Things to do in Glasgow 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
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
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?
Howard Hall’s sub-aquatic 3D trip opens with one of the most effective IMAX sequences yet: a static shot of a calm lagoon so lifelike you might feel the urge to dip your toes. Then the camera dives beneath the surface and we’re presented with a kaleidoscope of sea creatures the likes of which few of us have seen. The effect is like immersing one’s head in a giant aquarium.The close-ups, too, are often breathtaking. When Jim Carrey’s sufficient voiceover describes the propulsion system of the bizarre leafy sea dragon, the camera closes in to reveal a row of microscopic fins seemingly invisible to the naked eye. It’s that kind of detail that makes a the film such an immersive experience. An educational one, too.
Short enough for junior attention-spans, this nature doc does very well by its modest tapestry. With a typically soothing Morgan Freeman voiceover setting the scene, we shuttle between two wildlife sanctuaries: in Kenya, Dame Daphne Sheldrick cares for orphaned baby elephants and has taken 28 years to develop the right milk formula, while in Borneo, primatologist Dr Biruté Galdikas saves baby orang-utans from their threatened habitat and raises them to return to the wild. Needless to say, the animals are adorable, but they’re not just paraded for our entertainment – the emphasis is on retaining their wildness and getting them back to nature. A worthwhile message, and the Imax 3D format brings it to life so vividly you’ll feel you can reach out and touch that elephant’s trunk. A surefire holiday treat.
If you’ve been pining for the fiery, political Spike Lee of ‘Do The Right Thing’ and ‘Malcolm X’, good news: ‘BlacKkKlansman’ has the director back to his energised best. Maybe the optimism of the Obama era robbed him of some of that righteous fury – which would be one explanation for the limp ‘Oldboy’ remake – or maybe middle age mellowed him; either way, Trump-era America – Charlottesville, Black Lives Matter and all – has brought the old mojo flooding back. Veering from blaxploitation spoof to undercover thriller and ending with a no-punches-pulled real-life coda, it’s riotous fun one minute, savagely biting the next. The story, as the opening credits chart, is based on some ‘fo’ real sh*t’. It’s the kind of ‘fo’ real sh*t’ it’s hard to believe actually happened in Nixon-era Colorado Springs, yet it’s all based on a true story. Black police officer Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) joins the local force, where he’s warned that he’ll have to ‘take a lot of guff’. Sure enough, the guff comes thick and fast, as he’s exiled to the archives and harassed by a racist colleague. Spotting an ad for the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan and taking the initiative, he phones up ‘the organisation’ claiming to be a vitriolic white supremacist and sets in motion the most unlikely undercover operation in policing history. The first thrill of contact with the enemy is only slightly diminished by the realisation that he’s used his real name. Cue hysterics from his fellow cops. Of cou
Part horror yarn, part political parable, the ‘Purge’ franchise is a fascinating one, each film serving up grisly episodes from the conceit (12 government-sanctioned hours of legal crime). It began as a take on class, then took on race, and increasingly each time, politicians – this prequel, released on July 4, with a Trump-baiting promotional campaign and overt references to real-world events within – one handsy psycho goblin is screamed at for being a ‘pussy-grabbing motherfucker’ – is, as is already clear, not subtle. But subtlety is not a friend of these films. The timeline is bewildering but prescient. The first film, released in 2013, was set a few years in the future, informing us that the first purge took place in 2018. And now we have that first purge, indeed in 2018, reflecting current happenings more keenly than ever. Staten Island plays host to this inaugural, experimental event, in which residents are financially incentivised to stick around for the night, and paid yet more to actively participate (ie kill people). The idea, the public is told, is mass soul-cleansing. A social catharsis. Nobody quite buys it, least of all the ruling party the NFAA, who announce that ‘the American dream is dead’, promising a rebirth. There is, of course, more sadistic stuff at play. This film realises the conceit more wholly than its predecessors, and for an hour or so feels properly nightmarish as we ride along with purgers and protectors, notions of good and bad, right and wro
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
First (and, really, only): All hail Kate McKinnon. Even when she pops up in mediocre, interchangeable comedies like this one – a panicky spy romp that’s unsettlingly heavy on bone-crunching violence – the subversive ‘Saturday Night Live’ star finds a way to infuse the flow with throwaway lines that, even if you catch only a fraction of them, are dazzling. Lean into McKinnon’s irresistible sidekick Morgan and you’ll hear inappropriate phone calls ('Mom, did you get the dick pics I forwarded you?'), ex-boyfriend jabs ('He was really into ska,' she says of Edward Snowden) and a richly intimated backstory ('Remember when I did cocaine with my basketball coach?'). This is all bad news for Mila Kunis, the ostensible star of ‘The Spy Who Dumped Me’, a movie that feels like a riff on Melissa McCarthy’s 2015 ‘Spy’ but lacks that film’s cheer-her-on verve. As Audrey, an organic-food-store cashier still moping over being ghosted months ago (by a guy who turns out to be in the CIA), Kunis has plenty of runway to ramp up her character, but she plays it too cool, resembling a mini–Angelina Jolie when armed and dangerous. You keep waiting to discover that Audrey has always been a highly trained operative and that being a cashier was her cover-up – nope, it’s just an unfortunate case of an actor not being clear on the concept. Some of the film’s casting choices are obvious but still work for laughs, like Paul Reiser and Jane Curtin as neurotic parents, or ‘A Serious Man’s wonderful murmure
It’s a funny thing, timing. In 2012, when young adult novel ‘The Darkest Minds’ was written, its dystopian narrative about a fascist American government that locked up kids didn’t have much in the way of political bite. But as this movie version makes its bid for the summer holiday dollar, it’s a different story. And the topical relevance of seeing children interned in cages by government officials feels weird in what’s essentially a peppy, plot-heavy outbreak of supernatural teen shenanigans.‘The Hunger Games’ star Amandla Stenberg makes an endearing lead as Ruby, a girl who develops supernatural powers in the aftermath of a plague that wipes out 90 percent of America’s kids. She’s locked up in a government camp with all the other surviving children, until a mysterious organisation helps her escape into the dangerous wasteland outside, and into a rather convoluted quest to find home. Immediately we’re in familiar territory of kids with magic abilities pursued by gun-toting officialdom (unsurprisingly, this movie’s producers were also behind ‘Stranger Things’). The plot’s a mess, and there’s little attempt to explore the emotional impact of the film’s initial death-fest. But luckily director Jennifer Yuh Nelson has a laser-sharp focus on what teens actually want to see. There are exhilarating scenes of the crew raiding a derelict shopping mall, outwitting adults with mind control, and living it up in a kid-only woodland city. Adults might wonder how a dystopia with so much p