Watch This Space: 6th – 12th November

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

The Killing of a Sacred Deer: Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest directorial effort has a limited release here in the UK, but we highly recommend you seeking out a screening near you if possible. Those of you who enjoyed Lanthimos’ ‘The Lobster’, which also starred Colin Farrell, are in for a treat with his latest film. You can read our full review later this week! 

Murder on the Orient Express: Kenneth Branagh both directs and stars in the latest adaption of Agatha Christie’s ‘Murder on the Orient Express’, but just how well does Branagh cope as both director and main star of the film? Our full verdict arrives on our site later this week (and on time, might we add!)

On TV

Monday

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (9pm, SYFY): Angelina Jolie grabs a pair of pistols and raids some tombs in this first attempt to bring beloved video game character, Lara Croft, to the big screen. In her first silver screen outing, Lara is goes up against super secret societ, the Illuminati, in a race to find an ancient artifact that possesses the ability to control time. All in all, it’s not a bad effort  from all involved and it’s a good excuse to watch Jolie kick some ass, and she’s joined by Daniel Craig and Iain Glen. It might be worth revisiting this in preparation for the upcoming reboot, which will star Alicia Vikander in the titular role.

The Conjuring 2 (6:40pm, Sky Cinema): James Wan’s sequel to his transformative paranormal horror ‘The Conjuring’ returns charming couple Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as the cunning Ed and Lorraine Warren to their fearless pursuit of malevolent spirits terrorizing helpless families. Based around the true story of the Enfield haunting, round two continues Wan’s masterful building of tension and careful use of jump scares that free your attention to engage with the characters and nightmarish imagery that will have you hooked to this chilling case on Monday night.

Tuesday

Bridesmaids (9pm, ITV2): “It’s coming out of me like lava” depicts an unforgettable Melissa McCarthy scene that provides relentless laughter in Paul Feig’s comedy of 2011. Comedic starlet’s Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Bryne and a trifle more deliver stomach-aching hilarity with hyperbolic entertainment by simply following a group of women planning their friend’s wedding. Timeless fun hemmed with realistic dilemmas we can all connect to carries this giggle-fest into the hall of fame that’s bound to brighten anybody’s Tuesday evening.

Akira (11:30pm, SYFY): Hard to believe that ‘Akira’ first came out way back in 1988, and whilst hailed amongst anime fans as one of the best anime films ever made, the masses might not quite realise just how influential this film was and continues to be. Set in the dystopian “Neo-Tokyo”, the story focuses on a biker gang member who is turned into a rampaging psychopath by a shady military project. Massively ahead of its time and with visuals that are utterly iconic, ‘Akira’ is not just an anime masterpiece, but a masterpiece of modern cinema. For fans of futuristic sci-fi and dsytopian stories, this is an absolute must-watch, and a great entry point for anime as well.

Superbad (10:15pm, Sky Cinema Comedy): Arguably one of the best comedies of in recent years, ‘Superbad’ still entertains with every viewing, whether it’s your first or your 100th time. 10 years since it’s release, ‘Superbad’ and some of it’s iconic lines are still referenced today, which just demonstrates how loved it is. Michael Cera, Jonah Hill, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse are 3 awkward high school friends who plan to end their high school senior year on a high by actually getting themselves invited to a party. With appearances from Emma Ston, Bill Hader, Seth Rogen, Joe Lo Truglio

Wednesday

The Inbetweeners Movie (9pm, E4): The brilliantly hilarious ‘The Inbetweeners’ ran on Channel 4 from 2008 – 2011 and followed Will, Simon, Jay, and Neil and their hapless journey through their teenage years. There’s not a person I didn’t know at school that didn’t watch this show, so when a film was released in 2011 everyone clambered to see the four awkward teenagers head on their lads holiday to Malia. Hilarity ensues from the the second it starts and the laughs keep coming right up until the credits begin to roll. Prepare to cringe like you’ve never cringed before, learn some iconic dance moves, and witness the ‘Pussy Patrol’ in action. Wednesday night sorted!

