5 Great films to watch this February
Deep in the British trenches of Aisne during the First World War, a group of officers led by the increasingly dishevelled Stanhope await the German offensive that’ll determine their fates. This terse, intense adaptation of the seminal play by R C Sheriff stars Sam Claflin and Asa Butterfield as the self-loathing Stanhope and young, starry-eyed Raleigh. Paul Bettany shines as the level-headed Osborne, while Toby Jones brings some grotesque, wartime food humour (“What’s the soup today, Mason?” “Yellow, Sir”) as the staff cook.
Daniel Day-Lewis’s adieu to cinema (he announced his retirement last year) is an alluring and unnerving story of a brilliant but neurotic couturier, Reynolds Woodcock, who falls for a determined young woman in 1950s London. As painstakingly made as Woodcock’s dresses and as unpredictable as his temper, the sublime Phantom Thread won’t let your attention slip for a second.
The chilling true story of Donald Crowhurst (played by Colin Firth)—a British amateur sailor who entered a single- handed, round-the-world yacht race in 1968. As the voyage turned from bad to disastrous, Crowhurst took desperate measures, the outcome of which was both morbid and fascinating. Bleak, unsettling, yet utterly gripping, it’s Requiem for a Dream out at sea.
Out on February 9
The Shape of Water
Romance, sea monsters and soft erotica come together in Guillermo del Toro’s latest fantasy gem. In classic del Toro style, it’s a sparkling, visually sumptuous feast for all the senses. From the gorgeous blue-green colour palette to the sensual plomps and splashes of water ever-present in the background, the director immerses us in a beguiling world we’d like to stay in forever. The story centres around a lonely, mute cleaner (Sally Hawkins) working at a top-secret oceanographic lab, where she discovers a classified “asset”—a gilled, triple-lidded, muscular fish-man from the Amazon. The two outcasts form an instant bond that blossoms into a passionate romance, but, as with every great star-crossed love story, all odds are against them.
Out on February 14
Based on the true story of former American champion figure skater, Tonya Harding, director Craig Gillespie’s take on the competitor-knee-breaking scandal (which cost the Olympian her career) is a tight, darkly funny ride through the surprisingly elitist world of pro ice skating. Margot Robbie gives a delicious performance as the foul-mouthed, self-professed redneck, supported by an outrageously funny-yet-vicious turn from Allison Janey as her abusive mother LaVona Golden.
Out on February 23