THIS WEEK’S PREVIEWS (13TH – 19TH MARCH 2023)

This year’s Oscar winners have just been announced, and to say we’re (mostly) happy with the results is an understatement! But now, the campaign for next year’s Oscars gets underway – starting with the jam-packed releases on offer this week, including a wish-fulfilment superhero sequel, a dark horror prequel, the unexpected joys within a care home, and many more…

MOVIE OF THE WEEK: Shazam! Fury of the Gods (dir. David F. Sandberg)

CAST: Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Adam Brody, Rachel Zegler, Ross Butler, Ian Chen, Meagan Good, Faithe Herman, Lucy Liu, Djimon Hounsou, Helen Mirren, Grace Fulton, D.J. Cotrona, Jovan Armand, Marta Milans, Cooper Andrews, Rizwan Manji, Lotta Losten

CREW: David F. Sandberg (director), Henry Gayden and Chris Morgan (writers), Peter Safran (producer), Christophe Beck (composer), Gyula Pados (cinematographer), Michel Aller (editor)

PLOT: Teenager Billy Batson (Angel), along with his foster siblings, continues to protect civilians as his all-powerful adult superhero alter-ego Shazam (Levi), whom he and his counterparts can transform into by simply shouting the name. However, when the Daughters of Atlas – Anthea (Zegler), Kalypso (Liu) and Hespera (Mirren) – arrive with the intention of destroying the world after growing insulted by Batson/Shazam’s irresponsible use of his godly powers, he must realise what makes a true hero if he and his closest allies are to stop them…

FIVE REASONS TO BE EXCITED:

1) One of the few lighter entries in the now-defunct DCEU, the wish-fulfilment superhero comedy Shazam!, gets a daring and even funnier sequel that ups the game in every way you’d expect

2) Zachary Levi continues to have a blast as (literally) a grown kid with superpowers, and brings plenty of laughs and heart to the winning new narrative

3) There’s some real star power in the villain department, including Oscar-winner Helen Mirren, the incomparable Lucy Liu, and West Side Story breakout (and future Snow White) Rachel Zegler

4) With Fast & Furious veteran Chris Morgan on board as a co-writer, you can expect plenty of delightfully over-the-top action sequences – as well as lots of stuff to do with family

5) Who knows where Shazam will fit in the vision of new DC bosses James Gunn and Peter Safran, but for now it’s safe to say that there’s plenty to enjoy while it lasts

Shazam! Fury of the Gods will be showing in cinemas from Friday 17th March 2023

 

WHAT ELSE IS COMING OUT THIS WEEK?

Pearl (dir. Ti West)

CAST: Mia Goth, David Corenswet, Tandi Wright, Matthew Sunderland, Emma Jenkins-Purro, Alistair Sewell

CREW: Ti West (director, writer, producer, editor), Mia Goth (writer), Jacob Jaffke, Harrison Kreiss and Kevin Turen (producers), Tyler Bates and Tim Williams (composers), Eliot Rockett (cinematographer)

PLOT: In 1918, young Pearl (Goth) has dreams of escaping her isolated life on her family’s Texas farm and living the glamorous life of a movie star. However, it isn’t long before her growing oppression, isolation, and madness threatens to boil over, with deadly consequences…

FIVE REASONS TO BE EXCITED:

1) Filmmaker Ti West’s latest is a prequel to his horror breakout hit X from last year, and tells the shocking origins of that movie’s disturbing slasher villain

2) Mia Goth reprises her role as the titular character, and even shares a co-writing credit with West, in addition to delivering one of her very best on-screen performances

3) West styles his film after the kind of cheery, imaginative movies from the former half of the twentieth century, but of course within a much gorier context

4) Among its numerous fans is none other than Martin Scorsese, who is quoted as finding the film so disturbing that he struggled to sleep afterwards – now THAT is high praise from one of our greatest filmmakers!

