EMPIRE Creative director & Editor Thuy Anh Vu email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Special thanks Mr. Sean McAlorum HND Graphic Design Programme Leader Prague College On the Cover Nahuel PĂŠrez Biscayart and Arnaud Valois from the movie 120 BPM
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Upcoming: The latest trailers but only in screenshots
Exclusive Take a look at exclusive images from Deadpool 2, Yardie, Horel Artemis, Tag and Terminal
50% Planning 50% Panic Edgar Wright Interviews Steven Spielberg About Duel
Cannes Film Festival 2018 First look review special for movie premiere at the festival this year
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News Now Batman’s Butler Is Getting His Own TV Series Rampage Stomps To The Top Of The US Box Office
Starring Who’s gonna be the next heroes and villians?
How much is a pint of milk? Meet ‘Sweet Pea’ Amy Schumer who was a potato in her first school play
The Woman In White Everything about the TV series adapting from the 1856 classic novel by Wilkie Collins
In Defence of Funny Women Female-driven comedies are challenging archaic notions about women on screen.
in cinemas 120 BMP (Beats Per Minute)
Everyday - Truth or Dare - Breaking In - How To Talk To Girls In Parties
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I Feel Pretty - Father Figures - Entebbe - The Strangers: Prey At Night
Streaming Reviews of the latest update for A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Walking Dead
TV series Reviews of the new BBC TV series The Woman in White
Classic Scene: Gremlin How sad it is to find out there is no Santa Claus
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Mastermind Legion: Everything you need to know before starting season 2
10 of The Best TV shows on Netflix UK - in no particular order. Some are classic, some deeper cuts.
Gaming God of War - Take a look at what the game has to offer
News on upcoming films, actors and interviews...
Now Batman’s Butler Is Getting His Own TV Series
ust when you thought every possible permutation of extended superhero universes had been explored, here comes another. The team behind Batman prequel Gotham has struck a deal for Pennyworth which will – yes! – explore the earlier life of Bruce Wayne’s loyal butler. Literally – or at least closely – bringing to life a joke in the recent Teen Titans Go! To The Movies trailer, Pennyworth will chart the days of Alfred before he is responsible for Bruce’s care. Writer/producer Bruno Heller and producer/director Danny Cannon are working on a show that will explore Alfred’s days as
t looked for a while as though new entry Rampage, even given the draw of The Rock, might not be able to displace reigning movie A Quiet Place from the top of the box office. But, surprisingly for a film that features giant monsters smashing things, it squeaked past, earning $34.5 million, according to studio estimates. Worldwide, the new movie has taken in more than $148 million, and should be on course to be another success for Dwayne Johnson and director Brad Peyton. Still, A Quiet Place managed to score $32.6 million, so the horror thriller isn’t exactly suffering. That film has taken nearly $100 million in just two weeks, and is past $151 million globally. That’s despite new horror competition from Blumhouse’s Truth Or Dare, which looked to target more of a teen audience. The film scared up $19 million for a third place launch, a fine opening given the movie’s lower budget, but not quite the same
a former SAS soldier who goes to work with Thomas Wayne in 1960s London. And this takes place in a different universe from Gotham, which recently got renewed for a fifth and final season, so don’t expect Sean Pertwee to be playing the character again. And unlike the duo’s previous show, it’s headed not to the Stateside Fox network, but to niche cable channel Epix for a 10-episode first season.
level of success as, say, Get Out. Ready Player One was pushed to fourth on $11.2 million, while comedy Blockers rounds out the top fifth for $10.2 million. In sixth place, Black Panther saw little impact from its home entertainment release announcement, as it still took in $5.3 million for a 673..7 million domestic total. Isle Of Dogs boosted its screen count and jumped from 10th to seventh with $5 million, even as I Can Only Imagine slipped a couple of places to eighth with $3.8 million. At ninth, we find Tyler Perry’s Acrimony, earning $3.7 million, while Chappaquiddick fell to 10th on $3 million. James White
Rampage Stomps To The Top Of The US Box Office
The Meg Director: Jon Turteltaub Release: 10 August
Solo: A Star War Story Director: Release: 24 May
The First Purge Director: Gerard McMurray Release: 6 July
Something of a surprise on what we thought might be a quiet Sunday night: the new trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story dropped, and boy, if it isn’t a heck of a lot of fun. There’s a much looser feel to this one, with the emphasis on jokes and action, and showing once again just how effortlessly cool Donald Glover’s Lando is. Alden Ehrenreich is allowed to channel a little more of the Solo charm, and the character’s partnership with Chewbacca (Jonas Suotamo) is present and correct. There’s also more of a look at Paul Bettany’s gangster Dryden Vos (Ron Howard clearly enjoys scarring the man) and some fun with Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s sarky droid L3-37. All in all, this should provoke a lot more confidence in the movie, with the usual proviso that a great trailer doesn’t always guarantee a great movie. With Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke and Thandie Newton in the cast, Solo: A Star Wars Story will be out on 24 May in the UK, and has recently confirmed a premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.
The first Purge film to be directed by someone other than James DeMonaco (he still wrote the script), The First Purge aims to explore the origins of the annual mayhem, foisted on the States by the New Founding Fathers. And if this footage is to be believed, we can blame Marisa Tomei for the madness that is chronicled in the other films. She’s the social scientist who comes up with the experiment to have citizens let loose their worst tendencies in one 12-hour period where all crime is legal. Of course, that opens itself to exploitation by the more powerful, who see it as a way to oppress others even further. And as usual, we see the story from several viewpoints. Gerard McMurray is in the director’s chair for this one, and The First Purge will sound the sirens in UK cinemas on 6 July.
Jason Statham. Giant prehistoric shark. Place yer bets, laygennulmen for the match-up of the year. Possibly the decade. Maybe, just maybe, the century. Yes, if you’ve been waiting for the film in which The Stath meets The Meg then the trailer for Sharkpuncher... Sorry, The Meg has swum in at last. The story – even if it probably doesn’t need one – finds Statham as Jonas Taylor, a former Navy captain and diver, who might just have a history with the big creature. He’s called in when a team of scientists are trapped at the bottom of the ocean in a damaged submersible, menaced by the huge creature that has somehow survived the extinction of its species. Long in development, the film has been through the hands of various directors, but has ended up in the care of Jon Turteltaub, who rounded up the likes of Ruby Rose, Rainn Wilson, Li Bingbing, Cliff Curtis and Masi Oka and poured a lot of water on them. The final film will bring its toothsome tale to screens on 10 August.
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote Director:
Release: to be announced
Director: Björn Runge Release: 28 September
Johnny English Strikes Again Director: David Kerr Release: 12 October
A wife who has submerged her own ambition in the service of her charismatic, seemingly talented husband’s career is a well-used story, but there are still ways to bring it to life, especially when you have the likes of Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce in the leads. Close plays Joan Castleman, the supportive and tolerant wife of Joe (Pryce). For years, she’s helped to nurture his literary career, forgiving his affairs and ready to attend when he wins the Nobel Prize. But as a journalist (Christian Slater) has started to uncover, the story goes a little deeper: Joan has had more of a hand in her husband’s work than anyone suspects, and there are flashbacks to their early days where the romance – and exploitation – began. And for all her calm facade, Joan is clearly a ticking time bomb of frustration and righteous anger, so who better than Close to bring that to the boil and knock down that fabricated castle, man. With Max Irons, Harry Lloyd and Annie Starke in the cast, The Wife arrives on screens in the States on 3 August before a UK release on 28 September.
Terry Gilliam has been pushing the Don Quixote boulder up the hill for more than two decades, enduring abandoned shoots, dodgy producers, financial complications and casting changes. After all that, he’s finally about to unveil The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, potentially at Cannes. This version – the one that is actually headed for screens – stars Adam Driver as Toby, a once-aspiring filmmaker now settled into the life of a fast-living commercials director juggling affairs and his own ego. He has occasion to visit the small Spanish town where he shot his student opus, a lyrical re-working of Don Quixote. But once he arrives, he discovers that time, and the legacy of his film, have not been kind. He ends up dragged into an adventure that blends the real and the fantastical, mistaken for loyal squire Sancho Panza by the man (Jonathan Pryce) he once had portray the knight, who has come to believe he’s the real thing. Cue a bizarre road trip... There has been no official confirmation on the movie premiering at Cannes, but it would certainly be a great capper to a long and difficult journey. We also don’t yet know when it might hit screens, though Amazon Studios is the distributor for the US, the UK and a few other countries. Honestly, we’ll just be glad to see the film after all this time.
7 It’s been seven years since Rowan Atkinson (dis)graced our screens as semi-competent secret agent Johnny English. He’s back for a third stab at action and adventure with Johnny English Strikes Again. This time around, he’s seemingly out of the spy game and teaching when he’s summoned back to full duty by MI7 when the identities of agents around the world are released. He’ll have to figure out who is behind the crime with the help of loyal sidekick Bough (Ben Miller), while his boss (Emma Thompson) stays on his case. With the likes of Olga Kurylenko and Jake Lacy also in the cast, the film comes from director David Kerr and will be out in UK cinemas on 12 October.
James McAvoy And Bill Hader Ready To Join It: Chapter 2
Kyle Chandler Joins Catch-22
The New Terminator Adds Natalia Reyes And Gabriel Luna
n February, the first news broke that Jessica Chastain was in early talks to play the grown Beverly Marsh in horror sequel It: Chapter 2. While she’s close to sealing a deal, some potential fellow cast members have entered negotiations, as James McAvoy and Bill Hader are now in talks. Andy Muschietti is back to direct the sequel, with Gary Dauberman providing the script. The new movie will adapt the present-day chunk of the book, as the members of the Losers Club, now adults and largely without memory of their encounter with the demonic Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard, who will be back) and drawn to return to their home town of Derry for a second showdown. Assuming they sign on, McAvoy will play Bill, as portrayed in the first film by Jaeden Lieberher, while Hader (who, like Chastain, was one of those pinpointed by various people as an ideal choice during the press tour for the original) is close to the role of Richie, brought to life as a younger man by Finn Wolfhard. There are reportedly plans to revisit the young versions of the characters in flashback, though the final details are still being worked out. Muschietti should have the cameras rolling in July, aiming for a September 2019 release date. McAvoy will be heard in Sherlock Gnomes, which is out on 11 May and is one of the leads in Submergence, due 18 May. Hader can be found on the small screen in HBO comedy series Barry, which he co-created and which has just scored a second season order.
hings are changing, if only very slightly, for George Clooney’s planned new adaptation of Catch-22. Kyle Chandler is joining the cast, and he’ll be inheriting the role of Colonel Cathart from Clooney. This is not to say that Clooney is leaving the project – far from it; he’s still directing (alongside Ellen Kuras and David Michôd) and producing the miniseries, and will move into the smaller supporting role of Scheisskopf to free up more time. Adapted from Joseph Heller’s 1961 novel (originally turned into a film by Mike Nichols in 1970), Catch-22 focuses on Captain John Yossarian (Christopher Abbott), a US Air Force bombardier who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. But his real problem is not the enemy; it is his own army, which keeps increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempt to avoid the perilous missions he’s assigned, he’ll be in violation of Catch-22, a bureaucratic rule which specifies that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers which are real and immediate is the process of a rational mind; a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but a request to be removed from duty is evidence of sanity and therefore makes him ineligible to be relieved from duty. In addition to Abbott, Hugh Laurie is aboard as Major de Coverley, the squadron executive officer on Pianosa air base where Yossarian is based. Chandler will next be seen in First Man and Godzilla: King Of The Monsters.
ast week, the news broke that Diego Boneta was the latest person cast in the new Terminator film planned by Deadpool director Tim Miller and original co-creator James Cameron. There are two more recruits ready to sign on, with Natalia Reyes and Gabriel Luna scoring roles. Reyes will play a young woman called Dani, living in a working class Mexican neighbourhood, who finds herself thrust into the battle between humanity and Skynet’s army of killer machines. Luna is on to play one of the Terminators, while Boneta will be Dani’s brother. Mackenzie Davis was cast a while ago as a soldier-assassin from the future. Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger are reprising their iconic roles as Sarah Connor and the T-800, though according to new information about the film, they’re mostly brief appearances. The new cast members are expected to kick off a training schedule soon, ready for a planned shoot that starts in May. The film will be out in cinemas on 22 November next year.
Vin Diesel Starring In Action-Comedy Muscle
Ian Somerhalder Starring In V-Wars
Naomi Watts And Frank Grillo Join Once Upon A Time In Staten Island
ou might think that Vin Diesel’s duties on the Fast & Furious movies and the resurgent xXx franchise would keep him busy, even with his additional visits to recording booths to play Groot. Yet he’s found another project all involved are hoping will kick off a run of movies: Diesel is starring in action-comedy Muscle. While Deadline learned of Diesel signing on to star in and produce the film, nothing has yet been announced about its story. Which means we’re free to speculate! We predict that it’ll see Vin playing an assassin whose left bicep becomes sentient, and pacifist, resulting in hilarious misunderstandings and a culture clash as the reluctant muscle tries to stop the rest of him carrying out killings. Either that, or it’ll be on brand for the Dom Toretto, and feature a muscle car with its own personality, Knight Rider-style. STX Entertainment is developing the new film, and the chairman seems happy with the move. “I’ve known Vin for more than a decade after working closely with him on the Fast & Furious franchise and I’m excited for him to return to this genre,” said Adam Fogelson. “Muscle is the perfect blend of action and comedy that his millions of devoted fans around the world have come to love him for, and we believe has the potential to become his next big, signature franchise.” It’ll have to wait for Diesel’s schedule to open up – he’s about to shoot comics adaptation Bloodshot and will segue from that to xXx 4. And after that, there’s the small matter of Fast & Furious 9, which recently scored a new writer...
aving spent years playing a fang club member on TV’s The Vampire Diaries, you might expect Ian Somerhalder to be on the look out for something that doesn’t include creatures of the night. You’d be wrong! He’s now attached to star in new drama V-Wars. The new show, which has been handed a 10-episode first season by Netflix, is adapted from Jonathan Mayberry’s IDW comic book. Somerhalder will star as Dr. Luther Swann, who enters a world of untold horror when a mysterious disease transforms his best friend, Michael Fayne, into a murderous predator who feeds on other humans. As the disease spreads and more people are transformed, society fractures into opposing camps pitting normal people against the growing number of these “vampires.” Swann races against time to understand what’s happening, while Fayne rises to become the powerful underground leader of the vampires. William Laurin and Glenn Davis are on show-running duties, while Brad Turner is directing the first episode and will also work as an executive producer. There has been no announcement as to when it’ll launch on the streaming service, but we’d imagine it’ll be up next year.
ames DeMonaco is best known for creating the Purge franchise, so we were fully expecting his next project for the Blumhouse label to feature more chaos, blood and terror, especially given the presence of franchise veteran Frank Grillo in the cast. Not so! Grillo, Naomi Watts and Bobby Cannavale are leading the cast of coming-of-age drama Once Upon A Time In Staten Island. DeMonaco, as he has done with the Purge movies, has written the script and will direct the film, which is set in the summer of 1982 and is backdropped by the release of Rocky III (cue sudden interest from our own Rockyphile and boss, Terri White). The plot will follow an average teen who embarks on a quest in his Rocky Balboa-obsessed town, which drags in his parents (Watts and Grillo). The cameras will be rolling later this month, with Lucius Hoyos, Jonah Hauer-King, River Alexander and Chase Vacnin also in the cast. And it joins the growing trend for Once Upon A Time-titled movies, what with Quentin Tarantino’s latest. What’s next? Once Upon A Time In Clacton?
