Once again Christmas is upon us, and 'tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la and all that stuff! With this in mind and before introducing the slew of big screen cinematic entertainment being released this week, it would be remiss of me not to wish my global readership all the very best for a Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year, and to thank-you all for your interest in my movie Blog Post ramblings, thoughts and opinions of the last twelve months. So, be safe; have fun; eat, drink, be merry; and in the immortal words of that great late Irish comedian Dave Allen, 'may your God, go with you'. Best wishes for the festive season, and for 2018 too . . . and we'll do it all again next year.
This week then in the big slot Christmas week, we kick off with a sequel to a jungle adventure film that pays homage to the big name and dearly departed actor and comedian who starred in the original 1995 offering upon which this film is based. We then move to a song and dance offering charting the rise to fame and fortune of a 19th century circus impresario; an animated feature themed around Mexico's Day of the Dead national holiday; with up next a film about good things coming in small packages and a group of pioneers who agree to groundbreaking miniaturisation technology with irreversible consequences. These are followed by an early '80's coming of age story set in the idyllic Northern Italian countryside during one Summer of discovery; a biopic of a pioneer for the disabled in Britain and around the world using his own experiences to bring hope and inspiration to others; before winding up with a French foreign language offering about a man in search of his biological father that takes him in all sorts of unexpected directions.
Whatever your taste in big screen film entertainment is this week - be it any of the seven latest release films as Previewed below, or those doing the rounds currently on general release and as Reviewed and Previewed in previous Blog Posts here at Odeon Online, you are here cordially invited to share your movie going thoughts, opinions and observations by leaving your relevant, succinct and appropriate views in the Comments section below this or any other Post. We'd love to hear from you, and in the meantime, enjoy your big screen Odeon experience during the week ahead.
'JUMANJI : WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE' (Rated PG) - in 1995 the fantasy adventure film 'Jumanji' was released as Directed by Joe Johnston based on the 1981 children's book of the same name by Chris Van Allsburg. That film starred the late great Robin Williams as Alan Parrish trapped inside the Jumanji board game while playing with his friend in 1969. 26 years later Parrish is released by two unwitting new players who free the now adult Alan. After tracking down his friend whom he played the game with originally, the foursome must now complete the game in order to reverse all the destruction and mayhem it has caused. Off a production budget of US$65M that film grossed US$263M despite generally lacklustre Reviews, and despite its cutting edge CGI at the time. Now in 2017, we have a standalone sequel to that earlier film in the form of this action adventure comedy offering that is said to be a tribute to Robin Williams who died in 2014. Directed by Jake Kasdan and Co-Written for the screen by him too and costing US$90M the film has so far taken US$30M, was released in the US last week and has so far received mixed Reviews.
'THE GREATEST SHOWMAN' (Rated PG) - the beginnings of this film date back to 2009 when the project was first announced with Hugh Jackman headlining the cast and Michael Gracey slated to Direct in 2011. Since then the film has stalled with studios not wanting to take the risk on an original musical, until now. And so this biographical musical drama film is Directed by Australian Michael Gracey in his feature film debut, cost US$84M to bring to the screen, was released Stateside on 20th December and is nominated for three Golden Globes due to be presented in early January - those being Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Song. The story here surrounds how Phineas Taylor Barnum (aka P.T. Barnum who lived from 1810 until 1891) played by Hugh Jackman, started the Barnum & Bailey Circus and in so doing kick started show business. Charting the life of the man who rose from nothing to create a circus spectacular that went onto become a worldwide sensation that ran from 1871 through until 2017 (closing its doors for the final time six months before the Premier of this film), and the myriad of artists who performed under the Big Top and within the travelling Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Also starring Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Rebecca Fergusson, and Zendaya, the film has so far grossed US$8M.
'COCO' (Rated PG) - here Pixar Animation have pulled out all the stops to bring us a big budget CG animated musical fantasy film at a cost of US$175M, and is the first film with such a price tag to feature an all-Latino cast. Directed, and based on an original notion by Lee Unkrich, the film is based on the Mexican national holiday The Day of the Dead, and here follows a twelve year old lad named Miguel Rivera (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez) who despite his family's generations-old ban on music, dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colourful Land of the Dead. After meeting a charming trickster named Héctor (Gael Garcia Bernal), the two new friends embark on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel's family history, while seeking the help of his musician great-great-grandfather to return him to his family among the living. The film Premiered at Mexico's Morelia International Film Festival and was released there the weekend before The Day of the Dead, and went on to become the highest grossing film in the country's history. It has been nominated for two Golden Globes to be announced in early January - Best Song and Best Animated Motion Picture and has so far garnered thirteen award wins and another 47 nominations, as well as taking US$463M at the global Box Office to date. 'Coco' has been Critically acclaimed in particular for its strong voice cast, quality of animation, songs and score, its emotionally driven storyline and its overarching respect to the culture of Mexico.
