Midway through January already?! Dear God, why are things moving so dang fast? Luckily, this week’s line-up of new releases should steady the pace somewhat, especially when they include full-on Hollywood epics, unnerving social thrillers, gripping documentaries, and tragic final performances…

MOVIE OF THE WEEK: Babylon (dir. Damien Chazelle)

CAST: Margot Robbie, Brad Pitt, Diego Calva, Jean Smart, Jovan Adepo, Li Jun Li, Tobey Maguire, Lukas Haas, Max Minghella, Samara Weaving, Olivia Wilde, Spike Jonze, Katherine Waterston, Flea, Jeff Garlin, Olivia Hamilton, P.J. Byrne, Rory Scovel, Eric Roberts, Ethan Suplee, Damon Gupton, Phoebe Tonkin, Chloe Fineman, Karina Fontes, Troy Metcalf, Danny Jolles, Lewis Tan, Telvin Griffin, Shane Powers

CREW: Damien Chazelle, director, writer; Olivia Hamilton, Marc Platt and Matthew Plouffe, producers; Justin Hurwitz, composer; Linus Sandgren, cinematographer; Tom Cross, editor

PLOT: In 1920s Los Angeles, a collection of ambitious artists and performers – including aspiring actor Nellie LaRoy (Robbie), silent movie star Jack Conrad (Pitt), assistant Manny (Calva) and jazz musician Sidney Palmer (Adepo) – experience numerous highs and lows in their careers and personal lives as the film industry moves rapidly to sound…


1) Damien Chazelle’s biggest film to date is a very different kind of love letter to Hollywood than his multi-Oscar winning musical La La Land, and by far a much crazier one

2) It has a starry ensemble cast led by Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt, with memorable supporting turns from Jean Smart, Tobey Maguire and Diego Calva, among many others

3) Chazelle’s signature fast-paced style of writing and directing feels natural for a film that can only be described as Singin’ in the Rain meets The Wolf of Wall Street (by way of Boogie Nights)

4) There is wildness around every corner, from big extravagant parties with elephants and snake fights, to brutal violence and rampant drug addiction

5) At a whopping three hours and nine minutes, it’s an epic in pretty much every sense of the word!

Babylon is showing in cinemas from Friday 20th January 2023



Holy Spider (dir. Ali Abbasi)

CAST: Mehdi Bajestani, Zar Amir Ebrahimi, Arash Ashtiani, Forouzan Jamshidnejad, Alice Rahimi, Sina Parvaneh, Sara Fazilat, Firouz Agheli, Nima Akbarpour, Mesbah Taleb

CREW: Ali Abbasi, director, writer, producer; Afshin Kamran Bahrami, writer; Sol Bondy and Jacob Jarek, producers; Martin Dirkov, composer; Nadim Carlsen, cinematographer; Olivia Neergaard-Holm, editor

PLOT: In Iran, journalist Rahimi (Ebrahimi) travels to the city of Mashhad to investigate Saeed Hanaei (Bajestani), a serial killer that is targeting sex workers. However, she finds that exposing Saeed is more difficult than imagined when she realises that the murderer is being embraced as a local hero…


1) Ali Abbasi’s devastating crime thriller fictionalises, but makes no less impactful, the real-life exploits of an Iranian serial killer known as the “Spider Killer”

2) Zar Amir Ebrahimi, originally the film’s casting director who ended up replacing the original actor at the last minute, gives a breath-taking lead performance that nabbed her the Best Actress prize at last year’s Cannes Film Festival

3) It’s a daring and provocative thriller that exposes Iranian misogyny and hostility toward sex workers, which is more relevant than ever following the country’s barbaric crackdown on female protestors

4) The Iranian government has condemned the film as blasphemous and insulting – which, given the rule of thumb that one must always do the opposite of what a totalitarian regime instructs, just makes it even more worth checking out!

