Saturday 24 August 2019

Movie ideas if you need a galaxy far, far away from it all

Need some downtime from the festive circus? Then look no further than the big screen

Felicity Jones in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, a spin-off that will dominate the movie universe over Christmas
Felicity Jones in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, a spin-off that will dominate the movie universe over Christmas

Hilary A White

If cabin fever or a TV schedule of the same old films and TV re-runs gets too much, flee the house and head for the cinema where you'll find a good variety of genres in which to escape it all in a dark room for a couple of hours.

Dominating the movie landscape and likely to be the film on everyone's agenda regardless of age demographic is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Cert: TBC, opens December 15). After the globe-gobbling success of The Force Awakens this time last year, this standalone instalment of the era-defining space opera sees Felicity Jones in the lead role as a Rebel Alliance operative on a dangerous covert mission to thwart the Empire.

Other titles might struggle to get a look in next to such a mammoth release but if you prefer to stay on Planet Earth you will be well-served. In a year that has seen some superb documentary filmmaking, the standard continues right up the end. Uncle Howard (Cert: Club, open 17th at IFI) is Aaron Brookner's intimate portrait of family, filmmaking and William Burroughs. There has also been huge festival buzz about Otto Bell's The Eagle Huntress (Cert: Club, opens 23rd, selected cinemas) which tells of a young Kazakh girl coming-of-age as she trains a golden eagle.

For widescreen drama, the big show in town is undoubtedly Martin Scorsese's long-awaited historical epic, Silence (Cert: TBC, opens January 1st). It got to the point that many were beginning to wonder if the great director's passion project (an adaptation of Shusaku Endo's mesmeric novel) would ever see the light of day. Liam Neeson and Adam Driver feature in a saga about the persecution of Jesuit priests in Feudal Japan. Should work.

Norwegian director Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game) brings a celestial gloss to outer space in Passengers (Cert: 12A, opens 23rd). Megastars Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt are astronauts whose hibernation is interrupted by catastrophe on board a century-long galactic voyage. A mix of white-knuckle thrills and romance is promised.

For a dose of schmaltz (forgivable at this time of year), Collateral Beauty (Cert: 12A, opens 26th) looks like your man. Will Smith leads an all-star cast (Kate Winslet, Edward Norton, Naomi Harris, Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren) as a lonely soul getting the Scrooge treatment after he writes letters to Love, Death and Time. Pack the hankies. Equally, if you feel you've earned the right to enjoy some rom-com fluff, Why Him? (Cert: 15A, opens 26th) fits Bryan Cranston and James Franco into the "protective dad vs new boyfriend" template. Keep expectations low and you should be fine.

If you need another helping of Felicity Jones, or Liam Neeson for that matter, early reports of dark children's fantasy A Monster Calls (Cert: 12A, January 1) are strong. Spanish director JA Bayona's adaptation of Patrick Ness's novel taps into similar themes of childhood trauma and escapism in Where The Wild Things Are, so for something more gentle, Ballerina (Cert: G, opens 19th) is a safer option. Set in 1870s France, it tells of an orphan girl who dreams of training to become a ballerina in Paris. If there is a little princess in your life, this plucky animated feature is a present in itself.


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