Director: Marielle Heller
Writers: Micah Fitzerman-Blue, Noah Harpster
Cast: Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys, Chris Cooper, Susan Kelechi Watson, Maryann Plunkett
If you live outside of the United States, it’s highly likely you will never have heard of a man named Fred Rogers. Rogers was a beloved television host for children’s television, specifically his own show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. He was passionate not only about children’s academic learning, but also their emotional education and growth, an early pioneer of taking care of children’s mental health, if you will. Children absolutely loved Rogers and his show, a love that continues to this day. His show would tackle subjects considered taboo or too negative for children at the time (beginning in the 1960s). But what effect, if any, did Rogers have on adults? A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (herein Neighborhood) isn’t a biopic of Rogers, but instead based on a true story of how his work affected a cynical journalist, Tom Junod, when he was assigned Rogers as an interviewee. Does it work in getting across that magic that Rogers had when it came to comforting people, or are his songs and puppets best left for children?
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Director: Rian Johnson
Writer: Rian Johnson
Cast: Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette, Katherine Langford, Chris Evans, Jaeden Martell, Christopher Plumber, Edi Patterson, Riki Lindhome, LaKeith Stanfield, Noah Segan, K Callan
It’s always quite exciting to see an ensemble cast of well-known (usually talented, often experienced) actors come together for a big project, especially when that project is helmed by a successful and popular filmmaker. Knives Out boasts all of the above with a story that comes across in the trailer like a dialled down Clue (the American movie of the boardgame known as Cluedo in the UK). Quite a fuss was made of this movie before its release, and thanks to writer/director Johnson and the extensive cast, it’s clear to see why. But does the story, the cast and the creator come together to create something spectacular to witness, or might it be a case of too many cooks?
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Cast: Stephen Odubola, Micheal Ward, Khali Best, Eric Kofi-Abrefa, Kadeem Ramsay, Karla-Simone Spence
Every so often, a film comes along that is an effort to represent reality, for better or for worse. And, arguably, the more indie a film is, the less ‘mainstream’, the more likely it is to represent that reality accurately, due to less need to impress a wider audience (and studio). This is what UK rapper, writer and director Andrew Onwubolu, aka Rapman, has aimed for with Blue Story, a rap-musical retelling of his personal experiences of gang violence on the streets of London to show the futility of it all. It’s a touchy subject, particularly when cinemas start banning it for, arguably, no good reason, but it’s an important one. Has Rapman done a decent job of letting us know the reality of the situation? Does it speak to those involved, those thinking of getting involved and those in danger of getting involved? Or is it another convoluted issue that we’re too familiar with for it to have any real impact?
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Directors: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Writer: Jennifer Lee
Cast: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff, Sterling K. Brown, Evan Rachel Wood, Martha Plimpton, Alfred Molina, Ciarán Hinds, Alan Tudyk
2013 saw the release of one of Disney’s biggest hits to date: Frozen. With ever-popular characters and a soundtrack that is played to death, its popularity continues to grow, which is a highly unusual feat for a movie. And now, with the sequel firmly making its mark in cinemas across the world, the franchise is set for something of an unimaginable resurgence. Frozen II promises the return of the beloved characters, as well as new songs to blast at every kid’s party or karaoke session. But does it really embody everything we came to love (or not) about the first movie, or are the days of building a snowman firmly over?
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As we come to the close of 2019, we have a smattering of movies to see us through the run-up to Christmas and some to look forward to post-Christmas Day gorging. We’ve got some long-awaited blockbusters (Jumanji: The Next Level, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker) mixed in with some less mainstream (or at least less advertised) potential gems (Honey Boy, Ordinary Love). There feels like less of a scrabble for top billing, with practically nothing (or nothing at all, according to this list) releasing on Boxing Day, which is unusual. Think of it as the calm before the storm of the run-up to awards season, which will start pretty soon after the year ends. Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals!
Continue reading “What’s On – December 2019”