“Jaws was never my scene, and I don’t like Star Wars…”
Yep, Freddie Mercury even found time for a spot of film criticism in between selling shedloads of records.
Spielberg and Lucas can finally get their own back this month, when the long-gestating Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody arrives in cinemas.
Before that, Lady Gaga steps into Barbra Streisand’s shoes in A Star Is Born, and closer to home, there’s the inspiring story of one man’s mission to bring hip-hop to Hull – and you can see it for free!
We live in confusing times. This new Marvel comics adaptation sees a villain from the Spider-Man stories take centre stage – except, for complicated legal reasons, Spidey himself won’t be appearing in this franchise (at least, not yet) and it’s not part of the official Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The story shows how investigative journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy, The Dark Knight Rises) becomes the host of an alien parasite, which gives him super powers and a deadly alter-ego (and, it has to be said, a cracking set of gnashers).
Styling the character as an anti-hero, and looking altogether darker than the MCU films, it’s directed by Ruben Fleischer (the man behind 2009’s cult hit Zombieland) and co-stars Riz Ahmed and Michelle Williams.
A Star Is Born
The directing debut of a famous actor, with a pop star in a lead role, and the third remake of a classic musical…the odds weren’t exactly in favour of A Star Is Born turning out any good, but it’s defied expectations and had critics singing its praises – and in particular those of its star Lady Gaga – since its premiere at the Venice Film Festival in August.
Hangover man Bradley Cooper is both behind and in front of the camera here, playing a hard-drinking musician who encourages a struggling young singer (Gaga) to realise her potential, with the two inevitably falling in love in the process. (So essentially, this is a film in which Lady Gaga has a Brad Romance.)
Featuring original songs written by Gaga – several in collaboration with Lukas Nelson, son of country legend Willie – it was described by the Guardian as “(an) outrageously watchable and colossally enjoyable new version, supercharged with dilithium crystals of pure melodrama”.
It’s taken its time to get here – Brian May originally revealed it was in the works back in 2010 – but this month finally sees Queen’s story get the big screen treatment.
Rami Malek (from Amazon’s hit series Mr Robot) plays Freddie Mercury, in a biopic which follows the band’s story from their rise to fame through to their legendary Live Aid performance.
The trailer suggests the finished product will be a mix of fist-pumping music and fist-chewing dialogue (“Roger, there’s only room in this band for one hysterical queen”) – but for many, the chance to hear those bombastic songs blasting from the cinema speakers will be reason enough to check it out.
Johnny English Strikes Again
A third outing here for Rowan Atkinson’s hapless secret agent (a character whose moniker has always felt like a dashed-off placeholder for a funnier name the writers never managed to think of).
This sequel casts English as an analogue man in a digital world, as he’s brought out of retirement when a cyberattack reveals the identities of all active undercover agents in Britain.
Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace) co-stars, along with Ben Miller (reprising his role as sidekick Bough) and Emma Thompson as the Prime Minister (if only, eh?).
Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween
The second film in the franchise based on the best-selling series of children’s horror books moves the action to the spookiest night of the year.
Featuring a largely new cast of characters, the story sees two boys accidentally unleash a cavalcade of ghouls when they find a mysterious tome by Goosebumps author R. L. Stine.
Headed by the first film’s ventriloquist dummy Slappy, the fiendish creatures plan to make Halloween last forever…
So, what to do when you’re a 40-year-old franchise with a brace of largely underwhelming sequels and an increasingly confused mythology under your belt? Simple – just go right back to the start and pretend the last four decades never happened…
That’s the basis for this latest Halloween instalment, which ignores all the previous sequels and reboots, and sees Jamie Lee Curtis return as the first film’s heroine Laurie Strode – alongside the original Michael Myers, Nick Castle.
The plot has Myers escaping from the institution where he’s been held for the last 40 years and heading back to the town of Haddonfield – setting the scene for a final showdown between the two.
Produced by Blumhouse (the company responsible for a string of recent horror hits such as Get Out and the Purge series), it also sees the return of original director John Carpenter as an executive producer – and, perhaps most excitingly for some fans, he’s also composed the new film’s soundtrack.
There’s early talk of an Oscar nomination for Glenn Close in this drama, which sees the wife of a famous author question her years of self-sacrifice in the service of her husband’s career.
