It’s taken Elton John and partner David Furnish the best part of two decades to produce Rocketman. That’s one hell of a dedicated vanity project. Now, with Dexter Fletcher at the helm, the dream has become a whiz-banging reality, albeit one with a relatively loose grasp on the truth. Rocketman is glitzy, fantastical and increasingly dark entertainment. The more Elton loses control on screen, the more Fletcher seizes it behind. Come for the music, take away surprisingly acute insight into the nature of addiction and the pitfalls of fame.
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This one’s a joy. Not so far removed from Lady Bird and Superbad but a little American Pie. Oddly reminiscent of Luca Guadagnino’s work too. Whichever way, Booksmart sets out a tremendously self-assured debut for actor turned director Olivia Wilde. Naturally, much about the project’s influences promised an indie affair – in the vogue of Greta Gerwig’s own debut – but such was in contrast to the billing of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay as producers. In execution, Booksmart is gloriously equidistant to either pole. It is an eloquently brash and bitingly silly coming of age comedy at home on the fine divide between nostalgic and contemporary atmospheres.
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Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson gleam diamond bright in this Dirty Rotten remake from In the Loop star Chris Addison. Sure, it’s not as sharp as the discerning critic might hope – it’s certainly not nearly as novel – but charisma wins out. A few belly laughs would have gone a long way towards sealing a longer-lasting deal and yet The Hustle is winning enough to steal its fair share of chuckles. Those after wit and comment should steer clear or reap their just deserts – only those who should know better will leave feeling conned.
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If you’re a hungry creative, there’s nothing quite like Bo Burnham’s IMDb page to serve you a good slice of humble pie with a side of incentive. The things this talented polymath has accomplished in his young career would coax out the green-eyed monster in the best of us. The YouTube alum has already run the gamut of entertainment since he burst onto the scene in 2006, impressing audiences with various creations. His wonderfully empathetic debut feature, Sundance favourite Eighth Grade, heralds a quantum leap for Burnham and the dawn of an entirely new era in teen cinema.
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You’d expect a film grandiosely titled Endgame to feel more final than this fourth Avengers film ever quite does. It’s no spoiler to say that upcoming Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel and Black Panther films each confirm survival both of the titular characters and, indeed, the Marvel Cinematic Universe itself. Finality does pervade some elements of Endgame – you may well predict which characters are meeting theirs – but this is as much a celebration of a decade that has changed cinema forever as it is the closing chapter.
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Imagine Lady Bird had been shot in the documentarian vogue of Larry Clark’s Kids and was even less concerned with actual plotting. That’s mid90s, loosely speaking, the directorial debut of Wolf of Wall Street star Jonah Hill. With its genuinely joyful era specific soundtrack, Super 16 grain, Academy ratio and abundance of contemporary props, this is gentle nostalgia and transience in one. Very little happens but it does so with a winning ear for naturalism.
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Fans of Walt Disney’s animated original Dumbo have already seen an elephant fly, back in 1941. What more can a modern update bring to the big top? In the hands of Tim Burton – back on enchanting form after a duo of duds – the answer is a well considered story expansion and consistently gorgeous visuals. Disney’s digital Dumbo is every bit as adorable as one could hope and twice as empathetic. With the whole film apparently occurring either at dawn or dusk, this is hardly remarkable stuff but gosh it’s nice.
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