The year comes to a close with the return of the original Supernanny, and the swansong of a Hollywood legend.
Emily Blunt takes hold of the famous parrot head umbrella as the new Mary Poppins, while Robert Redford goes out in style in The Old Man and the Gun.
Elsewhere, Wreck-It Ralph causes chaos online, and Deck ‘Em Dolph returns for a grudge match in Creed II…
Ralph Breaks the Internet
This sequel to Disney’s 2012 video game caper sets its sights beyond the world of arcades, as reformed villain Wreck-It Ralph (John C Reilly) and his friend Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) venture into the world wide web.
They’re on a mission to fix Vanellope’s broken racing game Sugar Rush, but quickly find themselves overwhelmed by the strange new world of algorithms, memes and pop-up ads, and must seek help to find their way through.
It’s a premise that gives the film plenty of opportunity to poke fun at both online culture and the House of Mouse’s extensive range of properties, from Pixar to Marvel (as well as indulging in a nice spot of product placement in the run-up to Christmas…).
If the internet setting is giving you flashbacks to last year’s much-loathed Emoji Movie, then fear not – reviews suggest it’s a far superior film, and a worthy follow-up to the original.
Mary Poppins Returns
Emily Blunt takes on the role of P.L. Travers’ magical nanny in this sequel to the beloved 1964 original.
Set in 1935, it sees Mary Poppins visit the now grown-up Banks children Jane (Emily Mortimer) and Michael (Ben Whishaw) in the wake of a family tragedy.
Lin-Manuel Miranda (creator and star of hit stage musical Hamilton) looks set to be filling the Dick Van Dyke role as lamplighter Jack, while Van Dyke himself will also be appearing as the son of his character Mr Dawes Sr from the original film.
Elsewhere in the cast there’s a Mamma Mia! reunion going on, with Meryl Streep appearing as Mary’s eccentric cousin, Julie Walters donning her pinny once more as Michael’s housekeeper Ellen, and Colin Firth as the new big cheese at the Fidelity Fiduciary Bank.
Songs come courtesy of Hairspray writing team Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman, while the director is Rob Marshall, the man behind Chicago and Disney’s Into the Woods.
Michael B Jordan and Sylvester Stallone step back into the ring for this sequel – which also sees the return of an old foe from Rocky Balboa’s past.
The story sees Adonis Creed (Jordan) accepting a challenge from the son of his father’s killer, Russian boxer Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren, reprising his role from Rocky IV) – much to the displeasure of his trainer Rocky (Stallone).
Whilst he risks everything to avenge his father, Creed must also deal with being a dad himself, with his partner Bianca (Tessa Thompson) having recently given birth to their first child.
The first Creed must count as one of the smartest franchise reboots of recent years, continuing the Rocky story whilst credibly reinventing it for modern audiences.
With director Ryan Coogler too busy on Black Panther to helm the sequel, let’s hope that his replacement Steven Caple, Jr. can recapture the original’s winning formula.
Rachel Weisz stars in this drama as a photographer whose return to her north London Orthodox Jewish community sends shockwaves among her family and friends.
Returning from New York for her estranged father’s funeral, Ronit (Weisz) is reunited with her childhood friend Esti (Rachel McAdams), now a schoolteacher and married to Dovit (Alessandro Nivola), who is first in line to succeed Ronit’s father as rabbi.
Ronit and Esti soon find themselves rekindling their illicit adolescent romance – the discovery of which led to Ronit’s rejection by her father.
A drama about faith, love and identity adapted from the novel by Naomi Alderman, it’s directed by Sebastian Lelio, whose previous film was the Oscar-winning Chilean drama A Fantastic Woman.
The Old Man and the Gun
This real life drama about an ageing bank robber features Robert Redford in what the star claims will be his last big screen role – he announced his intention to retire from acting earlier this year.
If so, it sounds as though he’s going out on a high – the film has been widely acclaimed since its release in the US, with many critics saying it’s one of his best performances.
Harking back to his iconic roles in Butch Cassidy and The Sting, it tells the true story of Forrest Tucker (Redford), a career criminal who, at the age of 70, made a daring escape from San Quentin prison and went on to commit an unprecedented string of heists.
Praised by critics for its understated, freewheeling charm, it co-stars Casey Affleck as the cop on Tucker’s trail, and Sissy Spacek as the kind-hearted ranch widow he becomes involved with.
Following last year’s Justice League, the next film in the DC Extended Universe sees Arthur Curry, aka Aquaman, take centre stage.
