Friday 4 September 2015

5 for Friday (September 4): Trailers, new releases and box office

1. Legend (from Wednesday)
What is it? The latest biopic of '60s London gangsters the Kray twins. No members of Spandau Ballet involved this time, only the brilliant Tom Hardy playing both Ronnie and Reggie. 
Where can I see it in the UK? Everywhere, you slag. Are you looking at me? Don't make me fetch my shooter.
Critical consensus? It's early days yet but three out of the four critics featured on Rotten Tomatoes gave it a thumbs up.
My take: You'd think the British obsession with the twins would have petered out long ago but Legend is the second Krays-related film to pop up in the last month. It looks rather more promising than Rise of the Krays, though, mainly because it boasts a name director in Brian Helgeland (42, A Knight's Tale) and a terrific cast that also includes Emily Browning, Christopher Eccleston, David Thewlis and Chazz Palminteri. As evidenced in Bronson (re-released this week), Hardy does unhinged criminal better than anybody, and if the film is as good as the trailer it won't go far wrong.

2. Dope
What is it? 'John Hughes-in-the-hood' teen comedy starring Shameik Moore as Malcolm, a geeky black kid with plans to go to Harvard despite growing up in a tough area of Los Angeles. After being invited to a local drug dealer's birthday party, he and his equally nerdy friends end up with a backpack full of narcotics and a gun. Adventure, danger and romance ensue. 
Where can I see it in the UK? Dope is on wide release so most cinemas should be screening it.
Critical consensus? A healthy 87 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes.
My take: A big hit at the Sundance Film Festival, Rick Famuyiwa's movie has been favourably compared to classic coming-of-age comedies such as Mean Girls, Clueless and Hughes' Sixteen Candles. Those are big boots to fill but the trailer certainly boasts enough laughs, as well as charm, to suggest Dope could well live up to the hype. 

3. Cartel Land
What is it? Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty) is executive producer on this chilling and intense documentary about two modern-day vigilante gangs - one in Mexico, the other in the States - battling the murderous Mexican drug cartels. 
Where can I see it in the UK? Key cities only.
Critical consensus? A totally fresh 92 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes.
My take: Matthew Heineman's film received both the the Directing Award and Special Jury Award for Cinematography in the US Documentary competition at this year's Sundance. As I've said before, 2015 is shaping up to be a vintage year for documentaries and this looks set to continue that welcome trend.

4. American Ultra
What is it? Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart reunite for the first time since 2009's Adventureland in what can only be described as a stoner/secret-agent action-comedy. Eisenberg's character Mike spends most of his time high and is completely unaware that, in reality, he's a CIA-trained killing machine. His latent abilities are unleashed when the agency targets him for elimination and kidnaps his girlfriend (Stewart). 
Where can I see it in the UK? This is getting a big saturation release so will be all over cinemas everywhere.
Critical consensus? A mediocre 48 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes.
My take: Probably more famous for writer Max Landis's comments on Twitter after it flopped in the States, American Ultra nevertheless looks pretty entertaining. Stewart and Eisenberg have real on-screen chemistry and can both do comedy in their sleep. Leaving her much-derided Twilight days behind her, Stewart is one of Hollywood's finest young actresses, as evidenced in Still Alice and her award-winning turn in Clouds of Sils Maria, alongside Juliette Binoche. 

5. Buttercup Bill 
What is it? A disturbing slice of southern gothic centred on 'soul-mates' Patrick and Pernilla who reunite after the suicide of an old school friend. Sexual tension and a terrible secret bubble to the surface, threatening to consume the pair.
Where can I see it in the UK? Cinema-wise, it's key cities only but it is available from today on Curzon Home Cinema's View on Demand service.
Critical consensus? Reviewers are really split on this one so it is only rated 57 per cent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.
My take: "Deathly dull" and "tiresome act of self-indulgence" are two of the unkinder comments critics have aimed at this Louisiana-set US indie. Still, the fact it's being compared to the work of David Lynch and Harmony Korine (albeit unfavourably) suggests it might be right up my street.

Also in cinemas this week
Bronson (reissue)
Closed Curtain
Draw On Sweet Night 
How To Change The World (from Wednesday)
The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials (from Thursday)
Me And Earl And The Dying Girl
Miss Julie
No Escape 
Paayum Pali
Ricki And The Flash 
The Second Mother
The Transporter Refuelled
Welcome Back

UK box office top 10
1. Straight Outta Compton
2. Inside Out
3. Hitman: Agent 47
4. Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
5. Pixels
6. The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
7. Sinister 2
8. Paper Towns
9. Minions
10. 45 Years 

US box office top 10
1. Straight Outta Compton
2. War Room
3. Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
4. No Escape
5. Sinister 2
6. The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
7. Hitman: Agent 47
8. Ant-Man
9. Jurassic World
10. The Gift

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