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Helen O’Hara

Helen O’Hara

Articles (27)

The 18 greatest stunts in movie history

The 18 greatest stunts in movie history

Stunt professionals put their bodies, and sometimes even their lives, on the line daily to pull off the coolest action beats in massive blockbusters. There’s no Oscar for it and they rarely get to walk the red carpet taking the plaudits, but make no mistake, they’re the lifeblood of many of our favourite movies. And if you sell ice packs, they’re probably your number one customers. Thanks to VFX, the way action movies are made has changed radically since the madcap silent era days of Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd clinging precariously to buildings. But one thing has stayed the same: it’s still a job for tough, daring and visually inventive people seeking new ways to keep audiences slack-jawed and on the edge of their seats. There is one more thing that unites them: they’re passionate movielovers, to a man and woman, who regularly look to cinema’s past for inspiration. To celebrate their work – and kick off Time Out’s Action Month – we asked some of the most respected, experienced stunt people in cinema, including bona fide legends like Vic Armstrong and Simon Crane, to pick a stunt or sequence that they love above all others, and give an expert’s view of how it was pulled off. And guess what? They love Jackie Chan even more than the rest of us. RECOMMENDED: 💥 The 101 greatest action movies ever made👊 The 30 best fight scenes ever filmed

The 66 Greatest Movie Monsters

The 66 Greatest Movie Monsters

Great movie monsters come in all shapes and forms – some, more than one. Of course, they’re usually frightening and seriously uncanny. But what unites them all is their gift for skulking into our subconscious and making a home there. Every movie lover’s brain contains a crypt of demons, beasts and critters waiting to lurch forth at unexpected moments.  The finest cine-critters don’t even necessarily haunt the greatest films. B-movies, VHS schlockers and even the odd forgettable blockbuster have yielded some of the best beasts on this list. Salutes are due to special effects wizards like Ray Harryhausen and make-up legends Rob Bottin, Ve Neill and Stan Winston who brought so many of them to life, conjuring dread in their every design flourish and appreciating the power to alarm of an unexpected mandible or warty haunch. Before we start the countdown, a few parameters: this list steers away from human and animal forms. So Jaws and Arachnophobia are out, shark-octopus hybrids and flying monkeys are in. Slasher villains are barred, so there’s no Freddy or Jason here, but zombies, vampires and trolls are all eligible.Having already celebrated the best monster movies features in the canon, it’s time to switch on a torch, grab a pitchfork and take a walk through the gory, shiversome and plain unnerving pantheon of the monsters themselves to find out what makes them tick – or growl. Oh, and if you want to see a few of these critters in their natural environment – the big screen – the

Downton Abbey llega al cine con Una Nueva Era

Downton Abbey llega al cine con Una Nueva Era

⭑⭑⭑✩✩ La gente de Downton Abbey nunca se ha sentido identificado, pero esta vez realmente lo harán. Aquellos personajes que carecieron del buen sentido de nacer en el dinero terminan enamorados, al menos, y, a menudo, un poco más ricos también. Es una fantasía poco probable pero placentera donde suceden cosas buenas, los ricos son benévolos y los pobres se las arreglan bien. No hay mucho que decir sobre la trama, excepto que aproximadamente la mitad del elenco visita la Riviera en un momento dado, para inspeccionar esa nueva villa, mientras que los demás defienden el fuerte contra una invasión de cineastas enloquecidos (señalan a los recién llegados Hugh Dancy, Dominic West y Laura Haddock, que de alguna manera no han estado en el programa antes). El director Simon Curtis, un veterano en dramas de época, tiene una idea de los personajes y la comedia, aunque hay descuidos extraños en esta producción. Las lentes distorsionadas estropean algunas tomas de drones y algunos personajes lucen bronceados inverosímiles mucho antes de sus vacaciones; Detalles menores, quizás, pero no algo que debería haber llegado a la pantalla. Aparte de eso, en su mayor parte se trata de una producción de calidad. El escritor Julian Fellowes, quien creó el programa, cree que la mayoría de las personas están haciendo todo lo posible y que el optimismo esencial hace que este sea un grupo agradable, aunque poco exigente, para pasar el rato. Ha creado personalidades creíbles en la familia Crawley y su pe

