Film

Churchill/ Gifted/ Hampstead Heath

Mid month sees the release of Churchill (June 16). There have been some wonderful on-screen representation of Churchy in recent times (Timothy Spall in the Kings Speech and Jon Lithgow spring to mind), and this month Brian Cox becomes the latest to pick up the bowler hat and cigar.

Here is a little-known fun fact about Churchill: he was extremely bad with money. Like, Greek-government-circa-2010 bad with money. By 1938, his taste for fine cigars, race horses and “silk undergarments” had all but bankrupted him, but by the time he left office in 1945 he was a wealth man.

You see, Winston Churchill was as fine a hustler as he was a statesman, and had no qualms about using his personal brand to make it rain. Imagine the ruthless drive of a lavish Kardashian wrapped up in the body of a chain-smoking bulldog: that’s Churchy.

But I digress. Churchill is set in June 1944, just as the Allied Forces are on the verge of the D Day landings. A nervous Churchill fears that the disastrous events of Gallipoli will be repeated if the invasion fails, taking his career and the lives of countless soldiers with it.

But can Churchill put down the Harrods catalogue long enough to keep the Gerrys at bay? The fact that you’re reading this in English, not German, might be a bit of a spoiler but what better way to mark the 73rd anniversary of the D Day landings that watching the original Hannibal Lector (Cox) pretend to be Winston Churchill for a few hours?

In other news: who’s your favourite movie actor called Chris? Pine? Pratt? It’s Hemsworth isn’t it? Mine is Captain America himself, Chris Evans, even though he loses points for having the same name as the UK’s Chris Evans (ew). Anyway, Evans tries on a gentler persona this month in Gifted (June 16), where the only enemies to be battled are the ones that come from raising your prematurely deceased sister’s intellectually gifted child (uncertainty, interference from social services, not knowing how to tie a pony tail, etc.)

The story follows simple, but inconspicuously handsome, boat mechanic Frank (Evans) who’s been raising precocious Mary, a six year-old mathematics prodigy. When Frank realises he is just too darn simple and handsome to home-school the mini Carol Vorderman, he ships he off to the local school to learn how to do more maths and probably, some cyber bullying.

But Mary’s gift draws the attention of school administrators (and her estranged grandmother) who all want to push her to greater heights. Soon, there’s a custody battle and Frank is forced to make some difficult decisions about what the best thing is for his beloved niece. Boo! You should probably bring tissues to this one.

Finally this month, Hampstead Heath (June 23), in which an American (Diane Keaton) falls in love with a quirky and dishevelled park-dweller (Brendan Gleeson).

Keaton plays a widow who must have been married to a Russian oligarch, since she can afford property in Hampstead. Anyway, one day she espies beardy Brendan exiting the pond next to the shack he lives in like an Aldi Mr Darcy, and is instantly smitten. (Interesting aside: Gleeson also played Churchill, in 2009’s Into The Storm.)

So, when wicked property developers try buy the land so they can knock up some luxury apartments, Keaton’s character enlists the help of all her endearingly rich mates who pool their money, buy out the property developers and drown Gleeson in the pond as soon as possible before knocking up their own prestige living spaces.

Just kidding! Or maybe I’m not. There’s only one way to find out!

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Film

Raw/ The Handmaiden/ Handsome Devil

This month sees the release of French horror Raw (April 7). Be warned: paramedics were called after some Toronto film goers fainted during a screening of the movie. Cinemas in LA even provided audiences members with sick bags on the way in film. So, you know, maybe don’t fill up on steak tartare and foie gras before you go.

Raw follows the life of Justine, a precocious vegetarian veterinarian student who turns from plant-eater to ravenous cannibal after being forced to eat a raw rabbit liver during a vet school initiation.

After going full-Hannibal on the bunny liver, Justine’s appetite for organs and offal escalates point where only the rarest (pun definitely intended) meat of all will do: human. As director Julia Ducournau has been quick to clarify, Raw is no generic gore-fest; though it maybe gruesome it is also a nuanced coming-of-age story which deserves more than to be classed as garden-variety ‘body horror’.

Mid month sees the release of the The Handmaiden (April 14), based on Sarah Water’s 2005 lesbian classic novel Fingersmith. However, director Park Chan-wook (Lady Vengeance, Oldboy) has transplanted the action from Victorian-era Britain to 1930s Korea, during the Japanese occupation.

Anyway, the action centres on Tamako, a poor villager hired by well-to-do Japanese heiress Lady Hideko to be her handmaiden. So, Tamako packs her bags and heads off for a life off domestic servitude in a Lady Hideko’s plush country pile. But – dun, dun, dun! – there is a twist! Tamako is actually a con-woman named Sook-hee working a partner, Count Fujiwara, to cheat Lady H out of her riches. This is easier said then done, however, especially when Sook-hee begins to develop feelings for Lady H.

Also this month, another coming-of-age movie (sans entrails this time, thankfully), Irish-made Handsome Devil (April 21). Set in a rugby-mad boys boarding school it follows two opposites, nerdy, musical Ned and rugger alpha male Conor, who become unlikely allies after being forced to bunk together.

Ned (Fionn O’Shea) is sent to boarding school by his disinterested father (Ardal O’Hanlon) and wicked stepmother (Amy Huberman), despite hating rugby, and the regular bullying that inevitably comes with hating rugby in a sports-obsessed school. When handsome rugby legend Conor (Nicholas Galitzine) is assigned to his room Ned immediately assumes the worst and erects a ‘Berlin Wall’ to keep himself safe.

But Conor isn’t simply one-dimensional meat-head worthy of only Ned’s contempt – he is a man of hidden depths, as Ned eventually discovers. Written and directed by novelist John Butler and featuring an amazing cast (which includes Sherlock’s Andrew Scott AND Game of Thrones‘ villainous Michael McElhatton), Handsome Devil is a solid Irish movie, and a worthy addition to the pantheon of excellent recent Irish movie releases (A Date for Mad Mary, Young Offenders, Sing Street).

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