jeanniejeanniejeannie.co.uk BLOG Thursday 18th March 2021
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
I make no apology for this being a lengthy post. It lists 25 films many of which will not be your taste. So, that is why the post is so long to get in a good selection. I hope you find one if not some you fancy.
Films in 2021: new releases and what’s coming up.
Despite the Bond setback, this year promises to bring a glut of great new content, as other delayed releases finally hit the screen.
Here we look at the new film releases and some of the upcoming must-see titles.
- Raya and the Last Dragon
The heroine of this “sizzlingly enjoyable” animation is in many respects a traditional Disney princess, said Robbie Collin in The Daily Telegraph – but hand her a sword and she’ll show you some moves that would make Rapunzel’s hair stand on end. Orphaned martial arts expert Raya has the task of restoring harmony to the kingdom of Kumandra, whose people have been divided by an ancient curse. To do this she enlists the help of a dragon called Sisu, among other animal allies. They’re charming enough, but it’s the Southeast Asian kingdom itself – a beautiful and “teemingly strange” world of temple cities and bamboo forests – that really bursts with personality and colour. Driving the plot is Raya’s rivalry with another princess, Namaari, who shifts from standard villain to something more enigmatic. This is “a feast of a film”. Where to watch: Disney+
- My Donkey, My Lover & I
This easygoing comedy is one of “unparalleled Frenchness”, said Cath Clarke in The Guardian. Teacher Antoinette (Laure Calamy) is having an affair with a pupil’s father, but their plan for a week alone together is upended when his wife surprises him with a donkey-trekking holiday in the Cévennes. Impulsively, Antoinette books a place on the same trip – only to find herself in charge of a very stubborn animal, with her lover nowhere in sight. But as she and her donkey bond, the film switches from a gentle farce into a journey of emotional growth: “You might call it Eat Bray Love – except it’s European, so there’s less pseudo-spiritual self-discovery and more drunken snogging.” Calamy (Noémie in Call My Agent!) holds the film together with a funny, generous performance. Where to watch: Curzon Home Cinema
- The United States vs. Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday has always been “a monster of a role”, said Mark Kennedy in The Independent. Diana Ross and Audra McDonald have both tackled it; now singer Andra Day takes it on, in her acting debut – and she shines. In a remarkable performance, she portrays the great singer in her final years as “a haunted and crushed icon, an addict with terrible choices in men but the voice of an angel”. The film flashes back and forward in time, but centres on events in 1947, when the authorities were so alarmed by the impact of her anti-lynching song Strange Fruit, they apparently conspired to have her jailed for possessing heroin. Lee Daniels’s film is unfocused and meandering, but it’s interspersed with scenes that feel “like a punch in the gut”. Where to watch: Sky Cinema
- I Care a Lot
In this “exquisitely nasty”, blackly comic thriller, Rosamund Pike gives us “her most outrageous Hitchcock-blonde turn since Gone Girl”, said Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian. With a “sociopath haircut, shades and fashion-plate outfits”, she exudes “pure predatory wickedness” as Marla Grayson, a ruthless scammer who, aided by corrupt doctors, insinuates her way into the lives of wealthy but lonely elderly people in Boston. She becomes their legal guardian, has them committed to care homes, then fleeces them of their possessions. One day, she lands what she thinks is a particularly tame fish – sweet Mrs Peterson (a fabulous Dianne Wiest). She duly visits the old lady’s house, all “kindly, sorrowing smiles”, and entraps her during a scene of true emotional “horror”. But there’s something she hasn’t bargained for – Mrs Peterson’s connections in the Russian Mafia. Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video
- To Olivia
The biopic trend “trundles on, chewing up one children’s author after another – C.S. Lewis, J.M. Barrie, A.A. Milne, J.R.R. Tolkien”, said Tom Shone in The Sunday Times. Now it’s the turn of Roald Dahl – in a film that is especially weak and contrived. Based on Stephen Michael Shearer’s biography of Dahl’s first wife, the American actress Patricia Neal, To Olivia is set in the years leading up to the author’s first big success, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in 1964. At home in Buckinghamshire, Dahl (Hugh Bonneville) is “all fun and games” with his three children, but bickers “horribly” with Neal (Keeley Hawes) before retreating to his writing shed to drink. The death of their seven-year-old daughter Olivia, from measles-related encephalitis, plunges Dahl into depression, and the increasingly lonely Neal heads to Hollywood to give her Oscar-winning performance opposite Paul Newman in Hud. Where to watch: Sky Cinema