Nicolas Cage nos muestra cuál es El peso del talento

Nicolas Cage nos muestra cuál es El peso del talento

⭑⭑⭑⭑✩ Las celebridades que se interpretan a sí mismas pueden ser enormemente vergonzosas o, si son lo suficientemente autocríticas, realmente entrañables. Pero pocos se lanzan a la tarea con tanto entusiasmo como Nicolas Cage reúne aquí, ensartando sus propios excesos con un ojo sorprendentemente agudo. Puede esperar resultados divertidos y, a veces, insoportablemente incómodos; lo que no verá venir es lo conmovedora que es la película del director Tom Gormican. Este "Nick Cage" comparte la filmografía del hombre real, pero está monstruosamente comprometido con su propio estrellato y es incapaz de ver el costo que ha tenido para su ex esposa Olivia (Sharon Horgan) y su hija Addy (Lily Mo Sheen). Acepta a regañadientes una invitación a la fiesta de cumpleaños de un millonario para pagar algunas deudas y se vincula con el excéntrico Javi (Pedro Pascal). Desgraciadamente, la agente de la CIA Vivian (Tiffany Haddish) interviene para decirle a Cage que Javi es un narcotraficante. Ella recluta a Cage para que trabaje contra su anfitrión con el fin de recuperar a una víctima de secuestro y evitar un golpe. Es alegremente absurdo, por supuesto, filmado en un complejo de lujo bañado por el sol directamente del gran libro de clichés de películas de acción, pero sin las florituras de John Woo o Michael Bay. Pero la creciente amistad entre el superfan entusiasta Javi y la estrella cautelosa y dañada es especial.Pascal baila a lo largo de una línea imposible entre resplandecientemente si

Tom Holland y Mark Wahlberg se unen en Uncharted: Fuera del mapa

Tom Holland y Mark Wahlberg se unen en Uncharted: Fuera del mapa

⭑⭑⭑✩✩ Se ha estado desarrollando una adaptación cinematográfica de la serie de juegos Uncharted durante dos décadas; tiempo que Mark Wahlberg, ahora elegido como figura mentor Sully, originalmente debía interpretar al héroe Nathan Drake (ahora Tom Holland). El mayor problema para la serie fue que los juegos comenzaron como un aspirante a Indiana Jones, y escapar de esa larga sombra con sombrero no fue tarea fácil. Finalmente, llega como precuela, con un joven Drake dando sus primeros pasos como cazador de tesoros. Cuando lo conocemos como adulto, de hecho, es cantinero y carterista, pero sabemos, por una escena de apertura de la infancia, que también es un fanático de la historia de una larga línea de cazadores de tesoros. Sully (Wahlberg) lo recluta para encontrar el tesoro perdido de Magellan, prometiéndole pistas sobre el paradero de su hermano perdido en el camino. Pero enfrentándose al multimillonario Santiago Moncado (Antonio Banderas) y su sicario Braddock (Tati Gabrielle), y con una de las pistas en manos de la desconfiada Chloe Frazer (Sophia Ali), no será fácil. Aquí verás personas que caen de aviones, persecuciones subterráneas, trampas y acertijos, todos presentantes de los juegos. Pero a pesar de la mano normalmente firme de Ruben Fleischer de Zombieland como director, el tono es inquieto. En la primera escena de Holland, se disculpa con un secuaz sin rostro, que es demasiado Peter Parker. Es como si el estudio no confiara en su carisma lejos de Spider-Man, aunqu

Oscars predictions 2022: What will win at Sunday’s Academy Awards

Oscars predictions 2022: What will win at Sunday’s Academy Awards

The red carpet is being rolled out, the big cheeses of Tinseltown have ordered their couture, and the spotlights and cameras are ready to fire up again. After last year’s socially-distanced and, it has to be said, fairly weird Academy Awards, the Oscars are officially back, baby. No more train station concourses, no more Zoom acceptance speeches and no more random twerking. Actually, let’s keep the twerking. It’s relatively easy to predict the vibe of the night: celebratory and self-congratulatory, with just enough respectful sobriety not to appear gross while there’s a war going on. We trust Hollywood to read the room and get that bit right. But will it get the winners right? As is usually the case, red-hot favourites cool to room temperature over the duration of awards season and surprise outsiders gain momentum. CODA – this year’s Little Miss Sunshine – falls into the latter bracket; Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story is in the tepid category. But anything can happen on the night. Here’s what we think will. 

King's Man: El Origen, la precuela basada en el cómic The Secret Service

King's Man: El Origen, la precuela basada en el cómic The Secret Service

⭑⭑✩✩✩ Debemos aceptar que hay mucha diversión en la última entrega de espías de Matthew Vaughn. Tiene algunas escenas de acción divertidas, nos da un período de tiempo que rara vez hemos visto en este tipo de travesuras y ofrece un elenco sobrecualificado. El problema es que hay suficiente de todo eso para quizás una película de 90 minutos, y esto llena los 40 minutos restantes con una trama demasiado elaborada en un contexto de historia para tontos. Esta precuela de las películas The Kingsmen de Vaughn prometía explicar cómo se formó esa organización secreta de espionaje, una premisa que finalmente recuerda entregar en sus últimos segundos. Nuestro héroe es el duque de Oxford, Orlando (Ralph Fiennes), un diplomático y bienhechor con un turbio pasado en las fuerzas coloniales. Intenta criar a su hijo, Conrad (Harris Dickinson), como pacifista, pero cuando estalla la Primera Guerra Mundial, el duque se enfoca en mantener a su hijo fuera del conflicto y rastrear a la figura sombría que está manipulando los eventos mundiales a su favor.  La historia apenas importa y, sin embargo, es interminable. Hay tramas internacionales, años de historia y figuras sombrías que intentan moldear la política mundial para sus propios fines. Hay muy poco que hacer por Gemma Arterton o Djimon Hounsou, como empleados letales de Orlando. El tono cambia de la tontería épica de una lucha gonzo con Rasputín (Rhys Ifans, muy divertido) al realismo cercano de un campo de batalla de la Primera Guerra Mundi