Close plays Joan, the wife of arrogant, narcissistic – and hugely celebrated – writer Joe (Jonathan Pryce), who is about to be awarded the Nobel Prize.
As the two arrive in Stockholm, Joan starts thinking back over the uneven compromises, betrayals and long-hidden secrets at the heart of their marriage, and begins to reach breaking point.
This highly acclaimed comedy drama has been a labour of love for its two upcoming stars, who first wrote the screenplay together in the mid-2000s.
Real-life childhood friends Daveed Diggs (TV’s Black-ish) and Rafael Casal play Collin and Miles, whose long-standing friendship is put to the test when Collin, on his final three days of probation, witnesses a police shooting.
Part buddy comedy, part social commentary, it’s been hailed by Variety as “the most exciting cinematic take on contemporary race relations since “Do the Right Thing” nearly 30 years ago”.
Director Damien Chazelle’s follow-up to La La Land sees him once again working with Ryan Gosling, this time telling the story of one of the key events of the 20th century – the moment a man first set foot on the moon.
Based on Neil Armstrong’s official biography, it follows Armstrong (played by Gosling) from 1961 through to the landing itself in 1969.
Focussing on both the mission itself and its effects on Armstrong and his family – The Crown’s Claire Foy plays Armstrong’s wife Janet – it’s been met with mostly impressive reviews, both for Gosling’s and Foy’s performances and for Chazelle’s immersive, authentic recreation of the mission.
The Hate U Give
This US drama about a black teenager’s political awakening boasts what many are calling a star-making performance from Amandla Stenberg (perhaps best known until now for her role as Katniss Everdeen’s ill-fated young friend in The Hunger Games).
Stenberg plays Starr Carter, who finds herself constantly switching between the world of her poor, mostly black neighbourhood and the wealthy, mostly white prep school she attends.
When her childhood best friend Khalil (Algee Smith, Detroit) is killed in a police shooting, Starr must find her voice and decide to stand up for what’s right.
Adapted from the best-selling young adult novel by Angie Thomas, the film has been praised for its thoughtful, uncondescending approach to its subject.
Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)
Halloween is upon us once more, and there are several opportunities for York cinema-goers to get scared witless this month.
With the new Halloween film designed as a direct sequel to the 1978 original, newcomers to the series will be pleased to hear that John Carpenter’s iconic chiller is screening at all three cinemas this month – it’s on at City Screen and Everyman on Weds 10th, and at Vue on Weds 31st.
Everyman also have a string of other horror classics showing on Tuesday nights. First up are a couple from master of the genre Wes Craven – his post-modern slasher Scream plays on 2nd, followed by A Nightmare On Elm Street on 9th.
They’re followed by The Silence of the Lambs on 16th, and – because it wouldn’t be Halloween without Stephen King – The Shining on 23rd.
Over at Vue, there’s a 30th anniversary screening of Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice on Sunday 28th, plus new British zombie horror Redcon-1 on Weds 24th, in which the zombies have apparently learnt to use weapons…
City Screen, meanwhile, have decided that you might as well learn a little while you’re cowering behind the sofa – they’re running a four week course on Folk Horror, led by Starburst critic and author John Towlson.
Taking place on Monday nights starting on the 15th, it will dig into the countrycidal likes of The Wicker Man as well as more recent fare such as 2008’s Eden Lake.
Book-ending the month, City Screen also have screenings of Francis Ford Coppola’s take on Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Mon 1st) and cult camp classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Weds 31st).
Seasons and one-offs
As ever, there’s plenty going on at City Screen this month. First up, their latest Vintage Sundays season looks to the stars with a cracking selection of films themed around space travel, many of which rarely touch down on the big screen.
Epic real-life drama The Right Stuff (29th Sept) tells the story of NASA’s early days, while Moon (5th Oct) was the acclaimed first feature of Duncan Jones (an appropriate setting for Jones’ debut, given that Space Oddity was his father David Bowie’s first big hit).
Next up on the 14th is a welcome screening of Ridley Scott’s original Alien, followed by Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris (21st), a 1972 psychological drama set aboard a space station that’s regarded as one of the all-time great sci-fi films.
