The trailer for Respect starring Jennifer Hudson has just landed.
The trailer for new Australian documentary Slim & I has just been released.
For over 50 years country music legend Slim Dusty and his wife Joy McKean trail-blazed their way across Australia performing, writing and collecting songs of the bush and its people. They created a musical legacy that to this day continues to entertain and inspire, a catalogue of plain speaking yet profoundly insightful music documenting the rural Australian experience. Theirs is perhaps one of the greatest partnerships in Australian music history.
SLIM & I is a feature documentary that tells the incredible story of that partnership and of the brilliant woman who lived beside, rather than behind, the legend. Australia’s own “Queen of Country Music”, Joy McKean.
Slim & I will be released in Australian cinemas on August 20th.
Emmy Nominated and Golden Globe® Award-winning actress Tracee Ellis Ross has released the official music video to “Love Myself”. This is the first single to the upcoming film The High Note in which Tracee Ellis Ross stars in as recording artist “Grace Davis.”
Last week, Tracee Ellis Ross debuted “Love Myself” on Instagram Live to fans and friends including, Michelle Obama, Janelle Monáe, Lena Waithe, Sarah Paulson, Kerry Washington and her incredible mother Diana Ross.
Written by Australian Sarah Aarons [Alessia Cara, John Legend, Khalid] and Greg Kurstin [Paul McCartney, P!nk, Céline Dion], “Love Myself” is a pivotal song in the movie performed by Tracee Ellis Ross as “Grace Davis.” This notably marks the first time the actress has released a song, which highlights her dynamic voice as “Grace Davis” and sets the stage for both the record and the upcoming film.
Produced by GRAMMY® Award-winner Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins [Michael Jackson, Beyoncé], the 15-song Original Motion Picture Soundtrack features new recordings by cast members Ross and Kelvin Harrison, Jr. Beyond “Love Myself,” Ross delivers stunning performances of “Bad Girl,” “Stop For A Minute,” “New To Me,” and a duet with Harrison, Jr. on “Like I Do.” Additionally, classics from Donny Hathaway, Maxine Brown, and Aretha Franklin as well as the single “Mind Over Matter” by Anthony Ramos round out the tracklisting.
The High Note, coming to Australian cinema soon, is set in the dazzling world of the LA music scene comes the story of Grace Davis (Tracee Ellis Ross), a superstar whose talent, and ego, have reached unbelievable heights, and Maggie (Dakota Johnson), her overworked personal assistant. While stuck running errands, Maggie still aspires to her childhood dream of becoming a music producer. When Grace’s manager (Ice Cube) presents her with a choice that could alter the course of her career, Maggie and Grace come up with a plan that could change their lives forever.
Summary: A tribe of cats called the Jellicles must decide yearly which one will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new Jellicle life.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 26th December 2019
Thailand Cinema Release Date: 3rd January 2019
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: United States, United Kingdom
Director: Tom Hooper
Screenwriter: Les Hall, Tom Hooper, T.S. Eliot (poetry), Andrew Lloyd Webber (musical)
Cast: Jaih Betote (Coricopat), Larry Bourgeois (Socrates), Jonadette Carpio (Syllabub), Danny Collins (Mungojerrie), James Corden (Bustopher Jones), Laurie Davidson (Mr. Mistoffelees), Judi Dench (Old Deuteronomy), Jason Derulo (Rum Rum Tugger), Idris Elba (Macavity), Robbie Fairchild (Mukustrap), Francesca Hayward (Victoria), Jennifer Hudson (Grizabella), Melissa Madden-Gray (Griddlebone), Ian McKellan (Gus The Theatre Cat), Steven McRam (Shimbleshanks the Railway Cat), Naoimh Morgan (Rumpleteazer), Daniela Norman (Demeter), Bluey Robinson (Alonzo), Freya Rowley (Jellylorum), Ida Saki (Electra), Zizi Strallen (Tantomile), Taylor Swift (Bombalurina), Mette Towley (Cassandra), Eric Underwood (Admetus), Rebel Wilson (Jennyanydots), Ray Winstone (Growltiger)
Running Time: 110 mins
Classification: G (Australia) TBC (Thailand)
Dave Griffiths’ Cats Review:
When you look back of 2019 and think of what films made the biggest impact in cinema there were perhaps none quite talked about the way Cats was. When the trailer dropped for director Tom Hooper’s (Les Miserables, The King’s Speech) version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical it made the nightly news for all the wrong reasons. For some Hooper’s cats looked strange, not-quite-human not-quite-cat, but others (like myself) found themselves erring on the side caution wondering or not if this was going to turn out to be some kind of visual spectacular.
