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- Dad's Army
- Dirty Grandpa
- Jonas Kaufmann: An Evening With Puccini
- Point Break
- The Danish Girl
- The Intern
- The Revenant
Dad's Army 2 stars
England, 1944. The Second World War is on a knife edge and in the cosy community of Walmington-on-Sea, blustering bank manager George Mainwaring proudly leads the local Home Guard. Colonel Theakes reveals that he intends to sort the military wheat from the chaff and "Walmington feels chaffy." Soon after, Mainwaring learns that a German spy has infiltrated the town and is transmitting secrets back to Berlin.
- GenreComedy, Historical/Period, War
- CastCatherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Gambon, Bill Nighy, Daniel Mays, Bill Paterson, Toby Jones, Tom Courtenay, Blake Harrison.
- DirectorOliver Parker.
- WriterHamish McColl.
- Duration100 mins
- Official site
How do you improve on the perfection of Jimmy Perry and David Croft's sitcom Dad's Army, which began active service in 1968 and remains a jewel in the crown of the BBC comedy archives? You don't.
If you're director Oliver Parker and screenwriter Hamish McColl, you pepper a flimsy plot that would barely stretch to one TV episode let alone 100 minutes with the show's catchphrases and pray our abiding affection for the characters will compensate for long passages without a discernible punchline.
Original cast members Ian Lavender and Frank Williams are conscripted to cameo roles to heighten the whiff of nostalgia. Limp innuendo-laden banter about sausages barely merits a smirk, pratfalls are predictable and a terrific ensemble cast of gifted comic actors go on patrol without an arsenal of decent one-liners.
From uninspired beginning to muddled end, it's a cultural smash'n'grab that goes through the motions and will ultimately be remembered as a badly missed opportunity.
England, 1944. The Second World War is on a knife edge and in the cosy community of Walmington-on-Sea, blustering bank manager George Mainwaring (Toby Jones) proudly leads the local Home Guard. His hapless rank and file includes Sergeant Wilson (Bill Nighy), Lance Corporal Jones (Tom Courtenay) and Privates Frazer (Bill Paterson), Pike (Blake Harrison), Walker (Daniel Mays) and Godfrey (Michael Gambon), a mild-mannered soul who frequently drifts off into his own world.
The fate of the Home Guard hangs in the balance when Colonel Theakes (Mark Gatiss) reveals that he intends to sort the military wheat from the chaff and "Walmington feels chaffy." Soon after, Mainwaring learns that a German spy has infiltrated the town and is transmitting secrets back to Berlin.
This search for a traitor coincides with the arrival of glamorous magazine writer Rose Winters (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who intends to pen a flattering article about the heroics of the Home Guard. George is smitten and finds Rose most charming and agreeable.
"They said that about the Ripper," coldly retorts Mrs Mainwaring (Felicity Montagu), hard-nosed leader of Walmington-on-Sea's women's auxiliary army, which includes Pike's mother (Sarah Lancashire) and Walker's sweetheart Daphne (Emily Atack).
Dad's Army opens with a limp set piece involving a stand-off between the Home Guard and runaway livestock. "We're supposed to be locking horns with the Hun not Bertie the bull!" despairs one of the men, echoing our mounting frustration.
Jones lightens the darkening mood with a few moments of physical humour, including choking on a slice of cake, while Nighy relies on his usual snorts and tics for merriment. Montagu, Lancashire and co bring a diluted degree of girl power to proceedings that might be dismissed as tokenism without their characters' pivotal involvement in the hare-brained and lacklustre denouement.
Deadpool 4 stars
Former Special Forces operative Wade Wilson discovers he has cancer. He is offered a second chance by The Recruiter, who works for an experimental program known as Weapon X, which promises to induce a regenerative mutation to the cancerous cells. Wade undergoes treatment and is transformed into a mentally unstable hero called Deadpool, who is blessed and cursed with accelerated healing powers, disfigured skin and a politically incorrect sense of humour.
- GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Comedy, Science Fiction
- CastMorena Baccarin, Gina Carano, Ryan Reynolds, TJ Miller, Ed Skrein.
- DirectorTim Miller.
- WriterRhett Reese, Paul Wernick.
