Since I don’t get to the cinema to see new releases that often anymore, this is my new weekly feature reviewing the latest releases on Sky Cinema Premiere (and in turn, Now TV). I will write a short review and rating for each of the films that I have watched and then give you the details for the ones that I didn’t get a chance to see.
This week’s feature sees the release of Devil’s Gate, Affairs of State, Wings of Eagles, Modern Life is Rubbish, Daddy’s Home 2, Hostiles, and Half Magic.
17th September – Devil’s Gate (also known as Abduction)
Synopsis: Set in the small town of Devil’s Gate, North Dakota, the film, the film follows an FBI agent and local deputy who head off in the search for his missing wife and young son. However, upon entering the derelict pile, they find something far more terrifying than what they’ve been looking for.
Director: Clay Staub
Cast: Amanda Schull, Shawn Ashmore, Milo Ventimiglia, Bridget Regan, Jonathan Frakes, and Sarah Constible
18th September – Affairs Of State
Synopsis: Young and ruthlessly ambitious political campaign aide Michael Lawson will do anything in his quest for power – including blackmailing the dodgy advisor to his boss and sleeping with his wife. However, when he gets involved with the senator’s daughter, he realises that he’s in it way over his head when he ends up bleeding out on the side of an empty road at night.
Director: Eric Bross
Cast: David Corenswet, Thora Birch, Adrian Grenier, Mimi Rogers, David James Elliott, and Grace Victoria Cox
19th September – Wings of Eagles
Synopsis: Drama based on the true story of how Chinese-born, Scottish Olympic gold medal sprinter Eric Liddell devoted the rest of his life to Christian missionary work in his home city of Tianjin. With the arrival of the brutal Japanese Army in WWII, Liddell stuck closely to his faith, arranging to have food smuggled into his internment camp and refusing a prisoner swap brokered by Winston Churchill.
Directors: Stephen Shin and Michael Parker
Cast: Joseph Fiennes, Elizabeth Arends, Jesse Kove, Augusta Xu-Holland, and Shawn Dou
20th September – Modern Life Is Rubbish
Synopsis: Bought together by their love of music, the film follows the failing relationship between wannabe London pop star Liam and his bill-paying, long-suffering girlfriend Natalie. Liam can’t let go of his vinyl collection and refuses to adapt to a world of smartphones and instant downloads, whilst Natalie has to let go of her dream of designing album covers to become a rising star at her advertising firm. As they make the difficult decision to separate, can the soundtrack that defined their relationship draw them back together?
Director: Daniel Jerome Gill
Cast: Josh Whitehouse, Freya Mavor, Tom Riley, Steven Mackintosh, Jessie Cave, Daisy Bevan, and Ian Hart
Review: I actually really liked this. It won’t be for everyone, but if you like soundtrack films like Nick and Norah’s Playlist, Sunshine on Leith, and God Help the Girl, then this indie “indie” will be right up your street.
The cast is brilliant, featuring two stars of Skins Generation 3 – Freya Mavor and Will Merrick. With Jessie Cave, as well, they are a fresh and talented group of underrated, modern actors. There are also some great themes explored, especially around Liam not wanting to give up his music collection to give in and get an iPod like everybody else. It’s also interesting to learn that the film is based on the director’s short film about the classic scenario of a couple separating their CDs at the end of a relationship. It’s something we don’t have to do anymore, and the same will be for film collections in the near future, which is quite sad really.
Whilst I really liked the soundtrack and the part that it plays, the film could have benefited from more of Josh Whitehouse’s performances as I really liked My Liquorice Allsort Girl, and also with more of Freya Mavor singing as she has a lovely voice, too.
21st September – Daddy’s Home 2
Synopsis: Following on from 2014’s successful comedy, this time, warring fathers Dusty and Brad, having finally gotten used to each other’s existence, must bury their differences to welcome their own dads – alpha male Kurt and soppy Whitaker – into the bosom of the family at Christmas.
Director: Sean Anders
Cast: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Mel Gibson, and John Lithgow
Review: Up until the last 10 minutes or so it was actually quite bearable. Certainly better than the first film anyway. But it’s definitely far too cringey in its closing scenes. It’s obvious that they only made this film because of how much money the first film made, but it could have been so much so I’m just thankful for Mel Gibson.
22nd September – Hostiles
Synopsis: In 1892, New Mexico settler Rosalie is mourning the murder of her family by Comanches when she runs into racist army officer Blocker, who has been ordered to accompany dying Cheyenne chief Yellow Hawk to his Montana homeland so that he can be properly buried. After chancing upon Rosalie while on the trail, Blocker takes her under his wing. But first, he has to overcome the threat of Ben Foster’s menacing thug while growing to empathise with his American Indian charges.
Director: Scott Cooper
Cast: Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Wes Studi, Jesse Plemons, Adam Beach, Rory Cochrane. and Peter Mullan
Review: Gripping and gorgeously shot, Hostiles does well to hold your attention despite quite frequent lulls. It’s a beautiful looking western with a sturdy plot and excellent performances. I feel like I haven’t seen Christian Bale in ages so this was a great role for him, but it’s Rosamund Pike who steals your attention.
23rd September – Half Magic
Synopsis: Three female friends – aspiring screenwriter Honey, unhappily divorced fashion designer Eva, and irrepressible mystic Candy – navigate the choppy waters of relationships with a vast range of unsuitable, dominating men, only to learn that female empowerment will get them what they want, But first, they must learn to love themselves before doing anything else.
Director: Heather Graham
Cast: Heather Graham, Angela Kinsey, Stephanie Beatriz, Molly Shannon, Chris D’Elia, Thomas Lennon, and Alex Beh