You can read more about these movies in the new Summer Movie Blowout issue of Empire, in shops now and also available online for purchase.
et your brown pants on, Deadpool fans: the Merc with a Mouth is all over the new issue of Empire. Not only is he on our subscriber cover and our super-special limited edition talking cover, but he’s leading our massive Summer Movie Blowout. We’ve got some exclusive images from the new film too — one of which shows the super-powered Ricky Baker (as we’re still calling Julian Dennison years after the release of Hunt for the Wilderpeople) who looks to have caused some serious havoc with his fire powers. Then there’s Mr. Pool waiting to go toe-to-toe with a whole bunch of sword-wielding baddies, where he probably has an advantage due to the whole limb-regrowth thing. “We’re trying to follow the Iron Man model,” jokes co-writer Paul Wernick in the new Empire, “which is, surprise first movie, average sequel that sets up a big ensemble movie.” Of course, he’s underselling it — you can read our Deadpool 2 review over this way, and (spoiler alert) we had a hell of a lot of fun with it. Deadpool 2 is out in cinemas right now. Take our special Deadpool cover that talks to you on the shelves for The Summer Movie Blowout issue of Empire
Yardie - On Set of Idris Elba’s Directorial Debut
rom Stringer Bell to Stacker Pentecost, via Luther and Nelson Mandela, Idris Elba has already crafted himself a formidable legacy in front of the lens, on screens both big and small. But for his next move, Elba is stepping behind the camera — his directorial debut Yardie will be out this summer. The film follows D, a boy born in Jamaica who later moves to 1980s London, and was shot in his stomping ground of Hackney. Here’s an exclusive image of Elba on set with actor Antwayne Eccleston, who plays the young D. Despite his experience on all kinds
of shoots, Elba says the move to director was still a challenging one. “You lens something up in your head, then put an actual lens on and it looks nothing like it,” he told Empire. “Whether you believe in God or whoever, whoever created the brain and knowing how that works, give them fuckin’ credit, man. Because to recreate what you see in your mind’s eye onto a lens, it’s fuckin’ hard!” Yardie will be heading to UK cinemas on 24 August.
Hotel Artemis – Drew Pearce’s Sci-Fi Crime Saga
fter John Wick 2, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the criminal underworld is only in it for the luxury amenities — and if you thought the Continental looked handy, wait ’til you get a load of Hotel Artemis. The titular members-only establishment might not look state-ofthe-art, but if you’re a baddie with a bullet-wound it’s the only future-tech hospital you want to check yourself in to. That’s the premise of Drew Pearce’s bold directorial debut, which sees the strict rules of the Artemis dissolve during a Los Angeles riot in 2028 while Jodie Foster’s Nurse tries to keep the peace and keep the customers patched up. One of the
nefarious characters stepping through the Hotel doors is Sofia Boutella’s deadly French assassin Nice — and we’ve got an exclusive image of her, as seen in the new issue of Empire. According to producer Stephen Cornwell, Pearce’s reference points included an intriguing combination of directors: ‘John Carpenter meets Wong Kar-wai’. “He wanted to embrace the look of LA and loved the Art Deco look the city has, but he also wanted to really modernise it,” Cornwell told Empire. Hotel Artemis arrives in UK cinemas on 20 July.
Tag - Ed Helms Makes a Play for Jake Johnson
hen was the last time you played ‘tag’? Probably at school when you weren’t trading Pokémon cards or drinking warm cartons of milk. But in summer comedy Tag, a group of grown-up friends are still playing one epic game of the playground classic on a country-wide scale. The film, starring the likes of Ed Helms, Jake Johnson, Jon Hamm and Jeremy Renner, is based on a true story of a group of men who reignited their ongoing game for a whole month every year well into adulthood. “I went out to dinner with one of the real guys,” Tag director Jeff Tomsic told Empire, “and he had to sit with his back to the wall facing the door, just in case one of his friends showed up in Atlanta and chased him through the restaurant.” That level of paranoid frenzy has been captured in the Hollywood version — just take a look at this exclusive image from the film, with Helms’ Hoagie making a dash for Johnson’s Randy. The film will race into UK cinemas on 6 July.
Terminal – Margot Robbie and Max Irons from Noir Thriller
f neon-soaked noir thrillers are your bag, 2018 is your year — Duncan Jones finally got to make Mute, you can watch Blade Runner 2049 on repeat in the comfort of your own home (with toilet breaks!), and now Terminal is approaching. Vaughn Stein’s feature debut looks like a visually sumptuous, stylistic treat — and it’s got a killer cast to boot. As well as the likes of Simon Pegg, Dexter Fletcher, Max Irons and Mike Myers, front and center is Margot Robbie as waitress Annie. She’s far more than just the onscreen lead though, having coproduced the film and worked on the screenplay with Stein. “She read the script and wanted to be involved,” the
director told Empire. “She worked with me to improve the script massively and is an incredible, hand-on producer. I immediately saw her as Annie.” The film is set to be a twisting crime saga with various threads — assassins on a mission, nefarious characters leading double lives, a terminally ill teacher — thatintertwine thanks the meddling of a shadowy criminal mastermind. The film arrives in UK cinemas on 6 July.
prime time Get up to speed on Tom Hanks’ latest role: Mister Rogers
Is this to do with Captain America?
You’re thinking of Steve Rogers. This is Fred Rogers, or as he’s most famously known, Mister Rogers. Never heard of him. Broadcast in the US from 1968 to 2001, Mister Rogers’ Neighbourhood was a variety hour for the undersixes, centring around Rogers’ softly spoken presentation and natty collection of cardigans. So he’s a big deal? And then some. President George W. Bush called him “beloved” when awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of his cardigans hangs in the Smithsonian Museum Of
American History. Who on earth could play such a national tresure? Tom Hanks, of course. Hanks will slip into Mister Rogers’ trademark sweater for the biopic You Are My Friend (the title taken from one of Rogers’ songs) in a truly inspired piece of casting: America’s dad, playing America’s granddad. A Captain America of sorts, then? If you like. The script, by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster, is full of “kindness and exploration of the human spirit”, according to director Marielle Heller. Get ready to make a new friend. John Nugent
First Teaser Poster For The New Suspiria
ith the success of Call Me By Your Name still resonating, director Luca Guadagnino is already on the home stretch of his next film, which promises to be very different, sensual and intense in a whole other way. He brought the first footage from his remake of 1977’s Suspiria to the CinemaCon event in Las Vegas, and while none of that material is online, the first teaser poster has arrived. The image, designed by veteran title artist Dan Perri, is the first to emerge from the movie, which sees a young American dancer (Dakota Johnson) heading to the prestigious Markos Tanz Company in 1970s Berlin and becoming a star pupil under the tutelage of Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton). She befriends another dancer, but comes to fear that the place harbours a dark secret. In the footage shown at the Vegas event, we see Johnson’s character dancing for Swinton and then hoofing alone as her torso splits and contorts. Yes, it appears to be aiming to outdo Black Swan in terms of ballet terror. Amazon is handling the film in the States, and it should be out later this year. James White
What character were you in your first school play? I was a potato. It was a play about nutrition. I don’t know how I was in it. I didn’t work again for a long time after that.
when I was on a hike? I wasn’t fully naked though. That’s was last summer in the ocean in Martha’s Vineyard. I’ll send you a clip.
When were you most starstruck? By Ani DiFranco, who is my favourite singer, a folk singer. Also Angelica Huston. My sister and I ran into her at an event once and we could not form an interesting sentence. We basically just said, “We love you!” and stared at her.
How much does it cost? I will say $1.99? I don’t know. I’m lactose intolerant so I cannot be expected to know this. Let’s talk almond milk.
What is the worst smell in the world? Rotting flesh. Rotting human flesh. You’ve never smell it? If you go on the Subway in New York, you’ll be sometimes sitting next to someone and notice a smell, then you’ll look down and it’s clear their foot has passed on. Which movie have you seen the most? There are a few. I have a contract with myself that if either Dirty Dancing or The Birds come on TV wherever I am, I have to watch the entire thing. The Birds is really long, so it’s incredibly inconvenient. When were you last naked outdoor? Does it count that I just peed outside
How much is a pint of milk?
Have you ever written fan mail to anyone? I definitely wrote to Ani DiFranco. It’s weird because she’s now my friend. It’s uncomfortable. I have not yet got over being a fan of her and being friends. Like, Jennifer Lawrence I was a huge fan of and now she’s my friend, but that’s not weird. It’s not like, “It’s Jennifer Lawrence!” whenever I see her. Whose poster did you have on your wall as a kid? I had a lot. Jason Priestley and Luke Perry from 90210. Joey from New Kids On The Block. There was a magazine called Tiger Beat and I’d tear pictures out of there.
What was the last TV show you got addicted to? The Great British Bake Off. Can’t get enough. I met Candice [Brown, who won in 2016] and I was pretty starstuck. Who is the most famous person you could text right now? Bono. The last time I texted Bono was a week ago. when I was in Italy and wanted a dinner recommendation. You probably thought I would say Jennifer Lawrence, right? Nope. In her face. Don’t need her. Got Bono. When was the last time you cared about money? About ten years ago. My friend would suggest going out for sushi and I couldn’t afford to do it, so someone would say, “Okay, I’ll buy you a Carlifonia roll.” Just one. Do you have a nickname? No, but I really want one. I tried to make ‘Sweet Pea’ happen just with people around the office, but it did not catch on. A lot of people call me ‘cunt’. Olly Richards
I FEEL PRETTY IS IN CINEMAS FROM 4 MAY
How much is a pint of milk? Amy Schumer
Edgar Wright Interviews Steven Spielberg About Duel
When we asked a number of directors to write essays on their favourite Steven Spielberg movie for our current issue dedicated to the great director and his works, the likes of Miartin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, Rian Johnson, and JJ Abrams jumped at the chance. But only Edgar Wright went the extra mile, jumping on the photne with Spielberg for a 45-minute discussion of Duel, Spielbergâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s remorseless truck-vs-car TV movie that acted as the prototype for Jaws in many ways.
even years ago, I hosted a screening of Walter Hill’s The Driver and Steven Spielberg’s made-forTV debut, Duel at the New Beverly cinema in Los Angeles. It was my mythic car action double bill — two films that were always on my mind when it came to making Baby Driver. I saw Duel on TV as a kid and marvelled, even then, at it. It is a pure engine for suspense, a brilliant exercise in near-silent cinema. I still think, even in the wake of his later classics, its still one of the greatest displays of Spielberg’s talent and a masterclass for young film makers. For that screening, Spielberg sent along an email for me to read out about how he had approached shooting the film (in just eleven days). ‘DUEL was 50% planning and 50% panic. The network only gave me 11 days to shoot a 74-minute movie. Fortunately, the actor I cast — Dennis Weaver —had his game face on the entire time we filmed and he sprinted, along with the rest of us, from one setup to the next. As did Jack Marta, my DP and a skeleton crew who had never made a movie before while on the run. Literally running.
‘I shot much of this with five cameras that included a camera mounted inside the picture car, as well as mounted cameras on the blind side of the red car and the truck. If four of my cameras were filming runbys from right to left, on the opposite side of the vehicle we mounted cameras that were capturing useful footage to be used later in the show when the vehicles would be traveling left to right. This was where planning was invaluable. But I had one more ally on my side during the making of DUEL — and that was luck. Pure luck... and a great story and script by Richard Matheson. To this day, I feel blessed that this opportunity landed in my life.’
Wright: What’s interesting to me watching Duel is, you have straight away as your first feature, such confidence in your visual storytelling. I think one of the reasons it stands out from the pack within TV movies, is you’re bold in the way you’re covering the action. So many TV directors or TV movies at the time would be shot with basic coverage or sometimes very flatly directed, and people are just covering the action and figuring it out in the edit. Very early on, with your first effort, the staging is very ambitious and straight away, as you’ve continued to do in all your films, you have masters that can’t be edited any other way. Some scenes are done in one shot, and you’re really editing in your head. I guess you were in your mid-20s when you directed it. Where did that confidence come from? Spielberg: Well, I think that confidence is contingent upon the screenplay. In this sense I had a hell of a bedrock foundation. It was a streamlined story by Richard Matheson that gave me a lot of direction to direct it with. It’s really interesting. The other thing that really helped was there was such a paucity of dialogue in the script and even less so in the finished movie. I cut about fifty per cent of the dialogue out of the script. It told me that this was going to be my first silent movie. I was a huge fan of the silent era and had at that point in my life gone out many times to the Nuart and other revival houses to watch silent movies on the big screen. I even tried to get the network to agree to let me cut out even more dialogue, but the network was adamant that we needed what remained as some kind of a road map for people who just watched
TV and who didn’t want to put too much effort into the viewing experience. If I’d had final cut in those days, I would have cut the dialogue even further back. Wright: That’s one of the things that’s really striking about it. Duel is a film that demands your attention. If you look at it by today’s standards in terms of TV direction, let’s say in terms of network TV, it’s almost an art film. Which I think is incredible. When you watch it, you feel that this is a silent suspense movie. Spielberg: It’s a primal road rage story. You’re watching a lightweight go up against a heavyweight champion. Like David and Goliath, at first you put your money on the giant and it turns out that David starts to turn the tables. I had also thought of it as a Biblical parable. I first read the short story by Richard Matheson in Playboy magazine given to me, thank god, by my brilliant secretary at the time, Nona Tyson, who had read the short story and said, ‘I think this is right up your alley’. She gave me Playboy. It was one of the few times I ever picked up Playboy without looking at the pictures. Wright: [laughs] Richard Matheson wrote the screenplay, correct? Spielberg: Yeah, he wrote the script. He wrote the story for Playboy and adapted it as a teleplay for George Eckstein, who was producing it for ABC. When I read the short story, I had no idea, no idea, that this was intended for the little screen. I did
“I cut 50% of the dialogue out of the script. It told me that this was going to be my first silent movie.”
17 some calling around and found out who had the rights, and that it was going to be an ABC movie of the week, and then I lobbied to get the job. I took my Columbo, which was in rough cut, and was a pilot for Columbo the series, and I brought it to George. He liked it a lot but said, ‘I don’t have authority to hire you. All I can do is support you with the network’. He brought me to ABC and the person who gave me the job was Barry Diller, head of ABC at the time and who, over the years, has become one of my closest friends. Wright: Your style then is very different at a time when the early 70s directors were taking a much more improvisational tack and finding the movie on the day. Even from your TV work, you’re going in with a plan. With Duel, you had to go in with a plan.
experience for me because the crew, the cast accepted me including Joan Crawford. Well, Joan didn’t accept me at first. But once I began directing her, she treated me like King Vidor. She treated me like a Hollywood veteran. All the cast were lovely with me on Night Gallery. But the crew rebelled and slowed down, and I think consciously huddled to try to get me fired. Now I think that’s just probably the way I saw it. It may not be the way it actually happened, but the crew really was hostile in every regard to everything I did on that show. I fell a day behind schedule because the crew was moving at, literally, a snail’s pace, and the producer came down many times to reprimand me for going so slow.
Wright: I started in TV very young. I wonder if you had the same experience. Did you have experiences with some of the crew where they’re thinking, ‘who is this kid?’ They’re not entirely on board.
Eventually Barry Sullivan, one of the actors in it, asked me to step off the soundstage and I went off with the second assistant director. He said, ‘I need to talk to the crew, I need you to step off the stage, I don’t want you to hear this’. And when I came back about twenty minutes later, to resume shooting that day, everybody’s eyes were cast to the ground. But they were moving a hell of a lot faster. At the end of the day, I asked Barry, ‘What did you say?’ Barry said, ‘I have never in my entire career worked with such an unprofessional crew, with such hostility towards the director. I told the crew that the actors would all rebel and walk off if the crew continued to behave this way’. So the crew saved the day.
Spielberg: Only on Night Gallery. Night Gallery was a terrible
Wright: Getting the crew to work hard is partly about getting
Spielberg: I had to. I had a shot list for all the television I ever directed. You had to. They give you very few days. They give you six days for an hour. And I had something like 12 on Duel for 74 minutes. I had a shot list on every TV episode I ever made. I had my shots organised and it’s the only way to get ten pages shot a day.
them to see your vision. One of your main jobs as a director, and you obviously do it brilliantly, is communicate your vision to everybody so people can feel included and inspired by what you’re trying to pull off.
The explosion is so much more obvious. Not only do you have the long death and the dripping oil, the behemoth slowly dying, but Dennis Weaver throwing stones.
Spielberg: You have to. I’ve always done that. I’ve always collaborated with the crews as much as I could at the very beginning. I was still learning at the very beginning, and before my first big success, which was Jaws, everybody helped me and they had tons of ideas. And if they were good ideas, I would use them. And I found that with success, especially after Jaws and Close Encounters back to back, by the time I made 1941 and even by the time I shot Raiders Of The Lost Ark, the crews who would voluntarily give me ideas, those ideas dried up. They stopped coming. It’s interesting how success creates intimidation. The people who were formerly my collaborators would now think I knew it all and would be shy to volunteer anything and, because a couple of my movies had made a lot of money, that I knew everything. Well, I knew probably less after those two movies because I was still learning. I’m still learning to this day. It made me realise that, if you want to get the best out of your crew, you’ve gotta get them to not be shy and come forward and tell the director what they think. I’ve done that my entire career.
