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10 Films To Watch This January

January 7, 2020
January 2020 - 10 Films to see in cinemas

A new year doesn’t only mean new resolutions that we’ll try to keep but also a bunch of brand new, diverse, thrilling and exciting films. We’ve selected ten films that will make from January the perfect start of 2020!

Jojo Rabbit

This latest film from director/writer/actor Taika Waititi has been in UK cinemas for a few days and if you haven’t seen it yet, we suggest you do. Waititi provides you with a unique view on the Hitler era in a film that’s full of satire, spectacular A-list talent and incredibly promising upcoming young actors. The chemistry between Waititi and young actor Roman Griffin Davis is spot-on!

Jojo Rabbit is in cinemas now

Uncut Gems

Adam Sandler as a notorious and charismatic New York City jeweller? It might seem like the next comedy from Sandler that might have an extremely high predictability level. Nothing could be further from the truth thanks to directors Benny Safdie and Josh Safdie. The brothers made from their latest film a dark, humouristic, fast-paced and violent gambling/heist drama. While you might feel some discomfort (not sure whether that’s a good or bad thing) when watching Uncut Gems, the movie does only give Sandler the chance to sparkle again, literally and figuratively speaking

Uncut Gems will be on the big screen from the 10th of January and available via Netflix from the 31st of January

Adam Sandler as Howard Ratner in Uncut Gems
(Source: IMDb)

1917

While 1917 will be released at the beginning of the new year, we dare to say that this movie from Sam Mendes will be the film with the best cinematography and editing of 2020. Mendes, cinematographer Roger Deakins, and editor Lee Smith make it feel like this film was shot in one take. Because of that magnificent element, you’re standing shoulder to shoulder with the two soldiers who have to deliver an extremely important message during the First World War. Esteemed actors such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth, and Richard Madden are great as always but Dean-Charles Chapman and George MacKay are the ones that excel!

1917 will be in UK cinemas on the 10th of January

Waves

He already shone in Luce but in Waves, Kelvin Harrison Jr. shows us, even more, why he deserves as many awards as possible. Together with great upcoming talent Taylor Russell and Alexa Demie, he tells the gripping story of a young family that’s being struck by loss, doubts and abuse. Luckily, there’s also a place for hope, love, and strong relationships. Director Trey Edward Shults can also rely on stunning performances from Sterling K. Brown, Renée Elise Goldsberry, and Lucas Hedges. Waves is a powerful and emotional film portrayed by a strong cast.

Waves is in UK cinemas from the 17th of January

Kelvin Harrison Jr. as Tyler and Alexa Demie as Alexis in 
(Source: IMDb)

A Hidden Life

Director Malick takes us back to World War II by telling a very emotional story of a couple facing the terrible sides of the war. Franz Jägerstätter (August Diehl) is being looked upon with agony because he doesn’t want to pay taxes or doesn’t want to fight for his country. The less he’s involved in the war, the better. He and his wife Fani (Valerie Pachner) live a very sombre life but as long as they have each other and their children, nothing can stop them. Until the war comes much closer than they want… This results in a beautifully shot, highly moving and touching movie about love, family and war.

A Hidden Life will be released on the 17th of January

The Personal History of David Copperfield

It was the openings film of the BFI Film Festival 2019 and while you’re watching The Personal History of David Copperfield you’ll understand why. The film isn’t only packed with A-listers such as Dev Patel, Tilda Swinton, Ben Whishaw, and Gwendoline Christie but also with a lot of humour, wonderful moments and beautifully shot scenes. With David Copperfield by Charles Dickens under his arm, director Armando Iannucci turns the story about family, trying to survive and finding unexpected love in a gorgeous and light-hearted movie.

The Personal History of David Copperfield is out on the 17th of January

Dev Patel as David Copperfield in The Personal History of David Copperfield
(Source: IMDb)

The Lighthouse

If you’ve seen The Witch from director Robert Eggers, then you know that he makes on-point, stirring, dark and thought-provoking thrillers. With his The Lighthouse, he delivers that again! Eggers can’t only count on the electrifying music from Mark Korven and the striking black/white cinematography from Jarin Blaschke but also on the spectacular chemistry between Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe. Both men put on a mysterious and dynamic performance and bring the twisted and sinister story of the lighthouse keepers Thomas Howard and Thomas Wake perfectly to life.