- Duration108 mins
- Official sitewww.fox.co.uk/deadpool
Just when it seemed that the Marvel Comics takeover of multiplexes was becoming a homogenous exercise in rapacious cross-branding, along comes Deadpool to deliver a swift kick to the franchise's dangling nether regions. Tim Miller's hyperkinetic origin story is like a newborn puppy that has yet to be house-trained: boundlessly energetic, blissfully oblivious to the rules, and prone to leave a steaming hot mess in a favourite pair of slippers when your guard is down. "I may be super, but I'm no hero," grins Ryan Reynolds' titular man in figure-hugging red spandex, breaking down the fourth wall to address us directly. He's not joking, for once. In an opening salvo of high-speed automotive carnage that combines gratuitous dismemberment with gleeful irreverence, his masked avenger ricochets bullets through the heads of bad guys and pushes a car cigarette lighter into the mouth of one unfortunate henchman. "Don't swallow," he quips. The relentless barrage of pop culture references and post-modern in-jokes hinges on Reynolds' ability to charm us and he barrels through every frame with a cocksure swagger that is impossible to resist. Former Special Forces operative Wade Wilson (Reynolds) is a low-rent assassin for hire, who works out of a bar called Sister Margaret's Home For Wayward Girls run by his wise-cracking buddy Weasel (TJ Miller). A loner by heart, Wade falls in love with sassy sex club worker Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), who shares his passion for creative love-making. "Happy International Women's Day," she purrs, giving him one eye-watering new experience. The furious bed-hopping ends when Wade discovers he has inoperable cancer. A recruiter (Jed Rees) from an experimental program known as WeaponX invites Wade to undergo a radical procedure, which aggressively attacks the cancerous cells. Sadistic program director Ajax (Ed Skrein) and henchwoman Angel Dust (Gina Carano) torture and abuse Wade, transforming him into a hideously deformed mutant with the power of self-healing. Reborn as Deadpool, Wade moves in with a no-nonsense landlady named Al (Leslie Uggams). "She's the Robin to my Batman... except she's old, black and blind," he quips. Aided by two bona fide X-Men - Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) - Wade vows revenge on Ajax and his underlings. Relentlessly lurid and unapologetically foul-mouthed, Deadpool is a sinful treat. Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick's script is crammed to bursting with zinging one-liners and a miasma of filth and toilet humour. Some gags narrowly miss their target, but the duds are invariably followed up in quick succession by sly digs at comic book conventions or self-referential barbs at the expense of Reynolds' good looks. Director Miller relies too heavily on slow-motion in his action sequences, but when it comes to the machine-gun dialogue, his film doesn't pause for breath.
Dirty Grandpa 2 stars
Seventy-something man of mystery Dick Kelly buries his wife and emotionally blackmails his grandson Jason into driving him to their summer home in Florida. "It's what she would have wanted," Dick assures Jason, who is a corporate lawyer in the same firm as his father. The two men hit the road and are soon diverted to Daytona Beach, where Jason has a chance to reignite romance with old flame Shadia while perpetually libidinous Dick pursues Shadia's obliging friend, Lenore.
- GenreComedy, Drama, Romance
- CastZoey Deutch, Zac Efron, Robert De Niro, Aubrey Plaza.
- DirectorDan Mazer.
- WriterJohn Phillips.
- Duration102 mins
- Official sitewww.dirtygrandpa.movie
In the prank TV show Jackass and a subsequent feature film, Johnny Knoxville donned latex to give octogenarians a bad name as politically incorrect grandpa Irving Zisman. Director Dan Mazer and screenwriter John Phillips channel a similar vibe of old men behaving crudely in this raunchy cross-generational road trip that pairs raging bull Robert De Niro and wholesome High School Musical alumnus Zac Efron.
It's a tantalising juxtaposition - wizened, worldly experience and youthful exuberance - and Phillips' expletive-laden script should mine a rich vein of humour by upending expectations about how these characters behave in polite society.
Alas, the drunken fraternity humour that runs rampant is wearisome and occasionally distasteful, including double standards in its treatment of homophobia. De Niro visibly savours his feisty old coot's potty-mouthed outbursts.
For his part, Efron gamely loses his shirt and his trousers, flashing his washboard stomach in a series of humiliations that include a mistaken case of exposure to a minor on a beach.
