Film Review: The Nightingale

Jennifer Kent’s sophomore film The Nightingale is brutal and engrossing. The film is a wonderful showcase for Kent’s conferrable talents.

In 1825, Irish convict Clare suffers a traumatic experience. As she seeks revenge, Clare enlists the help of Billy, an Aboriginal tracker, to guide her through the Tasmanian wilderness…

After the success of 2014’s The Babadook, writer-director Jennifer Kent’s second feature has been eagerly awaited. The Nightingale does not disappoint in its scale and its scope. The film is a trial by fire, delivering a multifaceted retribution tale. 

From the very beginning, the tone of The Nightingale is unsettling. Things quickly get worse, setting up the revenge narrative. Kent ably maintains a sense of tension throughout. The mission is fraught with danger and horror. Nevertheless there is a building of hope to punctuate the bleakness. 

Kent does not shy away from the visceral with The Nightingale. Some of the sequences are incredibly brutal, making them very difficult to watch. The filmmaker forces her viewers to confront evil; it is uncomfortable but not exploitative. Like The Babadook, the film is preoccupied with grief. Here, the anguish is spread out. There is of course the grief of protagonist Clare dealing with a profound and immediate loss. Billy himself deals with the loss of family, but also the loss of a country. Kent places the theft of Australia at the centre of the film, never shying away from the loss and the torment of Aboriginal people. It is of course a wider critique of empire, yet very much a film about Australia. 

The narrative progresses well, with the threat of peril always looming. Sound design in the film is most effective. Kent’s direction places viewers with the protagonists in an intimate and intense manner. Performances are great all round, with Aisling Franciosi delivering an impressive turn. Baykali Ganambarr, Damon Herriman and Sam Claflin are also solid. 

The Nightingale is an unremitting and unforgiving film, yet it is also very powerful viewing. Jennifer Kent is clearly a filmmaker to watch.

Previews: The Addams Family Trailer, Booksmart, More!

The Addams Family Trailer

A plethora of film-related goodness in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including The Addams Family trailer, Booksmart, My Spy and more…

The Addams Family trailer is here. This first look at the new animated film gives a taste of the humour we can expect. The voice cast for this latest iteration includes Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, and Chloë Grace Moretz. The Addams Family is set for release on 25th October 2019.

Booksmart Trailer

Booksmart is the directorial debut from Olivia Wilde. The film received critical acclaim on its premiere at SXSW in March. The comedy focuses on two high school friends, played by Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever. The cast also includes Jason Sudeikis and Lisa Kudrow. Booksmart is due to hit UK screens on 27th May 2019.

My Spy Trailer

Dave Bautista’s latest film is action comedy My Spy. The film is about a hardened CIA operative who is at the mercy of a young girl when sent undercover to surveil her family. The film also stars Ken Jeong and Chloe Coleman. My Spy is coming soon to UK cinemas.

The Corrupted Trailer

Here is the trailer for crime thriller The Corrupted. The film is set in East London, and is about a land grab that occurred following the Olympic Games. The Corrupted stars Sam Claflin, Timothy Spall, and Noel Clarke. The film is set for release on 3rd May 2019.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile Trailer

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile tells the story of notorious serial killer Ted Bundy. The film focuses on Bundy and his relationship with single mother Liz. The film’s cast features Zac Efron and Lily Collins. Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile will be released in UK cinemas and on Sky Cinema on 3rd May 2019.

Preview of Coming Attractions: Films in 2019

With an abundance of movie releases slated for next year, it can be hard to identify the gems. After all, there is a glut of Disney live-action remakes (Dumbo, Aladdin, The Lion King), as well as the straight up unappealing (Downton Abbey film, anyone). Here are some must-see films in 2019…

The Favourite

Begin the New Year with Yorgos Lanthimos’ brilliant The Favourite. Starring Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone, the film is Lanthimos’ most enjoyable to date. Boasting a superb script and wonderful performances, The Favourite is hilarious, consuming, and at times touching. Read full review here.

The Favourite will be released in UK cinemas on 1st January 2019.