The Lighthouse is released on the 31st of January

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Tom Hanks as the beloved children’s television presenter Fred Rogers. You probably don’t need more than that to buy a ticket for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. With her latest film, director Marielle Heller honours the real-life friendship between Rogers and journalist Tom Junod (portrayed by Matthew Rhys). While Junod is being renamed to Lloyd Vogel, the story remains the same. A wonderful one about a unique friendship, family and human emotions. Both Hanks and Rhys dazzle and because of that, the movie became a heart-warming, lovely and charming one.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood will be in UK cinemas from the 31st of January

Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
(Source: Lacey Terrell – © Sony Pictures Entertainment )

Queen and Slim

He was already nominated for an Oscar for his stunning performance in Get Out and put on strong performances in Black Panther and Widows. She is an amazing upcoming talent. Yep, Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith are making a great team as Slim and Queen, a couple whose first date isn’t going as planned. Their happy moments make space for darker and tragic ones. The result: Two young lives completely broken, two people living in fear and pain. Will their love for each other be strong enough to keep them together or will their disastrous past become too dark? You will get the answers to that question after watching this exciting Queen and Slim by director Melina Matsoukas.

Queen and Slim is out on the 31st of January

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

After multiple attempts to make this film, tragically losing important cast members and experiencing financial problems, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2018. We can’t imagine what a relief that must have been for director Terry Gilliam. His “most cursed film in cinema history” tells the story of genius film director Toby (Adam Driver) whose creative days are sadly behind him. The production of his latest film about Don Quixote isn’t going great and the passion for filmmaking seems to decline.

This is until he finds a student movie he made about Don Quixote (Jonathan Pryce). This discovery is the beginning of a trip down to the memory lane. Driver and Pryce bring their A-game to this film and lead co-stars Stellan Skarsgård, Olga Kurylenko and Jason Watkins wonderfully through a funny and witty medieval story.

Catch The Man Who Killed Don Quixote from the 31st of January

Adam Driver as Toby and Jonathan Pryce as Don Quixote in The Man Who Killed Don Quixote 
(Source: IMDb)

Also Read: Quibi & the Rise of Short Films

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Editorials

“Little Women” & Cinema for the Self Partnered

December 26, 2019
Little Women

When Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women she didn’t want Jo March, her fiery, emboldened, and strong-minded lead, to be married by the novel’s end. This was, like Greta Gerwig’s new film adaptation stresses, a choice of her publisher and a sign of the repressive times she lived in. Alcott herself defied that rule in real life, choosing not to marry and instead devoted herself to artistic endeavours. In fact, history is littered with literary women who decided to forego their expected life paths such as Edna St. Vincent Millay, Jane Austen, Emily Brontë, Emily Dickenson, and more. 

Gerwig’s film is really an ode to those, to borrow a phrase from one of its stars, self-partnered women. Women who have defied the confines of marriage, whose passion is just as important as their prospective nuptials. As Gerwig said of her aspirations for Jo’s relationship with the audience, ‘What if you felt when she gets her book, the way you generally feel about a girl getting kissed?’ Thus can you imagine, if we cared as much about a woman’s achievements as we do whether or not anyone puts a ring on it? 

The Cast of Little Women
Little Women (credit: Sony Pictures)

Gerwig rearranges the story thematically and structurally to breathe new life into it on screen and puts marriage firmly at the centre. The film begins with the March sisters on the precipice of adulthood. Jo (Saoirse Ronan) is living in New York writing wild stories about violence because that’s what sells. Meg (Emma Watson), the eldest sister, is living in marital bliss with two young children – except she’s broke. Amy (Florence Pugh) is in Paris, practising her painting and being courted by the super-rich Fred Vaughn, and Beth (Eliza Scanlen) the youngest, is at home with her mother, her heart weakened by a bout of scarlet fever. They’re four twenty-something women with their childhood in the rear-view, their memories and losses framing the decisions they make. Meg is releasing the life she aspired for isn’t always perfect while both Jo and Amy navigate the decision on who to marry or if they should marry at all. 

‘I’d rather be a free spinster and paddle my own canoe,’ Jo says (a line lifted from Alcott’s journals), though she fears the loneliness of such a life, even if she believes that women are capable of more than just love. While Amy sees marriage as an economic proposition, something she can use to support her family. ‘I believe we have some power over who we love, it isn’t something that just happens to a person,’ she says, in a debate that frames her as sensible and explicitly aware of her role in the world. How a woman approaches that role and marriage, be it with contempt of Jo, the practicality of Amy, or head-over-heels love of Meg, is something that still lingers today. 

