We’ve got to hold our hands up here, we’re not the biggest fans of Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit, yet it remains our pick of the weeks releases, if only for the ability to craft a Nazi comedy aimed at children, and to get the tonality of the piece spot-on. Which, as we’re sure you can imagine, is no mean feat. Based on the Christine Leunens novel, it’s not a tale that is easily adaptable, but it’s been left in the accomplished hands of the New Zealander, who approaches the material with a delicate, and sensitive hand.
Waititi also stars in the film, playing Hitler – the imaginary friend of young German child Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) who is living alongside a Jewish girl Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) who remains hidden in their apartment. We told you the story was weird. It’s a valiant effort, but question marks remain mostly on the validity of the tale and whether it truly needed to be told in the first place, even if it has been so quite well. That said, it does preach positive themes, albeit dressed up in a rather unique setting, of acceptance and compassion – something the world could do with right now. Davis is charming in the lead role, and there are supporting roles for Scarlett Johansson and Sam Rockwell, while the newcomer Archie Yates steals the show. But the sub-storylines don’t really work at all, as a film that strives to cover too much ground, avoiding the sense of simplicity it needs – as a fine example of a cinematic adaption of a novel that didn’t need to include every part of the story at hand, needing to strip back a little narratively, and focus on the paramount storylines and relationships. But it remains a funny film, charming in parts and somewhat moving in others, and for that reason it’s certainly worth giving a go, even if it has divided critics, receiving both fantastic and quite negative reviews.
Next up is Guy Ritchie’s latest The Gentlemen – a film also very likely to be divisive when it hits cinemas. The filmmaker, fresh off the back of Disney’s Aladdin, returns to more familiar territory, telling a good old-fashioned, London based crime flick, full up of the auteur’s distinctive sensibilities as a storytelling; the familiar editing techniques, the overtly droll dialogue. But the world has moved on, even if it seems Ritchie has not. For this film feels like Oasis coming back to record an album that sounds straight out of the Britpop era. It’s harking back to bygone era, and feels a little desperate in its attempt to resurrect it. It’s also quite strikingly un-PC, and while that isn’t such a bad thing, for there’s such an inclination at present to tiptoe around modern issues, and to all be so cautious in our choice of language, it’s somewhat refreshing to have a filmmaker just think ‘screw that’ and write something that will offend, but there is the occasional joke that feels a little misjudged, and while there’s an affection of sorts in some of the gags, at times it can feel just a little too on the nose, even nasty at times. The cast are good however, Hugh Grant completely steals the show, but Matthew McConaughey doesn’t quite work in this instance, perhaps the delivery of Ritchie’s flowing dialogue just doesn’t seem quite right coming out of the mouth of an American.
Finally we have action thriller In the Line of Duty, starring Aaron Eckhart as a disgraced cop who defies orders from above to take part in a manhunt across the city to track down criminals threatening to kill a colleague’s child. When working as purely a piece of throwaway, unrelenting action entertainment, the film succeeds. The car chases, the punch ups, they’re good fun and easy to enjoy – but the film is vying carelessly to achieve a sense of profundity, offering a comment on the current culture of fake news and the way we report on crime on TV networks, and it’s here the film falls short. It needs to remember what it and not try to add these unnecessary pertinent statements. In fact, and this is nothing against her performance at all, but you could almost lose the character of wannabe journalist Ava Brooks (Courtney Eaton) altogether