The French writer-director Charlène Favier’s “astounding” debut starts out as a classic sports movie in the Rocky mould – then “morphs into something far more sinister”, said Kevin Maher in The Times. A promising but petulant 15-year-old skier Lyz (Noée Abita), neglected by her parents, is taken on by “no-nonsense” coach Fred (Jérémie Renier). Under his tutelage, the lonely girl’s talent blossoms, and there is talk of Olympic selection. Then, midway through the film, at an elite ski camp in the French Alps, Fred starts systematically to abuse his teenage charge. At this point, your stomach drops, said Jessica Kiang in Variety: you “realise that of course this was the story” this “difficult” film “was going to tell, and almost feel foolish for holding out the hope that” it would go any other way. The warning signs, after all, were all there. From early on, Fred “has been grooming Lyz, manipulating her insecurities, her gratitude and her naivety” to fuel her dependency, while slowly crossing the boundaries of physical intimacy. But the depressing familiarity of the film’s trajectory makes it no less compelling. Where to watch: Curzon Home Cinema
- Dead Pigs
Chinese-American director Cathy Yan made her name internationally last year with the superhero blockbuster Birds of Prey. That was her second film; now her first, Dead Pigs, has been released in the UK, said Ella Kemp in Empire. Premiered at the Sundance festival in 2018, it’s a “fizzy” social satire inspired by a real-life event in 2013, when around 16,000 dead pigs floated down the Huangpu River through Shanghai, having been dumped by farmers upstream. Yan traces the effects of this bizarre event through the interlinked lives of five characters. At the heart of the web is Candy Wang – a beauty parlour owner, who is coming under pressure to sell her family’s old wooden house, owing to her pig-farmer brother’s financial plight – and Sean, a US architect who has wildly ambitious plans for the site. Where to watch: Mubi
- News of the World
Tom Hanks is at his “twinkliest and crinkliest” in this old-fashioned Western, said Robbie Collin in The Daily Telegraph. He plays Captain Jefferson Kidd, a veteran of the Civil War’s losing side who now makes a living by travelling around Texas reading news stories to the illiterate masses. On the trail he comes across an abandoned, mute white girl, Johanna (Helena Zengel). Her German parents had been killed years earlier, by the Kiowa tribe, who raised her – until they were themselves killed by white settlers. At this point, Kidd decides to take her on the road, in order to deliver her to her closest living relatives, an aunt and uncle on the far side of the state. Where to watch: Netflix
Greenland is the latest in a recent string of action movies starring the Scottish actor Gerard Butler, but this one is without the “jingoistic bombast” of predecessors such as Olympus Has Fallen, said Clarisse Loughrey in The Independent. Instead, this deliberately low-key disaster film is “laced with a palpable sense of fear”. Butler plays an Atlanta-based engineer, John Garrity, who – when asteroids start pounding Earth – must get himself and his family to a US government bunker near the North Pole. But with his estranged wife Allison (Morena Baccarin) and diabetic son, Nathan (Roger Dale Floyd), he gets caught up in the social chaos that inevitably unfolds: traffic jams, failing phone signals and trips to the chemist for Nathan’s medication all become panic-inducing matters of life and death. Where to watch: Amazon Prime
- Quo Vadis, Aida?
Serbian director Jasmila Žbanic’s “incendiary” new film is about the Srebrenica massacre in 1995 – the worst civilian atrocity in Europe since the end of the Second World War, said Kevin Maher in The Times. We see it through the eyes of Aida (Jasna Đuricic), a local teacher-turned-translator who scurries frantically between the representatives of the 20,000 terrified Bosnian Muslims who are gathered in and around the UN’s supposed “safe area” (a disused factory), and the commanders of the UN’s Dutch peacekeeping forces – “eviscerated here as weak and spineless” – while the Bosnian Serb leader Ratko Mladic (Boris Isakovic) and his paramilitary thugs “await the green light for mass extermination”. Where to watch: Curzon Home Cinema
- The Dig
Based on the true story of the excavation at Sutton Hoo, and adapted from John Preston’s novel, The Dig is a “moving and beguiling” period piece that offers “a well-timed double dose of consolation and escape”, said Robbie Collin in The Daily Telegraph. In the summer of 1939, when the world was preparing for war, Suffolk landowner Edith Pretty (Carey Mulligan) employed Basil Brown, a local self-taught archaeologist (Ralph Fiennes, sporting a broad Suffolk accent) to investigate the mysterious grassy mounds on her estate. The dig revealed them to be a ninth century Anglo-Saxon burial site, concealing, among other treasures, an 89ft-long ship; and so, “just as the nation’s future became obscured by shadow, a shaft of light was suddenly thrown on its distant past”. At first, we follow the relationship that develops between Brown and Pretty. But as excitement about the find intensifies, and the professionals descend on it, the film’s scope widens, to focus in particular on the romance between married archaeologist Peggy Piggott (Lily James) and Pretty’s nephew (Johnny Flynn), who is waiting to be called up. Where to watch: Netflix
- Dear Comrades!
