For all that the early days of the pandemic had many of us rushing to watch the likes of Outbreak and Contagion on the small screen, there’s perhaps one film more than any other that reminds me of that time, and that’s Trolls World Tour.
It was that film’s brightly coloured characters who seemed to smile almost mockingly at me from the side of passing, virtually empty buses for months on end, in quickly defunct posters for a cinema release that never happened.
Dystopia never looked so garish…Happily, three years on the gang are set to bounce back on to the big screen this week, as Branch faces up to his boyband past in Trolls Band Together.
Plus, Martin Scorsese tells a shocking true story in Killers of the Flower Moon, and Paul Mescal is clone but not forgotten in Foe…
Killers of the Flower Moon
Hailed by several critics as a late-career highlight, Martin Scorsese’s latest true crime epic is a tale of love, corruption and betrayal in the oil fields of the Osage Nation.
Starring Scorsese regulars Robert De Niro and Leonardo Di Caprio alongside relative newcomer Lily Gladstone (a standout in Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women), the film tells the story of a series of shocking murders in the Osage Nation in the early 20th century, a time when the discovery of oil in their land had made its Native American community extremely rich – and ripe for exploitation by white interlopers such as William Hale (De Niro).
Di Caprio plays Hale’s nephew Ernest Burkhart, newly returned from the war and finding himself drawn to Osage woman Mollie Kyle (Gladstone) – but Hale has ulterior motives for encouraging their union.
Trolls Band Together
Hope you’re sitting down for this one, noughties pop fans – this latest outing for the retina-scaldingly colourful franchise sees Justin Timberlake return to his roots with the debut of the first new NSYNC song in over 20 years.
The none-more-meta plot finds Poppy (Anna Kendrick) giddy with excitement when she discovers that Branch (Timberlake) used to be in her favourite boyband, BroZone, along with his four brothers.
The group disbanded when Branch was a baby, and haven’t spoken since – but when his brother Floyd (Troye Sivan) is kidnapped by the evil Velvet and Veneer (voiced by the suitably diabolical pairing of Amy Schumer and Andrew Rannells), our heroes set out to save him and get the band back together.
Another week, another story set in a dystopian near-future – though the main drama in this sci-fi-inflected tale plays out not between man and machine, but within the faltering marriage of a young couple whose quiet life is upended by a surprise proposal.
Saoirse Ronan and Paul Mescal star as Hen and Junior, who live an isolated life on Junior’s family farm out in the American Midwest in the year 2065, when humanity is looking for ways to escape a rapidly declining planet earth.
The couple’s quietly suppressed difficulties are brought to the fore when a stranger arrives one night to inform them that Junior has been selected to work on a colonisation project in space, which will take him away from home for two years – during which time an AI clone of her husband will be provided to keep Hen company…
Other new releases and previews
With Halloween creeping ever closer, new US chiller It Lives Inside (Cineworld and Vue, daily) ought to keep horror heads happy as they count down to the big day – blending scares and social commentary, the story sees an Indian-American teen wrestling with both her dual heritage and an evil spirit which is threatening her best friend.
Over at City Screen, the directors of hands-over-your-eyes climbing doc Free Solo bring the tale of another bold adventurer to the big screen in true-life drama Nyad (daily), starring Annette Bening as a long-distance swimmer who sets her sights on completing the 110-mile swim from Cuba to Florida – without a shark cage…
City Screen also have daily screenings of new documentary The Pigeon Tunnel, a look back at the life and works of legendary espionage writer John le Carré built around director Errol Morris’ interview with the late author, who died in 2020.
A chocolatier gets targeted by gangsters who suspect he’s their estranged younger brother in Tamil-language action thriller Leo (Cineworld, Fri 20th to Weds 25th), which rather brilliantly is apparently being marketed as Leo: Bloody Sweet in some countries. Statham for the English-language remake please!
There’s a chance to see previews of two acclaimed British directorial debuts in the form of How to Have Sex (City Screen, Tues 24th), which follows three teenage girls on an eventful post-GCSE holiday in Malia, and Girl (Vue, Weds 25th), the story of an African immigrant in Glasgow whose 11-year-old daughter’s growing need for independence forces her to reckon with the demons of her past.
Meanwhile, the Screen Arts strand continues to bring the magic of the stage into cinemas with a live screening of the new Met Opera production of death row-set tale Dead Man Walking at City Screen on Sat 21st (with an encore on Weds 25th), plus encore screenings of The Prince of Egypt: The Musical at City Screen and Vue on Sun 22nd, and another chance to see James Norton in A Little Life at Everyman and Vue on Tues 24th.
See the heroes in a half shell for less than half price this weekend, as the well-received Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is your budget viewing offering at Cineworld (tickets £2.50) and Vue (tickets £2.49) on Sat 21st and Sun 22nd.
One was a rabbit. The other was a cow. When they met, it was moider. (Or should that be moo-der?) If you’re in the mood for a farmyard spin on Agatha Christie (and why wouldn’t you be?), then wellies on and head to Cineworld and Vue for A Mystery on the Cattle Hill Express, showing on Sat 21st and Sun 22nd (tickets standard price).
Over at City Screen, this week’s Halloween-friendly Kids’ Club selection is the original Hotel Transylvania, showing on Sat 21st (tickets £3.30).
Norman’s out to get you and Britney makes her debut: old favourites back on the big screen
“Well, a boy’s best friend is his mother…” Norman Bates and his dear old ma would like to cordially invite you to the grand reopening of their lovely bijou motel, as Psycho returns to Cineworld on Weds 25th.
Vue are getting in the Halloween spirit with a couple of screenings of Christine (Fri 20th, Sat 21st), horror maestro John Carpenter’s 1983 take on Stephen King’s tale of a malevolent motor, while on the less nightmare-inducing end of the scale, the ever-popular Hocus Pocus takes flight at Everyman (Sun 22nd, Mon 23rd, Weds 25th) and Vue (Sat 21st, Sun 22nd, Tues 24th).
There are more dastardly deeds afoot at City Screen on Sun 22nd as their Ealing Studios season arrives at 1955’s classic dark comedy The Ladykillers, in which a sweet old lady proves more than a match for a murderous Alec Guinness and his criminal chums.
Cineworld conclude their series of Black History Month screenings on Tues 24th with 2015’s Straight Outta Compton, which saw O’Shea Jackson Jr. step into his father Ice Cube’s shoes to tell the story of gangsta rap trailblazers N.W.A.
Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are straight outta luck as the stranded astronauts in hit sci-fi thriller Gravity, back in 3D for its 10th anniversary at Cineworld (daily) and Vue (Fri 20th, Sat 21st, Mon 23rd).
And finally, taking place at Vue on Mon 23rd, the Crossroads Global Fan Event gives Britney Spears devotees a chance to attend a special screening of the 2002 coming-of-age tale which marked the singer’s big screen debut, timed to coincide with the release of her eagerly-awaited memoir.
Apologies to anyone who was hoping for a celebration of the wobbly sets and plywood acting of the much-missed ITV soap of the same name – it’ll happen one day, I’m sure…