If Beale Street Could Talk

Director Barry Jenkins has done it again with the powerful and beguiling If Beale Street Could Talk. There is so much to be in awe of in If Beale Street Could Talk. Jenkins’ attention to detail is superb. His storytelling is absolutely enchanting. Read full review here.

If Beale Street Could Talk will be released in UK cinemas on 8th February 2019.

The Lady Eve

Not a new release for the upcoming year, nevertheless the 1941 classic gets a re-release in 2019. Directed by Preston Sturges and starring Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda, the screwball comedy stands the test of time. For first time viewers, The Lady Eve will be one of the best films in 2019.

The Lady Eve will be released at the BFI Southbank and at selected cinemas nationwide from 15th February 2019. It will be screened as part of the Barbara Stanwyck season in February 2019. For more details see here.

Us

Jordan Peele’s Us is one of the most anticipated films in 2019. Following the success of 2017’s Get Out, director and writer Peele returns with another striking-looking horror. Starring Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, and Elisabeth Moss, the film is about a family trip that takes a dark turn.

Us will be released in UK cinemas on 15th March 2019.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Quentin Tarantino’s latest film has the potential to be explosive. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is set during the Manson Family reign of terror, focusing on a television star and his stunt double. With a cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, and Al Pacino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is sure to get people talking.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood will be released in UK cinemas on 26th July 2019.

The Irishman

Martin Scorsese’s latest project is a thrilling proposition. Focusing on a mob hitman and his possible involvement in the slaying of Jimmy Hoffa, the film sees Scorsese reunite with Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, and a host of Boardwalk Empire stars (Stephen Graham, Bobby Cannavale, Jack Huston). The Irishman also sees Scorsese direct Al Pacino for the first time. The film is expected to have a cinema release as well as being available to stream on Netflix.

Sunset

László Nemes’ Sunset is a captivating watch. The director’s sophomore feature (after Son of Saul) is an entrancing mystery drama. Part of the film’s beauty is that it maintains this mystery throughout the duration. Set in the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the eve of World War I, Sunset‘s sense of unease is enthralling. The film is set to be released in early 2019.

The Nightingale

After the success of 2014’s The Babadook, all eyes are on director Jennifer Kent for her next picture. The Nightingale is about a young Irish convict woman who chases a British officer through the rugged Tasmanian wilderness in the early nineteenth century. Starring Sam Claflin and Aisling Franciosi, the film premiered at Venice Film Festival and is due to be released in 2019.

Greed

Michael Winterbottom’s Greed is sure to be a lot of fun. The satire is about a fictional retail billionaire and the build up to his star-studded 60th birthday party on a Greek island. Greed stars Steve Coogan, Isla Fisher, and David Mitchell. Although the protagonist is fictional, the parallels are all too clear. Greed is due to be released in UK cinemas in late 2019.

Sequels

Like 2018, next year will see many sequels. Here are some of the more anticipated follow-up films in 2019. 2014’s The LEGO Movie gets a sequel, with the main voice cast returning, as well as Phil Lord and Chris Miller as producers. The LEGO Movie 2 will be released in UK cinemas on 8th February 2019.

Later in the year, Avengers: Endgame sees the finale of the cycle of the Marvel Cinematic Universe which began with 2008’s Iron Man. The film will hit UK screens on 26th April 2019.  Spider-Man: Far From Home is the sequel to 2017’s superb Spider-Man: Homecoming. Jake Gyllenhaal joins the returning cast for Spider-Man: Far From Home, which will be released on 5th July 2019. Later this year, Zombieland gets a belated sequel. The original cast return for Zombieland 2, which will be released in UK cinemas on 11th October 2019.

Previews: The Man Who Invented Christmas Trailer, More!

Plenty in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including The Man Who Invented Christmas trailer, Phantom Thread, Daddy’s Home 2 and more…

The Man Who Invented Christmas Trailer

Here is the first The Man Who Invented Christmas trailer. The film stars Dan Stevens as Charles Dickens, and tells the story behind the classic A Christmas Carol. Directed by Bharat Nalluri, the film also stars Christopher Plummer, Jonathan Pryce, and Miriam Margolyes. The Man Who Invented Christmas hits UK screens on 1st December 2017.

Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built Trailer

This looks suitably chilling. Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built is inspired by true events, and is about Winchester fortune heiress, who keeps construction going on her house for decades. The film stars Helen Mirren, Jason Clarke, and Sarah Snook. Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built is set for release in UK cinemas on 2nd March 2018.

Daddy’s Home 2 Clip

Here is a clip from upcoming comedy sequel Daddy’s Home 2. A follow-up to 2015’s Daddy’s Home, the film sees the return of Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg’s characters as they celebrate Christmas. This time, they are joined by their own dads, played by John Lithgow and Mel Gibson. Daddy’s Home 2 is out in UK cinemas on 22nd November 2017, with previews on 18th and 19th November.

Darkest Hour Poster

Here is one of the latest posters for Darkest Hour. Directed by Joe Wright (Pan, Anna Karenina), the film is about the lead up to Britain entering World War II. Gary Oldman is unrecognisable as Winston Churchill. He is joined by Kristin Scott Thomas, Lily James, and Ben Mendelsohn. Darkest Hour hits UK screens on 12th January 2018.

Phantom Thread Trailer

Here is the trailer for the eagerly anticipated Phantom Thread. The film is the second collaboration between writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson and actor Daniel Day-Lewis. The film is about a fashion designer who falls in love with a young woman, who becomes his  muse. The film also stars Lesley Manville and Vicky Krieps. Phantom Thread is out in UK cinemas on 2nd February 2018.

Journey’s End Trailer

Journey’s End is based on the play and novel of the same name. The film is about a company on the front-line trenches in France during World War I. Journey’s End stars Sam Claflin (My Cousin Rachel), Asa Butterfield, and Toby Jones. The film is set for release on 2nd February 2018.

Film Review: My Cousin Rachel

Writer-director Roger Michell’s My Cousin Rachel is a sumptuous mystery drama. The clandestine nature of the film is engaging throughout, aided by a dynamic performance from Rachel Weisz.

After his guardian Ambose dies, Philip plots revenge against his wife Rachel. He believes Rachel is responsible for Ambrose’s death. Yet Philip’s feelings become muddled after he meets Rachel…

Based on the Daphne du Maurier novel, Roger Michell’s adaptation of My Cousin Rachel is a delightfully escapist affair. The period setting is lavish, and gives room for the gothic storyline to unfold.  The narrative is carefully woven, revealing only as much as is necessary at any given time. Rachel is given a significant introduction before she is seen on screen. This works well to give an impression of the character, from more than one viewpoint. When Rachel does arrive on screen for the first time, the necessary anticipation has been achieved.

Philip is an interesting protagonist in that he increasingly frustrates viewers by his attitude, yet still elicits sympathy.  Rachel meanwhile is an enigma; audiences will do their best to suss her out. A minor qualm is that it feels like almost every mention or action takes place to be referred to later in the film. Nonetheless, this is a minor issue, given that the narrative works well otherwise.

The broad landscapes are beautifully photographed by cinematographer Mike Eley. Lighting is used to a very effective degree in the interior scenes. The art direction is great in styling a lavish period film. Rachel Weisz delivers a strong performance as Rachel. She hits the right tone in being enigmatic and enchanting. Sam Claflin is well cast as Philip, whilst Holliday Grainger provides good support.

My Cousin Rachel is an entertaining adaptation of du Maurier’s novel. The film efficaciously enrobes a period drama with memorable gothic elements.

Previews: Detroit Trailer, 6 Days, More!

Lots to see in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the new Detroit trailer, Transformers: The Last Knight, 6 Days, and more…

Detroit Trailer

Here is the Detroit trailer. Kathryn Bigelow’s latest film is about the civil unrest that rocked the city in 1967. The film stars John Boyega, Will Poulter, Anthony Mackie, and Jack Reynor. Detroit will be released in UK cinemas later this year.

