Things to do in Bristol this week
Films showing this week
Tom Cruise is 56 years old. Fifty. Six. And he’s been making ‘Mission: Impossible’ movies for 22 of those 56 years. By all rights, ‘Fallout’, his sixth high-flying mission, should be to ‘M:I’ what ‘A View to a Kill’ was to Roger Moore’s Bond (Moore being only a year older than Cruise is when he made his final 007): tired, creaky and a bit embarrassing.Astonishingly, however, the opposite is true. This is easily the best, slickest and most daring ‘Mission: Impossible’ instalment. Not only that, it’s the finest action movie of the year so far. The bait-and-switching, double-crossing plot twists and twists again, with Hunt still haunted by his now-incarcerated ‘Rogue Nation’ nemesis Solomon Lane (a superbly creepy Sean Harris) and dealing with the global terrorist power vacuum left by Lane’s capture, but you won’t care with all the sinew-straining spectacle on show.This is thanks largely to writer-director Christopher McQuarrie. Being the first director to return for a second go at the franchise, he brings a sense of continuity hitherto lacking. ‘Fallout’ is a direct sequel to ‘Rogue Nation’, bringing back most of the key players and upping the stakes from the most knowing of perspectives. McQuarrie also builds on the last film’s self-aware level of wit and, most importantly, its set-piece-crafting sophistication.No action sequence is allowed to peter out, or be chopped to ribbons in the edit, or lean on the crutch of CG augmentation. From a frantic Parisian chase to a brutal br
Never take pity on a film critic. Instead, let it suffice to say that I look forward to you seeing 'Hereditary' and then joining me in having several sleepless nights peering into dark corners and gnawing your fingernails off. A harrowing story of unthinkable family tragedy that veers into the realm of the supernatural, 'Hereditary' takes its place as a new generation's 'The Exorcist' — for some, it will spin heads even more savagely. As with so much inspired horror, from 'Rosemary's Baby' to 2014's psychologically acute 'The Babadook', the movie gets its breath and a palpable sense of unraveling identity from a fearless female performance, this time by Toni Collette, the revered Australian actor capable of sustained fits of mania. (To watch her in 'The Sixth Sense' or 'Velvet Goldmine' is to only get a taste of how deep she goes here.) Collette plays Annie, an artist who constructs uncannily realistic dioramas: miniature rooms that embody the film's theme of a larger, malevolent entity playing with human toys. We zoom into those rooms, where Annie is keeping it together after the recent death of her by-all-accounts severe mother. Dressed in funeral blacks are her husband, Steve (Gabriel Byrne), her oldest child, Peter (Alex Wolff), a teenage stoner, and distracted young Charlie (the awesomely concentrated Milly Shapiro, a Tony winner for 'Matilda: The Musical'). Something is wrong with Charlie. Every head cock, tongue cluck and eerie stare into the middle distance will hav
British director Daniel Kokotajlo’s gripping, thorny debut film tackles religious fundamentalism through the lens of an all-female Jehovah’s Witness family. Living in Oldham, single mum Ivanna (Siobhan Finneran) and her two young daughters, Luisa (Sacha Parkinson) and Alex (Molly Wright), are devout, attending services and going door-to-door to spread the word. However, an act of transgression against their faith’s oppressive rules raises the stakes to dramatic levels. The church’s elders insist on total commitment or expulsion from the community. Kokotajlo draws on his own experiences as a former Witness to bring intelligence and nuance to the story. His characters are never lambasted for their beliefs, but neither do they go unquestioned. It is a quietly brilliant work that balances the conflicts of three women, and the trio of actresses playing them give stunning performances. The drama moves through the stark interiors of their Kingdom Hall, the family’s terraced house and drab office spaces. The stifling atmosphere echoes the community’s oppressive systems. Close-ups draw us in on moments of silent anguish with an almost voyeuristic intimacy. For all his craft, Kokotajlo’s greatest triumph is in portraying a community of fundamentalists with such compassion, shining a light on rarely explored subject matter in a way that never feels exploitative. This is a standout British drama that pointedly asks us to question the strictures of institutionalised religion.
