The best films out now
From the latest Marvel movie, Black Widow, starring Scarlett Johansson to the objectophilic romance Jumbo starring Noémie Merlant, here are the best films in cinemas this weekend
Right now, despite the various examples of Hollywood escapism, cinema seems to be revelling in emotional exhaustion. If there’s a debilitating or terminal illness, even better. But on the whole, they've been overwhelmingly excellent. Nowhere Special is the latest example, following a terminally ill window-cleaner in Belfast who’s making preparations for his son.
James Norton (Mr Jones, McMafia) plays John the window-cleaner, with a performance that could be a career highlight. Despite loving his son, John's convinced there’s nothing about himself that's worth remembering. Have the tissues ready.
Another key cinematic postponement, Black Widow was meant to kick off Marvel’s latest cycle of movies last year – before a blockbuster-worthy pandemic struck the world. Now, it’s finally hitting cinemas and dropping on Disney+ as a premium release. But this thrilling superhero spectacle really deserves the biggest screen with the biggest speakers.
Scarlett Johansson stars as Natasha Romanoff, an Avenger who was trained in a Russian brainwashing facility led by the evil misogynist Dreykov (Ray Winstone). With her assigned ‘sister’ Yelena (an always vivid Florence Pugh), Natasha aims to bring down Dreykov’s operation.
What Culture Whisper says: ‘Marvel excels at these specifically cinematic experiences, even if the intrusive CGI removes much of the suspense’
Perhaps the most engaging documentaries are the smaller ones, in which the cameras pan and zoom to subjects that usually avoid acknowledgement. This film is a potentially shining example, following the truffle hunters of northern Italy.
Buried in the rural landscapes of Piedmont, removed from the rest of the world, this isolated community respects tradition and distrusts outside forces. It's no wonder it took three cameraless months for the directors Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw to earn their trust.
The Truffle Hunters examines these eccentric elderly men who venture into the mountain forests searching for the aromatic white truffle, an expensive commodity known for the rich, umami flavours it adds to food.
The weird should never be underestimated or ignored, and this debut from Belgian director Zoé Wittock is a promising indie oddity. Starring Noémie Merlant (Portrait of a Lady on Fire), Jumbo follows the timid fairground worker Jeanne, who falls in love with one of the rides. No, really.
The film examines the phenomenon of objectophilia, a condition in which people are romantically attracted to inanimate objects. Jeanne takes a particular fancy to the tilt-a-whirl ride, which she nicknames Jumbo, and embarks on a strange, seductive journey with 'him’.
On paper, the premise of Another Round seems like a second-rate studio comedy. But Danish director Thomas Vinterberg creates a brilliantly existential tragicomedy, following four teachers who experiment with drinking every day.
They test a theory by a Norwegian psychiatrist that suggests the human blood-alcohol content is too low. In a drunken effort to escape their everyday mundanity, they find new leases of life, but this has funny and dire consequences. Mads Mikkelsen stars.
What Culture Whisper says: 'Similar to when you watch Bake Off and want to consume every cake in sight, this drunken Danish odyssey – embarked upon by four depressed and dissatisfied teachers – makes you crave a good drink.'
A strong contender for the best film of the year, Supernova is a crushing, picturesque road movie. Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci star in career-best performances as a middle-class couple. Sam (Firth) is a retired musician and Tusker (Tucci) is an author. They embark on a campervan trip across the rolling, sun-soaked hills of the Lake District.
But there’s a reason for this journey: it’s a distraction, of sorts, from Tusker’s early on-set dementia, which is slowly encroaching on his mind and body. It’s safe to say you’ll need a few tissues for this one, but there are many moments of very human humour.
What Culture Whisper says: 'Love explodes largest in darkness, like stars in supernova stage, and this film shines exceedingly bright. But it burns, too.'
The Fast and Furious movies have changed a lot in 20 years – beginning way, way back in 2001. The team of ultra-experienced drivers has gone from racing rivals and evading police cars to stealing from bank vaults and flying from skyscrapers. It’s now exploded into the most ridiculous, fantastical franchise in movie history and shows no signs of stopping.
In this ninth entry, Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) travels across London, Tokyo, Central America, Edinburgh and Azerbaijan to put right the sins of his past. A highly skilled assassin, who also happens to be a proficient driver, is plotting something huge and terrible. But he also happens to be Dom’s brother, Jakob (John Cena). Michelle Rodriguez, Helen Mirren, Kurt Russell, Charlize Theron and Cardi B also star.
The pandemic has snatched away that sense of cinematic spectacle, but In The Heights brings it back. Based on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s pre-Hamilton Broadway debut, this musical is set in the thick of the Latin-American community of New York City. Most of the residents have big dreams, but they’re up against racism and gentrification.
Anthony Ramos stars as the
central character Usnavi, a bodega owner who fancies the aspiring fashion
designer Vanessa (Melissa Barrera). Meanwhile, the Stanford student Nina (Leslie Grace) returns to the Heights and is having doubts about her studies.
What Culture Whisper says: 'an undeniably dazzling, if overly long, return to that form of cinematic spectacle.'
