Film review by Jason Day of the modern-day musical La La Land, starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.
A list of the new movies released in UK cinemas, as of Friday 10 April 2015, with links to official websites. For details of cinemas nearest to you screening them, use Find Any Film.
American crime drama set on the border with Mexico, about two brothers, one a violinist and the other a mercenary and the choices they make in the turbulent American-Mexican drug war. The film stars Thomas Jane and Vincent D’Onofrio. The film will be showing at key cities only. Check out IMDb for the details.
George Mackay, who so sensitively played Joe in Pride (2014) continues to impress with the lead in this drama about a teenager who gets in too deep when he dabbles in petty crime. The official website, with trailer and details of where to see the film, has more info.
Nirvana fans rejoice, this documentary blends the late lead singer Kurt Cobain’s personal archive of art, music, never seen before movies, animation and interviews from his family and closest friends. The official website has the trailer and everything else you need to know, including details of screenings all over the world.
This documentary from director Tonje Hessen looks at different sides of conflicts that use drones (unmanned, aerial combat vehicles). For more details, check out the Facebook page. Click around Find Any Film to locate your nearest cinema.
Brittle and sardonic sounding Swedish comedy-drama about a man who, in a moment of instant cowardice, abandons his wife and two children when an avalanche threatens them whilst on holiday. His family survive, but it causes a rift between him and his wife and some probing questions from their friends when he refuses to admit what happened. Check out the official Magnolia Pictures webpage for more.
Films about drones are clearly in vogue this week, with this action drama. A Las Vegas fighter-pilot turned drone-pilot (Ethan Hawke) fights the Taliban via remote control for half of his day, then goes home to his wife (January Jones) and kids in the suburbs for the other half. The official Arrow Films webpage has a bit more detail about this film (including the trailer) which will have a wide distribution, so should feature at your local big multiplex.
There aren’t enough films about Hot Tubs, and precious few about them being time machines. So if you like both prepare to fill your boots with this sequel, as the old gang get back together to rescue one of their number after he is shot by an unknown assailant. The official UK website has the low-down, the film will be playing all across the UK.
Viggo Mortensen leads in this Danish ‘western’ as a man who searches for his daughter, who eloped with her lover in the dead of night. They then journey to a desert beyond the confines of civilization. The official Soda Pictures webpage has details of the cinemas you can catch it at, in key UK cities only.
Crime dramas featuring cute dogs are also all the rage these days. After the Staffordshire Bull Terrier in The Drop with Tom Hardy earlier this year we now have Keanu Reeves seeking revenge against New York underworld figures who killed his cute Beagle puppy, a present from his late, beloved wife. A fantastic colour scheme of neon-electric blues and greens are used in this flashy looking piece, co-starring Game Of Thrones’ Alfie Allen. The official Warner Brothers webpage has the trailer and anything else you need to know. It will have a wide distribution, so should be in your local big multiplex…or check Find Any Film if you want to be extra prepared.
Actor Ryan Gosling makes his debut as a director with this strange sounding, fantastical drama about a young mother who enters a dark lifestyle during financial hardship, leaving her eldest son to look after his younger brother. The reviews thus far have been savage, calling the film self-indulgent and a poor mix of David Lynch and Gosling’s Svengali, Nicholas Winding Refn. See for yourselves though as the film will be released in key UK cities. The official trailer is on Youtube.
Kevin James returns as the inept mall security guard who decides to take a well-earned vacation to Las Vegas with his young daughter. But when duty calls, Blart is on-hand to help. The official Sony Pictures webpage has the trailer and you should be able to see it at most multiplexes.
Helen Mirren stars as an elderly Jewish woman who tackles the Austrian establishment in order to reclaim part of her heritage, namely the famous Woman In Gold painting by Gustav Klimt that apparently features her sister, who died in the Nazi death camps, as the woman. Ryan Reynolds supports as her plucky but inexperienced American lawyer who helps her seek justice.
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn. A Grand Elephant/Bold Films/Film i Vast et al. (18).
Producers: Lene Borglum, Sidonie Dumas, Vincent Maraval.
Writer: Nicolas Winding Refn.
Camera: Larry Smith.
Music: Cliff Martinez.
Sets: Beth Mickle.
Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vithaya Pansringarm, Gordon Brown, Yayaying Rhatha Phongam, Tom Burke, Sahajak Boonthanakit, Pitchawat Petchayahon.
Bangkok-based drug dealer Julian’s (Gosling) life spirals out of control after his brother (Burke) beats an underage prostitute to death. The karaoke loving cop (Pansringarm) on his tail is the least of his worries though when Julian’s forthright and mourning mother (Scott-Thomas) turns up, demanding revenge on all those involved in Burke’s death, irrespective of what he did. Julian’s mettle and manhood are tested to the limits.
If ever there was a film to divide opinion, it would be Only God Forgives. Booed at Cannes whilst simultaneously receiving a standing ovation, it is a troubling rumination on the nature of vengeance and justice in which no protagonist escapes unscathed.
There is no question about the level of violence in this movie; it is shockingly, stomach-turningly aggressive and visceral. If one is easily upset by scenes of dismemberment, you may want to think twice before buying your admission ticket as a lot of arms are lost during the proceeding actions.
Whether all of this is actually necessary is a big point of debate, as are the contents of writer/director Winding Refn’s mind to come up with such a twisted narrative in the first place. But this is perhaps in keeping with the tonal and moral contrasts that feature throughout the film.
What shouldn’t be fought over is the striking visual style that Winding Refn has constructed his film with. Or constructed his film around as in real life he is colour blind so favours strong, contrasting colours as they allow him to detect tonal differences more easily. His films have a stark, almost hallucinogenic quality to them and in key scenes here, he uses two bold colours on top of one other, such as the opening boxing match.
Fans of David Lynch might jump for joy or run for cover at some of the overt references to that man’s own surreal work, particularly in the pulsing colour of the brothels so evocative of the ‘red room’ scenes in Twin Peaks.
Only God Forgives has the texture of a neon dream and there are odd highlights that push it further into being some sort of fairy-tale. The perpetually calm Pansringarm, when not placidly slicing people to bits, has a penchant for romantic karaoke and sings in a favourite bar surrounded by fairy lights. A dreamlike music twinkling in the background is the only sound as Gosling is informed why his brother was beaten to death. It is for this reason along that the film stands out as a stunning and uniquely visual high.
The performances are uniformly strange, hypnotic even, with Thomas standing out as the only person with anything to say, a peroxide Furie breathing cigarette smoke and peppering the air with language that would make even the hardiest of prostitutes blush, spurning her reluctant, Oedipal son to action. She is perhaps the most traditionally masculine person in the film.
Despite the extreme violence, this disturbing story is leavened by long pauses and almost non-existent dialogue (Gosling can’t say more than a few dozen words throughout) lending the narrative an almost contemplative feel, further enhanced by the actors slow and purposeful delivery allowing the audience chance to concentrate on why they feel the characters are acting the way they are. The downside is that sometimes, we have to work a bit too hard to fill in some of the gaps.