The massacre of around 80 unarmed protesters in the Russian city of Novocherkassk in 1962 – an atrocity kept secret for 30 years – is the subject of this riveting drama from veteran director Andrei Konchalovsky, said Kevin Maher in The Times. Winner of the Special Jury Prize at last year’s Venice Film Festival, it strikes a “wry”, satirical note at first, with “droll one liners about Soviet ineptitude” as workers at the city’s power plant go on strike over rising food prices. The subsequent massacre, however, is depicted “unsparingly”. The film’s protagonist, local Communist Party member Lyuda Syomina (Julia Vysotskaya), has a reputation for endorsing this kind of crackdown. But when her teenage daughter, Svetka – a worker at the plant – goes missing, she is torn between her loyalty to the party, and her personal anguish. Where to watch: Curzon Home Cinema
- One Night in Miami
Oscar-winning actress Regina King’s directorial debut features both “big ideas and barnstorming turns”, said Kevin Maher in The Times. Based on the 2013 play by Kemp Powers, the film imagines the conversation that might have taken place during a real-life meeting between four black American icons – Cassius Clay (Eli Goree), as he was then, Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr) and NFL star Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge) – in Miami on the night of 25 February 1964, to celebrate Clay’s defeat of world champion boxer Sonny Liston. The dialogue is witty and fluid, but gradually their conversation homes in on a single weighty topic – what it means to be, in Clay’s words, “young, black, righteous, unapologetic, famous” in white America. The result is a “timely and serious commentary on American racial politics”. Where to watch: Amazon Prime
- The White Tiger
Adapted from Aravind Adiga’s 2008 Booker Prize winner, The White Tiger is a darkly humorous rags-to-riches tale set in India in the economic boom of the late Noughties, said Owen Gleiberman in Variety. Its protagonist is Balram Halwai (Adarsh Gourav), a charming but dirt-poor peasant who talks his way into a job as a Delhi-based driver for a ruthless landlord, The Stork (Mahesh Manjrekar). Balram is grateful and obsequious at first, in awe of The Stork’s suave son (Rajkummar Rao) and his sophisticated, New-York-raised wife (Priyanka Chopra Jonas). But he comes to see his servile mentality as a curse when the family makes him the fall guy for a crash he didn’t cause. Learning to emulate their ruthlessness and cynicism, he turns the tables, lining his pockets and launching himself on a corrupt path to success. Where to watch: Netflix
- Ham on Rye
Writer-director Tyler Taormina’s debut feature is a surreal, “disquieting” take on the Hollywood coming of age genre, said Glenn Kenny in The New York Times. It’s spring in the suburbs, and teenagers wearing sundresses and jackets and ties are heading to a dance. The boys talk, crudely but naively, about sex; the girls about fashion and popularity. The dance is held at a local deli and has a strange, ritual air. The girls form one line, the boys another, music begins and, communicating with hand gestures, they pair off. The scene builds to a dreamy climax – but then the film turns to those who got passed over at the dance, or were too anxious to go, and things become stranger still. Where to watch: Mubi
From its first feature – 1995’s Toy Story – onwards, Pixar has never been shy of tackling the big questions. In Soul, the animation studio takes on the greatest of them of all – the meaning of life, said Clarisse Loughrey in The Independent, and it does so with all the “beauty”, “humour” and “heart” for which it has become known. Pixar’s first film with an African American protagonist is about a New York jazz pianist, Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx), who is scraping a living as a high school teacher while longing for success as a performer. Then, moments after being booked for a potentially life-changing gig, he falls down a manhole. His soul ends up in The Great Beyond, a fuzzy pastel afterlife; but such is his desperation to realise his dream, he manages to slip back to Earth with another soul named 22 (a “delightfully irritating” Tina Fey), who has never occupied a physical body before. Where to watch: Disney+
Coming soon in 2021
- Last Night in Soho
This psychological horror follows a young wannabe fashion designer who mysteriously travels back in time to 1960s London, where she encounters her singer idol, played by The Queen’s Gambit star Anya Taylor-Joy. The late Diana Rigg and former Doctor Who star Matt Smith also feature in what Empire describes as an “unsettling time-hopping fright-fest”. Due for release in the UK on 23 April
- Fast & Furious 9
Just when you thought they’d finally wrapped up the Fast & Furious film franchise, the cinematic gift that just keeps on giving is returning for a ninth instalment in 2021, with Vin Diesel reprising his role as street racer Dominic Toretto. So what does director Justin Lin have in store for fans this time round? Another thrilling ride, judging by what has become “one of the most-watched trailers of all time”, Esquire says. Among the revelations in the “mind-blowing scenes” is that Dom (Diesel) has a long lost brother named Jakob (John Cena). But sibling rivalry soon rears its ugly head. Due for release 28 May
