After an award-laden 45 years in front of the camera, Hollywood heavyweight Dustin Hoffman makes his directorial debut right here in Blighty with this eager-to-please septuagenarian backstage comedy. And as if that wasn’t excitement enough, Quartet features an illustrious cast of British acting royalty, including one Dame, two Sirs, and enough C-, O- and MBEs to make you feel like you should probably go home and have a wash. And Billy Connolly. What could possibly go wrong?
After intriguing us with his enigmatic presence in Winter’s Bone, then quietly disturbing us as the maniacal cult leader in Martha Marcy May Marlene, the increasingly versatile John Hawkes now reveals his softer side in endearing comedy drama The Sessions. That rare thing, a populist movie that also happens to be a good one, audiences will rightly flock to see The Sessions – and so should you. Just one word of warning… if Mr. Hawkes wants you to start crying in public, you will start crying in public.
Norwegian islands play host to some pretty dark events. Long before the horrors of summer 2011, Bastøy Island was the home of a now infamous prison colony for troublesome boys, where dire conditions led to an uprising so overwhelming that the Navy was called in to control it – one of only two occasions in Norway’s history when its military forces were turned on its own people. To recreate all the drama of this cataclysmic event is, you would think, enough for any movie. Not so King Of Devil’s Island, which ultimately pulls out more stops than it can handle in its attempt to not just tell the story of Bastøy, but to make you think – and think deep.
Really? OK – Battle of the Pacific is a dreary WWII yarn sold to me by Best For Film as a ‘Martin Sheen war drama’, which is true if you take ‘Martin Sheen’ to mean ‘Daniel Baldwin’ and ‘war drama’ to mean ‘fiasco’. Running at a good two hours that feel like a bad three, I only made it to the end by turning the sound down and practicing my ukulele as I waited eagerly for the bad news from Hiroshima – and before you mount your moral high horse, just try sitting through Battle of the Pacific yourself and then tell me you don’t want to see people die.
Isn’t it about time they let people swear in Eastenders? Jeremy Paxman said f*ck on Newsnight, for that word’s sake – surely the green light for Dot Cotton to turn the air above Albert Square bright blue with an explicit stream of hitherto repressed profanity. Perhaps we’ll have to wait a while longer for that, but in the meantime there’s always The Rise and Fall of a White Collar Hooligan, a depressingly generic London crime caper that thinks it’s Lock Stock meets Goodfellas, but in reality more closely resembles the Sunday afternoon omnibus with added naughty words.
Think you’ve seen whimsy? Man, you do not know whimsy until you’ve seen The Soul Of Flies, a no-budget crowd pleaser which seeks not only to whimsy your pants off, but to convince you life is one long crazy road trip full of wonder and enchantment, and not basically rubbish – until the film ends and you suddenly remember that it is.
Looking for a challenging piece of angsty art house grime that will change the way you think about the universe and your place within it? Stop being so serious, can’t you? Down a mogadon smoothie and go and see Salmon Fishing In The Yemen instead. It’s got fish in it.