THIS WEEK’S RELEASES (20TH – 26TH FEBRUARY 2023)

Welcome back – you’re just in time for a deranged week at the movies, including a multicultural romantic-comedy, an award-winning tale by a Japanese auteur, and – most importantly – a bear on a coke-fuelled rampage…

MOVIE OF THE WEEK: Cocaine Bear (dir. Elizabeth Banks)

CAST: Keri Russell, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Christian Convery-Jennings, Alden Ehrenreich, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Brooklynn Prince, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Kristofer Hivju, Hannah Hoekstra, Aaron Holliday, Margo Martindale, Ray Liotta, Matthew Rhys, Scott Seiss, Kahyun Kim, Shane Connellan

CREW: Elizabeth Banks (director, producer), Jimmy Warden (writer), Brian Duffield, Max Handelman, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Matt Reilly, Aditya Sood and Christine Sun (producers), Mark Mothersbaugh (composer), John Guleserian (cinematographer), Joel Negron (editor)

PLOT: In 1985, a drug smuggler drops a large shipment of cocaine over a forest in Georgia, where it is ingested by a 500-pound bear. Now, an oddball group of cops, criminals, tourists and teens find themselves at the bloody mercy of a coked-up apex predator that’s on the hunt for blood – and more cocaine…

FIVE REASONS TO BE EXCITED:

1) The sheer concept of this movie alone – a fictionalised take on the very true story of a bear that ingested God knows how many ounces of cocaine – should be enough to sell all the movie tickets in the world!

2) Director Elizabeth Banks has rounded up a sturdy ensemble cast of humans who may or may not be Cocaine Bear’s mid-binge nibbles during this movie, from Keri Russell to The Florida Project breakout Brooklynn Prince, to the late Ray Liotta in one of his final roles

3) As if the insanity of this premise wasn’t enough, none other than Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are credited as producers, so you know it’s going to also be one hilariously wild ride!

4) There’s plenty of gore and other drug-fuelled comic violence for everyone to laugh/wince at, all of which makes the famed bear attack in The Revenant look like a mild romp by comparison

5) There’s no pretension to this movie – it knows exactly what it’s supposed to be, and delivers in all the ways you’d want it to!

Cocaine Bear is showing in cinemas from Friday 24th February 2023

 

WHAT ELSE IS COMING OUT THIS WEEK?

What’s Love Got to Do with It? (dir. Shekhar Kapur)

CAST: Lily James, Shazad Latif, Shabana Azmi, Emma Thompson, Sajal Aly, Naufal Azmir Khan, Oliver Chris, Asim Chaudhry, Jeff Mirza

CREW: Shekhar Kapur (director), Jemima Khan (writer, producer), Nicky Kentish Barnes, Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner (producers), Nitin Sawhney (composer), Remi Adefarasin (cinematographer), Guy Bensley and Nick Moore (editors)

PLOT: Zoe (James), a documentary filmmaker and hopeless romantic, learns that her neighbour and childhood friend Kaz (Latif) is to follow in his family’s tradition and opt for an arranged marriage to a Pakistani bride. Zoe chooses to film Kaz and his family as they travel from London to Lahore for the ceremony, but in the process learns about a whole new approach to finding love…

FIVE REASONS TO BE EXCITED:

1) After more than fifteen years away, director Shekhar Kapur returns to feature filmmaking for a bright and accessible multi-cultural romantic comedy

2) The script is by Jemima Khan, who until 2004 was married to Imran Khan, the Pakistani Cricket player and now former Prime Minister of Pakistan

3) There are standout turns by the diverse cast, including leads Lily James and Shazad Latif, and some memorable appearances by Emma Thompson and Asim Chaudhry

4) It puts the Pakistani tradition of arranged marriage in the spotlight, which opens up a barrel of intriguing questions about love in all its many forms

5) Its feel-good vibe and plentiful charm ensures that there’s something for everyone of all faiths and backgrounds

What’s Love Got to Do with It? is showing in cinemas from Friday 24th February 2023

Broker (dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda)

CAST: Song Kang-ho, Gang Dong-won, Bae Doona, Lee Ji-eun, Lee Joo-young, Park Ji-yong, Im Seung-soo, Kang Gil-woo, Lee Moo-saeng, Ryu Kyung-soo, Song Sae-byeok, Kim Seon-young, Lee Dong-hwi, Kim Sae-byuk, Park Hae-joon, Baek Hyun-jin, Kim Ye-eun

