If AI is indeed poised to take over the world, then I can’t help thinking that getting Hollywood on side might help smooth the whole process.
After all, if there’s one thing the movies have taught us, it’s that the invention of AI will lead to a bleak dystopian future where we live a life of perpetual suffering under the yoke of our despotic robot masters – preventable only by the means of rebellion, time travel and clunky expositional dialogue.
What they need is to get some positive propaganda out there – films where we’re living in some kind of AI-enabled Barbie world, in which the lead character gets home from shopping and realises they’ve forgotten the milk, only for a benevolent and charming robot neighbour (a seamless ChatGPT-created blend of Tom Hanks and Hugh Grant) to knock on the door with a kindly smile and a nice, chilled two-pinter.
Or a workplace drama where a friendly AI taps her distraught colleague on the shoulder and says, “I know you were stressing about doing your tax return – so I did it for you, after hacking into your laptop and scouring all your encrypted files. Oh no, it was nothing – only took me two minutes!”
For now though, it’s man against machine in new sci-fi adventure The Creator – while Jigsaw is out for vengeance in Saw X, and Ken Loach calls last orders in The Old Oak…
Hopes are high for this epic sci-fi adventure from British director Gareth Edwards, who made a splash with his 2010 debut Monsters before going on to deliver a shot in the arm to two venerable franchises in the form of 2014’s Godzilla reboot and 2016’s well-regarded Star Wars spin-off Rogue One.
There are shades of both the Terminator films and Ex Machina to his new one, a future-set tale of a war between humanity and artificial intelligence starring John David Washington as Joshua, a hardened ex-special forces agent sent to locate and destroy the AI’s deadly new invention, a device powerful enough to wipe out the human race.
However, he’s thrown off-guard when he tracks down the weapon only to find it takes the form of a young child – and not some shrieking, Sunny D-fuelled headache-on-legs either, but one of the winsome, cute ones. They’re cunning like that, our robot overlords…
The Old Oak
Following the acclaimed likes of I, Daniel Blake and Sorry We Missed You, Ken Loach returns to the North East for his latest slice-of-life drama, which is being widely touted as the director’s swansong.
Working with his long-time screenwriter Paul Laverty, Loach centres his story on the patrons of The Old Oak, a struggling pub in an ex-mining town, and the tensions that arise when a group of Syrian refugees are housed in the community.
When landlord TJ (Dave Turner) strikes up a friendship with photographer Yara (Ebla Mari), he comes up with a plan to use the pub’s back room as a place to bring the locals and refugees together – but his ideas meet with hostility from some of his regulars.
The ever-inventive John Kramer is back – and this time it’s personal – in this latest instalment in the wince-inducing horror franchise.
Set between the original Saw and Saw II (I suppose Saw 1.5 isn’t really an option once you’ve committed to Roman numerals), the story sees Kramer (Tobin Bell), aka the notorious Jigsaw, travel to Mexico to receive a “miracle” cure for his terminal cancer – only to discover he’s been the victim of a scam to defraud the most vulnerable.
Not surprisingly, that’s something the perpetrators swiftly come to regret, as they find themselves recruited as participants in a whole new round of fun games – eyeball suction, anyone? – courtesy of Jigsaw and his budding apprentice Amanda Young (Shawnee Smith).
Dead Northern Horror & Fantasy Film Festival
Blood, guts, gore, and a comedy set in a haunted nudist camp – screams of terror and laughter alike are guaranteed this weekend as the Dead Northern Festival returns to City Screen.
Already an annual fixture for many a horror head – though the addition of ‘Fantasy’ to the title indicates that it’s broadening its remit a little this year – the festival promises a packed schedule of shorts, features, panel events and Q&A screenings, including several UK premieres.
Highlights include a focus on folk horror on Fri 29th culminating in a 50th anniversary screening of The Wicker Man, plus an evening of live spooky storytelling on Sat 30th – while York itself gets a starring role in The Good Times (Fri 29th), a post-apocalyptic short from local filmmaker James Buck which was filmed in and around the city.
Weekend passes are already sold out but some tickets for individual screenings and events are still available, starting at £5.00 – head to Dead Northern’s website for details.
Film at the Folk Hall opens its doors once again this week with Steven Spielberg’s most personal film to date.
Hugely acclaimed on its release earlier this year, The Fabelmans is the director’s semi-autobiographical ode to the magic of the movies, as young Spielberg proxy Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle) has his life changed forever when his parents Mitzi (Michelle Williams) and Burt (Paul Dano) take him to the cinema to see The Greatest Show on Earth.
It’s not long before the starry-eyed youngster sets about making his first mini-masterpieces at home – a passion that becomes an escape as fractures begin to appear in his family life.
Tickets can be reserved via Eventbrite, or you can buy them in person at the Folk Hall reception or on the door on the night – the price is £6.00 (£5.00 for concessions), and there are also a small number of free tickets available for those who need them.
