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.


1

#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 BeachBend it Like BeckhamBride 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.

 

1

#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.

 

1

#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 émigré 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.

 

1

#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).

Advertisements

Ocean’s Eight

JC-FEATURED-IMAGE-new

Year: 2018
Directed by: Gary Ross
Starring:  Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Poulson, Awkwafina

WRITTEN BY FIONA UNDERHILL

The ‘all-female reboot’ has been a controversial trend in recent movies, none more so than ‘Ghostbusters’, a film which I loved, after growing up with and being a huge fan of the originals. Although many have been mooted (let’s pray the female ‘Lord of the Flies’ never happens), only two high-profile examples have come to fruition, with ‘Ocean’s Eight‘ being the second. These reboots have been unpopular with some men (the ‘Ghostbusters ruined my childhood’ crowd) and also some women, who believe we should have new, original and risk-taking material for teams of women to star in, instead of rehashing male-dominated franchises. I fall somewhere in between; I have mostly found them fun, but my biggest issue is that they don’t have women directors or predominantly female crews. The female empowerment aspect feels somewhat empty without the women being behind, as well as in front of the camera.

When I first heard about the cast of ‘Ocean’s Eight‘, I couldn’t help but get excited. As each name was announced and added to the impressive roster, the anticipation built. Then on-set photos were released, revealing the ultra-cool costuming, especially of Cate Blanchett’s character in her velvet suits and scarves. The press tour has blessed us even further in terms of spectacular outfits and great humour, chemistry and flirtations between the cast members. With a cast clearly having this much fun, making and promoting a film, it’s hard not to fall a little bit in love.

The film begins with Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) blagging her way out of jail and immediately returning to her old criminal ways, which clearly run in the family. She contacts her old partner-in-crime Lou (Cate Blanchett), with whom she certainly shares a history, which seems both professional and personal. Debbie has spent her jail time (including deliberately landing herself in solitary) planning an elaborate heist (it wouldn’t be an Oceans film without one) and sets about assembling the team she needs. Key to the plan is fashion designer Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter), who Debbie recruits to dress film star Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) for the event of the year – the Met Gala Ball. She wants Rose to pretend that she simply must have a 150-million dollar necklace from the vaults of Cartier to adorn the neck of Daphne and then the team can steal it. Further members of the team include diamond expert and forger Amita (Mindy Kaling), pickpocket Constance (Awkwafina), multi-talented suburban Mum Tammy (my favourite; Sarah Paulson) and lastly, in an inspired piece of casting, hacker Nine Ball (Rihanna).

The sparkling and in some cases, sizzling chemistry between the cast is definitely the main strength of this film. There is undeniable tension between Bullock and Blanchett especially, although the plot does hinge around revenge against Bullock’s ex-boyfriend (played by The Hobbit’s Richard Armitage). The glamour of the Met Ball is obviously a big selling point, including an abundance of celebrity cameos. The outfits, coupled with the actual exhibition of crown jewels makes for an impossibly beautiful backdrop and you cannot help but be sucked in by it. There is lots of humour, with Hathaway being particularly great as the spoiled film star who hasn’t eaten for days. Flavours of the familiar score from the original films are featured throughout, along with the trademark split-screen style.

Look, I don’t know what else to tell you. I watched this film in a gorgeous setting, with a cocktail, quality savoury snacks and a good friend. That may have prejudiced me in favour of this film, but so what? It’s meant to be an easy-going, fun, enjoyable ride for women (especially) to enjoy on a Friday night (as we did) and that’s exactly what it is. I really hope Rihanna continues making movies in exactly the vein of this and ‘Valerian‘ because it’s Rihanna and she does what the f**k she wants. As for the continuation of the ‘female reboot’ trend? It’s hard to say at this stage if I’m for or against. I certainly am here for films with amazing ensemble casts of incredible women. If they are new, original and have women directors, all the better.

FIONA’S RATING:

3

 

 

Fiona’s March Round-Up

Written by Fiona Underhill

While the UK enjoys the quality of Oscar-nominated films such as ‘The Shape of Water’ and ‘Lady Bird’ in the first few months of the year, the first quarter can be something of a barren wasteland in US cinemas. We did get ‘Paddington 2’ in January and of course, there has been ‘Black Panther’, but other than that, there have been slim pickings to choose from. But, like buses, they can all suddenly come along at once and I’ve seen 5 films in the last week that have greatly improved my year in film. Below is a round-up of my movie-watching month, which has ranged in quality, but certainly hasn’t been boring!

