Previews: Last Christmas Trailer, Ready or Not, More!

Lots of film-related goodness in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the brand new Last Christmas trailer, Ready or Not, and the BFI Musicals season…

Last Christmas Trailer

The latest Last Christmas trailer was released today. The romantic comedy is about a young woman who works as an elf, and a stranger who works into her life. The film stars Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, and Emma Thompson (who co-writes and produces). Last Christmas is directed by Paul Feig, coming of the success of last year’s brilliant A Simple Favour. Last Christmas hits UK cinemas on 15h November 2019.

Ready or Not Trailer

Ready or Not has been receiving a great response in the US, and UK audiences only have to wait a few more weeks to see it. The film is about a young bride who must take part in her new husband’s eccentric tradition. The film stars Samara Weaving, Mark O’Brien, Adam Brody, and Andie MacDowell. Ready or Not lands on UK screens on 27th September 2019.

BFI Musicals Season

The BFI is launching a season of musicals at BFI Southbank and across the UK later this year. The season will celebrate the work of Gene Kelly, Barbra Streisand, Doris Day, and other icons of the genre. Highlights include UK-wide re-releases of Singin’ in the Rain, Tommy, and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. The BFI Musicals season runs from October 2019 – January 2020. Full details can be found here.

Isabelle Trailer

Isabelle is a new thriller with influences from Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist. The film is about an expecting young couple who move to a new home, and their unusual neighbour. Isabelle stars Adam Brody and Amanda Crew. The film will be released on digital platforms in the UK on 30th September 2019.

God Bless Us, Everyone

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Instead of doing a traditional ‘best Christmas movies’ list, I thought I would put a slight spin on it. Below are my top three Christmas films, my top three films set at Christmas (where the main plot revolves around something other than Christmas) and my top three films screened at this time of year (but that have nothing to do with Christmas).

Traditional Christmas Films

1. The Muppet Christmas Carol

What is Christmas without The Muppet Christmas Carol? A surprising faithful adaptation of Dickens’ perennial classic (albeit with Muppets and songs), Brian Henson’s 1992 film is heart warming. Tiny Tim is one of the most endearing characters in film history, while the songs and humour make The Muppet Christmas Carol a festive essential.

2. The Nightmare Before Christmas

With beautiful imagery, a great score by Danny Elfman and a charming plot, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas has become a Christmas staple. Jack Skellington does what we all secretly want to do; take over Christmas. Kidnapping the Sandy Claws is not the standard Christmas fare, however it is an awful lot of fun.

3. Scrooged

Another version of A Christmas Carol makes my top three, but for good reason. Yes, the very ending of the film descends into a reservoir of schmaltz. However up to this point, Scrooged is most amusing in its rendition of the Dickens tale by way of a television executive in late 1980s New York. It also features the cutest human Tiny Tim in the form of Calvin.

Films Set At Christmas

1. Batman Returns

‘Come what may, Merry Christmas Mr Wayne’. Batman Returns, set against the backdrop of the festive season, is rather a tragedy. But a fine comic book film, with the festive season rearing its head again and again. Gotham’s own Santa Claus turns about to be not as charitable as you would hope.

2. Gremlins

Subversion is the order of the day in Joe Dante’s Gremlins. The Bedford Falls-esque town is terrorised by small malevolent creatures in this black, Christmas-set comedy. Gizmo is one of the hottest characters ever committed to the silver screen, who wouldn’t want him as a Christmas present?

3. Die Hard

The ultimate Christmas-set action movie, Die Hard is nothing short of iconic. The office Christmas party goes awry, and only one man can save the day. No matter how bad your Christmas Eve may be, it’s a certainty that John McClane’s is worse.

Films Screened At Christmas

1. Labyrinth

I first saw Labyrinth on 24th December 1989. I am not sure if Labyrinth is one of my favourite films because I saw it on Christmas Eve, or if Christmas Eve is my favourite day because that was when I first saw Labyrinth. Whichever way, Labyrinth is a glorious 1980s fantasy musical.

2. The Wizard of Oz

I first saw The Wizard of Oz as a toddler around Christmastime. Needless to say, I was terrified by the Wicked Witch, and confused as to why mother was letting me watch a horror movie at such a young age. Wizard of Oz became a classic because of its constant scheduling in the Christmas period, something that still holds true today.