Spielberg: At the end of that I said to Dennis Weaver, ‘Remember all those scenes in Touch Of Evil where you were the night watchman? Can you give me a manic dance when the truck dies? Can you bring that character back to life? How would he react if he had been chased by this truck for an hour and a half?’ Dennis said, ‘Say no more. I know exactly what you’re getting at’. Then he gave me that moment at the end.
Wright: I read that you fought against the network to not show the truck blowing up. Spielberg: Oh yeah. I had no power. I had no power. I was a TV director and had no say at all. George Epstein told me after the network saw it, ‘Well, we’re going back to the desert, they want to push the truck off the cliff again and blow it up again’. I told George why that was such a terrible idea. I’d worked so hard to give the truck a long and painful death and I thought that’s what the audience wanted out of the resolution. I said, ‘If the network does force you to blow the truck up again, you get another director to do it because I’m not going to do it’. George fought for me, and for himself because he agreed with me. George fought the battle and George beat the network. They backed down. Not because of anything I said, but because of the power of George Epstein and his clout and renown as a very respected television producer. Wright: It’s a much more poetic ending.
Wright: I’m going to ask you about urban myths. Is it true that when the truck goes over the cliff, it’s also the sound at the end of Jaws when the shark’s carcass is falling to the bottom of the ocean? Spielberg: Not only is it a similar sound, it’s the same sound. I asked the sound effects editor on Jaws to go into the library and find the death rattle of the truck of Duel and put it underwater with the shark and he did. Wright: How much longer after the main shoot was that? Spielberg: Not long. When they saw the Nielsen ratings coming in, it did a very good number. The studio wanted to release it in theatres overseas, so within a month of its television debut I was shooting about 13, 14 more minutes because they would not accept anything under 90 minutes as a theatrical release overseas. We had to pad it from 74 to 90. I got another chance, with Richard Matheson, to make up those extra scenes that we never had in the first pass. Wright: The extra setpieces are the school bus sequence and the railway crossing sequence? Spielberg: There was also the bit where he calls his wife from the laundromat and she gives him a hard time. We get to meet the wife for the first time and hear her. Wright: You did three movies in succession about perpetual motion. You have two movies in cars, then Jaws which is on the water, which was a much more physical endeavour, and was a lot more troublesome. The ambition of these first
three movies is incredible.
“Even when I was making Duel, all I wanted to do was make a movie about UFOs.”
Spielberg: A lot of that was not by choice. I would allow these stories to come into my life. My main thing was, even when I was making Duel, all I wanted to do was make a movie about UFOs. I wanted to make a UFO movie since I wanted to make movies. It was such a mythological phenomena in America for such a long time. But for me, Sugarland was a story I came up with based on a newspaper article I read. Duel was something that came to me by my secretary. Jaws was something that came up when I was meeting with the producers of Sugarland Express and I saw a huge manuscript on the secretary’s desk and asked if I could read it. I took it home, read it over the weekend and came back in on Monday and asked if I could make an appointment and Dick [Zanuck] and David [Brown] met with me and I threw my hat in the ring. And Close Encounters was a result of the success of Jaws because nobody would let me make Close Encounters until I had a big fat hit, and then Jaws gave me the credibility and credentials to basically shoot the phone book. Close Encounters was my phone book. Wright: That’s amazing. You went onto greater success but the fact that you have Duel as your first feature, that’s better than 80% of directors’ entire back catalogues. Spielberg: Thank you so much for that. But I also think that it’s easy and sometimes fun to talk about the past, but the only thing that counts is how your intuition guides you. And it’s all about that. Every movie I’ve made, or most of the films I’ve made, have not been consciously based on some kind of a longview game plan. So many of them have combusted spontaneously. That’s only because the second I think about what I should do next, I’ll probably not do that next. The more I think about something, the greater the chance I’ll never make it. It’s the things I just impulsively commit to that somehow feel right to me. I let that pretty much guide me for the last 49 years of making TV and film. Wright: Well, it remains a classic. Thanks for reliving it with me. Spielberg: I love that after all these years, there’s still air in those tyres. The truck, the car and me!
N A M O W IN WHITE By Jasper Rees
10 Major Differences Between The Wilkie Collins Book And The BBC Series
t ended in the desert sands: in the final image of The Woman in White, Marian Halcombe was liberated at last to pursue her own enthusiasms, her gender discreetly hidden behind a raffish veil. It was a lovely affirmative way for the BBC One drama to free Wilkie Collins’s feminist heroine from the shackles of Victorian conformity. In the novel she loyally sticks around to watch her sister’s first-born son inherit Limmeridge after Frederick Fairlie’s sudden death. But that was by no means the only liberty taken by writer Fiona Seres and director Carl Tibbetts...
Erasmus Nash was a fiction
In the drama the scrivener was recommended by Walter Hartright’s mother as a legally-minded investigator who might help restore Laura Glyde’s stolen identity. In the book it is Walter who does all the sleuthing and gathering of evidence: the narrative is a set of jigsaw pieces each written by the characters closest to the action. Walter Hartright begins the story, the lawyer Gilmore continues before Marian’s journal takes it up. Fosco even cheekily makes an entry in her diary while she is delirious with fever. With so many dead or absent fathers in Collins’s story, Nash had a secondary, redemptive function as a neglectful father who saw the error of his ways.
There is no getting around the weirdness of Walter and Anne Catherick having distant Limmeridge in common when they meet at night on a road between London and Hampstead. Collins blithely sprinkles coincidences around like confetti. When Walter returns from the Americas (having frequently diced with death) he makes a pilgrimage to Lady Glyde’s supposed grave in Cumberland. There he is astonished to encounter Marian and a veiled Laura, who just happen at that very moment to be passing by as they go into hiding after Fairlie refuses to accept their story. If either of them had passed five minutes earlier or later there’d have been no resolution.
Philip Fairlie is less harshly judged in the book
What a trio of siblings. Frederick Fairlie’s mewling self-pity and Countess Fosco/ Eleanor Fairlie’s icy villainy were both faithfully transplanted from the book. But the late Philip Fairlie is merely described by Collins as “constitutionally lazy in his principles, and notoriously thoughtless of moral obligations where women were concerned”. He seduced, impregnated and abandoned Anne’s mother, and got away with it. Unlike in the novel, the drama punished him with blackmail: Glyde extracted the promise of his daughter Laura’s hand in marriage in return for his silence.
Television audiences have not inherited the Victorian tolerance of sensational
Were asylums that bad?
Collins did considerable research into private asylums, and dedicated the book to the Commissioner in Lunacy who advised him. But the book is squeamish about describing the indignities suffered by inmates. Other than the denial of her identity, Laura seems to be benignly treated. In the drama, however, Laura was graphically brutalised by a cruel regime. On the plus side she was easily sprung from incarceration with a bribe of a few coins. In the book Marian cashes in her entire fortune and hands over nearly half of it, to the tune of £400.
Count Fosco is no matinee idol
The BBC’s latest adaptation is the first to cast an actual Italian to play the Count. While the actor Riccardo Scamarcio brought unfakeable swagger, and plausibly rendered Rossini in a booming bass, Collins’s original is not a looker. Marian takes three pages to note down her first impressions. At the age of 60, he is “immensely fat” if light
on his feet, perfectly bald, and keeps a menagerie of white mice and cockatoos whom he treats as his children. His hypnotic charm is such that, when Mrs Clements encounters him in the boathouse at Blackwater, she is plausibly persuaded to take him to Anne Catherick so he can embark on his dastardly scheme. As Marian says, “women can resist a man’s love, a man’s fame, a man’s personal appearance, and a man’s money, but they cannot resist a man’s tongue when he knows how to talk to them”.
Talking of tongues, Marian wouldn’t dream of kissing the Count
Fosco’s only weakness is his admiration for Marian, and in the book despite his skill as a chemist he certainly never has her drugged. For her part Marian is also seduced by the intellect and charisma of a man who compares himself to Napoleon, whom even in extremis she never calls a monster. The drama externalised their mutual regard by having him pounce on her in the woods like a two-bit adulterer. In the book Fosco merely takes her hand “and put it to his poisonous lips,” says Marian. “Never did I know all my horror of him till then.”
Laura’s two husbands never meet
Collins’s plotting is a plate-spinning marvel, but in the interests of compression the drama moved some furniture around. Thus Walter was dismissed by Frederick Fairlie for disobediently romancing his niece. In the book it is Marian who merely warns him off, and he tenders his resignation and leaves long before Sir Percival Glyde turns up. So Walter and Glyde never meet. The first time Walter sees Glyde’s face is when his charred body is retrieved from the vestry (which Glyde doesn’t incinerate deliberately in the book). But it nicely increased the tension at Limmeridge that they met and glowered at each other.
The novel predates Freud
Trace elements of Collins’s glorious prose popped up here and there in a script which mainly relied on contemporary speech patterns (no one said “OK” in the
UK in 1849, when the novel begins). The drama adopted a knowledge of Freudian psychology with references to paranoia, the subconscious, trauma and empathy. It meant that more could be made of Laura’s psychic shock. After her ordeal in the book, she simply reverts to childishness. The drama thought more deeply about the impact of her suffering, and even made her suicidal.
What’s in a name?
This wasn’t the only improvement in Laura’s story. Collins had Walter and Laura marry before Fosco confessed to his crime, and thus before she had won back her true identity. In a plot that partly hinges on a fake marital record, it’s odd that the novelist never thought to explain what maiden name would have been inscribed on the Hartrights’ marriage certificate.
Pesca is only the accidental instrument of Fosco’s death
As played by Ivan Kaye, Pesca is physically imposing. “Without being an actual dwarf,” records Walter in the novel, “Pesca was, I think, the smallest human being I ever saw out of a show-room.” As in the drama, he disappears for most of the novel and reappears when Walter needs a positive ID on his wily Italian nemesis. Neither Pesca nor Fosco are Sicilian in the book, but thanks to Sicily’s subsequent history the modern sensibility more readily identifies the island with the idea of secret brotherhoods and implacable vendettas. The way in which Collins kills off Fosco is emblematic of the sometimes crude plotting imposed on him by the demands of serial publication. The man who actually terrifieS Fosco at the opera is a shady figure from the Brotherhood who happens to be standing next to Pesca and Walter.And it is him who delivers the coup de grâce, later on, in Paris. Fosco’s comeuppance is more satisfyingly done in the drama. Read the review on page 60
Meet The Cast
Ex-EastEnders star Ben Hardy leads the cast of this Wilkie Collins adaptation with Jessie Buckley, Olivia Vinall and Charles Dance.
ilkie Collins’ The Woman in White was revolutionary when it was published in 1859. It practically founded the Victorian craze for “sensation novels” and, since then, it has been adapted for TV and film over and over again. The BBC’s latest version, written by Fiona Seres and directed by Carl Tibbetts, takes the existing plot and re-works the storytelling structure. Episode two airs on Sunday 29th April at 9pm on BBC1, with episode three on Monday 30th April. Here are the characters you’ll meet – and where you’ve seen them before:
Ben Hardy plays Walter Hartright
Jessie Buckley plays Marian Halcombe
Olivia Vinall plays Laura Fairlie
23 Who is Walter Hartright? Our protagonist is a young artist from London who takes a job managing rich old Mr Fairlie’s art collection and teaching his two orphaned nieces to draw and paint. Walter is kind and sensitive (his surname is even Hartright, so you know his heart is in the right place). He immediately forms a bond with his two pupils Marian and Laura, and becomes fascinated with a mysterious figure called The Woman in White. What else has Ben Hardy been in? Soap fans will recognise Ben Hardy as Peter Beale from East Enders. Since leaving Albert Square he has starred in X-Men: Apocalypse, and he’ll soon be appearing as Roger Taylor in the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody.
Who is Marian Halcombe? Meet Marian, Mr Fairlie’s niece who lives with him at Limmeridge House. She’s an unusual character to find in Victorian fiction, being fiercely independent and intelligent and going against the grain. Marian is a rebel who stands outside of her 19th century gender role and rejects any pressure from the outside world to be submissive or domestic. What else has Jessie Buckley been in? Irish singer and actress Jessie Buckley first came to public attention a decade ago, when she came second in the BBC talent show I’d Do Anything – just missing out on a role as Nancy in the musical Oliver. She went on to star in the West End revival of Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. More recently she has become a familiar face on TV, playing Marya Bolkonskaya in War & Peace, Lorna Bow in Taboo, and Honor Martin in The Last Post.
Who is Laura Fairlie? Laura is one of Mr Fairlie’s nieces and is the heiress to a large fortune. She’s very different from Marian but the two of them share a close bond. Dreamy and impulsive and fragile, Laura sees the world in vivid colours and has a deep understanding of art and nature. What else has Olivia Vinall been in? The actress starred in the TV series Apple Tree Yard as Emily Watson’s on-screen daughter, Carrie. She appears in Second World War drama Where Hands Touch, and has also been on stage in Jonathan Kent’s Chekhov trilogy.
…And Olivia Vinall ALSO plays Anne – the Woman in White
Charles Dance plays Mr Fairlie
Dougray Scott plays Sir Percival Glyde
Who is Anne Catherick, the Woman in White? Walter first encounters the “woman in white” on a moonlit road in London, and soon finds himself drawn into a mysterious and disturbing world. She is soon revealed as Anne Catherick, an escapee from an asylum – and she has a surprising connection to Limmeridge House.
Who is Mr Fairlie? Rich, cantankerous Frederick Fairlie is a hypochondriac who isolates himself from the world at Limmeridge House, claiming to be extremely sensitive to sound, light and physical exertion. He is the uncle of Marian and Laura and serves as their guardian, although he is completely self-absorbed and selfish.
Who is Sir Percival Glyde? In case you hadn’t guessed from the moustache and the glare, Sir Percival is a bit shady. He’s engaged to young Laura.
If Anne and Laura are played by the same actress, how did they do it? Anne and Laura are meant to look extremely similar, but not identical. “The hair and makeup designer Sian Wilson and the whole team were incredible at helping with the visual similarities and differences including dying my eyebrows, using fake teeth and cheek fillers,” Vinall explains.
What else has Charles Dance been in? 71-year-old actor Charles Dance has a ton of credits including The Jewel in the Crown, Dracula Untold, Bleak House, And Then There Were None, and The Imitation Game. Many viewers will recognise him best as Tywin Lannister from Game of Thrones.
What else has Dougray Scott been in? The actor played Ian Hainsworth in Desperate Housewives, British boyfriend and eventual fiancé to Susan (Teri Hatcher). His other credits include Father & Son, My Week with Marilyn, Hemlock Grove, Strike Back, The Replacement, and Snatch.
Riccardo Scamarcio plays Count Fosco
Sonya Cassidy plays Madam Fosco
Joanna Scanlan plays Mrs Vesey
Who is Count Fosco? Sir Percival’s Italian friend Count Fosco is quite a suspicious character. Though charming and polite, his background is shrouded in mystery. Count Fosco is impressed by Marian’s intellect.
Who is Madam Fosco? Madam Fosco is Laura’s aunt. Once friendly and sweet, since her marriage to Count Fosco she has become humourless, obedient, and obsessed with her husband.
Who is Mrs Vesey? Laura’s former governess has now become a companion to the two young women, continuing to live at Limmeridge House. She’s calm, placid and wellintentioned.
What else has Riccardo Scamarcio been in? His English language projects include Master of None, John Wick: Chapter Two, and Black Arrow. He’s also been in plenty of Italian films and TV shows.
What else has Sonya Cassidy been in? You may recognise her from sci-fi series Humans, where she played Hester, or for her roles in Vera (as Celine Ashworth) and The Paradise (as Clara).
What else has Joanna Scanlan been in? Actress and screenwriter Joanna Scanlan played Terri Coverley in The Thick of It, DI Vivienne Deering in No Offence and Janice Gray in Requiem. She starred as Sister Den Flixter in Getting On.
Nicholas Jones plays Mr Gilmore
Where Is The Woman In White Filmed?
ccording to the BBC, it is a “haunting tale of insanity and identity”.
Who is Mr Gilmore? As solicitor for the Fairlie family, Mr Gilmore embodies Victorian middleclass virtues. He is hard-working and responsible. What else has Nicholas Jones been in? You may recognise Nicholas Jones as the Great Wizard from The Worst Witch. He recently played Sir John Simon in Churchill movie The Darkest Hour and Lord Moran in The Crown. Previous projects have included Vera Drake, Vanity Fair, Daisy Miller, Copying Beethoven, and The Blockhouse. His sister is the actress Gemma Jones.
