All the movies worth catching in the capital, from a remake that dances over the original to a classic British caper...
Out and about this weekend? Fancy a film but can’t make your mind up what to see? Look no further: we’ve assembled the best of what’s on in London and gathered them here to make choosing a great movie as easy as possible. Whether it’s a light-hearted drama that’ll make you fall in love with Julianne Moore (yes: again) or a timely documentary that might change how you think about food, Walloh has you covered. No need to thank us.
As if you needed an excuse to go and see Julianne Moore in anything, Gloria Bell arrives as yet another testament to her endless talent. A remake of Chilean film Gloria (and helmed by the same director, reworking his own material), Gloria Bell puts us in the company of the titular divorcee, a fifty-something whose upbeat attitude is admirable and love of dancing is contagious. Those expecting something low-key based on the title might be surprised at what they find here: Gloria Bell features one of Moore’s best ever performances, and – as Gloria navigates work, family, and new love with John Turturro’s bachelor – offers an honest take on middle-aged relationships that’s neither simplistic or pandering. Plus, few films can top the pure joy of watching Moore hit the dancefloor. Which she does here. Lots.
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Written by and starring Mindy Kaling, best known for her work on TV shows like The Office and The Mindy Project, Late Night takes aim at the world of – you guessed it – late night entertainment shows. But forget your David Lettermans: Emma Thompson is head honcho here, playing a brutal late night host on the verge of losing her job. Desperate for modernisation, Thompson hires likeable, inexperienced writer Molly (Kaling). What follows is a fun and slightly broad workplace comedy that takes aim at lots of big subjects (diversity, gender, feminism) with varying degrees of success. Of course, you really go to see Late Night for Emma Thompson and – as you’d expect – she’s a force of charisma in every scene.
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As an actor, Olivia Wilde has spent years lighting up the screen in films as varied as Tron: Legacy and Drinking Buddies. Now, with Booksmart, a riotous coming-of-age comedy set to join the pantheon of great, awkward teen romps like Superbad, she proves she’s a talented director, too. And given it’s about two friends across a single night and stars Jonah Hill’s sister, Superbad is an easy comparison. But Wilde’s approach feels fresh and intelligent, whilst lead actors Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein – playing teens who, having spent their best high school years swatting up, decide to go wild before graduation – are inspired choices. Of course, these kind of films work best when the comedy matches the heart, and boy does it. What’s that? It’s better than Superbad, you say? Yup.
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Less than a year’s gone by and already Rocketman makes Bohemian Rhapsody seem old-fashioned by comparison, a result of director Dexter Fletcher’s decision to avoid an overtly literal interpretation: instead Rocketman unfolds as told by a rock-bottom Elton John (a perfect Taron Egerton, embodying the singer entirely without ever resorting to impression), who – attending an AA meeting – decides to look back on his career with a degree of self-awareness often lacking in authorised biopics. Given this is Elton’s telling, then, it’s easy to forgive the dreamy tone, the inaccuracies, the songs staged and sung long before they were actually written. The overall effect is that of a West End show on film: broad enough to please the masses; weird enough so that it never quite feels like a by-the-numbers biopic.
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The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
This camp classic arrives on the big screen just in time for Pride, following the misadventures of two Australian drag queens – Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce – and a transexual woman (played by Terrence Stamp) as they embark on an epic road trip from Sydney to Alice Springs in a massive silver bus (the “Priscilla” of the title, don’t you know?). Everything about this film screams good time, from the rousing musical numbers, the outrageous production values, and brilliant, witty dialogue. But for all the laughs, Priscilla is a touching and affectionate portrait of late-life regret, as emphasised by Stamp’s tender performance. Fused with a real Aussie sensibility, surely this is one of the best road trip movies ever.
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If the purpose of a film’s title is to get your attention, then Eating Animals wins all the points. Factory farming is bad, and that’s something we – meat-eaters or not – already know. But here’s a documentary about how just how bad it can get, and how cruel the process is to those animals raised and killed within. Eating Animals doesn’t beat around the bush in order to reach it conclusion, either: we have to find alternatives. Based on the non-fiction book of the same name by Jonathan Safran Foer (and narrated by Natalie Portman in a quietly angry voiceover), it’s a doc that refuses to shy away from exposing the horrors of our animal-eating ways. Timely and disturbing, it might just be the film that turns you vegan.
Get Eating Animals showtimes in London.
The English-language debut from Dutch filmmaker Sacha Polak, Dirty God explores the plight of a woman trying to get her life back together in the wake of an acid attack. Raw, affecting, and echoing the work of Andrea Arnold, it also stars real-life burn victim Vicky Knight as Jade, a single mum living on a council estate in Hackney. The story is simple: we follow Jade, fresh out of hospital, as she navigates her old life in a bid to find a new one. Given Knight’s personal history, her performance lends the film a real sense of authenticity; we can feel her channelling her inner pain and frustration. The result is a hard-hitting work with a lot to say not only about disfigurement, but London life. Knight proves she’s a talent to watch.
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There’s a lengthy monologue at the start of Thunder Road – shot in one, unbroken 11 minute-long take – that pretty much sums up the entire film: heartfelt, funny, and relentlessly surprising. It also serves as a performance showcase for the film’s writer, director, editor, and composer Jim Cummings, starring here as a wayward cop spiralling into oblivion after the death of his mother. Mental health, parental worries, coping with grief: it ain’t easy fusing comedy and tragedy whilst avoiding the tonal clashes, but Thunder Road succeeds through sheer force of its creator’s self-belief alone. You might not get to hear Bruce Springsteen’s titular classic, but trust us when we say this is still one road worth taking.
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Son of Saul was one of 2015’s most acclaimed films, so it’s reassuring to report that László Nemes’ follow-up, Sunset, is also worth your time, though it’s a far more strange and elusive picture – nightmarish, but in a totally different way. Set in Budapest just before the start of World War I, Sunset alternates between occult mystery and po-faced period drama, as a haunted young woman (Juli Jakab) returns to the city to deal with her past. Though at times the stylishness gets in the way of the storytelling, the film thrives on its visuals, the desaturated cinematography transporting us directly into the past. You ultimately wind up floating through Sunset, like a dream. Sit back and let it wash over you.
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Kind Hearts and Coronets
Arguably the best of the classic Ealing comedies, this 1949 masterpiece stars Alec Guinness in what might be his most impressive screen role. Or is that roles? In a tour-de-force of comic variation, Guinness plays all eight members of an aristocratic family who are – one by one – bumped off by Dennis Price’s frustrated serial killer, desperate to claim his entitlement. The different characters, from the Lady Agatha D’Ascoyne to the Reverend Lord Henry, are all delightful to watch, rendered with such unique tics and nuances that you often forget it’s Guinness every time. Kind Hearts and Coronets wouldn’t work, however, without Price, who manages to make his deranged acts fairly sympathetic: you sort of want him to win?
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This post was categorised in Culture.