A classic adaptation with a modern twist, a cheesy action flick starring Gary Oldman, and Tom Hanks in a role he was born to play—January proves to be a rich month for cinema
Film of the month: Little Women
If the very idea of a festive film with a passionate on-again, off-again relationship at its core and Meryl Streep as the archetypal bitter auntie, makes you squeal with joy, this is the Christmas film of 2019 for you. The third adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel includes a jaw-dropping cast: Streep supports Hollywood’s crème de la crème Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Timothee Chalamet and Laura Dern—to name just a few. Directed by the queen of quirky indies, Greta Gerwig, it has all the essential ingredients for an instant Christmas classic: a nostalgically, cosy setting, a consuming story about family bonds and the thrill of first love, and a playful yet punchy tone that lights up every scene as effectively as the infectiously mischievous March girls.
While Florence Pugh kills it with her delightfully capricious Amy, and Saoirse Ronan is rivetingly moreish as the righteous Jo, it is Hollywood’s golden boy Chalamet who effortlessly steals each scene he’s in. Maddeningly charming, boyishly awkward, his performance as Theodore is nothing short of virtuosic. Though the film gets a tad prescriptive with the genre tropes and it’s easy to get lost in the onslaught of flashbacks, it’s an overall idyllic movie that’ll make you forget all the worries in the world for a couple of hours.
Little Women is out in cinemas now
Gary Oldman as a leather-clad, eyepatch-sporting super villain, Olga Kurylenko as a small-time courier who also happens to be an ex sniper with superhuman strength, plus delightfully cheesy dialogue and even cheesier attempts at Sin City-like flashbacks to wash it all down with.
There’s nothing about this film that doesn’t scream “ridiculous”, which makes you wonder how Oldman or even Dermot Mulroney ended up in it, but as long as you take it for what it is (a hilariously bad B-movie and instant cult classic), you might just end up having a great time!
The Courier is out in cinemas now
To Kill a Mockingbird meets A Few Good Men in this legal drama starring Michael B Jordan and Jamie Foxx. It is based on a true story of Walter McMillan, an African-American man who was wrongfully convicted for murder and sentenced to death; and Bryan Stevenson—the idealistic lawyer who undertook the task of appealing his conviction.
Sure, it’s an important and—sadly—still timely story to tell, yet the way it’s done here is so predictably formulaic and unnecessarily stretched out that it’s more likely to make you relish the idea of re-watching Shawshank Redemption when you get home than inspire great acts of kindness in the face of cruel injustices of the world. Members of the Academy, we suspect, might disagree though...
Just Mercy is out in cinemas on January 17
A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood
Sometimes the pressures of adult life get too overwhelming and all we need is for someone to look us deep in the eye and tell us that it’s OK. Which is exactly what we get from Tom Hanks in his sweet, magnetic portrayal of America’s favourite children's’ TV personality, Mr Rogers. Made by the acclaimed director Marielle Heller, the film follows the bizarre relationship between the TV icon and Lloyd Vogel, a jaded journalist tasked with profiling him. Lloyd’s not exactly happy with the assignment; his speciality is biting, cerebral prose that earned him a “difficult” reputation. So much so, that Fred Rogers is just about the only celebrity willing to be interviewed by him.
Though they’re off to an awkward start, Mr Rogers eventually gets deep under Vogel’s skin, covertly aiding his long-neglected emotional pain. With Hanks’ tour de force performance (which doesn’t seem too far removed from the actor’s real-life avuncular persona), a marvellously offbeat tone that blurs the line between hostile realism and innocent animation, and a stylish soundtrack, the film is a touching musing on childhood, family bonds and forgiveness, and a loving ode to America’s icon of kindness. You might find yourself brushing off a tear or two as you think about your own forgotten inner-child—and it’s OK.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood is out in cinemas on January 31
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote
Who’s a better fit to direct a film based on the deluded Don Quixote’s whacky adventures than the ever imaginative, potentially-even-whackier Terry Gilliam? In his latest project, he retells the Cervantes classic as a self-referential, dream-like story starring Jonathan Pryce and Adam Driver. But don’t get too relaxed—there’s complex subtext about identity and perspective, and nothing is ever what it seems.
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is out in cinemas on January 31
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