Moana (6:10pm, Sky Cinema Disney): When I was a young boy, ‘Aladdin’ and ‘The Lion King’ were the big movies that were released by Disney. I loved them, I bought the soundtracks on cassette and played them over and over. Years went past and I never really felt same way about the other Disney releases, especially during their lull in the 00’s. So when I heard that Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson was involved in a new Disney animation by Ron Clements and John Musker, the writers of ‘Aladdin’, I became very excited. The result is the magnificent ‘Moana’. The film is packed with memorable songs and funny characters. ‘Moana’ is about a girl who travels across the ocean to save her island and people. This isn’t just an animation for kids, this is an animation for adults as well. It’s all truly beautiful. This is an instant classic. Enjoy.

Thursday

X-Men (7pm, Film4)This Bryan Singer film, along with ‘Blade’, could easily be the ones responsible for the current regeneration of the superhero / comic-book movie. Singer and Marvel brought a fresh look to a genre long since stale with exciting characters, cutting edge special effects and a cast of top name stars to deliver fun, fast and dazzling action for a franchise backed up with an extensive source material. Sirs Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen lead the younger heroes and villains like Hugh Jackman (before he became the franchise poster boy), Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, Ray Park and Rebecca Romijn to name but a few. And what is also refreshing is how simple and minimal it is before comic book movies aimed to be bigger, better and louder each year. One of the original and best CBMs.

X-Men 2 (9pm, Film4)Bryan Singer brings back everything from the original ‘X-Men’ for this story of struggling to be accepted by society, feeling judged by others and adjusting to  brave new world; something many people can relate to which adds a big chunk of humanity, depth and emotion to our fictional heroes and villains on their journey. For that reason, it’s a great sequel that expands as a sequel should do on the original, with the original cast returning as well as new faces like Alan Cumming, Kelly Hu and Brian Cox. While it does seem to drag it’s heels a little in telling an extensive story, it never-the-less delivers all you want from an ‘X-Men’ movie and sets up far more to come.

The Invention Of Lying (10pm SyFy)British comedy powerhouse Ricky Gervais writes and directs his debut film in an attempt to conquer America with co-stars such as Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe, Tina Fey and Louis C.K in a world where lying does not exist until Gervais invents the first one and his life changes forever.  After the thin veil of morality is played out. the film runs thin with many silly gags and jokes that are meant to be funny because no-one can lie, so all the sexual insults and put downs delivered dead-pan are meant to be witty, but they’re not. It’s just an excuse to throw as many jokes in as possible to offend and shock the audience with black comedy. It’s all too obvious and lazy for someone like Ricky Gervais to pen, and it’s not his best material at all. Stick to the stand-up and docu-soaps as they are where his true talent lies.

Friday

Dredd (11pm, Film4)This film deserves all the praise it gets, primarily for the fact it took risks. It aimed for an R / 18 rating to deliver brutal action, wonderfully authentic violence and adult themes where each bullet, punch and slice can be felt by us without catering to kids. With a tight plot that doesn’t require much thought (basically a Western take on ‘The Raid: Redemption’), Karl Urban erases Sylvester Stallone from memory as Judge Dredd in this stylish and visually grim looking film that harkens back to the unrestrained might of the 90s where directors weren’t afraid to lay down the R / 18 rating for 98mins of pure gold. Dredd dispenses justice as only Dredd can, taking on drug baron MaMa (Lena Headey) in a dangerous tower-block with his fellow Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby). One way in, no way out. It’s a simple as that. And we STILL don’t have a sequel, and ‘Pitch Perfect’ has two. Sort it out Hollywood.

Silver Linings Playbook (12:05am, C4): In David O. Russell’s comedy-drama, Bradley Cooper is Pat Solatano, a man who vows effortlessly to regain his relationship with his estranged wife, who’s put a restraining order on him for nearly beating a man to death after getting caught cheating. Through his move back home with his parents (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver), Pat meets a widowed Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), the sister of one of his buddy’s girlfriend. Tiffany approaches Pat casually with intercourse, but Pat insists he’s got his eyes set on rekindling his marriage. Tiffany then compromises to help him get her back if he will be her partner in an upcoming dance competition. Cooper and Lawrence share undeniable chemistry in their performances. Emotions begin to run high and feelings unfold as ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ tempts our charming side and the ability to take a gamble on romantic comedy love.

