Number three in the Ant-Man stand alone features – and sadly much of the irreverence and humour is lost in a dull, unengaging adventure narrative.
Turns out Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer – Hairspray, Dangerous Liaisons) wasn’t completely forthcoming in her time in the Quantum Realm. A whole convoluted universe (think Star Wars) exists where power struggles are fought – and Janet was a key member of the rebel forces against Kang (Jonathan Majors – Da 5 Bloods, Creed III). Dragged back into the realm, Scott (Paul Rudd – Ghostbusters: Afterlife, The Fundamentals of Caring)and now-teenage daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton – Ben Is Back, TV’s Big Little Lies) find themselves separated from the Van Dynes. They need to find a way to come together and prevent Kang escaping the Quantum Realm into their real world.
Derivative storytelling and visuals, the third Ant-Man from director Peyton Reed is sadly lacking in any sense of excitement or urgency. Moving from scenario to scenario, there’s little in the way of connection between the combined saviours of the world. Dull.
It’s the frocks that shine in this cute but shallow remake of an earlier tv movie as Christan Dior beckons a cockney cleaning lady.
A regular cleaner for Lady Dant (Anna Chancellor – Crush, TV’s The Split) gains few benefits (and late wage payments) except exposure to Dior haute couture. On learning the current beauty hanging in the wardrobe cost a staggering £500, Mrs Harris (Lesley Manville – Phantom Thread, Maleficent) is determined to purchase her own in time for the 1957 annual local town hall social. Scrimping and saving follows, supported by best friend, Violet (Ellen Thomas – The Love Punch, TV’s Eastenders). Ada gets to Paris eventually where, in spite of the snobbish Madame Colbert (Isabelle Huppert – Elle, The Piano Teacher), she gets her way – and changes the lives of those she comes into contact with as well as the future of the House of Dior itself.
Charm incarnate as directed by Anthony Fabian (Skin, Louder Than Words), Mrs Harris Goes to Paris is the saccharine-sweet embodiment of a fairy-tale as the good-natured Ada (a delightful Lesley Manville) tires of being invisible.
Nominated for 2023 Best Costume Oscar (Jenny Beaven).
An intimate documentary on the life of legendary Tina Turner from her early years with Ike Turner through to happiness and 30 years of marriage living in Zurich, Switzerland.
As an icon of a woman redefining herself in her late 40s having escaped a violent and abusive marriage, Tina Turner has few equals. As the first woman to sell out concerts in huge football stadiums (including 180,000 in Rio, a then world-record attendance), Tina Turner has no equal. She is also one of the best-selling recording artists of all time (approximately 150 million records). All was achieved after a rancorous split from Ike Turner.
Tina is an up close and personal exploration divided into chapters. Inevitably, time is spent on those early years but the majority of the documentary as directed by Daniel Lindsay & TJ Martin (Undefeated, LA92) focuses on her phoenix-like emergence from Las Vegas cabaret to rock superstardom. With archive footage and interviews with the likes of husband Erwin Bach, Oprah Winfrey, Angela Bassett, music critics alongside Tina herself, Tina may avoid recent health problems and some of the more personal controversies with the schism between her and four sons, but it remains a fascinating crowd pleaser of triumph over adversity.
Hired to follow high-profile chief engineer for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, a tough talking private detective finds himself in deep water as corruption and murder bubble to the surface.
A straightforward cheating husband case seems easy money for J.J.Gittes (Jack Nicholson – Easy Rider, The Departed) as the wife of Hollis Mulwray (Darrell Zwerling – Grease, And Justice For All) hires the private detective. But things become more complicated when the real Mrs Mulwray (Faye Dunaway – Bonnie & Clyde, Network) appears at his office – and Mulwray turns up dead.
Blackmail, corruption and murder unspool in Gittes’ so-called easy money case as 1930s LA struggles through a drought in director Roman Polanski’s (The Pianist, Knife in the Water) sublime detective thriller full of brooding suspense.
Nominated for 11 Oscars in 1975 including best film, director, actor, actress, cinematography – won 1 for best original screenplay (Robert Towne)
Any synopsis of Volver creates the vision of a melodramatic multi-seasoned telenovela as Almodóvar’s interwoven fantasy with reality tale of mothers and daughters unfolds.
Having lost her mother in a fire years earlier, Raimunda (Penelope Cruz – Vanilla Sky, Parallel Mothers) is concerned about the mental state of Tía Paula, the aunt who raised her. Having recently visited her home village, it’s there Tía Paula claimed Irene (Carmen Maura – Oh Carmela! Cuernavaca), Raimunda’s dead mother, is living with her. But all is forgotten a few days later when daughter Paula (Yohana Cobo – Vidas pequeñas, 75 días) confesses she has murdered her unemployed father Paco, who tried to rape her whilst drunk.
That’s the first 20 or so minutes accounted for! In a true-to-form Almodóvar (Parallel Mothers, Talk to Her), Volver is a melodramatic comedic delight as superstitions, gossip, ghosts and murder seemingly conspire against Raimunda to make a success of a simple life as she hides a dead body and defrauds her neighbour’s restaurant business. With a lightness of touch and perfect timing (particularly from Cruz), Volver may push the boundaries of believability but it has a charm all of its own.
