As Beyoncé’s Renaissance hits the big screen this weekend hot on the heels of Taylor Swift’s record-breaking Eras film, there’s no doubt that concert docs are having something of a cinematic moment.
It’s not hard to see why, of course – if you can’t get to see your idol on tour in the flesh, a packed cinema screening is the next best thing, combining the joy of the communal experience you get at a gig with better views of the stage than you’d get at the actual venue.
Still, it’s not quite the same, is it – which is why I’m calling on cinemas to do more to recreate the authentic atmosphere of a real gig.
How about paying staff to dress as punters and jostle past you in the crowd, spilling half the contents of their massive two-pint cups over you as they go?
Then, just as the lights go down and the film’s about to start, a bunch of beery lads push their way ahead of your carefully-selected spot at the front and proceed to bellow along atonally to all your favourite songs.
Just little things they can do to make you really feel like you’re there. I’ll be doing my bit by selling knock-off Beyoncé t-shirts outside Vue when the screenings finish. Yours for a fiver! Two for eight quid mate, can’t say fairer than that…
Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé
The Beyhive is set to swarm on cinemas this weekend as the eagerly-awaited concert doc of their idol’s all-conquering world tour arrives on the big screen.
Showcasing footage of performances from the tour’s opening night in Stockholm through to its grand finale in Kansas City, the film also promises interviews giving a deep dive into the creative process behind the tour and Beyoncé’s critically adored 2022 album of the same name.
As well as plenty of candid discussion from the singer herself, the film also features contributions from her family and fellow musical icons including Diana Ross and Kendrick Lamar (LadBaby were sadly unavailable at the time of filming).
While big, bombastic blockbusters tend to hurtle down the motorway to their destination, the films of Aki Kaurismäki offer the appeal of a gentle trundle along the B-roads – quieter, calmer, and with much nicer scenery, the celebrated Finnish filmmaker’s deadpan, retro-styled tales of outsiders and misfits are always a cinematic journey worth taking.
The director’s latest release is a sweet-natured love story about two lonely souls, Ansa (Alma Pöysti) and Holappa (Jussi Vatanen), who meet by chance at a local karaoke bar.
Their connection seems to promise a flash of hope and colour in their down-at-heel lives – but a succession of obstacles lie in their way, in a story the Guardian hails as ‘a film with a big heart…absurd and cartoony as it may be, it fills you with a feelgood glow’.
|Cert 12A, 91 mins
|From Fri Dec 1
A downtrodden young woman in 1960s Boston blossoms in confidence under the guidance of her glamorous new colleague in this twisty thriller from director William Oldroyd (who concocted a similarly heady brew in his hugely acclaimed debut feature Lady Macbeth in 2016).
Living with her alcoholic father and working as a secretary in a boys’ prison, Eileen (Thomas McKenzie, Last Night in Soho) is awkward, withdrawn and ostracised by her colleagues – but when charismatic new arrival Rebecca St John (Anne Hathaway) takes her under her wing, their friendship is the catalyst for Eileen to undergo a dramatic and empowering transformation.
However, as Eileen becomes embroiled in Rebecca’s twisted games, the balance of power between the two shifts in unexpected and disturbing ways.
Pick of the week: Christmas classics in concert
Bill Nighy’s back on the comeback trail and Andrew Lincoln’s dusting off his placards as Love Actually celebrates 20 years of seasonal ubiquity with its now traditional In Concert screening at the Barbican on Weds 6th, offering you the chance to see Richard Curtis’ much-loved-and-or-hated romcom with a live soundtrack courtesy of a full bells-and-whistles orchestra.
If you prefer your festive favourites to have fewer inappropriate workplace relationships and more toe-tapping showtunes, then you’re in luck, as it’s followed on Fri 8th by the definitive take on Charles Dickens’ classic, The Muppet Christmas Carol.
On which note, if you should find yourself dragged along to either of these by a rather more enthusiastic friend, why not indulge your inner Scrooge by trying to think of the least appropriate In Concert screening imaginable? I’m torn between Caligula and The Human Centipede…
Other festive treats
Bringer of joy to the masses, perma-smiling owner of the most lustrous locks in classical music, and the man most likely to be on the Sky Arts channel whenever Bob Ross isn’t: I speak, of course, of Andre Rieu, the Dutch violinist and conductor whose feelgood musical extravaganzas continue to delight millions across the globe.
The man’s also not exactly shy of the camera, as the one million or so concert films he’s recorded to date attest – and he’s back with another, Andre Rieu’s White Christmas, just in time for the festive season, showing at Cineworld (Sat 2nd, Sun 3rd), City Screen (Sat 2nd) and Vue (daily from Sat 2nd).
