Jingle Jangle brings all the love and joy of the season together into a bright, colourful, and fun original story. There’s fantasy, magic, songs, and dancing. Beautiful scenes, touching moments and snowball fights. They just needed a bit more ‘Christmas’
Jingle Jangle stars Forest Whitaker as Jeronicus Jangle, an idealistic genius toymaker on the verge of creating his greatest toy when he is betrayed. He’s faith in humanity is crushed as is his belief in magic. With belief gone, the loss of love wasn’t far behind. He becomes a shadow of his formal self, a hermit shut away from the world, determined to never engage in the activities which brought him so much joy in the past. Living in this self imposed exile meant he was hidden from the magic and genius which made him special. When you stop believing in magic, magic vanishes from your life.
New comer Madeline Mills plays his grand daughter, Journey Jangle sent to bring the magic and light back to his life and she really does bring the magic. She lights up the screen and melts hearts with charm, smarts and a smile which warms a room. She brings an energy and a level of fun which you can’t help but enjoy. She handles emotional scenes with a level of maturity reserved for those more experienced and almost like a light switch is able to flip back to childlike innocence.
No story would be complete without a diabolical villain and Keegan-Michael Key is more than up to the task. Coming from a comedic background means even his most evil plans are never taking seriously enough to be scary. His story arc is followed closely throughout the film and shows just one bad choice in life can set you on the wrong path. This is as much his story as it is Jeronicus and Journeys.
The film is written and directed by David Talbert and he delivers a fresh original story to the screen with energetic performances and songs. Oscar winner Forest Whitaker performing a dance number with children is enough to justify watching this movie itself. Credit should always be given for bringing new ideas to the screen but when creating new, it’s important not to ignore what has come before. There are just somethings people consider staples in seasonal films like these. There were no presents given, no Christmas meal or carols. In a Christmas musical, it would have been fantastic to have a variation or remix of some of the traditional carols.
Jingle Jangle combines an endearing story with a great cast including Phylicia Rashad, Anika Noni Rose and Lisa Devina Phillip and the voice of Ricky Martin. Everything here works very well and like most films, there appear to be plenty of opportunities for spin offs and sequels.
Unfortunately, I just couldn’t shake the feeling afterwards that something was missing from this ensemble: a little bit more Christmas
Tom and Jerry have one of the longest running and most savage animated beefs in Hollywood history. Their relationship is the very definition of a Cat and Mouse game
Warner Bros have tapped Director Tim Story to bring this brand-new chapter in the saga to the big screen, combining live action with top notch animation in a similar fashion to films like Who framed Roger Rabbit and previous Warner Bros hit Space Jam with Michael Jordan. This time they’ve brought along ‘Hit Girl’ herself Chloë Grace Moretz for what’s sure to be a completely wild and hilariously looney ride when it arrives early next year
Pieces of a woman is a drama coming to Netflix in January 2021. It stars Vanessa Kirby in what just might be a career elevating /defining performance for her
Vanessa Kirby and Shia LaBeouf star as a couple dealing with a terrible tragedy following their plans for a home birth. Netflix have their eyes firmly set on awards season with this one which is sure to evoke tears and heartache, especially for those who have experienced such loss
Imagine for just one moment you woke up this morning and couldn’t hear anything. The idea alone is so removed from reality for most of us that we very quickly dismiss it and move on, much like closing your eyes and trying to walk more than a few steps. Yet for thousands of people around the world, deafness and sudden hearing loss are very much a reality
Sound of Metal stars Riz Ahmed as a recovering drug addict and the drummer in a metal band alongside his girlfriend Lou played by Olivia Cooke. Lou thrashes out the melodies and screams vocals at small capacity venues while Ruben hammers down with thunderous fury on the drums, all the time his gaze fixated on Lou’s every move.
This is a Story of Love
Ruben and Lou live an almost storied existence, travelling across the country in their RV, listening to soul music in the day and rocking out at their metal shows at night. All seems perfect until Ruben suddenly starts to lose his hearing. In a matter of days, he is deaf.