To be honest Cats sits somewhere in the middle. While it is not the musical masterpiece that Hooper created with Les Miserables it is also not as terrible as some would have you think. Perhaps the best way to approach Cats is to think you are about to enter a cinema to watch a theatre musical being projected onto the big screen because this feels much more like a concert than it does a cinematic experience.
Originally based on a collection of poems from T.S. Eliot Cats is told through the eyes of Victoria (Francesca Hayward – The Sun Is God, Extra) a young cat who finds herself dumped in a London alleyway one night. She soon finds herself making friends with a magical cat called Mr. Mistoffelees (Laurie Davidson – Will, The Good Liar) who soon introduces her to the world of the Jellicle Cats.
On the night she arrives she finds that the Jellicles are eagerly awaiting the arrival of one of their oldest members – their matriarch Old Deuteronomy (Judi Dench – Skyfall, Shakespeare In Love) who on this night every year choices which Jellicle will live the life they have always dreamed of. But not everything runs smoothly as the villainous Macavity (Idris Elba – The Losers, Star Trek Beyond) plans on eliminating all of his competition.
Surprisingly the plot of Cats does work on the big screen. It is extremely light on though and at times the film feels like an extra couple of songs have been added to pad it out to feature film length. Despite what many felt from when that first trailer surfaced you do also find yourself as an audience member connecting with the cats on screen. Each has their own persona and whether you want to admit to it or not you do find yourself barracking for a cat to win Old Deuteronmy’s approval.
The film’s biggest weakness though is the way it is put together. The stories and scenes are almost presented the way they would be if you were reading through the original collection of short stories. A certain cat will perform and point out their strengths and weaknesses and then they are spirited away by Macavity before they can have their time with Old Deuteronomy. The sequences though where Macavity and his right-hand cat Growltiger (Ray Winstone – The Departed, Beowulf) are keeping the other cats captive are more like you would expect from a pantomime though and never become as menacing as they perhaps should have been.
While the sequences of watching the Jellicles perform does at times seem magical there is none of the wow factor here that we got with other musicals like Les Miserables and Moulin Rouge. Les Miserables worked on the big screen because it was believable while Moulin Rouge was way over the top which suited the theatre world that it was set in. Cats has the disadvantage of not being believable and it feels like perhaps it would have worked a little better if Hooper had followed in the footsteps of Baz Luhrmann and made this film go more into the fantasy realm as well.
What does work for Cats though is the casting. Judi Dench and Sir Ian McKellan (Gods And Monster, Lord Of The Rings) steal the show as they expertly lead their younger cast. James Corden (Trolls, Peter Rabbit) brings in just the right amount of comic relief while playing Bustopher Jones but it is Jennifer Hudson (Dream Girls, The Secret Life Of Bees) who shines the brightest with her amazing vocals in the role of Grizabella. The ballet skills of Francesca Hayward also allows her to gracefully float across the screen as she leads the audience through this strange new world.
Cats may not leave its audience in awe the way Les Miserables did but it does have its own special charm. The best way to approach the movie is to go into the cinema knowing you will be about to watch a theatre production rather than a big blockbuster film.