Seventy-something man of mystery Dick Kelly (De Niro) buries his wife and emotionally blackmails his grandson Jason (Efron) into driving him to their summer home in Florida. "It's what she would have wanted," Dick assures Jason, who is a corporate lawyer in the same firm as his father (Dermot Mulroney) and is poised to walk down the aisle with his controlling fiancee (Julianne Hough).
Jason arrives at his grandfather's home and walks in on the old timer in a state of gleeful undress, enjoying a pornographic film. "You caught me taking a number three," cackles Dick, without a flush of shame.
The two men hit the road and are soon diverted to Daytona Beach, where Jason has a chance to reignite romance with old flame Shadia (Zoey Deutch) while perpetually libidinous Dick pursues Shadia's obliging friend, Lenore (Aubrey Plaza).
"The greatest gift a grandson can give his grandfather is a hot college girl who wants to have unprotected sex with him before he dies," declares Dick but standing in his way are loutish college dudes Cody (Jake Pickering) and Brah (Michael Hudson).
Dirty Grandpa drinks from the same filthy glassware as The Hangover and its bromantic brethren. The two leads throw themselves into the fray with abandon, weathering numerous indignities including a topless dance off in search of cheap laughs.
Amidst the filth, scriptwriter Phillips dispenses pat life lessons about taking charge of your destiny and respecting elders. A running gag involving a drug dealer (Jason Mantzoukas) and two inept police officers (Mo Collins, Henry Zebrowski) runs out of puff while the sight of De Niro repeatedly shoving his thumb up his co-star's bottom as a laddish prank gets a thumbs down on its first airing let alone the fourth or fifth.
Goosebumps 4 stars
Gale Cooper moves from New York to Delaware with her teenage son Zach. Their new next door neighbour is the mysterious Mr Shivers, whose daughter Hannah is also an enigma. Zach and his new friend, socially awkward student Champ, break into Mr Shivers' home and discover he is actually renowned author RL Stine. In the process of uncovering the truth, Zach accidentally unleashes Slappy from Night Of The Living Dummy. The demented mannequin releases monsters from the rest of Stine's books.
- GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Family, Family
- CastDylan Minnette, Odeya Rush, Jack Black, Ryan Lee.
- DirectorRob Letterman.
- WriterDarren Lemke.
- Duration103 mins
- Official sitewww.facebook.com/GoosebumpsUK
Comic whirlwind Jack Black ramps up his manic energy to gale force 10 in this fast-paced fantasy adventure based on the series of children's books by RL Stine. Directed with brio by Rob Letterman, Goosebumps is a wicked delight, packed full of spooks and scares that should have adults jumping out of their seats almost as often as little ones.
Explosions of comic book violence, including a slip-sliding tussle between the Abominable Snowman and high school students on an ice rink, are orchestrated with black humour and vim. Darren Lemke's lean script barely pauses for breath between the eye-popping set pieces, but still finds time to flesh out a compelling teenage love story that remains the right side of sickly sweet.
Digital effects are impressive, seamlessly integrated with live action to conjure scenes of large-scale destruction including a runaway ferris wheel and a town under attack from a giant praying mantis.
It's huge fun, especially in 3D when some of the ghoulish things that go bump in the night appear to leap out of the screen. Letterman opens with the calm before the computer-generated storm as Gale Cooper (Amy Ryan) arrives in Delaware with her teenage son Zach (Dylan Minnette) to take up the position of vice-principal at Madison High School.
Their new next-door neighbour is the mysterious Mr Shivers (Black), whose daughter Hannah (Odeya Rush) is also an enigma. Zach and his socially awkward student Champ (Ryan Lee) break into Mr Shivers' home and discover that the truculent father is actually renowned author RL Stine.
In the process of uncovering this startling truth, Zach unlocks one of Stine's books and accidentally unleashes Slappy (voiced by Black) from Night Of The Living Dummy. The demented mannequin subsequently releases monsters from the rest of Stine's back catalogue and the grotesque creations run amok in Madison.
"Why couldn't you have written about unicorns and rainbows?" shrieks Champ.
"Because that doesn't sell 400 million copies," snaps Stine, who realises the only way to defeat Slappy is to pen another bestseller on his typewriter.
Meanwhile, Champ's high school crush Taylor (Halston Sage) and Gale's sister Lorraine (Gillian Bell) are caught up in the mayhem as zombies, a werewolf and assorted monstrosities besiege the high school.