5) The X-train doesn’t stop here, as West is already developing a third part in the trilogy named MaXXXine, which follows the previous film’s survivor (also played by Goth) on a further quest to break into Hollywood

Pearl is showing in cinemas from Friday 17th March 2023

Allelujah (dir. Richard Eyre)

CAST: Jennifer Saunders, Judi Dench, Russell Tovey, David Bradley, Derek Jacobi, Bally Gill, Gerard Horan, Jessica Baglow, Eileen Davies

CREW: Richard Eyre (director), Alan Bennett and Heidi Thomas (writers), Damian Jones and Kevin Loader (producers), George Fenton (composer), Ben Smithard (cinematographer), John Wilson (editor)

PLOT: In a small hospital in Yorkshire, the geriatric ward is threatened with closure, forcing the staff and the patients into action as they attempt to save it…

FIVE REASONS TO BE EXCITED:

1) Alan Bennett’s heart-warming play is adapted into an equally uplifting film about the unexpected joys that come with old age

2) Director Richard Eyre has assembled an impressive cast of acting veterans, including Jennifer Saunders, Derek Jacobi, David Bradley, and Eyre’s former Iris star Judi Dench

3) The film’s plot highlights the expendability of healthcare services that we sometimes take for granted, and serves as a wake-up call for anyone who isn’t already concerned about the state of the NHS and beyond

4) It features much of playwright Bennett’s trademark wit and sophistication, but also his keen observation for some real social issues in our modern world

5) You may well leave with a serious spring in your step from how joyous and sweet-natured it reveals itself to be

Allelujah is showing in cinemas from Friday 17th March 2023

Boston Strangler (dir. Matt Ruskin)

CAST: Keira Knightley, Carrie Coon, Alessandro Nivola, Chris Cooper, David Dastmalchian, Robert John Burke, Morgan Spector, Bill Camp

CREW: Matt Ruskin (director, writer), Tom Ackerley, Josey McNamara, Michael A. Pruss, Ridley Scott and Kevin Walsh (producers), Paul Leonard-Morgan (composer), Ben Kutchins (cinematographer), Anne McCabe (editor)

PLOT: In the early 1960s, reporter Loretta McLaughlin (Knightley) becomes the first journalist to connect a series of murderers by a killer known as the “Boston Strangler”. She and fellow reporter Jean Cole (Coon) continue to investigate the killer as they claim more victims, but the rampant sexism of the time gets in the way of their efforts…

FIVE REASONS TO BE EXCITED:

1) The real-life exploits of the famed Boston Strangler, which have been shown throughout countless media over the years, is told for the very first time from the perspective of the journalists who helped bring him down

2) Keira Knightley and Carrie Coon deliver resilient performances as reporters who, on top of investigating a dangerous serial killer, are faced with sexism and discrimination at every turn

3) Behind the scenes, acclaimed director Ridley Scott produces under his iconic Scott Free production company, while filmmaker Matt Ruskin steers the film into increasingly tense areas

4) A three-part podcast, which sees award-winning journalist Dick Lehr going into more details about the gruesome case, will also be launched alongside the film – and you’ll be able to stream it for free on all major podcast platforms!

5) After the disappointing box office returns for She Said, it’s vital that this film which also concerns female reporters struggling in a patriarchal society finds its audience

Boston Strangler is streaming exclusively on Disney+ from Friday 17th March 2023

Rye Lane (dir. Raine Allen-Miller)

CAST: David Jonsson, Vivian Oparah, Alice Hewkin, Munya Chawawa, Simon Manyonda, Karene Peter, Benjamin Sarpong-Broni, Poppy Allen-Quarmby, Malcolm Atobrah

CREW: Raine Allen-Miller (director), Nathan Bryon and Tom Melia (writers), Yvonne Isimeme Ibazebo and Damian Jones (producers), Kwes (composer), Olan Collardy (cinematographer), Victoria Boydell (editor)

PLOT: One day in South London, twenty-somethings Dom (Jonsson) and Yas (Oparah) – both reeling from bad break-ups – form a connection as they venture across the area to confront their exes, and potentially restore their faith in love…

FIVE REASONS TO BE EXCITED:

1) This delightful new rom-com tears up the rulebook and starts afresh, keeping things exciting for the audience as well as giving them what they would be expect

2) Director Raine Allen-Miller makes a splashy debut with her own distinct style, which Olan Collardy’s wide-angle lensed cinematography accentuates

3) Young actors David Jonsson and Vivian Oparah share some sweet chemistry as their fun characters interact with each other and plenty more eccentric people

4) The audience is transported across Brixton and Peckham, and are shown the unexpectedly romantic side to these London boroughs

5) Plenty of zany encounters await in a film that contains a different flavour of screwball romance

Rye Lane is showing in cinemas from Friday 17th March 2023

The Magician’s Elephant (dir. Wendy Rogers)

CAST: Noah Jupe, Benedict Wong, Pixie Davies, Sian Clifford, Brian Tyree Henry, Aasif Mandvi, Mandy Patinkin, Miranda Richardson, Cree Summer, Lorraine Toussaint, Natasia Demetriou, Dawn French