No te pierdas el musical Tick, Tick... Boom! de Netflix

No te pierdas el musical Tick, Tick... Boom! de Netflix

⭑⭑⭑⭑✩ Advertencia para todos los nacidos antes de 1990: este musical contiene discusiones repetidas sobre los horrores de cumplir 30 años que pueden causar angustia o vergüenza. En su defensa, el autor y protagonista Jonathan Larson murió trágicamente a los 35 años, inmediatamente antes del estreno de su obra más conocida, Rent, y poco después de escribir esta pieza semiautobiográfica. Para Larson, el tiempo realmente se estaba acabando, y esa es una sensación que el  autor de Hamilton, y ahora el debutante director de cine debutante, Lin-Manuel Miranda capta de manera experta. Un interminable y convincente Andrew Garfield interpreta a Larson, que trabaja en un restaurante durante el día y trabaja como esclavo en su musical de ciencia ficción Superbia por la noche. Nos unimos a él en la semana anterior a su primera presentación, mientras lidia con la presión de este proyecto decisivo de ocho años que se acerca a su clímax. Está tratando de escribir una canción final para la pieza —como lo recomendó Stephen Sondheim (Bradley Whitford), un mentor del joven Larson—, negociar cambios en la relación con su novia bailarina Susan (Alexandra Shipp) y de alguna manera recaudar el dinero para pagar a los artistas. Mientras tanto, sus amigos están cambiando.  Los artistas que antes luchaban están renunciando a sus sueños por trabajos seguros y otros enfrentan diagnósticos de sida, en el apogeo de esa epidemia. Es mucha pasión y energía inquieta, a veces mal dirigida, para canalizar a tr

Rey Richard: Una familia ganadora lleva a la pantalla la historia de Venus y Serena Williams

Rey Richard: Una familia ganadora lleva a la pantalla la historia de Venus y Serena Williams

⭑⭑⭑⭑✩ Se le podría perdonar el ser cínico a Rey Richard. Las extraordinarias Venus y Serena Williams, dos de las mejores jugadoras en la historia del tenis femenino, se convierten aquí en personajes secundarios en un drama sobre su padre, Richard. Oh, mira, Hollywood ha encontrado la historia que vale la pena contar. Es mérito del director Reinaldo Marcus Green y Will Smith que esta película defienda su punto focal contraintuitivo.Richard Williams (Will Smith) es esposo, guardia de seguridad y padre de cinco hijas junto a su segunda esposa Brandy (Aunjanue Ellis). Los dos menores, Venus (Saniyya Sidney) y Serena (Demi Singleton), han sido preparadas para la grandeza del tenis de acuerdo con un plan que Williams elaboró ​​antes de que nacieran. Sus esperanzas parecen grandiosas en el mejor de los casos (engañadas en el peor), mientras recorre clubes de tenis en busca de entrenadores, patrocinadores o simplemente descartar pelotas de tenis. Pero Williams sigue presionando a sus hijos de una manera que podría ser difícil de perdonar si no se esfuerzan más.Smith refrena su despreocupada confianza habitual a favor de algo más esforzado, pero mantiene un brillo en los ojos de Williams mientras pide favores, se abre camino en clubes de campo y convence a los entrenadores estrella para que vean jugar a sus hijas. Esos entrenadores están por turnos fascinados y exasperados.El director Green, cuya última película, Monsters and Men, trató explícitamente de la policía racista, hace que l

La casa de Gucci le abre sus puertas a Lady Gaga, Adam Drive y Al Pacino

La casa de Gucci le abre sus puertas a Lady Gaga, Adam Drive y Al Pacino

⭑⭑⭑✩✩ A menudo escuchamos que los estudios ya no hacen dramas para adultos a gran escala porque Hollywood está demasiado obsesionado con los superhéroes y los dibujos animados. Ridley Scott está haciendo todo lo posible por invertir esa tendencia. Su segunda película en otros tantos meses, después de The Last Duel, es desigual, demasiado larga y completamente exagerada, y tiene personajes y giros en la trama que Marvel y Pixar rechazarían como "demasiado". La buena noticia es que, sin lugar a dudas, es un drama adecuado y, en su mayor parte, tremendamente entretenido. Lady Gaga interpreta a Patrizia Reggiani, una fiestera ambiciosa que trabaja para el negocio de su padre cuando conoce a Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver), uno de los herederos del imperio de la moda. Ella planea más encuentros y se propone seducirlo, pero su padre enfermo Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons) no acepta a la mujer que él ve como un advenedizo inculto. Después de casarse con un Maurizio desheredado, Patrizia tiene como misión devolverlo al corazón de su familia a través de su tío Aldo (Al Pacino) y un elegante trabajo en una empresa en Nueva York . Pero el matrimonio se funda a medida que asciende la estrella de Maurizio, y Patrizia descubre demasiado tarde las desventajas de casarse por dinero. Es una gran ópera convertida en drama criminal, con Scott echando un ojo mordaz a los problemas de los ricos, llevándonos de juegos de rugby demasiado competitivos en un césped de mansiones sombrías y estériles. Se ve hermos