This is a Story of Loss
From this point, Director Darius Marder does his best to place us in Ruben’s shoes, making the unimaginable a reality. We feel every awkward moment, the frustration and helplessness of being able to see but not hear what was going on around us. From the simplicity of not being able to perform a mundane task like answer a phone call to the massive loss of self-identity. Ruben has attached his entire self-worth to being Lou’s drummer. If he can no longer perform this task for his love, then what is his purpose?
This is a story of addiction and the defiant human spirit
When we think of someone deaf or with loss of hearing, we may imagine their biggest concern in life must be that they can’t hear. Our innocent ignorance is corrected here as they are not purely defined by their inability to hear. They have stress with jobs, bills, families and like everyone else, some succumb to various addictions.
The half-way house Ruben stays at is run by Joe (Paul Raci). It not only makes him understand he had replaced his drug addiction with an addiction for Lou but also that in this community, they didn’t consider deafness to be a disability or something to be ‘fixed’. It’s a rich and celebrated part of who there are now. It’s this new reality that Ruben has most difficulty accepting as he sees that as giving up the drums and by proximity, losing Lou.
See the review for Riz Ahmed’s previous release, Mogul Mowglihere
The transition period from hearing to deafness is scary. While the scenes were beautifully captured, there must be acknowledgement for the ‘sound of silence’, those moments of nothingness truly do the job of reflecting Ruben’s sense of loss and despair on to us watching. There are moments when he is in a room full of people laughing when he hears nothing and another later when he is in a room of people communicating through sign language and he doesn’t yet understand how to sign.
The sense of isolation is frightening. The feeling of being an outcast, not belonging and being unable to communicate is something most of us never consider. You don’t go deaf and immediately know how to sign. The transition period is rarely shown.
In contrast, we also see a school of deaf children who are energetic, intelligent, and joyful, not defined by being unable to hear. This condition isn’t an end but full of new possibilities for those strong of will and spirit. It’s an opportunity to redefine and even emerge better. It’s this sense of optimism and hope they attempt to pass on to Ruben.
The film is packed full of powerful yet delicate performances, with a special mention for Paul Raci as Joe, the halfway house mentor. He delivered a sense of believability and firmness while remaining vulnerable. But this is another Riz Ahmed showcase. He is adept at putting himself in uncomfortable roles and baring his soul on screen with an honesty which somehow goes beyond simply acting.
Sound of Metal is a fantastic film with an empowering message. If you haven’t experienced deafness or loss of hearing, this may be the closet you get to understanding what life might be like for a deaf person. I fear that due to the uncomfortable subject matter, this may not garner as much commercial success or attention (no one likes to imagine something ‘so devastating’ happening to them). But those that do will find an incredible, insightful, and satisfying experience they won’t soon forget
Amazon Studios will release SOUND OF METAL in theatre’s November 20th, 2020 and on Prime Video December 4th, 2020
In Becky, neo-Nazis discover something more dangerous than their hate-an angry teenage girl
Do you recall ever watching Home Alone and thinking to yourself, “I wonder what it would be like if adorable little Kevin was a psychotic teen girl and the bumbling burglars were actually escaped neo-Nazi convicts? Well, wonder no more as Directors Cary Murnion, Nicole Ihasz and Jonathan Milott bring this premise to life with a story by Ruckus Skye and Nick Morris
Becky stars Lulu Wilson as a teen girl pushed too far over the edge by life and circumstance. In typical high school fashion, she is having a terrible time at school with bullying and bad behaviour. To round it off her mum has recently died of Cancer and her Dad Jeff, played by comedic actor Joel McHale brings home a new girlfriend he plans to marry played by Amanda Brugel. Life couldn’t get any worse for Becky, until her family are taken hostage by four recently escaped convicts
TV and film funny man Kevin James plays the leader of this convict group on a mission to retrieve a key which somehow holds the answer to a true separation of the races. Becky is absent during the home invasion and is the only person who knows the location of the key. So begins the psychological game of cat and mouse as Becky does her best to outsmart the crooks while devising a plan to rescue her family
Well, that’s probably how the film played out when they came up with the idea. What actually occurs on screen is much like I described earlier, a retelling a Home Alone. But while little Kevin devised genius traps from simple household objects, Becky sets about unleashing hell on these crooks, using the familiar terrain and tools from her tree house to create weapons of death and torture. It becomes a bloody graphic gorefest as she goes to war with the Nazi crooks.
