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News

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

Small Screen To Big Screen: TV Shows That Deserve A Movie

May 30, 2019

TV and feature films are very different mediums. TV shows often last several years, allowing us to spend more time developing characters and plotlines. Films often last around 2 hours, often having to cram in lots of material into that runtime. However switching between the mediums is not impossible, as Downtown Abbey and What We Do In The Shadows, proving it can work both ways. Here is a selection of TV series, that could make a great movie

Community

The original cast of Community (NBC, Yahoo 2009-2014)

Six seasons and a movie” has long been the rallying cry for fans of the show since season 2. Through several cancellations, cast changes, even network changes. Community managed to survive for the 6 seasons and bring a satisfying ending to the study group, though it did leave room for more adventures. Dan Harmon has regular discussions about a movie, with directors Justin Lin and the Russo Brothers both directing episodes before moving onto Hollywood blockbusters.

A Community movie seems more like a “when” than an “if”, but it will likely be a long time before anything gets started. Harmon has 70 more episodes of Rick and Morty to write and most of the cast have moved on to other things. Donald Glover especially has become huge since leaving in season 5, with his own show Atlanta, delayed by his own busy schedule, so it could be sometime before we see it

Hannibal

Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal Lecter (NBC 2013-2015)

Not to be confused with the 2001 film, but instead the TV adaptation starring Mads Mikkelsen which was cancelled after 3 seasons in 2015. Following news of the cancellation, there have been talks with Netflix and others to revive the show, but a film adaptation could also be on the cards.

Hannibal always aimed for movie quality, and although Mikkelsen thinks it should remain on TV, it’s not as if the character wouldn’t work in a film (See 1991’s “Silence of the Lambs”) . A film would make the film more focused, cutting out a lot of the fluff that TV has simply due to being longer. Even though it has been 4 years since the show last aired, it’s still looking for a new home, why not the big screen?

Agent Carter

Agent Peggy Carter on a top secret mission (Marvel/ABC 2015-2016)

Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter proved to be one of the standout characters from the early days of the MCU. Being a driving force of Captain America’s arc throughout his story even if she didn’t appear in person. Her popularity led to a One-Shot, and then her own show. Both following her adventures post World War 2 and the early days of SHIELD. However, Agent Carter was cancelled after 2 seasons, mainly due to budget reasons.

Atwell herself is clearly still interested in playing the character, having recently reprised the role in “Avengers: Endgame”. With Agent Carter being streamed on Disney+, as well as Peggy being the focus of one of the “What If? episodes, it’s possible we could see a revival. A film would give the character the spotlight she truly deserves, on top of being a great period spy thriller.

Orphan Black

Tatiana Maslany plays several roles in “Orphan Black” (BBC America 2013-17)

Orphan Black actually managed to end on it’s own terms after 5 seasons, but that doesn’t mean there are no more stories in this universe to tell. The series ended with the main five doppelgängers free of their pursuers and able to live their lives. But the show established there were other experiments out in the world that didn’t get involved in the series.

Star Tatiana Maslany has said she would be game if the script was good, and there is a lot of potential with the premise that it could either be a prequel or a spin off set at the same time as the series. Maslany would star as a new character (or several) that we didn’t see during the series and explore what they were up to. The show has a rich history that could be explored for a potential film, and it would not have to feature the main four characters and risk messing with the excellent finale

Batman Beyond

A new hero must take on the mantle of Batman in a future version of Gotham (WB,DC 1999-2001)

Technically Batman Beyond got a movie, but it was never actually released in theatres and was more like an extended episode. The actual series lasted for 3 seasons before ending, along with most of the other DC animated shows. Although the character hasn’t appeared on screen since 2001, his adventures have continued in comic form. One of the perks of animation is that characters don’t have to age, meaning that the original cast could return to a feature length adventure, including fan favourite Kevin Conroy as Batman.

Conroy would still love to take on the role if it was a live-action version, and with DC films taking a more standalone approach instead of a cinematic universe, that could be a possibility. If it’s a live action version, then Micheal Keaton could play old Bruce Wayne with it being a legacy sequel to the Tim Burton films. A Blade Runner/ Akira inspired Gotham would look gorgeous in live action or animated but either way Batman Beyond has been in the shadows for too long.