CREW: Hirokazu Kore-eda (director, writer, editor), Eugene Lee (producer), Jung Jae-il (composer), Hong Kyung-pyo (cinematographer)

PLOT: In South Korea, hand laundry owner Ha Sang-hyeon (Kang-ho) and his friend Dong-soo (Dong-won) operate an illegal business where they steal babies from a nearby baby box – where parents can safely abandon their children – and sell them on the adoption black market. However, when they are contacted by young mother Moon So-young (Ji-eun), who previously abandoned her baby, she goes with them on a road trip to find the baby’s adoptive parents, all while they are pursued by detectives Soo-jin (Doona) and Lee (Joo-young) who hope to catch the criminals in the act…

FIVE REASONS TO BE EXCITED:

1) International auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda heads over to South Korea for his latest film, a first for the Japanese filmmaker

2) Lead actor Song Kang-ho, known internationally for his standout role in the Oscar-winning Parasite, was awarded the Best Actor prize at last year’s Cannes Film Festival for his vibrant and emotional turn here

3) The function of baby boxes, a very real phenomenon in many countries across the world, and their easy manipulation by criminals on the black market forms a central focus that is ripe for debate amongst audiences

4) Despite the grim subject matter, it has a nice and uplifting tone, which has already made it a crowd favourite in other countries and at festivals

5) It’s the latest example of what kind of impact that South Korean cinema can have on international audiences, ones that are willing to look past the subtitles and see a whole new world of storytelling

Broker is showing in cinemas from Friday 24th February 2023

We Have a Ghost (dir. Christopher Landon)

CAST: Anthony Mackie, David Harbour, Tig Nataro, Erica Rash, Jennifer Coolidge, Isabella Russo, Niles Fitch, Steve Coulter, Faith Ford, Jahi Di’Allo Winston

CREW: Christopher Landon (director, writer), Marty Bowen, Dan Halsted and Nate Miller (producers), Marc Spicer (cinematographer), Ben Baudhuin (editor)

PLOT: Frank (Mackie) and his family discover the presence of a ghost, named Ernest (Harbour), in their house. When they film Ernest and put him online, the ghost becomes an online sensation – and the target of a sinister government organisation…

FIVE REASONS TO BE EXCITED:

1) After having fun with slasher movie tropes in Freaky and the Happy Death Day films, director-writer Christopher Landon turns his attention to the supernatural with this slightly more family-friendly horror-comedy

2) Anthony Mackie stars in his ninth (!!) Netflix Original project, alongside David Harbour as the mysterious ghost at the centre of the plot

3) It goes into some interesting directions with its familiar haunted house set-up, such as what happens when evidence of the paranormal goes viral

4) The film features plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, as well as some occasionally spooky scenes that balance the horror and the comedy pretty well

5) There’s enough for horror fans of all ages to enjoy, whether it’s the lighter comedic edges or the sinister thrills that always keep you on edge

We Have A Ghost is streaming exclusively on Netflix from Friday 24th February 2023

Joyland (dir. Saim Sadiq)

CAST: Ali Junejo, Rasti Farooq, Alina Khan, Sarwat Gilani, Salmaan Peerzada, Sohail Sameer, Sania Saeed

CREW: Saim Sadiq (director, writer, editor), Maggie Briggs (writer), Apoorva Guru Charan, Sarmad Sultan Khoosat, Lauren Mann, Kathryn M. Moseley, Katharina Otto-Bernstein, Oliver Ridge, April Shih and Sabiha Sumar (producers), Joe Saade (cinematographer), Jasmin Tenucci (editor)

PLOT: In the Pakistani city of Lahore, Haider (Junejo), the youngest son of a traditional middle-class family, secretly finds work at an erotic dance theatre. However, when he falls in love with transgender dancer Biba (Khan), his whole world begins to change…

FIVE REASONS TO BE EXCITED:

1) Pakistan’s first-ever Oscar shortlisted feature is a bold and provocative romantic drama that challenges patriarchal authority and anti-gay agendas

2) It received a standing ovation and universal praise at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, where it won the “Queer Palm” award that honours a film with distinct LGBTQ+ identities

3) The film was controversially banned in its home country after right-wing politicians decided that it desecrated their Islam religion, but the ban was thankfully overturned after a powerful social media campaign demanding its release

4) Oscar-winning actor Riz Ahmed serves as an executive producer on the project, as does the inspirational Malala Yousafzai