Goosebumps careens wildly between action, comedy and touching drama, with a generous smattering of pithy verbal gags that will go above the heads of children and strike a bullseye with parents. Black leads from the front, plying the wide-eyed lunacy that has served him well, with Minnette as his straight man and foil, whose prime concern is rescuing the people he loves.
Slappy's army of grotesque henchcreatures won't induce nightmares, but might just send a pleasing shiver down young spines. A tricksy treat.
Jonas Kaufmann: An Evening With Puccini 3 stars
On June 14, 2015, celebrated German tenor Jonas Kaufmann performed a selection of arias and scenes from Turandot, Tosca, Manon Lescaut and La Fanciulla del West on the stage of La Scala Milan, the home of Italian opera, accompanied by the Filarmonica della Scala. He gave five encores and received 40 minutes of rapturous applause under the baton of conductor Jochen Rieder. This concert film captures events in Milan and includes rare archive footage, plus an introduction from Kaufmann.
- GenreDocumentary, Musical, Special
- CastJonas Kaufmann.
- DirectorBrian Large.
- WriterBrian Large.
- Duration130 mins
- Official sitewww.jonaskaufmannpuccinifilm.com
On June 14, 2015, celebrated German tenor Jonas Kaufmann performed a selection of arias and scenes from Turandot, Tosca, Manon Lescaut and La Fanciulla del West on the stage of La Scala Milan, the home of Italian opera, accompanied by the Filarmonica della Scala. He gave five encores and received 40 minutes of rapturous applause under the baton of conductor Jochen Rieder. This concert film captures events in Milan and includes rare archive footage, plus an introduction from Kaufmann about his fascination with the composer Puccini: the man and his music including the iconic aria Nessun Dorma from Turandot.
Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)
- Thursday 11th February 2016
Point Break 2 stars
Seven years after an unexpected tragedy, extreme sports thrill-seeker Johnny Utah reemerges as a rookie FBI agent, desperate to prove his worth. Instructor Hall dispatches Johnny to France in the company of British agent Pappas to identify robbery suspects among the big wave surfers. By chance, Johnny rides a monstrous tube of water with gang leader Bodhi and is welcomed into the fold by accomplices Roach, Chowder and Grommet.
- GenreAction, Adaptation, Romance, Thriller
- CastRay Winstone, Luke Bracey, Edgar Ramirez, Delroy Lindo, Teresa Palmer.
- DirectorEricson Core.
- WriterKurt Wimmer.
- Duration114 mins
- Official sitewww.pointbreakmovie.co.uk
Released in 1991, the original Point Break starring Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves was a testosterone-fuelled, homoerotic classic of the era about an emotionally scarred FBI agent, who goes undercover to bring down a gang of bank-robbing surfer dudes. Buff male characters shot lingering glances at each other dressed in tight-fitting wet suits, performed daredevil feats of one-upmanship and famously described Reeves' pretty boy thrill-seeker as young, dumb and full of one particular bodily fluid.
Director Kathryn Bigelow, who won an Academy Award for The Hurt Locker almost 20 years later, embraced the preposterousness of the set-up and charted an undeniably entertaining path through the water-drenched madness.
Ericson Core's muscle-flexing remake seeks the same extreme sports nirvana, but falls desperately short. The philosophical mumbo jumbo of the original film has been elevated to ludicrous new heights by screenwriter Kurt Wimmer, while action sequences rely too heavily on digital trickery to dazzle.
Crucially, the central relationship between the reckless cop and the sensei-like leader of the robbers lacks tantalising moral ambiguities or shifts in the balance of power. Sad to say, the 2016 incarnation should be retitled Pointless Break.
The film opens with Johnny Utah (Luke Bracey) and best friend Jeff (Max Thieriot) filming a motorcycle ride along a hilltop for their online fan base. A leap across a chasm onto a needle of rock culminates in tragedy and Johnny retires from the scene.
Seven years later, he reemerges as a rookie FBI agent, desperate to prove his worth to Instructor Hall (Delroy Lindo). Johnny gets his chance when he realises that a four-strong team of extreme sports fanatics are committing crimes in order to complete the fabled eight ordeals of Ono Ozaki, an environmentalist and athlete, who believed in harnessing the planet's natural forces to find the path to enlightenment.