Also Read: Peaky Blinders – Big Screen Blinders

Reviews

Review: Venom [Spoiler Free]

October 3, 2018

Comic book movies have been big business this year. Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Deadpool 2 are all among the highest grossing films of the year. It’s not surprising therefore that Sony is looking to continue the trend of big comic book hits by making a movie about one of Spiderman’s greatest villains, the alien symbiote, Venom.

Combining the reliability of the Marvel brand with the super anti-heroics of films like Deadpool and Suicide Squad and the box office draw of Tom Hardy. Will this version of Venom be a success or will we all be left pining for the days of Spiderman 3? Let’s look.

The Story

Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is a reporter with a conscience, always wanting to find the truth. He has a fiancé, Anne (Michelle Williams), a weekly TV show and even a cute cat. But when he asks the head of the life corporation, Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), the wrong questions he loses everything. A few months later, a scientist from the life corporation comes to him to help expose what Carlton Drake has been doing. But when Eddie enters Drake’s facility, he finds that Drake has been using people as hosts for alien symbiotes, brought back from a life corporation space mission. During the ensuing scuffle, Eddie ends up as host to one of the symbiotes. The symbiote, known as Venom, then uses his body to escape and fight off anyone who opposes him.

What did I like?

Venom has received a lot of bad press but not all of it is deserved. For one thing, many of the actors do a fine job. Tom Hardy holds himself well with what the script asks of him, and his accent is not as off-putting as some people feared it would be. And as Venom he manages to steal the show from under himself as he gives the frightening goliath a good sense of dark comedic timing combined with surprisingly good self-chemistry. Riz Ahmed also continues to impress. His character is not afforded any depth, but he plays his role to the hilt and infuses a lot of gravitas into his scenes.

The action scenes and the effects are also quite well done. The symbiotes natural forms are very gooey and suitably gross and when Venom reveals himself, he is just as imposing and intimidating as fans of the comics would want him to be. The action scenes are also suitably energetic. The motorcycle chase in the middle of the film and the final showdown has some imaginative touches regarding what the symbiotes can do.

And the film works ok as a standalone. Despite the connection to Spiderman being a big part of the character’s history, the screenwriters have fashioned a plot that makes Venom a separate entity from his comic origins. While still showcasing Venom’s trademarks including body morphing, weakness to sounds and his emotional connection to his host. Unfortunately, the negatives of the film outweigh everything else.

What needed improvement?

Hardy said 30-40 minutes of material were cut and it really feels like it. The film’s editing is awful. Some scenes lack any clear payoff. For example, when Eddie is on an island surrounded by guards, hiding up a tree, we transition to a new scene, with no indication of what happened. The film’s pacing also suffers because of the editing. Several scenes race by barely elaborated on, the spaceship opening, and the final villain reveal highlight this offence. Then the brakes are applied for lengthy character discussions and comedic scenes. Which could be forgiven, but many of the characters have no personality.

The actors do their best, but the script gives them nothing to work with. Every character is a blank archetype. Eddie Brock is a boring cardboard cut-out who drones on about doing the right thing but never grows as a person. Aside from learning to be ok with eating people, which he takes to surprisingly quickly. Carlton Drake is a cartoon villain, but the worst offender is Michelle William’s character. Whose only function in the plot is to serve Eddie’s story. A lack of romantic chemistry between the two leads also hurts the proceedings. Even Venom, as fun as he is, has little to no motivation for the things he does. This is not helped by dialogue that comes free with any version of Microsoft Word.

There are other points of annoyance too. The music is flavourless and forgettable. The lack of blood is disappointing for a 15 rated character-driven comic book film. Especially in the wake of Logan. And a lot of the comedy is too broad to make an impact.

