FILM – Pick Of The Flicks For February

As snow threatens to fall and the temperature dips below zero, choose cinema as a refuge from the chill. February is a real mix, so, something for everyone. The Oscars are coming and it seems best picture nominees La La Land, Arrival and Hacksaw Ridge will bring home the gongs – try to catch them if you can. Also, for Feb, and in Oscar contention, are Jackie, Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea which opens on February 3rd.

Best Picture nominee Manchester by the Sea has a lot of buzz around it – mostly regarding Casey Affleck’s Oscar-nominated performance for which he has already won a Golden Globe. The always intense and magnetic Affleck is joined by the reliably excellent Kyle Chandler and Michelle Williams in this slice of life film about family commitments which force Affleck’s character Lee to face up to the demons of his past. Its heartbreaking story and compelling central performances are said to be what makes this one of the films of the year.

On the 10th in Madrid’s cinemas is 50 Shades Darker, the sequel to the hit 2015 film based on the book everyone was pretending they’d never heard of, much less read. The sequel tells the continuing story of Christian (Jamie Dornan) and his dark possessive nature. His girlfriend tries to confront her jealousy regarding Christian’s murky past. Expect sexually and emotionally charged scenes, with James Foley, frequent director of House of Cards directing.

Much opposed to bondage psychodrama but also released on the 10th is the LEGO Batman movie. Another sequel, of sorts, to the massive 2014 film that put an enormous smile on everyone’s face, if you thought everything was awesome about the hugely enjoyable previous Lego movie this may float your boat. With more of the animated Lego brick characters and cityscapes, this one focuses on the titular superhero who’s gruffly voiced for laughs by Will Arnett. Lending their voices to staple Batman characters are Ralph
Fiennes as Batman’s loyal butler Alfred, Michael Cera as Robin and Zach Galifianakis as the Joker. It should be a riot of colour and humour.

On the same day Best Picture nominated Moonlight is on Madrid’s screens for the first time. Moonlight tells the tale of inner-city black American lives and the problems of social mobility, drugs, responsibility and self discovery in a section of America that is all too often forgotten. The film’s committed performances and its Miami backdrop have a power that is winning over audiences. One to look forward to.

Rings, another film in the horror series inspired by the Japanese original, is here to scare us to death. Lake-wet black-eyed zombie schoolgirls and curses are expected with this terrifyingly effective horror vehicle. Also out on the 10th.
Released a week later on the 17th is Jackie in which Natalie Portman portrays the former First Lady Jackie Kennedy, whose life story could inspire a dozen movies. This film is centred on the White House years and specifically the aftermath of JFK’s assassination. Portman is Oscar-nominated for this film and the political intrigue of early sixties America is an abundant backdrop. Portman’s Jackie attempts to stabilise her family and protect her husband’s legacy and reputation amidst the fallout of a country shocked and a family shaken.

Also opening on the 17th is The Great Wall starring Matt Damon. The film is a mash up of fantasy, war, action and popcorn adventure with a semi-real historical context. The Great Wall’s construction is part of the story and the film touches on ancient Chinese legends and is said to be most expensive Chinese film ever made. Its multi-national cast and crew have made something definitely worth seeing. Damon plays one of many European mercenaries defending the wall from monsters. Yes, monsters – it sounds great. Acclaimed Chinese director Zhang Yimou is in charge.

Look out for these new films at the cinema on Fridays in February. Enjoy, and stay warm. See you next month.

By Andrew James Ball

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