LFF 2018: Widows

Year: 2018
Directed by: Steve McQueen
Starring: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Daniel Kaluuya, Colin Farrell

Written by Dave Curtis

Back in 2011, I was a runner in a post-production house in London. At the same time, an up and coming director had finished filming his second feature film and was deep into the sound mix. This man would go on to win an Oscar and become one of the most wanted directors in the industry. His name was Steve McQueen.

He was just finishing Shame, his second link up with Michael Fassbender. (The first being ‘Hunger’). Steve was nice enough to answer all my questions. He enjoyed Nandos most days (he likes his chicken dry with no spices if you were wondering) and most importantly he was polite to the runners (many directors were not). It’s fantastic to see him doing so well. After the success of 12 Years a Slave it seems he has the pick of any actors or project he wishes. Fast forward to 2018 and his new film Widows opens the London Film Festival, a great honour for any British director.

Based on a British TV series from the 80s and popular book, Widows has been relocated to Chicago from London. Viola Davis plays Veronica, a recent widowed wife whose thief husband (Liam Neeson) died with his gang in their latest heist. After being threatened by a local gangster, the wives take on their husbands debts.

McQueen’s latest feels like his least personal project but also his most ambitious. It has given him the chance to try something different and use all his tricks that he has learnt from his previous films. When Widows is at its best it really does soar. The all-star cast elevates it and the smartly written script really cements it as a solid film. McQueen’s control shines through, a man so comfortable and confident in his abilities as a director.

The film starts with a bang and the tone is set.  The pacing rarely lets up and that is mostly down to the cast. Coming off the back of an Oscar win for Fences, Viola Davis once again delivers a performance which she has come to be known for. The backbone she gives Veronica is also the backbone to the film; strong and unwavering. She also has eyes of steel which are so intense. Out of a cast of so many it is always hard to mention just a few. Daniel Kaluuya is truly menacing as Jatemme Manning (the brother to Brian Tyree Henry’s Jamal Manning). He surely is the best Britain has to offer at the moment. Elizabeth Debicki offers some laughs as Alice, a fellow widow. She clearly is having fun in the role.

The director of photography Sean Bobbitt work also stands out, the camera work is exciting and ambitious. Some of the shots are inventive, in particular a scene which involves Colin Farrell having a very heated discussion in his car. The editing is also smooth which helps with the pacing and some of the music and song choices are very clever.

What Widows does well, is overshadow the very few flaws it has. Some of the characters aren’t really all there, I know the original husbands aren’t really it in but a bit depth to their backgrounds would have helped (Jon Bernthal is once again under used). Also, dare I say it, but some of the twists and shocks were a little predictable.

This is a fine piece of cinema where a great director has assembled a stunning cast who all contribute. There are no weak links. Widows is a character-driven heist film, not the other way around (the heist comes second). That doesn’t stop it being exciting, it’s very brutal and feels uncomfortably real for its entire runtime.

DAVE’S RATING:

4

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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

Viola Davis Assembles Her Heist Crew In New Trailer For Steve McQueen’s ‘Widows’

“From Academy Award®-winning director Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave”) and co-writer and bestselling author Gillian Flynn (“Gone Girl”), comes a blistering, modern-day thriller set against the backdrop of crime, passion and corruption: “Widows” is the story of four women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands’ criminal activities. Set in contemporary Chicago, amid a time of turmoil, tensions build when Veronica (Oscar® winner Viola Davis), Alice (Elizabeth Debicki), Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) and Belle (Cynthia Erivo) take their fate into their own hands and conspire to forge a future on their own terms.”

Directed by: Steve McQueen

Cast: Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Colin Farrell, Garret Dillahunt, Liam Neeson, Jon Bernthal, Daniel Kaluuya, Michelle Rodriguez, Carrie Coon

Release Date: November 9th,  2018

First Trailer For Steve McQueen’s Star Studded ‘Widows’ Arrives!