Photo: Warner Bros
It’s always difficult to predict where the British filmmaker Ben Wheatley will go next. He’s equally comfortable making small indie films like Happy New Year, Colin Burstead and starry, sumptuous dramas like his Rebecca remake. He’s even directing the upcoming sequel to the silly shark movie The Meg. But for his new folk-horror film In the Earth, set in some gloomy woods near Bristol, he’s returning to his strange, low-budget roots.
Joel Fry (Cruella, Benjamin) stars as Dr Martin Lowery, who goes into the woods with his ex-lover Dr Olivia Wendle (Hayley Squires, Adult Material) to investigate fungi. What starts as a potentially boring expedition leads to many terrors among the trees.
For his role in The Father, Anthony Hopkins became the oldest winner of the Best Actor Oscar. And it’s easy to see why. Florian Zeller’s daring dementia drama, based on his own play, is a complicated journey through a labyrinth of memories – all bumping into each other.
Hopkins plays Anthony, a retired engineer, who roams around his flat in a state of constant confusion. Names, faces and corridors shift around. He tries to grasp a consistent reality via his daughter, played by Olivia Colman (The Crown), but past, present and future meld into one: creating an emotionally surreal experience.
What Culture Whisper says: 'Hopkins is a perfect fit for Anthony’s fusty, elderly intolerance, proficiently writhing and wriggling through the contradictions in his character's perceptions.'
Ilya Naishuller started his career making insanely action-packed music videos, shot from an intense POV perspective. He used the same first-person-shooter gimmick in his feature debut Hardcore Henry. For his new film Nobody, he abandons that style but keeps the blood-soaked choreography.
Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul) stars as Hutch, a seemingly calm and restrained family man who’s unlikely to confront any danger. But he has hidden strengths. When a woman is being harassed by a gang on a bus, he springs into action and annihilates the members. This leads, naturally, to Hutch being targeted by Russian mobsters.
Photo: Universal/Way to Blue
John Krasinski – aka Jim from The Office – made one of the most popular films in recent years: A Quiet Place. Now, after a year-long delay due to Covid, the anticipated sequel to the sound-sensitive horror experience is finally hitting cinemas. And it’s even better than the first.
Following the events of the original film, A Quiet Place Part II sees the Abbott family move from their home. They find an abandoned railway depot, solely occupied by the ragged and traumatised Emmett (Cillian Murphy). But once Regan (Millicent Simmonds) – the hearing-impaired daughter – realises there are more survivors out there, she goes on a solo mission to find them.
What Culture Whisper says: 'an action-horror movie experience that’s bigger, bolder, and scarier than its predecessor.'
There’s a strange, ominous calm that pervades Aleem Khan’s film debut. The story follows Mary (Joanna Scanlan), a convert to Islam, whose supposedly devoted husband suddenly dies. She discovers after the funeral that he had a secret lover in France, and she ventures across the Channel to confront her. But that other woman, Genevieve (Nathalie Richard), believes Mary’s her new cleaner. And so, Mary takes on the role – while learning as much as she can.
After Love is a journey of understanding, acceptance and grief. Khan doesn’t deal in wide, sweeping gestures or blockbuster personalities – but in small, significant moments. It’s a quiet film with explosive emotions underneath.
These gloomy times deserve something unabashedly feel-good, and this Wales-based racehorse drama aims for that.
Starring Toni Collette, Damian Lewis and Owen Teale, Dream Horse follows the true story of a working-class community that breeds a horse to enter for the races. Collette plays the cashier/bartender Jan Vokes, who leads a troop of locals to fund this strange venture.
Photo: Warner Bros
At this point in time, Hollywood seems to be a constant torrent of spin-offs and prequels and sequels and remakes and reboots. Disney is the most obvious victim, but Cruella is different. This new, live-action origin story of the dognapping villain from 101 Dalmatians is fun, furious and fabulous.
The story takes place in 1970s Britain: when punk was about to overthrow the hoity-toity establishment. The soon-to-be Cruella (Emma Stone) wants to ascend in the fashion world, but the psychopathic Baroness (Emma Thompson) won't let her.
What Culture Whisper says: 'a fun, furious and fabulous origin story for the dah-ling dognapper'.
Photo: Getty/Disney Enterprises Inc./Laurie Sparham
Despite its initial release on Disney+, Nomadland deserves to be seen on the biggest screen possible. Chloé Zhao's picturesque examination of nomadic life is a quaint and beautiful drama.
The story follows Fern (Frances McDormand) who drives across the American West in her campervan, in search of work. The film won three Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress.
What Culture Whisper says: 'Zhao soothes you into that world, which you might never visit; she finds and befriends people you might never meet. It's a warm, stunning and humanistic piece of filmmaking.'
Photo: 20th Century Studios/image.net
In the week of cinemas reopening, the delayed sequel to the live-action Peter Rabbit has triumphed at the box office. The film has risen to the UK’s top spot, predicting a profitable summer for the movies.
James Corden returns to voice this troublemaking version of Beatrix Potter’s literary creation. Peter and the other rabbits have negotiated a truce with former nemesis Thomas (Domhnall Gleeson) and children’s author Bea (Rose Byrne). But Thomas still treats Peter badly, causing the latter to fall in with the wrong crowd.
Photo: Sony Pictures Releasing/PA MediaRead more ...
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