How London became the VFX capital of the world

How London became the VFX capital of the world

If you’re a Hollywood filmmaker who wants to persuade a lion cub to act or send the Avengers into space, your first stop these days is central London. Almost all the action blockbusters of recent years have been at least partly created in unassuming London offices, after our capital’s visual effects companies swiped some of the biggest, most spectacular films from under Tinseltown’s nose. When it comes to VFX, you don’t need pretty Californian sunshine – just enough computing power to make Nasa blush and a few hundred mega-talented artists. There has been visual effects work in London since filmmaking began. It contributed miniatures to the classic Bond films and many innovative advertising campaigns in the 1980s, but it was a small, cottage industry, tucked away in odd corners of Soho. That is, until some of the current leading VFX houses – with names like Framestore, MPC and DNEG – realised in the mid-1990s that there was potential for more. Digital effects were taking off, and they set out to challenge industry giants like George Lucas’s Industrial Light & Magic (ILM). These companies built computer worlds for crime mystery ‘Hackers’ and created ancient Rome for ‘Gladiator’, growing alongside each other. ‘Our companies were all within a block of each other,’ says Philip Greenlow, VFX executive producer at MPC. ‘Artists would hang out in the same pub and everyone would spend time in different companies, so there was a general sharing of knowledge.’ But it was Harry Potter t

Quem serão os próximos Vingadores?

Quem serão os próximos Vingadores?

Vingadores: Endgame, que se estreia nesta quarta-feira, marca o fim da linha para alguns dos super-heróis mais poderosos: o elenco liderado por Robert Downey Jr está pronto para dizer adeus, dizem os rumores. Pedimos à directora de casting Shaheen Baig (de filmes como O Impossível e A Juventude, e séries como Black Mirror) para olhar para sua lista de contactos e escolher possíveis substitutos. Não foi fácil: afinal, acompanhamos estas personagens desde 2008. Começámos com Homem de Ferro, passámos por Guardiões da Galáxia e completámos a década Marvel com Black Panther. Mas talvez esteja na hora de dizer adeus. Recomendado: Quiz Marvel – Acha que sabe tudo sobre o Universo Cinematográfico da Marvel?

Listings and reviews (56)

Violent Night

Violent Night

3 out of 5 stars

There’s a fine tradition of Christmas-set action movies, thanks mainly to the entire career of Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Last Action Hero: all Christmas movies) and, of course, Die Hard. But Santa himself rarely gets in on the action. Until now, at least. In this fun action-thriller, David Harbour’s Santa is less Saint Nick and more John Wick.The Lightstone family, including dad (Alex Hassell), his estranged wife (Alexis Louder) and their adorable daughter (Leah Bradley), arrive home to his family estate for Christmas. His outrageously rich and powerful mother Gertrude (Beverly d’Angelo, in a witty nod to Christmas Vacation) rules the family with an iron wallet, but she’s targeted by a thief calling himself ‘Scrooge’ (John Leguizamo) and his goons. Luckily for the Lightstones, midway through delivering their presents, Santa (Harbour) has collapsed in a disillusioned, drunken stupor upstairs. Moved by the youngest Lightstone’s plight, he tools up to take on the thieves. There are over-familiar touches of Bad Santa, and it’s yet another Christmas story about the problems of a super-rich kid, which is perhaps not the most relatable option these days. But Dead Snow director Tommy Wirkola keeps it all moving briskly, and there are some hilariously inventive deaths involving beloved Christmas paraphernalia.   You’ll never look at nutcrackers the same way again But Harbour is enormous fun as Santa, equally at home with scurrying away in panic, drunkenly r

Emily

Emily

3 out of 5 stars

Becoming Jane. Miss Potter. Dickinson. However slight the recorded romantic history of a well-known female author is, you can be sure it will become a key part of her biopic. Joining the trend now is this account of the life of Emily Brontë, which spends a chunk of its time on a romance that may not have happened. It’s well played and well written, but it’s an odd addition to a story that is remarkable even without invention: studios need to start letting spinsters be spinsters. Debutante director Frances O’Connor, previously best known for her acting roles in the likes of Mansfield Park, shows a real feel for the texture and tenor of the Brontë sisters’ lives here as she establishes a bustling, intellectually vibrant house for the three sisters – Charlotte (Alexandra Dowling), Emily (Emma Mackey) and Anne (Amelia Gething) – their brother Branwell (Dunkirk’s Fionn Whitehead) and vicar father Patrick (Adrian Dunbar). Our heroine, Emily, spends her time out on the moors dreaming up new stories and struggles to limit herself to the role available to her in 19th century society. Enter William Weightman (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), the vicarage’s new curate.  The love story that follows is delicately played by both. O’Connor just manages to step around the tropes of the genre as the two young intellectuals move from vague hostility to true connection. Nanu Segal’s cinematography backs them up, switching from colours of rain and heather to sun and wind, bringing a sense of change and ho