5) It’s been put forward as Denmark’s submission for the International Feature Film Oscar, so expect it to be a strong contender if it ends up being nominated

Holy Spider is showing in cinemas from Friday 20th January 2023 (it will be streaming exclusively on MUBI from Friday 10th March 2023)

Alice, Darling (dir. Mary Nighy)

CAST: Anna Kendrick, Kaniehtiio Horn, Wunmi Mosaku, Charlie Carrick, Markjan Winnick

CREW: Mary Nighy, director; Alanna Francis, writer; Katie Bird Nolan, Christina Piovesan, Noah Segal, Lindsay Tapscott and Sam Tipper-Hale, producers; Owen Pallett, composer; Mike McLaughlin, cinematographer; Gareth C. Scales, editor

PLOT: Alice (Kendrick) goes on a trip with her friends Tess (Horn) and Sophie (Mosaku), but when her psychologically abusive boyfriend Simon (Carrick) shows up, she begins to discover the level of control he has over her…


1) Anna Kendrick taps into a dramatic side that’s very different from the brighter and more bubblier roles she’s been playing as of late

2) It deals with a type of abuse that isn’t often discussed in the larger conversation, but still leaves just as much of a devastating impact on one’s mental health

3) Director Mary Nighy, making her feature debut here, approaches the difficult subject with overwhelming sympathy for the victim, played heartbreakingly by Kendrick

4) Charlie Carrick, best known for the ITV miniseries Deep Water alongside Anna Friel, gives a terrifying villain performance that makes you really want to see him get his comeuppance

5) Get ready to feel all sorts of emotions as you witness a psychological battle of wills within a very toxic romantic relationship

Alice, Darling is showing in cinemas from Friday 20th January 2023

More Than Ever (dir. Emily Atef)

CAST: Vicky Krieps, Gaspard Ulliel, Bjørn Floberg, Sophie Langevin, Valérie Bodson, Jérémy Barbier d’Hiver, Marion Cadeau, Yacine Sif El Islam, Estelle Kerkor, Nathalie Man, Baptiste Girard, Tom Linton, Bess Davies, Astrid Overaa, Cyril Atef, Jesper Christensen

CREW: Emily Atef, director, writer; Lars Hubrich, writer; Xénia Maingot, producer; Jon Balke, composer; Yves Cape, cinematographer; Sandie Bompar and Hansjörg Weißbrich, editors

PLOT: Hélène (Krieps) and Matthew (Ulliel) are a happily-married couple who are left devastated when Hélène is diagnosed with a rare illness. Deciding to travel alone to Norway, where she intends to meet an online blogger (Floberg) whom she has developed a friendship with, Hélène finds it difficult to cope with her newfound illness, which seeks to test the unbreakable bond between her and Matthew…


1) This is a tender, heartfelt, and most of all romantic love story about a couple fighting for their bond against the bitter odds

2) Sadly, it’s also a bittersweet affair, since it features the final on-screen performance of French actor Gaspard Ulliel, who tragically passed away last year in a skiing accident

3) The late actor shares passionate chemistry with Vicky Krieps, who herself is fresh off some career-best reviews for the wild royal biopic Corsage

4) Director Emily Atef makes powerful use of the Norwegian atmosphere, where a large bulk of the drama takes place

5) It’s a romance for anyone who’s ever been to hell and back for the people that they hold so close to their heart

More Than Ever is showing in cinemas from Friday 20th January 2023

Rebel (dirs. Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah)

CAST: Aboubakr Bensaihi, Amir El Arbi, Lubna Azabal, Tara Abboud, Younes Bouab

CREW: Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, directors, writers; Kevin Meul and Jan van Dyck, writers; Bert Hamelinck and Dimitri Verbeeck, producers; Hannes De Maeyer, composer; Robrecht Heyvaert, cinematographer; Frédéric Thoraval, editor

PLOT: Kamal (Bensaihi) and Nassim (El Arbi) are brothers on different paths to one another, especially after Kamal heads for Syria, leaving Nassim to care for their ailing mother Leila (Azabel). However, when he discovers that Kamal has been radicalised by a local militia, Nassim goes to dangerous lengths in order to find and rescue his brother…


1) Belgian filmmakers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah – best known for directing Bad Boys For Life, episodes of Marvel, and the now-cancelled Batgirl – return with a much more grounded and personal thriller

2) The sinister and extremely dangerous method of radicalisation among impressionable Muslim teens forms a central theme here, as does the importance of family and its power over most things