Average Subculture Rating:
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Our Cats review that appeared in ‘The Phuket News’ can be read at this link – https://www.thephuketnews.com/cats-gives-us-reason-to-paws-74164.php
Poised to thrill audiences around the nation, the Alliance Française French Film Festival has today unveiled the full line-up for its eagerly anticipated 31st season at www.affrenchfilmfestival.org
Spreading its cinematic stardust across 8 cities and 4 satellite locations, the Festival, which is proudly presented by the Alliance Française in association with the Embassy of France in Australia, Unifrance Films and screening partner, Palace Cinemas, will commence its national tour from 10 March until 19 April and is set to thrill audiences with a stupendous selection of 49 contemporary and classic French films, many enjoying their Australian premiere.
We’re also delighted to announce that dynamic filmmaker, Justin Kurzel (The Snowtown Murders, Macbeth, True History of the Kelly Gang), who has long taken inspiration from French cinema, will be the 2020 Festival Patron.
Additionally, acclaimed director/actor, Zabou Breitman, whose lyrical, animated drama, The Swallows of Kabul (Les hirondelles de Kaboul), has won plaudits from critics and audiences alike on the international film festival circuit, will be visiting Melbourne to introduce a screening of this, her latest feature, which she directed with Éléa Gobbé-Mévellec. This special Festival event is slated for the evening of Tuesday 17 March at Palace Cinema Como, and will be followed by a filmmaker Q&A.
On a more sombre note, this year has already experienced horrific bushfires ravaging our land and robbing so many of their lives and homes. The Alliance Française, and venue partners thereby invite you to join us in helping those impacted by this tragedy by supporting special previews of How to Be a Good Wife and In the Name of the Land (both screening courtesy of Palace Films) to be held in all capital cities on 9th and 10th of March. 100% of tickets sales for these sessions will be donated to the Australian Red Cross Bushfire Appeal and Rural and Remote Mental Health.
And in celebration of mankind’s great capacity for kindness and compassion – which often comes to the fore in times of crisis – the Festival will launch the 2020 season with The Extraordinary (Hors normes), one of the most gloriously uplifting films to emerge from France in recent years, which will screen courtesy of Madman Entertainment.
The latest feature from renowned filmmakers Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano (who delighted with The Intouchables and C’est la vie!), The Extraordinary is inspired by a true story and was honoured as the Closing Night Feature at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. For twenty years, Bruno (Vincent Cassel) and Malik (Reda Kateb) have run two separate non-profit organizations where they train young people from underprivileged areas to be caregivers for autistic youth abandoned by the state system. But the authorities, concerned that they’ve never sought certification and that many of their carers aren’t ‘officially’ qualified, decide to mount an investigation.
The result of two years’ immersion in the lives of the two associations, The Extraordinary is a crowd-pleasing charmer, which will have viewers experiencing a gamut of emotions as they fall in love with a host of extraordinary characters in exceptional circumstances. It’s a testimony to the great things that can be achieved when people support one another in the face of adversity.
And concluding the 2020 season, on a deliciously whimsical note, will be The Bare Necessity (Perdrix), the directorial debut of Erwan Le Duc, starring Swann Arlaud, Maud Wyler, Fanny Ardant and Nicolas Maury. Set within a tiny town nestled in the woody mountains of Vosges, this sweetheart of a movie, which delighted hardened cynics when it premiered in Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes 2019, looks at the romantic mayhem that ensues when an enigmatic young woman forces a stagnant family to re-define their boundaries and begin to truly live.
With so many highlights bursting from this year’s programme, it’s impossible to list every film, but read on for some of the delights to be savoured:
Director: Daniel Cohen
Cast: François Damiens, Vincent Cassel, Bérénice Bejo
In this delicious tale of tested loyalties, the close friendship of two long-time couples is put at risk when one of the two wives unexpectedly becomes a best-selling author, upsetting the intricate balance of this formerly close-knit quartet.
AZNAVOUR BY CHARLES (Le regard de Charles)
A Film by Charles Aznavour, Directed by Marc di Domenico
Narrator: Romain Duris
Crooner, Charles Aznavour, beguiled his legions of fans with a dream of romance. But his life beyond music was even more extraordinary. An actor, political activist, diplomat and filmmaker, this enthralling documentary, with rare footage, reveals a complicated, multi-talented man who entertained for the greater part of a century.