21-(1)

Gringo

(starring David Oyelowo, Charlize Theron, Joel Edgerton & Thandie Newton)

‘Gringo’ stars Oyelowo as a businessman working for his friend (Edgerton) and his colleague (Theron) at a pharmaceutical company. The three of them go to Mexico on a business trip, which unbeknownst to Oyelowo is connected to the drug trade. There Oyelowo gets embroiled with drug dealers, traffickers, kingpins and mercenaries (including another great turn from Sharlto Copley) while trying to stay alive and ahead of the law. Although amusing at times, ‘Gringo’ has big tonal problems and inconsistencies. Theron is playing an unlikeable, edgy character, demonstrated by her saying things like “fat people are so funny” and Newton’s character is handled offensively at the end. Great cast, but disappointing execution.

Verdict: 4/10

 21-(1)

A Wrinkle in Time

(starring Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon & Mindy Kaling)

Despite its critical reception, I really enjoyed ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ and crucially, so did my 8 year old (the target audience of this film). An adaptation of a beloved children’s book, we follow Meg Murry (Reid) on an adventure across space and time. With stunning visual effects and incredible costume, hair and make-up design; this film was a feast for the eyes. It also featured an emotional story, with two children on a quest to find their missing father and I struggled to hold it together towards the end. Featuring some astounding performances from the child/teen actors, I really loved this film and recommend it to families during the spring/Easter holidays.

Verdict: 8/10

 21-(1)

The Hurricane Heist

(starring Toby Kebell, Maggie Grace & Ryan Kwanten)

Last year’s ‘Geostorm’ spoiled us in terms of trashy disaster movies (a genre which I adore), but ‘Hurricane Heist’ is possibly even better, if you can believe it. Everything you need to know is right there in the title: it’s about a heist that takes place during a hurricane. I don’t know what else to tell you.

Verdict: 10/10

 21-(1)

Flower

(starring Zoey Deutch, Kathryn Hahn and Adam Scott)

‘Flower’ follows Erica (Zoey Deutch) a troubled 17 year old girl who spends her time giving blowjobs to men and then blackmailing them for money so she can try to bail her father out of prison. Her world is disrupted when her step-brother Luke (who she has never met) leaves rehab and moves in with her. Luke accuses a local man Will (Adam Scott) of having abused him while he was his teacher, so Erica and her friends set out to avenge him with some vigilante justice. Despite a strong cast, led by another winning performance from Zoey Deutch, this film was a little problematic, with unlikeable characters and will end up proving rather forgettable. I’m frankly getting a little tired of teen girl characters being written and directed by men.

Verdict: 6/10

21-(1)

Final Portrait

(starring Geoffrey Rush, Armie Hammer & Tony Shalhoub)

The release date for this film has been all over the shop, but it’s now on UK Netflix and I managed to find one cinema showing it in LA. Directed by Stanley Tucci, it follows the sculptor and artist Giacometti (Rush) as he struggles to paint a portrait of his friend/muse James Lord (Hammer). And that is it – the whole plot. Frankly, the only thing that got me through this film was the long, lingering close-ups of Hammer’s face. One for die-hard fans only, I would suggest.

Verdict:  4/10

 21-(1)

Oh Lucy!

(starring Shinobu Terajima, Josh Hartnett, Kaho Minami & Shiloi Kutsuna)

This film follows Setsuko (a sublime performance by Terajima), an unusual woman who does not view her job or relationships in the same way as her contemporaries. Her niece Mika (Kutsuna) persuades her to take English lessons from John (Hartnett), but then he abruptly leaves for LA, taking Mika with him. Setsuko and her sister Ayako (Minami) set out to track them down and end up on an adventurous road trip of sorts. I absolutely adored this film from director Atsuko Hirayanagi and appreciated the creation of a fully-realised, complex and unique woman as the protagonist. Seek this out – you won’t regret it.