Beast

Beast

3 out of 5 stars

In times of stress and unrest, there’s a lot to be said for the simple pleasures of a thriller where the world’s anxieties are reduced to a simple struggle to survive only one threat: in this case, an enraged cat on the prowl. This effort, from Everest director Baltasar Kormákur, doesn’t exploit its premise to the max, but with the help of a solid cast it manages enough tension to distract us from, well, all our other tension. Idris Elba is Nate, a doctor who has taken his bereaved daughters Mer (Iyana Halley) and Norah (Leah Sava Jeffries) to South Africa on safari, to visit their late mother's home and see her old friend, gamekeeper Martin (Sharlto Copley). Alas, this little gang arrive in the wilderness to find a rogue lion on the loose. The menaced posse must find a way back to safety as it stalks them through the bush. In keeping with the modern tendency to give every villain a sympathetic backstory, this king of the jungle is merely acting out after its pride are slaughtered by poachers. As with any modern man versus nature tale, there’s a distinct temptation to side with the baddie here – despite the cast’s considerable efforts to make their thinly written characters likeable. Still, it poses an almost supernatural threat to every human it encounters, capable of taking down an entire village without an effective shot being fired, apparently. As with most man vs nature tales, the temptation is to side with the baddie Kormákur creates some effective jump scares and cons

Downton Abbey: A New Era

Downton Abbey: A New Era

3 out of 5 stars

The people of Downton Abbey have never been relatable, but they’re really pushing it this time. One of them, gifted an unwanted villa (!) on the Riviera (!!), bequeaths it to a great-grandchild who would otherwise grow up without an estate to call her own (the horror!!!). Another welcomes a film crew into her home because their exorbitant fees will pay for a new roof. Those characters who lacked the good sense to be born into money end up in love, at least, and often slightly richer too. It’s an unlikely but pleasant fantasy where good things just happen, the rich are benevolent and the poor all muddle along nicely. There’s not much to say about the plot except that roughly half the cast visit the Riviera at one point, to inspect that new villa, while the others hold down the fort against an invasion of rampaging filmmakers (cue newcomers Hugh Dancy, Dominic West and Laura Haddock, who have somehow not been on the show before). Director Simon Curtis, an old hand at a period drama, has a feel for the characters and the comedy, though there are odd oversights in this production. Distorting lenses mar some drone shots and a few characters sport implausible tans long before their holiday; minor details, perhaps, but not something that should have reached the screen. The people of Downton Abbey have never been relatable, but they’re really pushing it this time That aside, for the most part this is a quality production. Writer Julian Fellowes, who created the show, believes that m

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

4 out of 5 stars

Celebrities playing themselves can either be enormously cringeworthy, or, if they’re sufficiently self-deprecating, positively endearing. But few throw themselves bodily into the task with quite the gusto Nicolas Cage summons here, skewering his own excesses with a surprisingly sharp eye. You might expect hilarious, and sometimes unbearably awkward, results; what you won’t see coming is how heart-warming director Tom Gormican’s film is. This ‘Nick’ Cage shares the real man’s filmography, but he’s monstrously committed to his own stardom and unable to see the toll it has taken on ex-wife Olivia (Sharon Horgan) and daughter Addy (Lily Mo Sheen). He reluctantly accepts an invitation to a millionaire’s birthday party to pay off some debts, and bonds with the eccentric Javi (Pedro Pascal). Alas, CIA agent Vivian (Tiffany Haddish) intervenes to tell Cage that Javi is a drug lord. She recruits Cage to work against his host in order to recover a kidnap victim and prevent a coup. Cage portrays himself as an egotist and a fool, so committed to his art that he’s missed out on life It's cheerfully nonsensical, of course, shot in a sun-drenched luxury compound straight from the big book of action movie clichés, yet lacking the flourishes of a John Woo or a Michael Bay. But the growing friendship between enthusiastic superfan Javi and the wary, damaged star is special. Pascal dances along an impossible line between glowingly sincere and impossibly sinister, his performance emphasising tha

Uncharted

Uncharted

3 out of 5 stars

A film adaptation of the Uncharted game series has been in development for the best part of two decades – so long, in fact, that Mark Wahlberg, now cast as mentor figure Sully, was originally due to play hero Nathan Drake (now Tom Holland). The biggest problem for the series was that the games began as an Indiana Jones wannabe, and escaping that long fedora’ed shadow was no easy feat. Finally, it arrives as a prequel, with a younger Drake taking his first steps as a treasure hunter. When we meet him as an adult, in fact, he’s a bartender and pickpocket – but we know, from a childhood opening scene, that he’s also a history nut from a long line of treasure hunters. Wahlberg’s Sully recruits him to find the lost treasure of Magellan, promising him clues to his lost brother’s whereabouts on the way. But ranged against billionaire Santiago Moncado (Antonio Banderas) and his hitlady Braddock (Tati Gabrielle), and with one of the clues in the hands of the untrusting Chloe Frazer (Sophia Ali), it won’t be easy. Cue people falling from planes, underground chases, traps and puzzles – all present and correct from the games. But despite the usually steadying hand of Zombieland’s Ruben Fleischer as director, the tone is uneasy. In Holland’s first scene he apologises to a faceless henchman, which is far too Peter Parker for Drake. It’s as if the studio didn’t trust his charisma away from Spider-Man – although they should – and while his performance is good the script puts his characterisa