Hall dispatches Johnny to France in the company of British agent Pappas (Ray Winstone) to identify suspects among the big wave surfers. By chance, Johnny rides a monstrous tube of water with gang leader Bodhi (Edgar Ramirez) and is welcomed into the fold by accomplices Roach (Clemens Schick), Chowder (Tobias Santelmann) and Grommet (Matias Varela).
They invite Johnny to shrug off past mistakes and seek pure adrenaline rushes around the world. "We can only have responsibility for our own path," counsels Bodhi. "Let others have theirs."
Point Break is a shadow of its former self, lacking all of the swaggering charm that allowed us to overlook the gaping plot holes and leaps in logic. Ramirez smoulders alone, Bracey is a bland hero and his romantic subplot an Australian daredevil (Teresa Palmer) is a fruitless diversion.
Director Core enlists some of the best athletes and stuntmen to enliven his action set pieces. Alas, even their impressive feats of strength and nerve-racking endurance can't save the film from a spectacular wipeout.
Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)
- Thursday 11th February 2016
Spotlight 4 stars
Deputy Managing Editor Ben Bradlee Jr presides over the Boston Globe newsroom and has direct responsibility for the Spotlight team led by Walter "Robby" Robinson. Down in the basement, Robby and his colleagues Michael Rezendes, Sacha Pfeiffer and Matt Carroll are hard at work on a potentially explosive story. Attorney Mitchell Garabedian claims to have documents which prove Cardinal Bernard Law knew about sexual abuse within the diocese and did nothing.
- GenreBiography, Drama, Historical/Period, Thriller
- CastRachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber, Michael Keaton, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci.
- DirectorTom McCarthy.
- WriterTom McCarthy, Josh Singer.
- Duration129 mins
- Official sitewww.spotlightthefilm.com
At its best, investigative journalism is a scalpel that slices through fatty rhetoric and cuts readers to the bones of institutions that should be defending our interests. In early 2002, the Spotlight Investigations team of the Boston Globe ran a series of meticulously researched articles, exposing the sexual abuse of minors in the Boston archdiocese.
Coverage of the scandal rippled far beyond the city boundaries and compelled other victims to come forward and share their horrific testimonies, which sent shockwaves through the Roman Catholic Church.
The newspaper was subsequently awarded the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in Journalism for its courageous and comprehensive coverage, which lifted a heavy veil of secrecy stretching back several decades.
Thomas McCarthy's impeccably crafted drama pays tribute to the close-knit team of tenacious editors and reporters, who tirelessly pursued the truth and wrung their blood, sweat and tears into the exposes.
Deputy Managing Editor Ben Bradlee Jr (John Slattery) presides over the Boston Globe newsroom and has direct responsibility for the Spotlight team led by Walter "Robby" Robinson (Michael Keaton).
Down in the basement, Robby and his colleagues Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and Matt Carroll (Brian d'Arcy) invest thousands of hours following leads and gathering evidence. Their work is valuable but costly and incoming Boston Globe editor Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) makes clear he is willing to make difficult cuts.
"I'm focused on finding a way to make this paper essential to its readers," he tells Robby. The team is hard at work on a potentially explosive story. Attorney Mitchell Garabedian (Stanley Tucci) claims to have documents which prove Cardinal Bernard Law (Len Cariou) knew about sexual abuse within the diocese and did nothing.
Marty authorises Robby to quietly pursue the story before he is personally summoned to a meeting with the Cardinal.
"I find that this city flourishes when its great institutions work together," purrs the holy man.
"I'm of the opinion that for the paper to best perform its function, it needs to stand alone," boldly retorts Marty.
Battle lines are drawn and Robby pleads with his writers so keep their emotions in check as they are confronted with horrific stories of shattered innocence. "I don't want the Chancery getting wind of this before we know what we have," he implores.
Spotlight is a clinical, precise and riveting dramatisation of a protracted search for the ugly truth in a city in the thrall of the church. The ensemble cast are exemplary with Ruffalo gifted the film's stand-out scene of unfettered indignation that undoubtedly secured him his Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor.
Some of the characters don't feel fully formed, sacrificed perhaps in favour of a forensic pursuit of the facts. Josh Singer and director McCarthy's script crackles with tension and as the printing presses of the Globe begin to roll, we finally relax.