DEERSKIN (Le daim)
Director: Quentin Dupieux
Cast: Jean Dujardin, Adèle Haenel, Albert Delpy
With his life in disarray, Georges might not be able to control his circumstances but he can control his wardrobe. Believing that the deerskin jacket of his dreams is the answer to all of his problems, Georges’ delusions gradually increase each time he wears it, edging his obsession closer to a violent delirium.
Director: Alexis Michalik
Cast: Thomas Solivérès, Olivier Gourmet, Mathilde Seigner, Dominique Pinon
Paris, 1897. Although not yet thirty and clearly gifted as a writer, Edmond Rostand already has two children, many anxieties, but scant literary success. When given three weeks to write a play for a mercurial star of the stage, all he has is the title, Cyrano de Bergerac. Can he accomplish the impossible?
Director: André Téchiné
Cast: Catherine Deneuve, Kacey Mottet Klein
Muriel, a respected member of her idyllic local community, is horrified to discover that her visiting grandson, who claims to be heading to Canada for work, has in reality been radicalised by Islamist extremists. His plans to fight for ISIS in Syria expose this ordinary woman to a moral dilemma of heart-breaking proportions.
HOUSE OF CARDIN
Directors: P. David Ebersole, Todd Hughes
Synonymous with glamour, refinement and sophistication, this documentary provides a rare glimpse into the world of a 20th century icon. Allowing unprecedented access to his personal archives, we follow Cardin from his birth in the Italian countryside circa 1922, to his move to France where he made his name in fashion.
HOW TO BE A GOOD WIFE (La bonne épouse)
Director: Martin Provost
Cast: Juliette Binoche, Yolande Moreau, Noémie Lvovsky, Edouard Baer
In 1968 amidst the lush regions of Alsace, the head of a housekeeping school that transforms teenage girls into ideal housewives, has her pristine life implode when she encounters her long-lost first love whilst simultaneously learning that her business is on the brink of financial ruin.
IN THE NAME OF THE LAND (Au nom de la terre)
Director: Edouard Bergeon
Cast: Guillaume Canet, Veerle Baetens, Anthony Bajon
Returning to France in the late 70s, Pierre marries his sweetheart and takes over his father’s farm. But twenty years onwards, Pierre is exhausted. With mounting debt, what was once satisfying begins to take an insidious toll on his family who risk being torn apart by the property that binds them, in this powerful tale of resilience.
LA BELLE ÉPOQUE
Director: Nicolas Bedos
Cast: Daniel Auteuil, Guillaume Canet, Doria Tiller
Disillusioned, his long-term marriage on the rocks, a man is given a second chance when he encounters a company offering a unique theatrical service that enables customers to revisit memories through carefully orchestrated re-enactments, thus allowing him to return to 1974 and the peak of his happiness.
THE LOST PRINCE (Le prince oublié)
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Cast: Omar Sy, Bérénice Bejo, François Damiens
Djibi, a devoted single father, transforms into a heroic Prince in the nightly fairy-tales he tells his beloved 7 year-old daughter, Sofia. But as the years pass, Sofia is ready for her own stories with different heroes. But is the Prince ready to become just a memory of his daughter’s childhood?
LOVE AT SECOND SIGHT (Mon inconnue)
Director: Hugo Gélin
Cast: François Civil, Joséphine Japy, Benjamin Lavernhe
After waking in a parallel universe, Raphaël finds his wife, Olivia, is nowhere to be seen and his professional achievements have vanished. Without Olivia, his life is empty, but winning her back proves harder than he could have imagined – especially when he realises she doesn’t even know who he is!
Director: Yvan Attal
Cast: Yvan Attal, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Eric Ruf
Henri, a writer in the depths of a mid-life crisis who hasn’t released a successful book in 25 years, strikes-up an unconventional friendship with a stray, bad-mannered dog who inspires him and his dysfunctional family to re-examine their lives and attitudes towards each other.
