So, as part of my ‘research’ for this week’s preview, last night I watched John Wick for the first time, and I have two thoughts.
Firstly: That poor dog! Never in the history of cinema has a blood-soaked quest for vengeance been more thoroughly justified.
Secondly: Have any pet charities thought of using Wick as the face of their campaigns? “Here at the RSPCA, we won’t stand for cruelty to animals – and after John’s finished, you won’t be able to…”
Just an idea. Anyway, he’s back for round three this week, alongside a flashback to the ‘90s rave scene and the biopic of one Reginald Kenneth Dwight…
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
The reluctant hitman returns for more slickly-choreographed carnage in this latest entry in the series.
This time round, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) finds himself ousted from the High Table (the international guild of assassins with a nice sideline in luxury hotels) after he offs one of their number, leading to the placing of a $14 million bounty on his head.
With the best in the business all tooled up and out to get him, the stakes are higher than ever – but fortunately help is at hand from Wick’s friend and fellow dog-lover Sofia (Halle Berry).
Following last month’s Wild Rose, here’s another music-themed, Scottish comedy-drama, albeit one with a very different soundtrack.
Inevitably drawing comparisons to Trainspotting, this ‘90s-set film celebrates the decade’s underground rave culture, following schoolfriends Johnno (Cristian Ortega) and Spanner (Lorn Macdonald) as they plan one last wild night together.
It’s picked up some, er, rave reviews, both for its authentic depiction of the scene and the performances of the two leads, with The Big Issue calling it “nostalgic and sentimental in all the right places, with some grittily effective social realism and fine examples of the artistry of Scottish swearing.” Sold!
Six months on from the box office-busting Bohemian Rhapsody, hopes will be high that this long-awaited Elton John drama can repeat its predecessor’s success.
Starring Taron Egerton (Kingsman) as Elton, it follows the singer’s rise to fame, taking in his musical partnership with Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell) and his relationship with John Reid (Richard Madden), his first lover and also his manager.
Directed by Dexter Fletcher – who took over Bohemian Rhapsody when original director Bryan Singer was fired, and who also brought the Proclaimers to the big screen with 2013’s Sunshine on Leith – it’s said to be something more than a straightforward biopic, with cast members keen to stress that there’s a strong musical fantasy element to the film.
Egerton does all the vocals to those classic hits himself – and in fact he has form in this area, having covered I’m Still Standing (in the form of an animated gorilla) in 2016’s Sing.
Other screenings and one-offs
“Where does he get those wonderful toys?”
Batfans may want to get down to Vue this Friday (17th), where you can catch a double-bill of Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader in Batman and Batman Returns.
Showing to mark the 30th anniversary of Batman, it’s a chance to revisit director Tim Burton’s darkly gothic take on the superhero, bolstered by a fine cast of villains in the form of Jack Nicholson’s Joker, Danny DeVito’s Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman – plus a rousing score from regular Burton collaborator Danny Elfman.
Several music-related films to look out for this week – on Weds 22nd, Vue and City Screen are showing music doc Asbury Park: Riot, Redemption, Rock ‘N Roll, which tells the story of the Upstage in New Jersey, an after-hours club where Bruce Springsteen and several of his bandmates started out.
“Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die,” Bradley Cooper sang in his A Star Is Born remake last year, but City Screen clearly disagree – they’re showing the 1976 Barbra Streisand/Kris Kristofferson version on Sun 19th.
Over at Everyman, on Weds 22nd there’s a chance to see Amy, the acclaimed 2015 Amy Winehouse documentary. Director Asif Kapadia (whose new film about Diego Maradona is due out next month) makes powerful use of archive footage and home videos to create a moving portrait of the much-missed singer.
There’s also still time to catch the highly rated Aretha Franklin concert doc Amazing Grace, which screens throughout the week at City Screen and Everyman.
Missed last week’s reissue of Dr Strangelove? Then stop worrying and love City Screen, who are putting on several more showings of Stanley Kubrick’s Cold War satire this week – it’s also on at Everyman on Sun 19th.
Also at City Screen, their season of films by Shoplifters director Hirokazu Kore-eda continues on Tues 21st with 2004’s family drama Nobody Knows, while their Empire 30 season (celebrating 30 years of Picturehouse and Empire magazine) has a screening of sci-fi sequel Blade Runner 2049 on Mon 20th.
South Bank Community Cinema continue their season marking the 50th anniversary of the moon landing with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
If you’re scratching your head trying to remember the bit where Butch and Sundance blast off into space, the film has actually been chosen as it was one of the big releases 50 years ago in 1969.
A tenuous connection maybe, but few will complain when it means you can see the classic combo of Paul Newman and Robert Redford up on the big screen – not to mention the famous scene where Newman and Katharine Ross take a romantic bike ride, to the strains of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s evergreen Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head.
It shows at Clement’s Hall at 8pm on Fri 17th – tickets are £3 for members, £4 for guests.