Spider-Man: No Way Home

Spider-Man: No Way Home

4 out of 5 stars

Spider-Man was created as a (then) rare example of a superhero whose life was made markedly worse by having superpowers. For all the exhilaration and possibility that his abilities gave him, they also came with crushing responsibility and did nothing to alleviate the pressure of schoolwork, and making ends meet, and his obligations to family and friends. Spider-Man is always best on the back foot, and this film puts him thoroughly through the wringer. But it also gives him room to shine, and packs an emotional punch that could floor any of his villains. Last time we saw Tom Holland’s Peter Parker, he was outed as Spider-Man to the whole world and accused of murder. In the fallout of that revelation, he and his family are under siege by the authorities and by shock jock J Jonah Jameson (JK Simmons) leading a hostile media. Desperate for a way back to normality, he asks Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to cast a spell making everyone forget his identity, but something goes wrong. Soon villains who know Spider-Man – but not this version – are turning up, and Peter must get them under control and figure out a way to get them all back to their home dimensions.There’s a lot of plot in this film, and some is garbled and muddy, but it nails its emotional beats. Peter’s relationships with girlfriend MJ (Zendaya), bestie Ned (Jacob Batalon) and aunt May (Marisa Tomei) are kept front and centre of his priorities, and his challenges are as much moral as physical. How should he deal

The King's Man

The King's Man

2 out of 5 stars

There’s enjoyment to be had in Matthew Vaughn’s latest slice of spy nonsense. He creates some fun action scenes, gives us a time period we’ve rarely seen in this sort of caper, and offers an overqualified cast. The problem is there’s enough of all that for perhaps a 90-minute film, and this fills the remaining 40 minutes with an over elaborate plot set against a backdrop of history for dummies. This prequel to Vaughn’s The Kingsmen films promised to explain how that secret spy organisation was formed – a premise it finally remembers to deliver in its final seconds. Our hero is the Duke Of Oxford, Orlando (Ralph Fiennes), a diplomat and do-gooder with a shady past in the colonial forces. He tries to raise his son, Conrad (Harris Dickinson), as a pacifist, but when World War I breaks out the Duke focuses on keeping his son out of the conflict, and tracking down the shadowy figure who is manipulating world events to their own ends. The story barely matters, and yet it’s endless. There are international plots, years of quasi-history and shadowy figures trying to shape world politics to their own ends. There’s far too little to do for Gemma Arterton or Djimon Hounsou, as Orlando’s lethal staffers. The tone veers from the epic silliness of a gonzo struggle with Rasputin (Rhys Ifans, loads of fun) to the near realism of a World War I battlefield, a horror that even this film takes seriously. It’s a clever gag to have Tom Hollander play George V and also his first cousins, the Tsar a

House of Gucci

House of Gucci

3 out of 5 stars

You often heard that studios don’t make large scale, grown-up dramas any more because Hollywood is too obsessed with superheroes and cartoons. Ridley Scott is single-handedly doing his best to reverse that trend. His second film in as many months, after The Last Duel, is uneven, overlong and completely over the top, and has characters and plot turns that Marvel and Pixar would reject as ‘a bit much’. The good news is that it is undeniably a proper drama and, for the most part, wildly entertaining.Lady Gaga stars as Patrizia Reggiani, an ambitious party girl working for her dad’s business when she meets Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver), one of the heirs to the fashion empire. She contrives further encounters and sets about seducing him, but his ailing father Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons) won’t accept the woman he sees as an uncultured upstart. After marrying a disinherited Maurizio, Patrizia makes it her mission to restore him to the heart of his family via his uncle Aldo (Al Pacino) and a swanky company job in New York. But the marriage founders as Maurizio’s star rises, and Patrizia discovers too late the downsides of marrying into money.It’s a grand opera turned crime drama, with Scott casting a scathing eye over rich people’s problems, taking us from overly-competitive rugby games on a Lake Como lawn to shadowy, sterile mansions. It looks gorgeous, of course, with Dariusz Wolski’s cinematography lightly desaturated and faintly gold-tinged, as if to reflect the family’s wealth. But th

Tick, Tick... Boom!

Tick, Tick... Boom!

4 out of 5 stars

Trigger warning for everyone born before 1990: This musical contains repeated discussion of the horrors of turning 30 which may cause distress or embarrassment. In its defence, author and protagonist Jonathan Larson tragically died at just 35, immediately prior to the premiere of his best-known work, Rent, and soon after writing this semi-autobiographical piece. For Larson, time really was running out – and that’s a sense that Hamilton author, and now debutant movie director, Lin-Manuel Miranda captures expertly. An endlessly moving, entirely convincing Andrew Garfield plays Larson, working in a diner by day and slaving over his sci-fi musical Superbia by night. We join him in the week before its first ‘workshop’ performance, as he deals with the pressure of this eight year, make-or-break project nearing its climax. He’s trying to write one final song for the piece (as recommended by Bradley Whitford’s Stephen Sondheim, a mentor to the young Larson), negotiate relationship changes with his dancer girlfriend Susan (Alexandra Shipp) and somehow raise the money to pay for the workshop’s performers. Meanwhile his friends are in flux. Previously struggling artists are giving up their dreams for secure jobs and others face AIDS diagnoses, at the height of that epidemic. It’s a lot of passion and restless, sometimes misdirected energy to channel through this film, but Miranda marshalls it effectively, communicating Larson’s talent and drive without obscuring the fact that he could,

