As visual effects continue to advance, one part of the old adage “Never work with children or animals” is becoming an increasingly viable prospect for filmmakers.
Following last year’s photorealistic remake of The Lion King, the fearless hound at the heart of this week’s big new family film The Call of the Wild is another entirely CGI creation.
I contacted Rex Hairyson, spokesdog for the canine branch of Equity, for his thoughts on the matter. “When they first told us CGI could threaten our livelihood, we thought they were barking,” he confided, “but there’s no denying that the future right now looks ruff.”
When asked if the situation gave him paws for thought, he added, “Come on. We’re both better than this.”
The Call of the Wild
It feels a little while since Harrison Ford has graced the big screen, so it’s good to see him back here in this new adaptation of Jack London’s classic adventure novel.
He’s not technically the star of the show, though – that would be Buck, a big-hearted dog who is stolen from his home and transported to the wilds of the Alaskan Yukon, where he’s sold into service as part of a sled team.
Ford plays John Thornton, a grizzled outdoorsman who comes to Buck’s aid, while the supporting cast includes Dan Stevens and Karen Gillan as two of the less upstanding humans encountered by the brave canine.
The film marks the live action debut of Chris Sanders, who co-directed the first How to Train Your Dragon movie – and while Buck himself may be a product of CGI, the Guardian’s review assures us that the film is ‘digital in its effects but analogue in its heart’. Aww…
This satirical mockumentary sees star Steve Coogan once again working with director Michael Winterbottom, with whom he’s previously collaborated on the much-loved likes of Madchester biopic 24 Hour Party People and TV show The Trip (a fourth series of which starts next month).
Coogan plays self-made billionaire Sir Richard “Greedy” McCreadie, a retail magnate who plans an extravagant party on a Greek island to mark his 60th birthday – and to help him bounce back from some recent bad PR.
Given that the Roman-themed party features a real lion, we can expect the bouncing back to go about as well as it did for Coogan’s most famous alter ego…
A quality supporting cast includes David Mitchell as McCreadie’s biographer, Isla Fisher as his ex-wife Samantha and Sophie Cookson (seen recently in the BBC’s The Trial of Christine Keeler) as his daughter Lily.
Like a Boss
- Cert 15, 83 mins
- Vue York, Cineworld
- From Fri Feb 21
In Girls Trip and Bridesmaids respectively, Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne starred in two of the last decade’s most talked-about comedy hits.
They join forces here in this comic tale of two lifelong friends running a struggling cosmetics company.
Mia (Haddish) and Mel (Byrne) find their personal and professional relationship put to the test when they agree to a buyout by industry mogul Claire Luna (Salma Hayek).
Reviews have been middling, but there have been plaudits for Haddish and Byrne’s performances, with Variety praising their ‘frisky and believable chemistry’.
If you’ve yet to sample the delights of Cineworld’s swanky IMAX screen, this could be the weekend to tempt you, as York’s newest cinema is having a mini IMAX festival on Saturday 22nd.
Head down to catch recent hits Avengers: Endgame, Joker, Spider-Man: Far From Home and The Lion King in all their towering high-res glory.
If you fancy taking a journey into the unknown, however, Friday 21st sees City Screen’s latest Surprise Film – a chance to see an upcoming new release early, for just £8 (£5 for members). With previous screenings having included Knives Out and The Lighthouse, it could be worth taking a punt…
The same night sees Everyman begin a new dystopia-themed season, running on Friday nights for the next few weeks. They’re kicking off with Roma director Alfonso Cuaron’s 2006 thriller Children of Men, set in a near future where two decades of infertility have brought society to the brink of collapse.
On a rather cheerier note, both City Screen and Everyman have a preview screening of the fun-looking new British comedy drama Military Wives on Mon 24th, broadcast live from the film’s world premiere in Leicester Square.
City Screen’s Kids’ Club screening on Sat 22nd is last year’s Dora and the Lost City of Gold – a live action adaptation of the Nickelodeon cartoon which by all accounts is surprisingly good – while Mon 24th sees Dolly Parton and pals return in a Dementia-Friendly Screening of 9 to 5.
And finally, anime fans may want to head down to Vue and Cineworld this week for screenings of My Hero Academia: Two Heroes. The first big screen outing for the popular manga series, it shows on Weds 26th and Thurs 27th.
South Bank Community Cinema‘s literature-themed season continues this week with a performance of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar by an unusual cast.
Caesar Must Die is an Italian documentary following a group of inmates at a high-security prison rehearsing and performing the classic tragedy.
Directed by brothers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, it was the late Observer critic Philip French’s Film of the Week on its release in 2012 – and as so often, his typically erudite review is both a ringing endorsement and a work of art in itself.
It’s showing at Clement’s Hall on Fri 21st at 8pm (doors 7:30pm). Tickets are £3 for members, £4 for guests.