CREW: Wendy Rogers (director), Martin Hynes (writer), Julia Pistor (producer), Mark Mothersbaugh (composer), Robert Fisher Jr. (editor)

PLOT: Young orphan Peter (Jupe) is searching for his long lost sister Adele (Davies), and is told to seek out a mysterious elephant, along with the magician (Wong) that conjures it, if he is to have a chance of finding her…

FIVE REASONS TO BE EXCITED:

1) This charming and emotional animated film marks the latest major adaptation of author Kate DiCamillo’s work, after previously having stories like The Tale of Despereaux and Flora & Ulysses turned into movies

2) Animal Logic, the visual effects company that previously supplied animation for the likes of The LEGO Movie and Happy Feet, teams with Netflix Animation – who picked up the property from pre-Disney 20th Century Fox – for a magical new world that both children and audiences can get lost in

3) The voice cast is impressive, made up of acclaimed characters actors like Benedict Wong, Bryan Tyree Henry and Mandy Patinkin, as well as some British thespians like Miranda Richardson and Dawn French

4) The story is ripe with heart and soul, telling its heavy tale of love and loss with an entirely sympathetic approach

5) It’s further confirmation that, in the wake of Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio and The Sea Beast, Netflix does still have room for imaginative and mature animated films to thrive

The Magician’s Elephant is streaming exclusively on Netflix from Friday 17th March 2023

Play Dead (dir. Patrick Lussier)

CAST: Bailee Madison, Jerry O’Connell, Anthony Turpel, Chris Lee, Chris Butler, Jorge Luis-Pallo, Kyler O’Neal

CREW: Patrick Lussier (director), Simon Boyes and Adam Mason (writers), Lucas Jarach, Bradley Pilz and Johannes Roberts (producers), Steve Moore (composer), Mac Fisken (cinematographer), Tommy Aagaard (editor)

PLOT: When her younger brother is arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, criminology student Chloe (Madison) fakes her own death in order to break into the local morgue and retrieve a piece of evidence that could clear his name. However, once she’s inside, Chloe quickly discovers a disturbing secret about the coroner (O’Connell), who upon realising he isn’t alone ignites a sinister game of cat-and-mouse with his new victim…

FIVE REASONS TO BE EXCITED:

1) The scariest morgue in recent film history is the setting for this dark and intense horror-thriller that will make your stomach turn

2) Jerry O’Connell, perhaps best known for his performance as a child in Stand By Me, is on terrifying form as a sinister coroner with a penchant for sadistic violence

3) Director Patrick Lussier brings his firm taste for seedy genre flicks, after previously doing so with hits like Drive Angry and My Bloody Valentine, to a much more contained but no less thrilling story

4) It’s already causing some discomfort amongst viewers, even those who are close to the film’s actors – Bailee Madison’s sister is reported to have walked away feeling nauseous after being shown it!

5) If you feel as though you have the guts for it, then you’ll be rewarded with a gory but engaging chiller that always keeps you on the edge

Play Dead is showing in cinemas from Friday 17th March 2023, and is now streaming exclusively on Icon Film Channel

Other People’s Children (dir. Rebecca Zlotowski)

CAST: Virginie Efira, Roschdy Zem, Chiara Mastroianni, Callie Ferreira-Goncalves, Yamée Couture, Henri-Noël Tabary, Victor Lefebvre, Sebastien Pouderoux, Michel Zlotowski, Mireille Perrie, Frederick Wiseman, Antonia Buresi, Marlene Saldana, Anne Berest, Marwen Okbi

CREW: Rebecca Zlotowski (director, writer), Frédéric Jouve (producer), Robin Coudert and Gael Rakotondrabe (composers), George Lechaptois (cinematographer), Géraldine Mangenot (editor)

PLOT: Rachel (Efira), a 40-year-old teacher, enters a relationship with Ali (Zem) and begins to bond with his 4-year-old daughter Leila (Ferreira-Goncalves). However, with Leila’s mother Alice (Mastroianni) a permanent fixture in the young girl’s life, Rachel begins to worry if she’ll ever see her as more than her father’s girlfriend, leading her to confront a major crossroads in her life…

FIVE REASONS TO BE EXCITED:

1) This sweet and tender French drama explores some of the difficult questions surrounding womanhood at a certain age, including the complications of starting a family with someone else’s children

2) Virginie Efira, so memorable in the lead role of Paul Verhoeven’s nunsploitation epic Bendetta, gives a soulful performance that will stay with you

