Social Sheffield Film Editor, Natasha Edgington, picks the top three films screening in Sheffield, Mon. 24 – Sun. 30 July 2017
1. – Dunkirk (2017) – – – (12A) (Showing at Cineworld, Curzon, Odeon, Showroom, The Light, Vue)
[Genre: War Drama/Historical. Dir: Christopher Dunkirk. Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Aneurin Barnard, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Harry Styles. Language: English]
Christopher Nolan made his directorial debut in 2000 and went on to become one of the most successful directors of the century. His latest release, gargantuan war epic Dunkirk, marks an exceptional milestone in his career and unveils a craftsman really coming into his own. The ambitious creation is presented in a triptych of separate stories, spread across three locations. Seven months into World War II, Hitler’s Wehrmacht army have surrounded the Calais stronghold and overpowered the French port of Boulogne. Caught within the Nazi’s trap, the 400,000 Allied troops have nowhere to turn, marooned on the barren beaches of Dunkirk. Young and visibly startled from the horrors of war, Private Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) heads to the shore through the shower of propaganda leaflets and hurtling gunfire. As he wanders across the vast expanse of stranded souls, Tommy encounters a private by the name of Gibson (Aneurin Barnard) burying a fallen soldier. After they brace against another assault by the German Stukas, the pair seize the stretcher of a wounded soldier and head for the only rescue ship in sight. Elsewhere, civilian captain Dawson (Mark Rylance) charts a brave expedition to the titular beach, after his boat is enlisted as an evacuation vessel. Also commandeering the runtime are white-knuckle sequences of RAF Spitfire pilots Farrier (Tom Hardy) and Collins (Jack Lowden) defending ships against Hitler’s Luftwaffe bombers. Little can be said about the plot of Dunkirk without revealing too much, although its narrative simplicity is one of its greatest assets. For Dunkirk doesn’t suffer the complexities of the director’s previous works, the attributes that have long confused – and divided – fans and filmgoers alike. Nolan takes the reins of his uninhibited freedom in the film industry and creates one of the most immersive depictions of war for some time. Dunkirk is all about the experience of being in war, and the film achieves just that by the dizzying sound design alone. Hans Zimmer provides a suitably droning soundtrack, which proves a welcome departure from the all too familiar sounds of his earlier collaborations with the director. Instead, he charges the scenes with momentum, blending together clock-ticking, shredding strings and jarring diegetic effects. The restrained use of dialogue is duly effective here, relying on the beautifully realistic performances and Nolan’s sure-handed direction to do the storytelling. What makes Dunkirk so special is that quietly powerful moments are respected as just that, quiet. The camera never dwells on a scene for too long, refusing to succumb to the overt sentimentality of Hollywood storytelling. Fans of Nolan will be prepared for his trademark narrative structure, though it fits in well with the subject matter. The filmmaker cleverly plays with time to weave together the three storylines, forming a powerful conclusion. A visceral and unsettling assault on the senses, Dunkirk shines as one of Nolan’s most impressive spectacles thus far.
See the trailer: Dunkirk (2017)
2. – A Change in the Weather (2017) – – – (PG) (Showing at Showroom on Monday 24 July at 6:00pm, followed by a director Q&A session)
[Genre: Drama. Dir: Jon Sanders. Starring: Bob Goody, Anna Mottram, Meret Becker, Maxine Finch, Seonaid Goody. Language: English]
Jon Sanders’ newest film A Change in the Weather offers the most unconventional pick from the films running this week. While somewhat of an understated voice in British cinema, Sanders has established a notable career in film, specialising in sound design and editing. The story centres around the relationship between Dan and his wife Lydia. In the hopes of writing a new play forged from creative collectivism, theatre director Dan beckons his troupe of performers to spend a week in a secluded farmhouse in Southern France. Having been married for almost 40 years, time has taken its inevitable toll on Dan and Lydia’s partnership. When the play begins to take shape, it becomes clear that Dan is exorcising their marital demons by examining the course of their marriage via. the stage. While A Change in the Weather is far from perfect, Sanders’ concept and delivery makes it a wonderfully intimate and minimalist gem. Throughout, scenes are divided into introspective vignette sequences that reflect the process of therapy. The fusion of theatre, its duality and the dissection of long-term relationships instantly recall Ingmar Bergman’s impeccable study Scenes From a Marriage. Fans of this particular strain of cinema, or even those with an interest in acting methods, will find an abundance of inspiration here. Paying homage to the theatre, Sanders cleverly toys with reality and fiction by creating a film made almost entirely from improvised performances. Most of the time, naturalism flows through the screen and radiates the film with a particular Mike Leigh quality. Catering for fans of niche cinema, A Change in the Weather is an innovative meditation on waning love.
