Ah, November. The whizz of fireworks, the crackle of bonfires, and the sweet smell of reheated intellectual property.
Yep, it’s a remake and reboot bonanza in cinemas this month.
Thrill! As Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen turns a 1980s ITV drama into a rip-roaring heist movie.
Gasp! As Claire Foy dispenses vigilante justice as the new Lisbeth Salander.
Say “Didn’t they just do this one with Jim Carrey? Hang on, what, that was 18 years ago? My goodness I feel old”, as The Grinch tries to ruin everyone’s Christmas again.
Elsewhere, it’s back to school for the next chapter in the Fantastic Beasts saga…
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
This fantasy adventure is Disney’s take on the old German tale best known to most from the Tchaikovsky ballet.
The story sees young Clara (Mackenzie Foy, Interstellar) searching for a magical key to unlock a box which contains a priceless gift.
Her quest takes her to a mysterious parallel land, where she meets a soldier named Phillip, a group of mice, and the regents who preside over the three realms (including Kiera Knightley’s Sugar Plum Fairy).
Clara and Phillip’s search for the key takes them to the fourth realm, where they must face the sorceress Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren).
The starry cast also includes Morgan Freeman, Matthew Macfadyen and Richard E. Grant – while playing the Mouse King is fleet-footed US dancer Lil Buck, star of one of the winning entries at last year’s Aesthetica Short Film Festival.
This festive film’s release in early November suggests that even the Grinch doesn’t dare go head to head with Mary Poppins, who’ll be floating back down to the big screen next month.
From the studio behind the Despicable Me series, the film tells the much-loved story of Dr Seuss’ titular green meanie, who grows tired of having his solitary existence disturbed every year by the noisy Christmas celebrations of his neighbours in Whoville.
When the Whos decide to make Christmas bigger and brighter, the Grinch decides to pose as Santa Claus and steal Christmas to shut them all up.
Benedict Cumberbatch voices the old grouch, Pharrell Williams narrates, while the soundtrack features not one but two Run-DMC Christmas songs. I bet you won’t get that in Mary Poppins Returns…
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
This second instalment of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter prequel series sees Johnny Depp star as the eponymous villain, whose escape from prison means more perilous adventures for hero Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne).
As dark wizard Grindelwald plots to raise an army of pure-blood wizards to rule over all non-magical beings, Albus Dumbledore enlists Newt, his former student, to help defeat him.
Dumbledore (played in this youthful incarnation by Jude Law) isn’t the only link to Harry to appear here – the film also promises to return fans to the world of Hogwarts…
This slick US-set heist thriller (adapted from an ’80s ITV Lynda La Plante drama) was a surprising choice for director Steve McQueen, whose previous film was the Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave.
Transposing the action to Chicago, it sees four women from different walks of life coming together after their criminal husbands are killed when a job goes wrong.
Finding themselves saddled with a huge debt, the widows, led by steely Veronica (Viola Davis), plot to carry out the heist which their spouses had been planning.
With a script co-written by McQueen with Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn, and a top-notch cast (including Michelle Rodriquez, Broadway star Cynthia Erivo, Get Out’s Daniel Kaluuya, Liam Neeson and Robert Duvall),the film’s glowing reviews suggest it’s a gripping, entertaining thriller which packs a real-world punch.
The Girl in the Spider’s Web
Claire Foy (The Crown) takes on the role of ace hacker Lisbeth Salander in this ‘soft reboot’ of the franchise based on Stieg Larsson’s popular Millennium novels – replacing Rooney Mara who starred in 2011’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
Slightly confusingly, this new film skips over the two remaining books in Larsson’s original trilogy, instead adapting the first of the new novels written by David Lagercrantz after Larsson’s death.
Lisbeth finds herself recruited by an ex-National Security Agency employee (The Office’s Stephen Merchant) to steal a computer program he created which can access codes for nuclear weapons worldwide.
When her laptop falls into the wrong hands, Lisbeth finds herself in a race against time…
Sverrir Gudnason (Borg vs McEnroe) stars as Lisbeth’s partner Mikael Blomkvist, while the director is Fede Álvarez, who made 2016’s acclaimed horror Don’t Breathe.
When it comes to Nick Hornby adaptations, the 2000 John Cusack film of High Fidelity is surely the high-water mark.
This indie romcom, based on Hornby’s 2009 novel, has a similar set-up to that earlier film, being the tale of Annie (Rose Byrne), the long-suffering girlfriend of obsessive music fan Duncan (Chris O’Dowd).
The two find themselves in a love triangle when cult musician Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke), idolised by Duncan, begins a relationship with Annie.
Appropriately enough given the subject matter, the director here is Jesse Peretz, who in an earlier life was bass guitarist for ‘90s US alt-rockers The Lemonheads.
“Where I grew up in north Salford, you could get to where it happened on the bus in 15 minutes and I never knew about it”, director Mike Leigh said of the 1819 Peterloo massacre in a recent interview.
His latest film should certainly help to re-focus attention on the notorious event – in which armed militias charged on a crowd of 60,000 peaceful protesters in Manchester, killing 15 and injuring hundreds more – as its 200th anniversary approaches.
Maxine Peake and Pearce Quigley star as millworkers Nellie and Joshua, whose family are among those caught up in the terrible violence, while Rory Kinnear plays radical speaker Henry Hunt.
This 1960s-set US drama about a dysfunctional family marks the directorial debut of actor Paul Dano, who’s been in everything from road-trip comedy Little Miss Sunshine to the BBC’s adaptation of War & Peace.
