Mr. Gruber’s antique shop, and embarks upon a series of odd jobs to buy it. But when the book is stolen, it’s up to Paddington and the Browns to unmask the thief…”

Directed By: Paul King
Cast: Ben Whishaw, Brendan Gleeson, Sally Hawkins, Hugh Grant, Julie Walters, Peter Capaldie, Ben Miller, Jim Broadbent
Release Date: 10th November 2017

Production Underway On Mary Poppins Returns

Lin-Manuel Miranda has confirmed that production began yesterday (9th February) on ‘Mary Poppins Returns’, a sequel to the 1964 childhood favourite ‘Mary Poppins’.

The synopsis for the sequel is:

‘Mary Poppins Returns’ is set in 1930s depression-era London and is drawn from the wealth of material in PL Travers’ additional seven books. In the story, Michael (Ben Whishaw) and Jane (Emily Mortimer) are now grown up, with Michael, his three children (Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, Joel Dawson) and their housekeeper, Ellen (Julie Walters), living on Cherry Tree Land. After Michael suffers a personal loss, the enigmatic nanny Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) re-enters the lives of the Banks family, and, along with the optimistic street lamplighter Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda), uses her unique magical skills to help the family rediscover the joy and wonder missing on their lives. Mary Poppins also introduces the children to a new assortment of colourful and whimsical characters, including her eccentric cousin, Topsy (Meryl Streep).

Dick Van Dyke will be returning to the cobbles of London to play the character of Mr Dawes Jr., who is the chairman of the Fidelity Fiduciary Bank, which is being run by William Weatherall Wilkins (Colin Firth). Helming this sequel is Academy Award nominatee Rob Marhsall, who is also signed on as a producer.

It’s fair to say that this sequel has a lot to live up to, with the original being a classic childhood favourite for many many people, but with such a strong cast line-up and creative team working on it, I think this sequel has great potential to be successful. 

‘Mary Poppins Returns’ is scheduled for a Christmas Day release in 2018

What are your thoughts on this ambitious sequel?

Written by Tom Sheffield