“Viewed by many as the first psychological thriller novel, The Woman in White will take viewers on a chilling ride down the shadowy paths and corridors of English country houses and ultimately into the depths of the Victorian madhouse.” Where is The Woman in White 2018 set? The Woman in White is set in Victorian England. According to executive producer David M. Thompson: “The story takes us from Hampstead Heath to an elegant house in Cumbria and then takes a darker turn to Blackwater, a brooding Gothic house, climaxing in the terrifying reality of an insane asylum and the slums of London.” Most of the drama takes place in London in the mid 19th Century. Many aspects of the city are portrayed from grim slums to high society parties. The Gothic House belonging to the sinister Sir Percival Glyde (played by Dougray Scott), Blackwater Park, features prominently as does the Fairly family home, Limmeridge House.
Art Malik plays Erasmus Nash
Where is The Woman in White 2018 filmed? The Woman in White was filmed on location in Northern Ireland. Thompson said that it is the “perfect location” to film period dramas. “We had a wide choice of grand houses, many of which, crucially, have been in the same family for many years and so have not been over-restored,” he explained.
Who is Erasmus? Mr Nash is conducting an investigation into what happened. What else has Art Malik been in? Art Malik rose to fame as Hari Kumar in The Jewel in the Crown. More recently, Art Malik played Alan Taheeri in Bancroft. His other roles include Eddie Zubayr in Cold Feet, Francesc Gacet in Borgia, Zubin Khan in Holby City and Mr Amanjit Singh in Upstairs Downstairs.
“The countryside outside Belfast is beautiful, unmarred by development or electricity poles, and its landscapes range from parklands and ancient forests to wide open beaches - everything that we needed to give the story the sweep and epic quality of the original novel.” Dougray Scott who plays antagonist in the series Sir Percival Glyde said that the locations were “incredible”. “Some of these places were amazing and unlike any I had seen before. “They had the most magnificent architecture and views. “Plus, I love Belfast, it is a great city!” he added.
FILM FESTIVAL 2018 First Look Review Special from Movie Premiere at the festival this year.
This monumental new work from South Korean director Lee Chang-dong was well worth the eightyear wait.
t’s been eight very long years since South Korean filmmaker Lee Chang-dong gifted us with a feature (2010’s Poetry), but we’re thrilled to report that he’s back on the scene with an absolutely monumental new work. Based on a short story by Haruki Murakami, Burning is a slow burn in both structure and theme, in that it meticulously unfurls over two-and-ahalf nerve-jangling hours, and one of the central characters happens to be a weekend arsonist. Hugh emotional and psychological dividends are paid to the viewer who drinks in the detail which Lee lavishly (though carefully) serves up – it’s one of those films where every frame is finely calibrated for maximum effect and meaning. It’s not self-consciously arty, nor does it follow any particularly pretentious lines of inquiry, but every element is used as a tool to expand the drama – what rooms look like, the clothes worn by the characters at certain times, which cars are driven, how far one location is from another. All of this is channeled into the film’s devastating and cathartic final act. Jongsoo (Yoo Ah-in) is a gormless, oddjobbing drifter whose embittered father is doing time for an assault. In the film’s opening scene he bumps into a young woman from his hometown, Haemi
( Jeon Jong-seo), who is so deep in credit card debt that she is working as a kind of public cheerleader for a corporate brand. He initially doesn’t remember her, but she jogs his memory with tall tales of their youth. Their first “date” involves standing in a dank alleyway while smoking, which leads to them quite literally swap spit as they dribble phlegm into a little espresso cup between drags. Matters move quickly, and she announces her departure for Kenya on a safari holiday. Jongsoo agrees to feed her cat, Boil, while she’s away, possibly because she asks prior to a bout of awkward sex. He maybe doesn’t realise just how much, but he’s in love, and as such uses her cramped studio pad to pleasure himself in a number of strange ways – one of which involves masturbating while staring longingly at a TV arial. Haemi returns, but she’s now got a new playmate called Ben (Steven Yeun) who has a immaculately coiffed goatee, drives a Porsche 911 and lives in a comically minimalist designer pad. It feels as if Jongsoo is being punished for being poor and unrefined, but Haemi is coquettishly ambiguous as to whether she actually has (or had) feelings for him. This intricate, three-hander shifts up a gear after about the 90 minute mark to become a much darker study of a
obsession and the desperate search for an elusive truth. At one moment it’s a tale of humiliation and unrequited love, as the near-monosyllabic Jongsoo doggedly attempts to discover whether he has a chance with Haemi now that the suave and worldly Ben is on the scene. Then it turns into a kind of existential crime story, as Jongsoo’s fixation leads him to adopt a set of new life patterns as a way to gather evidence. And if there’s a fourth main character, it’s an ultra-shy grey cat named Boil who ends up providing the film with its decisive plot pivot. Burning, then, is the full package, tangling with old school genre while also rippling with literary portent and offering a stark picture of economic inequality in South Korea. When boiled down, the film feels like an indictment of class stricture, and even Haemi’s choice of lover seems to double as a binary decision for cosy squalor or fasttracked upward mobility. A central scene where she sways, banshee-like to Miles Davis against the magic hour, with the North Korean border sitting right in the middle distance, is one for the ages.
yoto, Japan. A girl spots a guy in an art gallery. She is bored by the exhibits on the wall, and so decides to admire this sculpted indie boy by following him out of the building. He doesn’t notice her, but a moment of poetic happenstance causes the couple to turn their heads at the same moment. They tentatively creep towards one another in a state of pre-romantic possession. They tell one another their names and then, cutting to the chase, he snatches a kiss. Is it possible to fall in love with a person you know nothing about? Where all you have is the image you’ve hastily projected onto a face and body?
This poignant treatise on love at first sight is one of the best films in the 2018 Cannes competition line- up.
The potency of that split second impulse is tested in Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s intoxicating drama, Asako I & II, which is the director’s follow-up to his sprawling, 5 hour masterpiece from 2015, Happy Hour. In that film, we saw four women negotiating the emotional logistics of a break-up, where in this new one, it’s all about the rebound, what happens next and the legacy left by those who have departed. For Asako (Erika Karata), her love burns bright and fast as nervy, foppish beau, Baku (Masahiro Higashide), after tender assurances of their lifelong connection, decides one day to randomly up sticks and disappear. Two-and-a-bit years later, and still scarred by the fact that her life could be demolished so suddenly, she bumps into happy-go-lucky saki salesman Ryohei who is the spitting image of Baku, but clearly a different person (he’s also played by Masahiro Higashide). Initially, she fells as if the universe is mocking her, and her residual fondness for Baku is rekindled. Yet, slowly but surely, she manages to transcend that primal physical attraction and a new happy couple forged in the crucible of time, understanding and dedication. Or so it appears. Yes, the set-up sounds fanciful in the extreme: people bumping into other people; doppelgangers cropping up; people able to vanish from the face of the earth. But Hamaguchi orchestrates the narrative with such a deft and delicate touch, that there’s always a hint of something more mysterious at play. In the prologue, during a short sequence detailing Asako and Baku’s courtship, the pair crash their motorcycle, and while
ASAKO I & II lying on the tarmac, start to giggle before diving into an embrace. The film is peppered with these tiny, ambiguous and suggestive moments which operate on a thematic level (stressing that a near-death experience has no value when it comes to weakening this bond) as well as planting a seed of doubt that Asako and Beku really did survive the smash-up. It’s a moving and lightly philosophical treatise on the interplay between love and memory which toys with the idea of ghosts and resurrection without ever formally framing the narrative in those terms. Does Asako essentially have to become a new person in order to truly
allow Ryohei into her heart? Is it enough to realise that definitions of love are broad, varied and sometimes even banal? And is it possible to fully extinguish a past obsession, to totally purge an image from the mind and start anew? Every scene in this movie poses a question or alters a perception. Hamaguchi’s mastery is making you hang on every moment to see how he undercuts or develops on his thesis. It’s thrilling to try and guess where he’ll take the story next. His young stars serve him perfectly, and if you wanted any more, there’s an amazing supporting role from a white cat who monitors these shenanigans with sublime feline indifference. DAVID JENKINS
n 2016, the great Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami died of complications resulting from what should have been a routine operation. This new film from compatriot and creative brother-in-arms, Jafar Panahi, appears as a gentle homage to the fallen master, a study of rural landscapes which picks away at the mythos and illusion of cinema. And in line with the director’s recent work (produced while undergoing an enforced travel ban), this film is also a hymn to the irrepressibility of screen storytelling, reminding us that recorded images of all variety take on new contexts depending on who’s screening them and who’s watching them.
The actress Behnaz Jafari, with her cherry-red crop of hair, plays a version of herself in this deceptively simple road movie. She’s supposed to be on set for a shoot, but has taken leave to drive through the night, with Panahi acting as her guide and chauffeur. She’s receives a video message from a teenager who has reached out in a moment of desperation. A rambling, teary-eyed plea becomes what appears like a filmed suicide, as she hangs herself from a small branch while hidden away in a cave.
3 FACES Movies and stories are everywhere in the beguiling new film by Iranian director Jafar Panahi.
It’s uncertain as to whether she followed through with the scheme, as her smartphone drops the ground at the crucial moment. So our intrepid travels dash to the scene with the purpose of finding out whether the girl did take her own life, and if she did, who then sent the video? There’s much in-car bickering as our crack twosome head to the hills for what they believe to be a socially-conscious sleuthing mission. Yet Panahi is careful to keep his and Jafari’s motivations ambiguous, as their response to this cry for help sometimes seems as if it’s an earnest act of bourgeois responsibility, and others just a thing that anyone would do in this potentially tragic situation. In keeping with the director’s ambling style, this has none of the urgency of a crime film, and the most the pair do to hurry things along is reject the many offers of tea from the kindly locals. In films like Taxi Tehran and This is Not a Film, Panahi often presents himself as a man of the people, and it’s clear that he’s able to strike up an easy rapport with just about anyone he meets. This is perhaps why he’s able to coax such
naturalistic and relaxed performances from his non-professional cast members. Yet here, he frames himself as a little more closed-off and reticent, often choosing to remain in his jeep as Jafari does the heavy lifting, or constantly claiming to be in a hurry and needing to leave. In the end, it does come across as a gently critical self portrait, a film about a man who has made a film without necessarily wanting to make one. Sometimes, a filmmaker just can’t help himself. Elsewhere, the mystery leads to a documentary-like rumination on village life and the insidious suppression of women in Iranian society. Film becomes the connective tissue between cultures and a stealthy mode of communication, yet there are limits as there will always be an unbreachable divide between how different people live their lives and the systems they create within their own social microcosms. It’s not necessarily one of the director’s most easily lovable films, but it’s certainly one of his most enigmatic and thought-provoking.
he title of Debra Granik’s stunning new film resonates in a number distinct ways. Initially it seems as if it’s quietly concerned with the idea of existing off the grid, cultivating a life untouched by commercialism, technology and the capitalist scourge which promotes wastefulness through in-built obsolescence. As much as it signals the rejection of one system, it promotes the embrace of another, one which relies on sustainability and ethical thinking. As its desperately sad story develops, that title takes on a more mysterious hue; it embraces the idea of not wanting to leave a personal
into town to pick up supplies. Granik parcels out information as carefully as Will and Tom monitor the propane supply on their gas burner. Yet she’s not holding back some contrived twist or a big, tone-shifting reveal – it’s simply an honest (and subtly tense) reflection of what its like to watch two characters whose interactions transcend the need for dialogue. It’s a case of discerning the difference between what they’re saying and what they’re thinking. In fact, this film is about the moment where father and daughter not only lose sight of their seemingly unbreakable bond, but realise that there may have been no bond in the first
bolthole and an attempt is made to reintegrate the pair into polite society. Tom likes this change of scenery, but the drab tract housing and hum-drum nature of the set-up makes Will more antsy than ever to locate that perfect loneliness. It’s a road movie, but also a two-hander character piece powered by a pair of beautifully restrained and finely judged performances. Granik never strains to dot the story with regular dramatic peaks and troughs, instead managing to create and sustain an atmosphere where every moment and every character is charged with raw and real emotion. Describing Leave No Trace as a tearjerker barely scratches the surface.
LEAVE NO TRACE Debra Granik’s longawaited follow-up to Winter’s Bone is a hushed masterpiece. mark on the world, whether through shame, responsibility or maybe even developing psychosis. It looks at severing emotional ties with people and places through any means necessary, as well as the heartbreaking impossibility of a total worldly disconnect (shy of death) and the bittersweet ramifications of eventually finding inner peace. Will (Ben Foster) and his inquisitive daughter Tom (Thomasin McKenzie) live happily in a tent pitched in a public park. They collect rain water in a tarp, eat foraged mushrooms and bed down together in a tiny tent. They play chess together, leaf through an illustrated encyclopedia and occasionally amble
place. Or, at least, their utopian ideals of lonesome survival are for different reasons. Tom loves her father, and the feeling is very much mutual. But Will’s head is not in a place where he’s able to reveal the final destination for their seemingly endless journey across America’s rural northern states. He is driven by the drug of perpetual escape, while Tom’s love is put to the ultimate test as she has to constantly attempt to second guess what’s driving her increasingly irrational pops. She knows the secret behind his motivations, but has only now begun to comprehend them. They are moved on from their idyllic
The aspect which nudges the film into the realms of greatness is its exquisitely empathetic portrait of the American underclasses, those people who have nothing but still scrabble to make a humble offering as and when they can. The drama of Will’s breakdown and Tom’s disorientation is all the more impactful when framed against the idea that they are being invisibly lifted on the shoulders of those that cross their path, to the extent where the story even takes the form of a rugged Christian parable. It’s a luminous and immaculately tender piece about generosity and the limits of generosity. Look out for it name-checked in the best of 2018 round-ups. DAVID JENKINS
Matteo Garrone returns to the crime-stained streets of southern Italy for his latest social realist parable.
ogs of all shapes and sizes feature in Matteo Garrone’s ninth feature, which sees the Italian director return to his social realist roots with a low-key crime drama that calls to mind his Cannes Grand Jury Prize winner from 2008, Gomorrah. Man’s best friend is not the primary focus here though – as per the title, the film centres around a gentle dog groomer named Marcello (Marcello Fonte), who runs a small shop in a rough neighbourhood somewhere near Napoli.
Given the authentically gritty setting, where everyone is seemingly on the take, it’s unsurprising to learn that Marcello sells cocaine on the side to help pay for regular scuba diving trips with his young daughter. Soon, however, Marcello’s illicit dealings see him become mixed up with a hotheaded local brute named Simone (Edoardo Pesce), who’s quick to take advantage of Marcello’s passive nature and diminutive stature.
appy as Lazzaro is best understood as a guided hallucination, or perhaps a moving photographic series contrasting a pastoral haven of peasants picturesquely performing their servitude with an urban hustle where those same folks wear jeans and commit low-level crime for a living. These two worlds conjured by Italian director Alice Rohrwacher in her followup to The Wonders are linked by the presence of a pure-hearted young man named Lazzaro (Adriano Tardiolo). This is a film designed to frustrate narrative reads. For one: there are great crowds of characters, and most are not offered much of an introduction. The audience is positioned like someone
Marcello’s unwavering kindness towards animals (in one scene he returns to the scene of a burglary to rescue a chihuahua, which one of the robbers has left to die in a freezer) makes him an instantly endearing character. Although this could be viewed as a cheap ploy from Garrone, the film benefits greatly from the lighter moments where Marcello is shown washing, walking and generally making a fuss over the various pooches in his care. Dogman is being pitched as an “urban western”, and Nicolai Brüel’s dirtsmudged cinematography certainly adds a layer of grime and gloom to proceedings. Yet while the film is compelling enough as an unsentimental portrait of social decay in southern Italy, it lacks the muscularity and visceral jolt of Garrone’s earlier work. Marcello’s sympathetic putz schtick wears thin after a while (although Fonte works wonders with the material), and there’s a sense of shrugging inevitability about the symbolic act of retribution that closes out the film. drifting up late to a party in full swing, and slinking around the margins trying to find a handle on the atmosphere that so potently exudes itself. Instead of appealing to our rationale, Rohrwacher, aided by cinematographer Hélène Louvart, appeals to our sensuality. The corners of the frame are vignetted like old photographs, setting a tone of nostalgia for a fading world. The figures in the frame are multiple
Garrone certainly knows how to construct taut allegorical thrillers on this scale, but following the director’s ambitious, darkly comic Reality and Tale of Tales, which debuted at Cannes in 2012 and 2015 respectively, we were hoping for something with a bit more bite.