Nominated for best actress Oscar in 2007.
Raw and honest yet suffused with humour, Still is a moving portrayal of actor Michael J. Fox’s personal battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Diagnosed with the incurable ‘old person’s disease’ at the height of his fame and months shy of his 30th birthday, Michael J. Fox went public a decade later in 2000 and, in founding the Michael J. Fox Foundation, has raised more than $2 billion for research. But Still, as directed by Davis Guggenheim (He Named Me Malala, Waiting For Superman) is the story of the more personal battle as Fox, along with wife Tracy Pollan and their (now adult) kids, come to terms with the progressively debilitating effects of the disease.
The charm of Still is Fox himself. He matter-of-fact talks of pain management and the black eyes and broken limbs during the making of the documentary, the result of falling over in domestic places such as the kitchen. Through interviews and the interweaving of archival footage from early television and film hits with playing more recent television characters openly suffering from Parkinson’s, Still creates an unexpectedly warm tale of a quite and quietly extraordinary person.
An English country manor with the interwoven comings and goings of the upstairs gentry and downstairs staff. Sound familiar? An earlier (2001) script by a decade from Julian Fellowes predates the behemoth that was to become Downton Abbey.
Only there’s few of the niceties of the later series evident in Robert Altman’s (Nashville, M*A*S*H) delight of a feature. It’s a strained shooting weekend upstairs that’s reflected downstairs as the emnity between imperious housekeeper Mrs Wilson (Helen Mirren – The Queen, Hitchcock) and cook Mrs Croft (Eileen Atkins – Cold Mountain, TV’s Doc Martin) adds to the atmosphere. It’s all somewhat tense at Gosford Park. And to make matters worse, half way through the film, someone bumps off the wealthy, irascible host, William McCordle (Michael Gambon – Harry Potter, Judy).
Guests and staff come under suspicion. What had started as a series of related and unrelated storylines lay the foundation for a whodunnit as the earlier desperate financial manouverings of at least three of the family members come under scrutiny. But things are never that simple or that obvious.
It being an Altman film, the cast reads like a who’s who virtuoso ensemble piece with a sublime script from Fellowes that expertly provides drama, pathos, comedy and social commentary in its 137 minute running time.
Nominated for 7 Oscars in 2002 including best film, director, supporting actress (Helen Mirren), supporting actress (Maggie Smith), art direction – won 1 for original script.
On the Japanese island of Amami Ōshima, a tattooed body is washed ashore. So begins a tender, Zen-like drama as two teenagers look to find their place with each other and in the wider world.
A suitably morose Kaito (Nijirô Murakami – Isle of Dogs, Natsumi’s Firefly) discovers the unidentified body as he struggles to deal with the separation of his parents. Girlfriend Kyoto (Junko Abe – Remember to Breathe, The Voice of Sin) is also dealing with separation issues as her mother, an island shaman, is approaching death.
Quiet, nuanced, understated, writer/director Naomi Kawase (Sweet Bean, The Mourning Forest) slowly and poetically peals back the poignancy of her coming-of-age story set in a natural world of great coastal beauty.
Strange, disturbing and ultimately unsatisfying, Men follows a recently bereaved woman on a solo vacation in the quiet of an English country village.
Having witnessed the suicide of stockbroker husband James (Paapa Essiedu – TV’s I May Destroy You, Gangs of London), writer Harper (Jessie Buckley – Beast, Wild Rose) is persuaded to take a few days out of London at a comfortable, rambling house in the English countryside of the Cotswolds. Only things are not what they seem, resulting in a truly terrifying experience as Harper attempts to come to terms with her remorse and guilt over James’ death. Unnerved by encounters with various men in the village, she fails to be reassured by the gung-ho owner of the vacation home, Geoffrey (Rory Kinnear – Skyfall, TV’s Ridley Road).
Writer/director Alex Garland (Ex Machina, Annihilation) throws caution to the wind with his lack of explanation as to why what’s happening is happening (and it’s definitely odd), ensuring ultimately it fails as either a drama or a horror film. But both Buckley and, in particular, Kinnear are convincing.
Engaging, straight forward telling of the rise of Nike in the making of basketball shoes through the securing of Michael Jordan as the name tied to the brand.
In the 1980s, the basketball division of Nike is struggling, accounting for only 17% of sales – a distant third to Converse and the German Adidas company. Basketball talent scout Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon – The Martian, The Last Duel) is appointed to find a new spokesperson. His argument is to put everything on one player rather than spreading money thinly over three or four players. CEO Phil Knight (Ben Affleck – Argo, The Town) is reluctant but Vaccaro and Marketing VP Rob Strasser (Jason Bateman – Horrible Bosses, Juno) convince him they need to secure Michael Jordan.
Perseverance and determination win out as Vaccaro’s infectious energy ensures Nike gets their man – but not without an equally determined Deloris Jordan (a magnificent Viola Davis who defines ‘supporting actress’ in her role as the athlete’s mother) ensuring that respect and financial recompense are forthcoming.
As director, Ben Affleck (Argo, Gone Baby Gone) has ensured that a story so worth telling is told well and packed with strong performances throughout.