Few films this year are likely to charge cinema auditoriums quite so electrically as Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden. Provocative, but uplifting. Sexualised, but by no means exploitative. Gorgeous, but never at the expense of dynamic substance. Don’t be dissuaded by the runtime, Chan-wook’s is a film so assured that it knows exactly how long it needs to be. Time really does fly in this spectacular feature.
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Two years ago Fast and Furious 7 accelerated the Fast and Furious franchise into the super league. The James Wan directed sixth sequel to the 2001 original managed this not only by blowing its predecessors out of the water in terms of box office returns, but also by ejecting any and all remaining vestiges of sanity within the series, in favour of effectively reimagining its protagonists as actual superheroes. Fast and Furious 8, sees everyone’s favourite crime fighting/causing international aid/hindrance gang back for plenty more of the same. Wan may have made way for Straight Outta Compton’s F. Gary Gray, but – fear not – Chris Morgan once again has helmed the script, having done so ever since the rightfully-maligned Tokyo Drift, and the result is as familiarly (and preposterously) barmy as ever. Indeed, with great horsepower comes great irresponsibility.
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There are a great number of cinematic obstacles that Ronnie Thompson’s The Hatton Garden Job utterly fails to navigate in the process of transforming 2015’s so-called ‘largest burglary in English legal history’ into a caper-y heist romp for the big screen. First and foremost is that common issue of how to stir in the audience a sense tension and intrigue within a story that’s outcome lingers so freshly in the memory. Furthermore, how does said film deal with the gaps for a news event in which the detail remains still shrouded in mystery? Finally, of course, there remains the problem of how to make twenty minutes of drilling remotely engaging.
The Hatton Garden Job answers as follows: you don’t; a daft and underdeveloped subplot, involving unconvincing, continental mobsters; and, again, you don’t. The result is an intrinsically tedious waste of time, talent and money. Miss. Miss. Miss. Drill. Drill. Drill.
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London, 1940. Bombs fall nightly in devastating Blitzkrieg air raids. A nation’s morale is at stake.
Lone Scherfig’s latest film, Their Finest, is not her finest. No, that remains the Danish-born director’s 2009 Oscar-nominated An Education. I suspect Their Best Available was, however, seen as a title that would have been rather harder to sell. Not that this a film short on selling points. Their Finest’s cast list alone boasts Gemma Arterton as its plucky heroine, alongside a well-cast ensemble comprised of Sam Claflin, Richard E. Grant, Rachel Stirling and Helen McCroy; not to mention, of course, its showpiece Bill Nighy, nailing the role of Bill Nighy. The problem is that Their Finest tries so hard not to descend to quaint sensibilities, as common in such WWII period fare (Dad’s Army most recently), that it does so at the expense of much attainable charm, exposing in the process an ultimately uninspired plot. Whilst Gaby Chiappe’s inaugural feature screenplay certainly hints at more biting possibilities, these moments are too few and far between to sustain any memorable momentum.
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Children’s cinema has it in it to be a perplexingly surreal place. You can keep your Salvador Dali’s and your David Lynch’s, they have nothing on the elaborate and deeply weird concepts which establish the world of The Boss Baby.
Based on Marla Frazee’s likewise titled picture book, the biologically unsound idea here is that human babies descend on the world from a Heaven-via-hegemonopia business in the sky called Baby Corp. From their (…birth? …construction?) initial formation, the infants are divided between those destined to join families and those who will enter employment within the company itself. With adult minds in minute bodies, the job of those designated to the latter category is to preserve human devotion to babies around the world. However, when the balance of love begins to shift unfavourably from the newborns towards puppies, soon to be manufactured to remain so forever, that the Boss Baby (voiced by 30 Rock’s Alec Baldwin) is sent to set the record straight. He does this by joining the family of Tim Templeton (Miles Christoper Bakshi, with Lisa Kudrow and Jimmy Kimmel lending their talents to the roles of his parents), a child absorbed in his own imagination and the idyll of being an only child.
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Gunshots are to Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire what drumbeats were to Alejandro Iñárritu’s Birdman, which is to say that they are both omnipresent and absorbingly hypnotic. Easing any psychological narrative in favour of the wildly entertaining effects of sensation cinema, Wheatley may not plumb the thought-provoking depths of Iñárittu but his is an equally exhilarating ride.
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Raw has in it the most terrifying scene you will see in 2017. A disturbing vignette in which shots disorientate, the soundtrack sickens and all captured in the camera’s frame represent a threat. Three words can describe the sequence and each one will indeed send a chill to the very root of your spine; be warned, they may even put you off from daring to enter your local screening at all: student house party. The nightmare is real and were these deafening drunken exploits not horrifying enough, the plot cascading around them concerns cannibalism. This is certainly an experience offering much to get your teeth into. Ahem.
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