The half-Atlantean/half-human hero (played by Game of Thrones’ Jason Momoa) finds himself the reluctant ruler of Atlantis, who must deal with his people’s desire to revolt against the surface world.
Much like Marvel’s Thor, he’s also got a pesky sibling waiting in the wings to bring him down – his half-brother Orm (or Ocean Master when he’s got his gladrags on) plans to unite the seven underwater kingdoms in a war against humanity.
Directed by Insidious and Conjuring veteran James Wan, the supporting cast includes Insidious star Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Amber Heard, and December’s Comeback King, Dolph Lundgren. (Imagine the looks on the little Lundgrens’ faces this year, when Dolph comes home bearing the kind of super-size turkey that Universal Soldier royalty cheques alone can’t buy. God bless us, every one!).
This new fantasy adventure from the team behind The Lord of the Rings is set on a dystopian future Earth, where the cities move around on wheels and fight each other for supremacy.
Our hero is the mysterious, feral Hester Shaw (little-known Icelandic actress Hera Hilmar), who’s out for revenge on Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving, The Matrix), the man who killed her mother.
She’s also the only one who can stop London – the biggest, baddest city of the lot – from devouring everything in its path.
Fellow outcasts Tom (Robert Sheehan, TV’s Misfits), a young city-dweller, and Anna (South Korean singer/actress Jihae), a resistance leader, join Hester in her struggle.
This latest instalment in the Transformers franchise sees the series make a move away from the bombastic pyrotechnics of the previous films.
Bumblebee also takes the saga back in time to the 1980s, functioning as a prequel in which the eponymous robot seeks refuge in a small California beach town, where he’s befriended by teenager Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld, who made her big screen debut as the formidable Mattie Ross in the Coen brothers’ True Grit).
As Charlie helps Bumblebee adapt to his new surroundings, a government agency closes in, forcing the pair to go on the run.
A recent Empire interview with director Travis Knight (who made 2016’s acclaimed stop-motion animation Kubo and the Two Strings) suggests the film will be a homage both to the original animated Transformers series and the ‘80s fantasy movies he grew up on, focussing as much on the relationship between Charlie and Bumblebee as the action set-pieces.
Sorry To Bother You
Director Boots Riley describes his debut as “an absurdist dark comedy with aspects of magical realism and science fiction inspired by the world of telemarketing”.
That’s either going to make you really want to see it or really not – I’m definitely in the former camp, particularly as it stars the great Lakeith Stanfield (whose profile is on the rise after stellar turns in Get Out and TV’s Atlanta).
Stanfield plays Cassius, a telemarketer in Oakland, California whose fortunes skyrocket after he discovers the benefits of adopting a “white voice” on the phone, and soon finds he must choose between cashing in on his success or taking a stand against corporate oppression.
Inspired by writer/director Riley’s own experiences in both telemarketing and activism, it was a hit at this year’s Sundance Festival, drawing comparisons to both Get Out and the surrealist likes of Being John Malkovich.
Holmes and Watson
Following Talladega Nights and Step Brothers, Will Ferrell and John C Reilly pair up once more, this time to give their not entirely serious take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s immortal characters.
The plot sees Holmes and Watson investigating a murder at Buckingham Palace, with only four days to solve the crime before Queen Victoria (Pam Ferris) becomes the next victim.
But that’s all secondary to the duo’s patented blend of slapstick and silliness, with a steady supply of British acting talent lining up to join in the hijnks (including Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon and Kelly Macdonald) – while Ralph Fiennes adds Moriarty to his roster of screen villains.
Dickens, Die Hard and Deadpool: Christmas at the movies
There’s plenty of Yuletide favourites to be found in York cinemas as the festive season approaches.
First up, all three cinemas are showing Simon Callow’s one-man theatrical performance of A Christmas Carol.
Callow’s hugely successful West End show has been specially adapted for this cinematic version, which screens at Vue and Everyman on Tues 11th, and City Screen on Weds 12th.
If your Christmas hasn’t truly started until you’ve seen Emma Thompson sobbing her heart out to Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now”, then you might want to make your way down to the Barbican on Thursday 13th, where they’re screening Love Actually in concert with a full orchestra.
Perhaps in homage to that famous scene, ticket prices start at an eye-watering £45…
Thompson’s heartbreak was all Alan Rickman’s fault, of course, and he’ll also be keeping his annual festive appointment with Bruce Willis in Die Hard, which celebrates its 30th anniversary with a week of screenings at Vue from Friday 7th.