Iron Man 2 (8pm, E4): The most unfairly maligned of all the MCU films, in my opinion – Iron Man 2 is bags of fun with a great cast. Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff features prominently (definitely a bonus for me) and the film also stars Don Cheadle, Mickey Rourke and Sam Bloomin’ Rockwell. The Iron Man films have never been my favourite of the MCU but it’s mystifying to me that people prefer IM3 to this. I like that Romanoff is given her own backstory with Tony Stark (as she is with Steve Rogers in Winter Soldier), which makes her choice of who to side with in Civil War all the more interesting. Like many others, I am crying out for Black Widow to have her own film. Anyway, I like Iron Man 2 (one of my many wrong MCU opinions) and Sam Rockwell is always worth your time. Give it another chance.

A huge thank you to contributors this week:  Chris Gelderd, Jessica PeñaJo CraigFiona Underhill, Dave Curtis, Sarah Buddery

 

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Mental Health Awareness Week – Hollywood Tackles The Taboo

Written by Chris Gelderd

May 8th – 14th marks Mental Health Awareness Week.

When you say “mental health” to many, the first thing they think about is person who acts a little different to others, who does not conform to many social statuses, and is generally a bit of an outsider. Mental health is so much more than that, and many people simply do not understand the far-reaching effects mental health has on those who suffer with it, and also the ones who love, care, work or even simply know the affected party.

What can encompass mental health? Wow. Where do you start?

Anorexia. Hallucinations. Panic attacks. Tourettes. Work-life balance.

The list is comprehensive to say the least.

Hollywood hasn’t shied away from mental health in film, and many popular films over the years help spread awareness of mental health issues, the effect they have and the consequences. Yes, of course, Hollywood doesn’t always get it right, and it has to make subject matter entertaining to make money, but studios, cast and crew do try to inject mental health into movies where they can, and they do an important thing by doing this – spread the word and help the general public become aware.

I like Carmine Falcone’s quote in ‘Batman Begins’ to sum up this taboo:

“This is a world you’ll never understand. And you always fear what you don’t understand.”

Mental health is a world many will never understand, and because of that, they fear it. 

Let’s take a look at a snapshot of popular movies that have tackled mental health in some way and left an impact on audiences, created important discussion and spread awareness to help alleviate that lack of understanding.

AUTISMRain Man (1988) / The Imitation Game (2014) / Power Rangers (2017)

Autism is a growing disorder which is characterised by a lack of social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication and restricted or repetitive behaviour. Dustin Hoffman as Raymond in ‘Rain Man’ was the first big glimpse into Autism via Hollywood, and as there was little understanding or support at that time, it acted a double edged sword. “Rain Man” is the term people use for Autistic people because that’s what they expect – quirky people who make funny noises and remember everything. But, it made people take note and that was the start of what is now a growing understanding and study of Autism, even now in film. Things have come a long way and continue to do so.

DEMENTIA On Golden Pond (1981) / The Notebook (2004) / Remember (2015)

Dementia, bracketed with Alzheimer’s disease, causes a long term and gradual decrease in the ability to think for themselves, process emotion and affect their daily functioning. A heart-breaking issue, this lends itself to a strong emotional core that comes across in powerful films. It helps us understand how this can slowly take away a person, without us even knowing it until it’s too late. It shows how we can help them, how we can cope and what helps them remember moments thought long gone. ‘The Notebook’ does this to great effect.

DEPRESSIONInteriors (1978) / Cake (2014) / Inside Out (2015)

Depression encompasses many factors including low self-esteem, low energy, false beliefs and a general low mood. It is becoming increasingly common in today’s society, but one many who don’t understand can dismiss easily.  Film shows us how triggers can cause depression – major changes to lifestyle, medication, health or social issues can lead people experiencing depression. Jennifer Aniston in ‘Cake’ portrays this brilliantly, and even Pixar help touch upon the subject for young audiences in ‘Inside Out’.

EROTOMANIA Fatal Attraction (1987) / The Crush (1993)  / Enduring Love (2004)

A delusional disorder in which the suffer can easily believe another person is in love, or infatuated, with them. This lends itself to other areas such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. For effect, this is played to a more sinister side, creating thrillers and haunting stories told from a victim’s point of view, but with moments that help us understand why the suffer feels the way they do, which is often over-looked and ignored.

OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE DISORDER Sleeping With The Enemy (1991) / The Aviator (2004) / Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

This disorder has people depend on routines, checking things repeatedly and trying to stay in control. Linked to anxiety and a risk of suicide, OCD can dominate a person’s day and life by their need to perform certain routines and have certain thoughts and processes in order to cope, linking back to an earlier trauma.

SUBSTANCE ABUSEPulp Fiction (1994) / Pure (2002) / Flight (2012)

Otherwise known as addiction or dependence, substance use disorder (SUD) can refer to any physical substance, but is primarily alcohol and drug related which affects the suffers physical and mental state, and affects the safety of them around others. Film continues to deliver powerful messages about the roads that lead to SUD and also the consequences if it isn’t worked on to be righted.

Agoraphobia. Eating disorders. Hypersexuality. Post-traumatic stress disorder. Suicide.

As said before, the list is too great to fully explore, but films for all ages, from ‘Finding Nemo’ to ‘Trainspotting’ have continued to help bring mental health to the big screen and for all generations to start to see and understand that this is NOT something to fear, but something to strive to help deal with and find support for the sufferers and their families and friends.

For more information on Mental Health, please visit this website: www.mentalhealth.org.uk

If you need someone to talk to, to listen or understand, then you are not going to be alone in finding that support.

Take some time out to discuss mental wellbeing with your friends and family if you feel there is need to. Encourage them, and yourself, to open up, to share and discuss, and most importantly, not to feel alone or judged by society.

Oscars 2016: Best Picture Predictions

Written by Jakob Lewis Barnes

The approach of the winter months doesn’t just mean it’s time to go shopping for a new coat, because with the cold weather and shorter days comes a growing desire for people to discuss The Oscars. It may be more than four months until the 88th Academy Awards, but that doesn’t stop anyone speculating as to who the winners and losers will be on the big night. To be honest, I’ve been guessing since this year’s ceremony ended, and whilst guesses are all we have for now, The Academy certainly have a distinct pattern to their choices, hence the term “Oscar bait”. Here are the films that are likely to make the cut and be nominated in the Best Picture category.

And the nominees are…

Sicario
Arguably, this intense thriller from Denis Villeneuve (who directed the fantastic Prisoners) is the film which started the ball rolling with all this Oscars buzz. As one of the few films in this list that has actually been released in cinemas, I can offer my personal opinion of ‘Sicario’, and if it was up to me, this would be the winner. Whilst myself, and many others, love this gritty crime flick though, it’s unlikely that ‘Sicario’ will go further than a nomination.

Steve Jobs
Nothing gets The Academy’s attention like a biopic, and with the late founder of Apple taking centre stage in this Danny Boyle production, ‘Steve Jobs’ is about as relevant as they come. A fantastic cast, led by the very talented Michael Fassbender, and Academy favourite Kate Winslet in support, ‘Steve Jobs’ has been garnering praise from early viewings and could be the frontrunner for the Best Picture award.

Suffragette
If there’s anything The Academy loves more than a biopic, it’s controversy. A cast boasting some of the best actresses around – including Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham Carter – should boost ‘Suffragette’ and allow the feminist movement to be represented next February. It also helps that various stars, including Meryl Streep herself, voiced their concerns over the lack of opportunities and equality for women at this year’s ceremony.

Bridge Of Spies
The man responsible for classics such as ‘Jurassic Park’, ‘Jaws’ and ‘Saving Private Ryan’, Steven Spielberg, is back, and has teamed up with legendary actor, Tom Hanks, for this cold war drama. Both of these men are probably sick of the sight of these trophies, but it is very likely that this winning recipe will earn them a few more nominations to add to their resumé.

The Revenant
One man who certainly wouldn’t mind getting hold of a golden statuette is Leonardo DiCaprio, and whilst we’re sure Tom Hanks could just lend him one for the weekend, we don’t think that would quite be the same. By hooking up with Tom Hardy, and last year’s big winner Alejandro González Iñárritu (director of Birdman), Leo may well have given  himself his best chance yet at grabbing a personal award and leading his film to glory. Could Iñárritu win back-to-back Best Picture awards?

