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!

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

Why SING Is Going To Rock

Written by Dalton Brown

Scrolling through the “Upcoming Releases” section on IMDb, I came across a movie that looked very promising. The thing that caught my eye was not the title, but instead the leading actress; Scarlett Johansson. I guess you could say I’m a fan of her and the movies she’s in. I was particularly impressed with her performance in ‘Under The Skin’ and she also kills it as the Operating System in ‘Her’. Hell, even her character in ‘The Spongebob Squarepants Movie’ is entertaining. Needless to say, I like her and I think she could be one of the best actresses around today. I also think she’s very attractive too, so there’s that.

Getting back on track, she’s going to star in an upcoming movie alongside Taron Egerton, Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, and Nick Offerman. The movie is titled ‘Sing’ and it’s an animated musical. Although plot details are kind of limited at present, it’s about anthropomorphic animals trying to help a koala save his beloved theatre. As you may have guessed, the plot didn’t exactly get my attention, but the cast certainly did.

Ever since I saw Taron Egerton in the awesome ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ movie, I’ve been rooting for him to star in more shit and it looks like my dream came true, as he’s not only going to be in ‘Sing’, but ‘Eddie The Eagle’ as well (both of which are coming out this year). ‘Eddie the Eagle’ comes out sometime in March, whereas ‘Sing’ releases later in the year, amid the festive frenzy in December.

The only thing I’m wary about is the fact that ‘Sing’ is an animated musical…but I’m also kinda excited about that too. I have rarely seen a good animated musical; most of them are pure garbage. No, I wasn’t a fan of ‘Happy Feet’, nor was I a fan of ‘Happy Feet 2’ either. Come to think of it, I don’t think I even saw ‘Happy Feet 2’. I don’t remember, there’s too many penguin musicals out there, like ‘The Pebble and The Penguin’, which was absolutely atrocious. Needless to say, animated musicals seem to bore me because I feel as if they’re missing that “charm” that makes musicals like ‘Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory’ so entertaining and lovable.

I seriously think that ‘Sing’ will break the trend of bad animated musicals though, because the character designs look cool. There’s an elephant character in there, and when I saw that, I was sold (mainly because I love elephants). I’m just hoping that Egerton will be voicing the elephant because that would be a dream come true; a dream that I didn’t even know I had until five minutes ago, when I first heard about ‘Sing’. The other reason I think ‘Sing’ will be a success is because of the plot. It’s odd, for sure, but there’s potential for a great movie there. The poster, too, really caught my eye. Resembling the exterior of a Broadway theatre, with the names of the cast on the marquee; it’s simple, but I find it aesthetically pleasing.

To wrap this up, I think that this year is a very good year for movies, especially when it comes to animated films. 2015 was a pretty shitty year for animation, but with Disney’s ‘Moana’, Laika’s ‘Kubo and The Two Strings’ and an all-star cast lending their voices to ‘The Little Prince’, this year looks set to be a big improvement. I just hope that all of these movies deliver some fun, and I especially hope that ‘Sing’ is as phenomenal as it promises to be. Bring it on 2016, I’m ready!

Watch This Space: April 27 – May 3

 Welcome to our newest feature – WatchThisSpace – where we give you recommendations of films to watch in the cinema, on the television and those brilliant films hiding at the back of your DVD collection.

IN THE CINEMA

Nothing new to report on the cinema releases this week, for the UK anyway. If you haven’t already, get yourself to a screening of ‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron’ and treat yourself to IMAX and 3D. If you’re over in the USA, you’ll have to wait until the end of the week to finally see Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, but it’s worth it.

Last week, the UK became the last country to catch the release of ‘Stonehearst Asylum’, which ironically seems to be a British like-for-like version of  Martin Scorsese’s ‘Shutter Island’. Ben Kingsley heads a stellar cast in this eerie thriller, but don’t expect anything special from this version of a familiar story.

‘Kurt Cobain: Montage Of Heck’ was released a fortnight ago, without the media hype that one might have expected. But nonetheless, this documentary film presents an intriguing balance of art and fact, a must-see film for those remotely interested in the legacy of Cobain, and indeed Nirvana.

ON TELEVISION

Tuesday 18:15 GMT: Continuing the Han Solo buzz from last week, you can catch Harrison Ford in ‘Clear And Present Danger’ on Film4, another classic from his catalogue of fantastic films.

Wednesday 21:00 GMT: Whilst it may not particularly be our cup of tea, ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ has its fair share of admirers. With the second film released earlier this year, Film4 give you the chance to see what all the fuss is about.

Thursday 21:00 GMT: Now THIS is more like it! On 5*, go back to school with Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill for ‘21 Jump Street’. We promise you will laugh out loud and be thoroughly entertained all the way through.

