Movie roundup: support cinema this March
March is here, which for Disney means it’s time to start rolling out the endless slew of blockbusters and remakes. We’re not too disheartened, though, as Captain Marvel looks like an effective character piece wrapped in sci-fi goodness and special effects wizardry. Plus Dumbo… well, Dumbo has every chance of being the first of many live action disasterpieces from the mega-corp this year, but with Burton at the helm directing a roster of frequent collaborators we’re hoping this one pulls it out the bag.
It would at least be a win if it doesn’t make us want to gouge out our own eyes within the first ten minutes.
If you’re already pouring one out for all the indie films that won’t get a look-in cause all your local theatres are packing their screens with as many superheroes and CGI talking animals possible, don’t fret. We’ve got a rundown of blockbusters and indie darlings alike hitting cinemas near you this March.
Climax (Rectangle Productions)
Gaspar Noé retains his status as the king of shock value with his first foray into the musical – just don’t expect anything like the jazzy stylings of La La Land. Starring Sofia Boutella as a dance student caught in a hallucinogenic nightmare characteristic of Noé’s frantic visual style, she and an ensemble supporting cast become unwilling inmates of a drugged hellscape when their drinks are spiked with LSD.
If the controversial filmmaker’s previous efforts left you feeling like you needed a shower, you can assume that his latest excercise in experimental controversy will be just as sweaty, acidic, and vile. Thankfully Climax doesn’t boast the impenetrable length of something like Enter the Void, and the warm center of Sofia Boutella has every chance of tempting those who’ve been burned by the Argentinian provocateur before. Just make sure to hold your breath and grab onto something before diving in.
Greta (Sidney Kimmell Entertainment)
Chloë Grace Moretz and Isabelle Huppert, two icons from different sides of the indie cinema spectrum, team for a sensitive and involving dark drama. Moretz plays Frances, a hopelessly naive young woman trying to make it by herself in New York. When she happens across Greta, a widowed piano player, the pair start to develop an intimate bond, but Frances soon starts to uncover the mysteries clouding Greta’s life that shatters her maternal charms.
Huppert’s first English-language role hasn’t had quite the same warm reception as her French counterparts, but what can you really expect from Interview with the Vampire director Neil Jordan? Greta doesn’t shy away from its B-movie roots, embracing all the camp and pastiche of a girly thriller that might not sit well with sharper viewers, but expect it to whistle through its plot twists with just enough elevation from prestige talent to keep it in tune.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (BBC Films)
Chiwetel Ejiofor has always been a talent to watch in front of the camera, but we’ve always been fascinated with how the British thesp would fare behind it. He’s got enough Shakespearean style to rival Kenneth Branagh, so it only makes sense that his first directorial effort would spawn a timeless epic that feels woven from the mind of a pro with years of experience. Telling the true story of William Kamkwamba, a young Malawin innovator who made history when he built his town’s first ever wind turbine in 2006 using spare parts from the local scrapyard, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is a sweeping, inspiring tale of determination in the face of relentless adversity.
Ejiofor features as William’s father, but this is newcomer Maxwell Simba’s show, who steals every scene he’s in with an effortlessly endearing debut performance. This huge story deserves to be seen on the big screen wherever possible, but you can catch it on Netflix if your local independent hasn’t picked it up.
A Madea Family Funeral (The Tyler Perry Company)
Remember when Tyler Perry was surprisingly great in Gone Girl and everything felt like it was gonna be alright. Well, surprise bitch, it’s five years later and the eleventh Madea mishap is hitting theatres. Thankfully, Perry’s promising this to be the last time he dons a wig and dress, so we’re one step closer to bringing the headache-inducing debate of whether the series is perpetuating stereotypes or providing representation for black Americans to a close.
We Die Young (Dream Team Films)
Jean-Claude Van Damme fights violence with more violence in yet another attempt to relive the glory days. This time, JCVD portrays an Afghanistan veteran who comes between two brothers who have started a path to a life of gang war and crime.