The earlier shots of Kevin James as the bad guy ensured we were always treated to the large swastika tattooed on the back of his head, so we are constantly reminded just how evil he must be. Unfortunately, as the film progresses, he slowly goes from being the strong and evil silent type to a comical scooby Doo villain. Its admirable Kevin has tried to break from his stable traditional roles as the loveable funny guy, but this was always going to be a tall order to swallow. At no point did I find him scary or menacing (to be fair that could partly be my fault for watching ‘Hitch’ a few night ago)
Becky is a mash up of genres that attempts to deal with a host of issues like teenage depression, loss, step parents, blended families, and racism. It deals with none of them. Lulu Wilson does a decent job with the material provided but nothing in the film makes us take the ‘Girl Vs four’ war set up seriously nor does it explain why Becky so readily takes to killing. Also, the mysterious key, which is the whole point of the movie is never revealed. The movie attempts to present itself as gritty crime action thriller but ends up being a teen slasher movie where the teenager ends up doing the slashing. It’s unbelievable but untaxing. The pacing is decent pace and length wise it doesn’t drag. There is still something satisfying and fun about watching comedians like Kevin James and Joel McHale attempt to play it straight.
A graphic blood-soaked dose of entertainment for those who enjoy watching bad guys suffer very painful ends.
Becky is available to buy and rent from Itunes and other streaming services
The Cinema, that once solitary entertainment haven may never be the same again. As the UK officially steps into Lockdown 2.0, a grim reality starts to set in. When they reopened on July the 1st 2020, I was one of the many who celebrated Cinemas’ return but only one of the few who actually went to see a film. Six months absence had been long enough to shake confidence and change behaviour. People spoke about whether it was worth ‘risking their life’ to watch a film? Despite mandatory masks and extra Covid measures, people still felt unsafe.
Not even the might of Christopher Nolan’s latest mind-bending blockbuster Tenet was sufficient to get people to come out of their houses and make the trip. In response, the studios systematically began shifting their high-profile films till 2021 when things are ‘back to normal’ which translates to when they can see the near billion-dollar profits they have grown accustomed to.
Unfortunately, this is a pipe dream. They have left Cinema chains on life support with excessive costs and salaries to maintain but no means of earning. One cinema boss described it as running a grocery store with no groceries to sell. The Studios must have made that assessment and decided on the best way to save themselves with little concern for the cinemas they left barren
So, what does the future hold for Cinemas? I honestly believe we have seen the last of them in their current form. They won’t disappear completely but there will be major scaling down, especially when it comes to the larger chains. In an interesting twist, the smaller independent specialist cinemas are more likely to continue, as they are less reliant on billion-dollar blockbusters for their survival. They will focus on providing a home for smaller releases and independents
Film Studios adapting to Survive
The Studios have had years of looking down on streaming services like Netflix as inferior in much the same way home video releases were considered lower quality than cinema experiences. But this dynamic is facing its biggest shake up ever. Not only are they finding new ways to co-exist, they are looking at each other as partners. Covid has made long-time rivals into collaborators, devising strategies to not only survive but prosper. Studios like Disney and Warner are moving quickly behind the scenes to restructure their budgets and ambitions with a focus on providing premium content for their own services. They see these streaming services as their future
Due to finances already invested in big budget films like Wonder Woman and Black Widow, these Studios need to hold out for something akin to a cinematic release as they have investors to pay back. So, their business strategy becomes what releases they can send to streaming services with minimum loss and even possibly gain some value by way of new subscribers to their streaming services.
