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 The epitome of his fall from grace is that he now even suffers from the indignity of having been replaced by John Nettles in adverts for thrombosis socks.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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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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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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