ADAM WOODWARD generations of sharecroppers who are being exploited by the Marchesa Alfonsina De Luna. The setting is Inviolata, a rural Italian village in the 1980s, and unknown to her unpaid labourers, sharecropping has been outlawed. This social fact is presented casually, sans hysteria. Challenged by her peroxide-haired freewheeling son Tancredi, the Marchesa dismisses him with the explanation that everyone is exploiting someone, “It’s a chain
Cannes darling Stephane Brizé returns with a trudging, cacophonous insight into the guts of industrial activism.
middle-aged worker reads out one of many letters sent to the employees of Perrin industries: “From all of us in Sunderland to all of you in Agen.” International solidarity comes through for the 1100 French people working in the automotive parts plant which has been ordered to close. Solidarity doesn’t pay the bills, though. In At War, Cannes darling Stephane Brizé returns to the main competition with a trudging, cacophonous insight into the guts of industrial activism (or lack thereof ). It’s a topic the French know all too well. Vincent Lindon is the only professional actor in the film, leading a mostly seamless ensemble of fighting workers, demanding their already-agreed rights from a quietly complacent management body. Thus ensues the eponymous war; a gruelling back-and-forth of endless conversations, arguments, outcries. Reconstructed and sufficiently convincing
reaction,” she says. Meanwhile the sun traces a golden line around smooth faces, hair is healthy, eyes sparkle, and olive bodies capably tend to animals and the land. The idyllic vision is at odds with the situation. This half of the film has no interest in adding up – it simply unfolds. Then the second half is on us, heralded by helicopter shots over mountains and a voiceover about a wolf.
TV news reports frame the intrigue, as it begins in media res – employees aren’t happy, bosses aren’t seen, few people are being heard. In private conversations too, the pace is relentless, capturing the simultaneous desperation and necessity to keep moving even if it’s to go round in circles. Brizé has previously won three César awards (including one for Mademoiselle Chambon in 2009), but no Palme d’Or as of yet. Lindon is no stranger to the festival himself, having picked up the award for Best Actor in 2015 in Brizé’s own The Measure of a Man. Their latest collaboration could channel these past successes to win over this year’s Jury – if only At War was just a bit more galvanising. There is a bluntness to the striking workers’ violence which anchors the film as an episodic event. From a private meeting to a heated boardroom argument, the length of each new Happy as Lazzaro is among the most divisive films to have played so far in the official selection, because to even describe what it is or what it does is a confounding task. It’s a socially critical movie with no sense of urgency, it’s a magical world that is stuck on this earth. Alba Rohrwacher shines as Antonia, a character who comes into her own as a con artist with a sense of honour. Adriano Tardiolo as Lazzaro channels an untouchable see-no-evil, hear-no-evil,
conversation is tangible as it reaches its climax and then fizzles out. Brizé’s camera is clinical in its style but mobile enough to infuse a great sense of cinéma vérité to a story that’s almost too transparent to mask as pure fiction. Care is given to an atmosphere clearly enhanced by aesthetic tropes though. A slightly dissonant score adds gravitas to cutaway scenes while leaders and fighters catch their breath, and it’s hard to believe the passionate performances were only mastered in 23 days on set. However, a (melo)dramatic ending leaves a bitter taste and threatens to ruin the credibility At War had earned until this point. Things don’t always get better, but does that mean we have to go to such lengths ourselves to make them even worse?
ELLA KEMP speak-no-evil type of innocence. There is a tiny dog in a neckcone, an antique cigarette holder, and back in Inviolate the most exquisite tableaux. This is a film like a siren that beckons you towards it, only to evade your clutches. It is an ironclad mystery that unfolds in softly enveloping waves. Rohrwacher has made a Rorschach Test movie, that will hold any interpretation you care to throw at it. SOFIE MONKS KAUFMAN
HAPPY AS LAZZARO Alice Rohrwacher brings a touch of rustic magical realism to Cannes with an enigmatic film about a young Italian farmhand.
In Defence Of
Funny Women Female-driven comedies such as The Marvellous Mrs Maisel and Funny Cow are challenging archaic notions about women onÂ screen.
en years ago, Christopher Hitchens published an article in Vanity Fair entitled ‘Why Women Aren’t Funny’. Backed by scientific studies from Stanford University of Medicine, Hitchens reinforced the stereotype that women aren’t as funny as men, his main argument being that, “women have no corresponding need to appeal to men in this way. They already appeal to men, if you catch my drift.”
The idea that women can’t be funny has persisted throughout history, going back to Medieval times when a woman’s laughter was regarded as a sign of immorality. It extended into the 18th and 19th centuries, when comedy in the works of female novelists was trivialised for only referring to domestic life. In 1970, the English author Reginald Blythe said, “Women not only have no humour in themselves, but are the cause of its extinction in others.” Recent trends in critically-acclaimed television and cinema suggest otherwise. From the charismatic Miriam “Midge” Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) in Amy ShermanPalladino’s The Marvellous Mrs Maisel, a period comedy set in 1950s New York, to Maxine Peake in the independent UK production Funny Cow, refreshingly sharp-witted female protagonists are defying Hitchens’ unabashed misogyny. The recent focus on the female stand up comedian – an unprecedented lead role for women – reflects and celebrates the increasing presence of women in comedy today. Sherman-Palladino’s marvel begins with Miriam “Midge” Maisel speaking on her wedding day to a crowd of conservative Jewish Upper West Siders: “who gives a toast at her own wedding?” Midge unapologetically breaks tradition. Her speech foreshadows her future career as a stand-up comic, as well as her divorce a few years later (both being entirely unacceptable for women in the 1950s). Unaware of troubled times ahead, Midge charms the crowd by reminiscing about the first encounter with her husband Joel, until deviously mentioning that the egg roll appetisers weren’t Kosher. The Marvellous Mrs Maisel is loosely inspired by the life of American-Jewish comedian Joan Rivers, known for her outrageous and unfiltered stand-up. Just like Midge, who is left in an unfortunate situation when Joel leaves her and the two kids for his secretary ‘Penny Pan’, Rivers was married, divorced, and unemployed in her late 20s before launching her career as a stand-up comic. After ditching the role of housewife, she appeared in off-
Broadway plays with, among others, Barbara Streisand in the late 1950s. The comic and satirist Lenny Bruce, a huge inspiration to Rivers, features as himself in The Marvellous Mrs Maisel, (Luke Kirkby). Bruce appears as a regular at the underground Gaslight Café in Greenwich Village, where Midge makes her debut on the comedy stage. The cinematography of The Marvellous Mrs Maisel harks back to the golden age of cinema, hinting at a nostalgia for a seemingly whimsical postwar New York. It is a rose-tinted view of history, acting as a veil that thinly masks the harsh patriarchy that impacts Midge’s family, marriage and professional life. Despite the traditionalism of her family and in-laws, we can’t help but adore the Maisel family for their hilarious idiosyncrasies, including attempts to win over the neighbourhood Rabbi in time for Yom Kippur, to visiting the local fortune-teller, who becomes the go-to family therapist. In a similar vein to Sherman-Palladino’s marvel, Adrian Shergold’s Funny Cow, also presents the hypothetical experience of a woman finding success as a stand-up comedian in world full of prejudice and male dominance. The lead character is based on the Sheffield-born female comedian Marti Caine, who worked on the Yorkshire club circuit as a stand-up and cabaret dancer in the 1970s. Unlike The Marvellous Mrs Maisel, which shows us the colourful, ritzy interior world of a high-class New York family, Funny Cow presents a disadvantaged young woman in a poverty-stricken, environment in Northern England during years of austerity under Edward Heath and Margaret Thatcher. The protagonist, whose real name we never learn, thrives despite an abusive childhood and marriage. Both her father (Stephen Graham) and husband (played by writer Tony Pitts) routinely beat her in irrational fits of paranoia and anger, usually when she refuses to obey orders, or undermines their sense of male supremacy in the domestic sphere. As the derogatory title suggests, she will only ever be known as ‘that funny cow’; the name reflects the inevitable limitations of her success; as a female stand-up living in a man’s world. Throughout the film we witness flashbacks to a preadolescent Funny Calf in the bleak, industrial cityscape of Rotherham. These shots are reminiscent of the photojournalist Raymond Depardon’s photographs of children playing in Glasgow during 1980s. Hopeful flashes of colour are set against a bleak industrial backdrop. The film ingeniously brings together art house
cinematography with the vulgarity of Saturday night pub gags. Funny Cow represents the British underclass; surviving through the daily grind, grit and grime of poverty. Such life conditions prove to break down families through the form of misery and alcoholism, showing how toxic male aggression is a consequence of such hardship. Midge Maisel and Funny Cow are women from two very different worlds. While Midge is privileged, wealthy, educated and a mother of two; Funny Cow is impoverished, under-educated and abused. She refuses to have children with her second love interest Angus (Paddy Considine). In both cases we take immense pleasure at watching them hurl back abuse at their reproachful male audiences. “Women aren’t funny!” Shouts a male from the audience in a downtown New York comedy bar, interrupting Midge’s act. She responds: “Your wife must have a sense of humour, she’s seen you naked. What can I say, all the good men are taken ladies…” What is refreshing about the characters of both Midge and Funny Cow is their limited patience towards their male counterparts. They are defiant and don’t strive to stroke male egos. If they do on occasion, it is only as strategic survival mechanism, which is later used to their advantage. The humiliation of arrogant men, adulterous husbands and the subversion of overtly patriarchal communities becomes the prerogative of both Midge and Funny Cow, since it is their profession. Such behaviour by these quasi-fictional comic heroines quashes Hitchens’ assertions that men only want women as an audience, not as rivals. Underlying Hitchens’ essay is an unease, an anxiety on behalf of all funny men, who know that humour is a weapon, and is more powerful than denunciation. To celebrate funny women is to also accept that women have a degree of influence and control over men that isn’t purely sexual. So long as a woman’s power is only rendered through physical attraction, the mere utterance that a “woman isn’t pretty” immediately strips away her agency. As the feminist Philosopher Frances Gray once said: “Laughter, like nuclear energy, has no opinions, positive or negative, about the status quo. What it does have, like nuclear energy, is power, to which we can relate in a number of ways.” Equally, the celebrated author Margaret Atwood once said “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” Atwood’s statement that hints at the lethal conflation
between gender, humour and power is apparent in Funny Cow. Her charm, spirit and ability to make others laugh threatens her husband. “You’ll never beat me”, are his words after she threatens to leave the house, to audition as a stand-up comedian at a local talent show. She bombs the audition, and runs home crying in shame, only to be confronted by her abusive partner, who, in a predetermined revenge plan, breaks her nose flat. Yet by the end of Funny Cow, the closest thing that she has to a mentor, (and also a rival), the male comic Lenny (Alun Armstrong), takes his own life, when realising that Funny Cow, a woman, is far more talented than he will ever be. So yes, we now have more fictional female comedians appearing in mainstream culture. But what’ss the catch? While the title of Funny Cow suggests that the film will have you bent over in stitches, the audience is rarely brought to laughter. We watch an unfolding tragedy, with no relief of a happy ending, no delayed punchline. The overarching message is that success comes at a price, especially if you are female. The irony should be pointed out, that whereas Funny Cow was written and directed by two men, The Marvellous Mrs Maisel was written and directed by one woman, Amy Sherman-Palladino, the writer and creator of Gilmore Girls. The comedy in The Marvellous Mrs Maisel is genuinely hysterical, original and uniquely female. Unfortunately Peake’s character in Funny Cow resorts to making racist and misogynistic gags at the all-men’s working club to make a name for herself. This is perhaps a reminder of how much humour has evolved since the 1970s, or an indicator that male screenwriters should let women write their own comedy. On the other hand, Funny Cow primarily acts as a powerful commentary about the British club circuit in the 1970s, rather than aiming to make you laugh or lift your spirit. While cinema and television are increasingly diversifying and promoting lead female roles, the industry still accommodates for male writers and directors to narrate the lives of talented and noteworthy women. In 2017, it was estimated that only 24 per cent of the protagonists in all newly-released films were female, and that women directors, writers, producers and editors comprised of only 18 per cent of the top-grossing films. The same survey showed that in television, women accounted for only 28 per cent of all creators, directors, writers, producers, as well as editors and directors of photography. There is nothing funny about the fact we are still far from real equality. LYDIA FIGES
Reviews of latest movies on big screen
120 BPM (Beats Per Minute) Director: Robin Campillo Release date: 6 Apr 2018
n 2000, discussing Boogie Nights, pornography and drama, Paul Thomas Anderson lamented the lack of proper, honest sex scenes in traditional narrative film. “How does Forrest Gump have sex?” he asked, by way of example. “What could be more of a revelation about a character than watching them have sex? That says a lot about them, how they touch another person in bed.” 120 BPM (Beats Per Minute) isn’t primarily about sex, nor is it by any means full of it — a couple of scenes maybe — but PTA would be thrilled by what’s there. The sex scenes don’t hold back, but really they’re about the emotional baggage and history that comes with giving yourself to somebody, how past experiences have formed us; they’re about what we need from each other, how fantastically vulnerable we can be. This is indicative of the film as a whole: 120 BPM doesn’t flinch for a frame. Set in the early 1990s, the film concerns the Parisian branch of AIDS activist group ACT UP, who, when they’re not bringing their fight to big pharma offices and the streets, slug it out among themselves, heatedly debating what they need to do and how they need to do it. With seemingly no help on the horizon and no future for those afflicted, it was very much a matter of life and death, and tempers frayed accordingly. French-Moroccan director Robin Campillo and his cowriter Philippe Mangeot were both active members of ACT UP at the time, and their real recollections serve as fierce inspiration for 120 BPM, which more than succeeds in its aim to show things as they were, an eclectic group fuelled by desperation for progress. Rarely does a film ring as true as this, with unbelievably natural performances all round, but particularly by Nahuel Pérez Biscayart as the firecracker Sean, a vicious human cocktail with a furious honesty. This realism seamlessly mixes with magic realism, and then outright surrealism — transcendent nightclub scenes, which intersperse the debating room and the protests, have Campillo filming the air particles as his heroes sway and sweat and snog, while elsewhere, sequences are reminiscent of Danny Boyle’s more far-out sequences in
Trainspotting. All of life is here, the highs high, and the lows as low as it gets. After a while you forget you’re watching a film at all, as you become fully immersed in these people’s lives. And that’s the point — 120 Beats Per Minute brims with life, a celebration of what it is to be alive, second by second — what it is to feel, fight, to love, and to dance. It is a brazenly subjective piece of work, and all the better for it. Even if you didn’t know how personal it was, you would feel it. A mad, beautiful, brutal film. Fly on the wall filmmaking at its best, this is pure cinema — an enthralling, enveloping experience that seizes you fully, effortlessly mixing politics, sex, life, death and art. Alex Godfrey
It’s the early ’90s, and AIDS is killing in droves. In Paris, activist group ACT UP take on the government and pharmaceutical business, conflicted on how to get results, but doing all they can to affect change.
Wonderstruck Two stories, 50 years apart: in 1977, orphaned Ben (Oakes Fegley) is struck by lightning and loses his hearing. Then he runs away to New York to investigate his mother’s past. In 1927, another deaf child, Rose (Millicent Simmonds), also slips away to the city that never sleeps in search of a silent-movie star.
Director: Todd Haynes Release Date: 18 May 2017 ♥♥♥
he last adaptation of a Brian Selznick novel was Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, a loveletter to the silent-movie pioneers who invented an art form from paper, wood and silver nitrate. Selznick’s beautiful follow-up book, Wonderstruck, was another puzzle-box story set in the early 20th century. But the two intrepid children at the heart of its tale live parallel lives 50 years apart, making it an odder and less elegantly cinematic beast — and Todd Haynes’ best efforts have not quite made its two halves sing together as they should. We start off with Ben (Pete’s Dragon’s Fegley), already reeling from his mother’s (Williams) death when he becomes the victim of a freak accident that robs him of his hearing. Neighbours take him in but, grief-stricken and isolated, he runs away to New York to investigate a note he found among his mother’s possessions. There he falls in with another boy, Jamie (Jaden Michael) who figures out at least part of the puzzle and tries to help the homeless Ben out. Crosscut is a parallel story of the Roaring Twenties, as Rose (Simmonds) sneaks out of her wealthy home and takes a ferry across to NYC in search of her favourite silent-movie actress, Lillian Mayhew (Julianne Moore). When that meeting doesn’t go to plan, she heads for the city’s Natural History Museum — as does Ben for entirely different reasons — and the two children, half a century apart, fall in love with the exhibits and the magic of museums. The two time-periods are meticulously, gorgeously brought to life by Haynes and his Carol
cinematographer Edward Lachman. 1927 is shot in soft black-and-whites that somehow feel remarkably warm, while 1977 has a gold and mustard glow that Gustav Klimt would envy. The texture of the soundtrack and all of the period detail is lush, but ultimately it doesn’t feel that there’s as much substance to the story as there is to the world. That’s no fault of the performers: Fegley is convincing as a young man who’s angry and confused by the upheavals of his life, but also brave and immensely likeable. And Simmonds, who is deaf, is extraordinarily expressive, drawing you in at once to her quest for a screen idol with barely more than a determined air and sheer charisma. There are neat little echoes of each adventure in the other, but the reasons for pairing these two tales takes an age to become apparent. The film’s sheer good looks and talented cast will keep you going for a long while, but you’re more likely to be nodding off than wonderstruck by its plot. Haynes’ film has lovely performances from both actors, and a keen sense of time and place help, but the story is a little too shaggy and unformed to entirely hold the attention. Helen O’hara
“Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy are perfect casting.
