In a new feature for One Quart Magazine, Fiacha Harrington casts his eye over recent and upcoming films opening at a cinema complex near you. Welcome to Going To The Movies.
Armoton Maa, in cinemas now
Director: Jussi Hiltunen
Starring: Ville Virtanen, Antti Holma, Mikko Neuvonen, Jørgen Langhelle, Outi Mäenpää, Pernilla August, Malin Buska
Armoton Maa is set in a small village in rural Lappland close to the Swedish border. Lasse (Ville Virtanen) is a policeman on the verge of retirement. Jaakko (Antti Holma) who had previously terrorised the small village, has recently been released from prison and is set on a collision course with Erkki (Mikko Neuvonen), who is Lasse’s son. Lasse puts himself between the two young men and tries to prevent them from hurting one and other. This may be set in the snows of Lappland but what we actually have here is a classic western narrative where the sheriff is caught between opposing sides as they head towards the inevitable showdown.
La La Land, in cinemas now
Director: Damien Chazelle
Starring: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, J.K. Simmons, John Legend
Chazelle rose to fame recently with his movie Whiplash. La La Land keeps the viewer in the world of music and it is an ambitious musical which tells the story of star crossed lovers; aspiring actress Mia (Emma Stone) and quirky jazz musician Sebastian (Ryan Gosling). Set in modern day Los Angeles, La La Land has all the traits required of a classic musical while still providing something fresh and exciting for the viewer as we follow the dreams of the young couple. La La Land has already won a handful of awards at this year’s Golden Globes and is now nominated for a record number of Oscars.
Paterson, in cinemas now
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Starring: Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani
Paterson the movie tells the story of a young man called Paterson (played by Adam Driver) who lives in the town of Paterson. Paterson drives a bus and in his spare time and writes poetry. His daily life is followed over the course of a week wherein Paterson sticks to this exact daily routine. He lives with his eccentric wife Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) who is the polar opposite to the quiet Paterson. Paterson is content to spend his free time writing his poetry in his notebook that he carries with him at all times. This simple tale is fascinating to watch as Jim Jarmusch peels back the layers of everyday life and the young couple aspire to dream.
Tom of Finland, in cinemas 24.02.2017
Director: Dome Karukoski
Starring: Pekka Strang, Lauri Tilkanen, Jessica Grabowsky
Tom of Finland is aiming to become a landmark Finnish movie and is part of the celebrations surrounding 100 years of Finnish independence (which 2017 recognises). The film chronicles the life of artist Touko Laaksonen (Pekka Strang) who eventually came to be known around the world for the homoerotic art of Tom of Finland. We first meet Touko during World War Two but then a large section of the film details his life in post-war Helsinki as he lives with his sister (Jessica Grabowsky) – who is also an artist. At that time homosexuality was illegal in Finland and Touko keeps his drawings secret from everyone (even from his close sibling). Touko meets a young dancer Veli Mäkinen (Lauri Tikkanen) but their relationship remains undercover and a forbidden love. Touko’s early work travels to Los Angeles via Berlin and his pictures begin to develop a strong following overseas. After some time Touko travels abroad to see how his work has started a movement and meets many of his followers. The film is a careful study of the timid artist set against the changing times within the homosexual community.
Moonlight, In Cinemas 10.02.2017
Director: Barry Jenkins
Starring: Naomie Harris, André Holland, Mahershala Ali, Janelle Monáe, Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders, Jharrel Jerome’
Moonlight is a timeless tale of personal discovery and an exploration of community and friendship. We are told the story of Chiron through the performances of three gifted actors (Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes) who all inhabit a single character during three different time periods. Moonlight recounts Chiron’s coming of age in a tough Miami neighbourhood, first as an uncertain young boy befriended by a local drug dealer (Mahershala Ali), then as a bullied teenager grappling with his own sexuality and finally as an adult. The three distinct chapters in the movie show the development of Chiron’s identity as an individual who is pretty much left to his own devices. This fragile exploration is a coming of age drama that’s well worth a watch.
