Cinema or Netflix? Disney+ or Amazon? With so many ways to watch fabulous films, James King presents his brand new weekly movie recommendations covering all your favourite platforms. Enjoy the Big Seven!
The Railway Children Return (cinemas)
It might be nearly 52 years since the original Railway Children movie was released, but this sequel is just as charming, moving, and magical as the first film. Taking place during the Second World War, Jenny Agutter returns to her iconic role as Bobbie Waterbury, now teaming up with her daughter Annie (Sheridan Smith) to host three young and adventurous evacuees from Manchester. You get beautiful scenery, you get a wonderful score, you get some undeniably powerful moments. Mainly though this is feel-good fun - one of those rare films to be enjoyed by grandparents, parents and children alike.
WATCH: The Railway Children Returns trailer
The Gray Man (cinemas; Netflix from the 22nd July)
You can certainly see the big money spent by Netflix on their latest action blockbuster, The Gray Man. Spectacular explosions mingle with huge set-pieces, all shot in umpteen locations by the team behind Avengers: Endgame and featuring the glitziest cast of the year (Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Ana De Armas, Billy Bob Thornton, Regé-Jean Page and Indian superstar Dhanush). Does that make this story of a mysterious CIA assassin who uncovers his superiors’ questionable behaviour a classic? Not quite. It’s pity as much time wasn’t spent on the dialogue as it was the action. But Chris Evans is especially fun as a sleazy gun-for-hire, ultimately cancelling out the film’s more pedestrian moments.
Jane Austen’s classic novel gets a very Bridgerton-style makeover - full of cheeky, modern dialogue and attitudes - with Fifty Shades’ Dakota Johnson in the lead role as lovelorn Anne Elliott. Will she ever marry or has she, at the ripe old age of 27(!), left it too late? It’s certainly not an Austen adaptation for the purists and some moments feel a little too desperate to seem cool and contemporary but Johnson is the real deal. She might have been raised as Hollywood royalty (as the daughter of Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith) but she’s also got the talent to make even the patchiest of literary adaptations watchable.
The Father (Netflix)
Sir Anthony Hopkins won an Oscar for playing the title character of this haunting drama, an eighty-year-old living in his London flat and trying to cope with dementia. Various members of his family come to visit but the film’s USP is its impressive sleight of hand, capturing the old man’s confusion by subtly altering the decor of the flat, even changing actors’ roles, from scene to scene, clever mirroring his increasingly loose grip on reality. It’s Hopkins at his most bewitching.
Spiderman: No Way Home (Sky Cinema)
The best Spiderman film ever! Picking up the storyline from Tom Holland’s previous two outings as Peter Parker, No Way Home’s genius is its use of a ‘multiverse’, allowing for previous Spidey actors Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire to make scene-stealing appearances. After all, with infinite parallel universes to play with, anything is possible. Add in some retro villains too and this really is a clever and thrilling combination of the new and old. If you’ve never watched a Spiderman film before, this might be too confusing a place to start. For everyone else though, enjoy this triumphant celebration of perhaps Marvel’s best-loved superhero - in all his guises.
Don’t Make Me Go (Amazon)
A road trip between single dad Max (Jon Cho) and his teenage daughter Wally (Mia Isaac) proves to be a bonding experience in this warm-hearted, gently funny drama told with an enjoyably leisurely pace. That’s not to say it’s not packed with issues: teen romance, middle-aged dating and a secret illness all cause problems on the journey from California down to Florida. But this is a film that’s never heavy-handed, trusting its audience to go with it to some surprising places. Wonderfully emotional.
Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham-Carter, Anne-Marie Duff and Meryl Streep rally the troops in this motivational costume drama - based on true events - about female activists in early twentieth century London, campaigning for women’s rights. As a film that champions groundbreaking rebels, it’s all a little too conventionally told but the message it carries is more than powerful enough - and still all too relevant - to rouse and inspire. With those powerhouse actors on board, could it be anything else?
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