Director: Jérôme Salle.
Starring: Lambert Wilson, Pierre Niney, Audrey Tautou. France 2016. 123 mins. French with English subtitles.
Explorer Jacques Cousteau’s career is re-played in Jérôme Salle’s impressively mounted biopic. Lambert Wilson (Of Gods And Men) is the charismatic and opinionated French naval captain who made oceanography and environmentalism household words with his 1960s and ’70s TV series. But for all Cousteau’s vision, entrepreneurial skill and bravery, relationships with his wife (Tautou) and sons Philippe (Niney, Frantz) and the less-favoured Jean-Michel (Benjamin Lavernhe) were anything but easy. After Philippe was killed in a plane crash Cousteau was for a time a broken man and he never he fully recovered his indomitable spirit. Spanning some 30 years, Salle’s film skilfully intersperses accounts of the Cousteau family dynamics with underwater sequences which are as impressive as any accomplished by the man himself. A film as delightful to behold as it is thoughtful.
Director: David Lowery.
Starring: Casey Affleck. Rooney Mara. USA 2017. 92 mins.
The latest film from acclaimed director David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Pete’s Dragon) is a singular exploration of legacy, loss, and the essential human longing for meaning and connection. A white-sheeted ghost (Affleck) returns to his suburban home to console his bereft wife (Mara), only to find that in his spectral state he has become unstuck in time, forced to watch passively as the life he knew and the woman he loves slowly slip away. Increasingly unmoored, the ghost embarks on a cosmic journey through memory and history, confronting life’s ineffable questions and the enormity of existence. An audacious, unforgettable meditation on the passage of time, A Ghost Story emerges ecstatic and surreal – a wholly unique experience that lingers long after the credits roll.
Contains infrequent strong language, images of dead bodies.
Director: Kathryn Bigelow.
Starring: John Boyega, Algee Smith, Anthony Mackie. USA 2017. 143 mins.
Never afraid to tackle tendentious subjects, director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal (Zero Dark Thirty, The Hurt Locker) now set their sharp sights on the events of 1967 Detroit, which sparked the worst race riots in American history. The action is centred on the Algiers Motel on a sweltering hot July night, where a random shot from a starting pistol brought in the National Guard and a large number of police sharpshooters. Three black men were left dead and several more brutally beaten; a black security guard, Melvin Dismukes (John Boyega, Star Wars’ Finn), tried desperately to mediate between his white superiors and an enraged African-American community. Freighted with characteristic dramatic intensity and shot with a gritty realism, Bigelow’s latest is a timely reminder of the deep and potentially lethal divisions in American society.
Trying to reverse a family curse, brothers Jimmy (Channing Tatum) and Clyde Logan (Adam Driver) set out to execute an elaborate robbery during the legendary Coca-Cola 600 race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Director: Stephen Frears.
Starring: Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Eddie Izzard. UK/USA 2017. 112 mins.
The year is 1887, and the British Empire is celebrating Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. A young Indian clerk, Abdul Karim (Fazal), travels to England to present the monarch with a ceremonial coin. “Whatever you do, you must not look at Her Majesty,” he is told. But he does. And he smiles. And so begins one of the unlikeliest friendships in history. As the Queen (Dench) questions the constrictions of her long-held position, she forms a strong bond with her newest servant. Their devoted alliance provokes outrage and conspiracy within the Royal Household, but it also rejuvenates the cosseted ruler, who begins to see a changing world through new eyes. A lavish, heartfelt period drama with wit and charm, Victoria And Abdul allows us to peek beyond the portraits and imagine the hardships – and joys – of being the figurehead of the last true empire.