THE MYSTERY OF HENRI PICK (Le mystère Henri Pick)
Director: Rémi Bezançon
Cast: Fabrice Luchini, Camille Cottin, Alice Isaaz
The late Henry Pick, in life an unassuming Breton pizza marker, is celebrated as a brilliant author when a lost manuscript, attributed to him, becomes a literary success. But one outspoken intellectual thinks the whole thing is a sham, and, after losing his wife, his job and his prominence due to his opinion, decides to uncover the truth.
ONLY THE ANIMALS (Seules les bêtes)
Director: Dominik Moll
Cast: Denis Ménochet, Laure Calamy, Damien Bonnard
Set in an isolated town in the lush, wintery mountains of southern France, the film opens with the departure of Evelyne, a local woman whose disappearance during a snowstorm soon reveals itself as murder. This act of violence gradually unveils the hidden agendas of several locals, setting the unexpected into motion.
Director: Alice Winocour
Cast: Eva Green, Zélie Boulant- Lemesle, Matt Dillon
As the only woman in the European Space Agency astronaut-training program, single mother Sarah struggles with guilt over the limited time spent with her young daughter, which escalates when she’s invited upon a year-long space mission – Proxima – forcing her to choose between her work and her child.
ROOM 212 (Chambre 212)
Director: Christophe Honoré
Cast: Chiara Mastroianni, Benjamin Biolay, Vincent Lacoste
After Maria reveals a long history of affairs to her husband, she opts to spend the night at a hotel opposite their home. But this is a “magical night”, and it’s not long before time collapses upon itself opening a window into the past where young passions are revisited and the very concept of love, questioned.
Director: Justine Triet
Cast: Virginie Efira, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Gaspard Ulliel
Dissatisfied with her life, Sibyl, a psychiatrist, decides to pursue her dream of becoming a writer. Casting professional ethics aside, she secretly uses the private sessions of her actress patient, Margot, as inspiration for her novel, a decision that irreversibly impacts upon both their lives.
SPREAD YOUR WNGS (Donne-moi des ailes)
Director: Nicolas Vanier
Cast: Jean-Paul Rouve, Mélanie Doutey, Louis Vazquez
Christian, a visionary scientist, studies wild birds. For his son, a teenager obsessed with video games, the idea of spending a vacation with his father in the middle of nature is a nightmare. However, father and son soon bond over a daring project to save an endangered species, which takes them on an incredible journey.
THE SWALLOWS OF KABUL (Les hirondelles de Kaboul)
Directors: Zabou Breitman, Éléa Gobbé-Mévellec
Voice: Simon Abkarian, Zita Hanrot, Swann Arlaud
Based on the cherished novel of the same name, this critically acclaimed, animated drama follows two couples living in the Afghan capital during the 90s and the impact Taliban rule has on each relationship. Through their individual love stories, unforgettable characters emerge amid the devastating impact of armed combat.
THE TRANSLATORS (Les traducteurs)
Director: Régis Roinsard
Cast: Lambert Wilson, Olga Kurylenko, Riccardo Scamarcio
Nine language experts, hired to translate the final book of a bestselling trilogy, are in lockdown within a luxurious bunker. But when the top-secret manuscript’s first ten pages appear online, their dream job implodes. The culprit has to amongst them and the publisher is ready to do whatever it takes to unmask who it is.
TWO OF US (Deux)
Director: Filippo Meneghetti
Cast: Barbara Sukowa, Martine Chevallier, Léa Drucker
In this emotionally compelling tale, pensioners Nina and Madeleine have hidden their deep and passionate love for many decades, but their bond is tested when circumstances trigger a series of events, preventing them from moving freely between each other’s apartments.
Director: Cathy Verney
Cast: Romain Duris, Céline Sallette, Florence Thomassin, Julie Fournier
When Vernon Subutex, an unemployed former owner of a once legendary record shop, is evicted from his flat, he’s helped by old friend rock star Alex Bleach. But Bleach’s sudden death makes Vernon a deadly target when it’s discovered that he’s in possession of 3 mysterious videotapes owned by Bleach.