Joy
Another winning team come together once again, to bring us ‘Joy’ this Christmas. Director David O Russell, who has received nominations for his last three films (The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle), joins forces with Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence, and familiar faces Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro, in what could be a perfectly crafted, Oscar-bait picture. Whilst unlikely to win the top gong, it would be a surprise to see this one snubbed.

The Lobster
The film festival circuit isn’t just a fun way to spend your summer, it’s actually a breeding ground for hot productions hoping to catch the eye of The Academy. Pretty much every year there will be one or two films that thrive in the quirky world of film festivals and make it to the big stage for The Oscars. With an interesting plot, big name stars in Rachel Weisz and Colin Farrell, and plenty of hype from critics, ‘The Lobster’ could well crawl its way into the Best Picture category.

Carol
The big success story from the film festival circuit however, is undoubtedly ‘Carol’. This film, which sees Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara embark on a complicated lesbian relationship, has been lauded by critics all summer and will continue to be praised all the way through winter as it arrives in mainstream cinema theatres. It’s an outside shot, but this low-key, artistic offering could well beat the big names and steal the top prize next February.

So, with ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ unlikely to get the nod from The Academy, in favour of something more stylistically brilliant (they don’t know what they’re missing), my money is on ‘Carol’ and ‘Steve Jobs’ to fight this one out.

Watch This Space: May 4 – May 10

 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

Our Twitter sources have been full of praise for period drama ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’. Starring Carey Mulligan and Michael Sheen, this has been described as a “sublime” and “beautiful” film and a must-see.

An all-star cast features in ‘Age Of Adaline’, which has been in cinemas for a couple of weeks now, but a film which we think may just be worth a shot if you like a little vampire-romance-drama.

ON TELEVISION

Monday 21:00 GMT: Christian Bale graces our screens as ‘The Dark Knight’ on Monday evening. Arguably the best superhero film of all time, featuring the stunning performance from Heath Ledger as Batman’s arch-nemisis. Sit down and enjoy superhero action at its very best on ITV2.

Wednesday 21:00 GMT: The award-winning ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ comes to Film4 on Wednesday night. In a week full of action-packed, gritty film, take a break from it all with the outstanding, emotional displays from Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper.

Thursday 23:20 GMT: ‘Fight Club’ is available on ITV4 at the same time, but as we’re not supposed to be talking about that, we suggest watching a film instead you might not have seen before. From the mastermind that brought you ‘This Is England’, ‘Dead Mans Shoes’ is a gritty and violent film about one man’s revenge mission. Tune into Film4 for this British classic.

Saturday 21:00 GMT: Bradley Cooper again, as he stars in ‘Limitless’ on E4. The story following a down-and-out writer who stumbles across the ability to access parts of his brain he didn’t know existed. Fast-paced and action-packed, this slick thriller is your perfect Saturday night film.

Sunday 14:50 GMT: We never leave the kids out here, and you shouldn’t either. Top quality animation with lots of colour, fun and humour with ‘Rio’ should make for a perfect Sunday afternoon for the family thanks to Film4.

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.

Lord of The Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring: Following the sad news of Andrew Lesnie’s passing, we feel a tribute is in order. Sit down and watch the spectacular opening to the ‘Lord Of The Rings’ trilogy to celebrate Lesnie’s work. This film won the Oscar for Best Cinematography, so the perfect way to celebrate such an iconic piece of cinema is reimmerse yourself into the fantastical world of Middle Earth. While you’re at it, why not watch ‘The Two Towers’ and ‘The Return of the King’ to complete the set.

Bronson: Tom Hardy is set to take 2015 cinema screens by storm with his upcoming releases ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ and ‘Legend’. See him in the titular role in ‘Bronson’, the film that follows the infamous psychopathic criminal. Dark and dangerous, this film is not for the faint hearted, but we recommend it all the same.

I-Robot: It was announced last week that the ‘Men In Black’ and ‘Jump Street’ franchises are combining for a future release. Why not relive one of Will Smith’s classics, ‘I-Robot’, a sci-fi thriller telling the story of artificial intelligence gone awry. This film has everything you’d want from an explosive, futuristic action film, complete with impressive visual effects.

500 Days Of Summer: A completely random choice for you here, but one which is a delight to watch any time of the year. That said, what better way to bring in the summer months than with this hilariously dark, kinda romantic comedy starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. Be warned, “this is not a love story”.

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