- Top Gun: Maverick
Top Gun fans have “had to wait over 30 years for a sequel”, says Radio Times, but now Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer have returned to “don their aviator glasses once more” to take to the skies as rivals Maverick and Iceman. The Covid-delayed sequel also stars Ed Harris and Jon Hamm, while Jennifer Connelly plays a single mother and bar owner who becomes romantically entangled with Maverick. Due for release 8 July
Playing one of the most iconic voices of the 20th century is no easy task, but “Jennifer Hudson is known for her ability to give people instant goose-bumps”, Cosmopolitan says. The Oscar winner is a shrewd pick to take on the role of Aretha Franklin in the celebratory biopic, delivering a performance “as astoundingly brilliant as ever”. Indeed, another Academy Award win may “be on the horizon” for Hudson, the magazine predicts. Due for release 13 August
- The Beatles: Get Back
Originally scheduled for release back in September, The Beatles’ biopic is shaping up to be the “ultimate fly-on-the-wall experience” for fans of the band, says Sophie Smith on udsicovermusic. Director Peter Jackson also throws in iconic moments such as the Fab Four’s performance on the roof of Savile Row Studios, for added enjoyment. Due for release 27 August
- James Bond: No Time to Die
One of the most highly anticipated film releases of 2020 was undoubtedly the 25th instalment of the James Bond franchise, which sees Daniel Craig return for his fifth and final appearance as the British spy 007. Originally scheduled for release in April then November, the new Bond movie, No Time to Die, will now hit UK cinemas in April 2021. True Detective director Cary Fukunaga calls the shots and Oscar winner Rami Malek plays the film’s villain, Safin. Due for release in October
This much-anticipated big-budget sci-fi blockbuster is based on Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel of the same name. Timothee Chalamet plays anti-hero Paul Atreides, who is charged with protecting the most treasured substance in the universe. Filmed in the “awe-inspiring” Wadi Rum desert, Dune is the “most ambitious release” of the year, according to NME’s Ella Kemp. Due for release 1 October
- The Last Duel
An epic offering from director Ridley Scott, starring big names including Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Adam Driver and Killing Eve star Jodie Comer. The Last Duel “is set in 14th century France and is described as an epic tale of betrayal and justice”, Digital Spy reports. Based on a novel by US author Eric Jager, the film tells the true story of Jean de Carrouges (Damon), a knight who embarks on a fight to the death with former friend Jacques Le Gris (Driver) after accusing him of raping his wife (Comer). Due for release 15 October
- The Matrix 4
Another long-awaited sequel, the fourth edition of The Matrix arrives almost two decades after the last instalment of the sci-fi action classic. Plot details are “under strict lock and key”, says Indiewire’s Zack Sharf. But the script has been described as “beautiful” and “inspiring” by Keanu Reeves, who is reprising his role as Neo alongside Carrie-Anne Moss’ Trinity despite the pair having apparently died in the last film. Due for release 22 December.
Taken from THE WEEK Magazine
TOP TEN OF THE DAY
10 cheapest places in the UK to upsize.
Looking for an extra bedroom? Aberdeen in Scotland has been crowned the cheapest place to upsize in the UK, with the average cost for upsizing coming in at just £41,406.
- Aberdeen (average cost to upsize is £41,406)
- Bradford (£55,347)
- Plymouth (£58,669)
- Coventry (£64,063)
- Belfast (£65,000)
- Southampton (£71,572)
- Wolverhampton (£72,946)
- Leicester (£77,777)
- Nottingham (£81,658)
- Derby (£82,220)
Research conducted by Compare My Move analysed data from house price sales across the country, looking at different prices from one, two, three, four, and five-bedroom properties to discover where the cheapest place is to upsize.
DON’T FORGET TO LAUGH EVERYDAY
INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE FOR THE DAY
- “Only the paranoid survive.” – Andy Grove
- “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” – Babe Ruth
Happiness is…a riveting new excellent movie
GRANDAD’S ONE LINER JOKE OF THE DAY
I was walking through a quarry…I said to the foreman, “That sure is a big rock!”
“Boulder,” he corrected me. So, I stuck out my chest and shouted, “THAT SURE IS A BIG ROCK!!”
Love is…in the wink of an eye.
A time for “My Donkey, My Lover & I”…A time for “James Bond: No Time to Die”…and… Raya and the Last Dragon …and…A time for Matrix 4.
on 18th March
1965 Cosmonaut Alexey Leonov, leaving his spacecraft Voskhod 2 for 12 minutes, becomes the first person to walk in space
1902 Italian operatic tenor Enrico Caruso becomes 1st well-known performer to make a record
1881 Barnum & Bailey Circus, travelling as “The Greatest Show on Earth”, debuts at (Madison Square Garde, New York City, would last 146 years before closing in 2017
1662 First public bus service begins, promoted by Blaise Pascal, operates in Paris as the “Carosses a Cinq Sous” until 1675
©2021 Phil M Robinson