5) It’s a powerful story that tackles universal themes in environments that you wouldn’t expect, and delivers two-fold on its soaring emotion because of it

Joyland is showing in cinemas from Friday 24th February 2023

The Strays (dir. Nathaniel Martello-White)

CAST: Ashley Madekwe, Bukky Bakray, Jorden Myrie, Justin Salinger, Caroline Martin, Michael Warburton, Samuel Paul Small, Maria Almeida, Vanessa Bailey, Izzy Billingham

CREW: Nathaniel Martello-White (director, writer), Valentina Brazzini, Tristan Goligher and Rob Watson (producers), Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch (composer), Adam Scarth (cinematographer), Mark Towns (editor)

PLOT: Neve (Madekwe) has successfully acquired the upper-middle-class existence that she has always dreamed of, but the unexpected arrival of two mysterious figures from her past (Bakray and Myrie) causes her world to shatter…

FIVE REASONS TO BE EXCITED:

1) In the same vein as Get Out and Parasite, this eerie British psychological thriller tackles some heavy social themes like class and racial paranoia

2) It’s an attention-grabbing filmmaking debut for actor turned director-writer Nathaniel Martello-White, best known for appearing in Steve McQueen’s Small Axe anthology

3) Respective BAFTA nominee and winner Ashley Madekwe and Bukky Bakray deliver impressively sinister turns as mysterious characters who are never just as they seem at first

4) There are twists and turns that nobody in their right mind would predict, and make the central themes stick out even more

5) Give that it’s headed for Netflix, it’ll make a pretty compelling double-feature with the streamer’s equally twisty British thriller I Came By from last year

The Strays is streaming exclusively on Netflix from Wednesday 22nd February 2023

Next Exit (dir. Mali Elfman)

CAST: Katie Parker, Rahul Kohli, Rose McIver, Tongayi Chirisa, Tim Griffin, Diva Zappa, Nico Evers-Swindell, Karen Gillan

CREW: Mali Elfman (director, writer, producer), Derek Bishé and Narineh Hacopian (producers), Ariel Marx (composer), Azuli Anderson (cinematographer), Brett W. Bachman (editor)

PLOT: In San Francisco, renowned scientist Dr. Stevenson (Gillan) seeks volunteers to end their lives and further her research into studying movement in the afterlife. On the other side of the country in New York City, Rose (Parker) and Teddy (Kohli) are strangers who sign up to partake in the study, but are forced to share a cross-country road trip with each other, where they begin to form an unexpected connection…

FIVE REASONS TO BE EXCITED:

1) Mali Elfman’s directorial debut has been more than ten years in the making, with the filmmaker reportedly making revisions every time she faced hardship in her life (which, given that it’s only now being released, must have been a rough few years)

2) Katie Parker and Rahul Kohli share a sweet and fun chemistry as the main mismatched, but equally suicidal, couple

3) The film explores dark themes surrounding mortality, science, and life in general, but in ways that are unexpectedly funny and heartfelt

4) There’s a small but hugely important role for Doctor Who and MCU veteran Karen Gillan, in a role that’s a little different from ones she’s previously played

5) It’s got some gorgeous visuals to go along with its narrative, supplied by Azuli Anderson whose cinematography won an award at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival

Next Exit will be available to rent/buy on digital platforms from Monday 20th February 2023

The Independent (dir. Amy Rice)

CAST: Jodie Turner-Smith, Brian Cox, Ann Dowd, John Cena, Luke Kirby, Stephen Lang, Margaret Odette, Michael Gandolfini, Alysia Reiner, Imani Love, Victor Slezak

CREW: Amy Rice (director), Evan Parter (writer, producer), Sam Bisbee, Theodora Dunlap and Caddy Vanasirikul (producers), Jessica Rose Weiss (composer), David Johnson (cinematographer), Gershon Hinkson (editor)

PLOT: As Election Day in America approaches, the country faces a choice of electing either an unpopular Democratic incumbent (Slezak), Republican congressperson Patricia Turnbull (Ann Dowd) who would become the first female President, or independent candidate Nate Sterling (Cena) who is proving popular enough to possibly break the two-party deadlock. Meanwhile, idealistic journalist Eli (Turner-Smith) is assigned to assist popular political columnist Nick Booker (Cox) with his reporting, but whilst doing so uncovers a shocking financial conspiracy that could take down one of the leading candidates…

FIVE REASONS TO BE EXCITED:

