Any director whose CV includes post-apocalyptic road warriors, talking pigs and dancing penguins certainly can’t be accused of a lack of imagination.
It’s no surprise, then, to find George Miller – the man behind the disparate likes of Mad Max, Babe and Happy Feet – following up the all-conquering Fury Road with a wide-eyed fantasy starring Idris Elba as a pointy-eared genie.
Elsewhere, very bad people do very bad things in blackly comic drama The Forgiven, and very stupid people do one phenomenally stupid thing in survival thriller Fall.
Plus, this Saturday is National Cinema Day, which means all films are just £3 at Cineworld, City Screen and Vue!
Three Thousand Years of Longing
This imaginative adult fairytale from Mad Max: Fury Road director George Miller sees Tilda Swinton’s bespectacled academic get more than she bargained for when she picks up a stripy glass bottle while at a conference in Istanbul.
While polishing her purchase back at her hotel, Dr. Alithea Binnie (Swinton) unwittingly releases a Djinn (Idris Elba), who grants her the traditional three wishes in exchange for his freedom – but as a scholar of mythology, Alithea knows better than most to be careful what she wishes for.
In order to persuade her, the Djinn regales her with fantastical tales of his past – an Arabian Nights-esque anthology of sultans, princesses and harems – until she ultimately makes a wish that surprises them both.
It’s a film that had mixed reactions when it premiered at Cannes earlier this year, with some critics feeling that its ambition was not quite matched by its execution – but for many, the pairing of Swinton and Elba, combined with Miller’s flair for visual spectacle, will be enough to put this at the top of their wishlist.
A wealthy couple take a holiday in Morocco in a last-ditch attempt to save their marriage in this scabrous morality tale from acclaimed director John Michael McDonagh (The Guard, Calvary).
The obnoxious David (Ralph Fiennes) and his unhappy wife Jo (Jessica Chastain) are en route to a lavish party when they accidentally hit and kill a young local man – but David’s initial callous reaction to the incident turns to fear when he discovers he will have to face the victim’s family and make the long journey to attend the funeral.
Like his Three Billboards director brother Martin, McDonagh is known for populating his films with morally questionable characters behaving very badly, but positive reviews suggest that Fiennes and Chastain do a good job of digging beneath their characters’ selfish, entitled veneers.
Following the man-vs-lion antics of last week’s Beast, this well-received survival thriller pits woman against…er…tower?
The plot sees Becky (Grace Caroline Currey, Shazam!), who is grieving her husband Dan’s death in a climbing accident the year before, persuaded by best friend Hunter (Virginia Gardner, Halloween) to climb a 2,000ft tower in the middle of the desert in pursuit of closure and YouTube views.
The pair complete their triumphant ascent to the top, whereupon the rickety rusted ladder they climbed up immediately falls away (entirely Hunter’s fault for saying things like “See? It’s easy!”) and they find themselves stranded with no way of getting back down.
As daft as the premise sounds, impressive reviews suggest the film wrings plenty of tension from its heroines’ improbable predicament, with Variety claiming that ‘it earns your clenched gut and your white knuckles’.
Three is the magic number: £3 films on National Cinema Day
Saturday 3rd September is National Cinema Day, and to celebrate, tickets for all films all day are just £3 at Cineworld, City Screen and Vue.
That includes this week’s new releases, plus recent hits like Nope, Top Gun: Maverick, Elvis and Minions: The Rise of Gru.
With re-releases of Spider-Man: No Way Home, Star Trek II and E.T. also out this week, there’s no better time to catch up on your watchlist – or just splurge on that extra-large popcorn…
Summer holiday round-up
As Alice Cooper very much did not sing, “School’s…in…for…autumn!”
There are, however, a few more cinematic escapes to be had while the weekend – and maybe a teacher-training day or two – provides a stay of execution.
First off, we’ve got junior Indiana Jones antics courtesy of new animated adventure Tad the Lost Explorer and the Curse of the Mummy, which previews at Cineworld, Everyman and Vue on Sat 3rd and Sun 4th – tickets are standard price but you can take advantage of Saturday’s £3 ticket offer at Cineworld and Vue.
“Grab shell, dude!” and head on over to Vue, where they’re kicking off a season of Pixar classics this week with Finding Nemo, showing on Fri 2nd, Sat 3rd, Sun 4th and Tues 6th – again, tickets are standard price except for Saturday.
Both Cineworld and City Screen have Autism-Friendly screenings of DC League of Super-Pets on Sun 4th – Cineworld’s is their standard price (£5.99) but City Screen’s is at the budget rate of £3.00.
And finally, your regular budget offerings this week are The Lego Movie at City Screen (Sat 3rd, £3.00), Shrek the Third at Cineworld (Fri 2nd – Mon 5th, £2.50), and two final outings for The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! at Vue (Fri 2nd, Sun 4th, £2.49, or £1.25 per exclamation mark. Bargain!).
Those in search of some late summer sun can join Timothy Spall (or maybe not, if the title’s anything to go by) in It Snows in Benidorm, which sees his forcibly retired Manchester banker on a journey of self-discovery in the titular tourist spot – it’s showing daily at City Screen and on Sat 3rd at Vue.
As mentioned above, this week sees a triumvirate of re-releases hitting the big screen, none bigger than Steven Spielberg’s timeless classic E.T. – the cuddly little fella is celebrating his 40th anniversary at all four York cinemas throughout the week, including in IMAX at Cineworld.
Also marking the big 4-0 is a film considered by many to be the best of the Enterprise’s cinematic outings, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan – you can catch it at Cineworld (Sat 3rd/Sun 4th/Tues 6th/Thurs 8th), City Screen (Sun 4th/Weds 7th), Everyman (Sun 4th/Tues 6th) and Vue (Fri 2nd/Sat 3rd/Sun 4th/Tues 6th).
Plus, last year’s box office-slaying Spider-Man: No Way Home swings back into cinemas in a new, extended cut featuring ten more minutes of spider-fun (showing daily at Cineworld, Everyman and Vue).
More retro 80s thrills are on offer at Everyman, with another chance to catch the Top Gun double bill at Everyman on Sat 3rd and a screening of The Terminator on Sun 4th, while Back to the Future shows the lighter side of time travel on Weds 7th – the latter two are part of Everyman’s Throwback season, with a complimentary drink and pizza or hot dog included with your ticket.
Meanwhile, City Screen are throwing things back even further with a short season in honour of the one and only Pam Grier.
It’s timed to celebrate the 25th anniversary of her super-cool turn in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown, which shows in a couple of weeks, and is being preceded by two of the actor’s classic 70s blaxploitation outings – starting this week with Coffy (Sun 4th), which sees Grier’s ER nurse mete out vengeance to the drug gang who preyed on her little sister.
On Tues 6th, City Screen and Cineworld have a preview screening of forthcoming comedy horror Bodies Bodies Bodies, a skewering of millennial mores which going by its trailer looks like it could be either painfully accurate or just plain painful.
And finally, Vue’s 007 odyssey enters the final stretch as Daniel Craig takes charge in 2006’s Casino Royale, the grittier, post-Bourne reboot (despite the slightly confusing continuity with the Brosnan era provided by Judi Dench’s M) which turned out to be another series high point – Vue obviously think so as they’re giving this one three screenings, on Sat 3rd, Sun 4th and Mon 5th.