Things to do in Glasgow this week
Films showing this week
A sweet-souled daughter of zoologists, 15-year-old Cady (Lohan) goes from a lifetime of home-tutoring in ‘the African bush’ to a high school in suburban Chicago. Once there, she immediately grasps that the pitiless laws of the jungle apply equally readily to the various sharp-toothed species of American teendom. A scowly artiste (Caplan) and a zinger-zapping gay guy (Franzese) adopt comely Cady as one of their own and, just for laughs, set her on an undercover mission to infiltrate the a consortium of high priestesses led by terrifying alpha girl Regina (McAdams). Tina Fey’s deft, precisely detailed script dramatises Rosalind Wiseman’s bestseller ‘Queen Bees and Wannabes’. Happily, Fey and Waters gently tweak the studios’ usual high-gloss caricature of adolescence and aim for acutely hilarious and surprisingly empathic sociology.
A beautifully animated Disney feature, adapted from TH White’s tale of the young (soon to be King) Arthur and his mad adventures with Merlin the Magician. Together with snooty sidekick Archimedes the owl, Merlin educates the boy in some of the basic facts of life. With his magic wand, he can change both himself and his pupil into anything he wishes, which results in one of the best episodes: a duel between Merlin and the evil witch Madam Mim, where they both try to gain the upper hand by transforming themselves into some of the nastiest creatures possible. It was produced by Walt himself, with tuneful music supplied by the Sherman brothers.
After such imposing movies as ‘Hunger’, ‘Shame’ and ‘12 Years a Slave’ – those titles are punishing enough – you’d be forgiven for assuming British director Steve McQueen had a mean streak, if not toward his audiences, then his actors. Now comes ‘Widows’, which also has its fair share of suffering, mainly on the haunted face of Viola Davis. But McQueen has discovered something new. Should we call it fun? Let’s not get carried away. Still, ‘Widows’, a supercharged Chicago-set caper of consummate skill, zooms along in a way that feels peppier than usual, McQueen brewing the action and ominous municipal intrigue like he was trying to outdo ‘The Fugitive’. He comes frighteningly close. Three women dominate the film, delivering it to a poise that ‘Ocean’s 8’, a high-collared pretender, can only dream of. They’re all the recent widows of a freshly deceased gang of high-stakes criminals, men who barely get any screen time. In their absence, Veronica (Davis) floats around her white-walled penthouse like a ghost, Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) gets her thrift store sold from under her, and Alice, an abused blonde trophy wife (Elizabeth Debicki, running away with the movie via skittish fragility and, later, pure moxie), is urged by her own mother to become an escort. As if economic freefall and grief weren’t enough, their husbands’ unfinished business shows up on their doorsteps, thuggishly demanding payment or else. To watch them coalesce into a hard-nosed crew of heisters is the year’s
Brain-dead, sunken-eyed, shambling and gormless - London's 20-somethings don't look set to wrest control of the universe any time soon. In fact some are enough to make you despair of the human race. Take Shaun (Pegg), a genial bloke with lovely girlfriend (Ashfield) and well-developed pint arm and PlayStation thumbs ... But could he stretch his horizons beyond the local boozer if his relationship depended on it? The horde of zombies on his doorstep may not know where they're going, but at least they know how to pick themselves up off the floor and stumble on. A slacker romp, this 'rom-zom-com' from the creative duo behind the Channel 4 sitcom Spaced takes a simple conceit (think George Romero meets early Kevin Smith) and goofs off with it something rotten. The cast make a cosy fit, the patter is still sitcom snappy, but Wright also has the visual snap to carry this saga of backyard apocalypse. Come the final pub siege, with the surviving humans getting into the swing of their desperate last stand to the tune of Queen's 'Don't Stop Me Now', there really is no stopping this lot.