Florence Pugh in Little Women
Little Women (credit: Sony Pictures)

The shape of marriage in our modern world is shifting. It’s moving away from its history as a business transaction (one that could procure a dowry and help business) and toward being the pinnacle of romantic idealism. Just entirely how that happened, no one is really sure. Capitalism undoubtedly played a significant role – the selling of the ‘dream wedding’ to women soared as a business since Victorian times. Then, of course, came the idea of ‘marrying for love’, a new way of entrapping young singles when their betrothal didn’t come with the promise of a small plot of land and a few cows to boot.  

The fact is that marrying for ‘love’ only entered our collective consciousness around 250 years ago. Before then it was merely one of several factors to be considered when pairing up young singles (and, dear reader let me tell you, it wasn’t very high up the list of concerns either). As Stephanie Coontz wrote in her book Marriage, a History, “it was inconceivable that people would choose their mate on the basis of something as fragile and irrational as love.” And, while people did indeed fall in love, the choice to marry because it was seen as a threat to a particular social order, one that could risk men and women abandoning their commitments to family, neighbours, and, above all, God. 

Even if marriage has rebranded itself as the symbol of ‘everlasting true love’, does that mean it can outrun its deeply gendered history? The gendered concepts of such a union are still unavoidable with a 2014 study of Harvard Law School graduates showing that more than half of the men surveyed expected their careers to take priority over their spouses. As writer Jia Tolentino notes, in her book Trick Mirror, “gender inequality is so entrenched in straight marriage that it persists in the face of cultural change.” Thus, Jo’s (and indeed Alcott’s) disdain for settling down still seems more than reasonable and, in 2019, she wouldn’t be alone. 

The cast of Little Women
Little Women (credit: Sony Pictures)

This past year has been peppered with films that celebrated singlehood. Lorene Scafaria’s Hustlers focused on women’s ambition, sisterhood, and their refusal to continue to face abuse from the ruling classes. Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee’s Frozen 2 offered Elsa, a Queen who aspired to fulfilment and self-actualisation while being the first Disney princess to nix falling into the arms of an interchangeable price with a china doll face. Sophie Hyde’s Animals came with the view that marriage is an obstacle to a lifelong friendship rather than something to be sought after and prized. While the sad obsessive loner who ultimately commits heinous acts of violence in Todd Phillip’s Joker is #SingleGoals for faceless bros on Twitter. 

Whether it’s 2019 or 1869, marriage still looms large over society and, indeed, cinema. The choice to remain single is still a threat. As the philosopher, Alain de Botton wrote,

“Anyone who lives alone and manifests no longing to be in a relationship is – in our times – almost automatically (though more or less secretly) viewed as both pitiable and deeply troubled. It’s simply not thought possible to be at once alone and normal.” 

– Alain de Botton

Do any of the Little Women end up alone you ask? Gerwig wants you to think so as she suggests that the ending of Jo’s novel (which sees her fall into the arms of a man) isn’t the one Jo chooses for herself and this is an act of tribute to Alcott. It blends the author and fictional character together even further. Gerwig chooses, as Alcott did, not to follow what is expected, to defy the end of the novel and say, boldly, that marriage is not all a woman is fit for, both then and now. 

Little Women is in cinemas nationwide on 26th December.

Also Read: How To Revive A Franchise After Many Years

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Editorials

Breaking Through the Box Office

September 12, 2019
Darkest Hour

A common complaint of modern cinema is that it’s full of sequels, remakes and reboots. This was certainly true in 2018, with only 3 of the top 20 films being original stories, “Coco”, “Darkest Hour” and “Peter Rabbit”. While there is an argument that Hollywood is out of original ideas, and those ideas are seen as more “indie” and never make the same impact as the latest superhero film, clearly some do. So what do these films have that others don’t?

Big Names

Pixar have been producing original hits since 1995, although much of their recent works have been sequels (Credit: Disney/Pixar 2011)

It’s likely you’ve heard of at least one of those three films, if not all of them. “Coco” is from the wizards at Pixar, “Darkest Hour” was based on a true story and pushed for Oscar nods, while “Peter Rabbit” is based off the children’s books that ingrained the character in British Culture.

All of these films are rated fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, so the general consensus is that they are all good films (scores ranges from 64% – 97%). But clever release dates may also have played a part in their success. “Peter Rabbit” was released in February, making it the only children’s film in cinemas for several weeks. This lack of competition likely helped the film’s success.

