We’ve got to be honest, it’s not the strongest week for releases, but one that is for certain is that fans of animations are in for a treat, for there are two excellent features out in the cinemas – one you may well have heard of, one that may have passed you by – so far. So let’s start with the underdog, so to speak – the truly compelling and profoundly moving French production I Lost My Body. It’s a visceral and creative piece that tells the story of a young man named Naoufel, who falls in love with a voice he hears on an intercom, Gabrielle. Determined to impress her and find a way to meet her, in the meantime there’s a secondary narrative, that of a severed hand that has escaped from a lab, journeying across the French streets in a bid to be reunited with its body. As you can tell just from that brief synopsis, this is a unique piece of cinema, but so strikingly poignant, and not one to be missed.
Naturally that’s a film a little more inclined at the adults (that much becomes evident when the aforementioned severed hand breaks the neck of a pigeon in the opening moments) so while indulging that on your own, the other excellent animation is one to take the whole family to see, because Anna and Elsa are back, in Disney’s Frozen 2. We go into much detail as to why we enjoyed this sequel in our official review, but in short, it’s just a really well-devised story, some brilliant songs (as good as, if not better than those in the first), and of course more Olaf. And that character is fast becoming one of our very favourites in Disney cinematic history.
From fantastical, enchanting animations we now move over to the unforgiving London streets, delving into gang warfare in South London, between rivals in Peckham and Deptford. Directed by Rapman, this too is a musical (a little different from Frozen, mind) and focuses in on modern culture in the capital, where knife crime offences are at their highest, as we explore the futility of violence, taking a somewhat profound look at the youth of today, and just how easy it can be to take that wrong path, and find yourself hanging around in the wrong crowds. But this film is never critical, it’s a sympathetic film that finds understanding in such a plight, and has a delicate approach, if packaged up in a melodramatic story. Definitely worth a go.
Next we have Judy and Punch, and as you can tell from the title, this Mirrah Foulkes picture is turning the old tale on its head, subverting quite problematic old tropes. It’s only when sitting down to watch this film you realise what it was our parents left us to sit down and enjoy when we wre children visiting the seaside – and that’s effectively a domestic abuser just going around beating everybody up. Well, not any more – as this wickedly enchanting fairytale starring Mia Wasikowska and Damon Herriman makes one rather important point, which is that Punch, mate – you can’t go around doing that.
Harriet is also out this weekend, which is the biopic of the remarkable Harriet Tubman, who escaped from slavery to embark on a courageous endeavour, to free other slaves. It’s a story you can’t quite believe we haven’t seen before, but for Cynthia Erivo’s portrayal of this great American hero. She’s matched by Joe Alwyn as the nasty adversary, as a film that is well-paced, and while flawed in parts, survives off the sheer depth to this tale, and given how little this period of American history is taught over here, it’s hugely important to go and learn about this tale, for Harriet Tubman we should all know, and we’re incredibly pleased that we now do.
That’s the majority of the worthwhile releases this weekend, but sadly there are some films not quite as impressive. 21 Bridges is somewhere in the middle, this Chadwick Boseman thriller is your archetypal cop drama that ticks all the boxes, but in turn offers so little ingenuity, bringing nothing really new to the table at all, and following the actor’s fine turns as both James Brown and Black Panther, it’s hard not to have anticipated just a little bit more. But it’s fine, it’s engaging for the most part, and while the story grows increasingly more convoluted, if you want a throwaway thriller to indulge in this weekend, you could certainly do a lot worse.
Sadly we can’t really say the same of Them That Follow, which really ought to be a lot better than it is, given the hugely impressive cast that has been assembled. With Academy Award winner Olivia Colman (we still never tire of typing that), alongside Booksmart’s Kaitlyn Dever and Walton Goggins, the film is set in the wilds of Appalachia, and while you certainly get a feel for the landscape, feeling like you need to watch out for snakes in the grass when you leave the cinema, regrettably, that’s pretty much the only good thing we have to say about this one,
Another misfire this weekend, and one that also comes with a really good cast, is Ophelia, the reimagining of Hamlet we didn’t really need, and now we’ve seen it, can confirm we didn’t really want to watch either. It’s not a badly made film, it’s just so conventionally told, like a greatest hits of the period drama, and it’s got some positive aspects to it; Daisy Ridley is strong in the title role, and it’s interesting to delve into such a famed, well-told story from a different perspective. Yet there’s a reason why Shakespeare didn’t make Ophelia his protagonist. Alas, it’s enjoyable in parts, with a well-performed final act by the young actress, and George MacKay is as good as ever, though the less about Naomi Watts and Clive Owen the better.
Finally we move on to Kill Ben Lyk, a film with a fun premise, as a killer is on the loose-, killing three people called Ben Lyk. So Scotland Yard decides to bring all the other Ben Lyk’s located in London together, in a bid to try and get to the bottom of this surreal set of events. It’s not particularly well acted, although we do like Ashley Thomas, and it’s fun to see Scroobius Pip in a film role – but ultimately this film struggles to compel, and leaves us thinking one thing, throughout: are there really that many people with the surname ‘Lyk’ all living in London?