3. Singin’ in the Rain

My first viewing of Singin’ in the Rain was on Christmas Day. It is another film which has nothing to do with Christmas but is frequently screened in the holiday period. It is easy to see why; memorable tunes, some great comedy and the beguiling talent of Gene Kelly.

Film Review: The Artist

Films about cinema and the film industry rank among some of the best films ever made; one only needs to think about Sunset Boulevard or Singin’ in the Rain for example. The Artist continues in this vein of quality. Michel Hazanavicius’ film is spellbinding and an unadulterated joy.

In the Hollywood of 1927, actor George Valentin is a huge star of silent pictures. Bumping into a young hopeful on the red carpet, George helps give Peppy Miller her break into acting. While Peppy’s career is just beginning, George is concerned by the arrival of talking pictures…

The Artist features a wonderful combination of humour and drama, set against a backdrop of the Hollywood studio system. It is similar to Singin’ in the Rain in that it covers the transition from silent films to talkies. However, The Artist comes at the topic from a different vantage, being a silent film itself. The film is self-reflexive, playing a little game with audiences with its use of sound.

The Artist relies to a certain extent on the viewer’s awareness of Hollywood history. Humour is based around this, but also on the hammy performances that the film itself makes reference to. Archetype roles, such as the move executive, are a source of great amusement. Even in moments of heightened drama, The Artist will pull the rug from under and deliver a punch line.

The sets, costumes and props are excellent, helping to generate the sense of spectacle. Cinematography is at times sublime with some superb composition. The score is so important to the film’s success, and Ludovic Bource’s music works incredibly well. There is also an unexpected but marvellous use of Bernard Herrmann’s Vertigo score.

Performances are great, particularly from lead Jean Dujardin. The film also features one of the cutest and most talented dogs ever to appear on screen. Simply put, The Artist is majestic. A must-see film.

The Artist is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2011.

Film Review: Singin’ in the Rain

Singin’ in the Rain is a perennial bank holiday favourite. The musical comedy is also one of the best films about the movie business, an aspect that is not as obvious when viewing it as a child.

In the late 1920s, Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont are a much-loved couple of the silent screen. When the studio decides to make the transition to sound, Don works with long-term partner Cosmo on new ideas. Lina’s voice proves an issue, until newcomer Kathy Selden provides Cosmo and Don with an interesting solution…

Singin’ in the Rain works equally well on a number of levels. The film is effective as a romance, as a comedy and as a musical. The relationship between Don and Kathy flourishes in an organic manner; Kathy holds her own as a feisty and independent character. Don, meanwhile, exhibits both charm and a sense of self-deprecation that is endearing.

Singin’ in the Rain functions as both a straightforward comedy with a healthy dose of slapstick, and a satirisation of Hollywood in the 1920s (and to some extent, Hollywood in general). This use of satire is particularly persuasive at the very beginning of the film, where Don charts his rise from vaudeville chancer to movie star.

Singin’ in the Rain is both a musical and a film about the making of a musical. As such, the lines become blurred. The ‘Broadway Melody’ sequence is of a duration protracted enough to disrupt the narrative. Nevertheless, the sequence is an enjoyable spectacle. Other numbers featured in the film have become classics; however Alfred Freed and Nacio Herb Brown’s songs still feel fresh within the context of the film.

Directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, Singin’ in the Rain moves at a good pace, and maintains a suitable balance between musical and non-musical scenes. The choreography is spellbinding at times; the title song number is enthralling, whether it is your first time watching or your fifteenth. The continuous shots in sequences such as this add to the magic; there is little doubt over Gene Kelly’s flair for movement.

Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds are great as Don and Kathy. The real stand-outs, however, are Donald O’Connor as Cosmo and Jean Hagen as Lina. O’Connor brings a real physicality to Cosmo, while Hagen is hilarious as the overbearing movie star.

Singin’ in the Rain became a cinema classic for very good reason. For a film that is almost sixty years old, Singin’ in the Rain feels remarkably fresh, and is a joy to watch.

Singin’ in the Rain was shown at the British Film Institute, as part of the Screen Epiphanies season. It was introduced by Matt Lucas.