Director: Cory Finley Release Date: 21 Jan 2017 ♥♥♥♥
Upper-crust schoolgirl Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) is hired to tutor her friend Amanda (Olivia Cooke) some years after a traumatic event. As their bond grows and anger deepens, they enlist a small-time drug dealer (Anton Yelchin) to take care of a family problem.
ontrol is everything in this debut feature from playwright Cory Finley. From the precise editing to the not-a-word-out-of-place dialogue, or from the intricately tailored costumes to the alternately clattering and eerie score, this is one of the most carefully marshalled first films in donkey’s years. Control’s also everything for the characters, be it restraining your emotions, pretending to be a normal human being existing in the world, or — yes — getting someone to murder for you. Coming on like Harold Pinter remaking Heavenly Creatures after mainlining Les Diaboliques, but with a devilish delight in the perverse that’s all its own, Thoroughbreds is destined to be a word-of-mouth hit among teenage audiences: “You know — the one about the fuckedup girls.” Ah, and what fucked-up girls. Cooke and Taylor-Joy are perfect casting, their parallel careers real-life’s healthier correlative to their queasy chemistry on screen. They’re both rising stars prominent in two huge upcoming films (Ready Player One and The New Mutants respectively), they both first made their mark carrying horror indies (Ouija, The Witch), and they’re unusually self-possessed for actors born after Jurassic Park came out. Director Finley must be thanking his lucky stars they are, as his dialogue, both riddled with things unsaid and spat with venomous frankness, is batted between Cooke and TaylorJoy with relish as they vie for who can manifest the darkest psychology. One is a psychopath who’s disarmingly frank about her condition, the other the ne plus ultra of overachievers
obsessed with — that word again — control. Poor Anton Yelchin, here giving his final performance, would evince sympathetic feelings here even if he were still with us. Schwarzenegger himself would struggle if caught between the main twosome, so Yelchin’s hapless loser, Tim, who the pair set about manipulating, hasn’t got a chance. He’s devoid of hope and smart enough to know it’s his own fault — although he’s not quite the helpless patsy the girls have him down for. This may sound like the set-up for a twisty thriller, and this is where Finley’s theatre roots either boost him or let him down, depending on your taste. Tension and twists aren’t really the point: the girls using language to eke the darkness out of one another is, which leads to a closing movement that, in its theatricality (exit stage left, muffled sound effect, enter stage right), may feel anticlimactic to some. Or, in its assured control over the audience, you may find it of a macabre piece with what’s come before. Dark fun, with performances to savour and a set of references too seldom made in today’s pictures, this is a treat. It may peter out at the end, but what a calling card for Cory Finley, and this could be the last outing for its leads before superstardom beckons. Andrew Lowry
A shady technology company develops a process that turns innocent animals into giant killer monsters. Unfortunately, their serum infects the wrong animals, including the gorilla pal of zoologist Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson), putting the entire world at risk.
Director: Brad Peyton Release Date: 4 Apr 2018 ♥♥♥
“This very silly movie could actually have afforded to be a lot sillier.
n Hollywood, if you have a really dumb idea for a movie and a lot of money to make it, you call The Rock. That’s not intended as an insult; the guy is just the industry’s greatest salesman. Two hundred and 60 pounds of oiled muscles and oil-free charisma, he can sell you things you thought you actively did not want: a Jumanji reboot, sequels to G.I. Joe and Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, films featuring Kevin Hart, Baywat… Okay, everyone has their limits. Rampage is a quintessential Johnson project. Based on a video game with no story or characters to speak of, from a time before many of his fans were born, it sounds like a dreadful basis for a movie. And it sort of is, but it’s also sort of a lot of fun. The original Rampage came out in 1986, when games were simple (you moved from side to side either punching things or shooting them or gorging on white dots and ghosts) and repetitive. And we were glad of it. In Rampage, players controlled one of three giant monsters — a wolf, a lizard, or a gorilla — and tried to destroy cities before the military could shoot them down and turn them back into the humans they apparently once were. Sacrilegiously messing with the canon, the Rampage movie does not feature humans becoming monsters. Instead, while trying to find a cure for cancer by “gene editing”, scientists have (not-so) accidentally created a serum that turns normal animals into
angry, enormous monsters. To avoid the prying eyes of the government and others who might notice titanic hamsters devouring Downtown, these scientists have been carrying out their experiments in space. But things go awry, the space station blows up, and several canisters of monster juice are sent hurtling to Earth. Two land in the wilderness and another crashes into a San Diego zoo, where Davis Okoye (Johnson) works with gorillas. His favourite, an albino called George, is affected by the serum and grows colossal and violent. To pick apart the plot would be a waste of time, because it’s purely functional. There’s no subtlety or art to it, nor should there be. This is a movie about gorillas punching buildings. You don’t want character work getting in the way of that. It’s fine when the villains (brother and sister megalomaniacs Malin Åkerman and Jake Lacy) say they need to turn their office building’s radio aerial into a giant-monster-homing beacon so had their tech guys “modify it last night”. Because who cares how they did it? Equally, who’s concerned that Naomie Harris’ miscellaneously science-y character hacks a multi-billion dollar tech company using a thermostat she found in the fridge, because it’s “all connected to the same grid”? Logic is only going to slow things down. Those buildings won’t punch themselves. When it comes to the buildingpunching portion of the show, there
could have been more of it. This very silly movie could actually have afforded to be a lot sillier. Brad Peyton, director of that other loony Rock joint San Andreas, doesn’t keep his tongue always fully in his cheek and he sometimes seems to be shooting, misguidedly, for cool. Johnson is mostly playing his gags with an eyebrow waggle, but not all of the film has his broad confidence. Those villains could be camper, the action sequences could use some more visual gags to enjoy the absurdity of the conceit, and is it greedy to wish the massive gorilla, wolf and lizard were even bigger? Warner Bros. may already have Godzilla and King Kong up its very roomy sleeve, and was perhaps concerned about stepping on those extremely big toes, but when it comes to city-toppling beasts, there’s always room for more. Rampage is big dumb fun, but not as big, dumb and fun as it could have been. Ridiculous, of course, but not as ridiculous as it might have been. As much fun as it has with the idea of animals stomping cities to rubble, it seems shy of going completely over the top, and it’s the poorer for it. Olly Richards
ssentially a continuation of his Oscarnominated short, Just Before Losing Everything (2013), Xavier Legrand’s feature debut is a simmering study of domestic abuse that combines stark Dardennesque realism with cues drawn from pictures as different as Robert Benton’s Kramer vs Kramer (1979) and Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980). Dispensing with a score and using ambient sound to ratchet up the tension, this is an object lesson in stylistic restraint that only misses its step during the nerve-shredding denouement. Those already familiar with Antoine (Denis Ménochet) and Miriam (Léa Drucker) will know before the opening custody hearing that he is possessive and manipulative. Yet, thanks to his curtly assertive lawyer (Emilie Incerti-Formentini), the presiding judge (Saadia Bentaïeb) is persuaded to grant him weekend access to the 11 year-old son who wants nothing to do with him. Miriam is so afraid of her hulking husband that she tries to hide the fact that she has found a new apartment by forcing him to collect Julien (Thomas Gioria) from his grandparents. However, he uses a mix of insinuation and intimidation to glean information about how she is getting on without him. Keeping Nathalie Durand’s camera close while managing to maintain a disconcerting detachment, Legrand resists demonising Antoine and leaves the audience to surmise whether a tearful plea for forgiveness is genuine or part of his mind games. But the shortness of his fuse is rarely in question and it burns more fiercely after his own parents turf him out of their home and Miriam prevents him from attending his daughter’s birthday party. Tautly edited by Yorgis Lamprinos, this is one of three standout set-pieces, as the compellingly menacing Ménochet begins to turn the screw. Drucker is equally excellent as the embattled spouse. But it’s newcomer Gioria who deftly generates the creepingly unsettling terror. David Parkinson
Custody Director: Xavier Legrand Release Date: 8 Sep 2017 ♥♥♥♥
47 Despite accusations of physical violence towards his soon-to-be 18 year-old daughter, Josephine (Mathilde Auneveux), Antoine (Denis Ménochet) is granted weekend access to tweenage son Julien (Thomas Gioria) by a family court judge, swayed by his lawyer, and proceeds to exploit the situation to torment his estranged wife, Miriam (Léa Drucker).
Every Day Director: Michael Sucsy Release Date: 20 Apr 2018 ♥♥
Neither male nor female, ‘A’ is a floating spirit who wakes up in a different teenager’s body every 24 hours. After spending a day as the boyfriend of high schooler Rhiannon (Angourie Rice), ‘A’ feels a mutual attraction and sets about seeing her again. But can their love overcome A’s transient existence? Even set against a cinematic Young Adult landscape replete with dystopian heroines and terminally ill teenagers, the central premise of Every Day packs a hefty helping of unexpected intrigue. Based on David Levithan’s hit 2012 book of the same name, it concerns ‘A’: an ever-drifting spirit who wakes up in a different teenage body every 24 hours. A is neither male nor female so can occupy girls and boys. They can be any race (and they handily always appear in someone living in the same vague area of Baltimore), but they can never be the same person twice. It’s an undoubtedly grabby pitch – shot through with timely philosophical questions about gender – but, sadly, it can’t quite save this adaptation (by The Vow director Michael Sucsy) from a steady pile-up of clichés and nagging plot holes. We start with ‘A’ being zapped into the body of Justin (The Get Down’s Justice Smith): the normally inconsiderate boyfriend of Rhiannon (Angourie Rice). They skip school to spend a blissful day at the beach, feel the spark of love and – ultimately –
try to forge a relationship even as A hops from body to body. It’s a schmaltzy, teenage twist on Quantum Leap, essentially. And though the script — by Me, Earl And The Dying Girl’s Jesse Andrews — is thick with Instagram-ready platitudes (“I know what makes each person different, and what makes us all the same”), there’s a sparkiness to early scenes and a power to the idea of a person’s essence not being tied to their physical appearance. And a perhaps inevitable twist is deftly handled. But lazily broad supporting characters (Justin, for instance, is so cartoonishly awful it stretches plausibility), the varying talent of actors tasked with playing A’s ‘hosts’ and some climactic yaddayaddaing (wouldn’t the amnesia that follows possession by A freak more people out?) ultimately render a groundbreaking premise as something decidedly conventional. Jimi Famurewa
Truth or dare Director: Jeff Wadlow
Drinking games can be a horror show. Players always end up finding out something they wished they hadn’t, or wake up regretting airing their own secrets. The plucky teens of Blumhouse horror Truth or Dare have more to regret than most – their choice to drunkenly play the titular game with a stranger in a desecrated Mexican church doesn’t end well for them, or the audience for that matter. While Jason Blum’s low-budget house of horrors has spooked up some major hits critically and commercially – including the likes of Insidious, Paranormal Activity, Split, and Get Out – Truth or Dare is likely to be a footnote in the studio’s history. With a PG-13 rating in the States, this is firmly aimed at the sleepover crowd – it’s largely bloodless, any scares are telegraphed from several miles away, and its attempts to engage with the internet and social media feel hilariously out of touch (one character clumsily Googles “Mexico truth or dare”, while another compares the demonically-possessed faces of the game-players to a Snapchat filter). The premise of the game is full of possibilities that the script rarely acts on, instead settling for the simplest choice at every turn. The characters – a gaggle of clichés, from YouTuber Olivia (Hale) and sex-obsessed boy Ronnie (Sam Lerner) to closeted gay kid Brad (Hayden Szeto) – rarely act practically or tactically when choosing ‘truth’ or ‘dare’, even if an extra rule in the game attempts to spice things up a little. Equally thin are the attempts to wrangle more serious teen issues. A coming-out thread falls woefully short, particularly in a post-Love Simon world, while detours into sexual abuse and suicide feel wildly unearned. Stacked up against Blumhouse’s best, it’s a major disappointment. As a ‘My First Horror Film’ exercise, it’s largely inoffensive. Ben Travis
Release Date: 6 Aug 2012 ♥♥ College student Olivia (Lucy Hale) joins her friends on a trip to Mexico for their final spring break, where they meet a teenager who invites them into a drunken game of Truth or Dare. But when they head back to California, the game follows them – with deadly consequences.
“Any scares are telegraphed from several miles away.”