See the trailer: A Change in the Weather (2017)
3. – Hounds of Love (2016) – – – (18) (Showing at Showroom)
[Genre: Thriller/Crime Drama. Dir: Ben Young. Starring: Emma Booth, Ashleigh Cummings, Stephen Curry, Susie Porter. Language: English]
Australian director Ben Young makes a sterling directorial debut with serial killer thriller Hounds of Love. Based on a series of abductions and murders in ‘80s Australia, Young’s handling of the events is admirable and never sensationalises the crimes. The film unfurls with a chilling slow-motion sequence of high school girls playing softball outdoors. The camera assumes an uncomfortable gaze as it crawls across the shot, gradually revealing the voyeurs to be John (Stephen Curry) and Evelyn White (Emma Booth). Their ill-intent becomes clear as the couple coax a young girl into their car and leave without a trace. Set during December 1987, seventeen-year-old Vicki Maloney (Ashleigh Cummings) is having a difficult time dealing with her parents’ divorce. After sneaking out to go to a party, Vicki unknowingly hops into the car of the depraved couple and is taken to their home. As Vicki undergoes unspeakable torture, she starts to see the psychological hindrances of her assailants with clarity. Hounds of Love is certainly not for the faint-hearted, but will be positively received by crime thriller fans. Those who enjoyed the Australian release Snowtown will be well at home here. The film refuses to follow the expected path of captive narratives, which really separates it from the rest. Young opts for unsettling implication over gore, which proves far more disturbing. The script delves into the power dynamics of murderous couples, exploring the fears and insecurities that compel them to continue. Elevated by its intense and cerebral execution, Hounds of Love sets the benchmark high for its genre.
See the trailer: Hounds of Love (2016)
– – – PREVIOUS EDITOR’S PICKS – – – STILL SCREENING IN SHEFFIELD – – –
Baby Driver (2017) – – – (15) (Showing at Cineworld, Curzon, Odeon, Showroom, The Light, Vue)
[Genre: Action/Crime. Dir: Edgar Wright. Starring: Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Kevin Spacey, Eiza González, Jon Bernthal, Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm. Language: English ]
From the writer-director behind Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz comes Edgar Wright’s latest release Baby Driver. Ansel Elgort leads the tune-pumping carnage as getaway driver Baby, whose mixtape playing masks his droning tinnitus problem. Fast-footed Baby is one of the sharpest drivers around, and is currently working off his debt for criminal mastermind Doc (Kevin Spacey). Despite facilitating bank heists and hold-ups, Baby has a charming innocence ill-equipped for his criminal tendencies. When he meets diner waitress Debora (Lily James), the pair are drawn to one another through their shared passion for music. In his attempt to start anew, Baby agrees to one final job for Doc, a local post office heist with the potential to reap millions. Wright has once again devised another unconventional action-comedy with Baby Driver. The director has achieved a refreshing approach to the heist genre, whilst also honouring classics such as Michael Mann’s Heat. Music is integral to the momentum of the story, cleverly choreographing action to the rhythm of each track. Though his earlier films are typically spoof genre pieces, Baby Driver is more serious in tone. Rampant action courses through the film from start to finish, featuring some intense and viscerally violent moments. The character-driven plot allows Wright the room to explore the protagonist’s backstory, making it his most emotionally complex release so far. The film boasts a solid supporting cast from Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm, and an excellent central performance from Elgort. Wright’s distinctive brand of filmmaking makes Baby Driver an adrenaline-fuelled joyride worth hitching on to.
See the trailer: Baby Driver (2017)
The Beguiled (2017) – – – (15) (Showing at Cineworld, Curzon, Showroom, The Light)
[Genre: Drama. Dir: Sofia Coppola. Starring: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning. Language: English/French]
Genre pieces have long been the forté of American director Sofia Coppola, and her latest accomplishment The Beguiled makes no exception. Coppola swaps the vapid modernity of The Bling Ring for the chaste torment of 1864 Virginia, with a reworking of Don Siegel’s 1971 film of the same name. Amid the quaint Virginian countryside three years into the Civil War, matron Miss Martha Farnsworth (Nicole Kidman) and teacher Edwina (Kirsten Dunst) hold their French lessons outdoors for the young ladies of Farnsworth Seminary. When young Amy (Oona Laurence) ventures into the woods to forage for mushrooms, she discovers wounded Dublin-born Union Corporal John McBurney (Colin Farrell). Amy dutifully notifies Miss Martha of her discovery, who hesitatingly allows the soldier into the school until recovered. Disturbing the dynamic of the sisterly dwelling, John’s presence steadily rouses desires that were better left dormant. Arguably her best film of the past decade, The Beguiled is a wonderfully subversive Southern Gothic tale complemented by Coppola’s refined aesthetic. While there are slight issues with gender representation in Coppola’s inevitably feminine approach, black humour and carnal tension help to balance the flaws. Those who found the languid pacing of the director’s earlier films off-putting will find the plot progression here more engaging. As expected, Coppola’s latest looks absolutely sumptuous. Cinematographer Philippe le Sourd (The Grandmaster) has achieved a work of chiaroscuro magnificence, mostly shot in natural daylight with nighttime scenes illuminated by candlelight. The Beguiled is an alluring and polished period drama, peppered with dark wit and sharp quips.
