Today we’re doing our regular rounding up of the pick of the week’s UK cinematic releases to see what’s worth a visit to the local multiplex, what’s probably best left to a later viewing at home and what’s not worth wasting your precious time at all… Love it – or leave it!
SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU – dir. Richard Tanne
Cinema Siren begins her review thusly; ‘Let’s be real here. SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU may be a sweet story of an epic first date largely devoid of political discussion, but that date is between Barack and Michelle Obama’. Continuing, she states that for ‘those who have wondered what is behind that way Michelle and Barack look at each other, and how it all started, this movie reveals much about their beginnings’. On stars Tika Sumpter and Parker Sawyers she comments on how ‘ must have been a fascinating challenge to play two of the most scrutinized public figures in the world, especially as both leads are onscreen the entire film’. Read her full ☆☆☆☆ review here, which she finishes with; ‘The best romances, the great loves, are those where two people clearly become more together. What is most fascinating is we as the international public know just how well it turned out for them, and how truly well they went on to compliment and support each other. It’s the sort of happy ending that makes the story of their first steps towards each other all the more compelling to watch unfold’.
SWISS ARMY MAN – dir. Daniels
The odd plot of SWISS ARMY MAN ‘sets its off-kilter tone early, and then things get weird. Fart-powered motor boat weird’. The debuting duo of Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, aka “Daniels”, craft ‘a wild, imaginative odyssey alive with color and wonderful set pieces’, it has ‘abundant charm, occasional hilarity and a few moments of magic’, but the directors’ ambition is ‘always two steps ahead of their scriptwriting depth’. George Madden draws comparisons, saying ‘this is a film that will tweak your curiosity as often as it tests your patience, and the BIRDMAN-style ending may leave you struggling to come up with any reaction other than “that was weird,” but you will be entertained’. Of the two leading men, Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe, the two ‘complement each other well’, ‘delivering committed performances that turn Hank and Manny into some sort of bizarro Don Quixote and Sancho Panza’. Read George’s ☆☆☆ review here.
FREE STATE OF JONES – dir. Gary Ross
George Wolf writes of this Matthew McConaughey-starring historical drama that ‘writer/director Gary Ross struggles to find cohesion for elements that too often conflict’ but that Ross ‘does find more subtlety as the film progresses’ when it comes to McConaughey’s Newton Knight. McConaughey delivers a ‘committed and moving performance’ and the film succeeds with its ‘brutal’ depiction of war and the ‘ugly roots of racism’. George states that ‘Ross’s passion is understandable. This truly is an incredible piece of America’s history, but one so expansive that an approach this broad is hampered from the start.’ Read his ☆☆☆ review here.
DEEPWATER HORIZON – dir. Peter Berg
George Wolf opens his review by stating that DEEPWATER HORIZON has ‘a nice throwback vibe, crackling tension and terrific ensemble acting’, it’s ‘a surprisingly compelling package’. Director Peter Berg, along with ‘crisp’ and ‘economical’ script from Matthew Michael Carnahan and Matthew Sand, ‘has long shown his skill as a tactician, and here he gets us breathtakingly close to the chaos with an authenticity that’s refreshingly unencumbered by CGI effects’. Throughout the film ‘the tension builds steadily, with a single bubble of air escaping from an undersea drill line, and leads to a spectacularly staged string of explosions that engulf the entire structure’. In his full ☆☆☆1/2 review, George summarises with ‘You may be reminded of more recent movies (especially Wahlberg’s own THE PERFECT STORM), but DEEPWATER HORIZON has a retro kinship with classic disaster films of the 70s, along with an in-the-moment humanity that salutes the real players whose lives hung in the balance’.
MISS PENEGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN – dir. Tim Burton
Cinema Siren, on director Tim Burton, ‘shows his version of tasteful restraint, delves into darker territory’. Continuing, ‘It will stand solidly against much of his better fare. In creating consistency and a bit deeper emotional truth, Burton presents a film with a sense of doom that lacks the fun of a film like BEETLEJUICE. Think EDWARD SCISSORHANDS without the technicolor’. As the film progresses, ‘there’s a threat beyond the bombs Miss Peregrine keep at bay’ and ‘there are spectacular set-pieces that even taken alone are worthy of admission’. Burton’s film ‘moves quickly, and the audience is swept up in learning more about the children, the mysteries clearly lurking behind Miss Peregrine’s eyes, the direction the relationship between Jake and Emma takes, and whether all these kids will even survive the story’. Giving the film ☆☆☆☆, Cinema Siren summarises ‘It’s likely a number of critics have grown permanently tired of Burton’s style as an auteur, and reviews of this movie might suffer unfairly as a result. Never mind. To many a discerning film fan, MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN will represent a return to fine form for the director. Burton has found a great home for his peculiar talents, and his fans should welcome it, and Miss Peregrine, with open arms’.
FILM OF THE WEEK: MISS PENEGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN and SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU