It’s a parent-punching, sibling-slaying knockout at the cinema this month.
In the red corner – a teenage wrestler from Norwich finds herself caught between The Rock and a hard place in feelgood charmer Fighting With My Family.
In the blue corner – a holidaying family comes under siege from their evil doppelgangers in chilling horror Us.
Sounds like it could get messy – thank goodness Captain Marvel‘s here to sort everything out…
Fighting With My Family
This heart-warming tale from writer-director Stephen Merchant (The Office) is based on the real-life story of the daughter of a Norwich wrestling family who made it to the big league in the world-famous WWE.
Executive produced by The Rock himself (who also features in the film), the story follows Saraya (Florence Pugh), youngest sibling of the Knight family, a tight-knit clan who perform together in wrestling shows while running training sessions for the city’s youngsters.
When Saraya and brother Zak (Jack Lowden) get the call for a WWE tryout at the O2 Arena, it’s Saraya who makes it through to the competitive training programme in the US.
So the scene is set for a time-honoured underdog tale, as Saraya must adjust to the WWE’s gruelling regime whilst staying true to herself – while back home, Zak struggles to accept the loss of his dreams.
You know where it’s all going, but (as The Rock would say) it doesn’t matter – having caught a preview of this recently, I would definitely recommend it. Rising star Pugh gives a tremendous performance in the lead role, while her family (including Lena Headey and Nick Frost as her parents) are a hugely likeable bunch whose relationship gives the film real heart.
- Cert 12A, 111 mins
- Vue York
- From Fri Mar 15
Following hot on the heels of Fighting With My Family is another feelgood British film based on a true story.
It’s inspired by the tale of the real-life group of singing Cornish fishermen from Port Isaac who (to the delight of punning journalists across the country) ‘made a splash’ when they ‘netted’ a major record deal with Universal Music in 2010.
The film turns their story into a fish out of water tale (don’t blame me, it’s there in the trailer), with Daniel Mays’ city slicker music exec chancing on the group (led by James Purefoy) on a stag weekend, and finding himself under orders from his boss to sign them.
With the local community – including hotelier Alwyn (Tuppence Middleton) – working its charms on him, will he see the error of his shellfish ways (that one’s on me) and come to value the group for more than their net worth? (I’ll stop now.)
The latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe sees Brie Larson take on the role of Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel, in the studio’s first female-led superhero film.
A former US Air Force fighter pilot who develops superpowers after her DNA is fused with that of an alien race, she’s being talked up as the MCU’s most powerful hero yet, and this 1990s-set origin story sees her drawn in to the centre of an intergalactic conflict which threatens to destroy the earth.
She’s got help from both Jude Law’s alien mentor and Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, seen here working as a frustrated desk-jockey at the start of his SHIELD career.
The directors are Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, the duo responsible for 2015’s excellent Ryan Reynolds/Ben Mendelsohn gambling drama Mississippi Grind, and a recent Empire interview suggests they’ll be bringing that same character-based approach to bear here, whilst not holding back on the VFX and action set-pieces that Marvel fans expect.
One of the year’s most eagerly awaited releases, Us sees writer-director Jordan Peele follow up his 2017 smash hit, the satirical horror Get Out.
Peele has said that he took inspiration from the idea that ‘we are our own worst enemies’ for the story, which sees the Wilson family – Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) and Gabe (Winston Duke) and their two children – heading out for a break at Adelaide’s childhood home by the beach.
Their holiday turns into a nightmare when four sinister masked strangers turn up in their driveway – each one of them a doppelganger of a different family member…
The properly creepy trailer – complete with eerie reworking of the Luniz classic I Got 5 on It – suggests that Peele is well placed to repeat the success of his debut.
The wife of a British army officer becomes attracted to a German widower in this romantic drama, which takes place in the aftermath of the Second World War.
Set in wintry Hamburg in 1946, it sees Rachael Morgan (Keira Knightley) arriving to be reunited with her husband Lewis (Jason Clarke) – only to find that Lewis has agreed to share their new home with its original occupants, German architect Stefan (Alexander Skarsgård) and his troubled young daughter Freda (Flora Thiemann).
Initially angered by Lewis’ decision, Rachael starts to find herself drawn to the grief-stricken Stefan.
Adapted from a best-selling novel by Rhidian Brook, the film is directed by James Kent, the man behind 2014’s First World War romance Testament of Youth.
The White Crow
Ralph Fiennes steps behind the camera again here (following his 2013 Charles Dickens drama The Invisible Woman) to make this portrait of the world-famous ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev.
Taking its title from the Russian phrase for someone who stands out from the crowd, the film takes as its focus the charismatic performer’s sensational defection from the Soviet Union in 1961, with flashbacks showing Nureyev’s humble beginnings and ascent to stardom.
Real-life ballet dancer (and first time actor) Oleg Ivenko stars as Nureyev, while Fiennes has a supporting role as his mentor Alexander Pushkin, and Adele Exarchopoulos (Blue Is The Warmest Colour) plays Parisian socialite Clara Saint, who aids Nureyev in his bid for asylum.
City Screen have a preview screening followed by a live satellite Q&A with Ralph Fiennes and guests on Tues 12th.
What Men Want
The latest in the ongoing line of gender-swapped remakes to hit our screens is a new take on the 2000 Mel Gibson romcom What Women Want, which saw Gibson playing a serial seducer who gains the ability to read women’s minds.
Taraji P. Henson (best known as Cookie in TV’s Empire) takes the lead role here as sports agent Ali Davis, who, finding herself passed over for promotion, does what anyone would do – heads off to see a psychic and necks a mysterious potion.
She awakes to find she can hear her male colleagues’ thoughts, and sets about using her newfound ability to her advantage – but discovers that it places a strain on her friendships too…
Maiden plus live satellite Q&A
- Cert 12A, 93 mins
- City Screen
- Thurs Mar 7, 6pm
This acclaimed documentary is screening to mark International Women’s Day, and will be followed by a live satellite Q&A with its star Tracy Edwards.
It tells the story of how Edwards put together the first ever all-female crew to enter the prestigious Whitbread Round the World yacht race in 1989.
Working in the face of tough opposition from fellow competitors and the media, it was a bold move which broke down barriers for women in the sport.
The Great Escape with Dan Snow
- Cert 12A, 270 mins
- Vue York, City Screen
- Sun Mar 24, 6pm
Marking the 75th anniversary of the famous event on which the much-loved film is based, this screening is preceded by a commemorative event broadcast live from London’s Eventim Apollo, hosted by TV historian Dan Snow.
Steve McQueen’s iconic bid for freedom at the end was, like many other elements of the film, a dramatic invention – but you can hear some of the real-life veterans talking to Snow in the broadcast.
Seasons and one-offs
City Screen’s Vintage Sundays strand is back this month, with a season dedicated to that most enduring of genres, the Western.
John Ford’s The Searchers (Sun 10th) was the late Barry Norman’s personal favourite, while 1953 classic Shane (17th) was an influence on Hugh Jackman’s X-Men swansong Logan.
Sam Peckinpah’s 1969 film The Wild Bunch (24th) caused controversy on its release for its graphic violence, but has long since been ensconced as one of the acknowledged classics of the genre.
Meanwhile, Discover Tuesdays offers British social-realist drama Jellyfish (5th), in which a troubled Margate teenager finds an outlet in stand-up, and Hannah (19th), starring Charlotte Rampling as a woman adjusting to life after her husband’s sudden imprisonment.
City Screen also have screenings of two highly acclaimed films from last year – Mike Leigh’s Peterloo shows on Fri 15th at 2:15pm to mark the 200th anniversary of the massacre, while documentary McQueen (Weds 27th) is showing in homage to the iconic designer as part of York Fashion Week.
Over at Everyman, there are celebrations of two musical icons this month – on Thurs 21st you can raise a glass to Joni Mitchell in Joni 75: A Birthday Celebration (also at City Screen), while on Tues 26th, Diana Ross: Her Life, Love and Legacy (Everyman only) offers a chance to see the Motown legend’s 1983 concert in Central Park.
Finally, Everyman also have screenings of two female-led faves in honour of International Women’s Day. Thelma and Louise go on the run on Thurs 7th, while Anne Hathaway goes on the Runway in The Devil Wears Prada on Fri 8th – a film which is apparently something of a favourite of co-star Emily Blunt’s husband John Krasinski…
South Bank Community Cinema’s food and drink-themed season continues this month with a mouth-watering Oscar winner and a homage to the noble art of wine-making.
Showing on Fri 8th, Danish drama Babette’s Feast won the 1988 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.
The story sees the austere lives of two sisters on the Jutland peninsula transformed by the arrival of Parisian refugee Babette to work as their family cook.
Best not viewed on an empty stomach, the film famously culminates in a tantalising seven-course meal…
It’s followed on Fri 22nd by a film of a more recent vintage – 2017’s Back to Burgundy is not, in fact, the latest Anchorman film, but instead the tale of three siblings whose father’s terminal illness brings them back to their family’s winery.
Writer-director Cédric Klapisch filmed his drama over the course of a year on a real Burgundy winemaking estate, allowing the story to take place against the backdrop of the changing seasons.
Both screenings are in Clement’s Hall on Nunthorpe Road, starting at 8pm (doors 7:30pm). Tickets are £3 for members or £4 for guests.
Meanwhile, if you are one of the dwindling number of UK cinemagoers yet to see the all-conquering Bohemian Rhapsody (and I must confess I still haven’t), you’re in luck – it’s this month’s Film at the Folk Hall offering.
Like The Greatest Showman before it, it’s become one of those films that critics hate and audiences love – and with Rami Malek’s performance as Freddie Mercury recently garlanded with the Best Actor Oscar, now’s the chance to see for yourself what all the fuss is (or isn’t) about.
It shows at the Folk Hall, New Earswick on Fri 29th at 7:30pm. Tickets are £5 standard, £3 for members.