I’ll always remember the day I got my first Oppenheimer.
It was Christmas 1982, and like every other four-year-old boy across the world, I’d spent months badgering my parents to buy me my own 11.5 inch plastic replica of the man who invented the atomic bomb.
I tore open the box, eager to start dressing him in each of his dazzling array of multi-coloured outfits – grey trenchcoat; beige trenchcoat; greyish beige trenchcoat.
Of course, such a pop cultural talisman was not without its controversies – while some celebrated the doll as a positive role model, others saw him as reinforcing harmful and unrealistic ideals of masculinity upon impressionable youngsters; after all, so few of us would go on to possess both a preternatural understanding of theoretical physics and perfect abs.
Whatever your view, there’s no denying that for my generation, and many before and since, he remains a cherished totem of childhood, and like fans across the globe, I’m on tenterhooks to see how Christopher Nolan has reimagined him for the big screen.
There’s also this other film out this week called Barbie – looks a bit heavy-going though, I’m definitely going to check out Oppenheimer first…
She’s a Barbie girl, but not in Barbie world – the iconic doll gets a reality check in this colourful big screen adventure from the brilliant Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird, Little Women).
Margot Robbie stars as the ever-effervescent heroine, whose idyllic life in the perma-partying paradise of Barbie Land is derailed when she begins to have very un-Barbie-like thoughts – “You guys ever think about dying?” – which lead to her being expelled from the magic kingdom.
There’s nothing for it but to head out to the real world to find some answers, with the trusty Ken (Ryan Gosling) at her side.
Impressive reviews suggest that Gerwig has crafted something that’s part satire, part celebration, and all pink – very, very pink.
If you’re really wanting to get in the spirit of things, City Screen are inviting you to raid your wardrobe for a special dress-up screening on Fri 21st – while you can bring your pooch to their dog-friendly screening on Sat 22nd. Come on Barbie, let’s go walkies…
From his menacing turn as the villainous Scarecrow in Batman Begins onwards, Cillian Murphy has enjoyed a long and fruitful partnership with Christopher Nolan – but this eagerly-awaited biopic marks the first time the Peaky Blinders star has taken centre stage in one of the director’s films.
Nolan’s epic historical saga sees Murphy step into the shoes of renowned physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, the man who would change the course of history with the invention of the atomic bomb.
It’s a story that promises both high drama and serious spectacle, with the director’s commitment to using practical effects sure to conjure some stunning cinematic visuals – while Emily Blunt, Florence Pugh and Robert Downey Jr. are among the none-more-starry supporting cast.
As ever with Nolan, the exact nature of the finished product has been subject to Manhattan Project levels of secrecy, but if the enthusiastic reviews are anything to go by, it seems the director’s Midas touch is still very much intact.
Yorgos Lanthimos season, a marvellous music doc and a mystery movie
With the vinyl resurgence showing no signs of slowing down, new documentary Squaring the Circle (The Story of Hipgnosis) ought to appeal to crate diggers both old and new as it celebrates the design duo who created some of the most famous album covers of all time.
Directed by legendary rock photographer-turned-filmmaker Anton Corbijn (the man behind 2007’s Joy Division biopic Control), the film tells the story of Hipgnosis, whose cover art for the likes of Paul McCartney, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd comprises some of the most enduring visuals in rock music; the likes of Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and Noel Gallagher line up to sing their praises in this acclaimed doc, which shows at City Screen on Tues 25th.
On Mon 24th, meanwhile, City Screen continue celebrating the wonderfully idiosyncratic Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos – the man behind 2018’s right royal romp The Favourite – with their YÖRGOSBORD season, screening three highlights from the director’s filmography ahead of his keenly awaited new one Poor Things, out in September.
This week it’s the turn of 2017’s The Killing of a Sacred Deer, a queasy, slow-burn tale of revenge featuring Colin Farrell and an unforgettably creepy turn from rising star Barry Keoghan.
Meanwhile, surprises of an altogether more pleasant nature (hopefully, at least) are in store at Cineworld on Mon 24th with their latest secret screening, providing a sneak preview of a mystery upcoming film. My money’s on Aussie horror Talk to Me or sharktastic Statham sequel Meg 2. “Oi! Jaws! Do one!” (Sample dialogue, I’m hoping.)
Summer holiday round-up
As the final bell-ring of the academic year is drowned out by screams of joy, apprehensive parents can rest assured that cinemas will be stepping up their family-friendly offerings over the next few weeks.
As ever, Cineworld, City Screen and Vue will be extending their regular weekend budget priced screenings throughout the week, starting with one of this year’s biggest hitters in the form of The Super Mario Bros. Movie.
A distinctly lukewarm critical response didn’t stop this animated Nintendo spin-off from coining it big time on its release back in April – and if you’ve held off ‘til now, you can see what all the fuss was about (or just pick up on all the Easter eggs you missed first time round) for just a few quid.
Fire up the Mario Kart and head to Cineworld (Fri 21st onwards, £2.50), City Screen (Sat 22nd onwards, £3.30) or Vue (Sat 22nd onwards, £2.49). As the boys themselves might say, “It’s-a bargain!”
Of the more recent releases (screening at the standard ticket price), there’s still time to catch Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Cineworld, Sat 22nd, Mon 24th, Weds 26th; Vue, daily) and The Little Mermaid (Cineworld, Sun 23rd, Tues 25th, Thurs 27th; Vue, Sat 22nd – Mon 24th), while new Pixar tale Elemental, in which a chance meeting sparks a romance between fire and water, is widely available at all four York cinemas.
What’s that, did someone mention Sparks? Didn’t they do a thing with Cate Blanchett the other week? (Last time, I promise…)