“From Academy Award®-winning director Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave”) and co-writer and bestselling author Gillian Flynn (“Gone Girl”), comes a blistering, modern-day thriller set against the backdrop of crime, passion and corruption: “Widows” is the story of four women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands’ criminal activities. Set in contemporary Chicago, amid a time of turmoil, tensions build when Veronica (Oscar® winner Viola Davis), Alice (Elizabeth Debicki), Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) and Belle (Cynthia Erivo) take their fate into their own hands and conspire to forge a future on their own terms.”

Directed by: Steve McQueen

Cast: Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Colin Farrell, Garret Dillahunt, Liam Neeson, Jon Bernthal, Daniel Kaluuya, Michelle Rodriguez, Carrie Coon

Release Date: November 9th,  2018

The Full List Of EE British Academy Film Award Winners

Stephen Fry hosted the 70th British Academy Film Awards in London’s Royal Albet Hall and it’ll come as no surprise to many, ‘La La Land’ waltzed away with 5 BAFTA wins, including ‘Best Picture’, ‘Best Direction’, and ‘Best Original Music’.

The latest actor to step into the Spider-Man suit, Tom Holland, won the ‘Rising Star’ award which was voted for by the public. Casey Affleck walked away with ‘Best Leading Actor’ and Viola Davis collected her much deserved award for ‘Best Supporting Actress’. Former ‘Skins’ star, Dev Patel, won ‘Best Supporting Actor’ for his brilliant performance in ‘Lion’and ‘I, Daniel Blake’ took home the prize for ‘Outstanding British Film’.

Below you can find the full list of winners:

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A Beginners’ Guide To Awards Season

Written by Chris Gelderd

Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to write my first ever article for JumpCut UK, and what better place to start, at this time of the year, than with a Beginners’ Guide to Awards Season.

Now, Hollywood runs to a pretty tight calendar. Spring usually offers up plenty of family-friendly films; Summer is all about the big-budget blockbusters; Autumn gives us the horrors and thrillers, whilst winter signals the start of awards season, when studios battle it out with their carefully selected productions, aiming to surprise and move audiences, with one eye firmly placed on adding some gold statues to their trophy cabinets. There are awards-skeptics who now regard all of this as simply over-the-top, politically and racially motived, Hollywood excess, whilst others can’t wait to delve into the treasures that studios have been saving for this time of year. Lastly, there are those who are new to the whole awards season buzz. If you fit into this category, then hopefully you’ll find this simple guide to be a helpful introduction to the glitz and glamour of awards season.

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Suicide Squad – Blitz Trailer

This is arguably the least exciting of all the ‘Suicide Squad’ trailers yet. That doesn’t change my opinion about this being one of the most anticipated movies of 2016. David Ayer is one of the top action directors to emerge lately, with great works like ‘Fury’ and ‘End of Watch’ under his belt. However, I am still concerned that the plan for ‘Suicide Squad’ involves a PG-13 rating; I’m not alone in thinking the DC Villain group would suit a more violent and dark film to work in, but whatever, I’ll still see it. I still love that Bohemian Rhapsody trailer the most, and the only thing this new trailer really offers up is a little tie-in to the new DCEU, involving the criticism of Superman being too powerful and some extended footage of Batfleck in action. I also think this could be the redemption film for some actors, namely Will Smith. And, of course, Jared Leto could be the new Joker everyone goes crazy for.

‘Suicide Squad’ is set to take UK cinemas by storm on 5th August 2016

Watch This Space: November 16 – 22

Welcome to your weekly go-to film guide – WatchThisSpace – where we recommend what to watch in the cinema and on the television, and remind you of those brilliant films hiding in your DVD collection.

IN THE CINEMA

Out this week is the final installment of ‘The Hunger Games’ franchise, with ‘Mockingjay Part Two’. The film will see the civil war of Panem reach its climax, as Katniss Everdeen (played by the perfectly cast Jennifer Lawrence) leads a group of rebels to the Capitol to assassinate President Snow. It’s also worth mentioning that this is the last film of the exceptional Philip Seymour Hoffman, after tragically passing away last year. The franchise finale is set to be a box-office smash, and for fans of the series this is definitely one to watch.

