Couscous (The Secret of the Grain)
Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche
Starring Habib Boufares, Hafsia Herzi & Farida Benkhetache
Thanks to the success of last year’s Blue Is the Warmest Colour, the re-release of Abdellatif Kechiche’s 2007 film Couscous offers new-found fans a chance to explore the controversial director’s back-catalogue.
Directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour
Starring Waad Mohammed, Reem Abdullah & Abdullrahman Al Gohani
The brilliant thing about film is that it allows you to gain an insight into different times, places and cultures from the comfort of your own cinema (or sofa) seat. Wadjda is a case in point; in just under two hours, I gleaned all I could from this fascinating interpretation of a culture we in the west hear much but actually know very little about. At the same time, I was completely won over by the heart-warming yet intriguing story of a little girl who just wants to ride a bike.
Directed by Roger Michell
Starring: Lindsey Duncan, Jim Broadbent, Jeff Goldblum
The first time I watched Le Week-End, I was forcefully reminded of Jenny Joseph’s brilliant poem ‘Warning’, with its defiant opening line of ‘When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple’. The second time I watched Le Week-End, Dylan Thomas’s ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’ roared into my head instead. Appropriately for a movie centred around maturity, Le Week-End benefits from multiple viewings. Roger Michell’s direction, Hanif Kureishi’s script and the performances by Duncan (Meg) and Broadbent (Nick) are all so nuanced, it’s easy to ignore the film’s tender, subtler side whilst in the process of recognising yourself or your parents in the two central characters.
Directed by Ken Scott
Starring Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt & Cobie Smulders
The premise of Delivery Man is simple; what would you do if you found out you had 533 kids? As movie plots go, it’s not an inherently bad one, and so our story begins, as we follow the journey of charming yet inept David (Vaughn) from bumbling, drifting everyman into everydad. David’s life is so unassumingly average it’s just waiting for a little Hollywood magic to appear; from the harassed yet loving girlfriend (a patient Smulders) to the dead-end job and happy-go-lucky second generation family, nothing is amiss save David’s underachievement. Until a representative from the sperm donation clinic turns up and tells David the truth, his main concerns centre around literally keeping his head above water debt-wise.
Directed by John Lee Hancock
Starring Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks & Colin Farrell
I’m willing to bet that for most people reading this, one man more than any other made their childhoods. I’m on about Walt Disney, of course, and his fantastic array of animations and feature films. Mary Poppins sits proudly amongst the collection, and I for one recall watching my video of it when I was little again and again – back in the days when we had to rewind the damn things, no less – loving every second of the songs, fun and general razzamatazz. What any child of the past fifty years would have been oblivious to is just how difficult it was to get everybody’s favourite magical nanny on the big screen at all. Handily, half a century after Walt finally got his film made, Saving Mr Banks has come along to tell us just what a jolly holiday it wasn’t.
Directed by: Stephen Frears
Starring Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Sophie Kennedy Clark
The subject of the so-called baby or Magdalene laundries which used to house thousands of ‘fallen women’ across whole swathes of the West – not just Ireland – has been a recent popular choice for film, documentaries and fiction, with Peter Mullan’s 2002 release The Magdalene Sisters being the first of the other works on this subject to spring to mind. Philomena differs from this particular predecessor and most of its others not just through being a real-life tale (Mullan’s film for one was fictionalised), but by focussing its narrative on what happens after the laundries in question, when one woman, now an old lady, who was incarcerated against her will takes the difficult step to try and find her long-lost son, snatched away from her and adopted at a young age.
Directed by: Shane Meadows
Starring: Ian Brown, Jon Squire, Gary Mounfield, Alan Wren & Mark Herbert
For those that like their music to come with a Madchester-twist, something very special happened last year; The Stone Roses reformed. After sixteen years, Ian Brown, John Squire, Gary Mounfield and Alan Wren (aka Ian, John, Mani and Reni) were back, ready to perform once more in front of thousands of fans in Manchester’s Heaton Park. Having decided that they wanted a visual record of their reunion, the band asked famed English director and self-proclaimed Roses super-fan Shane Meadows to do the job. For a man who missed out on Spike Island and all that, this was the stuff of dreams. With Made of Stone, Meadows and his producer, Mark Herbert, have come dangerously close to capturing the stuff of legend.
Directed by Bill Condon
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Daniel Brühl & Alicia Vikander
If Benedict Cumberbatch doesn’t get at least an Academy Award nomination for his utterly compelling portrayal of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, he’ll be entitled to think some kind of conspiracy’s afoot. Whether he’ll quite get the gong is another matter, but in a film full of consummate performances, Cumberbatch stood out as particularly impressive. It’s safe to say that this was much more than Sherlock in a wig.
Directed by Dexter Fletcher
Starring: George MacKay, Jane Horrocks & Peter Mullan
If watching Richard Curtis’ About Time was akin to being stabbed to death with a scone in The Metro’s mind, then Sunshine on Leith provides the perfect Scottish equivalent; being biffed over the head repeatedly with a haggis, perhaps, or tickled to death with a deep-fried Mars Bar. Either way, the latest movie-musical to hit British cinema screens soon beats you into acquiescing submission with its relentless cheeriness and positivity, exactly what you expect and want, of course, from a film based around The Proclaimers’ back catalogue. Following the success of his stage version of the story, writer Stephen Greenhorn (TV’s River City and Doctor Who) has adapted Sunshine on Leith for the big screen. Basically, main characters Davy (MacKay) and Ally (Kevin Guthrie) arrive back home in Edinburgh and begin to decide what to do with their lives now they’ve put their army days behind them. Imagine this soundtracked to the best of the Craig twins’ oeuvre and you’ve got Sunshine on Leith in a nutshell. Or a scotch egg, perhaps.
Directed by Richard Curtis
Starring Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams & Bill Nighy
Now that the nights are drawing in, it’s back to school and life, and the sun-kissed holidays of summer are over, it feels rather sweet of Richard Curtis to return offering us another of his chick-flick/Brit-flicks full of romance, comedy and unashamed slushiness. About Time is the perfect date-movie, mates-movie and I-just-want-a-nice-film movie, which makes its release in the beginning of September slightly strange; surely this kind of film should be in theatres at Christmas or in February? Still, as my friend neatly surmised, if there’s one thing the film tells us, (once it’s finished making doe-eyes and blushing) it’s that we should learn to live with the imperfect. That’s what life’s about, after all.
The film begins with the excellent Domhnall Gleeson, who stars as Tim in his biggest role to date, being informed by his father (an ever-wry Bill Nighy) that he has the family gift of being able to travel back in time, to any point in his own life. Like every red-blooded young male, Tim, once he realises his dad is indeed being serious, seizes the opportunity to put his new temporal-travelling skills to the test for the sake of love. The inevitable heartbreak ensues, but soon young Tim has the good fortune to bump into Rachel McAdams in Old London Town, who, despite playing a character with the same name as his mother, is obviously The One with knobs on.