Transit (Neon Productions)
Intimately realised drama from Christian Pendzolt, the celebrated director behind Phoenix who should be on every foreign cinephile’s to-watch list if he’s not already. Originally a WWII period thriller from German novelist Anna Segher, Pendzolt’s adaptation transports the text to the modern day. Before, a story about an identity thief who flees Nazi Germany disguised as another man, now a tale of love and escape set within the surveillance world of broiling modern fascism. Bound to catch some hype for next year’s foreign language Academy Award, so make sure you get to this one first.
Apollo 11 (CNN Films)
With Damien Chazelle’s First Man landing last year, you can bet that the documentary accompaniment wasn’t gonna be too far behind. Taking previously unreleased 70 mm film footage of the historical launch, you’ll be getting a glimpse at the terrifying moments of anticipation felt by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin before they made their giant leap, as well as bearing witness to breathtaking scenes of the takeoff and landing that look almost too good to be true.
The Wedding Guest (India Take One Productions)
British director Michael Winterbottom has floated between crime and comedy his entire career, this time following his third entry to his best known work, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s buddy comedies The Trip series, with a stark, gritty thriller. He teams with Dev Patel who plays a mysterious British Muslim making a cryptic journey across Pakistan and India.
Among the Shadows (Nomenclature Films)
Lindsay Lohan stars in a hokey crime drama in which she plays a private investigator uncovering the murder of her uncle. Doesn’t sound intriguing enough? Don’t worry, they’ve also thrown werewolves into the mix. An absolute must for your next Bad Movie Club.
Captain Marvel (Marvel Studios)
Brie Larson is the latest prestige performer to don a colorful outfit and punch aliens in the face for the gargantuan superhero monopoly. Larson stars as Carol Danvers, a world class pilot who discovers that the truth of her past might be slightly more intergalactic than she had previously realised. For a while the MCU was still stuck in the ass-backwards tradition of propping its female heroes up with push-up bras and skintight lycra, but after a string of female-led blockbusters made a good case against the misconception that women aren’t much more than sexy set dressing, Marvel are finally stepping up with their first blockbuster led by a protagonist who doesn’t primarily think with the thing between their legs.
Co-stars Samuel L Jackson and Clark Gregg in unprecedented roles for Disney, portraying de-aged versions of their characters throughout the entire runtime. Could it open new directions for the multimedia corporation, or fall too far into the uncanny valley? Also features top-tier talents Jude Law, Annette Bening, and Djimon Hounsou.
I’m Not Here (Rubber Tree Productions)
A thrilling romantic drama about a man haunted by his past that will try its very best to convince you that Sebastian Stan could feasibly grow up to look like JK Simmons. Steve relives the trauma of a specific moment in his life at every waking moment, and as he plays each memory he tries to connect his experiences to figure out how he became so broken and alone.
Photograph (Poetic License Production)
Hindi coming-of-age drama following a struggling street photographer who’s pressured into an arranged romantic entanglement with a young student. Uses the endearing charm of the two leads against the backdrop of the glorious city of Mumbai to its full advantage while it tries to distract you from the uncomfortable age difference between the two leads.
An Elephant Sitting Still (Dongchun Films)
Hu Bo’s first and last film is a long one, but it’s an essential window into the mind of a writer and potential cinematic auteur battling with his mental health. The first-time filmmaker tragically committed suicide after finishing the film in October 2017 following a long battle with depression, and his four hour concrete epic serves as an archival landmark to his shortlived yet astonishing career.
Four separate individuals are struggling to make ends meet in the Chinese city of Menzhouli, facing crime, bullying, abuse, and poverty so frequently it’s become part of their daily routine. When they each hear a rumor of a stoic elephant at a local zoo who reportedly sits as still as a statue and ignores any distraction, they grasp onto the story as a way out of their stifling surroundings. Dull or cathartic depending on your worldview and, most importantly, your patience, if you’re someone who can handle sitting still for long stretches of time, like the titular elephant you may find some meditative solice amid your daily intrusions in this ode to lost voices.
