Director: Steven Soderbergh.
Starring: Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, Riley Keough. USA 2017. 119 mins.
Having announced his retirement from movie-making after 2013’s Side Effects, maverick director Steven Soderbergh felt compelled to re-enter the fray after reading Rebecca Blunt’s script about the ill-fated Logan brothers, Jimmy (Tatum) and Clyde (Driver), who set out to execute an elaborate robbery during the legendary Coca-Cola 600 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Referencing his highly successful heist franchise, Soderbergh describes it as an “inversion of an Ocean’s movie” – and there are certainly some wonderfully comedic moments and wild-card twists, not least when the redneck siblings’ lack of experience leads them to spring safe-cracking supremo Joe Bang (Craig) from jail. Seth McFarlane (as a bumptious racing driver), Hilary Swank (as a suspicious cop) and Katie Holmes (as Jimmy’s antsy ex-wife) add to the very considerable fun.
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.