See the trailer: The Beguiled (2017)
David Lynch: The Art Life (2016) – – – (15) (Showing at Showroom)
[Genre: Documentary/Biography. Dir: Jon Nguyen, Rick Barnes, Olivia Neergaard-Holm. Starring: David Lynch. Language: English]
With the film world set abuzz by Twin Peaks: The Return, a portrait of the weird pioneer comes right on cue with David Lynch: The Art Life. After the birth of Lynch’s youngest daughter in 2012, director Jon Nguyen contacted the filmmaker with a documentary proposal. It was pitched as a future gift to his daughter, a tribute to his formative years and the origins of his enigmatic impulses. Lynch agreed, and allowed Nguyen and his team into the creative orbit of his Hollywood Hills studio. Having honed his aesthetic from a penchant for mystery, Lynch is notorious for his ambiguous interview responses, often by fault of clumsy journalism. Lynch and Nguyen had built a rapport during their work together on Lynch (one), a trust that permitted the most intimate glimpse of the master caught on film. Barely illuminated by the glow of a red lamp and perpetual haze of cigarette smoke, Lynch recounts his childhood from his Asymmetrical Studios sound booth. Born in the small town of Missoula, Montana, Lynch had an idyllic ‘50s upbringing at the hands of his morally wholesome parents. His father’s work as a research scientist meant the family relocated often, and this sentiment of worlds warping and changing would become emblematic to his work. Lynch recalls the innocent delights of youth, playing in mud baths with huge worlds housed within two blocks. Darkly memorable incidents during this time liberated his imagination, opening his mind to realms beyond accepted reality. Traces of these memories are eternally scarred into his oeuvre; a naked woman, bloody-mouthed and crying lingers in Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks, while the hypnotic allure of road markings embodies Lost Highway. During his trip down memory lane, Nguyen ensures there is never a dull moment on screen. He pays homage to the experimental roots of Lynch’s film work, editing together his vast art collection, home archive videos and 16mm footage of Lynch at work in the studio. Hardcore fans that have trawled the comprehensive Lynch on Lynch book may already be familiar with the anecdotes and history covered. Culminating with his wildly surreal debut Eraserhead, David Lynch: The Art Life offers a suitably Lynchian look at how he became the man behind the red curtain.
See the trailer: David Lynch: The Art Life (2016)
It Comes At Night (2017) – – – (15) (Showing at Odeon, Showroom)
[Genre: Thriller. Dir: Trey Edward Shults. Starring: Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbott, Carmen Ejogo, Riley Keough, Kelvin Harrison Jr.. Language: English]
Writer-director Trey Edward Shults’ second release It Comes At Nightis a refreshing take on the survival drama. The cryptic events follow in the wake of an apocalypse, as a family of three, Paul (Joel Edgerton), wife Sarah (Camen Ejogo) and 17-year-old son Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) eke out an existence in the woods. They adhere to a strict and paranoid code of living in their cabin home, fending off the pestilence tearing through the world. The exterior threat means gas masks are always worn outsid, and the red front door should never be opened after dark. When troubling dreams stir Travis in the early hours, he drifts downstairs to discover voices emitting from behind the red door. Alerted of the intrusion, Paul greets his unwanted visitor with hostility and ties him to a tree for questioning. When Will explains that he is seeking refuge for his family and believed the cabin to be derelict, Paul is faced with a decision that could rupture the shield he so arduously built. Those with a penchant for mood-driven cinema will be spellbound by It Comes At Night, serving as a welcome surprise from the other thrillers in recent months. Shults conjures an air of unease and foreboding through the combination of ambiguity and expert cinematography. However, it is this ambiguity that will be the film’s most dividing factor and makes its effect personal. Distinguishing It Comes At Night from its counterparts is its experimental editing quirks, playing with the aspect ratios for greater depth and intrigue. The psychological and dread-laden screenplay plumbs into the survival psyche, revealing the cerebral trauma afflicted by crisis. Shults underpins his slow-burning thriller with lurid dream sequences that will go down well with horror aficionados. Having worked recently with auteur Terrence Malick on his releases Song to Song and Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey, Shults is a talent to watch. Spine-chillingly tense, It Comes At Night exposes the dark nature of our protective instinct.