Gloria Bell (Fabula)
A director remaking their own films is a rare occurrence, but when they do there are usually remarkable insights and peculiar results to be found. Following his startling acclaimed work A Fantastic Woman, Chilean director Sebastián Lelio clearly couldn’t resist reworking his film Gloria with an English flair when he got the chance to work with Julianne Moore.
It follows the story of a divorcee in her 50s who, determined not to live her remaining years alone, starts a fling with an older man after meeting him at a singles disco. Those familiar with the original film, and Lelio’s style, should expect comfy, fruitful drama that occasionally shifts gear into thorny conflict, but ultimately leaves you fresh and revitalised.
The Aftermath (Amusement Park Films)
Did you really think another year was going to go by without Keira Knightley starring in a stuffy British period piece? You’d be dead wrong. Set in post-war Germany, Knightley plays Rachael Morganst alongside Jason Clarke as a British colonel returning from war. When the pair move into their new home, Rachael receives the the surprising news that they’ll be sharing the vast manor with the previous owners, a German widower and his troublesome daughter, with predictably steamy results.
All attempts previous period dramas have made to sex up WWII have failed pretty dismally, so our hopes for this one are decidedly low.
Captive State (Dreamworks)
The director who initially jumpstarted the Planet of the Apes reboot back in 2011 returns to sci-fi with an intriguing premise that’s made all the more tantalising with the addition of John Goodman. In Captive State the world is no longer our own, and we follow the inhabitants of a Chicago neighborhood after its occupation from a hostile extra-terrestrial force. Not your average alien invasion movie, taking a page from District 9, this apocalyptic drama will trace the cataclysmic event through the eyes of both the captive, and the captors.
The Hummingbird Project (Item 7)
Follows in the footsteps of financial thrillers like The Big Short and Moneyball that take an initially flat sounding fiscal premise and spinning it into high-stakes games of cat and mouse and vicious takedowns of the world’s major monetary players. In this techno heist, director Kim Nguyen hacks his way through the world of High Frequency Trading, as New York cousins Vincent and Anton (Jesse Eisenberg and Alexander Skarsgård) hatch a plan to take down their old boss (Salma Hayek), and make millions in the process.
The Mustang (Canal+)
Exciting new French talent Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre teams with indie sensation Matthias Schoenaerts in a sensitive drama that effectively analyses the rehabilitation process. Violent inmate Roman Coleman is given the chance to train wild mustangs as part of a new prison therapy scheme. Those of you on top of your indie viewing may have had your heart broken by Lean on Pete, another quiet drama about the love shared between man and horse, so prepare for similar levels of anguish if the trend of crushing equine dramas is set to continue.
Five Feet Apart (CBS Films)
A Fault in Our Stars lookalike five years too late is probably a lateral move for Riverdale alum Cole Sprouse, but Hayley Lu Richardson (Columbus) should know better by now.
Wonder Park (Ilion Animation Studios)
An all-star cast support newcomer Brianna Denski in an imaginative ride through a make-believe theme park. One of those obscenely cheap disposable CGI fests with an interchangeable cast depending on where you’re seeing it. Those of you unlucky enough to live in the UK would do well to avoid this one, as some choice American stars have been replaced by the vocal stylings of its most irrating YouTube personalities.
Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase (A Very Good Production Inc.)
It breakout reveals in the latest attempt to revamp girl detective Nancy Drew that she desperately needs to fire her agent. Obviously filmed before her stunning work on the set of Sharp Objects alongside Amy Adams, let’s hope there’s less of these straight-to-DVD producer favors in the talented young actress’s promising future.
Finding Steve McQueen (AMBI Films)
Travis Fimmel attempts a second foray into a starring role after 2016’s rather disastrous video game adaptation Warcraft. This time the Vikings actor dons a widow’s peak, sideburns, and huge lapels for a 70s period flick in which a makeshift Rat Pack attempt to blackmail $30 million from Richard Nixon’s private fund.