King Richard

King Richard

4 out of 5 stars

You could be forgiven for being cynical about King Richard. The extraordinary Venus and Serena Williams, two of the greatest players in women’s tennis history, here become supporting characters in a drama about their dad, Richard. Oh look, Hollywood has found a man’s story to tell. It’s to the credit of director Reinaldo Marcus Green and star Will Smith that this film makes the case for its counter-intuitive focal point. Smith’s Richard Williams is a husband, security guard and father to five over-achieving daughters with his second wife Brandy (Aunjanue Ellis). Their youngest two, Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena (Demi Singleton), have been groomed for tennis greatness according to a plan Williams drew up before they were born. His hopes seems grandiose at best, deluded at worst, as he tours tennis clubs in search of coaches, sponsors or just discarded tennis balls. But Williams keeps on, pushing his children in a way that might be hard to forgive if he didn’t push himself harder. Smith reins in his usual breezy confidence in favour of something more effortful, but keeps a twinkle in Williams’s eye as he begs favours, bluffs his way into country clubs and browbeats star coaches into watching his daughters play. Those coaches are by turns fascinated and exasperated, with Jon Bernthal’s Rick Macci visibly unmoored after Williams’ charm offensives. Director Green, whose last film, Monsters and Men, dealt explicitly with racist policing, here makes race a steady background beat

Free Guy

Free Guy

3 out of 5 stars

There are signature roles, and then there’s the kind of symbiosis that seems to have taken place between Ryan Reynolds and Wade W Wilson, aka Deadpool. Reynolds seemed to have absorbed the same sardonic self-mockery, the same meta-textual habit of winking to the audience, the same faux-innocent embrace of the absurd. At first, in Free Guy, he seems to be treading the same turf again – which is why it’s such a relief when this film finally gives him new notes to play. The film’s setting is a Grand Theft Auto-alike video game city where cheery, innocent clerk Guy (Reynolds) lives the same day over and over again. The only difference is which player-character robs the bank where he and his best friend Buddy (Get Out’s Lil Rel Howery) work. But when he sees the player Molotov Girl (Jodie Comer), he breaks out of his role and sets out to improve himself for love. In reality Molotov Girl is Millie, a game designer who suspects that video-game giant ‘Soonami’, a company as obnoxious as its spelling and run by Taika Waititi’s Antwan, has stolen her code to build Guy’s city. She and Guy turn the game upside down – one looking for answers, the other for love – in an increasingly absurd commentary on the commercial, sometimes crass nature of gaming. There’s an occasional meta detour to examine the fate of ‘non player characters’, or NPCs, who are so thoughtlessly blown away in pursuit of extra points each day. In the sun-drenched, deliberately flat-feeling Free City, there’s a sense of

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Here’s everything we know about ‘Ms Marvel’

Here’s everything we know about ‘Ms Marvel’

Good news for superhero fans! Another new Marvel show is coming to Disney+, and this one looks like tons of fun. Ms Marvel is the story of a New Jersey teenager of Pakistani origin, Kamala Khan, and she could come to play an important part in the Marvel Cinematic Universe going forward. Here’s what you need to know about the newest super-kid on the block. When is Ms Marvel streaming? All six episodes will be landing on Disney+ worldwide on June 8. Is there a trailer for Ms Marvel? There is! You can watch it below. Where does Ms Marvel fit into the Marvelverse? For those who haven’t been keeping up with the MCU, the pandemic forced a short break and a delayed release date for a few films and shows in 2020, but it all came roaring back with its Phase Four in 2021, the phase that continues with Ms Marvel. First out the gate was Disney+ hit WandaVision, followed by Black Widow on the big screen. Falcon & The Winter Soldier then gave us some spy shenanigans, before the Loki series took us in cosmic new dimensions and messed with the space-time continuum. Then What If…? explored some of the possibilities that might arise from multiple timelines in animated form, before Marvel returned to the big screen with Shang-Chi and Eternals. In December Hawkeye delivered a good-natured romp and Spider-Man: No Way Home brought some of that timey-wimey, multiple-reality confusion into live action. It’s a lot to keep up with. Now, following the dark-tinged Moon Knight, wh

