A blistering and emotional incident of faceless bureaucracy is made by veteran British film maker Ken Loach in his superb new movie, I, Daniel Blake, which deservedly won the Palme d’Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.
The central character, Daniel Blake, suffered a heart attack at work. Until he is fully recovered he has been strongly advised by his surgeon, GP and physio that he should not attempt to seek gainful employment. After being forced to answer a series of irrelevant questions, a health specialist from one of the companies the government has outsourced its welfare education tests to, notifies Daniel that he is fit for work. Thus, like so many other people, he finds himself caught up in a system of complaints and appeals, waiting for something to change.
At first Daniel’s good humour carries him through. He may initially appear to be a loner, but when he meets single mother Katie and her two children, his warmth and compassion shines through. For a time his own predicament takes a backseat as he fights for her rights – the scene in a local food bank is heartbreaking as we see how much Kate has sacrificed for her children. But Daniel’s case seems to be going nowhere and exasperation with the system finally pushes him to express his exasperation publically.
This is a deeply humane and all-two relevant movie from the 80-year-old Loach and probably his best film since Cathy Come Home, aided of course by a gritty, unsentimental script by his regular collaborator Paul Lavery. Made in the manner of a dramatised documentary, it is angry at a system that demeans people, but has enough compassion for some of the people employed by it whose desire to help those in need is hindered by callous administrators.
Of course the film wouldn’t have the impact it has without two excellent central performances. Dave Johns, previously known as a stand-up comedian, skillfully balances Daniel’s Veneer of gruffness with whip-smart humour, while newcomer Hayley Squires is very moving as Kate.
This undoubtedly is the best British Film of the year and shows all too vividly that no one should be treated as a statistic.
Released nationwide on 21 October 2016
A new trailer has been released for the New Zealand comedy drama Hunt for the Wilderpeople, starring Sam Neill and Julian Dennison. Below is the official synopsis.
Ricky, a defiant young city kid, finds himself on the run with his cantankerous foster uncle in the wild New Zealand bush after a series of misadventures befall the unlikely duo. A national manhunt ensues, and the two are forced to put aside their differences and work together in this hilarious and heartfelt adventure.
Based on the book Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump, the film is written and directed by famed indie auteur Taika Waititi (What we do in the Shadows, Thor: Ragnarax) and stars Sam Neill (The Daughter, Long Way Down) and introduces rising star Julian Dennison.
The film is released in the UK on 16th September.
The Hallow is an Anglo Irish psychological fantasy horror, directed by debutant Corin Hardy, following a young couple who up sticks for an idyllic rural life among the trees of one of Ireland’s most ancient forests.
Unfortunately, Adam (played by Joseph Mawle) is a surveyor for a large corporation that has designs on the area’s natural resources. With a doff a doff of the cap to Irish (and indeed British) government plans to sell off forests, Hardy weaves a tale in which we learn that the woodland folk and little people of lore exist and they aren’t quite so amenable to the plans.
Hardy has built a reputation for himself for the quality of his short films and he carries his slick, stylised storytelling into The Hallow. A mix of cold blues and greens dominates the lighting during daylight scenes, while the more claustrophobic night shots adopt a monochromatic palette.
The Hallow starts well enough; we get to know the characters, though you quickly realise that both Adam and Clare (played Bojana Novakovic) are idiots. They fall for the oldest horror film ‘Don’t Do That’ in the book.
When a writer sits down to write the screenplay or script for a film, he/she must, in the back of their mind, base the principal characters on people from the real world. Are there really people out there who cannot take the simplest and most helpful advice?
When a wild-eyed local warns them to “Stay out of the Woods” and a dead stag is discovered infested by an organic black ooze – which later starts to seep through the roof of their baby’s bedroom – most sensible human beings would pack up the Volvo hatchback and head for the nearest motorway, tout de suite.
But these are characters in a horror film and if there is a darkened loft to explore with no functioning light fittings, you just know that that is where the story is going to take them.
The Hallow ticks creepily along and probably would have made a more accomplished piece if the knotted residents of the Hallow hadn’t turned up so early. Instead, the ancient woodland faeries and sprites unleashed by Hardy overrun proceedings and it just becomes tiresome.
A big part of psychological horror is fear of the unknown. Regrettably, after a promising start, Hardy signposts the latter part of the film through all the old horror clichés. It’s good fun but by no means a classic.
In cinemas nationwide from Friday 13 November 2015
After miraculously remaining 29 years old for almost eight decades, Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) has lived a solitary existence, never allowing herself to get close to anyone who might reveal her secret. But a chance encounter with charismatic philanthropist Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman) reignites her passion for life and romance. When a weekend with his parents (Harrison Ford and Kathy Baker) threatens to uncover the truth, Adaline makes a decision that will change her life forever.
The Age of Adaline is released on 8 May
Samuel L. Jackson stars as the President of the United States who crash-lands into a Finnish forest where he meets a young boy called Oskari (Onni Tommila) who is out to prove himself as a hunter. Together they must try to evade an assassination attempt on the president.
Big Game is in UK cinemas May 8, 2015.
Crimson Peak is a haunting gothic horror story directed by the master of dark fairy tales, Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy series, Pacific Rim), written by del Toro, Matthew Robbins and Lucinda Coxon and starring Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston and Charlie Hunnam.
In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds…and remembers.
In UK cinemas October 16, 2015
When a retired hit man is forced back into action by a brutal Russian mobster, he hunts down his adversaries with the ruthlessness that made him a crime underworld legend in John Wick; a stylish tale of revenge and redemption.
After the sudden death of his beloved wife, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) receives one last gift from her, a beagle puppy named Daisy, and a note imploring him not to forget how to love. But John’s mourning is interrupted when his 1969 Boss Mustang catches the eye of sadistic thug Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen) who breaks into his house and steals it, beating John unconscious and leaving Daisy dead. Unwittingly, they have just reawakened one of the most brutal assassins the underworld has ever seen.
John’s search for his stolen vehicle takes him to a side of New York City that tourists never see, a hyper-real, super-secret criminal community, where John Wick was once the baddest guy of all.
A passionate widowed single mom (Anne Dorval) finds herself burdened with the full-time custody of her unpredictable 15-year-old ADHD son (Antoine Olivier Pilon). As they struggle to make ends meet, Kyla (Suzanne Clément), the peculiar new neighbour across the street, offers her help. Together, they strive for a new sense of balance.
Mommy is out on March 20
The director of Jerry Maguire, Cameron Crowe, brings us the story of a down-on-his-luck military contractor (Bradley Cooper) who is given the opportunity to return to the site of his greatest career triumphs in Hawaii. While he goes in hope of professional redemption, he also seeks closure with a long-ago love (Rachel McAdams) and must deal with unexpected feelings for his partner on the project, a promising young Air Force pilot (Emma Stone).
Aloha arrives in September 2015
Based on the literary classic by Thomas Hardy, Far From The Madding Crowd is the story of independent, beautiful and headstrong Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan), who attracts three very different suitors: Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts), a sheep farmer, captivated by her fetching wilfulness; Frank Troy (Tom Sturridge), a handsome and reckless Sergeant; and William Boldwood (Michael Sheen), a prosperous and mature bachelor.
This timeless story of Bathsheba’s choices and passions explores the nature of relationships and love – as well as the human ability to overcome hardships through resilience and perseverance.
Far From The Madding Crowd is in cinemas on 1 May