Superheroes may save the world, but parenthood requires skills far more advanced than extendable limbs. Brad Bird’s 'Incredibles 2' – Pixar’s most spirited sequel since 'Toy Story 3' – lovingly expresses this certainty through a bighearted familial portrait wrapped in ’60s-inspired design. But the film’s disarming appeal lies in its simpler moments of domesticity, in which the members of the all-superhero Parr family lift each other up and fight for relevance in a world of indifference. Still underground with criminalised superpowers and a destroyed home, Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), and their children, Violet, Dash and the explosive baby Jack-Jack, quietly live in a dingy motel. Their luck turns when a pair of wealthy siblings – the naive Winston and brainy inventor Evelyn (Bob Odenkirk and Catherine Keener) – offer them a chance to restore the Supers’ reputation. While the sensible Elastigirl serves as the fearless face of the mission, Mr. Incredible hilariously Mr. Moms his way through the kids’ homework, boy troubles and newly emerging superpowers. When the state-of-the-art villain Screenslaver disturbs the picture, the entire crew, including the previous film’s charismatic ice maker Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson), joins the good fight. 'Incredibles 2' comes supercharged with timely, sophisticated themes around societal apathy and gender parity. While slightly overplotted in its finale, the sleek sequel still glows with grown-up wit, with cr
A cooler-than-thou band of criminals, a smoothly executed grand heist, flawless costumes. Expanding on the handsome attributes of the Ocean’s franchise with a radiant cast and sufficient NYC groove, ‘Hunger Games’ director Gary Ross’s ‘Ocean’s 8’ gives glossy multiplex entertainment a good name. Fully loaded with Anne Hathaway’s (often underutilised) comedic chops – her cunning movie-star character is the film’s secret weapon – and various high-profile cameos (Heidi Klum, Anna Wintour, Kim Kardashian, you name it), it packs in ample carats of glitz beyond its diamonds and sequinned designer gowns.Sandra Bullock plays Debbie Ocean, an ex-con proudly filling the shoes of her brother Danny (George Clooney, here only in spirit). She masterminds a complex scheme to steal a majestic Cartier necklace at New York’s elite fundraiser the Met Gala. Among her recruits are former associate Lou (an impeccably-suited Cate Blanchett) and the eccentric fashion designer Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter), who’s yearning to resurrect her waning career by dressing the impishly seductive Daphne Kluger (Hathaway) for the exclusive event. Also in the squad are Mindy Kaling’s jewellery connoisseur, Sarah Paulson’s Vogue insider, Awkwafina’s sly con and the ultra-charismatic hacker Nine Ball (Rihanna, like you’ve never seen before.)‘Ocean’s 8’ sticks to the formula, though Ross never quite matches the breezy vigour of the Soderbergh-directed trilogy, but the jokes land and there’s a satisfying twist to
The title of Dominic Savage’s gripping drama has the ring of a thriller or a prison break movie. The reality is vastly different. Far closer, in fact, to real life. But thanks to a breathtaking performance from Gemma Arterton as a depressed woman desperate to break from the ‘prison’ of domestic drudgery, ‘The Escape’ hits harder than any musclebound action-adventure. On the surface, Arterton’s Tara is living the middle-class dream in the suburbs of Kent. Her mum (Frances Barber) certainly thinks so: ‘You got two cars. You got a beautiful house. You got a conservatory. You got it made.’ She’s also got two young kids to look after, no job, no hobbies, no friends and an emotionally inarticulate, nine-to-fiving husband Mark (Dominic Cooper) who thinks one dinner date should stop her ‘sulking’, and whose ‘quickie before work’ is basically a sexual assault. ‘The Escape’ is Arterton’s movie, but as its unthinking passive antagonist, Cooper is impressive too. Mark feels all too familiar: a lager-clutching, polo-shirted alpha whose every utterance is selfish. ‘Saturday, one of my days off and you’re crying,’ he wheedles. ‘Bit weird, isn’t it?’ You understand why Tara feels mired in psychological quicksand. But the film is at its weakest once she does make the break, shifting from sharp-edged, magnolia-walled vérité to something more contrived and clichéd. Even so, Arterton prevails throughout. She’s utterly convincing and downright devastating.