'DOWNSIZING' (Rated M) - this Sci-Fi comedy drama film is Directed, Co-Produced and Co-Written by Alexander Payne, whose previous credits include 'Election', 'About Schmidt', 'Sideways', 'The Descendants' and 'Nebraska', had its world Premier screening at the Venice International Film Festival in late August and went on release in the US just last week. The film tells the story of a possible solution of over population, by shrinking humans to a height of just 13cms (five inches) after scientists in Norway discover a safe way of doing so. The procedure however, cannot be reversed. When stressed out Omaha living couple Paul and Audrey Safranek (Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig respectively) sign up for the procedure and the chance to move to a new experimental community and establish a new life for themselves, whilst learning to adapt to their radically changed circumstances, a whole new world of adventure and discovery ensues. Also starring Christoph Waltz and Jason Sudeikis. The film cost US$68M to make, and has so far received generally favourable Reviews.
'CALL ME BY YOUR NAME' (Rated M) - this universally acclaimed film by Director and Co-Producer Luca Guadagnino was written for the screen by James Ivory and is based on the 2007 novel of the same name by Andre Aciman. Set during the Summer of 1983 in Lombardy in Northern Italy, the film chronicles the unfolding coming of age romantic relationship between Jewish/American boy Elio Perlman (Timothee Chalamet) a seventeen year old introspective bibliophile and musical prodigy, and Oliver (Armie Hammer) an American/Jewish carefree and outgoing graduate student employed by Elio's archaeological professor father Samuel Perlman (Michael Stuhlbarg) to help the young lad with his academic studies. Amid the sun filled splendor of their environment, the beauty of the Northern Italian landscape, and the emotional bond that is forged between the two, Elio and Oliver discover the heady beauty of awakening desire over the course of a Summer that will impact their lives forever. The film was made on a shoestring budget of just US$3.5M and has so far recovered that sum since its release in the UK in late October and the US in late November. The film had its world Premier at last January's Sundance Film Festival and has so far picked up 31 award wins and another 79 nominations including three Golden Globe nods and a SAG nod to be announced early in 2018. The majority of these award wins and nominations have been for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor for Timothee Chalamet and Best Supporting Actor for Armie Hammer and Michael Stuhlbarg.
'BREATHE' (Rated M) - here we have Andy Serkis Directing this biographical drama film based on the life of Robin Cavendish who lived from 1930 until 1994, and who at the age of 28 developed polio and was paralysed from the neck down. Despite being initially given only three months to live, Cavendish was able to breathe only with the use of a mechanical respirator, and became a tireless advocate for disabled people, instrumental in organising the first records of the number of 'responauts' (those reliant on a mechanical respirator to breathe) in Britain and helping to develop numerous devices to provide independence to paralysed people. The film tells the very personal story of Robin's early life, his paralysis and how he became a pioneering advocate for the disabled, through his travels around the world with his devoted wife Diana giving inspiration and hope to others just like him, all the while defying medical experts by becoming one of the longest living polio survivors in Britain. Andrew Garfield stars as Robin Cavendish, Claire Foy as his wife Diana, with Tom Hollander and Hugh Bonneville too.
'JUST TO BE SURE' (Rated M) - this French romantic comedy offering screened in the Directors Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, is Directed by Carine Tardieu and has garnered positive Reviews by Critics and audiences alike. When 45-year-old widower Erwan (François Damiens) discovers by accident that that man who raised him isn’t in fact his real father, he begins a search for his biological one. Thanks to a local lesbian private detective he soon locates the mischievous, 70-something Joseph (Andre Wilms), whom his mother knew briefly. Erwan soon falls not only for his charm, but that of the impetuous Anna (Cécile de France), who has ties to them both. But the conflicting loyalties become complicated by the pregnancy of his own daughter, who defiantly refuses to name the father, referring to him only as Zorro whom she met briefly at a fancy dress party. Very soon Erwan’s families begin to collide, to unexpected, hilarious and moving effect. The film cost US$6M to make and has so far grossed US$5.5M.
With seven new release films this week to tempt you out to your local Odeon, remember to share your movie going thoughts with your other like minded cinephiles afterwards here at Odeon Online, and meanwhile, I'll see you sometime somewhere in the week ahead at your local Odeon.
-Steve, at Odeon Online-