Us (Monkeypaw Productions)
Ever since Get Out changed the career of Jordan Peele from a surrealist sketch comic to a social horror maestro, we’ve been chomping at the bit to see what the newest horror mastermind comes up with next. We’re pumped for his revamped The Twilight Zone, but it’s his second feature, Us, that’s taken the top spot for our most anticipated releases this year.
Starring Black Panther stars Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke as a couple venturing on a harmless family getaway, things soon turn sinister when a family of clones arrive at their doorways. Other than a vague glimpse at family tensions and doppelganger mayhem, the full extent of Peele’s genius machinations have yet to unfold, and we can’t wait to discover the surprises and scares he has in store.
The Dirt (10th Street Entertainment)
If you were less than impressed with the formulaic biopic style of Bohemian Rhapsody, and the glossy optimism of the trailer for upcoming Elton John film Rocketman had you rolling your eyes, The Dirt might be right up your alley. Featuring a subversive cast of Douglas Booth (Mary Shelley) and Machine Gun Kelly (Bird Box), we’ll follow the baddest behaviour and unruly music stylings of Mötley Crüe as they became one of the world’s most infamous rock bands.
Hotel Mumbai (A Hamilton and Electric Pictures Production)
Dev Patel and Armie Hammer co-star in a thrilling biopic following the tragic events of the 2008 attacks on the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in India. Hotel staff and guests alike join forces to protect themselves from one of history’s most devastating events.
Dumbo (Walt Disney Pictures)
Disney don’t care if you’re sick of endless “live-action” remakes of their beloved animated classics. At this point, it’s a licence to print money so Tim Burton’s Dumbo is set to be the first of four of these monstrosities set for release this year. The circus aesthetic would have made Burton the ideal choice maybe ten to fifteen years ago, but after Alice in Wonderland we’re a little sick of the once great visual storyteller parading around his favorite actors in gothic frills and white makeup.
The original Dumbo clocks in at just over an hour, but the remake promises over two hours of set dressing, needless action beats, and dreary songs to squeeze out all remaining magic from the 1941 predecessor. Disney’s animated tale of the elephant who could fly is still an absolute classic, so we’re praying that this one surprises us. Who knows, maybe Burtons got one last gem in him before he goes skipping back to his mansion with Johnny Depp on his arm.
The Beach Bum (Iconoclast)
Seven years to wait between Harmony Korine films isn’t quite long enough if you ask us, but if you insist that the faux-intellectual, #empowering, bikini-clad twaddle of Spring Breakers passed for great cinema in 2012 then by all means queue around the block for his latest exploration of ardent narcissism, The Beach Bum.
We admit that might be a little harsh, as his latest foray into sun-soaked thrillers does admittedly feature Matthew McConaughey and Snoop D-O-Double-G himself getting stoned for a clean 95 minute ride. Our partying days might be dwindling, but Korine might just be able to tempt us back if he catches us in a good mood this month.
Wounds (Annapurna Pictures)
Armie Hammer continues his streak of clearly trying to fit in as many low to mid-budget, short-term commitment indie flicks this year before he’s inevitably cast as the next Batman. In Wounds he stars alongside Dakota Johnson (Suspiria) as a bartender who unwittingly descends into a chaotic turn of events when he retrieves a lost phone from his bar after hours.
Unplanned (Pure Flix)
Anti-abortion drama that your hardcore Christian relatives will have somehow managed to see and force you to have an opinion of. Avoid at all costs.
The Highwayman (Casey Silver Productions)
Answers the question that literally no one was asking in your college film class the week you watched Bonnie & Clyde: “yeah, but what about the cops that caught them?” Featuring Woody Harrelson and Kevin Costner as the two Texas Rangers who tracked down America’s coolest partners in crime, tell your Dad to put this on his watchlist then forget about the whole thing.
A Vigilante (Badlands Entertainment)
Brutal revenge thriller starring Olivia Wilde in which a fierce street hero assists victims of domestic abuse. Don’t expect the technical prowess of a Lynne Ramsey film, but this could satiate your thirst for more vengeful bloodshed if you were a fan of last year’s You Were Never Really Here.