Verdict: 9/10

 21-(1)

Thoroughbreds

(starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Olivia Cooke & Anton Yelchin)

‘Thoroughbreds’ focuses on childhood friends Lily (Taylor-Joy) and Amanda (Cooke), who have grown apart but are forced together when Amanda’s mother pays Lily to tutor her daughter. Set in the ultra-privileged world of private school Connecticut kids, this is an insight into a rarefied world. Lily and Amanda plot to kill Lily’s step-father with the help of local drug dealer Tim (one of Yelchin’s last roles). I appreciated the score and some of the camerawork in this film and the central performances are fantastic. Again, it’s a little difficult to fully engage with a film where everyone is terrible, but it’s stylishly done.

Verdict: 7.5/10

 21-(1)

Gemini

(starring Lola Kirke, Zoe Kravitz & John Cho)

‘Gemini’ is another film that seems to have had its release date majorly delayed because I first saw trailers for this over a year ago. An LA-set neo-noir (a genre that is very much up my street) focusing on the relationship between a celebrity, Heather (Kravitz) and her assistant, Jill (Lola Kirke), this is a mystery-thriller that is sure to intrigue. When Heather is murdered, Jill is immediately under suspicion and is pursued by Detective Edward Ahn (Cho), so she sets out to clear her name. The central performance by Kirke is incredible, but unfortunately there was not enough Cho for me. There is a delicious slice of black humour that runs through this film and it is a slightly ridiculous, but fun watch.

Verdict: 7.5/10

 Don’t forget to check out Fiona’s full reviews for Love, Simon and Journey’s End

The Heist Begins In The First Trailer For ‘Ocean’s 8’

“In Summer 2018, the tide will turn as Debbie Ocean attempts to pull off the heist of the century at New York City’s star-studded annual Met Gala. Her first stop is to assemble the perfect crew: Lou; Nine Ball; Amita; Constance; Rose; Daphne Kluger; and Tammy.”

Directed by: Gary Ross

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter

Release Date: June 22nd, 2018

Ava DuVernay’s ‘A Wrinkle In Time’ Gets New Theatrical Trailer

“From visionary director Ava DuVernay comes Disney’s ‘A Wrinkle in Time’, an epic adventure based on Madeleine L’Engle’s timeless classic which takes audiences across dimensions of time and space, examining the nature of darkness versus light and, ultimately, the triumph of love. Through one girl’s transformative journey led by three celestial guides, we discover that strength comes from embracing one’s individuality and that the best way to triumph over fear is to travel by one’s own light.”

Directed By: Ava DuVernay

Cast:  Chris Pine, Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Levi Miller, Deric McCabe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Peña, Zach Galifianakis

Release Date: March 23rd 2018

First Official Ocean’s Eight Photo and Synopsis Released

‘Ocean’s Eight’ is an all-female spin-off to Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney’s 2001 ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ trilogy. The spin-off is set to focus on Debbie Ocean, the cousin of Danny Ocean (George Clooney) as she attempts to pull off a heist at a “star-studded annual Met Gala”. 

Debbie Ocean enlists the help of  Lou (Cate Blanchett); Nine Ball (Rihanna); Amita (Mindy Kaling); Constance (Awkwafina); Rose ( Helena Bonham Carter); Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway); and Tammy (Sarah Paulson) who all feature in the first picture released from Warner Bros. (below)

Also set to join the star-studded cast are Damian Lewis, Richard Armitage, Olivia Munn, Katie Holmes, James Corden, Kim Kardashian West, Kylie and Kendall Jenner, and Matt Damon is even rumoured to be reprising his role as Linus Caldwell, who we met in the trilogy. 

The synopsis Warner Bros. release with the picture is: 

“In Summer 2018, the tide will turn as (L-r) Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) attempts to pull off the heist of the century at New York City’s star-studded annual Met Gala. Her first stop is to assemble the perfect crew: Lou (Cate Blanchett); Nine Ball (Rihanna); Amita (Mindy Kaling); Constance (Awkwafina); Rose ( Helena Bonham Carter); Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway); and Tammy (Sarah Paulson)”

Are you ready for Ocean and the ladies to hit the screen? Are you looking forward to this female-led spin off?

‘Ocean’s Eight’ currently doesn’t have a UK release date, but it scheduled to release on 8th June 2018 in the USA.

Written by Tom Sheffield