Full of the sleepy rhythms of rural life, this beautiful-looking French drama has a powerful story of emancipation stitched into its period garb. It’s set over a five-year period that takes in the early days of the Great War and runs through to its shattered-but-hopeful aftermath in 1920, and while it barely ventures beyond the scenic fields of the Paridier farm in western France, it charts a world in flux with subtlety and grace. With the menfolk away in the trenches, it falls to the women of the family to keep the farm ticking over. Steely matriarch Hortense (Nathalie Baye) brings in a hired hand (terrific newcomer Iris Bry) to help in the fields. The passing of seasons brings new-fangled machinery – technological leaps spawned by the war – as well as a gentle love story, and eventually American soldiers. Hortense’s married daughter fraternises with one of them, threatening scandal and prompting the film’s one dramatic plot turn. Yes, there is a lot of farming – expect to learn more than you need to know about threshing – but in the spirit of seminal German mini-series ‘Heimat’, its spiritual cousin, there’s so much more going on amid its Auguste Renoir-like vistas. Director Xavier Beauvois uses slow pans and close-ups to show the toll war has taken on the villagers. For the women, we see how necessity brings real empowerment. It’s an aptly named film: they’ve become the hard-working custodians of a landscape that flourishes under their care. Who needs men?
As irresistible as the fresh carrots that grow in Mr. McGregor’s garden, Peter Rabbitgives Beatrix Potter’s classic a modern makeover, complete with intricate animation, cute quips for older audiences and a sweet-natured journey that has you rooting for a happy ending for all involved. Vying for gorgeous grounds and his human next-door neighbor (Rose Byrne), the audacious Peter Rabbit (confidently voiced by James Corden) goes head-to-head with sour Thomas McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson), who unexpectedly inherits the beautiful property of his estranged late uncle. The only thing the finicky Londoner detests more than the English countryside is the “vermin” inhabiting the land, so naturally we’re braced for a duel. Peter’s shenanigans, though certainly adorable, could have been curtailed for the sake of pacing: One electrocuting gag is plenty. But the lovable supporting crew—Flopsy (Margot Robbie), Mopsy (Elizabeth Debicki), Cotton-Tail (Daisy Ridley) and Benjamin (Colin Moody)—makes up for any overdone mischief. Some may cringe at director-cowriter Will Gluck’s modifications (a bunny that twerks, music from the likes of Vampire Weekend and the ubiquitous Rachel Platten), and the heart-wrenching backstory of Peter’s parents might not be appropriate for the smallest of bunnies. (Save this one for young rabbits who can handle more mature content.) It’s certainly a new spin, but those who make the leap will do so vigorously.
The title hints at where this 3D Disney adaptation of the Rapunzel story is heading. Referring not just to our heroine’s hairdo but to her complex personal life, it nods at the breezy, flippant, tween-friendly tone the film adopts. Erstwhile popstrel Mandy Moore voices Rapunzel, whose lonely existence imprisoned in a tall tower with only a cheeky chameleon for company is enlivened when she meets brash outlaw Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi), and sets out to discover her true identity. Taking its cue from the likes of ‘Shrek’ and ‘Enchanted’, ‘Tangled’ tries to keep kids entertained while tipping ironic winks to their parents, meaning it veers wildly between being charmingly off-kilter and annoyingly glib. With two such bland heroes, it’s good that plenty of attention is paid to the supporting characters, notably old-school witchy villain Mother Gothel and a bad tempered but loveable horse. The result is brisk, witty and entertaining, but far from classic Disney.
You could be forgiven for spending the first twenty minutes of ‘The Festival’ wondering if you’re watching an Inbetweeners spin-off. Iain Morris, who co-created that show, directs Joe Thomas, who played Simon, as Nick, a recent university graduate who is middle-aged before his time. Nick finds normal teenage human interaction incredibly uncomfortable and can turn even the most casual social situation into a bum-clenching nightmare of awkwardness. Essentially, he’s Simon with a different name. Those similarities are far from a problem. ‘The Inbetweeners’ movies were a hoot, as is ‘The Festival’, albeit a slightly quieter one. After a humiliating break-up with his girlfriend (Hannah Tointon), Nick reluctantly goes to an unnamed festival with his friend Shane (Hammed Animashaun) in the hopes of taking his mind off things. Because Nick is a selfish arse who can ruin any fun, the weekend becomes a series of catastrophes as he makes a horrible job of trying to relax. Morris and Thomas’ history really pays off here, with the director getting the most from his star’s skill for making a complete tool sympathetic. Nick is objectively horrible, but Thomas roots his awfulness in sadness, so you’re (just barely) on his side. He’s surrounded by highly loveable, lesser-known comic actors, notably Animashaun, announcing himself as a major screen talent, and Australian comedian Claudia O’Doherty as a festival loner who is as upbeat as Nick is down. Some of its comic set-pieces feel like t