3) It is carried by two incredibly tense lead performances by Aboubakr Bensaihi and Amir El Arbi, the latter being the younger brother of co-director Adil El Arbi in his acting debut

4) There may be points where you can fight back tears from the emotional weight, but also moments where you’d be tempted to look away from some of the realistic violence

5) You’ll find no better alternative for a thrilling family drama that’ll leave you on the edge of your seat

Rebel is available to rent/buy on most digital platforms from Monday 16th January 2023

The Book of Vision (dir. Carlo S. Hintermann)

CAST: Charles Dance, Lotte Verbeek, Sverrir Gudnason, Filippo Nigro, Isolda Dychauk, Rocco Gottlieb, Justin Korovkin, Giselda Volodi, Vera Graziadei

CREW: Carlo Hintermann, director, writer; Marco Saura, writer; Jerome Bellavista Caltagirone, Sébastien Delloye, Vera Graziadei, Robin Monotti Graziadei, Gerardo Panichi and Michele Petochi, producers; Federico Pascucci and Hanna Townshend, composers; Jörg Widmer, cinematographer; Piero Lassandro, editor

PLOT: In the present day, mysterious young doctor Eva (Verbeek) becomes fascinated with the work of 18th century Prussian physician Johan Anmuth (Dance), whose studies of the human condition were presented in his “Book of Vision”, a book which Eva finds herself diving deep into…


1) Medical history becomes intertwined with modern medicine in unusual and highly experimental ways in filmmaker Carlo Hintermann’s narrative feature debut

2) An international ensemble cast including British thespian Charles Dance, prolific Dutch performer (and regular on shows like The Blacklist and The Borgias) Lotte Verbeek, and Swedish leading man Sverrir Gudnason convey plenty of emotion throughout several points in time

3) Terrence Malick is an executive producer, which is evident from the stylish and substantial influence that the legendary filmmaker has on Hintermann’s approach

4) There are plenty of creative and astoundingly beautiful moments of surreal drama placed throughout, which serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of filmic visual language

5) It’s a film for the mind, filled with psychological questions and captivating ideas that stimulate the brain as it unfolds under its own unconventional wisdom

The Book of Vision is showing in cinemas from Friday 20th January 2023

The Hanging Sun (dir. Francesco Carrozzini)

CAST: Alessandro Borghi, Jessica Brown Findlay, Sam Spruell, Frederick Schmidt, Raphael Vicus, Peter Mullan, Charles Dance

CREW: Francesco Carrozzini, director; Stefano Bises, writer; Petter J. Borgli, Matteo Rovere and Riccardo Tozzi, producers; Andrea Farri, composer; Nicolai Brüel, cinematographer; Giuseppe Trepiccione, editor

PLOT: After betraying his father (Mullan), a powerful crime boss, John (Borghi) finds himself on the run from his vengeful brother Michael (Schmidt). He takes shelter in an isolated village populated by strict religious conformists, where he grows close to Lea (Findlay), a woman with her own troubled past, and her son Caleb (Vicas). Together, John and Lea work to resolve the torments in their lives, before they can catch up to their present…


1) Based on Jo Nesbø’s thrilling novel Midnight Sun, this is a dark and brutal crime thriller that takes no prisoners

2) Italian filmmaker and photographer Francesco Carrozzini makes his feature directorial debut after working on music videos for the likes of Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Lana Del Ray and Nicki Minaj

3) Award-winning Italian actor Alessandro Borghi leads a fiery ensemble of British favourites from Jessica Brown Findlay to Charles Dance

4) The film was a British and Italian co-production, in case you’re wondering why there are so many Italian names attached to this

5) It has a lot to say about family and community, not to mention forgiveness for past actions that might be beyond redeeming

The Hanging Sun is streaming exclusively on Sky Cinema from Friday 20th January 2023

The Substitute (dir. Diego Lerman)

CAST: Juan Minujín, Bárbara Lennie, Alfredo Castro, María Merlino, Lucas Arrua, Rita Cortese, Renata Lerman

