Steve Coogan has always had this wonderful ability in portraying big , over-the-top characters in a grounded, realistic manner, to strike the perfect balance in remaining authentic and yet amplifying and exaggerating our traits and idiosyncrasies for comedic effect. This makes his performance as Sir Richard McCreadie (based not-so-loosely on Philip Green) the perfect role, and it culminates in a really entertaining, and profound piece of cinema.
McCreadie is part of the elite, a super-rich mogul making his money off the fashion industry, and he has a big party coming up, where many of his super-rich friends are to travel to Greece to celebrate. While the film maintains a comedic edge, starring actors such as David Mitchell and Isla Fisher, the film also takes a barbed look at this world, satirising and pointing the finger at a cruel and grossly unfair landscape that displays the striking disparity of wealth between the top 1% and, well, everybody else. Michael Winterbottom directs in his distinctive style, to make a film that at its core is hugely disparaging of this culture, resulting in a pertinent, and hard-hitting comedy that makes you think twice about the way you may consume your clothes, particularly from the big-brand high street outlets.
Another film out this week that is worth seeing is Little Joe, by Austrian filmmaker Jessica Hausner. Emily Beecham won the Best Actress award at Cannes for her portrayal of Alice, a single mother who works as a plant breeder at a corporation that strives to create new species, and you can see why such an accolade fell into her lap. Their main priority at the lab is ‘Little Joe’ a plant that they believe can offer therapeutic value as well as looking pretty on your mantelpiece. She goes against the company’s rules by taking one home, though she soon realises that this happiness the plant provides its owner can be somewhat dangerous, as themes of addiction become prevalent. Also starring Ben Whishaw and Kerry Fox, the film works best as a high-concept movie, with a distinctive atmosphere that places the viewer right into this unique world, almost akin to the likes of Berberian Sound Studio in how indelible a tone and aesthetic is achieved. It’s world we’re rather happy to leave by the close of play too, despite how much we enjoyed the movie.
Harrison Ford stars in the next film we rather liked this week, in The Call of the Wild, a film that, at its core, celebrates the good ol’ life of a dog. We watch on as the aforementioned canine, named Buck, is kidnapped from his owners only to become a sled dog in Alaska, truly coming into his element as he becomes at one with nature. This isn’t really a film for domestic dog owners for it basically just encourages the notion that dogs are happiest when set free, but there’s many a moment that will have dog-lovers ‘awwing’ at the screen, such is the unwavering loyalty of the film’s protagonist. Ford turns up as a lonely man who lives off the land himself, who grows rather fond of Buck, forming quite a bond with his new best friend. The effects, considering this dog is presented in CGI, are impressive, as Chris Sanders has crafted a film that can be enjoyed by all members of the family. Especially if you like dogs. And Harrison Ford. And that pretty much accounts for everybody.
Waiting for Anya is also out in cinemas this weekend, and it boasts quite the cast, though sadly doesn’t do this stellar ensemble justice, in what is a sadly conventional war story we feel as though we’ve seen a fair few times before. Set during the horrors of the Second World War, this tells an inspiring story of a shepherd who helps to smuggle Jewish children across the French border, and into safer territory in Spain. Noah Schnapp of Stranger Things plays the lead role of Jo, and he’s helped along by a cast consisting of Anjelica Huston, Jean Reno and Thomas Kretschmann, amongst others, and while the messages are strong, and the narrative compelling, the film falls into the same tropes of many films set in this era that are in the English language. In other words, it features many actors putting on their best European accents – but in doing so removes the authenticity from the tale somewhat, as you can’t help but wish for a more genuine telling of this tale. It’s preferable to either use subtitles, or to just present this all with characters speaking in their native dialect, suspending disbelief entirely rather than strive to maintain a realism that sadly isn’t gained. Alas, there is still much to be admired here, and we can’t help but praise the young Schnapp for trying something so different, with an illustrious career in film almost certainly beckoning.
Finally, the last film out this week is Like a Boss, starring Salma Hayek, Rose Byrne and Tiffany Haddish. A great cast, certainly, though sadly we we haven’t seen this film, but we’ll simply say this: if you read other reviews of the film, you may feel this is one to pass on this weekend, especially considering there are other films out there most definitely worth your time. But with that cast, we totally get if you fancy giving it a go.