I wonder what Ghost World’s Enid and Rebecca would make of the unstoppable rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
It’s 20 years now since the cult comic book adaptation gave Scarlett Johansson one of her breakout roles, starring with Thora Birch as two teenage best friends who spend their days making fun of everything and everyone around them.
I can imagine them rolling their eyes at the latest social media meltdown sparked by a casting announcement, or loudly discussing fake plot spoilers as they walk past the cinema queue.
Johansson blazes back onto the big screen as Black Widow this week, while gentler pleasures are on offer courtesy of The Truffle Hunters and their four-legged friends.
After the steady drip-feed of Disney+ TV series that began with WandaVision in January, this long-awaited solo outing for Scarlett Johansson’s enigmatic trained assassin ushers in Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe on the big screen.
Set after the events of 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, the story delves into the dark past of Natasha Romanoff (aka Black Widow) – as the discovery of a dangerous conspiracy reunites her with her former Soviet agent colleagues, with whom she once worked undercover in the guise of a regular family.
There’s an excellent supporting cast for this one, with Rachel Weisz and Stranger Things’ David Harbour on hand as Natasha’s pretend parents, and the brilliant Florence Pugh (Fighting With My Family) igniting some sibling rivalry as her pseudo sister.
The Truffle Hunters
As the hardcore crate diggers I saw queuing outside Vinyl Eddie on Record Store Day would surely agree, in an age of one-click convenience there’s something to be said for scarcity, and for the kind of encyclopaedic knowledge that can’t be skim-read from a Wikipedia entry.
This charming-looking documentary certainly ought to appeal if you share that view, and indeed the stubborn bloody-mindedness that can accompany it – or failing that, if you just really like dogs.
It focusses on a small group of old men in northern Italy, who, aided by their trusty canine companions, are the only people who know where to find a particularly rare and sought-after form of truffle, the Alba – a foodstuff which consequently sells for a very high price.
The truffle hunters zealously guard their hard-earned knowledge not only from each other, but from the younger generations too – making this a portrait not just of the bond between the men and their dogs, but also of a dying art.
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Following last week’s Trainspotting re-release, we can expect to see a string of other modern British classics back on the big screen over the coming weeks courtesy of Film4, who are reissuing six of their most celebrated films in a show of support for UK cinemas.
You can catch three of them in York this week, starting with another early role for Ewan McGregor in Brassed Off, the much-loved 1996 drama which mixes light comedy with fierce anger in depicting the struggles of the Grimley Colliery Band, as its village pit faces closure.
The band plays on at Everyman on Mon 12th, and at Vue on Sun 11th, Tues 13th and Thurs 15th.
On Weds 14th, Everyman also have a screening of 1985’s My Beautiful Laundrette, the tale of a young British-Pakistani (Gordon Warnecke) who sets about transforming his uncle’s titular business, in the process embarking on a relationship with his National Front-supporting childhood friend (Daniel Day-Lewis, in one of his earliest screen roles).
Meanwhile, City Screen will be showing all six films on Monday nights, and this week it’s the turn of Local Hero (Mon 14th), the 1983 comedy drama about an American oil executive (Peter Riegert, and not Burt Lancaster as I said last week – see what I mean about skimming Wikipedia?) sent to a small Scottish coastal town to buy it up for his company.
City Screen are also showing the highly acclaimed 1995 French drama La Haine on Sun 11th – director Mathieu Kassovitz won Best Director at that year’s Cannes festival for his incendiary film depicting the lives of three friends in the marginalised communities of the Parisian housing projects.
Moving on to new releases, there’s a treat for music fans in the form of Summer of Soul (City Screen, Sun 11th), a new documentary about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, boasting never-before-seen footage of performances from such luminaries as Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone and Sly and the Family Stone.
Meanwhile, anime fans have a couple more chances to catch Violet Evergarden: The Movie this week, courtesy of City Screen – it’s showing on Fri 9th and Sat 10th.
And finally, City Screen have a preview of a French surrealist comedy from a former UK chart-topper on Weds 14th – Deerskin, the tale of one man’s obsession with his vintage deerskin jacket, is the brainchild of director Quentin Dupieux, aka Mr Oizo, who had a Levi’s-assisted number one hit in 1999 with the single Flat Beat and its accompanying puppet-starring video.
As for Flat Eric himself, you’ll be glad to know he’s still going strong, and these days can be found hanging out with the likes of Charli XCX – which is more than can be said for Babylon Zoo…