Meanwhile, Ryan Reynolds wishes you a meta Christmas in Once Upon a Deadpool, which shows at Vue on Tues 11th.
Essentially a re-cut version of this year’s Deadpool 2 intended as a ‘family-friendly’ alternative (though it’s actually ended up with a 15 certificate in the UK anyway), it riffs on The Princess Bride by having Deadpool tell the story to a captivated (or at least captive) Fred Savage.
Vue also have entertainment of a more reliably family-friendly nature with a double-bill of The Snowman and its sequel, screening on Sat 8th and Sun 9th, plus the CBeebies Christmas Show on Sat 15th.
Over at City Screen, they’re celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas with screenings throughout December.
A lesser-known offering which sounds worth checking out is 1983 US film A Christmas Story (Sun 2nd), the story of a nine-year-old boy’s quest to make sure he gets his dream present – a Red Ryder air rifle.
Something of a festive staple in the States (where one channel apparently broadcasts it on a loop on Christmas Day), reviews suggest it’s a funny, un-schmaltzy tale which will appeal to adults as much as kids.
More familiar highlights include Home Alone on Weds 5th, Die Hard on Fri 7th and The Muppet Christmas Carol on Sun 9th, while if all you want for Christmas is Hugh, you’re in luck – there’s a Greatest Showman Singalong screening on Sun 16th.
Musical fun of a more ghoulish kind can be found in The Nightmare Before Christmas, which shows on Weds 19th.
And on Christmas Eve, you can make the annual pilgrimage to Bedford Falls in Frank Capra’s evergreen It’s A Wonderful Life, showing at both City Screen and Everyman.
Everyman’s festive roster also includes Home Alone on Weds 5th, a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Singalong on Sun 16th, and Will Ferrell favourite Elf on Tues 19th.
Other special screenings
On a non-festive note, there are a couple of documentaries to flag up in City Screen’s Discover Tuesdays strand – on Tues 4th The Price of Everything takes a look at the contemporary art world, and examines why it is that some artists’ work sparks frenzied bidding wars, while others are completely overlooked.
It’s followed on Tues 11th by Free Solo, which follows rock climber Alex Honnold as he prepares for the incredible feat of scaling the 3,200 feet of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park – all without a rope.
A live satellite Q&A with Honnold and the film’s directors Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin follows the screening.
And finally, York might not have been blessed with a giant statue of Jeff Goldblum, but we can at least celebrate Jurassic Park’s 25th anniversary at Vue this month – they’ve got a week of screenings from Fri 30th November.
The York Museums Trust are getting in the Christmas spirit this month with a screening of Miracle on 34th Street at the Yorkshire Museum on Thursday 6th.
It’s the 1994 John Hughes version starring Richard Attenborough, and comes complete with a festive buffet and a glass of mulled cider into the bargain.
The story sees Attenborough’s Kris Kringle trying to convince a sceptical young girl (Mara Wilson, who went on to star in the film of Matilda) that he is the real Santa Claus.
Tickets are £16.31 and can be booked via the Trust’s website.
There’s more Santa-doubting in Film at the Folk Hall’s offering this month, with The Polar Express pulling into New Earswick on Sunday 16th.
This CGI animated tale from 2004, based on a popular US children’s book, sees a young boy have his faith restored by a magical train journey to the North Pole.
Director Robert Zemeckis is well-known for his use of innovative visual effects (his new film Welcome To Marwen, out in January, sees Steve Carrell transformed into a doll), and here his use of performance capture animation enables star Tom Hanks to play six different parts, from the train’s conductor to Santa himself.
It shows at the Folk Hall, New Earswick at 2pm, tickets are £3 and as ever, you’re advised to book ahead.
Meanwhile, South Bank Community Cinema are celebrating their 8th birthday by hosting a mystery screening on Friday 7th.
They’re promising a film that befits a party, and have posted a series of clues on their website as to what it might be. My guess? Spice World: The Movie, surely…
Their music-themed season then comes to a close on Friday 21st with a winter-warming visit to Havana, courtesy of the Buena Vista Social Club.
Wim Wenders’ 1999 documentary follows the group of elderly Cuban musicians who were brought together by guitarist Ry Cooder to record the best-selling album of the same name, reviving the music of pre-revolutionary Cuba.
The film features interviews with the members – several of whom were in their eighties and nineties when they made the album – interspersed with footage of the ensemble’s first live performances with a full line-up, which took place in Amsterdam and New York in 1998.