Suffragette 4 stars
In 1912 London, Maud Watts works long, gruelling hours in a laundry with her husband Sonny, under the glare of manager Norman Taylor. Women earn less than men and are denied the vote, which rankles some of the workforce including outspoken mother Violet Miller. She encourages Maud to join the suffragette movement and speak up against this injustice. Maud becomes heavily involved in the uprising and risks her relationship with Sonny and her young son George.
- GenreDrama, Historical/Period, Romance
- CastCarey Mulligan, Meryl Streep, Brendan Gleeson, Anne-Marie Duff, Ben Whishaw, Helena Bonham Carter.
- DirectorSarah Gavron.
- WriterAbi Morgan.
- Duration106 mins
- Official site
More than 100 years after activist Emily Wilding Davison drew global attention to women's suffrage by dying beneath the hooves of King George V's horse at the Epsom Derby, Sarah Gavron's awards-tipped drama pays tribute to some of the trailblazers who laid their lives on the line in the name of equality.
Davison is a peripheral character in Suffragette and her shocking act of self-sacrifice is relegated to the denouement of Abi Morgan's script, which chooses to view the rebellion through the tear-stained eyes of a fictional heroine. Historical fact and impassioned dramatic licence are awkward bedfellows.
The latter delivers the most emotional wallops as female protagonists suffer physical and mental abuse for daring to stand up for their beliefs. Prison scenes are grim, but it's one simple domestic scene of a family torn apart behind closed doors which really cuts to the bone.
Carey Mulligan is destined for a Best Actress nomination at next year's Academy Awards for her gut-wrenching portrayal of a mother who loses everything she holds dear because she refuses to walk in a man's shadow.
The London-born actress bares her soul for the emotionally demanding role, flanked by impressive supporting turns from Anne-Marie Duff and Helena Bonham Carter.
In 1912 London, Maud Watts (Mulligan) works long hours in a laundry with her husband Sonny (Ben Whishaw), under the glare of manager Norman Taylor (Geoff Bell). Women earn less than men and are denied the vote, which rankles some of the workforce including outspoken mother Violet Miller (Duff).
She encourages Maud to join the suffragette movement and speak up against this injustice at a parliamentary panel hosted by David Lloyd George (Adrian Schiller). Alas, MPs refuse to honour a voting-rights bill amendment, so Emmeline Pankhurst (Meryl Streep) stirs her troops into direct action.
"I would rather be a rebel than a slave," she bellows to loyal lieutenants including pharmacist Edith Ellyn (Bonham Carter) and Emily Wilding Davison (Natalie Press). Maud becomes heavily involved in the uprising and risks her relationship with Sonny and young son George (Adam Michael Dodd).
She falls victim to glowering Inspector Steed (Brendan Gleeson), who has been charged with breaking the women's resolve and extinguishing the spark of rebellion before it can set London ablaze.
Suffragette forgoes the usual chocolate box period design, preferring a gloomier palette and nervous handheld camerawork. Streep's involvement is limited to a couple of scenes, allowing the predominantly British cast to shine.
Morgan's screenplay is undernourished in key areas, lightly sketching the multitude of characters, and there's a noticeable reserve when it comes to the violence and intimidation suffered by Violet and her daughter. For all its narrative restraint, Gavron's picture still moves and energises, reminding us that the fight for basic human rights continues to rage in progressive societies around the world.
Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)
- Thursday 11th February 2016
The Danish Girl 4 stars
Einar Wegener is a well respected artist in 1920s Copenhagen. His bohemian wife Gerda, who is also a painter, asks Einar to stand in for an absent female model so she can complete a canvas. The touch of soft fabric on Einar's skin awakens long dormant feelings. Adopting the guise of flame-haired Lili Elbe, Einar confronts the deep-rooted belief that he has been born into the wrong body.
- GenreAdaptation, Biography, Drama, Historical/Period, Romance
- CastAlicia Vikander, Amber Heard, Eddie Redmayne, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ben Whishaw, Sebastian Koch.
- DirectorTom Hooper.
- WriterLucinda Coxon.
- Duration120 mins
- Official sitewww.thedanishgirl.co.uk
During a momentous 2015, the transgender community has advanced the fight for acceptance, equality and understanding into popular culture and the mainstream media. Barack Obama became the first President to mention transgender people in his State Of The Union address, America confirmed a timetable for transgender soldiers to serve openly in the military, reality star Caitlyn Jenner graced the cover of Vanity Fair and award-winning TV shows Transparent and Orange Is The New Black blazed a trail for modern trans activism.
