Last Week on Screen

Getting into January is always a good time in terms of movies released in the UK. It is the start of the major part of the award season and this month is a good gauge of who are the front runners for the major prizes. This year, some of the ceremonies are scheduled a little later due to the writers and actors strikes in the second half of last year, With those resolved UK cinemas are once again getting to screen some of the major contenders.

To that end, in the last week, there were a couple of very good releases, First up for me was Poor Things. This much-touted film exceeded expectations in a major way. It is an astonishing film that boasts a magnificent central performance from Emma Stone. She is not the only one on form as the film boasts memorable performances from just about everyone involved. On top of that, the story, direction, cinematography and set design make it a must-see.

Right up there in terms of performances is the new Alexander Payne film, The Holdovers. Set in an elite boarding school; in 1970 the film focuses on a group of people with nowhere to go during the Christmas holidays. It is a tender and thoroughly engaging drama. It has the look and feel of a movie from the period and Paul Giamatti award-winning performance is a joy.

One film that won’t be bothering any awards is the new George Clooney directed, real-life drama, The Boys in the Boat. This is a glossy, well-made, by-the-numbers sports movie. It looks nice but has little substance. This is an obstacle race of a film in that there is a problem, it is overcome then another and another. The fact that only one of the boat crew is highlighted for any progression just adds to the boredom.

The last film on a busy week was a nice surprise. Mean Girls was a film I saw on its release but I had never seen the stage show so the film version came as a pleasant surprise to me. it is a fast-paced, very funny and well put together movie. The songs are all great and it is totally engaging spectacle. The Halloween costume song was the highlight but there is not a duff number in the whole film.

John McArthur
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