Toivon Tuolla Puolen, in cinemas 03.02.2017
Director: Aki Kaurismäki
Starring: Sherwan Haji, Sakari Kuosmanen, Janne Hyytiäinen, Nuppu Koivu, Ilkka Koivula, Simon Hussein Al-Bazoon, Kaija Pakarinen, Niroz Haji, Kati Outinen, Tommi Korpela, Tuomari Nurmio
Toivon Tuolla Puolen (roughly translates to On The Other Side of Hope). The movie is another multicultural exploration by Aki Kaurismaki. Toivon Tuolla Puolen is divided into two stories that come together over the course of the film. The first story is that of Khaled (Sherwan Haji) – a young Syrian refugee who has lost his family and had to smuggle himself into Finland where he is seeking asylum. The second story tells that of Wikström (Sakari Kuosmanen), a man in his mid-fifties who through a series of events tries to reinvent himself. What unfolds is classic Kaurismaki set against the backdrop of current events.
Live by night, in cinemas now
Director: Ben Affleck
Starring: Ben Affleck, Elle Fanning, Brendan Gleeson, Chris Messina, Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana, Chris Cooper
Since winning an Oscar for Argo, Ben Affleck seems to be concentrating more on his directorial career. For Live by Night (based on the Dennis Lehane novel), Affleck is back behind the camera and also in front of the camera as Joe Coughlin – a small time criminal in prohibition Boston who has the opportunity to join the big leagues with a fresh start in Florida. The central theme in this film is that all actions have consequences and the sins of the past will be revisited. This period piece is stunning to look at, but the main characters are unsavoury people who garner little sympathy.
American Pastoral, in cinemas now
Director: Ewan McGregor
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Jennifer Connelly, Dakota Fanning, David Strathairn, Uzo Aduba, Molly Parke
American Pastoral is the directorial debut of Ewan McGregor. McGregor has chosen to take on the no small challenge of adapting Philip Roth’s seminal novel of the same name. McGregor also stars in the central role of Seymour “Swede” Levovia, a former high school sports star who marries Dawn (Jennifer Connelly) – a beauty pageant star. Together they live an idyllic 1960s life that is shattered after their daughter Merry (Dakota Fanning) is implicated in the bombing of the local post office. The Swede is forced to reevaluate his life and to confront the wave of social change around him.
Patriots Day, in cinemas 24.02.2017
Director: Peter Berg
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, Kevin Bacon, J.K. Simmons, Michelle Monaghan.
Patriots Day recounts the events of the 2012 Boston marathon bombing and the race against time to find the perpetrators. The movie is a collection of both real life characters and fictitious police man Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg). The film is built around Wahlberg who is instrumental in keeping the different story lines together. Patriots Day is told from multiple perspectives including those of the actual bombers. What really drives this picture is the way in which the city of Boston and its people rally together to find the culprits.
Silence, in cinemas 17.02.2017
Director: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver
This film has been a labour of love for Martin Scorsese who has worked for twenty years to bring Shûsaku Endô’s novel to the big screen. Silence is vastly different to the majority of Scorsese’s repertoire. Set in 17th century Japan it follows two Jesuit priests (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) in search of their lost mentor (Liam Neeson). At the time Christianity was banned in Japan and those who practise the faith are forced to worship in secret and live in fear of persecution. Silence sees Scorsese bring to screen a very different kind of tale and it unfolds over painstaking time and follows the suffering of the priests as they search for their mentor.
xXx: Return of Xander Cage, in cinemas now
Director: D. J. Caruso
Starring: Vin Diesel, Samuel L. Jackson, Toni Collette, Ruby Rose, Nina Dobrev, Michael Bisping, Nicky Jam, Kris Wu, Deepika Padukone, Tony Jaa, Rory McCann ja Donnie Yen.
The story of this extreme sports/secret agent is one of the current franchises featuring Vin Diesel (Fast and Furious being the other). Both see new installments in 2017. First out of the gate we have the return of Xander Cage. This is a blend of crazy action stunts and humour with plausibility and reality being seriously pushed.
Other forthcoming movie releases in February include Rings, The Founder, John Wick Chapter 2, Fifty Shades Darker and T2 Trainspotting.