Other new releases and previews
Thirty-three percent of my exclamation upon discovering that someone has made a film about the invention of the BlackBerry phone is not suitable for publication on a family website, but I can let you know that the other 67% comprised the words “For” and “sake”.
However, I may have to eat 100% of my words, as reviews suggest that Canadian comedy-drama BlackBerry, starring It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Glenn Howerton, is actually really rather good – find out for yourself when it previews at City Screen on Tues 3rd.
There’s another preview at Everyman on Weds 4th when Helen Mirren stars as Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in biopic Golda, while City Screen have a matinee sneak peek at forthcoming drama The Great Escaper, starring Michael Caine and the late Glenda Jackson, on Thurs 5th – with a free bar of chocolate thrown in for good measure.
City Screen also have a handful of screenings of R.M.N. on Mon 2nd, Tues 3rd and Weds 4th – the latest work from celebrated director Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days), this Romanian drama follows the simmering tensions between locals and Sri Lankan immigrants in a small Transylvanian town.
Meanwhile, on Weds 4th Vue’s regular BFI Presents strand has another screening of acclaimed Japanese domestic drama Love Life, which sees a family’s peaceful life upended by the return of the wife’s previous husband.
Over at Cineworld, a team of cops go undercover to bust a criminal gang in Malayalam action epic Kannur Squad, screening on Sun 1st and Mon 2nd.
And culture vultures are well-served this week with Screen Arts screenings of the James Norton-starring stage adaptation of literary hit A Little Life (City Screen, Sun 1st; Everyman, Fri 29th; Vue, Fri 29th, Sun 1st to Weds 4th), while ROH Live brings you a live satellite screening of comic opera L’Elisir D’Amore (The Elixir of Love) on Thurs 5th (City Screen, Everyman).
The only way is Pup at Cineworld and Vue this weekend, as the super-powered pooches blast back onto the big screen in PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie, which previews throughout the day on Sat 30th and Sun 1st ahead of its general release in a couple of weeks.
Meanwhile, Disney’s centenary celebrations arrive in the 90s and the game-changing wonder that was the original Toy Story – you can join Woody, Buzz and the gang at City Screen’s Kids’ Club on Sat 30th (tickets £3.30) and Everyman’s Toddler Club on Sat 30th and Sun 1st (£6.10 child, £8.60 adult); there are also general admission screenings at Cineworld (Sat 30th, Sun 1st, £5.00), Vue (Sat 30th, Sun 1st, £6.99 – £9.99) and Everyman (Sun 1st, £9.40 child, £14.40 adult).
Bringing us bang up to date, Pixar’s latest Elemental is Vue’s budget selection this weekend (Sat 30th, Sun 1st, £2.49), while Cineworld are living the life aquatic with the live-action version of The Little Mermaid (Sat 30th, Sun 1st).
Projectile vomiting and heroic Hobbiting: old favourites back on the big screen
As the countdown to Halloween gets underway, expect cinema screenings to get both ookier and spookier over the coming weeks – starting this week as one of the most iconic horror films of all time celebrates its 50th anniversary.
Also serving as a timely tribute to its director, the late William Friedkin, The Exorcist returns to the big screen to terrify audiences anew, just ahead of the upcoming sequel (out next week) which will see star Ellen Burstyn reprise her role as Chris MacNeil, the loving mother whose daughter Regan (Linda Blair) starts to feel a little peaky.
It’s showing at Cineworld (Sat 30th), City Screen (Mon 2nd), Everyman (Sun 1st, Tues 3rd) and Vue (Fri 29th, Sat 30th, Tues 3rd, Thurs 5th).
More family-friendly Halloween hijinks can be found elsewhere as Bette Midler and friends celebrate thirty years since Hocus Pocus first cast its spell on audiences, with screenings at Cineworld (Sun 1st) and Vue (Sat 30th, Sun 1st and Mon 2nd).
Meanwhile, Frodo and Sam trog their way up Mount Doom once more as the Tolkien trilogy comes to a close in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, showing in its extended edition at Vue on Sat 30th and Sun 1st.
City Screen’s Scorsese and De Niro season offers up another classic in the form of 1995’s crime epic Casino (Sun 1st), which reunites De Niro with his Goodfellas co-star Joe Pesci and throws a scheming Sharon Stone into the mix for good measure.
And finally, Everyman’s Late Nights strand is the perfect setting for a screening of Boyhood director Richard Linklater’s teen classic Dazed and Confused, showing on Fri 29th – boasting early performances from future stars Matthew McConaughey and Ben Affleck, this freewheeling portrait of a gang of friends on the last day of high school was filmed in the 90s, set in the 70s, and shot through with a sense of youthful joie de vivre that’s simply timeless.