When it comes to directing, Warren Beatty is no frequent flyer. By contrast, the muse of the Hollywood legend’s first feature since 1998’s Bulworth, Rules Don’t Apply, is none other than the aero-obsessive, billionaire-businessman, investor and occasional filmmaker, Howard Hughes.
Though the film’s production didn’t kick-start until early 2014, it was Beatty’s 1973 encounter with Hughes, at a hotel in which the tycoon had booked six rooms and four bungalows for ‘the girls’, that initially inspired its forty-four year process from concept to release. Though Rules Don’t Apply is no swan-song masterpiece, within it are swathing tides of perfection which ooze pure pleasure as they flow in and leave debris in their moments of recession. A quite remarkable obsession as produced a generally remarkable film.
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When a film spends over a decade meandering in ‘development hell’, with producers abandoning it and its purpose-built production company going into administration, there’s a certain degree of trepidation that inevitably comes with said film’s eventual release. In the case of Gillies MacKinnon’s Whisky Galore! (first touted in the early noughties), the sense of wariness is only heightened by the fact that this particular long-awaited feature is a remake of a perennial Ealing comedy classic, of the sort that really don’t need remaking. Well, naysayers begone, MacKinnon’s adaption – inspired by the 1949 film from Alexander Mackendrick, the Compton Mackenzie book that inspired it, and the true story that kickstarted the chain alike – is a joy to behold.
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Enter Mindhorn blind and you might be surprised at just how starry the, Sean Foley directed, production’s cast list is. Without giving away the full roster (including one particularly rib-tickling cameo), Andrea Riseborough – so powerful in Channel 4’s National Treasure – holds a prime billing here, as does Steve Coogan – whose production company, Baby Cow, has associate credits too. From The Mighty Boosh, meanwhile, Julian Barratt takes the lead role of Richard Thorncroft, the washed-up former star of hit eighties, Isle of Man cop-drama: ‘Mindhorn’. Thorncroft’s career, once so promising as to boast merchandise, has hit the rocks since then and his agent (Harriet Walter) has all but given up of him. This is, of course, predominantly due to Thorncroft’s penchant for offending both his co-stars and the entire population of the Isle of Man alike. An infamous interview having proved particularly damning: ‘We’ve never forgotten what you said about us on Wogan’. The epitome of his fall from grace is that he now even suffers from the indignity of having been replaced by John Nettles in adverts for thrombosis socks. To add insult to injury, Thorncroft’s lost weight in his hair and found it in his waist.
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In many ways, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 feels like the superhero film that its director, James Gunn, always wanted to make. Back in 2014, the first in this soon-to-be-trilogy was widely regarded as a bit of a risk for Marvel, its titular protagonists being a lesser known team of heroes than the Avengers. It did, however – aiming squarely for a joie-de-vive tone and a whole galaxy of mainstream fun – prove to be a rip roaring success. Such features are largely carried over into Vol. 2 (does this mean Guardians of the Galaxy is retrospectively Vol.1 now?), yet, with a soundtrack drawn more deeply from the nostalgia catalogue than the recognisable hits that peppered the former and a focus on character development over heightened stakes, Gunn’s is a more prominent and untethered directorial hand this time around.
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It’s surprising just how unnerving it feels to be watching Jim Broadbent in a – relatively – sedate role. Usually the embodiment of joviality in his work, The Sense of an Ending sees Broadbent unveil a performance which is painstakingly controlled, and fastidiously measured to the point of nuance. Not that this unexpected from the award winning star of Iris and Moulin Rouge, but it is certainly a welcome shift in tone from an actor normally typecast as beaming, booming and bumbling.
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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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