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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Your Winter Film Guide

The Hollywood blockbuster formula meets hard-to-tackle issues like mental health and the role of women.
By Laetitia Laubscher
June 12, 2015
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By Laetitia Laubscher
June 12, 2015
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Look, it's not Oscar season (industry favourites usually like being released around spring), which means that this winter season you'll be wading through American summer blockbuster films where Hollywood has flexed its prowess at remaking or finding reasons to make sequels, prequels and spin-offs of high-grossing hit films (I.e. Jurassic World, Terminator: Genisys, Minions, Ted 2, Magic Mike XXL, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, Fantastic Four). What those films guarantee you is the satisfaction of the Hollywood formula: star power, explosions, plots that hit all the beats and great CGI.

Luckily, formula mostly pays off (which is why they do it), and there are also enough interesting, new film on offer to keep you off the streets and in a dark, cosy theatre accompanied by your date, a nice bucket of warm, buttery popcorn (with peanut M&Ms scattered in between, if you please).

Below are those most noteworthy of the season, those which we will gladly fork out an hour's minimum wage to see.

Jurassic World

Dinosaurs. Explosions. Action. Steven Spielberg. The fourth edition of Jurassic Park saga, Jurassic World, is covered in tropes and expensive, well-done effects - and that is exactly what you want to see on a big screen. The plot follows Jack Hart's narrative arc perfectly and is about as satisfactory to watch as Sunday meals at your mother's house are to eat.

Out in cinemas now.

Far From the Maddening Crowd

Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan) is a strong, independent woman unfortunately born in the Victorian era. Based on Thomas Hardy's novel of the same name, Far From the Maddening Crowd follows Everdene's crisis of being torn between three love interests (lucky for some). Aesthetically, the film is almost as beautiful as a luminist painting, all brush strokes hidden in its plot and look.

In cinemas June 25.

Love and Mercy

Tackling the beast of a topic that is mental health, Love and Mercy is a touching and heart-wrenching portrait of the life of the mentally ill Brian Wilson, acclaimed songwriter and lead singer of the feel-good pop surfie band The Beach Boys. We recommend sneaking in a box of Kleenex to the theatre.

In cinemas June 25.

Madame Bovary

Another drama questioning the role of women by doing a little throwback to Victorian times, Madame Bovary is a modern take on a romance novel which, when it was initially released, was attacked for obscenity by public prosecutors. Mia Wasikowska plays Emma Bovary, a bored, restless country doctor's wife who turns to excessive luxury and lusty affairs to try rebel against the stifling restraints of being a woman during that period.

In cinemas July 9.

Paper Towns

We're biased because Cara Delevingne is in it, but Paper Towns also looks like a decent lite indie-rom film to neatly slot next to the likes of The Perks of Being a Wallflower in terms of vibe. It probably won't garner any awards, but it is perfect for a girls' movie night.

In cinemas July 16.

Selfless

The only sci-fi film to creep into the blockbuster season territory, Selfless does what any self-respecting sci-fi does well: asks deep, ethical and philosophical questions about humanity through a parabolic tale - but in case that's a bit too much for you to handle, also has lots of pretty gadgets and touching human interactions.

In cinemas July 23.

Amy

Amy is the story of the incredible English soul singer who spent the last hours of her life drinking vodka in her hotel room and watching Youtube videos of herself. After her death, her album Back to Black became posthumously the best selling album in the UK, at that point. The documentary of Amy Winehouse's 27 year-long life is based on footage harvested from chat shows, awards, events and private recordings made by friends and lovers. Peter Bradshaw from The Guardian called it "stunningly moving and powerful: intimate, passionate, often shocking, and almost mesmerically absorbing."

In cinemas August 6.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

First broadcasted as a spy TV series back in the mid to late sixties, the story of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. has been adopted by auteur-director Guy Ritchie and turned into what we we think may just be one of the best films of the year. Guy Ritchie was last seen crafting Snatch; Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels; and Sherlock Holmes, which great films to re-watch as a warm up for this cinematic jewel.

This is by far this is the film we're most excited to see this winter.

In cinemas August 13.

Irrational Man

Feel what you like about Woody Allen as a man, personally we think he's a total creep, but as a film director he has rightfully carved himself a place on the directing major leagues. The film emits all the promise of being great - Emma Stone, who just last year did a stellar job at playing the fucked up daughter of Riggan Thomson in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Birdman, is the key love interest; and Joaquin Phoenix is cast in the kind of role that he does best: playing a man with issues (see: Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, Spike Jonze's Her) - except this time, instead of unravelling, Phoenix's character, philosophy professor Abe, actually gets better. Sure it's a reversal of his usual take on things, but with the acting chops that Phoenix has (and the marvellous support of Stone's talent), it's bound to be a good one.

In cinemas August 13.

Southpaw

Oscar-nominated Jake Gyllenhaal is back after blurring the lines between journalism and criminal activity in Nightcrawler, with boxing film Southpaw. Rachel McAdams is his loving, compassionate wife Maureen who gets shot and killed after Gyllenhaal ("Billy Hope") does the typical 'macho' man thing and loses his cool after another boxer tries to start a fight with him at a fancy event. Gyllenhaal doesn't just lose his wife, but also custody of his daughter since he's just generally a bit of a mess. Now Hope must fight (unintentional pun) to get his life back together again. It may seem like a wrung-out formula, but you watch that trailer and tell me you didn't get at least a few goosebumps?

P.S. Oh and 50 Cent also makes an appearance as a serious actor, which we think is kind of interesting. It's been ages Fiddy, how you been?

In cinemas August 20.

Published on June 12, 2015 by Laetitia Laubscher

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