The Danish Girl is a fictionalised account of Lili Elbe, a pioneer of the movement, who was one of the first people to undergo gender reassignment surgery in the 1920s. Director Tom Hooper, who collected an Academy Award for The King's Speech, adopts a restrained and painfully polite approach to the subject matter, artfully navigating a maelstrom of conflicting emotions.
Thankfully, his British reserve doesn't get in the way of us connecting to the characters, aided by tour-de-force performances from Eddie Redmayne as Lili and the luminous Alicia Vikander as his conflicted wife. Their commitment to demanding roles, including a deeply moving scene of full-frontal nudity for Redmayne, elevates Lucinda Coxon's script and guarantees a deluge of saltwater tears from audiences, who believe that love transcends all boundaries.
Einar Wegener (Redmayne) is a respected artist in 1920s Copenhagen, who falls in love at first sight with his bohemian wife Gerda (Vikander). She is also a painter and asks Einar to stand in for an absent female model so she can complete a portrait of their flamboyant ballerina friend, Ulla (Amber Heard).
The touch of soft fabric on Einar's skin awakens long-dormant feelings. Adopting the guise of flame-haired ingenue Lili Elbe, Einar confronts the deep-rooted belief that he has been born into the wrong body. "It doesn't matter what I wear. When I dream, they're Lili's dreams," Einar tearfully confides to his shell-shocked spouse.
Supported by Gerda and childhood friend Hans Axgil (Matthias Schoenaerts), Lili approaches controversial surgeon Warnekros (Sebastian Koch) to correct nature's mistake. However, the medical procedure is both experimental and highly dangerous, and Gerda might not only lose her husband on the operating table, but also Lili.
The Danish Girl treads an exceedingly safe path, but it's hard to resist the aching emotion that courses beneath each exquisite, painterly frame. Redmayne and Vikander are mesmerising, conveying their protagonists' inner torment with each trembling touch or tear-stained glance. Both deserve Oscar recognition.
Resplendent cinematography and costumes capture the tightly-buttoned restraint of an era when a man who openly questioned his gender was labelled a schizophrenic or pervert by the medical establishment.
Thankfully, times have changed - too slowly, perhaps - but well-crafted stories of triumph against adversity like this are timeless.
Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)
- Thursday 11th February 2016
The Intern 3 stars
Seventy-year-old widower Ben Whittaker applies for a senior citizen internship at a flourishing Brooklyn-based company founded by workaholic, Jules Ostin. The dress code is casual but Ben insists on wearing a shirt and tie. As Ben settles into his new role, he befriends Jules' overworked personal assistant Becky, her husband Matt and their precocious daughter Paige. He also makes a big impression on in-house masseuse Fiona, sowing the seeds of a tender romance.
- GenreComedy, Drama, Romance
- CastRobert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Anders Holm, Rene Russo.
- DirectorNancy Meyers.
- WriterNancy Meyers.
- Duration121 mins
- Official sitewww.theinternmovie.com
In an increasingly impersonal age, which gauges success by page impressions and numbers of followers on social media platforms, boardrooms are being led by young, ambitious tech-savvy entrepreneurs, who made their first millions when they were still at university.
One world-changing app or website, and these high-fliers look forward to a financially comfortable retirement well before the first buds of a mid-life crisis blossom.
The wisdom and experience of an older generation, who toiled for decades before the first modem crackled noisily to life, are often overlooked in this global marketplace. Filmmaker Nancy Meyers reminds us that there is life after 60 in The Intern, a frothy exploration of romantic travails set in the offices of a thriving dot-com fashion business.
As she bridges the divide between the old-fashioned ideals of a bygone era and the relentless 24-hour bombardment of information of the present day, the writer-director sketches a touching friendship between a 70-year-old widower and a high-flying young executive.
Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro) is struggling to get to grips with the gentle ebb and flow of life following the death of his wife. "Retirement is an ongoing, relentless effort in creativity," he narrates, ricocheting between menial tasks such as fending off the amorous advances of old friend Patty (Linda Lavin).
To keep his mind active, Ben applies for a senior citizen internship at a flourishing Brooklyn-based company founded by workaholic, Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway). The dress code is casual but Ben insists on wearing a shirt and tie.
"At least I'll stand out," he smiles.
"I don't think you need to wear a suit to do that," replies Jules.
