If Tony could only see him now…
I know I’m not alone in having used lockdown to finally get round to watching The Sopranos (it’s quite good, I don’t know if you’ve heard) – and I’m sure I can’t have been the only first-time viewer to have done a double-take at the sudden appearance of a future musical superstar halfway through season six.
For the unhelpful hotel bellboy accosted by Tony Soprano and Paulie Walnuts was none other than Lin-Manuel Miranda, who would go on to create and star in the Broadway smash Hamilton eight years later.
His first stage hit In the Heights makes the leap to the big screen this week, while Milla Jovovich is on the monster trail, and a thought-provoking documentary offers a new perspective on autism.
In the Heights
This exuberant musical from Lin-Manuel Miranda centres on the lives, loves and hopes of the residents of New York’s Washington Heights neighbourhood (where Miranda himself grew up).
Set over three days in the middle of a sweltering summer, the story follows a cast of characters led by Usnavi (Anthony Ramos, A Star is Born), a charismatic bodega owner who dreams of returning to his native Dominican Republic – while his childhood friend Nina (Leslie Grace) returns home from her first year at college with surprising news for her parents.
Director Jon M. Chu was responsible for 2018’s box office smash Crazy Rich Asians – and enthusiastic reviews suggest that he and Miranda have cooked up another slice of feelgood escapism here.
The Reason I Jump
As Mark Kermode often reminds listeners on 5 Live, the late US critic Roger Ebert once referred to cinema as “a machine that generates empathy” – and this highly acclaimed documentary certainly sounds like a case in point.
Inspired by a bestselling book by Naoki Higashida – written when the author was just 13 – The Reason I Jump gives a unique insight into the lives of nonspeaking autistic people.
Challenging common perceptions of autism, the film aims to immerse the audience in the world of its five young subjects, whose experiences are linked together by Higashida’s revelatory descriptions.
The film shows throughout the week at City Screen, with relaxed screenings taking place on Weds 23rd at 17:45 and Thurs 24th at 13:00.
Following the success of the Resident Evil films, star Milla Jovovich and director Paul W. S. Anderson will be hoping to repeat the trick with this new fantasy adventure, adapted from another popular video game series.
The plot sees Lt. Natalie Artemis (Jovovich) and her elite team of soldiers fighting for their lives when they are transported to another world populated by a variety of very large and very hostile monsters, including the dragon-like Rathalos and the terrifying Nerscylla (“a giant spider crossed with an Alien”, as Anderson cheerfully described it to Empire).
Fortunately help is at hand from a mysterious hunter (Tony Jaa), Hellboy’s Ron Perlman and a talking cat…
From The Thick of It’s Terri Coverley through to the formidable DI Viv Deering in No Offence, Joanna Scanlan has established herself as one of Britain’s most versatile and talented character actresses – and she’s picked up some of the best reviews of her career for her latest big screen role, which you can see at City Screen this week.
Showing on Fri 18th and Tues 22nd, After Love stars Scanlan as a widow who discovers that her husband had a secret life in Calais, and travels over to confront the mystery woman whose photo she finds in his wallet.
City Screen also have a preview screening of intriguing-sounding Danish drama Another Round on Sun 20th – starring Mads Mikkelsen, the darkly comic tale sees a group of teachers embark on a ‘scientific’ experiment to see if daily alcohol consumption can rejuvenate their careworn middle age. Stay seated afterwards for a recorded Q&A with director Thomas Vinterberg.
There’s another drama preview on offer at Everyman on Weds 23rd – Supernova stars Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci as a couple on an emotional campervan holiday in the shadow of young-onset dementia (Everyman’s preview is open to all, but there are also free members’ previews at Cineworld on Weds 23rd and City Screen on Thurs 24th).
On a lighter note – and bound to be of interest to parents of a certain age as much as their kids – there are also advance screenings of the new Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds film at Cineworld this weekend, with the plucky canine hero and his pals reincarnated in CGI for their big screen debut.
There’s more family-friendly fun over at City Screen with Studio Ghibli favourite My Neighbour Totoro, showing on Sat 19th and Sun 20th.
And finally, there’s a classic romance and a heart-rending bromance on offer at Vue – take an all-singing, all-dancing trip to Paris with Moulin Rouge! (screening throughout the week) or let Top Gun (daily to Weds 23rd) take your breath away all over again in a pin-sharp 4K reissue.