FILM OF THE WEEK
It is almost miraculous how Sylvester Stallone still manages to reinvent his characters and bring up to date this successful franchise that first began in 1976 with ROCKY. A few sequels later and CREED a couple of years ago in which he brought to life Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), the son of his old opponent Apollo Creed. Now Adonis is facing new challenges both professionally and personally after he decides to get married. Rocky Balboa is still supportive until another ghost from the past challenges Creed for a fight…
To say this has a feeling of déjà vu is a huge understatement but at least you know what you are in for. Steven Caple Jr. directs efficiently and underplays the drama until the final sequence.
Stallone missed out on an Oscar in CREED in a role he can practically do in his sleep, while Jordan makes a very credible hero – a strong presence in his determination to exorcise the demons from his past. He is also very vulnerable at the prospect of becoming a father himself.
A decent boxing movie that will satisfy its potential audience!
Sebastian Lelio, the Chilean director of the remarkable A FANTASTIC WOMAN changes gear for his latest film and heads for North London’s Jewish Orthodox community. He tells the story of Ronit Khruska (Rachel Weisz), an artist now living in New York, who returns to London following her rabbi father’s sudden death. Her presence immediately ignites controversy amongst the strict community especially when she tries to resurrect her old friendship with Esti (Rachel McAdams)…
Lelio is a daring director who never shies away from controversy while the two Rachels work brilliantly together and share a terrific chemistry under his fluid direction.
A touching love story told with dignity and grace!
THREE IDENTICAL STRANGERS
This compelling documentary by Tim Wardle rates amongst the best of the year! He tells the incredible story of two men who at the age of 19 accidentally discover that they are twins separated at birth to different adoptive parents. When their story hits the headlines a third man comes forward and the three identical triplets become inseparable. The time is the early eighties and the brothers become overnight celebrities until they discover a dark secret from their past…
It is an intriguing and highly entertaining film but also deeply shocking that will leave you breathless by the end. Highly recommended!
SURVIVING CHRISTMAS WITH THE RELATIVES
James Dearden, the writer of FATAL ATTRACTION and the director of PASCALI’S ISLAND hasn’t made a film since the late nineties and now makes a welcome return with this likable new film. Most people will identify with the premise where it is well known that you can choose your friends but can’t change your family.
Two sisters Miranda (Gemma Whelan) and Lila (Joely Richardson) along with their families get stuck together in their old parents’ country house for an endless three day festive “celebration”. Hollywood has made this kind of film on numerous occasions, so it makes a change to see this overfamiliar story from the British point of view. The script may be a bit rough around the edges and some characters need more developing but overall it is good harmless fun.
A fine ensemble cast but it is Joely Richardson who steals Christmas!
RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET
This is one of those rare animation films where the sequel is better than the original.
WRECK-IT RALPH made in 2012 introduced Ralph (John C. Reilly) the video game villain who becomes an unlikely hero when he meets Vanellope von Scheetz (Sarah Silverman), the racing driver enthusiast. Now these budding new friends must enter the internet in search of a replacement part to save Vanellope’s Sugar Rush video game…
It is an imaginative film superbly designed with wonderful set pieces. A fun introduction to the internet and most enjoyably to many Disney creations like TOY STORY and STAR WARS but most importantly in a joyous sequence where Vanellope gets to meet to all the Disney princesses including POCAHONTAS and Merida from BRAVE.
Song Chuan’ s fascinating film – now available on DVD from Matchbox – tells the story of Ciao Ciao, a free spirited young woman who returns to her small village on the mountains following a brief spell in the city. She hopes to go back to Canton but in the meantime she gets involved with Li Wei, a wealthy man addicted to gambling and having sex with prostitutes…
It is an unpredictable and intriguing film superbly photographed with perfectly framed compositions of the beautiful, vast mountainous landscape. See it!
Also out this week:
SHOPLIFTERS: This is a modern classic and a worthy Palme D’Or winner for Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Koreeda, the maker of OUR LITTLE SISTER and LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON. Another deeply humane film about a poor family reduced to shoplifting in order to make ends meet. Superbly directed and acted that will keep you intrigued till the end!
ROBIN HOOD: Taron Egerton is a modern day Robin of Loxley is this stylish but hollow adventure. When Robin returns from the Crusades he has no alternative but to begin a fight against the corrupt Sherriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn)…The writers try hard to modernise the legend but with mixed results.
POSTCARDS FROM LONDON: Steve McLean tells the story of Jim (a committed performance from Harris Dickenson), a naïve Essex boy who ends up being part of a group of male escorts in Soho. McLean is influenced by Derek Jarman’s work but this uneven project fails to match his unique vision while the script needs more developing.