CREW: Diego Lerman, director, writer, producer; María Meira and Luciana De Mello, writers; Nicolás Avruj, producer; Wojciech Staron, cinematographer; Alejandro Brodersohn, editor

PLOT: Lucio (Minujín), a new substitute literature teacher at a rundown high school in Buenos Aires, attempts to connect with his students while struggling to live up to his ailing father, beloved community organiser “El Chileno” (Castro). When one of his students falls into trouble with a local crime boss, Lucio steps out of his way to try and resolve the conflict…


1) Diego Lerman, one of Argentina’s leading filmmakers, presents a dark and gritty take on the classic “inspirational high school teacher” formula

2) Led by a magnetic Juan Minujín, it features a cast filled with exciting performances, including an award-winning supporting turn by Renata Lerman

3) It is, according to the director himself, a coming-of-age drama that explores “the survival and the struggle of adolescents to enter a society that is extremely hostile to those who lack support and basic life conditions the most”

4) With sub-plots involving fierce drug cartels and political corruption, it’s a bit like watching an episode of Narcos with Dead Poets Society somehow edited into the mix

5) Argentinian pride is high right now following their exceptional victory at the World Cup, so to see a profound and intelligent piece of filmmaking from the same country will surely win over international audiences even more

The Substitute is showing in cinemas from Friday 20th January 2023

Dreaming Walls (dirs. Maya Duverdier and Amélie van Elmbt)

CAST: Merle Lister, Steve Willis, Bettina Grossman

CREW: Maya Duverdier and Amélie van Elmbt, directors, writers; Hanne Phlypo, producer; Michael Andrews, composer; Joachim Philippe and Virginie Surdej, cinematographers; Alain Dessauvage and Julie Naas, editors

PLOT: After years of renovations and construction, the legendary Chelsea Hotel in New York is about to reopen as a luxury hotel, which prompts a divisive response from the artists still living there…


1) It’s not often that a New York hotel gets the documentary treatment, but the Chelsea Hotel holds such a cherished place in artists’ hearts that it’s impossible to resist

2) Filmmakers Maya Duverdier and Amélie van Elmbt explore the rich history of the historic landmark building, which over the years has been a creative haven for artists such as Patti Smith, Jim Morrison and Robert Mapplethorpe

3) Its controversial reopening as a boutique hotel is a major focus of this film, as well as the artists who refused to be nudged out of what they consider to be an untouchable hotspot

4) None other than Martin Scorsese is an executive producer on the film, which just goes to show the importance of this particular location to native New York citizens like him

5) At once loving and also haunting, this film takes into account the past creative tenants of the Chelsea Hotel and honours them as things progress towards an uncertain future

Dreaming Walls is showing in cinemas, and will be available to rent/buy on most digital platforms, from Friday 20th January 2023

Bank of Dave (dir. Chris Foggin)

CAST: Rory Kinnear, Phoebe Dynevor, Joel Fry, Hugh Bonneville, Paul Kaye, Jo Hartley, Cathy Tyson, Florence Hall, Drew Cain

CREW: Chris Foggin, director; Piers Ashworth, writer; Karl Hall, Piers Tempest and Matt Williams, producers; Christian Henson, composer; Mike Stern Sterzynski, cinematographer; Martina Zamolo, editor

PLOT: Dave Fishwick (Kinnear), a working-class businessman from Burnley, Lancashire, attempts to set up a community bank to help local businesses get off the ground. To do so, he will have to battle London’s elite financial institutions by applying for the first banking licence in over a hundred years…


1) The inspiring true story of working-class banking hero Dave Fishwick is dramatized in a feel-good British comedy-drama about his noble ambitions

2) Rory Kinnear portrays Fishwick himself, with fine support from Bridgerton’s Phoebe Dynevor, Joel Fry, and Hugh Bonneville

3) You may already be familiar with Fishwick’s story, since he was the focus of Channel 4’s documentary series of the same name which aired back in 2012

4) As the nation continues to face a cost-of-living crisis, a reaffirming story of finance like this might be what people need to hear

5) It’s a classic underdog story of impossible odds, but held together by a strong sense of community that cannot be undermined

Bank of Dave is streaming exclusively on Netflix from Monday 16th January 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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