WE’LL END UP TOGETHER (Nous finirons ensemble)
Director: Guillaume Canet
Cast: François Cluzet, Marion Cotillard, Gilles Lellouche, Laurent Lafitte
About to turn 60, nearly broke and estranged from his former friends, restaurateur Max embraces solitude at his soon-to-be-sold beach house. So when his ex-buddies arrive for a surprise celebration, he turns them away. But this cannot be – something has to be done! The sequel to 2010’s star-studded comedy, LITTLE WHITE LIES.
Director: Bertrand Bonello
Cast: Louise Labèque, Wislanda Louimat, Adilé David, Ninon François
Haiti, 1962…A man is resurrected from the dead and trapped in a nightmare of slavery. Modern-day Paris…Haitian teen Mélissa, the new girl at an elite school, is invited to join a secret ‘literary sorority’. But the incendiary family secret she harbours becomes a source of fascination to others, who exploit her heritage with shocking results.
National dates and venues for the 2020 Alliance Française French Film Festival are:
10 March – 8 April
Palace Norton Street, Palace Verona, Chauvel Cinema, Palace Central & Hayden Orpheum Cremorne
11 March – 8 April
Palace Balwyn, Palace Brighton Bay, Palace Cinema Como, Palace Westgarth, Kino Cinemas & The Astor Theatre
11 March – 8 April
Palace Raine Square, Cinema Paradiso, Luna on SX,
Windsor Cinema & Camelot Outdoor Cinema
12 March – 8 April
Palace Electric Cinema
17 March -14 April
Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas, Palace Nova Prospect Cinema
18 March -14 April
Palace Barracks & Palace James Street
19 – 28 March
19 March – 1 April
Avoca Beach Picture Theatre
26 – 29 March
Riverside Theatres Parramatta
31 March – 12 April
Palace Byron Bay
17 – 19 April
17 -19 April
For a strictly limited season, Cameron Mackintosh’s spectacular sell-out staged concert version of Boublil & Schönberg’s legendary musical, Les Misérables – The Staged Concert will be shown in cinemas across Australia from February 27 from the Gielgud Theatre in London.
Seen by over 120 million people worldwide, Les Misérables is undisputedly one of the world’s most popular musicals – and now Les Misérables – The Staged Concert is the must-see event for all fans of musical theatre and live event cinema. Tickets are on sale now.
Leading an outstanding cast and orchestra of over 65 are Michael Ball (Javert), Alfie Boe (Jean Valjean), Carrie Hope Fletcher (Fantine) and Matt Lucas (Thénardier), who perform the songs I Dreamed A Dream, Bring Him Home, One Day More, On My Own and many more. This sensational cinematic live event is not to be missed.
Cameron Mackintosh said: “The extraordinary sell-out success and response to our spectacular new theatrical concert staging of Les Misérables has been phenomenal so we are thrilled to give cinema audiences around Australia the opportunity to experience this stunning production. Starring our entirely brilliant London cast headed by Michael Ball, Alfie Boe, Carrie Hope Fletcher and Matt Lucas, our 16 week limited season at the Gielgud sold out in a few days but now you can storm the barricades to ensure you catch this thrilling live performance direct from the West End in a cinema near you. For the masses of disappointed fans who couldn’t get to see this amazing concert in London this live event will be a unique shared experience of thrilling drama, glorious music and sensational singing performed by an amazing all-star cast and orchestra of over 65 – the like of which you will have never seen before. If you have ever Dreamed a Dream – this is it!”
Cameron Mackintosh presents Boublil & Schönberg’s legendary musical Les Misérables – The Staged Concert. Based on the novel by Victor Hugo Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg Lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer Original French Text by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel.
