It’s a candy-coated underworld romp, and pleasingly weird at times – when we’re invited inside Harley’s cutely tattered parlour, no explanation’s given for why she has a stuffed beaver in a pink tutu on her kitchen table. It’s just… the kind of thing she would have. Yan’s film converts her from livid to likeable, and doesn’t give a hoot if you mind.
While writers Lena Waithe and James Frey make Queen and Slim’s initial decision to flee convincing, and dramatically spiky – it’s striking that even a lawyer doesn’t fancy her chances on the legal route – their screenplay is rather less good at coming up with excuses for the string of colourful and picturesque pit-stops the two keep making afterwards.
While politically unimpeachable, Just Mercy is simply too lethargic to be the major awards race player Warner Bros. were evidently hoping for. It’s a pity for Jordan, who has steel and energy in his part, and an especial shame for Foxx, who gives a beautifully modulated, unflashy and quietly moving performance, easily his best in at least a decade.
Showy and ambitious, desperately sincere and self-absorbed, and bursting at the seams with potential, Waves isn’t merely a film about teenagers, it’s virtually a teenager in film form. It’s also the kind of cinema that keeps you young.
I can’t recall the last time I was so staggered by a film’s craftsmanship while feeling almost nothing else about it at all – little fear, less sadness, and barely a spark of actual excitement at anything beyond the high-wire nature of the filmmaking enterprise itself.
The Gentlemen is a valiant, often raucous bid to drag the tried-and-true old Ritchie formula into the present, and while the result feels like he got about as far as 2005 – with lip-service acknowledgements of grime music and YouTube – for the purposes of this film, it’s close enough.
The Rise of Skywalker completes a saga no one sane screenwriter would have dreamt up from scratch, but does so with such pluck and showmanship that the result feels strangely precious: a busked epic whose every individual move comes straight from the heart.
If it weren’t for the stifling earnestness about patriarchal dogma, you could mistake it for M. Night Shyalaman’s The Village given some kind of vague off-Broadway workshopping, and regurgitated minus the twist.
For all its feints and innovations, Frozen II knows its audience inside out, and wants to ensure every last subdivision leaves feeling both seen and satisfied. That’s obviously good business. But it’s also generous, deeply charming filmmaking.