May Film Preview

By Orla Smith

When does summer movie season really start? There’s an (extremely logical) school of thought that would venture to suggest that it’s the same time as actual summer. But then, when stuff like ‘Logan’ and ‘Deadpool’ is released in February, there’s an argument to be made for almost any month being a resident of this fabled season. Still, the consensus seems to be May-August for some reason, so here’s to the start of the season of summer! There’s some good movies coming out! Not as many as last month, or next, but still quite a lot! Here are the top 5 most anticipated of them (UK releases of course).

‘Their Finest’ Review: Gemma Arterton Radiates in a Warm, Bittersweet Period Drama

Lone Scherfig’s latest continues her streak of smart, populist entertainment with the capacity to both delight and destroy.

By Orla Smith

There aren’t many greater joys in this world than a Lone Scherfig movie.

The Danish filmmaker gained notoriety when she turned her lens to British period dramas with 2009’s critically acclaimed ‘An Education’, and she hasn’t looked away since. It’s fair to say that most would still consider that film her crowning achievement – I have problems with where the story ends up, although it’s charming and appealing as a whole – but that would be to ignore the niche she’s carved and conquered in the eight years since.

‘Lady Macbeth’ Review: Florence Pugh Soars in a Questionable Adaptation

First time filmmaker William Oldroyd demonstrates impressive technical skill and a way with actors, despite an inability to handle his volatile characters.

By Orla Smith

Based on the novel ‘Lady Macbeth of Mtsenk’, not the play ‘Macbeth’, theatre director William Oldroyd makes his feature debut by relocating that story from its original Russia to the north of England. It holds no genetic relation to the Shakespeare text, except for the violent desire for power fuelling both stories’ uncompromising leading ladies.

‘Raw’ Review: Julia Ducournau’s Debut is Startling, Affecting and Rowdily Entertaining

Outstanding newcomer Garance Marillier stars as vegetarian-turned-cannibal Justine in this expert French horror debut.

By Orla Smith

Sensationalist rumours about faintings at festival screenings of ‘Raw’ did a number of things. After a quietly appreciative reception at a Cannes, in which it was drowned amongst the multitudes of loud movies that premiered there, TIFF became the place where Julia Ducournau’s vicious debut made its mark.

Many who were there have claimed those rumours were overblown, but it’s not like the internet cared. It became a headline: the cannibal movie so gruesome that audiences couldn’t stomach it. Sick bags were handed out at screenings. People left the theatre to catch their breath halfway through.

In Defence of Andrea Arnold’s Wuthering Heights (Women’s Wednesday)

By Orla Smith

Andrea Arnold is one of our greatest directors – easily. Having only produced 4 features over the past decade or so, each has shown a new kind of daring and virtuosic brilliance singular only to her. You could compare her poeticism with Malick, or her tough realism with Loach, but precisely because she blends those two opposites into something new and kinetic, she’s incomparable.

March Film Wrap-Up: Witches, Women & Abandoned Warehouses

March Film Wrap-Up

By Orla Smith

In March, we waved goodbye to the last of the Oscar residue and welcomed in some more of the first truly great, bonafide 2017 movies. Two facts that seems to be emerging: not only is this year already continuing 2016’s relative hot-streak for horror, it’s perhaps the best year for action cinema in… who knows how long – and that’s only after three months. I’m saying that on the strength of February’s ‘John Wick: Chapter Two’ and this month’s ‘Free Fire’, which are both better than almost any other blockbuster released this decade, but there’s also the promise of ‘Baby Driver’ and ‘Atomic Blonde’, which both premiered at SXSW in March and look to be have the potential of joining those ranks of greatness come summertime. That in mind, here are the 15 new UK film releases I saw in March, ranked.

‘Free Fire’ Review: Ben Wheatley Shoots Sharp in an Exhilaratingly Funny Bullet Ballet

Starring Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy and many more, this real-time shootout never loses steam.

By Orla Smith

Clearly I wasn’t the only one frustrated by the contrivances of ‘High-Rise’. The film’s own director Ben Wheatley (along with his filmmaking partner Amy Jump) has shifted gears as quickly as you could draw a gun from its holster, and the results are glorious.

Setting itself almost entirely within the confines of an abandoned warehouse, caked in dust and filled with discarded planks and crates, ‘Free Fire’ is as short (at a brisk 90 minutes), sharp and simple as movies get. It’s essentially an exercise in making the most of what you’ve got, and needless to say that Wheatley and Jump siphon every ounce of humour, tension and energy from their limited resources.