Darkest Hour, despite being released in late December, was marketed as an Oscars contender early on, especially Gary Oldman’s performance and the hair and make up effects used to transform him into Winston Churchill. Oscar buzz is a huge selling point for any film.

Meanwhile, Coco is from Pixar animation, the studio behind classics like “Toy Story” and “Wall-E”. Pixar’s pedigree rivals the Disney Renaissance , with “Cars 2” the only weak link in it’s (at the time) 19 films.

Where are all the originals going?

“Okja” was a big original release that was released on Netflix (Credit: Netflix, 2017)

As with most years, the top films were all part of franchises. “Avengers: Infinity War” took the top spot, with the number two spot being filled by the “Mamma Mia” sequel. The top ten also consisted of entries in the Jurassic World, Fantastic Beasts, Mission Impossible and Star Wars franchises. As well as a sequel to Mary Poppins and Spider-Man spin-off “Venom“.

Many original stories do get full theatrical releases, but often the biggest ones are feature big names attached, such as the recent “Once Upon A Time In… Hollywood“, with director Quentin Tarantino and actors like Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt involved to draw-in audiences.

A common place to find original stories is on streaming sites, with Netflix having some of the most high profile releases, such as “Okja” or “Velvet Buzzsaw”. Streaming sites have grown in popularity and content in recent years, with content that struggles to find distribution often picked up by streaming sites, such as “The Interview” after the drama caused with the Sony email hack. Although more high profile releases are heading to streaming sites, such as Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman”.

The Future

James Cameron’s “Avatar” was an original story, and managed to hold the record for “highest-grossing film” for 10 years (20th Century Fox, 2009)

It’s unlikely that every film released in cinemas will be a sequel or part of a franchise. There are enough “big” original films released with the likes of Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” and Rian Johnson’s “Knives Out” as examples, while streaming will only get more high profile releases.

Avatar, which was recently dethroned as the highest-grossing film of all time, is an original story (although it has spawned a franchise) so there is clearly potential for them to succeed, but perhaps a big name must always be attached in some form or another for them to make a big impact?

Also Read: Five Great Films About Filmmaking

News

Calling All Writers!

June 3, 2018
Typewriter

Love Movies? Have an opinion on film or TV you would like to share? Have some free time? Then we would like to hear from you!

At Big Picture Film Club we are all about supporting filmmakers and actors, particularly those based in the UK. We exhibit their work through our events, share their work through our social media channels, and even discuss topics with them on our podcast.

We are a small team, but we are expanding and on the look-out, for a writer to review new releases and to write editorials – one article per week.

Previous experience isn’t necessary. Paid per article.

What to do:

Simply e-mail us at hello(at)BigPictureFilmClub.com [for the attention of Presh Williams] telling us a bit about yourself. If you have written any articles previously please include an example, alternatively simply pitch an idea you have for an article.

Podcast

Bootlegged VHS & The Romanian Revolution

January 17, 2018

Stumbled across a fascinating interview about Romanian icon Irina Margereta Nistoir, whose indirect role helped evolve the Romanian Revolution.

The country felt the impact of being culturally and societally left in the dark, isolated from the rest of the world with Western culture banned during dictator Nicolae Ceausescu’s rule. Chuck Norris Vs Communism tells the story of how the banned American films were smuggled into 1980’s Romania during a time where free speech and access to media was controlled by the government.

Irina was a film translator for Romanian State Television, a censorship committee that decided what to broadcast, translating their communist ideologies. The role was never suited to her, so when a colleague asked if she could translate films for a friend, she leapt at the opportunity, risking her freedom by single-handedly dubbing every line of every character in over 3000+ bootlegged movies.

There was a desire to learn about a forbidden society and underground film clubs soon became popular. Watching these films became a matter of survival, and classics such as Rocky and Dirty Dancing eventually became tools for imagination, growth and development.

Truly a remarkable woman whose contribution to film has impacted history and the world over, her iconic voice became a symbol of hope and freedom. The revolutionary role of movie-smuggling helped liberate the people of Romania, and at this year’s SXSW Irina will be discussing how the same could be done for the people of North Korea.

First Look, Interviews

First Look: Winter Ridge

January 9, 2018

Big Picture Film Club’s First Look series takes a look at upcoming films that have grabbed our attention, with the aim of finding out more about the release and the creative minds behind the projects.