Breaking In Director: James McTeigue Release Date: 11 May 2018 ♥♥ It feels like a while since we saw a straight-ahead family-inperil thriller, without monsters or supernatural bells and whistles. This effort, from V For Vendetta director James McTeigue, therefore feels both throwback and fresh, but while his leading lady gives it her all, it can’t overcome a script that’s too thoroughly rooted in genre cliches. We meet Shaun (Gabrielle Union) on her way to clear out her childhood home after her father’s death. Her kids are with her, teenager Jasmine (Ajiona Alexus) and pre-teen Glover (Seth Carr). But when they get to the remote and sprawling country house (both location and size are relevant) they find subtle signs that something is off. Shaun’s father, a fraudster, has armoured the house, and they soon learn why when strange men led by Eddie (Billy Burke) appear and take the kids hostage. These four desperadoes are after money hidden somewhere in the house and will theoretically stop at nothing to find it. Only they keep the kids alive for one reason after another - though only one seems cursed with a conscience - and can’t find and stop one middle-aged woman as she fights back. Union is great, switching on a dime from terror to determination and hitting just the level of competence in the action scenes so that you buy that she’s fit and strong and never misses a yoga class, but can see that she’s not a trained fighter. Her performance
is a reminder that she should be a much, much bigger star, and command much more polished scripts than this. Alexus and Carr are also miraculously non-annoying as her kids, though their family dynamic is perhaps one scene short of being fully developed. There’s a whole backstory with Shaun’s father and her unhappy childhood that’s similarly undercooked, while the bad guys are barely sketched at all beyond bossy (Burke), ineffectual (Levi Meaden), exposition-offering (Mark Furze) and Pure Evil (Richard Cabral). Much of the running and hiding works to create tension, at least, and both McTeigue and Shaun make clever use of the environment. But it’s basically a film about people running into and out of a large house, and if that’s all you have, you need sharper character and dialogue work than this. It’s interesting to see a mother driven to desperate measures to save her kids instead of the usual patriarchal super-father tropes, but in the end this tough mama feels like a flip of the same coin. Helen O’hara
How To Talk To Girls At Party Director: Release Date: 23 May 2018 ♥♥ Sometimes, throwing shit at the wall and seeing what sticks can be a valid artistic process, resulting in unexpected detours and rewarding leftfield turns. And sometimes you end up with How To Talk To Girls At Parties. Which, despite the very
best intentions of John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig And The Angry Inch, Shortbus) and his talented and game cast, is a film that can never quite decide what it wants to be. Is it a celebration of the golden age of punk, as the Queen celebrated her Silver Jubilee and the country’s youth flipped a collective middle finger? Is it a coming-of-age story about a sensitive soul who’s not quite got the heart for punk? Is it a sweet love story between two star-crossed lovers? Is it an utterly bonkers sci-fi comedy about aliens abroad at a time when they don’t seem all that weird? Is it a movie where Simon Amstell off of the telly turns up for a weirdly distracting cameo, and proceeds to utter not a single word? It’s all of these and, ultimately, none of them, eventually collapsing under the weight of trying on a dozen different guises. Based on the kernel of a plot contained within Neil Gaiman’s award-winning 2006 short story, How To Talk To Girls At Parties flits around from idea to idea, visual conceit to visual conceit, never really settling long enough to form a cohesive whole. At times, its (hopefully) deliberately slapdash approach recalls The Greasy Strangler, but this is a much more earnest proposition, even for a movie that has a mad throwdown between punk rockers, led by Nicole Kidman in a fright wig and a fright accent, and a group of weirdly dressed aliens who look like they’ve stumbled out of a bad art installation. No, scratch that — who look like they are a bad art installation. It’s fully invested in exploring the weird, but not always the funny. The most successful strand is that romance between Alex Sharp’s Enn and the ever-excellent Elle Fanning as Zan, a naive visitor to this realm who seizes the chance to learn more about “the punk” and broaden her horizons over the course of two heady days. But Mitchell, directing his first feature since 2010’s Rabbit Hole and returning to the freneticism of Hedwig And The Angry Inch, then bounces off to another plot strand, and any spell cast is broken. There are other things to recommend — the seriously eyecatching costumes from the legendary Sandy Powell, for one — but often in isolation. After all, when you throw shit at a wall, more often than not you’re just left with a wall covered in shit. Chris Hewitt
I Feel Pretty Director: Marc Silverstein Release Date: 04 May 2018 ♥♥
Suffering from low esteem, Renee Bennett (Schumer) is a beauty junkie working in the basement of a huge cosmetics firm, dreaming of the life of the beautiful. An accident during a spin class sees her hit her head, waking up firm in the belief she looks like a supermodel. She gains a newfound confidence, but will it last? It’s very rare that trailers outside a) Marvel, b) Star Wars or c) Jason Statham punching a giant shark make cultural ripples that penetrate the culture. But earlier this year, the promo for seemingly innocuous Amy Schumer flick I Feel Pretty did just that. The idea that it posited a world where white, blonde, normalsized Amy Schumer is fundamentally undateable, allied with the idea inner strength and confidence are the preserve of the outwardly beautiful, understandably wrought all sorts of internet backlash and think-pieces about its appropriateness. The broad, fitfully funny finished film proves the outrage both right and wrong: while it does ultimately deliver life lessons of empowerment coming from within, it also plays on perceptions of Schumer’s appearance for misguided laughs (witness a lengthy erotic dance set-piece) and stirs up a hornets’ nest of issues around body shaming, privilege (Schumer is white, affluent, attractive) and beauty ideals that it fails to reconcile within its comedic, almost fairy-tale tone. At one point, Schumer’s Renee Bennett sits down and watches Big, which is a bit like the Magnificent
Seven taking a pew to watch Seven Samurai, so closely does I Feel Pretty follow Penny Marshall’s film’s structure and cautionary tale on the dangers of wish fulfilment. In this case, Renee, a footsoldier in the online division of a huge cosmetics company who can’t get served in bars, makes babies cry with her appearance and has zero luck with internet dating, “always wondered what it feels like to be undeniably pretty” like gym buddy Mallory (Emily Ratajkowski). After she hits her head in a (brutally stagedfor-a-comedy) spin class accident, she perceives herself as drop dead gorgeous, gaining the confidence to win a receptionist job at head office (she becomes important as a sounding board for working class gals) and chat up nice guy Ethan (Scovel) before her burgeoning ego sees her alienate her friends. It is only a matter of time before the inevitable moment of clarity. The film is the directorial debut of writing team Marc Silverstein and Abby Kohn, responsible for Never Been Kissed, He’s Just Not That Into You and — for their sins — Valentine’s Day. I Feel Pretty is marshalled efficiently enough, toggling between Schumer’s bold, confident shtick and broad physical comedy. They have fun playing with gender stereotypes, particularly with Scovel’s decidedly un-macho, Zumba-loving boyfriend and Michelle Williams’ cosmetic career girl with a surprisingly tiny voice. But there are a lot of obvious unfunny notes — slowmotion shots of Schumer strutting to Alicia Keys’ Girl On Fire — and the film doesn’t totally transcend some of the more unpleasant notions in its premise. Ian Freer
Director: Lawrence Sher Release Date: 22 Dec 2017 ♥ Twin brothers Peter (Ed Helms) and Kyle (Owen Wilson) embark on ‘Operation Who’s Your Daddy?’ to track down their mother’s (Glenn Close) former flings and discover the true identity of their father. The pair travel to Miami, New York and Massachusetts in search of answers. There’s perhaps a timely statement to be made about gender roles and the concept of fatherhood somewhere, but it’s nowhere to be found in the midst of another limp bro comedy from the cinematographer of The Hangover. When twin brothers Peter (a typically nerdy Ed Helms)) and Kyle Reynolds (a typically basic Owen Wilson) go on a quest across America in search of their real father — a roadtrip they title ‘Operation Who’s Your Daddy?’ — they’re faced with a host of their mother Helen’s (Glenn Close) former flings, none of whom seem to be ideal dad material, all of whom awkwardly recall how great a lay she used to be (“It was the ’70s” yeah?). The brothers fly to Miami to meet a former NFL player (played by the real Terry Bradshaw, whose ‘acting’ thankfully doesn’t need to extend beyond throwing a football around), they travel to New York to hunt down a crooked investment banker (played by scene-stealing J.K. Simmons – the film’s one saving grace), then they take a treacherous drive to Massachusetts and — with the help of a kerrazy hitchhiker (Katt Williams) — locate a do-gooder policeman (Jack McGee) who was so honourable he actually never had sex with their mother. Along the way, they encounter many acts of bad fathering (a dad who can’t stop his son from peeing on people in bathroom stalls, for instance) and attempt to form a closer bond with each other. In the canon of great road-trip duos, however, Helms and Wilson have about as much believable chemistry as two random people sharing an Uber. So by the final attempts at heartwarming resolution it’s hard to muster up any joy for two dudes who realise they were better fathers to each other than the man they never knew. Eve Barlow
Entebbe Director: Duncan Jones Release Date: 09 Mar 2018 ♥♥ Entebbe has a problem to solve. A familiar one, incidentally, to anyone who’s ever filmed the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Namely, how do you get around the issue that the action centrpiece to the film is over so quickly? Three minutes, in this case (while the O.K. Corral was done and dusted in just 30 seconds). John Sturges solved it by ignoring the truth and setting wagons on fire over his eight-minute shoot-out; Tombstone, meanwhile, is big on Sergio Leonestyle close-ups. For Entebbe, José Padilha bolsters his running time by intercutting the action with a live dance performance. It’s an interesting solution, if not a particularly successful one. Entebbe tells two stories — that of the hijackers and the hostages on the ground in Uganda, and also of the Israeli government trying to work out what to do about their demands. Specifically their demanding of $5 million and the release of 53 pro-Palestinian prisoners. (A third strand, that of a dancer and her soldier boyfriend that gives us our finale, comes later, and makes next to no dramatic impression.) Of the four hijackers, it’s Rosamund Pike and Daniel Brühl’s German couple on whom the film focuses most attention. Their motivations are told in flashbacks, and the action in the hot, dusty abandoned terminal of Entebbe airport is seen through their eyes. But it’s all surface. Brühl’s Wilfried Böse has the most going on — torn between the cause he believes in
and the fact they’re using innocent civilians as leverage — but it’s not explored with nearly enough depth. Back in Israel, the government’s debates come down to a back-andforth between the Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin (Ashkenazi), and Minister Of Defence, Shimon Peres (Marsan). Rabin favours negotiating, Peres wants to send in a rescue team. It’s heavy on exposition, but there’s some fun to be had as the opposing positions state their cases, and Peres tries to put a plan into motion — the approach to the terminal is to be made in a black Mercedes like the one Ugandan President Idi Amin travels in. When only a tan one can be found, it’s hastily spray-painted. But by the end, it’s hard to escape the fact that Entebbe tries to be too many things, and doesn’t do any of them well enough. Slothfully paced when it needs to be brisk, it struggles to make us care for the hostages in any meaningful way. There are vague attempts — a family is threatened with being split up as the hijackers separate Israeli citizens from the rest — but they’re only asides, and fail to take emotional hold. It’s symptomatic of the whole film — it almost works, but ultimately falls short. Jonathan Pile
“Entebbe tries to be too many things, and doesn’t do any of them well enough.”
The Strangers: Prey At Night
Director: Duncan Jones Release Date: 09 Mar 2018 ♥♥ On the way to drop their troubled daughter off at a faraway boarding school, Cindy (Christina Hendricks) and Mike (Martin Henderson) put their family up in a remote mobile home park. But their night of playing cards and reconnecting soon becomes a fight for survival when three, masked psychopaths show up on their doorstep. Back in 2008, The Strangers managed to mix home invasion movie tropes with fresh ideas to create an atmospheric thriller with one heck of a wicked ending. Curiously, The Strangers: Prey At Night is a sequel that’s more concerned with paying homage to blood-soaked classics rather than matching its predecessor’s unsettling tone. Directed by Johannes Roberts and written by Bryan Bertino (director of the first movie) and Ben Katai, the film swaps the original’s tension for action-style violence but Prey At Night takes its time getting to the scares, so when the masked figures eventually show up, it feels rushed. And predictable — the movie then consists of little more than scene-after-scene of characters running, stumbling and screaming until it’s time for the credits to roll. Cinematographer Ryan Samul adds certain finesse to proceedings, however; using gloomy street lamps to create obscured silhouettes or truck headlights to illuminate the victims’ faces. But The Strangers: Prey At Night never allows his work to breathe, nor does it make room for suspenseful glimpses of the killers lurking in the background. It’s allslash-and-no-stalk. One of the most memorable moments in The Strangers was when Liv Tyler’s Kristen begs to know why they’ve been targeted by these three, masked assailants. Their casual reply – ‘because you were home’ — was chilling; simply a case of wrong place at the wrong time. It could have happened to anyone, and it made the events all the more twisted. Prey At Night has no such mystery and no such similarities, other than the fact that its viewers might also find themselves yelling, “Why are you doing this to us?!” when the sequel draws to a close.
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Legion Everything You Need To Know Before Starting Season 2
Ostensibly set within the X-Men universe, the first Season of Legion aired on TV last year and was more likely to have left you scratching your head than speculating as to where the story would go in year two. We were introduced to David Haller (Dan Stevens), a man with a world of trouble in his head. Committed to various institutions for what were perceived as mental health issues, we soon learn that he’s got a lot more going on than anyone has suspected. See, lurking within his noggin, piggybacking on his consciousness is another, powerful psychic, Amahl Farouk. Also known as The Shadow King, he’s been feeding off the vulnerable Heller’s powers, appearing in a variety of different guises, but primarily the form of David’s old friend Lenny Busker (played with verve and gusto by Aubrey Plaza). David, who quickly became a target for mutant-hunting bureau Division 3, was helped by a group from the Summerland institute. A safe haven for powered people, it’s led by Melanie Bird (Jean Smart), and includes mutants such as Ptonomy Wallace (Jeremie Harris), who can sift through the memories of others and Cary/Kerry Loudermilk (Bill Irwin and Amber Midthunder), two very different personalities who exist within the same body and can split apart when needed. And then there’s Sydney Barrett (Rachel Keller), whose power involves temporarily swapping bodies with anyone she touches. Having met and fallen for David at the Clockworks Psychiatric Hospital, she becomes a key part of the team. The first Season of the show weaved a weird and wonderful story of David’s battle to understand what was happening within his mind, escaping the clutches of Division 3 and even visiting the astral plane, where Melanie’s
husband Oliver (Jemaine Clement) has been trapped. Oh, and in the season finale, David appeared to be zapped into a strange probe, his whereabouts currently unknown. The Shadow King, meanwhile, escaped and took over Oliver’s body, heading out to spread more chaos. So, can you learn more about the future direction of the show by hitting the comics? Unlikely – creator Noah Hawley (who previously spun the concept of Fargo into TV gold) is happy to use the comic book past of the character as loose inspiration rather than faithful bible. Going forward, we can expect more from the Shadow King (Wonder Woman’s Saïd Taghmaoui, but he’s since been replaced by Navid Negahban). David will, of course, return, but we’ll have to wait to learn where he went and what happened. Big changes will have occurred in his absence – the Summerland team are now working with Division 3 to battle the Shadow King. And no doubt the series will continue to specalise in trippy visuals and the odd dance sequence. Legion isn’t the sort of show that everyone will enjoy (there are those who criticise it for often favouring style over substance), but if you can key into its vibe, you’ll find it’s a very different, inventive show.
Legion returns to US screens on 3 April on FX. The show is back in the UK on 17 April via Fox UK.
A Series of Unfortunate Events Season 2 review Release date: 13 Jan 2017
ast year we got the sordid start of the tale of the Baudelaire orphans. And now along comes the menacing middle: ten episodes, two apiece dedicated to a book in the saga created by verbose wordsmith Daniel Handler. This will be the longest of the three seasons, and though we’re now into territory uncharted on screen (the 2004 film covered the first three books), this is the one most likely to test a binge-watcher’s patience. The USP of Unfortunate Events, after all, is its ever-looping structure, with poor Violet, Klaus and Sunny (the superb and understated Malina Weissman and Louis Hynes, plus often digitally enhanced toddler Presley Smith) escaping one horrid location and the greasy clutches of a poorly disguised Count Olaf (Harris) only to end up in an even more horrid one, and back in those aforementioned greasy clutches. Is it repetitive? Yes, extremely. And there’s a slight sense of strain here in terms of keeping things fresh, not least in terms of Olaf’s disguises: the perma-lunging fake PE teacher Coach Genghis is not a million miles away from the jive-happy fake crime-solver
Nick De Semlyen
Detective Dupin. Then again, Olaf is supposed to be the world’s worst actor, so his lack of range shouldn’t be surprising. Happily, there are two major boons here that give Season 2 its own flavour. One is Lucy Punch’s Esmé Squalor, a truly awful creation who’s part Cruella de Vil, part Edna Mode, obsessed with what’s “in” and what’s “out” and equipped with the moral compass of a ferret. Punch makes a superb foil for Harris,
sneering lines such as, “Sleeping is a part of life, like cosmetics and frivolous lawsuits,” at just the right level of cartoonish amplitude. She is perfect casting. The other new element is the backstory. We got a taste of it last time, but here an entire secret network begins to be exposed, involving a man with the glorious name ‘Larry Your-Waiter’, a secretary named Jacquelyn (invented for the TV
show) and Jacques Snicket, brother of narrator Lemony. The latter is played, with square-jawed zest, by guest star Nathan Fillion, making this an unexpected Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog cast reunion when he shares the screen with Harris. These characters dropping in and out of the action is where the series deviates most from its source material, and helps flesh out scenes that were a little light on the page. Otherwise, it’s unfortunate business as usual. The vibe is still firmly ‘Gothic melodrama, but funny’. The wordplay is still inspired. And Harris’ Olaf is still an exuberant ham, at one point belting out a showtune called ‘Chasing Your Schemes’. But the real stars of the show are the folks behind the production design and visual effects. From a hellish boarding school where the apples taste like horseradish, to a Western-style village run by deranged elders with crows stuck to their hats, to an Art Deco skyscraper with a suspicious elevator shaft, the world of the books has been brought to life and then some. Roll on 2019 and The Slippery Slope.
streaming Season 8, Episode 16 review
fter all that, All Out War turns out to be more like All Out Slightly Heated Argument. Yet while it could certainly feel like an anticlimax after all that build-up, Wrath delivered on a different level to the show’s usual action-packed finales. Yes, the conflict between the Saviors and Everyone Else was over more quickly than anyone would have imagined, bumped along by a beginning that piled twist on twist to little effect, but ultimately helped by another convenient change of heart in one Dr. Eugene Porter. There were still a couple of chances for director Greg Nicotero and his team to indulge themselves, including a firebomb assist from the Oceanside
in a flash (or a bang), there was still a moment for Rick and Negan to brawl, and for viewers with a memory to finally see what was up with the stained-glass panels hanging from the tree, where we saw Rick earlier in the season. And Negan finally got what was coming to him... But wait! He’s alive! There was one brief shining second when we thought that perhaps he’d been put out of our misery, but the TV team decided to keep to the comic books and lock him away as a symbol of how not to build a new civilization. We suppose this means Jeffrey Dean Morgan will show up from time to time, in between movie roles. But can someone use Lucille for kindling?
gang (everyone figured they’d show up eventually, right?) and the looming threat of a giant horde of walkers, all presumably drawn by the racket everyone has been making in the last season or so. The swarm was a counterpoint to the fact that the walkers have been seriously relegated in their threat level, so perhaps Season 9 will go some way to bringing back the horror. With the conflict mostly solved
Elsewhere, the fallout was mostly reflective; with few lives lost (most people seemed to die by Morgan’s hand/staff this episode), there was a chance for some to figure out their futures. Dwight, wracked with remorse, is offered exile and heads out. Morgan also leaves, but unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know he’s simply crossing over to Fear The Walking Dead where he can safely spout conflicting theories, have
visions, and, we don’t know, maybe accidentally hit children on the head in peace there. The most interesting aspect was Maggie, Jesus and Daryl, who have formed some sort of dissenting trio. We can see why Maggie might have something to complain about when it comes to sparing Negan, but the nature of Daryl’s beef (beyond the loss of his friends) is more nebulous. It does, at least, offer some tempting plot lines going forward: will these three work against Rick and co? We’ll see how much of a part Lauren Cohan plays in the future, as her contract is still being worked out, A different type of finale for the show, and in a way a welcome one. It certainly feels like the closing of one chapter and the start of another and could almost have served as a series finale. But there is plenty of work ahead, and the future isn’t as clear as Rick might hope it is. At the very least, though, the Saviors are done, and we can rest easy until the next big threat rears its head.