Those without their own streaming services rely on the likes of Netflix and Amazon making them large enough cash offers to cover the production costs with a small profit margin. Universal’s release of Trolls earlier this year on PVOD was successful for them, meaning they are considering at least some of their future releases this way.
Following Paramount’s cinematic sucess early this year with Sonic the Hedgehog, they are one of the few studios not to end the year with massive losses. Their sale of Love Birds and the Trial of the Chicago 7 (which might be an Oscar contender) to Netflix as well as Eddie Murphy’s Coming to America 2 to Amazon could be seen as shrewd business moves by a studio manoeuvring itself successfully during this Pandemic.
It has also brought in Apple to co-finance the 200-million-dollar Martin Scorsese ‘Killers of the flower moon‘ starring Robert Di Nero and Lionardo Dicaprio but is still holding onto some of its biggest properties like Tom Cruise’s Top Gun Maverick which they hold out hope of having name recognition and nostalgia to drive eventual box office returns.
Is this the Golden age of Streaming
Like with every crisis, there are those who benefit and even emerge more successful. Streaming services are almost entering a golden age where they suddenly have all eyes on them. Some have always believed this was the way the industry was heading but the pandemic has accelerated this by ten years
Streaming Services have subscriber numbers increasing rapidly with large studios offering them first option on what were previously considered ‘cinema first’ content. Their own originals are being completed at a record rate, with A list stars and Directors on board. The recently completed Netflix Original ‘Red Notice’ starring The Rock, Ryan Reynolds, and Gal Gadol is testament to the quality of films these streaming services are aiming for.
Disney took their first shot at using their Disney Plus service as a means to bypass cinema with the release of their big budget film Mulan on their Disney Premiere service. This had mixed results in terms of profitability, but they are determined to take another shot at it when Soul is released on Christmas day at no additional costs for subscribers.
The streaming services are in the strongest position to shape the future of movie viewing which is something they could have ever anticipated so soon
Snyder Cut – A New Way
And finally, on to ‘The Snyder Cut’. Zack Snyders Justice league is due out in 2021 on Warner’s newest streaming service HBO Max. But what makes this film so special? It combines all the elements we have discussed here and represents the past present and future of blockbuster films. It started life as a 2017 cinema release, the Studio panicked during its production and brought in another director who drastically altered the films end product.
The Studio have now agreed for Zack to go back and complete his original vision, but this isn’t simply a director’s cut. He has been promised an extra 50million for production and shooting brand new scenes. So, this will almost be a whole new movie. But this film will no longer be released as a ‘film’, it will be split into 4-hour long specials on the HBO Max streaming service. This will be a brand-new way of delivering a big budget film
Read More: See the latest HBO Max teaser of the Snyder Cut here
So there you have it. As Cinema chains remain on life support, Fiim studios rapidly adjust their business models and film budgets to meet the changes a post Covid world is bringing and Streaming Service prepare to take centre stage in this brave new world. The only guarantee we have is that whether big screen or small screen, the films will keep coming.
News of the World stars Tom Hanks as a retired soldier, a veteran of three wars and now a travelling storyteller. Charged with protecting an innocent girl from the dangers of the Old West
Screen legend Tom Hanks once said he couldn’t play a villain as he doesn’t think he could fake being scary on screen as that’s just not who he is. Despite this ‘restriction’, Tom has managed to cover every other type of character on screen from comical to vulnerable to heroic. The movie sees Tom reuniting with Director Paul Greengrass for the first time since 2013’s award winning Captain Phillips. This time he plays a retired soldier, now a travelling storyteller in the wild west who ends up as the protector of a young innocent girl unable to communicate, played by Helena Zengel. News of the world is still slated for a Christmas 2020 release. View the trailer here
Antebellum is a bold, brutal and provocative trip down a rabbit hole of racial hatred
Firstly, a warning. If you find portrayals of racism and dehumanisation of black people uncomfortable or too upsetting to watch then this might not be the right film for you, or at least you may need to skip the first half hour.
