Movie Fridays: New Releases

Going to the movies is always an unforgettable experience that manages to magnify a film’s message (or aggravate its flaws): nothing distracts you from what is going on at the screen (except for maybe those annoyingly loud popcorn-chewing noises coming from the neighboring seat – a petition on banning popcorn from movie theaters needs to happen), and you can take it all in and just get lost in the moment. Here’s a rundown on what’s in the cinema right now if watching a movie or two is on your weekend agenda!

Credit: newsoncelebrity.com

Bohemian Rhapsody

Anastasiia L.: To be honest, biopics aren’t really my thing. Even when well made they usually seem overly long and kinda dull, so I wasn’t looking forward to this one either. However, the overall anticipation and a bright, catchy trailer did their work and I bought the ticket. And I didn’t regret it.

Bohemian Rhapsody is a 2018 biographical film with a killer soundtrack that follows the story of the British iconic rock band Queen from their foundation in the 70s to their historic Live Aid performance in 1985. Directed by Bryan Singer, this flick is a celebration of Queen’s sensational revolutionary music and their legendary lead singer Freddie Mercury, played by American actor Rami Malek.

Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury. Credit: dailybruin.com
Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury. Credit: dailybruin.com

I’m a bit ashamed to admit that though being a music addict I somehow didn’t know a thing about Queen when I entered the cinema hall. But what I saw (and heard) on the screen made me want to listen to each and all of their songs: the experimental “Bohemian Rhapsody”, the cocky “We Are the Champions”, the harmonic “Somebody to Love”, and so on. This, I think, is actually the biggest accomplishment of the movie, the way it makes you fall in love with the band’s music. A little disclaimer for huge music devotees out there: though a biography, Bohemian Rhapsody is not a documentary, but a fiction story, in which you may find a number of “historical inaccuracies”. If this fact doesn’t put you off, go ahead and check out the highest-grossing musical biographical film of all time, which is still screened in English in the Angleterre cinema at 4:30 pm on November 30.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

A huge (and naive) fan of fantasy and the Harry Potter universe, I had very high hopes for this sequel to Fantastic Beasts. Even though I didn’t fully embrace the first part, I have to admit that it was charming. It told us a fish out of water story about shy but lovable magizoologist Newt Scamander and the little world of magical creatures built around him. But this time, it’s not about him anymore, which is clear from the sequel’s title.

A star-laden cast who seem to have nothing to do. Credit: digitalspy.com
A star-laden cast who seem to have nothing to do. Credit: digitalspy.com

Now, thinking hard about why I wanted to watch Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald so bad, I realize that it is the trailer to blame. Though messy and choppy (but all trailers are, aren’t they?), it promises what all us Harry Potter junkies are longing for, deep down inside: more details about the beloved characters, which will add even more depth to the world. But the movie never kept its promise. The plot revolves around a dozen characters, whose storylines are hardly stitched together; people just show up and disappear, without doing anything that would move the plot forward. There was not a single moment when I would feel sympathetic to any of them (me who cries every time when watching Snape’s story). Character development is practically zero. And one more thing that made the experience almost unbearable: yeah, I know that this new film is all about dark magic, but does it really have to be so dark that you literally don’t see anything in a black mess?

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald will be screened by the Angleterre cinema at 10:55 pm on Sunday, December 2, if you’re still up for watching that.

Dead in a Week (Or Your Money Back)

Anastasia K.: Having failed to get his work-of-a-genius book published, and wailing in his highbrow, existentialist ideas, a pasty-faced, sulking, black-coated writer William (Aneurin Barnard, as seen in Dunkirk) decides to take his own life, but, in a yet another manifestation of his loser karma, all his ten attempts themselves bite the dust. At least he gets something of the last one: witnessing his fall into the Thames is a principled serial killer (brilliantly played by Tom Wilkinson), who offers our unfortunate hero his business card (tempered gold on ivory grey, Leslie O’Neil, assassin), promising to save him “the trip to Switzerland”.