Transformers: The Last Knight Trailer

Here is the latest Transformers: The Last Knight trailer. The film sees Mark Wahlberg and Josh Duhamel return from the last instalment. They are joined by Anthony Hopkins this time around. From the above trailer, it seems that the world this film is set in is rather different to previous incarnations. Transformers: The Last Knight will hit UK screens on 23rd June 2017.

Atomic Blonde Trailer

So far, all the Atomic Blonde promotion seems to be delivering style in spades. The film stars Charlize Theron as an MI6 agent sent to deliver a priceless dossier. Theron is joined by James McAvoy, John Goodman, and Eddie Marsan. Atomic Blonde will be released in UK cinemas on 11th August 2017.

The Mummy Poster

The Mummy is intended as a reboot of the Universal Monsters series of films which were successful in the 1930s. This film is meant to kick off the series, which will also see the return of famed creatures in a shared universe. This new version of The Mummy certainly has star power; Tom Cruise heads up a cast which includes Sofia Boutella, Courtney B. Vance, and Russell Crowe. The Mummy hits UK screens on 9th June 2017.

6 Days Trailer

6 Days is a new action thriller based on true events. The film focuses on the Iranian Embassy siege that took place in London in 1980. The film stars Jamie Bell, Mark Strong, and Abbie Cornish. 6 Days is out at UK cinemas on 4th August 2017.

My Cousin Rachel Trailer

My Cousin Rachel is an adaption of the Daphne du Maurier novel. The film is about a young man who plots revenge against his mysterious cousin, who he believes murdered his guardian. Starring Rachel Weisz, Sam Claflin, and Holliday Grainger, My Cousin Rachel will be released on UK screens on 9th June 2017.

Unlocked Clip

Here is a clip from upcoming thriller Unlocked. The film is about a CIA agent who must stop a biological attack in London. Noomi Rapace heads up the cast, and is joined by Orlando Bloom, Michael Douglas, Toni Collette, and John Malkovich. Unlocked hits UK cinemas on 5th May 2017.

Previews: Alien: Covenant Clip, Atomic Blonde, More!

Lots of big films in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including an Alien: Covenant clip, Atomic Blonde, Beauty and the Beast, and more…

Alien: Covenant Clip

This Alien: Covenant clip gives viewers an insight into the crew and personalities in Ridley Scott’s latest film. Michael Fassbender returns in the sequel to Prometheus, and is joined by Danny McBride, Katherine Waterston, and James Franco. Alien: Covenant is set for release in May 2017.

Atomic Blonde Poster

Charlize Theron is striking in this poster for Atomic Blonde. Based on the graphic novel of the same name, the film is about an assassin who is sent to retrieve a priceless dossier. The film also stars James McAvoy and John Goodman. Atomic Blonde hits UK screens on 11th August 2017.

Beauty and the Beast Clip

Emma Watson shows of her singing ability in this clip from the upcoming Beauty and the Beast. From this brief look, it seems as if a lot will be replicated from the original film, but it won’t be a shot-by-shot remake à la 1998’s Psycho. Dan Stevens and Luke Evans join Watson in heading up a enviable cast. Beauty and the Beast is out in UK cinemas on 17th March 2017.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Trailer

After success with Sherlock Holmes and its sequel, director Guy Ritchie turns his attention to another British fable. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword tells the familiar story of Arthur’s rise to power, albeit in an action-packed way. Starring Charlie Hunnam and Jude Law, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword launches on to UK screens on 12th May 2017.

Ghost in the Shell Poster

The artwork for Ghost in the Shell certainly is striking. Scarlett Johansson stars as Major, a cyber-enhanced human who is tasked with stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals. Based on the Japanese manga of the same name, Ghost in the Shell hits UK screens on 31st March 2017.

Their Finest Trailer

Lone Scherfig’s latest film is about a female screenwriter tasked with writing a film to lift spirits during World War 2. Their Finest stars Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin and Bill Nighy. Based on Lissa Evans’ novel, Their Finest will be released in UK cinemas on 21st April 2017.