Welcome to this week’s #AtTheFlix, the weekly look at what’s hitting the big screen in Birmingham over the next seven days.
Bridge Of Spies (12A)
This week’s biggest release sees Hanks and Spielberg team up once again to tell the story of James Donovan (played by Hanks), who plays Brooklyn lawyer who becomes embroiled in the heart of Cold War when the CIA sends him to Berlin to negotiate the release of a captured American U-2 pilot.
I love Spielberg and I love Cold War thrillers – consequently, this is a combination I am delighted to see together. Let’s be blunt though – Bridge of Spies isn’t as much about his latest collaboration with Tom Hanks but about the scene chewing performance of Mark Rylance. Added to this a script which has been polished by the Coen brothers, and also contains quite a bit of comedy to add levity to the high stakes situations, then you have a number of enticing reasons to see this film.
Spielberg continues to prove why he is modern cinema’s most important blockbuster director.
Black Mass (15)
Which Johnny Depp do you prefer? There are so many to pick from. It has been a while since we’ve seen a film to fully match his significant talents. Black Mass shows signs of being that film. Depp plays a Boston-based Irish mobster called James “Whitey” Bulger who collaborates with the FBI to hunt down the Italian Mob. We follow an unlikely alliance which soon tips over to enable Whitey to become one of the most notorious gangsters.
Depp’s performance has been widely praised – although I suspect this is a part relief of critics and fans who have been awaiting a role of actual substance for a while. Ably supported by the likes of Joel Edgerton and Benedict Cumberbatch, this is heavyweight stuff following in the steps of other Boston based mob thrillers like The Departed and The Town. In a sense, this might make the film more difficult to stand out from the crowd. On the other hand, this means ‘terra firma’ – a familiar stomping ground through which mob types can act out their highly brash and horrific deeds in highly gripping ways.
Carol has been sweeping up acclaim wherever it has been showing, a detailed, austere and affecting tale of two women from the 1950s, both from very different backgrounds, who end up falling in love with the many complexities that this throws up.
Todd Haynes has always had a natural affinity for looking at outsiders and outcasts. Not only is he the ideal director through which to capture the details of two such powerful roles, he is able to bring significant weight to bear on Patricia Highsmith’s novel and count upon the towering performances of Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.
Carol is already a front runner in the Oscar race and the bets are on for whether Blanchett and Mara will both be nominated. Judging by the praise for both, it would be fitting to see both recognised.
The Good Dinosaur (PG)
Two Pixar movies in one year, you ask! Yep, it’s true! This is the bonus disc to Inside Out! The film’s simple premise is to imagine a world where the asteroid hadn’t wiped out the dinosaurs! We are introduced to the Apatosaurus, Arlo and a friendship story with a human boy!
Pixar’s affinity for putting lovable characters on the big screen continues abated and as is typical of them, the film has a way of humanising its lead, not just the boy. Furthermore, Pixar continues to push the envelope in its animation committing some of the more glorious landscapes to the big screen.
Some critics have criticised the film for not matching its ambitions in its execution and having a maudlin tone – it is Pixar though and I’m really grateful just for that.
Elsewhere, watch out for Taxi Tehran (Sun 29 Nov – Thu 3 Dec) at the mac, this year’s Golden Bear Winner from Berlin Film Festival, a film where the driver interviews diverse passengers enter the taxi. The driver is actually the director Jafar Panahi himself.
So, all in all one of the strongest big screen weekends for a while. If I missed anything good, then please let me know. As always any queries, please drop me a line on twitter @timmy666. Until then, have a great week at the cinema.