Director: Damien Chazelle
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, J. K. Simmons. USA 2017. 128 mins.
A tribute to the Hollywood musical but with a story embedded in present-day Los Angeles life. Mia (Stone), aspiring actress working in a coffee shop on the Warner Brothers studio backlot, falls for jazz pianist Sebastian (Gosling). Both give effortless performances with stunning song-and-dance routines and remarkable piano playing from Gosling. The transition from musical numbers to powerful narrative is seamless, and bravura one-take shots will draw comparisons to the cinematography of Birdman.
Director: Gareth Edwards. Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn. USA 2016. 134 mins.
Franchise newcomer Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) directs the first of three stand-alone films in the Star Wars Anthology series. Set between the events of Revenge Of The Sith and A New Hope, Rogue One follows a band of resistance fighters who unite to steal the plans of the Galactic Empire’s ultimate weapon, the Death Star. Young tearaway Jyn Erso (Jones) joins Rebel officer Cassian Andor (Luna) to lead the daring mission, which must evade the iron fist of Director Orson Krennic (Mendelsohn), an Imperial officer with eyes on becoming the Emperor’s right-hand man. Unlike the original Star Wars trilogy, which provides a black and white view of good and evil, Rogue One sidesteps clear morality – and the Jedi – to explore the grey areas of the galaxy far, far away.