ON TV

Monday 22:45 GMT: Had a tough Monday? Unwind with the simple but brilliant comedy ‘Meet The Parents’ on BBC1. Easy-watching doesn’t come much easier than this, with slapstick humour aplenty from Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro.

Tuesday 19:00 GMT: Okay so it might feel too early to get into the Christmas spirit, but Film4 certainly think it’s time. Watch the classic story of Ebeneezer Scrooge, in the modern adaptation ‘Scrooged’, starring Bill Murray as the main miser.

Thursday 21:00 GMT: Have an excellent Thursday with the weird and wonderful adventures of ‘Wayne’s World’ on 5*. Check out our review if you need any more persuading. Alternatively, newbies to ‘The Hunger Games’ franchise can see where it all began on Film4.

Friday 23:35 GMT: Loosely based on true events, ‘Badlands’ is all about James Dean lookalike Kit, played by Martin Sheen, and the much younger lady he falls in love with, as they embark on an unfortunate road trip through the South Dakota badlands. Filled with violence and murder, this fantastic Bonnie-and-Clyde-esque film makes BBC2 the place to be this Friday.

Saturday 21:45 GMT: With an outstanding ensemble female cast, including Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Jessica Chastain, Bryce Dallas Howard and Octavia Spencer, ‘The Help’ is one of those films that everybody should see at least once. Luckily, BBC2 are on hand to deliver a movie which will make you laugh and break your heart in equal measure.

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.

The Artist: How can you describe one of the best movie experiences of one’s life?  How can you make a black and white, silent movie set in 1927 (but made in 2011) sound appealing? Would a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 97% swing it? How about the exemplary French and American cast, including Jean Dujardin and John Goodman? Maybe the quirky plot piques your interest, as silent movie star George and young dancer Peppy’s lives drastically change as the pioneering ‘talking pictures’ take over Hollywood. Reams and reams could be said on behalf of this modern film which says nothing at all, but truth be told, seeing is believing. Beautiful, uplifting and inspired by simpler times, this is one you should definitely seek out.

Mean Streets: It’s Mr Martin Scorsese’s birthday this Tuesday, and whilst this man should be celebrated on a daily basis, now would be as good a time as any. Last week, our Twitter debates focused on the legendary director, with ‘Goodfellas’ crowned his finest work. One film which didn’t feature in the discussions was ‘Mean Streets’. This beautifully crafted crime movie is one of Scorsese’s earlier works, but with the familiar faces of Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel in leading roles, its appeal still resonates with today’s audience. Fans of Marty, and the crime genre as a whole, should check this out as a priority.

The Nightmare Before Christmas: It’s not quite the most wonderful time of the year, but the spookiest time of year has officially passed. What better film to settle you in for the transition between holidays than Tim Burton’s classic stop-motion film about Jack, the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown, as he decides to take over Christmas for one year. With a catchy soundtrack by Danny Elfman, a love story between Jack and Sally, the rag doll, and a heart-warming conclusion, this is the perfect film to watch now those darker nights are settling in.

A Scanner Darkly: Based on the novel by Philip K. Dick, this surreal, futuristic film is interesting for many reasons. First of all, the whole thing is shot in a quirky, animated style which gives it a strangely fun feel, which is cleverly contrasted against a narrative focusing on identity, law, surveillance and drug use. Starring Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, Woody Harrelson and a brilliant performance from Robert Downey Jr, as well as being directed by Richard Linklater (Boyhood), this crazy film is executed brilliantly. ‘A Scanner Darkly’ has achieved something of a cult status since its release in 2006, and now is the time for you to find out why.

This week’s WatchThisSpace was compiled by Sasha Hornby and Jakob Lewis Barnes