The films to see in York this month – February 2018

Love is in the air and in the water tank in two of this month’s biggest releases.

Daniel Day-Lewis’ buttoned-down clothes maker falls for a strong-willed waitress in Phantom Thread, while Sally Hawkins has a major case of guppy love in Guillermo del Toro’s fantasy The Shape of Water.

If you’re not in the mood for romance though, there’s plenty of other options available – from a tale of figure skating skulduggery to the first solo outing for Marvel’s Black Panther

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Drama

Phantom Thread

Cert 15, 130 mins

Vue York, City Screen, Everyman

From Fri Feb 2

Movie website

A new film from Magnolia director Paul Thomas Anderson is always an event, and this one comes with the added significance of being star Daniel Day-Lewis’ swansong – he announced his decision to retire as an actor last summer.

Reuniting Anderson with Day-Lewis for the first time since 2007’s There Will Be Blood, the film sees Day-Lewis play Reynolds Woodcock, a renowned couturier in 1950s London whose fashion house, co-owned with his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville), is the toast of the town.

The confirmed bachelor’s meticulously arranged lifestyle is thrown into disarray when he falls for young, strong-willed waitress Alma (Vicky Krieps ).

The highly acclaimed film also has a starring role for the Yorkshire Coast, with scenes having been shot around Whitby, Lythe and Robin Hood’s Bay, where the Victoria Hotel played host to the first meeting between Woodcock and Alma – which, in keeping with Day-Lewis’ well known penchant for method acting, was also the first time the two actors had met each other.

Journey’s End

Cert 12A, 108 mins

Vue York, City Screen, Everyman

From Fri Feb 2

Movie website

A timely release for this new film adaptation of R. C. Sherriff’s moving First World War play, which is coming out just before the 100th anniversary of the Spring Offensive of March 1918, in the run-up to which it is set.

The film focusses on a group of soldiers in the front-line trenches as they await the German attack.

They’re joined by eager young recruit Raleigh (Asa Butterfield, the former child star of WWII drama The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas) – much to the displeasure of their war-weary, alcohol-soaked Captain, Stanhope (Sam Claflin), who is engaged to Raleigh’s sister and doesn’t want the younger man to see how the war has changed him.

A fine cast includes Paul Bettany, Stephen Graham and Toby Jones, and the director is Saul Dibb, who was responsible for 2014’s wartime romance Suite Francaise.

Fifty Shades Freed

Cert TBC, TBC mins

Vue York

From Fri Feb 9

Movie website

Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan return for the third and final instalment of the franchise based on EL James’ erotic novels.

Fifty Shades Freed sees Ana (Johnson) and Christian (Dornan) start a new life together as a married couple – but their wedded bliss is soon put under threat.

Critics and audiences largely seemed to find last year’s sequel Fifty Shades Darker inferior to the first chapter – given that the new film was shot back to back with Darker, that possibly doesn’t bode too well…

The Shape Of Water

Cert 15, 123 mins

Vue York, City Screen, Everyman

From Weds Feb 14

Movie website

It’s perhaps surprising to find a fantasy romance between a woman and a sea creature leading the pack in this year’s Oscar race, but Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water has done just that, with 13 nominations including best picture and best director.

The story’s mix of fantasy, monster movie and old-fashioned romance has seen several critics calling it del Toro’s best film since Pan’s Labyrinth.

Set in Cold War-era America, it tells the story of Elsa (the always excellent Sally Hawkins), a mute, isolated woman working as a cleaner in a top secret government facility – where she discovers and bonds with a mysterious scaled creature being kept in a water tank.

Their blossoming relationship comes under threat from a hostile government agent (Michael Shannon) who wants to kill the creature, prompting Elsa to come to his rescue.

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Comedy-Drama

Lady Bird

Cert 15, 94 mins

Vue York, City Screen, Everyman

From Fri Feb 16

Movie website

This charming-looking coming of age tale marks the directorial debut of US indie movie queen Greta Gerwig (star and co-writer of Frances Ha and Mistress America).

Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn) stars as the title character, an artistically inclined seventeen-year-old in Sacramento, California.

Set in the early 2000s, the story follows her eventful final year of high school, and her turbulent but loving relationship with her mother (Laurie Metcalf, aka Sheldon’s mum in The Big Bang Theory ).

