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 Room For Rent, Permanent, The Icebreaker, I Am Gangster, The 15:17 To Paris, Coco, and I Do… Until I Don’t.
15th October – Room For Rent
Synopsis: Teenage lottery winner Mitch has squandered his spoils and now finds himself living back in the family home. When his soon-to-retire dad suggests downsizing, Mitch – to avoid having to move out – suggests that they rent a room. However, their tenant is the mysterious Carl, who quickly engages in a battle of wits with Mitch.
Director: Matthew Atkinson
Cast: Brett Gelman, Mark Little, Mark McKinney, Carla Gallo, Stephanie Weir, and Patrick J Adams
16th October – Permanent
Synopsis: Eager to fit in at a new school before the term begins, teenage Auralie badgers her parents, Jean and Jim, into allowing her to get a curly perm haircut. However, the botched result invites ridicule from her new schoolmates.
Director: Colette Burson
Cast: Patricia Arquette, Rainn Wilson, Kira McLean, and Nena Daniels
17th October – The Icebreaker (Ledokol)
Synopsis: With a huge iceberg drifting inexorably towards the Russian icebreaker, Captain Petrov takes evasive action and the vessel finds itself in an ice trap. With fuel running out and nerves on edge, the crew is left drifting off the coast of Antarctica, the risk of an icy death a constant thought. Based on a true story, the film is in Russian with English subtitles.
Director: Nikolay Khomeriki
Cast: Pyotr Fyodorov, Sergey Puskepalis, Aleksandr Pal, Vitaliy Khaev, Aleksey Barabash, Olga Smirnova, and Anna Mikhalkova
18th October – I Am Gangster
Synopsis: A story of Los Angeles gang culture following three young Latino men – bullied high-school graffiti artist Rio, hardcore gang-banger Miguel, and a prison officer, Flores, who is under peer pressure to go along with the jail’s corrupt culture.
Director: Moritz Rechenberg
Cast: Rick Mancia, Abraham Bobadilla, Gilberto Ortiz, Marlene Forte, Alex Ortiz, and Gordy Abriel
19th October – The 15:17 To Paris
Synopsis: The true story of three American friends who thwarted an Isis terrorist travelling on a speeding Thalys train bound for Paris from Brussels. Armed with an AK-47, a pistol, a box cutter, and enough ammo to knock the train carrying 500 people off the rails, the terrorist was foiled by the three friends acting in unison. The real-life heroic trio play themselves – Anthony Sadler, Oregon National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos, and US Air Force Airman Spencer Stone.
Director: Clint Eastwood
Cast: Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone, Ray Corasani, Judy Greer, and Jenna Fischer
Review: I love the idea of casting the real-life heroes in their roles. The idea doesn’t completely work as they obviously aren’t trained actors, but I was more than willing to forgive some of their emotionless deliveries because of what they did on that day. It’s interesting to see the story behind the event, but there’s very little action until those final moments and not enough to keep you fully engaged. Definitely not one Eastwood’s best.
20th October – Coco
Synopsis: Pixar’s latest sees 12-year-old Miguel cross over from Mexico’s Land of the Dead to take part in Dia de Los Muertos celebrations, after his hopes of becoming a musician are dashed by a family rule that forbids any form of music after his great-great-grandfather was said to have abandoned his loved ones in pursuit of his singing career. Nevertheless, Miguel chases his muse, but must now find a way back to his family.
Directors: Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina
Voice Cast: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Renee Victor, and Jaime Camil
Review: Beautifully animated with vibrant colours and patterns, as it should be being inspired by the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday, Coco is a beautiful story about life. But, most notably, it is also about death, because to be remembered in death, you need to have lived a good life. Mexico has a beautiful tradition of celebrating the dead with their Day of the Dead festival, allowing themes which are usually quite difficult to talk about to be explored in a beautiful and magical way. It is a story that has meaning and honesty, and that’s why it’s one that won’t easily be forgotten.
Disney and Pixar are making a point of exploring different cultures and characters recently. From Scotland to Polynesia, it is important for family animations to introduce our children to new worlds and experiences, but also for studios such as Pixar and Disney to keep up with modern times for two reasons. Firstly, to avoid outdated stereotypes of princesses awaiting their princes that are no longer relevant, but also to teach the rest of the world about different people, places, and traditions, and to make younger generations more open-minded and excited about the world.
With more brilliantly written songs, Coco is a beautifully crafted story about being true to yourself and the importance of family. It may not be the first Mexican themed animation, but being created by the powerhouse that is Pixar will ensure that it is one of the most acclaimed. With that in mind, they have explored this culture with respect and curiosity, balanced with the key elements of a Disney film – an empowering lead, an exciting adventure, and an emotional obstacle to overcome. Although the antagonist of the story feels somewhat misfitted as he almost becomes a villain, the story at heart is one that will fill yours.
21st October – I Do… Until I Don’t
Synopsis: When a BBC crew documenting marriage rolls into her Florida town, Alice offers up her moribund match to Noah as suitable material. Meanwhile, showrunner Vivian is tracking two other couples: bickering long-termers Cybil and Harvey, and Alice’s bohemian sister Fanny, who has an open marriage with Zander.
Director: Lake Bell
Cast: Lake Bell, Ed Helms, Mary Steenburgen, Paul Reiser, Amber Heard, Wyatt Cenac, and Dolly Wells