Let’s hear it for the Marmite movie!
To be clear, I don’t mean they’ve made a film about Marmite (though I bet someone’s pitched it – “Martin Might was just an ordinary resident of Blandsville, Tennessee – until one day an exploding vat of yeast changed his life forever…”).
I’m talking about the kind of audience-dividing, own-furrow-ploughing, am-I-really-seeing-this oddity that stands out from the crowd like a dayglo giraffe at a dachshund convention.
So yes, while I’m keen to see Shang-Chi, I’m even more looking forward to catching the fairly loopy-sounding Sparks musical Annette. It might be brilliant! It might be awful! But you almost certainly won’t walk out of it going, “Yeah, that was OK I guess…”
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
A new hero gets inducted into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in this latest chapter in the saga, starring Simu Liu (best known heretofore from his role in Canadian sitcom Kim’s Convenience) in the lead role.
The story sees Shang-Chi’s normal life in San Francisco disrupted by a sequence of events which force him to face up to his past and draw him into the shadowy world of the Ten Rings organisation, led by his estranged father Wenwu (aka The Mandarin).
Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians) stars as Shang-Chi’s friend Katy, while veteran Hong Kong actor Tony Leung (Infernal Affairs, In the Mood for Love) makes his Hollywood debut as Wenwu.
There’s a promising choice of director for this one in the form of Destin Daniel Cretton, whose brilliant 2013 drama Short Term 12 is well worth checking out, not least for its lead performance by the future Captain Marvel, Brie Larson.
Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard star alongside a puppet and Howard from The Big Bang Theory in this intriguingly bizarre musical from pop veterans Sparks (having something of a moment this year, what with this and Edgar Wright’s recent documentary).
It tells the story of stand-up comedian Henry (Driver) and opera singer Ann (Cotillard), whose lives are turned upside down by the birth of their daughter, Annette (the puppet) – who has an exceptional destiny to fulfil.
To realise their long-held cinematic dreams, Sparks turned to idiosyncratic French director Leos Carax – no stranger to the world of pop collabs, having previously worked with Kylie Minogue in his last feature, 2012’s much celebrated Holy Motors.
The film opened this year’s Cannes Festival to a fairly even mixture of acclaim and bewilderment, with the BBC’s review proclaiming it to be ‘variously embarrassing and delightful’ – aren’t we all, at the end of the day?
Billy Crystal both stars in and directs this tale about the burgeoning friendship between a veteran comedy writer and a young singer.
Charlie Burnz (Crystal) is struggling with the early stages of dementia, when a chance meeting with street singer Emma (Tiffany Haddish) – which winds up with the latter in hospital – sparks an unlikely connection between the two.
Yes, it sounds like it’s been beamed directly from 1992, and yes, reviews are fair to middling – but it’s nice to see there’s still a bit of space for this kind of accessible, gently entertaining mainstream fare in these franchise-tastic times.
I nearly got lost down a Wikipedia rabbit hole while looking up Rise of the Footsoldier: Origins – which from its title sounds like the latest instalment in a Hollywood action franchise, but is in fact the latest instalment in a British gangster franchise which, going by its cast list, appears to double as a sort of cinematic Valhalla for ex-EastEnders actors – I counted at least four in this one, first among equals being Craig Fairbrass, aka late ’90s scourge of the Square Dan Sullivan.
Previous films in the series have also found room for Shaun Ryder and Yvette from ‘Allo ‘Allo, so I’m quite tempted to head down to Cineworld to see who else turns up (it shows throughout the week).
An altogether different sort of UK-based carnage is on offer in the acclaimed Edinburgh-set comedy-drama Our Ladies, which has a handful of further matinee screenings at Everyman this week (Mon 6th, Weds 9th, Thurs 10th).
Everyman also have a preview of new documentary Getting Away with Murder(s) on Thurs 10th, followed by a live Q&A with special guests – the film investigates the shocking statistic that 99% of the perpetrators of the Holocaust were never prosecuted.
With Shang-Chi marking the Hollywood debut of Hong Kong superstar Tony Leung, you can also check out one of the actor’s many acclaimed collaborations with Wong Kar Wai in City Screen’s ongoing season celebrating the director – 1997’s romantic drama Happy Together (Fri 3rd, Sun 5th, Tues 7th, Thurs 9th) sees Leung playing one half of a gay couple who attempt to salvage their relationship on a holiday in Argentina (and yes, it does take its name from the Turtles’ 1960s earworm).
City Screen’s ‘A Terrifying Uprising’ series of female-led horror films, meanwhile, is turning out to be Mark Kermode’s dream movie season, with pretty much every film they’re showing being one which the good doctor has raved about in the past few years – with this week’s offering, Relic, being one of his favourites of 2020.
Showing on Mon 6th, this Australian psychological chiller uses the genre to explore the all-too-real horror of Alzheimer’s – it was released here just as the country went back into lockdown last November, so this is a great chance to finally catch it on the big screen.
There’s another screening of classic concert doc Jazz on a Summer’s Day at City Screen on Sat 4th, while Mick Fleetwood & Friends (Cineworld/City Screen/Vue, Tues 7th) sees an all-star line-up covering the hits of Fleetwood Mac founder Peter Green, and Rush: Cinema Strangiato – Director’s Cut (City Screen, Thurs 9th) is a new version of the Canadian rockers’ 2019 doc, released to mark 40 years of the band’s Moving Pictures album.
A few family-friendly screenings to finish off with – Cineworld’s budget Movies For Juniors strand has Peter Rabbit 2 and Raya and the Last Dragon (Fri 3rd – Sun 5th, tickets £3.25), and their autism-friendly screening this month is Jungle Cruise (Sun 5th), while City Screen’s Kids’ Club has fairytale adventure Moonland on Sat 4th (tickets £3.00).