Summary: A musical fantasy about the fantastical human story of Elton John’s breakthrough years.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 30th May 2019
Thailand Cinema Release Date: 20th June 2019
Australian DVD Release Date: 28th August 2019
Country: UK, USA, Canada
Director: Dexter Fletcher
Screenwriter: Lee Hall
Cast: Charles Armstrong (Mr. Anderson), Guillermo Bedward (Geoff), Jamie Bell (Bernie Taupin), Tom Bennett (Fred), Lee Bridgman (Steve), Rob Callender (Rory), Kit Connor (Older Reggie), Leon Cooke (Hugh/Dancer), Tate Donovan (Doug Weston), Barbara Drennan (Mrs. Anderson), Taron Egerton (Elton John), Ross Farrelly (Cyril), Leigh Francis (Pete), Demetri Goritsas (Carter), Stephen Graham (Dick James), Sharmina Harrower (Heather), Bryce Dallas Howard (Sheila), Matthew Illesley (Young Reggie), Gemma Jones (Ivy), Alexia Khadime (Diana), Kamil Lemieszewski (Dr. Maverick/Paramedic), Marek Lichtenberg (Mike Potts), Ophelia Lovibond (Arabella), Max Mackintosh (Stephen), Steven Mackintosh (Stanley), Richard Madden (John Reid), Will Masheter (Teddy Boy), Benjamin Mason (Bryan), Aston McAuley (Dave Godin), Solomon Mousley (Sonny), Rachel Muldoon (Kiki Dee), Peter O’Hanlon (Bobby), Tom Ogg (George), Jason Pennycooke (Wilson), Diana Alexandra Pocol (Mary the Receptionist), Charlie Rowe (Ray Williams), Celinde Schoenmaker (Renate), Carl Spencer (Ricahrd), Tanisha Spring (Sylvi), Jimmy Vee (Arthur), Evan Walsh (Elton Dean), Harriet Walter (Helen Piena), Leon Delroy Williams (Clint)
Runtime: 121 mins
Classification: M (Australia) 18 (Thailand)
Dave Griffiths Review:
Most music fans do not need an introduction to Elton John. He is the man responsible for some of the most iconic songs in rock history. From the catchy Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, the heart-wrenching Candle In The Wind through to the cinematic masterpiece Can You Feel The Love Tonight Elton John has wowed music lovers with hit after hit since he first album was released to the public back in 1969.
Despite his popularity it is very rare though that many people could tell you much about the life of Reginald Kenneth Dwight – the man behind the Elton John persona. Sure there have been the news headlines, the lavish lifestyle and his very public relationship with his husband David Furnish. What the tabloids and John’s fans haven’t always been aware of though is the pain felt by the man who always seemed to smile when on stage. The drug abuse and the fractured relationships were kept behind closed doors. It is for that reason that new film Rocketman becomes one of the most important films released this year.
From the creative mind of director Dexter Fletcher, who also recently directed a large chunk of the away winning Bohemian Rhapsody, comes a warts and all look at John. Nothing is hidden here at all. Screenwriter Lee Hall (who also wrote films such as Billy Elliott and War Horse) takes the audience on a journey through John’s life, showing them the almost non-existent and sometimes cruel relationship he had with his father (played here by Steven Mackintosh), the moment his life changed forever when he met his lifelong song-writing partner Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell) through to the excessive lifestyle and drug abuse that almost ended with John dying in a swimming pool in front of his family and friends.
To Fletcher’s credit Rocketman does all of this with a very unique twist. While the biggest weakness of Bohemian Rhapsody was the fact that the film seemed to just skirt over some of the issues in the life of the late, great Freddie Mercury here Fletcher manages to delve deep into the emotional side of John’s life while managing to keep the film as flamboyant and loud as the man himself. If you are expecting a dour drama as the more painful elements of John’s life are exposed for the audience to see – forget it! Instead Fletcher uses a little bit of creativity and has John pour out his life to a group of people in rehab while moments of true drama and emotion are intercut with loud, colourful dreamscapes as the singer’s biggest hits are performed with very theatrical sequences that wouldn’t be out of place during a big Broadway production. In many ways it is a stroke of genius from Fletcher, yes some people may criticise the film for taking on so many elements of a stage production but given how entertaining and creative Fletcher is with the style aspect of the film it ends up working remarkably well and mirrors the flamboyant actions of the man at the centre of the film.