The 5 big take-aways from this year’s Oscar nominations

The 5 big take-aways from this year’s Oscar nominations

It’s been a hard year for cinemas, but a good one for cinema. Despite the continuing upheaval in the world, great films did come out and this year’s Academy Awards have done a better job than usual of recognising them. There are still some upsets and oversights, of course, but a bit less outrage than usual – and for the second year in a row, a very clear frontrunner for Best Picture. Here are the headline nominations that leapt out at us. 1. The Power of the Dog is now hot favourite for Best Picture It’s a good day to be Jane Campion. Her extraordinary western The Power Of The Dog has most nominations with 12, ahead of Dune’s ten. And unlike the sci-fi epic they’re in all the most important categories: Oscar nerds will tell you that almost every Best Picture winner for the last 40 years has had a Best Editing nomination (Birdman is the lone exception), and almost all have Best Director nods. The Power Of The Dog is the only film in all three categories this year, making it a statistical lock on Best Picture. It’s also very good, which doesn’t hurt. But it does leave us facing the extraordinary prospect of two kinda-Westerns, both made by women and distributed digitally, being clear frontrunners in consecutive years. Oscar’s moving forward via the oldest of genres. Photograph: NetflixJesse Plemons and Kirsten Dunst are both nominated for ‘The Power of the Dog’ 2. It’s the year of the acting power couple Two real-life couples are celebrating paired nominations today, suggesti

5 things the BAFTA nominations got wrong (and one delightful surprise)

5 things the BAFTA nominations got wrong (and one delightful surprise)

This year’s Bafta nominations are a mixed bunch – lots of worthy contenders, a few glaring omissions (cough, West Side Story and Olivia Colman), and the odd curveball. Having slept on them, a few of the absentees have started to loom large in the mind. With the awards taking place on March 13 and the nominees locked down, there’s very little we can do to alter the facts at this point, beyond shaking a fist at the awards gods and having a bit of a moan. So we’ve done that instead. Where the heck is Olivia Colman?  Clearly Bafta voters have become bored of nominating Olivia Colman after her win for The Favourite and three wins (out of six nominations) for her TV work. But hey, she really is that good and you can’t just pretend otherwise just to mix things up. This year’s The Lost Daughter lives and dies on her performance, and she’s both spiky and sincere as an academic who develops a strange fascination with her holiday neighbours. Sure, she already has a film Bafta, three TV Baftas, an Oscar, three Golden Globes and an Emmy. But is it really enough? Does it even begin to compensate her for the time they overlooked her performance in Tyrannosaur? Photograph: NIKO TAVERNISE/NETFLIXLeonardo DiCaprio in ‘Don’t Look Up’ Why is Leonardo DiCaprio? If Bafta voters are bored of nominating Colman, they positively can’t resist DiCaprio. He’s been up for Best Actor six times before, and now he gets a seventh nod for Don’t Look Up. He’s as decent in the environmental comedy, but it’s no

10 potentially awesome Oscars hosts

10 potentially awesome Oscars hosts

After last year’s Academy Awards in an LA train station delivered all the glitz and glamour of an evening in, well, a train station, the 2022 version is already looking like a return to the swinging funtimes of Oscars of yore. Covid be damned, Hollywood is ready to party again – albeit with air kisses from an additional two yards away. And after three years without one, the Oscars will have a host to run the show on March 27. Early suggestions take in everyone from Tom Holland to Pete Davidson to Tiffany Haddish. Here’s our two cents worth on a few outstanding candidates to throw into the mix.  Hot favourites Tom HollandThe hot favourite among the Twitterati, the charming and charismatic Brit would bring something that the Oscars always yearns for: an actual audience. Holland is red-hot after No Way Home laid waste to the box office and would no doubt have younger viewers tuning in on the TV (once they’ve figured out what that is). Also, having Spider-Man the person hosting would also save the Academy from having to give Spider-Man the movie an award. If he comes on stage to Rihanna, the internet will physically break. Photograph: Shutterstock Tina Fey and Amy PoehlerYes, they're on record, repeatedly, saying they don't want to host the Oscars, but they slayed at the Golden Globes so maybe someone should throw money at them until they can't resist anymore. They would slay again.  Steve Martin and Martin ShortAn old-school vaudeville double act to bring showmanship, pisstak

Book extract: ‘Every awards season is guided by voters who are mostly old, white men’

Book extract: ‘Every awards season is guided by voters who are mostly old, white men’

There’s a truth about award shows that often goes unsaid for fear of appearing to be a sore loser: the odds are stacked against films made by, with or for women. The people that awards shows acknowledge tend to be male, their subject matter tends to be male and their leads tend to be male. The rather self-conscious grasp that cinema makes at importance every awards season is guided by voters who are mostly old, white men. For example, the Best Director nominations are chosen by the directing branch only, and that is, historically, overwhelmingly male. To be eligible to join you have to have directed two features, one within the past decade, a rate of work beyond the reach of many female directors until recently. Another factor is the kind of film that gets recognition. War movies, crime dramas, gangster stories, biopics of great men, portraits of damaged men, men’s struggles. Not just male stories, but stories about male anger and male violence.  Films about female ambition (Little Women), men working towards some sort of grace or peace (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Honey Boy), or female anger (Hustlers) are not considered as important. We’ve been told that films about men doing things, possibly violently, are more important than stories about women, in any capacity. There’s a far greater overlap between Best Actor and Best Picture than between Best Actress and Best Picture as a result. In the last twenty years, only two Best Picture winners have had female protagonis

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