I’m pretty sure I made a similar comment to this last year, but I still find it hard to believe that I’ve been putting these previews up for two whole years, now. That’s the equivalent of two voyages to destroy The One Ring, 1/5 of a French Revolution or one standard family game of Monopoly. I realise how that makes my tenure here at The Book, The Film, The T-Shirt sound, but aside from the odd melee with property-hungry republican orcs, it couldn’t be further from it. So this February, same as every month, I’m going to casually throw the pancakes of potential picture-house experiences up into this internet-shaped hole before you and see what sticks. I know that’s not how you make pancakes, but we’re talking about films here, right?
Trumbo – Feb 5th
The more cynical types out there would surely disregard Trumbo as ‘Bryan Cranston’s Oscar Grab’ and whilst, yes it DOES look like that (Sorry, Bryan), the fact the film exists at all is a testament to the glacial movement of the Hollywood machine. Back in 1947, James Dalton Trumbo was one of Hollywood’s most acclaimed screenwriters, but after failing to testify to the House Un-American Activities Committee was branded a menace, a Communist sympathizer and ultimately blacklisted from working in the industry. That didn’t stop him, however. Trumbo is basically about all of that. Diane Lane and Helen Mirren co-star.
Dad’s Army – Feb 5th
There were a lot of emotions at the announcement of this Dad’s Army film: surprise, incredulity, despair, resignation and ultimately, when the cast list was revealed, a shred of hope. The social reverence for Dad’s Army is to my eyes the British equivalent of Chinese ancestor worship, so if anybody had dared to tread near the incomparable work of Arthur Lowe, Clive Dunn, John Le Mesurier (loveable drunk that he was) and the rest of the original cast, they had better have at least Toby Jones and Bill Nighy. Which they did, but not before also casting multi-award-winning actor Tom Courtenay, Michael ‘Latter-day-Dumbledore’ Gambon, Mark Gatiss (Mark Gatiss!) and Catherine Zeta-Jones as an intrepid female journalist out to interview the old Home Guard. Just to clarify, Zeta-Jones is the journalist, not all the above. That would just be weird.
I Saw the Light – Feb 5th
Did you know Tom Hiddleston could sing? Did you know he could emulate Hank Williams while he did so? Obviously someone did because that’s why he’s now starring as the aforementioned country singer in this here biopic. I Saw the Light does the square-dance you expect from biographical films of tortured musician but with its sights squarely on ol’ Hank. It’s difficult to imagine the guy who wrote ‘Hey Good Lookin” as being a hard-drinkin’, hard-philanderin’ sort of chap, but those are the kind of things that happened, so shush. Elizabeth Olsen also stars and takes the brunt of Hiddleston’s slow musical train wreck as wife Audrey Mae Williams. Do yourself a favour and don’t Wikipedia what happens.
Lee Scratch Perry’s Vision of Paradise – Feb 5th
Dear Lord, February 5th is a busy day for cinema, isn’t it? That’s why I’m going to cap it off with a documentary filmed over 15 years about the continuing adventures of one of Jamaica’s most important and outrageous icons: Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry. If you can get past the fact the man looks like every single one of Noel Fielding’s dreams and aspirations come to life, Perry is responsible for recording some of the most important and influential reggae music of all time as well as being an active musician and producer himself. Visions of Paradise is dubbed not as a biography, but as a ‘fairy-tale documentary’ and if you’ve ever found yourself in need of vibrancy, colour and old Jamaican men spinning truths at you, then don’t miss this. In the meantime, however, let Max Romeo and Lee’s band take it away .
Deadpool – Feb 10th
Did I ever think the day would come that somebody (well, more accurately a movie-making collective of somebodies) would dare try to faithfully recreate the antics of the foul-mouthed, meta-comedian, comic-book satirist and indestructible mood-ruiner Deadpool? No. No I did not. Hollywood tried once and sweet Rice Crispy Squares I don’t know what happened there. This time, however, everything is set right: Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), in a bid to stop his numerous cancers, undergoes a risky procedure which makes him indestructible but butt-fugly. Also he now knows he’s a super-hero in a super-hero film. Go figure. Cue carving a path of bloody revenge to save his former girlfriend and meeting up with the occasional X-Man. As you do.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – Feb 11th
I’m no expert on the chronology of the suffix “and Zombies”, but I’m fairly sure Pride and Prejudice and Zombies in its original, harmless book form started it all. Since then it’s just been Cockney’s versus Zombies, Werewolves versus Zombies, Babies versus Zombies and more to boot. I realize that the premise of this film adaptation is to present Seth Grahame-Smith’s reworked take on Jane Austen’s classic on screen, but when you’ve got Lily James, Lena Headey, Matt Smith and Sam Riley it’s really something else. I mean, come on, Cinderella, Cersei Lannister, Doctor Who and Ian Curtis form Joy Division are fighting an army of zombies in the 19th century. I’d pay cash dollar to see that.
Zoolander 2 – Feb 12th
Is 15 years too long a wait for a sequel? Is it too long for a sequel to film nobody thought needed a sequel due to the closed circuit nature of its central plot and character arcs? Is it too harsh to say that of all the Ben-Stiller-lead-starring escapades of the past 15 years, Zoolander is the only one I’ll voluntarily watch? Of course it’s not. I know it’s a stupid film, but its fun. It’s this appreciation for the original that Zoolander 2: 2lander is banking on (never mind the plot where Zoolander (Stiller) and his bestie Hansel (Owen Wilson) try to stop a series of celebrity murders), and I don’t want to sound guarded or untrusting but why try to improve upon the one easily re-watchable thing you did, Ben Stiller? I guess Justin Bieber dying in the first few minutes is a start, though…
The Survivalist – Feb 12th
The Survivalist looks like the sort of spooky, unsettling, claustrophobic psycho-drama that British cinema excels in these days. You thought it was just about a strange guy who likes to braid his hair and run around fields with a shotgun looking like a douche? Guess again, folks! In an unspecified future, a man lives alone in his shack, quiet but far from peaceful. When two women stumble upon him asking for food, the whole regimen he’s spent the last 7 years begins to crack. What is the deal with these two? Why has this guy been in a shed for 7 years? What’s with all the mistrust? What happened to the world? See The Survivalist and find out.
Bone Tomahawk – Feb 19th
Another month, another Kurt Russell western complete with damned impressive facial hair. Bone Tomahawk isn’t one for your allusions to John Carpenter science fiction, however. This Kurt Russell-starring western is all about a posse comprised of the Russ, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox and Richard Jenkins on a mission to save Wilson’s wife from a cabal of cave-dwelling cannibals. I’d possibly posit it as something in between The Searchers and The Descent… The Descearchers anyone? It’s the directorial debut of one S. Craig Zahler, but if he managed to get the talent he has then he’s going to be one to look out for.
Grimsby – Feb 24th
Or as it’s alternatively known The Brothers Grimsby. Why a pun on The Brothers Grimm? I really don’t know. Anyway, this is the next step in Sacha Baron Cohen’s incremental departure from mockumentary-style filmmaking: a fully-fledged action comedy directed by Louis Letterier. Nope, I didn’t believe it either at first. Grimsby sees Cohen as Nobby, as stereotypical a lout as the titular Lincolnshire town has ever produced finally reconnecting with his long-lost little brother, Sebastian (Mark Strong). Only problem is that little brother is now the world’s greatest secret agent and thanks to Nobby, out of a job, on the run and the only one who can save the world. We’ve all been there, Sebastian.