Winter Ridge is a crime-thriller set in the fictitious English town of Blackrock (filming took place in North Devon). The central plot of the film revolves around a team of detectives tracking down a serial killer targetting the elderly.  Winter Ridge even made it’s way to the 2017 Cannes Film Festival picking up distribution later in the year. The independent film has managed to bring together a remarkable cast: Hannah Waddingham (Game of Thrones, Les Misérables), Alan Ford (Snatch, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) and Olwen Catherine Kelly (The Autopsy of Jane Doe). The crew behind the camera are as equally with the film overseen by award-winning director Dom Lenoir and producers Nancy Bressolles (Rise of the Krays) and Chris Hardman who has worked on films such as Avatar, Star Wars and Kingsman.

We were able to have a Q & A with Director & Producer Dom Lenior to find out more about Winter Ridge, what to expect and when the planned release is for…

Finance is always a big issue when producing an independent feature film, how did you go about funding this film? What challenges did you face in doing this?

Dom: It has been a case of building up a track record and work ethic over quite a few years as individuals and through Camelot. We funded the film largely through the British SEIS (Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme) tax incentives and with private investors. We came to them having formed a relationship on previous projects and due to the quality of work or various shorts we had made prior, as well as a slate of films for the future, we put forward a visible track record in quality and a ready to go film. Having attached cast, high-level crew, and sales estimates definitely smoothed this process over as well and for a cinematic independent film felt like a better route than funding bodies.

How have you been able to put your own spin on the crime thriller genre and what were your sources of inspiration for the film?

Prisoners and Insomnia were big influences and inspiration in terms of the mood and feel of the movie. The initial inspiration came from the writer Ross Williams whose family had suffered from degenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s. The idea was to create a film that was an exciting psychological thriller format but touched upon some of the difficulties families face with someone suffering from an illness. My main goal creatively was to create a film that didn’t feel overly British cop and small close-knit town but something more ominous and isolated. This involved taking a lot of mood influences from Scandinavian and American Detective shows and bringing a really cinematic and atmospheric approach to the visuals, music, characters and setting.

Winter Ridge touches upon how do you go about tackling the subject of Alzheimer’s in a way that is authentic and does not trivialise it?

Mostly the aim was to look at Alzheimer’s in a sense of showing some of the situations and problems sufferers have gone through. We tried to not place too much judgement on any course of action and if anything I think the film hints that there are no easy answers and it is more about shining a light on some of the problems people and their families face.

The film has a crew (both behind and in front of the camera) that have worked on numerous big budget films – how did the film crew and cast come together?

A lot of the connections have come through Camelot; Matt and I have worked with a number of the cast and crew also. This has been something that has naturally developed through years of collaboration on ambitious shorts, meeting them on high budget films and we are lucky enough to have people at that level who believe in both our work and our approach to films enough to have continued collaborating.

How was the experience of screening at Cannes?

We released our teaser trailer at Cannes which received a really good response from the market, within a day we had already sold a major market and interest was high to see the film.

What do you hope people take away from this film?

Reconsidering their views on life and death, how we relate to our families, and how far we will go for the people who are in danger or we love.

Winter Ridge is slated to be released in late spring both in the U.K and internationally. We will continue to keep you updated on the release of the film. Watch the behind the scenes trailer below.

Winter Ridge – Behind the scenes Trailer

We are proud to release the official behind the scenes trailer for Winter Ridge. Please share the love. Excited to bring you more updates very soon!Dom Lenoir Matt Hookings Nancy Bressolles Chris Hardman Joao Cerqueira M Bulman Arşehit Benjamin Thompson Becky Hall Katie Cresser Gabriella Kovago Abby Shaw Niina Topp Ollie Reynolds Michael Mckell Justin Mc Wanny Paddington Olwen Dolphin Paris Noeleen Comiskey Liana Harris Chelsea Marie Tim Cullingworth Hudson Claudia Archer Di Mitchell Paul Saunderson Morgan Williams Matthew Newcomb Nikita Baron Martin Ross Martin Challinor Lesley Anne Webb Polly Hootkins Ross Owen Williams Janna Fassaert Nathaniel Kast Dom Lee Ian Pirie Ella Road Joss Wyre Jimmy TheBee Bennett Jim Maidment Irene Gómez Irene Maffei Doug Templeton JC Prince Alistair Ager Conrad Ford Rebecca Pendarves Marie Lacey Adrian Gwillym Jamie Chambers

Gepostet von Winter Ridge am Sonntag, 3. September 2017