There have been rave reviews for this film, which earned a standing ovation at the Toronto International Film Festival, and has seen Gerwig pick up Oscar nominations for directing and screenplay, as well as best actress and supporting actress nods for Ronan and Metcalf.

If that doesn’t persuade you, perhaps the endearingly impassioned letters Gerwig wrote to various musicians asking to use their songs in the film will (though if you want to know absolutely nothing about what happens in the film, best to avoid).

Real-Life Drama

The Mercy

Cert 12A, 102 mins

Vue York, City Screen

From Fri Feb 9

Colin Firth stars as amateur sailor Donald Crowhurst, whose attempt to win a non-stop round-the-world yacht race in 1968 ended in both failure and mystery.

The film shows Crowhurst’s preparations for the race, including building his own boat, before following his perilous time alone at sea while his wife Clare (Rachel Weisz) and children anxiously await news of his progress.

Far behind the other contestants and doomed to financial ruin if he turned back, but facing certain death if he continued, Crowhurst found himself in an impossible position.

The director is James Marsh, who made the Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything, and the screenplay is by Scott Z Burns, who knows a thing or two about ratcheting up the tension as the writer of thrillers Side Effects and Contagion.

I, Tonya

Cert 15, 119 mins

Vue York, City Screen, Everyman

From Fri Feb 23

Movie website

Well, it’s taken a while to get there, but someone’s finally made “the Goodfellas of figure skating”.

Margot Robbie takes the title role in this 1990s-set biopic of US figure skater Tonya Harding, whose reputation was left in tatters when her ex-husband conspired to injure her rival Nancy Kerrigan.

Styled as a mockumentary taking in the various protagonists’ differing viewpoints, the film’s darkly comic approach to its subject matter has won praise from critics – as have the Oscar-nominated performances of Robbie and the peerless Allison Janney (The West Wing) as her overbearing mother.

All looks very promising. Now, can someone please hurry up and make the Clockwork Orange of competitive flower arranging?

Action/Adventure

Den of Thieves

Cert 15, 140 mins

Vue York

From Fri Feb 2

Movie website

Fresh from giving the weather what for in Geostorm, Gerard Butler is back here as ‘Big Nick’ O’Brien, leader of the Regulators, an elite LA police squad.

They’re hot on the trail of the Outlaws, a gang of ex-military men who use their expertise to evade the law, under the leadership of Ray Merriman (Pablo Schreiber). (Surely they could have called themselves The Ray Team?)

With the plot focussing on the Outlaws’ attempted heist on the Federal Reserve Bank, and the intersecting personal lives of characters on both sides of the law, many reviewers have pegged this as a kind of lukewarm version of Heat – but if you need a break from all those bids for Oscar glory, this might fit the bill.

Black Panther

Cert TBC, TBC mins

Vue York

From Mon Feb 12

Movie website

Following his introduction in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, the latest addition to the Marvel saga sees T’Challa, aka Black Panther, take centre stage.

The film starts as T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman, Get on Up) returns to his home nation of Wakanda to take his rightful place as king after the death of his father.

He’s soon put to the test by the reappearance of a powerful enemy, starting a conflict which threatens the future of Wakanda and the entire world.

Anticipation is high for Marvel’s first black superhero movie, and the signs are very promising – director Ryan Coogler was behind the well-received Rocky follow-up Creed, and the strong cast includes Creed star Michael B Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave), and Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out).

The recent announcement that Kendrick Lamar is curating the soundtrack has only raised expectations further…

Seasons and one-offs

A few things to mention at City Screen, starting with their We Love Wes season, which takes place on Monday nights beginning on the 5th.

It’s a full retrospective of US indie director Wes Anderson’s films, showing in the run-up to his new release, Isle of Dogs, which comes out at the end of March.

Anderson’s last movie, the Ralph Fiennes-led comedy The Grand Budapest Hotel in 2014, was his most successful to date – if you enjoyed that and have yet to dig into his back catalogue, this is a great chance to do so.

This month has screenings of his first four films. His debut feature, low-budget crime caper Bottle Rocket, is on the 5th, followed by his breakthrough film, comedy drama Rushmore, on 12th.

It’s the brilliantly odd and endearing tale of a misfit teenager (Jason Schwartzman) at the prestigious Rushmore Academy who forms a bond with a depressed middle-aged businessman (Bill Murray, on career-best form), which turns to war when they both fall for the same woman (Olivia Williams).

