Happy New Year! Looking for some short, sharp shocks to blow away all those post-Christmas cobwebs? I’ve got three words for you: haunted swimming pool.
That’s right, this week’s new chiller Night Swim is about a family who move into a lovely new house only to find something diabolical lurking in the pellucid pool out back (or, as the estate agents probably put it, “the pool benefits from a stimulating aura inspired by the property’s colourful history”).
Pooltergeist, anyone? Anyone? Ah, suit yourselves…Elsewhere, Priscilla pulls the curtain back on life with Elvis, and Anthony Hopkins leads an inspiring true story in One Life.
If Baz Luhrmann’s pizazz and showmanship made him a natural fit for 2022’s Elvis, then Lost in Translation director Sofia Coppola, whose female-centred films often deal with the alienating effects of wealth and status, seems an equally apposite choice for this new biopic of the rock ‘n’ roll legend’s wife, Priscilla Presley.
Rising star Cailee Spaeny (who’s also set to lead the new Alien film out later this year) stars as the teenage Priscilla Beaulieu, who first meets Elvis (Jacob Elordi, Saltburn) at a party when he is already a superstar – and finds an intense connection with the man behind the facade.
Telling their story through Priscilla’s eyes (the film is based on Presley’s 1985 memoir Elvis and Me), the film follows the pair’s tempestuous relationship from their early courtship through to their married life in Graceland.
This true-life drama stars Anthony Hopkins as Sir Nicholas Winton, the man often referred to as ‘the British Schindler’ thanks to his rescuing of 669 children from the Nazis in the months leading up to World War II.
The story jumps between two time periods, showing how the young Nicky Winton (Johnny Flynn) raced against time to get refugee children safely out of German-occupied Czechoslovakia before the borders closed – with formidable help in the form of his mother Babette (Helena Bonham Carter) back in London.
Fifty years later, in 1988, an older Winton (Hopkins) remains haunted by the memory of those he wasn’t able to save – but when the BBC show That’s Life! introduces him to some of the now adult survivors live on air, he finally begins to come to terms with the guilt and grief that he has been carrying.
Normally the most terrifying encounter you might have in a swimming pool is to find yourself next to a five-year-old crying, “Mummy, I’ve just weed myself!” – but the first horror film of the new year is here to let you know that things can get a whole lot worse than that.
When the Waller family moves into their new home, former baseball star dad Ray (Wyatt ‘son of Kurt’ Russell) thinks that fixing up the property’s empty pool (“They said it hadn’t been used in 15 years”) could provide the physical therapy he needs to return to the game, as well as being a fun place for his kids to have a splash around in.
Unfortunately he’s entirely failed to notice that he’s in a film made by the producers of last year’s killer robot hit M3GAN, and an unspeakable terror is about to rise from the chlorinated depths…
South Bank Community Cinema kick off their winter programme with a yarn perfect for these long, dark nights in the form of The Bride Wore Black.
Not, as the title might suggest, a tale of mild consternation among the in-laws at a Goth wedding in Stevenage, the film is in fact a dark story of revenge from legendary French New Wave director François Truffaut.
This Hitchcock-esque thriller features Truffaut’s Jules et Jim star Jeanne Moreau as the eponymous avenger, who sets out on a mission to hunt down the men responsible for the murder of her husband on their wedding day.
If that sounds like a certain other pair of films in which the bride wore an iconic yellow jumpsuit, Quentin Tarantino claims never to have seen it – so you can get one up on Hollywood’s most famous movie nerd by heading down to Clements Hall, South Bank on Fri 5th 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].
Other new releases and previews
Few films are more eagerly awaited this winter than Poor Things, the latest walk on the wild side from The Favourite director Yorgos Lanthimos – having been pulled from the autumn release schedule due to the writers’ and actors’ strikes, it’s finally out next Friday, and you can catch a preview at Everyman on Thurs 11th.
Over at City Screen, on Tues 9th there’s a screening of period drama The Peasants, which sees the directors of the acclaimed Van Gogh film Loving Vincent apply the same oil-painted animation style to a tale of love and lust in a Polish village; while on Thurs 11th, The Lost Boys (Le Paradis) (or as they might just as well have titled it, The Lost Boys (No Not That One)) is the story of a tender romance blossoming between two young men in a juvenile detention centre, showing in City Screen’s regular OUT strand.
Showing at Vue on Fri 5th, Hindi-language comedy-drama Dunki sees four friends in Punjab attempt to realise their dream of moving to England, while showing at both Cineworld (Sun 7th, Weds 10th) and Vue (Fri 5th, Sat 6th, Sun 7th) is Malayalam-language courtroom drama Neru, which follows a blind sculptor’s quest for justice after she is raped.
In between some desperate last-minute present-buying, I managed to grab a couple of hours just before Christmas to see Godzilla Minus One, the new Japanese take on the classic creature feature, and would absolutely recommend it if you’re in the market for a good old-fashioned blockbuster with thrills, heart and characters you actually care about – it continues daily at Cineworld this week, and is also on at Vue from Fri 5th to Sun 7th.
And if you’ve made it your New Year’s Resolution to take in a bit more of that there culture, head down to City Screen on Sat 6th for Met Opera Live: Nabucco, a live screening of one of Verdi’s earliest works – an encore screening is also showing on Weds 10th.
With the Chicken Run sequel flying high on Netflix, there’s a chance to see another Aardman Animation tale on a screen of a less, er, poultry size (sorry) this weekend, as their caveman caper Early Man shows in City Screen’s Kids’ Club on Sat 6th (tickets £3.30).
The studio’s most famous creations are getting in all manner of scrapes over at Vue, with a Wallace and Gromit double bill of A Grand Day Out and The Wrong Trousers (showing until Sun 7th, £2.49), while Vue are also taking us back to the Ice Age with screenings of the ever-popular animated adventure on Sat 6th and Sun 7th (normal price, £6.99 – £9.99) – its sequels will follow over the coming weekends.
A clown must rescue his puppet pals in The Inseparables, showing at Cineworld until Sun 7th (£2.50), while Everyman’s Toddler Club is showing Disney’s centenary release Wish on Fri 5th and Sat 6th (£6.25 for children, £8.65 for adult plus toddler).
Jackman struts his stuff and Kingsley gets tough: old favourites back on the big screen
Roll up, roll up to Everyman this week as Hugh Jackman gets back to his Broadway roots in 2017’s smash hit musical The Greatest Showman, which is this week’s Throwback screening on Sun 7th and Tues 9th.
Also back for a victory lap (though with slightly less singing and dancing) is Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer, which is being rereleased this week for reasons I can’t quite make out – perhaps just to allow it to stand on its own outside of Barbie’s hot pink shadow? – but anyhow, you can catch it daily at Cineworld, and at Vue on Sat 6th, Mon 8th, Tues 9th and Weds 10th.
If you are feeling nostalgic for last year’s heady Barbenheimer summer, though, you’ve got a chance to do the double again when the lady herself takes centre stage as Barbie screens in Everyman’s Late Nights slot on Fri 5th.
Meanwhile, her spiritual cousin Elle Woods is heading back to law school over at Vue, with screenings of Legally Blonde on Sat 6th, Sun 7th and Tues 9th.
And finally, City Screen are whetting the appetite for celebrated British director Jonathan Glazer’s long-awaited new film The Zone of Interest with a mini-season of two of his earlier masterworks, pleasingly titled Double Glazer – first up this week is 2000’s Sexy Beast, which sees Ray Winstone’s retired crim dragged back into the game by a rather temperamental Ben Kingsley. If you’re already having trouble sticking to your New Year’s resolutions, maybe just imagine Don Logan is your life coach…