Adapated from a 1990 novel by Richard Ford, it focusses on the Brinson family – mum Jeanette (Carey Mulligan), dad Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal) and teenage son Joe (Ed Oxenbould, The Visit) – who have recently moved to a small Montana town.
When Jerry loses his job, he opts to join the efforts to fight an uncontrolled forest fire nearby, leaving his wife and son to fend for themselves.
Joe finds himself forced into the role of an adult, witnessing his mother’s struggle as she tries to keep her head above water.
Co-written by Dano with his partner Zoe Kazan (who was responsible for 2012’s comedy Ruby Sparks), it’s been widely praised by critics, in particular for Dano’s confident direction and Mulligan’s performance, which some are hailing as a career-best.
Cate Blanchett’s jury were “completely bowled over” by this Japanese domestic drama at this year’s Cannes Festival, awarding it the highest accolade of the Palme d’Or.
The latest film from celebrated director Hirokazu Kore-eda, it tells the story of an impoverished makeshift family who shoplift to survive.
One day they come across a young girl by herself, and fearing for her safety they decide to take her under their wing.
Tipped to make the nominations for Best Foreign Language film at the Oscars, it was hailed by Variety as a “charming and heart-wrenching” film, which “will steal the hearts of both art-house and mainstream audiences.”
Seasons and one-offs
It’s a relatively quiet month for one-off screenings, but there are as ever a few to highlight at City Screen.
Let’s start with reissues of two very (very) different films from 1980.
On Monday 12th you can catch John Carpenter’s atmospheric horror The Fog, showing in a newly restored 4K version.
Carpenter’s follow-up to Halloween, the film sees a small California coastal town terrorised by the ghosts of murderous mariners.
That’s followed a week later on Mon 19th – and I do apologise if I’m about to embed an earworm in your head for the rest of the day – by workplace comedy 9 to 5.
Starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton as three women who come together to overthrow their sexist boss (Dabney Coleman), it’s regularly praised today for its forward-thinking feminist outlook.
It’s being reissued as part of the BFI’s Comedy Genius season, from which City Screen also have a showing of Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times on Mon 26th. Featuring the comedy legend getting in all kinds of scrapes in a state-of-the art factory, it’s on as part of their regular series of dementia-friendly screenings, which take place on the last Monday of every month.
Also on Monday 26th is documentary Art Beats: Hitler Vs Picasso and the Others, which details the Nazis’ looting and elimination of European art which contradicted Hitler’s European vision.
It’s part of the Screen Arts strand, which also regularly broadcasts current high profile theatre performances in full, showing everything from drama to ballet to musicals. There’s loads to choose from this month, but one of the highlights will be the chance to see Alfred Molina’s highly acclaimed reprise of his role as painter Mark Rothko in John Logan’s play Red, screening on Weds 7th.
(He’ll always be Indy’s double-crossing sidekick at the start of Raiders to me, though…)
Tues 13th sees a preview screening of the new film from Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino – and it couldn’t be more different from last year’s tender coming-of-age drama.
Suspiria is a remake of a cult 1970s Italian horror, centring around the sinister goings-on in a world-renowned Berlin dance academy and starring Fifty Shades’ Dakota Johnson as the unsuspecting new recruit.
Finally, the Aesthetica Short Film Festival (Weds 7th – Sun 11th) is expanding its remit to include feature-length films this year, and both City Screen and Everyman are hosting several features.
City Screen’s selection includes the award-winning doc Almost Heaven (Thurs 8th), about a young Chinese woman training to become a mortician, and enigmatic sci-fi-tinged German drama The Astronauts’ Bodies (Sat 10th).
Meanwhile, Everyman have two documentaries on offer – Family Life (Thurs 8th) follows a German family living on a run-down farm, while Mark Cousins’ acclaimed feature The Eyes of Orson Welles (Fri 9th) reveals a new side to the legendary director through an examination of his drawings and paintings.
South Bank Community Cinema’s first offering this month with Jacques Demy’s classic 1964 musical The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, showing on Friday 9th.
Starring Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo as lovers in provincial France who are separated by war, it’s notable for the fact that the music never stops – every line of dialogue is sung to composer Michael Legrand’s score.
With Mike Leigh’s Peterloo in cinemas this month, SBCC’s second offering (on Fri 23rd) is a chance to revisit his first foray into period drama – 1999’s Topsy Turvy, which follows Gilbert and Sullivan as they work on one of their most famous musicals, The Mikado.
There’s plenty of fun to be had watching the pair (played by Jim Broadbent and Allan Corduner) bicker and spar with each other in the run-up to opening night – and the excellent supporting cast includes Timothy Spall, Lesley Manville and Shirley Henderson.
Both screenings are in Clement’s Hall on Nunthorpe Road, starting at 8pm. Tickets are £3 for members or £4 for guests.
Meanwhile, Film at the Folk Hall have something of a more local flavour this month, as they present The Chocolate Village in the Chocolate City, with Alex Hutchinson.
It will be Alex’s last talk as archivist to the old Rowntree factory, and is a great opportunity to see some fascinating local footage of days gone by, accompanied by expert commentary.
As a taster, you can see Alex talking about all things York and chocolatey here:
Interesting finds from the Rowntree vaults are promised, plus there’s an opportunity to buy signed copies of Alex’s new novel ‘The Quality Street Girls’.
Taking place on Saturday 24th at 19:30, attending won’t cost you a (toffee) penny – but you do need to book first, via their Eventbrite page.