Antebellum means a time before or what existed before a war. It is mostly used in relation the American civil war, where the United States were at war with the thirteen break away ‘Confederate States of America’ who were unwilling to accept not only the loss of their slave labour but the legal rights being proposed for black people by the Union. It is within this setting we find ourselves for this film
Antebellum stars award winning R&B songstress Janelle Monae’s as a modern writer and outspoken activist for both women and civil rights. She’s also a committed wife and mother trying to balance home and work life with the close girlfriends she parties with on the weekends. By all appearances she has quite a regular life.
Good times with her family and friends
This is all thrown into turmoil when she mysteriously finds herself in the prelude to the 19th century Civil War where she and other black people are being worked, beaten, and routinely raped as cotton pickers in the fields.
The contrast between the modern and historical environments might leave you feeling you are watching two different films. This is done intentionally to leave you off balance and in much the same way as the lead character, you are unsure how this has happened. You begin to question whether she is dreaming, if its somehow magical or even the result of time travel!
Doing my utmost to avoid spoilers, I can say Janelle Monae’s character proves she can adapt, survive, and plot even in the worst environments. She does most of the heavy lifting in the film and her commitment to the dual roles of strong activist and submissive slave are top notch. Having already appeared in award winning films like moonlight and Hidden figures, this could have been a tough debut for Janelle to make as a lead character, but she handled it admirably, showing her future lies both in the recording booth and on screen.
The film is written and directed by Gerard Bush, Christopher Renz who are part of the team that brought to us Get Out’ and ‘Us’ and that weird other worldly feel also finds its way in here. But while those leaned more towards the horror genre, there are no real scares bere. They share some similar themes around the perceptions of Black people, especially those who are intelligent or educated ‘above their station’ and the ideas racists have around silencing them. There is an attempt to explain why in modern society, even highly intelligent Black people are still seen as somehow less that their peers. The film tries to draw the link back to where those ideas originate historically.
Antebellum is a provocative, modern thriller that plays around with some new ideas. It opens psychological doors to present a horrific snapshot of racial atrocities committed but no real attempt is made to discuss them in the film. You may be left wondering whether the film was trying to say any more than slavery was bad which you might consider to be an already universally accepted truth amongst civilised people. If nothing else, it provided me with some historical insight into the American Civil war and as a thriller it provided an enjoyable yet uncomfortable tense experience
Antebellum was originally destined for a cinematic release but due to the pandemic was switched to a video on demand September release and is available now
Kajillionaire is sweet tale of personal emancipation. A young lady trapped in an emotional cage, yearning for love and a freedom she can’t comprehend until a stranger shows her a way out.
Kajillionaire is the latest family crime drama from the mind of Miranda July. But don’t be misled by the ‘family crime drama’ moniker. This is not the Sopranos or The Godfather but something vastly different and on a much smaller scale. Kajillionaire is about a family of grifters made up of the father Robert played by Richard Jenkins, the mother Theresa played by Debra Winger and their daughter who goes by the nick name ‘Old Dolio’, played by Evan Rachel Wood.
The family carry out well-rehearsed cons to get their scores, hoping each time that the next job will be ‘The Big One’. Before we get an opportunity to form an opinion of this family, its quickly revealed that rather than being greedy money obsessed criminals, they are more akin to the homeless and live every day without any hope of life ever being better.
It’s apparent the parents have been living this life for a long time, so long in fact they raised their daughter with no other goal than to live the same way. They grift and work out cons to pay for meals and buy clothes. They attempt to return stolen vouchers to get cashback and their grand scheme is to get enough money to pay their long overdue rent by ‘Friday’. There are no grand ambitions or dreams of living well. This is a life they don’t like but accept and do little to change or deviate from until a chance encounter with the young attractive Melanie, played by Gina Rodriguez
Melanie’s arrival in their life is a catalyst for change but is less like a hurricane and more like a gentle breeze moving them along. She herself is a lost soul looking to belong. She brings a certain energy to the proceedings and her perky colourful confidence is a sharp contrast to the drab, dreary defeated appearance of the family. She is excited to become part of the family’s latest heists, but her attention very quickly turns to Old Dolio, who she manages to establish a deep connection with, despite Dolio being deprived of any sort of love, human contact, or affection from birth.