Getting the job done… Tom Wilkinson as hit gun Leslie O’Neil in Dead in a Week. Credit: imdb.com
Getting the job done… Tom Wilkinson as hit gun Leslie O’Neil in Dead in a Week. Credit: imdb.com

With an untypical glee, William seizes on the opportunity and signs his own death contract – but starts having second thoughts after he gets a publishing offer from an agent (Freya Mavor) he also falls in love with. Will he be able to talk his genteel hitman out of this deathly deal, or will the latter’s concerns about his pristine professional reputation, his wife’s (Marion Bailey) sidelong nagging, and the smooth-talking of his boorish boss (Christopher Eccleston) get the better of him? Only time (a week, in this case) will tell.

Who gets who? Aneurin Barnard and Freya Mavor in Dead in a Week. Credit: variety.com
Who gets who? Aneurin Barnard and Freya Mavor in Dead in a Week. Credit: variety.com

Dead in a Week isn’t the best film to watch if you don’t take black (or British) humor lightly, or feel queasy about facts of death, so to speak, but an original and, dare I say it, amusing and somewhat life-affirming, if a bit odd, cinematic experience nonetheless. It does get a bit of bad press here and there because of its puckish approach to some sensitive topics though, so you’ve been warned. But I don’t think it’s all too bad (which probably says something about my own normality, or the lack thereof), and I’d tentatively recommend you to maybe give it a go all facts considered.

Don’t miss Dead in a Week this Sunday, December 2, screened at 2:30 pm in the Angleterre cinema.  

Shoplifters

The 2018 Palme d’Or winner Shoplifters is a new drama signed by the masterful Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda, famous for his clever cinematic treatment of family relationships, societal issues, and human nature in general. The film follows the story of a couple, Osamu (Lily Franky), who’s beavering away in construction, and Nobuyo (Sakura Ando), a launderette laborer, and their other household members, young woman Aki (Mayu Matsuoka) and wordly-wise grandmother Hatsue (Kirin Kiki; it was her last film), living in a poverty-stricken area of Tokyo and embroiled in a hugger-mugger side project aimed at making their ends meet. The giveaway is in the title: in time free from their no less unsightly daily occupations, the Shibata ménage dallies in (more than occasional) shop heisting. Osamu is the gang leader, helped by his sidekick and apprentice, his young son Shota (Kairi Jyo).

Returning from one such session, the quirky duo happens upon a small girl freezing out in the streets. No stranger to kindness, Osamu decides to shelter Juri (Miyu Sasaki) in his ramshackle home, an initially hesitant decision reinforced by a later discovery of her gruesome past. The family warms up to her and even starts to initiate her in their purloining ways, until one day, a startling revelation hits them with a choice they need to make that will change their lives, possibly forever.

Just jump to it… Shoplifters. Credit: nyt.com
Just jump to it… Shoplifters. Credit: nyt.com

The critics’ verdict is unanimous: Osamu and his family may aim at pilfering packets of chips out of a local 24/7, but what they really steal in the end is your spectator’s heart, knocking you sideways and leaving you questioning your own judgment and place in this story, as well as motives of the movie’s author. Who is this man that makes a seemingly bleak account of a kid’s abduction by an impoverished family gang of thieves, a complex, introspective, empathetic tale with no clear-cut line between right or wrong? A future Academy Award winner, I tell you, giving a big thumbs up to all of his other works which include unmistakable chef-d’oeuvres such as After Life, Nobody Knows and Like Father, Like Son.

Prepare a wad of hankies to see you through the screening (in Russian), but I promise you: this emotional-rollercoaster ride will be worth it. In the words of the 2018 Cannes festival jury president Cate Blanchett, “The ending blew us out of the cinema.” Coming from a talented actor with an astute understanding of film, that really says it all. (Nothing will still beat Nobody Knows for me, though.)

Enjoy!

Written by Anastasia Krasilnikova and Anastasiia Labunskaia.

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