It’s not every day we can say this, but it’s nothing short of a joy when we do: but this week marks the release of a new Martin Scorsese flick. And just writing those words down is enough to bring us so much joy. Because while The Irishman is famously on Netflix, bringing up an array of questions on the future of cinema and where it lies, the film has been granted a brief cinematic release beforehand – and when it comes to this incredible piece of cinema, we urge you to see it in that very setting.
No less because the film is three and a half hours, and is so wonderful it demands your full attention and let’s face it, that’s hard enough at home watching a sitcom, never mind a film with such a long run time. We go into much more detail in our official review of the film, but in short; this is the late masterpiece we’d be waiting for from this wondrous filmmaker. There’s just nobody better at telling stories, his cinematic language is unparalleled; the editing, the way he uses his camera, it’s a masterclass in storytelling. Taking his viewer on what feels like an odyssey through the gangster genre, it’s a film enriched by the notion of reflection, not only from a narrative point of view, but cinematically, it feels like a film designed to give this director, and his cast – Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci – the chance to shine in a genre they’ve helped to perfect across the decades. It’s emotive, it’s so rich and nuanced, it’s like a love letter to their craft and their careers, and we’re more than here for it. And just to top it all off, even the controversial use of de-ageing technology has been well implemented.
Another film out this weekend which is giving esteemed, venerable actors a chance to relive their youth, as it were, is The Good Liar by Bill Condon. It’s a fun, playful thriller starring Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren, playing a couple who meet on a dating app, only for it to transpire that the former has nefarious intentions: he wants her money, and is willing to pretend to be somebody he’s not to get his way. The rug is pulled from under our feet several times, as an engaging feature that keeps us guessing right through to the end. You can just tell the two leads had so much making this movie, and in turn, we have a lot of fun indulging in it.
From the old guard to the new, also out is Luce, which continues to mark the remarkable rise of the young star Kelvin Harrison Jr. With an almost We Need to Talk About Kevin vibe to this, it’s a film that steadily grows darker as it progresses, exploring the notion of parenthood, and just how helpless we can be when our children (in this case adopted) start to act up. Naomi Watts and Tim Roth are impressive as the parents, but Harrison Jr is the real star here, turning in a truly nuanced display as a film that is, above anything else, about identity.
Another film out this week where you don’t really want to judge by its cover is The Aeronauts. It’s very easy to see the posters on buses and see Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne and a great big hot air balloon and expect something fantastic, charming and family-friendly. While it certainly delivers on all three of those, there’s a darker undercurrent here as a film about survival that takes the audience on quite the ride. It does feel a little repetitive at times, for we rarely leave the hot air balloon the aforementioned duo are travelling in, but it’s a tale about human resilience and hope, and had it not been up against such good films this weekend would’ve been one of our hot tips of the week. Alas.
For the Werner Herzog fans out there, there’s also Meeting Gorbachev, which, as the title suggests, is all about the German documentarian meeting Russian politician Mikhail Gorbachev, based around a series of interviews between the duo from a few years ago. Herzog is at his inquisitive best, his narration is eloquent, his interviewing techniques unparalleled, but the film works primarily off the strength of its subject. Gorbachev was a complex man with quite a life, and to delve into this, with unprecedented access is quite remarkable, while the humanity of the film shines through, as it’s about an elderly man reflecting back over his life, and the results are, at times, incredibly moving.
This week also marks the release of Driven, a biopic of sorts, of John DeLorean, but told via a drug smuggler played by Jason Sudeikis, in a rare, dramatic role. Based on a true story, of course, the film is ripe with cinematic potential, and while conventionally told in parts, it survives off the strength of its story. But the most noteworthy thing of all is Lee Pace, playing DeLorean. He’s a real chameleon of an actor, and shines here – doing a better job of the subject than Alec Baldwin, who played the maverick auto mogul in another feature film recently.
Lastly, because there always has to be one film out that fails to hit the right notes – it’s Midway, the latest feature from Hollywood heavyweight Roland Emmerich. Telling the story of a devastating battle during the Second World War between the Americans and the Japanese, the film is cliched in parts, and just grows increasingly more tedious as it progresses. On a more positive note, it does have a real sense of humanity running through it and does something so few war movies achieve, which is to be sympathetic of both sides and truly thrive in the notion of the futility of war. It’s just a shame it struggle to entertain in a way we had hoped it might.