The film has a surreal feel, like a weird fantasy where it might not be real, or things might not be as they seem. The bright skies and sunshine of the city are designed to provide enough of a contrast with the family, a perfect illustration of just how disconnected they are from the society they live in. At times I was unsure whether this was supposed to be a dark comedy as some of the situations they found themselves in were quite comical. It makes it that bit sadder when you realise this is actually their reality.
In truth, there isn’t much crime in this drama. This is Old Dolio’s story, she must accept what she has always known or step out and see if she can fit into a new reality and understanding of the world.
The film didn’t wow me, but the performances were solid across the board with some truly touching moments. Rachel Evan Woods introverted, and love starved ‘Old Dolio’ is fascinating to watch and engaging enough to make you stick around to the end to see how she ends up. Overall, it was a simple, well told story with few shocks or surprises. It’s nowhere near as weird as it first appears but still provides an enjoyable tale of personal emancipation
******CORRECTION: Apologies, I refer to Vince Vaughn as ‘Matthew Vaughn’ more than once in the video, I was reading about a new potential release dates for Matthew Vaughn’s The Kingsman at the time of filming! Sorry! *********
Good Day good day good people, it’s your boy Mysteree with the latest episode of Most Wanted, the films I can’t wait to see, coming this November. Now October was the BFI London film festival takeover and there was an enviable flood of great films, some of which still haven’t had a general release yet. So, if you want to know more, be sure to check out our excellent coverage of the festival on our dedicated website LFF page.
November might not look as full in comparison, but it still has some great films to watch out for, coming to cinemas still open and streaming services.
First up, coming Friday 13th is Freaky starring Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton. Now Freaky comes from Jason Blum and his Blumhouse productions, who have over the last few years decided to take the horror mantle and run with it. They are reaching all corners of the genre from the more comical to the psychological like the excellent invisible man with Elizabeth Moss and now they are firmly staking their claim on the teen slasher movies.
Their last teen efforts were with Happy Death day and its sequel happy death day to you which I was introduced to by Toya and I really enjoyed. The director of both films Cristopher Landon has is also Directing this movie which means he has experience handling the teen scare genre.
Most of the Blumhouse productions take established ideas and attempt to inject new life into them with a twist and Freaky is no different. Traditionally funny man Vince Vaughn stars as the town serial killer, Kathryn Newton as his next victim.
While carrying out his mission, they are body swapped, leaving Vince now playing the part of a teenage girl and Kathryn the serial killer, trying to swap the bodies back and get back to killing. As you can imagine that’s where the murderous and comical high jinks really get going. If you like your slasher movies with a much lighter tone with the laughs and killings sharing centre stage, then this is one for you, November, Friday 13th
Next up to change the tone a little bit, the next most wanted movie is The Comeback Trail. It’s based on the 1982 film of the same name and stars screen legend Robert De Niro and Zach Braff as down on their luck film producers trying to pay a debt they owe to the mob. While trying to figure out how to pay this back, they stumble across a scam which might just solve all their problems. They discover that if they pretend to make a movie and insure the lead actor for a large amount, they could make the claim on the Insurance when the lead actor has a well-planned accident while filming.
Of course, the idea of creating something to intentional fail for financial benefit isn’t necessarily unique. Mel Brooks also it with his 1967 play ‘The Producers’ which he turned into a film in 2005 film starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. The Comeback Trail takes the idea and appears to take it to hilarious ends. De Niro loves the comedic roles and while not all of them are decent, he really seems to be in his element here playing off Zach Braff.
The ensemble cast are also great with Morgan Freeman playing a tough guy mob boss and Tommy Lee Jones letting loose and having a whale of a time as the lead actor who just won’t die. The antics and laughs are sure to come thick and fast. I can’t wait
That’s it for this month’s most wanted movies. Join me for the next month for the next episode