Elsewhere, familiar festive favourites abound in the form of Elf (Cineworld, daily; Everyman, daily except Thurs 7th; Vue, daily except Weds 6th), Love Actually (Everyman, Sun 3rd, Tues 5th; Vue, Sat 2nd, Sun 3rd) and Home Alone (Everyman, Sat 2nd, Sun 3rd, Mon 4th, Weds 6th, Thurs 7th; Vue, Sat 2nd, Sun 3rd, Tues 5th) – while City Screen’s Culture Shock strand has a screening of The Nightmare Before Christmas on Mon 4th.
Kudos to South Bank Community Cinema for finding something a little off the beaten track for their festive viewing choice this year – a Japanese anime film about three homeless people looking after a baby.
Hailed by legendary US film critic Roger Ebert as ‘both harrowing and heartwarming’ (and also as ‘a story that will never, ever, be remade by Disney’), the plot sees a middle-aged alcoholic, a trans woman and a teenage runaway discover an abandoned newborn while searching through the rubbish on Christmas Eve, setting them off on a search to find the infant’s parents.
The film shows at Clements Hall, South Bank on Fri 1st at 8pm (doors 7:30pm) — tickets are £4 (cash only), and SBCC advise that it’s best to book in advance by e-mailing [email protected].
It’s the time of year for wobbly sets, wild overacting and questionable costumes – no, they’re not bringing Crossroads back, it’s the return of the annual CBeebies Panto.
This year they’ve gone for Robin Hood, showing at City Screen (Sat 2nd, Sun 3rd, tickets £5.00) and Vue (Sat 2nd, Sun 3rd, £6.99) – the blurb promises a grand archery competition and a dancing fox; what more could you ask?
Vue also have a few more screenings of the Wallace & Gromit double bill of A Grand Day Out and The Wrong Trousers (Sat 2nd, Sun 3rd, Tues 5th, Weds 6th, £3.99) and daily outings for toddlers’ favourite Bing’s Christmas and Other Stories (£3.99).
City Screen’s Kids’ Club has a spooky screening of The Nightmare Before Christmas on Sat 2nd (£3.30), while Vue’s Mini Mornings selection is Tim Allen’s inaugural outing in The Santa Clause (Sat 2nd, Sun 3rd, £2.49), and Cineworld’s Movies For Juniors offerings are wholesome Norwegian tale Teddy’s Christmas and Halloween hangover How to Save the Immortal (both showing on Sat 2nd and Sun 3rd, £2.50).
Other new releases and previews
You can open your present early this week with the return of Secret Screenings at Cineworld, City Screen and Vue on Mon 4th, giving you the chance to see a sneak preview of a mystery film ahead of its release.
Could this be your chance to see the origin story of a certain confectionery magnate before anyone else? No peeking now…
City Screen also have a selection of documentary screenings this week: back in cinemas for its 20th anniversary, director Michael Winterbottom’s docudrama In This World (Sun 3rd) follows two young Afghan refugees on their perilous journey to London, while new doc Anselm (Tues 5th) is a portrait of German painter and sculptor Anselm Kiefer, and the environmentally themed Green Screen strand celebrates World Soil Day (I know, comes round so quickly) with A Year in a Field (Tues 5th), a contemplative look at a year in the life of an ancient Cornish monolith.
Meanwhile, Tish (Tues 5th, Weds 6th, Thurs 7th) celebrates the life and work of photographer Tish Murtha, who documented the lives of working class communities in the North East in the 1970s and 80s.
And not content to let Beyoncé hog the limelight, everyone’s favourite soldier-turned-pop star is hawking his own behind-the-scenes doc with James Blunt: One Brit Wonder (Vue, Weds 6th), promising us ‘a cross between Spinal Tap and Alan Partridge’ and doubtless hoping to stay the right side of that fine line between stupid and clever.
Aykroyd’s on the street and Pacino turns up the heat: old favourites back on the big screen
Everyman’s Late Nights strand is celebrating some of the more foul-mouthed and filthy festive fare over the next few weeks, with posh Dan Aykroyd having a very unmerry Christmas when he unwittingly swaps places with Eddie Murphy’s homeless motormouth in classic 80s comedy Trading Places on Fri 2nd.
Vue have a couple more screenings of Christopher Nolan’s space odyssey Interstellar on Sat 2nd and Mon 4th, but this week’s major re-release is Saving Private Ryan – famed in particular for its harrowing opening scene, Steven Spielberg’s powerful war epic is back on the big screen for its 25th anniversary, showing at Cineworld (Fri 1st) and Vue (Sat 2nd, Mon 4th, Tues 5th, Weds 6th).
And finally, Al Pacino invites you to say hello to his little friend as Scarface celebrates 40 years of sterling work for the Miami tourism industry (Cineworld, Tues 5th; Vue, Fri 1st, Mon 4th).