Lastly this month, the 28th sees 1995’s gripping recreation of the Apollo 13 mission, starring Tom Hanks.
Among the crew members being thoroughly put off their tea by John Hurt in Alien’s most famous scene was the late, great character actor Harry Dean Stanton.
There’s a chance to see one of his final screen roles in the Discover Tuesdays strand this month – the highly acclaimed drama Lucky (Tues 2nd) follows Stanton’s fiercely independent 90-year-old-atheist as he goes about his days in his small desert town, “kicking his own mortality down the road like a tin can that got in his way” as Rolling Stone rather nicely put it.
It’s followed by French coming-out drama Reinventing Marvin on 9th and US indie crime comedy An Evening With Beverley Luff Linn on 23rd, then on 30th there’s a reissue of Jean Cocteau’s 1950 classic Orphee, a re-telling of the Greek myth of Orpheus set in post-war Paris.
There’s also a chance to see a preview of Mike Leigh’s latest film Peterloo on Weds 17th. A period drama about the notorious massacre in Manchester in 1819, it’s accompanied by a live satellite Q&A with the director.
Finally, a couple of documentaries to flag – from Fri 28th Sept, there are limited screenings of Faces Places, the new film from 90-year-old French auteur Agnès Varda, which sees her and a photographer friend take a road trip around the small towns and villages of rural France.
Meanwhile, Nureyev, screening on Thurs 11th, is a celebration of the famous Russian ballet dancer, whose defection to the West in 1961 caused an international sensation.
The good people at Film at the Folk Hall have arranged another free screening for this month – and even better, there’s a Q&A with the film’s director and star afterwards!
It sounds like a cracking film too – A Northern Soul opened this year’s prestigious Sheffield Doc Fest, and has been the subject of much acclaim since its release, with the Guardian hailing it as “a personal cry for social mobility…and a demonstration that given an opportunity, northern working-class people can and will make and engage in culture for themselves.”
Director Sean McAllister’s documentary was made in Hull during its year as City of Culture, and focusses on Steve Arnott, a hip-hop loving warehouse worker who got sponsorship to create a “Beats Bus” – a mobile recording studio he took round schools and council estates, giving the city’s under-privileged children a chance to make their own music.
The story itself is reason enough to get down, but on top of that they’ve arranged for Sean McAllister and Steve Arnott to be present for a Q&A session afterwards.
The screening is at the Folk Hall, New Easrwick on Friday 12th at 7pm. Tickets are free, courtesy of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Film at the Folk Hall, but you do need to book, which you can do via their Eventbrite page.
The Folk Hall’s other screening this month sees them celebrate Halloween with an ‘80s classic, as The Lost Boys come to town on Friday 26th.
Kiefer Sutherland’s vampiric activities in this film must now look positively tame compared to his years of torturing and decapitation as Jack Bauer, but at least Bauer spared his enemies the sight of that mullet.
It shows at the Folk Hall at 7:30pm, and tickets are £3 for members or £5 for guests.
Meanwhile, South Bank Community Cinema continue their music-themed season with a Bollywood comedy drama and a film that redefines the concept of a punishing drum solo.
Screening on Friday 12th, English Vinglish is the tale of Shashi, a shy housewife and mother who blossoms when she begins to learn English while in New York for a family wedding.
She’s played by Sridevi, who was hailed as Bollywood’s ‘first female superstar’, and whose death earlier this year saw thousands of fans take to the streets to pay their respect.
It’s followed on Friday 26th by US indie drama Whiplash – a well-timed screening, with director Damien Chazelle’s major new picture First Man hitting cinemas this month.
The film Chazelle made prior to La La Land, it sees ambitious young jazz drummer Andrew (Miles Teller) joining a top ensemble ruled over by a terrifyingly exacting instructor (J. K. Simmons, who won an Oscar for his role) who pushes him to the brink.
Jazz drumming might not sound like a subject capable of inspiring nail-biting tension, but the film’s glowing reviews would beg to differ, with Empire magazine proclaiming that “Chazelle yanks your heart into your throat waiting to see if a man will nail a drum roll, because he directs like everything’s at stake…You’ll probably leave the cinema in need of a massage.”
Both screenings are in Clement’s Hall on Nunthorpe Road, starting at 8pm. Tickets are £3 for members or £4 for guests.