Friday 22:40pm GMT: From the director of the upcoming Amy Winehouse biopic, comes ‘Senna’. Catch the award-winning story of legendary Formula One driver Ayrton Senna on ITV.

Saturday 17:10 GMT: Keep the kids (and yourself) entertained this Saturday night, with ‘Wall-E’ on BBC1. This Pixar film won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature back in 2009, and deservedly so; a real treat for the whole family.

Sunday 19:10 GMT: Strictly for the females with this pick, Channel 5 bring us ‘Legally Blonde’ on Sunday evening, an entertaining film packed with girl power and feel-good vibes to help you prepare for the doldrums of Monday morning.

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.

Dallas Buyers Club: August 2016 will see Jared Leto adopt the iconic role of The Joker for ‘Suicide Squad’. Arguably Leto’s best character to date is that of Transgender AIDS patient Rayon in ‘Dallas Buyers Club’. Based on a true story, the tale is moving, humorous and harrowing.

The Help: Picking back up with our giveaway competition, this week will see the newly released ‘Birdman’ up for grabs. Best Supporting Actress nominee Emma Stone truly shines in 1960s drama ‘The Help’, challenging racism in the Deep South.

The Social Network: This week, details were revealed for the following two instalments of the ‘Fifty Shades’ series. Dakota Johnson made her first notable silver screen appearance in ‘The Social Network’, a fascinating insight into the story behind the phenomenal worldwide success of Facebook.

Napoleon Dynamite: It’s that time of year when revision is the hot word on everyone’s lips, or at least it should be. Maintaining the scholastic theme, ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ is an independent comedy film focusing on the weird and wonderful ways of Napoleon as he progresses through high school.

This week’s WatchThisSpace was compiled by Jakob Lewis Barnes and Molly Dolan

Watch This Space: April 20 – 26

Welcome to our newest feature – WatchThisSpace – where we give you recommendations of films to watch in the cinema, on the television and those brilliant films hiding at the back of your DVD collection.

IN THE CINEMA

The standout release this week in the UK is of course, ‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron’, the sequel to the hugely successful ‘Avengers Assemble’. Hoards of superhero fans will be flocking to the cinema on Thursday 23rd, so be prepared, maybe wait a couple of days.

From last week, a risky choice but one which may well pay off if it’s your kind of thing, is Russian thriller ‘Child 44’. Starring Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman, the film has received mixed reviews, but this star-studded adaptation of a modern literary classic is surely worth a trip to the cinema.

Finally, released on Friday 24th is ‘The Good Lie’, starring Reese Witherspoon. This looks set to be another emotional, thought-provoking film in the vein of recent dramatic releases. It may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but it’s certainly an alternative choice to the more action-packed, testosterone-fueled options for the week.

ON TELEVISION

Tuesday 01:15 GMT: If you fancy a late night classic (or early morning depending on how you look at it), head over to Film4 for the showing of ‘No Country For Old Men’ starring Javier Bardem and Tommy Lee Jones. You won’t regret it. 

Wednesday 19:40 GMT: Settle down with the family and stick BBC Three on, for the highly enjoyable, animated flick ‘Chicken Run’. Director Nick Park (Wallace & Gromit) produces another perfect, plasticine adventure to please all.

Thursday 22:30 GMT: Rev up your moped, because ITV4 are delivering a cult classic with the fantastic ‘Quadrophenia’. Starring Phil Daniels, Leslie Ash and Sting, this is an integral part of British cultural and cinematic history that you have to see.

Saturday 00:35 GMT: Remember that catchy ‘Gold Digger’ track from Kanye West? Why not find out where it all started, with the award-winning biopic of Ray Charles. Catch ‘Ray’ on ITV3 in the early hours of Saturday morning. 

Saturday 23:05 GMT: Planning to stay in on Saturday night may not be as bad a decision as you first thought. On Channel 4, watch the hilarious ‘Role Models’, starring Paul Rudd, Seann William Scott and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (McLovin to you and me). 

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.

Shutter Island: With Mark Ruffalo turning angry and green again as The Hulk this week for ‘Age Of Ultron’, why not enjoy him in a slightly more human role alongside Leonardo DiCaprio. ‘Shutter Island’ is creepy, clever and very confusing but perfect because of it.

2001: A Space Odyssey: Last week, JumpCut UK gave you guys the chance to win a copy of ‘Interstellar’, in what was our most successful giveaway to date. Admittedly, this was our first giveaway, but it was a huge success all the same. To celebrate this, we thought you should check out the original space exploration classic.

Blade Runner: The best part of the ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ trailer from last week, was undoubtedly the appearance from Han Solo, AKA Harrison Ford. The legendary actor is also set to reprise his role in the upcoming reboot of ‘Blade Runner’, so make yourself acquainted with the original.

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