See the trailer: It Comes At Night (2017)
Kedi (2016) – – – (U) (Showing at Showroom)
[Genre: Documentary. Dir: Ceyda Torun. Starring: Bülent Üstün. Language: Turkish]
Feline lovers will be lost in sweet reverie at Turkish cat documentary Kedi. First time director Ceyda Torun takes to the cobblestone streets of Istanbul, granting the city’s colourful felines to lead the way. Throughout the film’s course, the street cats guide us through their lives, often filmed from their perspective. Allowed free rein across the Turkish metropolis, they bask, hunt and knead their days. Local residents feed and nurture their feline neighbours, attesting to the inexplicable power of animal companionship. Various inhabitants introduce their fellow paw-walkers and lovingly recount first meeting them. The film’s seven subjects all play unique roles in their chosen communities, including Aslan Parcasi, a restaurant’s professional rat hunter and psychotic ‘housewife’ Psikopat. Torun makes playful use of the camera, placing it at street-level effectively and employing immersive point-of-view shots. This filming approach makes the rat hunting scene a particularly engrossing sequence which will excite any nature TV fan. Raising a much-needed smile, Kedi is an uplifting meditation on humankind’s enigmatic connection to these captivating creatures.
See the trailer: Kedi (2016)
Victim (1961) – – – (12A) (Showing at Showroom)
[Genre: Crime Drama. Dir: Basil Dearden. Starring: Dirk Bogarde, Sylvia Syms Dennis Price, Anthony Nicholls, Peter Copley. Language: English]
For a limited time only, Basil Dearden’s ground-breaking equality thriller Victim graces Showroom Cinema. Dearden’s bold vision caused ripples in the film world, addressing the oppressive law against homosexuality in Britain at the time. Dirk Bogarde stars as Melvin Farr, a prominent London barrister married to his school teacher wife Laura (Sylvia Syms). Farr’s closeted sexuality is threatened when he becomes the target of blackmail scheme, exposing a brief relationship he had with young construction worker Barrett (Peter McEnery). When Barrett makes contact with Farr to help with his situation, Farr treats his enquiries with suspicion believing him to be the blackmailer. After Barrett meets a doomed fate in prison for theft, Farr vows to honour his memory and ultimately abolish the persecution once and for all. Victim was regarded as one of the most daring films of its time, being the first cinematic production to confront the victimisation of homosexuals. Bogarde took huge risks with his decision to play the starring lead, stepping out of the matinée limelight for something of higher importance. The fact that Bogarde himself was a closeted gay man adds enormous weight to this social monument. Fiercely admirable for its conviction and sacrifice, Victim is a well-written, suspenseful social thriller.
See the trailer: Victim (1961)
War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) – – – (12A) (Showing at Cineworld, Curzon, Odeon, The Light, Vue)
[Genre: Action/Drama. Dir: Matt Reeves. Starring: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Karin Konoval. Language: English]
Matt Reeves takes to the helm once more for the prequel trilogy finale with War for the Planet of the Apes. Taking place two years after Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Caesar (Andy Serkis) and the apes are forced deeper into the woods by invading soldiers from the northern military encampment. When the apes outwit and capture squad leader Preacher, he’s released as a warning to the Tyrannical Colonel McCullough (Woody Harrelson). Antagonised by the Preacher’s news, the callous Colonel retaliates with an ambush that leaves Caesar longing for revenge. Drawing to a respectable close, fans of the trilogy will be undoubtedly pleased with War for the Planet of the Apes. Understandably, the film is really for those who are already familiar with the previous two instalments to appreciate the significance of the story. Reeves and co-writer Mark Bomback have crafted a brilliantly absorbing story, woven together with biblical, historical and political themes. As to be expected, the work of Weta Digital continues to astound, demonstrating the full potential of motion-capture technology. The apes are sumptuously rendered, with remarkable attention given to the finest detail. The coupling of Michael Seresin’s noir-esque cinematography and Michael Giacchino’s enthralling score delivers great impact. War for the Planet of the Apes forms as a compelling conclusion to the beloved Apes trilogy.
See the trailer: War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)
Latest posts by natasha edgington (see all)
- Top 3 Films Screening in Sheffield (Mon. 16 – Sun. 22 Oct.) - October 15, 2017
- Top 3 Films Screening in Sheffield (Mon. 9 – Sun. 15 Oct.) - October 8, 2017
- Top 3 Films Screening in Sheffield (Mon. 2 – Sun. 8 Oct.) - October 2, 2017