This year for my birthday, my friend Simon gifted me with a book titled Accidentally Wes Anderson.
It’s a lovingly compiled catalogue of buildings and locations around the globe that look just like something you’d see in one of the director’s much-loved films, by virtue of their perfect symmetry, intricate design, or faded retro chic.
That such a book exists is a telling indicator of just how instantly recognisable Anderson’s signature style has become (for more evidence, try typing ‘What if Wes Anderson made…’ into YouTube for a plethora of spoof trailers) – and it’s certainly in plentiful evidence in the director’s latest outing The French Dispatch, which hits cinemas this week.
Meanwhile, it’s a double whammy for Timothée Chalamet fans as the man of the moment stars in both The French Dispatch and the long-awaited new take on Dune.
Chalamaniacs – assemble!
This highly acclaimed sci-fi epic sees Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve fulfil his long-held ambition of adapting Frank Herbert’s classic 1965 novel about warring factions on a dangerous desert planet.
Timothée Chalamet stars as the film’s young hero Paul Atreides, who must discover his destiny when his family (father Oscar Isaac and mother Rebecca Ferguson) are selected to become stewards of the planet Arrakis – a world which is home to the much sought-after ‘spice’, a substance which not only extends the user’s life, but also enables them to travel at light speed through the galaxy.
Unsurprisingly, there are a few other interested parties for the Atreides clan to deal with – not to mention the giant and deadly sandworms which lurk beneath the planet’s surface…
With both Blade Runner 2049 and Arrival, Villeneuve proved himself a master of intelligent sci-fi with spectacular visuals, and the (mostly) rave reviews following Dune’s premiere suggest that he has succeeded where David Lynch’s 1984 version failed.
The French Dispatch
Intricately designed sets in a fetching array of pastel colours? Immaculately composed frames? A succession of deadpan one-liners delivered by a revolving door of Hollywood’s finest character actors? Welcome back to the world of Wes Anderson.
The idiosyncratic director’s first live action feature since 2014’s The Grand Budapest Hotel sees him once again turn to Europe for inspiration, with the French offices of a fictional Kansas newspaper (presided over by – who else – Bill Murray) serving as the backdrop for three separate stories of intrigue.
The first sees Benicio del Toro’s malevolent convict demonstrate a surprising way with a paintbrush, followed by Timothée Chalamet as a dashing student revolutionary and Edward Norton as a small-time crook who undertakes a cack-handed kidnapping.
Expect appearances from plenty of the director’s regular repertory cast – including Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Anjelica Huston – while No Time To Die’s Jeffrey Wright and The Handmaid’s Tale’s Elisabeth Moss make their debuts in Andersonland, and Jarvis Cocker guests on the soundtrack as a fictional French pop star.
The Harder They Fall
Starring an all-Black main cast and featuring music by Jay-Z, this action-packed revenge tale – which opened the London Film Festival earlier this month – has been hailed as a shot in the arm for the venerable western genre.
The story sees outlaw Nat Love (Jonathan Majors, HBO’s Lovecraft Country) round up a formidable posse to avenge the death of his family at the hands of his enemy Rufus Buck (Idris Elba).
The top-notch ensemble cast includes Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk), Lakeith Stanfield (Get Out) and Zazie Beetz (Deadpool 2), but the film’s secret weapon is surely its director Jeymes Samuel, a London-born musician-cum-filmmaker whose enthusiasm for the film in interviews is both entertaining and infectious (I recommend his recent Guardian interview as an example, and also for the surprise reveal of his famous 1990s pop star brother).
The film hits Netflix on 3rd November, but you can catch it on the big screen at Everyman throughout the week.
Also out on general release this week is Dear Evan Hansen (Cineworld, Vue), an adaptation of the hit Broadway musical from the songwriting team behind La La Land and The Greatest Showman, and starring Ben Platt (Pitch Perfect’s nerdy Treblemaker) as a socially anxious high schooler who fabricates a friendship with a dead classmate to help the boy’s grieving parents.
With half term upon us, your big family-friendly offering (screening at Cineworld, Everyman and Vue) is The Boss Baby 2: Family Business, which sees the first film’s child heroes Tim and Ted thrown back together as adults to thwart a new dastardly plot. (I’ve never seen the original, but I’ve read the précis for it and it just…sounds really weird? Babies in suits worried about being out-cuted by eternally young puppies? I’m sure it makes sense when you see it…)
More family fare is on offer in the form of recent releases The Addams Family 2 (Cineworld, Everyman, Vue) and Ron’s Gone Wrong (Cineworld, Vue), while you can catch a couple of summer’s big hitters at budget prices this week too – Paw Patrol: The Movie is Cineworld’s Movies For Juniors selection (daily, £2.50; also at City Screen on Sat 23rd, £3.00), while Vue’s Mini Mornings screening is Space Jam: A New Legacy (daily, £2.49).
Meanwhile, City Screen have a preview of new documentary The Rescue on Tues 26th, telling the story of the 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach who were trapped in a flooded cave in 2018, making global headlines – it’s followed by a recorded Q&A with the film’s directors.
And finally, with Halloween approaching, the cinematic corpses of yesteryear are once again being exhumed on the big screen – this week it’s the turn of Bette Midler and co. in the 1993 witchcraft caper Hocus Pocus (Vue all week, Cineworld on Tues 26th) – a Disney+ sequel is, inevitably, in the works – while devotees of The Rocky Horror Show are spoilt for choice: they can treat themselves to the 1975 cult fave film version at Vue (Sat 23rd/Sun 24th), or catch a live broadcast of the stage show at all four York cinemas on Thurs 28th.
South Bank Community Cinema makes a welcome return this week, with a short season of films intended as an antidote to all the Covid-related lockdowns and restrictions of the last 18 months.
Their autumn season of three films (two more follow in November and December) begins on Friday 22nd with Mostly Martha, a German romantic comedy from 2001 about a workaholic gourmet chef (Martina Gedeck, The Lives of Others) who has to look after her young niece following the sudden death of her sister.
Their fractious relationship is soothed by the arrival of a charming Italian chef (Sergio Castellitto), in a film of which Variety said that “the ingredients may be familiar, but they’re pan-fried with skill and piquancy”.
If that’s not enough to tempt you, SBCC are offering a free drink for everyone attending the screening – tickets are £4 (or £3 for members), and can be booked ahead (e-mail [email protected] before 4pm on the day of the screening) or purchased at the door, subject to availability.
They have halved their usual capacity to give everyone more space, so probably best to book in advance if you’re planning to go – and you can find out more about their Covid precautions on SBCC’s website.