Director: Michael O’Shea. Starring: Eric Ruffin. Chloe Levine. USA 2016. 97 mins.
An official selection at the Cannes Film Festival, writer-director Michael O’Shea’s debut feature The Transfiguration follows troubled teen Milo (Ruffin), who hides behind his fascination with vampire lore. When he meets the equally alienated Sophie (Levine), the two form a bond that begins to challenge Milo’s dark obsession, blurring his fantasy with reality. A chilling portrait of violence, The Transfiguration is an atmospheric thriller set against the grit of New York City.
Director: Lone Scherfig.
Starring: Gemma Arterton, Sam Clafin, Bill Nighy. UK 2017. 117 mins.
In 1940, a married woman (Gemma Arterton) and a screenwriter (Sam Claflin) develop a growing attraction while working together on a propaganda film about the evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk, France. A beautifully crafted costume drama with terrific performances, Lone Scherfig's new film is a quietly subversive, funny and finally moving account of a little known story from one of the darkest, most uncertain periods of British history.
Director: F. Gary Gray.
Starring: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham. USA 2017. 136 mins.
The eighth outing of the unstoppable Fast And Furious franchise zooms into cinemas, with Vin Diesel forming a tough-nut triumvirate with fellow action titans Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson. Though it’s sadly the first not to feature the late star Paul Walker, other key elements are back and firing on all cylinders. Street-racer newlyweds Dom (Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are happily on honeymoon, until an enigmatic lady (Charlize Theron) seduces Dom back into a world of crime he can’t seem to escape. Tested like never before, the rest of the crew must reunite to bring home the man that made them a family. A crowd-wowing combination of high-octane thrills, exotic locales and jaw-dropping set pieces, this delivers multi-vehicular mayhem on a grand scale.
Director: Ritesh Batra.
Starring: Jim Broadbent, Charlotte Rampling, Michelle Dockery, Harriet Walter. UK 2017. 108 mins.
“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there”, wrote L. P. Hartley. It’s a sentiment retired divorcee Tony Webster (Broadbent) might subscribe to, were he not preoccupied with managing his camera shop, attending antenatal classes with his daughter (Dockery) and having amicable lunches with his ex-wife (Walter). One day, however, the past comes knocking in the form of an inheritance: a former schoolmate’s diary left to him inexplicably by the mother of an old girlfriend. On his quest to recover it, Tony is forced to revisit his flawed recollections of his past, and piece together the fragments of a student romance and its painful aftermath. Based on Julian Barnes’ novel of the same name, The Sense Of An Ending is a perceptive study of love, family and friendship.
Director: Tom McGrath.
Voices: Miles Christopher Bakshi, Alec Baldwin, Lisa Kudrow. USA 2017. 97 mins.
As any exhausted parent will tell you, a baby is the real boss of every family. This hilarious animation from DreamWorks, creators of Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and How To Train Your Dragon, takes that idea and toddles off fabulously somewhere kind of crazy with it. For seven idyllic years, Tim Templeton (Bakshi) has enjoyed the perfect life with his adoring parents (Kimmel and Kudrow). Then his new baby brother arrives. And he’s a very unusual baby brother indeed: he wears a suit, carries a briefcase and, unbeknownst to Tim’s parents, talks with the voice of Alec Baldwin. Tim is the only one not amused, but the two warring siblings reluctantly team up to foil a dastardly plot involving puppies. Expect poop jokes.
Director: Bill Condon
Starring: Emma Watson, Luke Evans, Stanley Tucci, Ian McKellen. USA 2017. 129 mins.
Back in 1991, the Walt Disney Company released Beauty And The Beast, an exquisitely drawn feature animation that became a gargantuan hit, delighting both audiences and critics and spinning off a blockbuster Broadway musical. So who better to breathe new life into the beloved French fairy tale – with its very modern message of not judging people by their appearance – in a live-action telling than the studio that made it a movie classic in the first place? Veteran director Bill Condon (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Parts 1 & 2, Dreamgirls, Mr Holmes) has refashioned the characters for a contemporary audience but stayed true to the animation’s music, with several new songs and an amended score by the original composer, Alan Menken. Get ready to be wowed all over again.
Director: Chan-wook Park.
Starring: Min-hee Kim, Tae-ri Kim, Jung-woo Ha. South Korea 2016. 167 mins. Korean with English subtitles.
After shooting his first English-language feature in 2013, the Nicole Kidman-starring Stoker, acclaimed South Korean director Chan-wook Park reverts to his native language for the erotically charged psychological thriller The Handmaiden. Those familiar with the popular director’s films will be glad to know that Park’s penchant for studied framing, black humour and dark subject matter is present and correct. Inspired by, rather than adapted from, Sarah Waters’s 2002 novel Fingersmith,
The Handmaiden switches the Victorian England setting for that of Korea under Japanese colonial rule in the 1930s. Featuring stunning period production design by Seong-hie Ryu, The Handmaiden is a deliciously twisty tale of revenge, centring on an heiress, her con man uncle and the lady-in-waiting for whom she begins to fall. A real feast for the senses, and as stylishly executed as one would expect from Park, this thriller will leave audiences swooning at the power of both the imagery and the storytelling.