As Ben settles into his new role, he befriends Jules' overworked personal assistant Becky (Christina Scherer), her husband Matt (Anders Holm) and their precocious daughter Paige (JoJo Kushner). He also makes a big impression on in-house masseuse Fiona (Rene Russo), sowing the seeds of a tender romance.
When Jules' position as CEO comes under threat, Ben provides emotional support in a time of crisis and teaches his boss that success shouldn't always come at the expense of personal relationships.
The Intern bears the thumbprints of Meyers' earlier pictures, including What Women Want, Something's Gotta Give and It's Complicated. Tearful self-discovery is accessorised with broad humour, and De Niro and Hathaway catalyse a winning screen partnership.
Unfortunately, Jules and Matt's marriage isn't scripted with the same amount of care or emotional depth, despite the best efforts of Holm to verbalise the frustrations of his house husband. A hysterical centrepiece sequence, laden with Ocean's Eleven references, belongs to a different film entirely but suggests that you're never too old to break the law for a good reason.
Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)
- Thursday 11th February 2016
The Revenant 4 stars
Hugh Glass guides a team of 19th-century fur trappers and hunters under the command of Captain Andrew Henry. The men come under attack from Native Americans and Glass is mauled by a grizzly bear, which is protecting its cubs. Captain Henry leaves behind two men, Fitzgerald and Bridger, to tend to Glass and his son, Hawk. Fitzgerald decides to expedite matters by killing Hawk and dragging Glass' near lifeless body into a freshly dug grave. The explorer regains consciousness and vows revenge.
- GenreAction, Adventure, Drama, Romance, Western
- CastLeonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Forrest Goodluck.
- DirectorAlejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.
- WriterAlejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Mark L Smith.
- Duration156 mins
- Official sitewww.foxmovies.com/movies/the-revenant
If film awards were bestowed for dogged determination and perseverance in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, The Revenant would sweep the 2016 Oscars. Mexican auteur Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu chose to shoot his sprawling historical epic in chronological order using natural light.
These bold aesthetic choices limited filming to just a couple of hours each day and when Mother Nature decided to withhold snow from the unforgiving Canadian wilderness, the entire production moved to Argentina at considerable expense.
Actor Tom Hardy was forced to drop out of the comic book adventure Suicide Squad to accommodate the extended filming schedule, the budget ballooned and one crew member famously described the mood on set as "a living hell".
Trials and tribulations behind the scenes haven't tarnished Inarritu's audacious vision because The Revenant is a tour-de-force of technical brio and emotionally cold storytelling. It's not a journey into the heart of darkness for the sentimental or faint of heart. Explosions of violence are graphic and a horrifying bear attack early in the film unfolds in a single, unbroken take that shreds our nerves beyond repair.
Leading man Leonardo DiCaprio puts himself through the wringer for his art. In one stomach-churning scene, the fervent vegetarian eats a wild bison's liver on camera because the role demands it. Such unswerving dedication makes him a deserved frontrunner for the Academy Award.
He plays 19th-century explorer Hugh Glass, who guides a team of fur trappers and hunters under the command of Captain Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson). The men come under attack from Native Americans led by tribal chief Elk Dog (Duane Howard), whose daughter Powaqa (Melaw Nakehk'o) has been kidnapped.
The interlopers flee for their lives and Glass is subsequently injured in a mauling from a grizzly bear, which is protecting its cubs. Henry leaves behind two men, Fitzgerald (Hardy) and Bridger (Will Poulter), to tend to Glass and his son, Hawk (Forrest Goodluck), while the rest of the trappers head for safety.
"Glass is to be cared for... as long as necessary," orders the Captain, "and a proper burial when it's time. He's earned that." Fitzgerald decides to expedite matters by killing Hawk and dragging Glass' near lifeless body into a freshly dug grave.
The explorer regains consciousness some time later and vows to hunt down the men who killed his boy. "I ain't afraid to die," growls Glass. "I done it already."
The Revenant is a gruelling two and a half hours in the company of a filmmaker who refused to compromise. Aided by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity, Birdman), Inarritu conjures a nightmarish and unflinching vision of a grieving father's revenge mission.
DiCaprio is mesmerising, dragging his wounded body across frozen landscapes before locking horns with Hardy's scowling rival in an adrenaline-pumped climax that leaves us gasping for air.