Murray has been a staple of Anderson’s films since, his deadpan, doleful characters always a highlight. He takes more of a back-seat in the dysfunctional family ensemble of The Royal Tenenbaums (19th), but is centre-stage as the has-been marine explorer in The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (26th), which also boasts a soundtrack of Portuguese David Bowie covers.

Elsewhere, there’s only one Vintage Sundays offering this month, but it’s a good’un – there’s a pre-Valentine’s Day screening of Casablanca on Sunday 11th.

“We’ll always have Paris,” is, sadly, probably not a favourite quote of the current US president – but there’s a chance to look back at happier, saner times in The Final Year, a behind-the-scenes documentary about the final months of the Obama administration, which screens on Tuesday 6th.

It’s part of the regular Discover Tuesdays strand, which also boasts preview screenings of two best foreign language film Oscar nominees in its schedule.

First up is Chilean drama A Fantastic Woman, screening on 13th. It’s the story of a transgender woman mourning the death of her older lover whilst dealing with scorn and discrimination from his family.

That’s followed by fellow nominee The Square on 27th, a surreal Swedish satire set in a prestigious Stockholm museum, whose curator is attempting to set up a controversial new exhibit.

In between those two, there’s also a screening of celebrated Austrian director Michael Haneke’s latest film, satirical family drama Happy End, on 20th.

Gentle Irish comedy Sanctuary is showing on Thursday 1st – this story of two young people with intellectual disabilities who sneak off to spend some time together alone has been praised for its warmth and its unsentimental approach.

Finally, on Thursday 8th there’s a chance to see intriguing-sounding drama Jupiter’s Moon, in which a Syrian refugee acquires the power to fly after being shot while crossing the border to Hungary. It’s directed by Kornél Mundruczó, whose previous film was 2014’s tale of canine carnage White God.

Community Cinema

There’s a great chance to see one of the most talked-about films of last year for free in New Earswick this month.

Film at the Folk Hall are screening best picture Oscar winner Moonlight on Friday 9th, in partnership with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and York LGBT forum.

A feature of many critics’ end-of-year lists, this coming-of-age drama shows three stages in the life of Chiron, a young black man growing up in Miami.

Played by three different actors – Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes – his journey to manhood is guided by the kindness, support and love of the community that helps raise him.

Tickets are available to book now, and as it’s a free screening it’s recommended you book in advance to avoid disappointment.

And, just because it’s nearly Valentine’s Day, here’s Moonlight director Barry Jenkins watching Notting Hill over a fellow passenger’s shoulder on a plane.

Moonlight stars Mahershala Ali and Janelle Monae also appear in Hidden Figures, Film at the Folk Hall’s second offering this month, on Friday 23rd.

Monae, Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer star as three female African-American mathematicians working at NASA during the Space Race, who helped to make John Glenn the first American to orbit the earth.

I managed to catch this feelgood drama at South Bank Community Cinema last month, and very much enjoyed it – definitely worth a watch.

Both screenings take place at the Folk Hall, New Earswick at 7:30pm. Tickets for Hidden Figures are £4 per adult, £2 per child or £8 for a family ticket.

South Bank Community Cinema’s theme for their current season reflects the 100 years since suffrage was first granted to women in Britain.

Their first offering for the month is Iranian drama The Circle, showing on Friday 9th.

Directed by Jafar Panahi and released in 2000, the film deals with the oppression of women in modern-day Iran.

It was awarded the Golden Lion, the highest accolade at the Venice Film Festival, and praised by critics, with Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian calling it ‘a compelling, humane and deeply serious film’.

It’s followed on Friday 23rd by 1952 British comedy The Happy Family.

Directed by Muriel Box – recently revealed by BFI to be the UK’s most prolific female director – it tells the story of a London family’s fight to keep their shop and home when they’re ordered to abandon them to make way for work on the 1951 Festival of Britain.

Stanley Holloway and Kathleen Harrison star, and there’s also a chance to see Arthur Daley back when the world was his lobster, with a supporting role for the young George Cole.

The film’s being preceded by a Festival of Britain buffet social at 7pm, for which tickets are £5 – doors will then re-open at 7:45pm for the film.

Both screenings are in Clement’s Hall on Nunthorpe Road at 8pm. Tickets are £3 for members or £4 for guests.