A stellar injustice: Hollywood has made a movie about a faked Mars landing—1977’s deliriously silly ‘Capricorn One’—but has never given the historic first moon landing its due. That’s not so hard to explain. While inspiring on a global scale, the 1969 accomplishment was pretty straightforward, dramatically speaking. Cool competence ruled the day and made it happen. The real thing was better than any film could be. Thrilling when it escapes the gravity of drab living rooms and offices, ‘First Man’ does an admirable job of complexifying a well-told tale. It presents Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling, suitably square) as a guy who, in 1961, was both puncturing the barriers of human knowledge by flying experimental planes 140,000 feet over the Mojave Desert, as well as someone who was banging his head against the finite limits of a medical science that couldn’t save his daughter from a malignant brain tumor. Faced with that pain, Armstrong (if we’re to believe Josh Singer’s script, sourced from James R. Hansen’s authorised 2005 biography) did what many military men of the ’50s and ’60s did: shut off emotionally and turn inward. ‘First Man’ makes Gosling colder than he was in ‘Blade Runner 2049’ as a replicant, itself a NASA-level achievement. Claire Foy, already stranded in one of those underwritten astronaut-wife roles, has so little to work with from Gosling, her big meltdown scene takes on a desperate grandeur. But you come to appreciate Gosling’s reserve, his shirt-and-tie star
If you’ve ever been stuck hundreds of miles from the love of your life, wondering if it’s really worth all the heartache and phone-checking, Pawel Pawlikowski has made the movie for you. With a monochrome love story spanning two decades and four countries in post-war Europe, the Polish filmmaker has conjured a dazzling, painful, universal odyssey through the human heart and all its strange compulsions. It could be the most achingly romantic film you’ll see this year, or just a really painful reminder of the one that got away. Beginning in 1949, twentysomething singer Zula (Joanna Kulig) and middle-aged pianist Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) meet in the least auspicious of settings – an austere Polish musical academy that could easily double as a prison. Wiktor is charged with assembling a troupe of folk musicians to extol the greatness of the motherland, but he’s had his fill of songs about agricultural reform and the global proletariat. Zula’s defiant spirit catches his eye, they fall for each other and he promises her a new life on the other side of the Iron Curtain. But when he defects to Paris, she surprises him by staying behind, setting in motion a 20-year love affair that plays out like a swinging ’60s version of ‘Doctor Zhivago’. Chemistry is not in short supply between the two. There’s an age gap – that hoary old bugbear – but Pawlikowski semi-subverts it by making Wiktor the more lovelorn of the couple. They meet and part on Parisian boulevards, in smoky jazz clubs and at co
Calling the new A Star Is Born a “valentine” from its star, Lady Gaga, to her fans sounds a bit coy and delicate, so let’s call it what it really is: a hot French kiss (with full-on tongue), filled with passion, tears and a staggering amount of chutzpah. Generously emotional and all the more fun for it, the movie functions as something like a Marvel-esque origin story, with Gaga’s own mythology vamping it up at drag cabarets subbing in for her character’s background. It's more than smart to have cast her; it's essential to the movie even working. But to watch her character, Ally, become a star—especially onstage during the film’s live moments, which feel frightening, massive and deafening—is an incredible piece of evolution. Gaga is really acting here: shy, somehow smaller, trembling with excitement. Slowly, she blooms in the spotlight, proudly waving around that Streisand schnozz, the big voice completing the transformation. She’s extraordinary, and you root for her to go supernova per the scenario’s time-honored trajectory. Director-co-star Bradley Cooper has something else in mind, though. Just as his own performance—as Jackson Maine, this film’s rocker on the downslide—ends up being one of those grumbly beard chews (if you remember the 1976 version, you might describe it as Kristoffersonian), his steering of the drama is understated: modest and unshowy. He’s trying to make a “real” version of this glitziest of stories (whatever that means), and you love that Cooper seem