Highlight: Rick Vs. Negan Lowlight: Father Gabriel’s dull escape attempt. Kill of the week: Morgan’s slice ‘n’ dice Savior victim. Quote of the week: “There’s got to be something after” – Rick’s repeated mantra for the week. Zombie of the week: The Bigfoot-looking guy who attacks Father Gabriel. MVP: Jerry. Just ‘cos. The big question: So what’s next? Alexandria, Hilltop, Oceanside and the Sanctuary will try to work together, but we expect drama. Maggie and co. are the ticking bomb under the table and, even worse than all of that, Rick may try to make another speech. Run!
the walking dead Release date: 15 Feb 2016
Be warned! This review will cover aspects of the episode. Spoilers will lurk like groaning walkers...
10 of the best tv shows on netflix uk
Scrolling through Netflix can be an arduous task - especially when shows you’ve never even heard of pop up. The problem with television is that there’s just too much choice. Luckily for you, we’ve sifted through UK Netflix, sorting the good from the bad to deliver the 10 programmes you really should be watching. (Or, let’s be honest, bingeing.) A mixture of BBC classics, Netflix Originals, foreign hits and soon-to-be cult favourites, below - in no particular order - is the very best that UK Netflix has to offer.
Much like a Demogorgon in the night, Stranger Things crept out of nowhere and took us all by surprise. A curious little sci-fi drama which doffs an affectionate cap to 1980s Amblin-era sci-fi, while standing assuredly on its own two feet, the Duffer Brother’s curious concoction quickly became the water-cooler TV show of 2016, and followed itself up with an equally strong second season. Stock up on Eggos and get up to speed on one of Netflix’s biggest original hits..
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
“Un-breakable! They alive, dammit!” Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s absurd earworm of a theme tune will grab you from minute one; Tina Fey’s razor-sharp writing and Ellie Kemper’s eternally sunny performance will keep you there. Somehow finding the funny side of kidnapping, Fey’s follow-up to 30 Rock flits nimbly and confidently between goofy surrealism and painful subject matters; here, the belly laughs come with a point to make.
The IT Crowd “Do you ever have the feeling that things that happen to us are strange?” muses Roy (Chris O’Dowd) in The IT Crowd’s hour-long finale. “Remember when I had to pretend to be disabled and ended up in Manchester? That wasn’t a normal thing to happen, was it? Or when you ended up spending the night in that arcade machine...” Graham Linehan’s sublime follow-up to Father Ted is full of strange things happening to Roy, Moss and Jen, from Street Countdown to ‘Gay: A Gay Musical’ to a cello-playing cannibal with a big TV.
BoJack Horseman Will Arnett lends his vocal talents to this darkly comic look at the life of disenchanted actorslash-horse, BoJack. It’s quirky, colourful (the trippy titles are evidence enough) and meta as they come, but the further you progress, the more tragic BoJack’s longing for the limelight becomes. You might find BoJack difficult to get on with at first, but stick with it - we promise it’s worth it.
Sons Of Anarchy
First rule of SAMCRO? You don’t talk about SAMCRO. Actually, that’s not true, although you definitely don’t want to bad mouth the members of the Sons Of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, Redwood Original to their faces. Or to their mums’ faces, for that matter. Charlie Hunnam’s Jax is the main focus, struggling with his responsibilities to his Hells Angels-esque clan and new baby in this hard-hitting, high intensity, who’s-going-to-die-next crime saga.
Black Mirror Though it is tempting to believe, given recent events, that life is one giant Black Mirror episode, we can rest assured that it remains primarily a work of fiction. After calling Channel 4 home for its first two series, Charlie Brooker’s gloriously bleak anthology series jumped ship to Netflix for its third and fourth series, dealing with everything from reality television to memory implants to futuristic funeral homes with a wry, cynical, darkly satirical eye.
If you ever needed an example of the sort of show only Netflix would be brave enough to commission, we present The OA. An eight-part drama about restored blindness, interdimensional travel, near death experiences, angels, Fritzl-level kidnapping, and magic interpretative dancing? It is, by creator/star Brit Marling’s own admission, pretty out there. It’s also an example of the sort of show that could only be watched on Netflix: a strange little oddity that sneaks its way onto your watchlist and suddenly morphs into a 4am bingewatch. The mystery and intrigue is addicting, the execution is always surprising; the ending will leave you desperate for more.
We’ve already mentioned The Man With No Fear. Now it’s time for The Girl Who Will Join Him In The Defenders, aka Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter). It may have a lighter colour palette, but Jones deals with much darker material: rape, PTSD, and being in a controlling relationship with a positively bonkers David Tennant. Jones spends most of her time as a private investigator trying to escape her superhero past, but the sparks really fly when Ritter gets fighty with love interest and man of steel, Luke Cage (Mike Colter). The recent second season delved into the origins of Jones’ powers.
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have caused the internet to go into meltdown multiples times since Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat’s Conan Doyle reimagining hit our screens back in 2010. Full of modern day touches (Holmes wears nicotine patches and uses GPS; Watson served in Afghanistan), Cumberbatch’s character is still very much of a Victorian nature - and still very much a user. If the idea of venturing into 221B Baker Street has never appealed to you, this Beeb version (at least in its first two seasons before it disappeared up its own Milford) might just be the ticket.
Knowing Me, Knowing You/I’m Alan Partridge Did you know Alan likes ABBA? Well, he really does. So much so, in fact, that he named his (definitely not real) talk show after one of their songs. I’m Alan Partridge goes a step further, following Alan’s post-Knowing Me exploits as he presents on Radio Norwich. If Alpha Papa was your introduction to Partridge, you’ll be wanting to dig through the Parchives, pronto. (Just make sure cringe-o-meters are set to stun.)
The Woman in White This latest Wilkie Collins adaptation strikes a very modern note while hanging on to the original’s gothic creepiness.
Release date: 29 Apr 2018
here are half a dozen much loved 19th-century novels on an adaptation rota. Jane Eyre, Great Expectations and Pride and Prejudice come around as if by clockwork. The Woman in White is also on the list thanks to its status as the first ever unputdownable serial thriller. Airing on BBC One, this is the broadcaster’s fourth go at it in 50 years. But however much it’s loved, there’s not much point in exhuming the same old story without an up-to-date angle. Well, we’ve got one here. Though it would have been commissioned long before Harvey Weinstein was exposed, the latest version was swift to position itself as a timely proto-feminist battle-cry for the #MeToo generation. In the lapelgrabbing opening, Marian Halcombe (Jessie Buckley) said it like it still is: “How is it men crush women time and time again and go unpunished?” But there’s more to this telling than merely calling out Victorian abusers like Sir Percival Glyde (Dougray Scott), who has already been outed as an inheritancehunter of doubtful sincerity. Any account of Wilkie Collins’s 1860 novel is only as good as its Marian. The BBC’s last two Marians – Diana Quick in 1982, Tara Fitzgerald in 1997 – were formidable but still feminised. Jessie Buckley’s interpretation is an
invigorating tonic. “You will soon find out we are not the most traditional ladies,” she advised. I’ll say. When the painter Walter Hartright first claps eyes on her in the novel, he’s taken aback when the young dark-haired woman with the shapely silhouette turns to reveal she’s “ugly” (Collins’s word, not mine). Plus she’s got a bit of a tache. Here he spotted Marian through a door, briskly fixing the laces on her leggings, part of a chappish get-up featuring culotte-like strides and exotic smoking coats. She glugged brandy and smoothly wielded a billiard cue. She’s far more manly than Ben Hardy’s milksop Hartright. As the woman in trousers, Buckley’s splendid Ms Halcombe is shaping up to be a genderqueer pin-up in a “woke” Woman in White. As in Ordeal by Innocence, the narrative kicked off abruptly with an untimely death. Before the credits had even played, the lid was drawn across the casket containing the mortal remains of Marian’s beautiful half-sister Laura Fairlie. Collins waited several hundred pages before he stunned his readers with that shock. This is doubtless a calculated move. A contemporary audience of restless screenhoppers prefers an up-front guarantee of thrills and chills to come. It slightly stole the thunder of the book’s famous opening, in
“The Victorian classic updated for the #MeToo era”
which Hartright encountered the disturbed will o’ the wisp Anne Catherick after dark in a deserted London suburb. As for the actual plot, director Carl Tibbetts and scriptwriter Fiona Seres have shrewdly kept faith with the novel’s piecemeal structure in which the various characters all tell bits of the story from their own point of view. Here they make witness statements to a dependable lawyer (Art Malik). The other thing I liked about this new take was the way that, much more than the BBC’s single drama version in 1997, it frankly embraced the trappings of serial melodrama: coincidence, sensation, an astonishing likeness. Olivia Vinall deftly portrayed both the vanilla heiress Laura and the nervy asylum escapee Anne, the latter deformed by an alarming set of Addams Family dentures. Playing Laura, a passive chattel of the patriarchy, can be a short straw, but here Vinall was granted agency, racily proposing a dip in the sea, and diving in for the first kiss with Walter. There were also less charming signs of
bracing modernity, including an absolute paradiddle of glottal stops: “Hartright” often came out as “Har’righ’”. My eyes involuntarily rolled at the dark roots to Laura’s bottle-blonde hair, and the word “subconscious” borrowed anachronistically from the future. The magic of the shooting schedule found some trees were stripped for winter while the Limmeridge garden was in full Miracle Gro bloom. (Cumberland is handsomely impersonated by Northern Ireland.) Charles Dance is glorious as Frederick Fairlie, the half-sisters’ fusspotty old uncle. His grumbles about enfeebled health felt especially ridiculous in a figure of such bruising physical heft and a peremptory bass voice that issues forth in clipped stentorian barks. He looks about as unwell as a peak-condition prizefighter. Still, no matter. This stirring series treads a neat line between fidelity and up-to-date social commentary.
few hours into God Of War – Santa Monica Studio’s ambitious franchise refresh – Empire finds itself engaged in a goresoaked, screen-swallowing boss battle with a towering troll. As returning mad-as-hell hero Kratos, we carve up the massive beast before plunging an axe into its torso and literally ripping the life from its chest. If you’ve played any previous instalments in Sony’s ultra-violent third-person action series, freeing a foe of its still-beating heart probably sounds like par for the course. The difference this time though, is Kratos’ motive: rather than tearing into the enemy to satisfy a rage-fuelled quest for revenge, he’s doing it for his son. Gaming’s most perturbed protagonist returns with a bushy beard and a brand new battle axe, but it’s his boy Atreus that makes him a better man, and God Of War the best game the series has ever spawned. Thanks to the pair’s incredibly nuanced, emotional relationship – and how it continuously evolves throughout their lengthy journey – the franchise finally has a fantastic story to match its epic action. A new over-the-shoulder camera perspective gives each encounter a more intimate, visceral feel, while a bevy of RPG-inspired features – from craftable gear and power-packing runes to upgradable weapons and sprawling skill trees – add charactershaping depth. Many of these goodies feed directly into Kratos’ new Leviathan axe: an awesome skullsplitting weapon that can be recalled to his hand, Mjolnir-like, with the press of a button. Atreus is no slouch on the battlefield either, as the boy’s well-
placed arrows damage and distract enemies, granting dad an additional tactical advantage. Players can command Atreus to fire at specific targets, but ‘Boy’ (Kratos isn’t one for affectionate nomenclature) does just fine on his own, scoring head-shots and even choking foes out with his bow. Atreus’ weapons and abilities can also be upgraded and tweaked alongside Kratos’, so there’s never a shortage of ways to slay mythological monsters with style to spare. God Of War’s engaging storytelling and sophisticated, satisfying combat stand out, but these elements barely scratch the surface of what this excellent PS4 exclusive brings to the table. It’s also a massive, nonlinear experience packed with side quests, secrets, and surprises, all brought to life by immaculate visual presentation and cinematic score — not to mention the rumbling bass of Christopher Judge (Stargate SG-1’s Teal’c), who provides Kratos’ gloriously grumpy dialogue. The game is brimming with technical and artistic achievements, but it’s how all these elements seamlessly complement each other that makes it a modern-day masterpiece. There’s no question God Of War will be recognised as one of the year’s best games, and it may well earn Kratos a seat among the pantheon of all-time greats.
technology intelligence Nintendo changes the guard with new chief as Switch helps profits soar.
god of war Matthew Thomas
“It’s a massive, non-linear experience packed with side quests, secrets, and surprises.”
intendo has appointed a relatively-unknown 46-yearold executive as its new boss, a surprise move in Japan’s famously conservative corporate culture. The gaming icon said Shuntaro Furukawa, its head of global marketing, would replace the company’s 68-yearold president Tatsumi Kimishima in June. It came as Nintendo said the success of the Switch, its latest console, had powered it to a 75pc increase in annual profits. Mr Furukawa, who will become only the sixth president in Nintendo’s 129year history, is not one of Nintendo’s most high-profile executives. He has worked at the company for two decades but has spent much of it outside Japan and is best known for representing the company at the Pokémon Company, the independent owner of the popular franchise. Mr Furukawa’s appointment marks a changing of the guard at the company that last appointed a permanent chief 16 years ago. Mr Kimishima has run the company on an interim basis since 2015, when he stood in after the premature death of Satoru Iwata, who had run the company since 2002 and led it through many of its best years. Mr Furukawa will be tasked with maintaining Nintendo’s momentum after record sales for the Switch, which it released a year ago. The console, a hybrid between a handheld and a TV-connected device, has surpassed all expectations to become the company’s fastest selling release. It sold 15m copies in the year to the end of March, outpacing even the first-year sales of the Wii, the company’s best-selling home console to date. James Titcomb
Gremlin KATE: Now I have another reason to hate Christmas. BILLY: What are you talking about?
Billy’s (Galligan) Dad brings him a gift from a business trip - a Mogwai. There are three rules to keeping the pet - never get it wet, never feed it after midnight, and never expose it to sunlight. Of course it’s not ten minutes before they’re broken, and all hell breaks loose in suburbia. Release date: 7 Dec 2012
KATE: The worst thing that ever happened to me was on Christmas. God, it was so horrible. It was Christmas Eve. I was nine years old. Me and mom were decorating the tree, waiting for dad to come home from work. Couple of hours went by, dad wasn’t home, so mom called the office. No answer. Christmas Day came and went, and still nothing. The police began a search. Four or five days went by. Neither one of us could eat or sleep.
Everything was falling apart. It was snowing outside. The house was freezing, so I went to try to light up the fire. And that’s when I noticed the smell. Firemen came, broke through the chimney top. Then me and mom were expecting them to pull out a dead cat or a bird, and instead they pulled out my father. He was dressed in a Santa Claus suit. He’d been climbing down the chimney on Christmas Eve. His arm was loaded with presents. He was gonna surprise us. He slipped and broke his neck, died instantly. And that’s how I found out there was no Santa Claus...
Empire Classics: The Rise of the Comic Book Movie is Out Now If there’s any film genre that’s taken the biggest leap in recent decades it’s the comic book movie — from Christopher Nolan bringing his prestige to The Dark Knight trilogy, to Marvel doing the near-impossible and constructing a 19-film cinematic universe within the space of 10 years. Celebrating the comic book’s incredible variety and range is the latest issue of Empire Classics, spanning the last
three decades of big screen adaptations from Tim Burton’s Batman, right up to Black Panther. It’s your complete guide to the genre, from the camp and quirky 90s, through the genre-changing early Marvel films like Blade and the X-Men series, right up to today’s extended Marvel and DC universes. And it’s not just about the ‘big two’ — there’s also the likes of Sin City and Guillermo Del Toro’s
Hellboy II: The Golden Army in there too.
Pick up the issue on shelves now, or buy a copy online here: https://www.greatmagazines. co.uk/empire-print-single-issues/ eempespc/comicmoviebook