What else makes Rocketman work so perfectly is no doubt the casting. While some have been sceptical, before they have seen the film, of the choice of young actor Taron Egerton to play the role of Elton John his performance should easily silence those critics and shows Hollywood that Egerton is certainly a star on the rise. While mainly known for his action performances in films like Robin Hood and of course the Kingsman franchise, here Egerton is asked to go out of his comfort zone and instead dance and sing at times while also delivering truly deep, emotional moments of intense acting when it is called for him to do so.
Egerton is also well supported with some stellar performances from his co-stars. Bryce Dallas Howard is almost unrecognisable as John’s mother while Jamie Bell also delivers some moments of true dramatic tension in his role of Bernie Taupin. Game Of Thrones fans will also not be disappointed by the work of Richard Madden who here plays the unlikable John Reid who was once John’s romantic partner. While watching Madden here it becomes very obvious that just like Egerton he is on the verge of becoming one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.
Rocketman is a truly sensational film. The mere fact that the film can tell the story of an at times tortured artist like Elton John while still managing to have its audience tap their feet and sing-a-long to some of his most recognisable tunes is a feat upon itself. The film showcases why Dexter Fletcher needs to be considered one of the most interesting directors going around at the moment while paying a true tribute to a man whose life for the most part has had its sadder moments kept well and truly in the shadows. Creative in the way it is presented on the big screen and with an amazing portrayal of Elton John by an actor that is likely to earn an Oscar nomination Rocketman is the type of film you just sit back and savour.
Average Subculture Rating
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Every now and then a film comes along that you just know will launch its lead actor into super-stardom. That is certainly the case when you watch Jessie Buckley in Wild Rose. The gifted Irish actress has made a name for herself in television shows like Taboo but nothing quite prepared anybody for her amazing portrayal of a young woman who has just been released from prison and wants to try and make a name for herself as a country singer in Glasgow in brand new feature film Wild Rose.
“When I first got the script I got it through Tom Harper (the director of Wild Rose) who I had worked on War & Peace with,” says Buckley. “I just love him so much so he could have told me to lay down on a railway and I probably would of. Then I read the script and I was just blown away by the humanity of it. It felt like I was reading a prison break film for all these women that were trying to escape these limitations that society had been trying to tell them that they had to be in. Like for Sophie Okonedo’s character she has been given this life as a house-wife and through Rose-Lynn she breaks out of what her purpose is, and then Rose-Lynn kind of encourages all the women to be courageous and have wants of their own because she is so tenacious in wanting something for herself, and wanting something that is beyond what everybody has told her that she is allowed. I had never seen a female character be so bold, so rusty and unchained. Her bravery and tenacity just blew me away.”
“I grew up in a very musical household,” says Buckley when the conversation turns to the musical side of the film. “My Mom is a harpist and a singer and my Dad is always playing something, or singing, or writing poetry. So it was a very musical house and we listened to everything from Irish traditional music through to blues, jazz, musicals to classical. Yeah, my ears were always open to all kinds of music.”
“I hope it resonates with as many people as possible,” says Buckley thinking really deeply about her answer. “It is… um… it is about an ordinary person doing something really extraordinary and against the odds. She is told that she is allowed to dream and I think that is something that a lot of people relate to – young girls, older girls, men and women – and you know that it is scary to want something for yourself in your life and I hope that it will reach a lot of people realise that if you want something enough and if you believe that you have a purpose to do something that it is possible and you don’t have to sacrifice yourself for that, not who you are or where you come from… it certainly tells that story.”
Wild Rose is in cinemas now.
Universal Pictures are this morning pleased to release the trailer for Blinded By The Light, a joyous, coming-of-age story about a teenager who learns to live life, understand his family and find his own voice through the words and music of Bruce Springsteen.
Set in 1987, during the austere days of Thatcher’s Britain, BLINDED BY THE LIGHT is a joyous, coming-of-age story about a teenager who learns to live life, understand his family and find his own voice through the words and music of Bruce Springsteen.