3) It is the fifth feature from acclaimed French filmmaker Rebecca Zlotowski, who was reportedly inspired by her own relationship with fellow auteur Jacques Audiard

4) Get ready to have your heart melted by young child actor Callie Ferreira-Goncalves, who steals scenes with her toddler mentality which drives a good chunk of the film’s plot

5) General fans of French cinema will be transfixed by this film’s profound Frenchness, but also its universality in the themes and scenarios it presents

Other People’s Children is showing in cinemas, and will be available to rent/buy on most digital platforms, from Friday 17th March 2023

Marlowe (dir. Neil Jordan)

CAST: Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, Jessica Lange, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Colm Meaney, Daniela Melchior, Alan Cumming, Danny Huston, Seána Kerslake, François Arnaud, Ian Hart, Patrick Muldoon

CREW: Neil Jordan (director, writer), William Monahan (writer), Mark Fasano, Patrick Hibler, Billy Hines, Philip Kim, Gary Levinsohn and Alan Moloney (producers), David Holmes (composer), Xavi Giménez (cinematographer), Mick Mahon (editor)

PLOT: In 1930s Los Angeles, private detective Philip Marlowe (Neeson) is hired by wealthy heiress Clare Cavendish (Kruger) to find her missing lover, but soon uncovers a deep conspiracy among the local elite…

FIVE REASONS TO BE EXCITED:

1) The classic detective character, originally created by author Raymond Chandler, returns to the big screen with an enthralling call-back to contemporary noir cinema

2) Liam Neeson plays the hard-boiled detective, stepping into the shoes once occupied by acting legends like Humphrey Bogart and James Garner

3) This particular story is based on the 2014 Marlowe mystery The Black-Eyed Blonde by author Benjamin Black (the pen name of John Banville)

4) Neeson is joined by a starry supporting cast including character actors Jessica Lange, Colm Meaney and Danny Huston, with some particularly memorable turns by Diane Kruger and Alan Cumming

5) Director Neil Jordan, known for films like The Crying Game and Interview with the Vampire, puts his all into this stylish detective thriller

Marlowe is showing in cinemas, and streaming exclusively on Sky Cinema, from Friday 17th March 2023

Winners (dir. Hassan Nazer)

CAST: Reza Naji, Hossein Abedini, Mahmoud Jafari, Shahrzad Kamalzadeh, Parsa Maghami, Helia Mohammadkhani

CREW: Hassan Nazer (director, writer, editor), Nadira Murray and Paul Welsh (producers), Mohsen Amini and Mohammad Saeed Shayan (composers), Arash Seyfijamadi (cinematographer), Hamid Bashe Ahangar, David Arthur and Reza Jouze (editors)

PLOT: In a small Iranian town, where the children scour local dumps in search of hidden treasures to provide for their families, nine-year-old film fan Yahya (Maghami) and his friend Leyla (Mohammadkhani) come across a precious, rather familiar-looking golden trophy, and along with Yahya’s equally film-obsessed boss Naser (Naji) they set out on a journey to locate its owner…

FIVE REASONS TO BE EXCITED:

1) Iranian cinema receives its long overdue love letter via UK-based filmmaker Hassan Nazer, who presents a story that brings an unexpected icon of Hollywood to the Middle East

2) Due to Nazer’s British citizenship as well as its UK-based financing, it was put forward as the UK’s official entry for this year’s International Feature Film Oscar, but unfortunately didn’t score the nomination

3) Speaking of Oscars, the film centres around that very trophy as it falls into the hands of people who love cinema just as much as you and I

4) At a time when figures of Iranian media and culture are being persecuted, imprisoned, and even executed, this film feels especially important to be seeing now

5) A favourite among audiences and juries at festivals around the world, this shows the true uniting power of movies in every part of the world

Winners is showing in cinemas from Friday 17th March 2023

Little English (dir. Pravesh Kumar)

CAST: Rameet Rauli, Viraj Juneja, Seema Bowri, Madhav Sharma, Goldy Notay, Ameet Chana, Simon Rivers, Nikki Patel, Shin Parwana, Sanjeev Kohli

CREW: Pravesh Kumar (director, writer), Lesley-Anne MacFarlane, Andrew St Maur and Dominique Unsworth (producers), Niraj Chag (composer), Leigh Alner (cinematographer), Kam Parmar (editor)