It would seem a prerequisite, but the people rebooting today’s ‘Halloween’ – journeyman director David Gordon Green and his frequent collaborator, actor Danny McBride, a co-screenwriter – really love ‘Halloween’. (When Rob Zombie tried doing his remake in 2007, you weren’t sure if he was enjoying himself or hating life.) Submitting to the new version is like driving a cushy Jaguar along familiar curves: So much of John Carpenter’s immaculate grammar is impossible to improve upon, so it’s simply been redeployed, sometimes with a small twist, sometimes not. Implacable killer Michael Myers still has a fondness for stiffly sitting up like a sprung jack-in-the-box; he still lurks in slatted closets and pins boyfriends to the wall with butcher knives. What elevates ‘Halloween’ beyond mere fan service is the presence of Jamie Lee Curtis, whose willowy Laurie Strode has been converted, Sarah Connor-style, into a shotgun-toting shut-in with more than a hint of crazy about her. That’s a great reason to remake ‘Halloween’: Everyone’s waving around a gun these days, and the idea that the survivor of the so-called ‘Babysitter Murders’ would, 40 years later, become a militia-worthy nut with murderous instincts of her own has a sad symmetry to it. Laurie tells us she’s prayed for the day that Michael would escape from the loony bin, so she can have her vengeance. ‘Well, that was a dumb thing to pray for,’ a cop replies. But we’ve prayed for it, too. It’s hard to care much about a pair of
Operation Neptune is in full flow as Allied troops storm the beaches of Normandy. Overhead, the US are flying in air support. One misfit team, led by a grizzled commander (Wyatt Russell), is tasked with destroying a radio transmitter located at a fortified church behind enemy lines. When their plane is shot down, the bruised and battered troops scramble to the church only to discover that, beneath its foundations, the Reich has been busily amassing an unholy army of undead mutants. On paper ‘Overlord’ sounds like a run-of-the-mill B-movie. In reality, it has much more going for it, most significantly the talented young cast – including British actor Jovan Adepo as the captivating lead. Admittedly, the characters are thinly-written cliches – the brooding man-of-few-words commander, the wise-cracking crack shot, and the heart-of-gold newbie. But these simple archetypes are forgivable, especially in the case of the gloriously-over-the-top-jack-booted antagonist, played by ‘Game of Thrones’ actor Pilou Asbæk. Meanwhile, Mathilde Ollivier impresses as a tough-as-nails villager who would be a worthy addition to the French Resistance. The story is also much more artful than the premise suggests, playing with the concept of monstrosity and asking what separates good from bad in times of war. And how far are each side willing to go? Or rather, who are the real monsters here? Be prepared for blood, guts and gore. The violence, both in the high-octane opening scenes and the more mons
As an actor, Paul Dano is always up for the odd, the disconcerting, the complicated. Reassuringly, his first film as writer-director follows suit. ‘Wildlife’ is a finely detailed, darkly humorous, powder keg of a character study. With co-writer Zoe Kazan, Dano has adapted the story from Richard Ford’s novel. The book was published in 1990 but is set in 1960, where, in Montana, a picture-perfect young family begins to crack. Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal), constantly moving his family as he goes from job to job, flees to fight fires in the mountains out of some misplaced masculinity, instead of dealing with the ones at home. While he’s gone, his wife Jeanette (Carey Mulligan) snaps, leaving her young teenage son, Joe (Ed Oxenbould), through whose eyes much of this unfolds, to process the painful fallout. Mulligan’s characters have often been buttoned-up types, but the shackles are off here. For better or worse (let’s go with both), Jeanette reclaims her younger, elemental self, regardless of what the neighbours – and even Joe – might think. She’s a woman out of time, and Ford’s story, written in 1990, still feels resonant. If ‘Wildlife’ can feel like a play at times, its stifling confines and claustrophobic mood are deliberate. It definitely doesn’t look like one – Diego Garcia’s lush, nostalgic cinematography exudes romance, albeit of the doomed kind – and Dano avoids melodrama, drenching it in atmosphere. It’s uncomfortable in all the right ways. You sweat it out with them all.