The Big Problem

What ultimately condemns Venom is that it does not know what it wants to be. Is it a violent comic book anti-hero movie like Deadpool or Suicide Squad? No. Those movies had characters with big personalities and facets that made you feel for them despite their questionable actions. Venom is boring, glum and populated with stereotypes. Is it trying to be a faithful adaptation of the comic? Potentially. But Spiderman’s absence and the watered down violence will not please hardcore comic fans and the lack of explanation for his powers in this universe and the general ineptitude of the rest of the film will alienate non-fans. Is it just trying to entertain? Maybe. But in an age, where comic book movies have showcased more imaginative and complex stories and have become more than just entertaining distractions, the viewing public deserves better.

Bottom Line

Venom is a great disappointment that wastes its talented stars and potential for an interesting, violent, character-driven storyline. The script is rampant with clichés, stock characters and boring dialogue. Which is not helped by the final product having been edited with a meat cleaver and a lack of understanding about its target audience. If you want a well-acted popcorn film then there are much better films out there.

Verdict: 1 out of 5 stars (1 / 5)

Interviews

Q&A with Simon Baker, Director & Producer

July 24, 2015
Simon Baker

Following a successful screening of Night Bus, at the launch of the Big Picture Film Club, we caught up with Simon Baker, director & producer of the independent feature-length film.

BPFC: What first got you into video production / directing?

Simon: I first started playing around with video cameras when I was about 16. I went to film school in the 90’s, and got a job a runner when I left, I worked as an editor for a few years before getting a break as music video director and went on to commercials/ short form content.

BPFC: What was the inspiration behind Night Bus and how difficult was the production process?

Simon: The inspiration was two-fold – firstly I had a few experiences on Night Buses that I always thought would be good material for a drama, and secondly, as an (aspiring) indie filmmaker, I needed a simple idea, preferably a single location idea – when the two came together it seemed perfect.

BPFC: Which one of your projects has been the most fun to work on?

Simon: I have to say Night Bus as it’s the only time I have been able to do whatever I wanted.

BPFC: What is your favourite British Independent film (and why)?

Simon: Too many to say – and also these days it’s unclear what exactly defines “Independent”. I’ve always been a huge fan of British realism, from Mike Leigh to Ken Loach, Shane Meadows. One of my favourite films has always been Mike Leigh’s “Naked”, but there is so much more.

BPFC: What is the best piece of advice that you could give to people interested in becoming a filmmaker?

Simon: Get stuck in – film can be quite daunting, as it relies on so many other elements and people, rather than other creative mediums which are more self-sufficient. But don’t let that put you off, pick up a camera, get out there and shoot something – these days cheap cameras are incredibly good, and you can edit/finish at home – something you could never do when I was young. The more you practise and experiment the better you will become. Don’t just sit around talking about it – do it.

BPFC: What projects do you have lined up for the future?

Simon: I am working on the follow up to Night Bus – it’s called “90 Minutes” and is set on Hackney Marshes, a film about football that’s not about the football. I’ve written the script and am exploring production options right now.

Big Picture Film Club would like to thank Simon Baker and everyone involved in the making of Night Bus.

Follow Simon Baker on twitter: @elcardinale

Follow Big Picture Film Club on Twitter: @BigPicFilmClub

Big Picture Film Club

The Big Picture Film Club Launches With Night Bus

June 14, 2015

The Big Picture Film Club launches with the exclusive screening of Night Bus, the debut feature from British independent film-maker Simon Baker. on 23rd July 2015 at the Genesis Cinema in Stepney Green.

Set entirely on a London night bus during one journey, on one night, Night Bus is an intimate, poignant and often funny portrait of London’s characters of the night.

The Night Bus is populated by a variety of characters – the drunks and revellers, workers on the late shift, young and old, introvert and extrovert, lovers and fighters. This is about their journey, how they make it through the night, relationships end and relationships begin, but whatever happens, the bus continues to its destination.

The film has already garnered much acclaim on the festival circuit, most notably winning “Best Feature” and “Best Director” at the 2015 British Independent Film Festival.

Night Bus will be screened at Genesis Cinema [93-95 Mile End Rd, London E1 4UJ] on Thursday 23rd July. Screening starts at 7pm.

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