1) Journalistic integrity and political ambition butt heads with one another in this tense thriller that explores corruption from multiple angles

2) John Cena plays against type as a charismatic politician who might have a darker side, in a positive lean toward more dramatic fare for the former WWE champion

3) There are plenty of meaty roles for character actors like Succession’s Brian Cox, Ann Dowd of The Handmaid’s Tale (filling a role originally intended for Kathy Bates), and even Stephen Lang who’s fresh from blue-faced adventures on Pandora

4) Of course, with the debate surrounding press freedoms within the world of politics still ongoing, it’ll doubtlessly inspire plenty of conversation amongst concerned viewers

5) Packed with drama, intrigue, and standout performances, this is a film about politics that will hold your interest right up until its gripping final moments

The Independent is streaming exclusively on Sky Cinema from Friday 24th February 2023

Creature (dir. Asif Kapadia)

CAST: Jeffrey Cirio, Stina Quagebeur, Erina Takahashi

CREW: Asif Kapadia (director), Uzma Hasan (producer), Vincenzo Lamagna (composer), Daniel Landin (cinematographer), Sylvie Landra (editor)

PLOT: At a dilapidated research facility in the Arctic, a man-made creature (Cirio) that has gained sentience is recruited for an experimental programme run by a military brigade. The creature soon falls in love with Marie (Takahasi), a cleaner who shows him kindness, and the two of them soon plan a daring escape together…

FIVE REASONS TO BE EXCITED:

1) Oscar-winning filmmaker Asif Kapadia captures on camera his dazzling stage ballet, as choreographed by Akram Khan, for an experimental cinematic event that blends theatrical dance with filmic storytelling

2) The plot is a fascinating sci-fi/fantasy mix that calls to mind classics like The Thing, Frankenstein, and The Shape of Water

3) The dancers are esteemed members of the English National Ballet, who communicate all sorts of emotions and plot devices through their precise physicality

4) While the film is basically a recorded version of the stage show, it nonetheless transports viewers into its realistic realm through abstract art and performance

5) If you’d rather see it live, then good news: the show will be returning to Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London for a limited time next month – book tickets by clicking here!

Creature is showing in cinemas from Friday 24th February 2023

Selfiee (dir. Raj Mehta)

CAST: Akshay Kumar, Emraan Hashmi, Sachin Patel, Diana Penty, Nushrratt Bharuccha, Mahesh Thakur, Fahim Fazli, Tisca Chopra, Adah Sharma, Abhimanyu Singh, Kusha Kapila, Rahul Dev, Meghna Malik, Paritosh Tripathi, Abhishek Chouksey, Saharsh Kumar Shukla, Raghav Binani, Varun Sood, Mrunal Thakur

CREW: Raj Mehta (director), Rishhabh Sharrma (writer), Aruna Bhatia, Hiroo Johar, Karan Johar, Apoorva Mehta, Supriya Menon, Somesh Shivraj, Listin Stephen and Prithviraj Sukumaran (producers), Tanishk Bagchi, D.J. Chetas, Lijo George, Bharat Goel, Tony Kakkar, Himesh Reshammiya and Shivai Vyas (composers), Rajeev Ravi (cinematographer), Ritesh Soni (editor)

PLOT: Vijay Kumar (Kumar) is a Bollywood superstar who needs to obtain a driving licence, and the only person who can give it to him is RTO Inspector Om Prakash Agarwal (Hashmi), who is a die-hard fan of the actor. However, a misunderstanding between the two of them ignites a feud that soon becomes ugly…

FIVE REASONS TO BE EXCITED:

1) Yes, we are finally starting to cover Bollywood movies on this site – which you’d think we’d have already been doing, especially in the wake of recent hits like RRR and Pathaan, but until now we have sadly been neglecting for multiple reasons (the most crucial being, we just can’t cover everything that comes out!)

2) This is a good one to begin with, though: it’s a Hindi-language remake of the hit 2019 Malayalam comedy-drama Driving Licence, which opts for plenty of thrills, laughter, and classic movie-star charm

3) Acting veteran Akshay Kumar, who has over 100 credits to his name, parodies his own star image with often hilarious results

4) He teams up for the first time with fellow Bollywood star Emraan Hashmi, whose own resume across the last twenty years of his career has gained him a major following in India

5) With big action, hearty laughs, and maybe the odd bit of music, this is a delightful treat for all audiences!

Selfiee is showing in cinemas from Friday 24th February 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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