PLOT: Simmy (Rauli), a naïve young Indian woman, has just arrived in Slough to marry Raj (Rivers), the eldest son in a dysfunctional Punjabi family. However, when Raj unexpectedly abandons her after their wedding, she finds herself trapped in the family’s deep-rooted traditions, and must rely on some unexpected help from her new relatives to escape…

FIVE REASONS TO BE EXCITED:

1) Cultures collide in this hilarious comedy about the dysfunctional Punjabi families in Brexit-era Britain

2) It is the feature debut of director/writer Pravesh Kumar who, in addition to being a veteran of Bollywood cinema, is also the Artistic Director of the Rifco Theatre Company, which represents and celebrates British South Asian culture

3) Nickelodeon fans might recognise lead Rameet Rauli from the hit teen show Ride, in which she played the role of Anya Patel

4) The project was made possible by crowdfunding, which raised over £25,000 to complete additional shooting

5) It’s a fun and lively gem that will entertain crowds of all backgrounds, not to mention having them laugh themselves silly by all the screwball antics!

Little English is showing in cinemas from Friday 17th March 2023

Mrs. Chatterjee vs. Norway (dir. Ashima Chibber)

CAST: Rani Mukerji, Anirban Bhattacharya, Kristjan Üksküla, Erki Laur, Carol Tamm

CREW: Ashima Chibber (director, writer), Rahul Handa and Sameer Satija (writers), Monisha Advani, Nikkhil Advani and Madhu Bhojwani (producers), Sagar Desai (composer), Alvar Kõue (cinematographer), Namrata Rao (editor)

PLOT: In Norway, an immigrant Indian mother (Mukerji) fights to win back custody of her children after they are taken from her by the local welfare services…

FIVE REASONS TO BE EXCITED:

1) Highly acclaimed Hindi actor Rani Mukerji gives a stellar performance as a mother caught in a fierce custody battle against an entire country

2) The film is based on real events in 2011, when an Indian family was similarly torn apart by the Norwegian authorities

3) It presents a harrowing account of immigrant life in modern-day Europe, as told through the eyes of a loving and caring Indian family

4) Expect some tears to be shed as things inevitably get heated in the courtroom (or whatever the Norwegian equivalent may be)

5) Above all, though, you’ll be engaged with this David vs. Goliath legal drama that will win the case for your heart

Mrs. Chatterjee vs. Norway is showing in cinemas from Friday 17th March 2023

The Age of Innocence (dir. Martin Scorsese) [RE-RELEASE]

CAST: Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Winona Ryder, Miriam Margolyes, Geraldine Chaplin, Michael Gough, Richard E. Grant, Mary Beth Hurt, Robert Sean Leonard, Norman Lloyd, Alec McCoven, Siân Phillips, Carolyn Farina, Jonathan Pryce, Alexis Smith, Stuart Wilson, June Squibb, Joanne Woodward, Domenica Cameron-Scorsese

CREW: Martin Scorsese (director, writer), Jay Cocks (writer), Barbara De Fina (producer), Elmer Bernstein (composer), Michael Ballhaus (cinematographer), Thelma Schoonmaker (editor)

PLOT: In 1870s New York, young lawyer Newland Archer (Day-Lewis) becomes engaged to a young and dutiful woman of high society named May Welland (Ryder). However, when he meets May’s unconventional cousin, the divorced Countess Ellen Olenska (Pfeiffer), Newland finds himself growing more and more fascinated with her, and even begins to fall in love…

FIVE REASONS TO BE EXCITED:

1) Martin Scorsese’s underrated historical romance returns to cinemas in celebration of its thirtieth anniversary, where it is being shown in an all-new 4K restoration for the very first time

2) Scorsese wrote the screenplay after co-writer Jay Cocks gave the filmmaking icon a copy of Edith Wharton’s original book – but only read it seven years after receiving it!

3) The film was both a critical and financial success, but over time it became overshadowed by many of Scorsese’s other films of the era like Goodfellas, Cape Fear and Casino – now is the time for it to receive the wider recognition it deserves

4) It features a breath-taking ensemble cast, from top stars like Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer and Winona Ryder, to legendary character actors Richard E. Grant, Jonathan Pryce, and Miriam Margolyes (in a BAFTA-winning supporting turn)

5) Nominated for five Oscars, including Best Supporting Actress for Winona Ryder and Best Adapted Screenplay, and winning for Best Costume Design, it has truly left its mark on the film industry

The Age of Innocence is showing in cinemas from Friday 17th March 2023

 

That’s about it for this week – thanks for joining us, and be sure to come back next week for a whole new set of movies to work up an appetite for!

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