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A Bunch of Amateurs (12A)
Directed by Kim Hopkins
THIS is a joyous and wonderfully entertaining celebration of cinema that follows the fortunes of Bradford Movie Makers, Britain’s oldest working-class amateur film club, as it faces possible demise.
The documentary evolves around club member Harry Nicholls’ desire to recreate the opening scene of Oklahoma, in which Gordon MacCrae sings the iconic Oh What a Beautiful Morning on horseback.
What follows is a hilarious, warm-hearted look at these passionate cinephiles/film-makers who bicker ceaselessly but are staunch friends and allies who meet religiously on a weekly basis.
Writer-director Kim Hopkins’ glorious documentary examines our overriding need for contact and connection regardless of age and circumstance (such as the Covid pandemic) through the eyes of the club members portrayed with love and affection.
It’s a fantastic film and a must see for budding cineastes and film lovers alike.
Out in cinemas November 11.
The Swimmers (15)
Directed by Sally El Hosaini
THIS is based on the remarkable true story of two teenage sisters and their harrowing journey from war torn Syria to the 2016 Rio Olympics in a powerful drama which is a stark reminder of what it costs those to leave their homes in search of asylum.
Co-writer and director Sally El Hosaini explores the power of female ambition.
The Arab siblings, and competitive swimmers, Sara and Yusra Mardini, are played by real-life sisters Manal and Nathalie Issa. The pair are mesmerising to watch as two young girls determined to fulfil their father and coach’s dream of competing in the Olympics.
In a heart-stopping scene they swim in choppy waters to safety as they have to abandon the sinking dinghy transporting them.
Their ordeal continues as they head for Germany in the hope of finding safe haven and being able to bring over the rest of their family.
They were lucky, unlike Somali athlete Samia Yusuf Omar who drowned off the coast of Sicily in 2012 while attempting to reach Europe to continue her running career at the Olympics in Britain.
The girl refugees are forced to grow up overnight as they face discrimination, abuse and hardship, yet Yusra’s determination to become an Olympian keeps them going.
Packed with tension and hair-raising moments, The Swimmers is an empowering and uplifting tale of what can be achieved against all the odds.
Out in cinemas November 11 and on Netflix from November 23.
No Bears (12A)
Directed by Jafar Panahi
IRANIAN film-maker Jafar Panahi blurs the lines between fact and fiction once more in his latest work — a film within a film and which he made secretly, yet again, before being arrested and jailed for six years.
Playing a version of himself, he stars as the director who is shooting a drama about two parallel love stories in which the couples are faced with hidden obstacles as they pursue the freedom to be with their soulmates in a safe place.
Panahi is working from a small village on the Turkish-Iranian border from where he instructs his film crew and cast, who are on the other side of the border, remotely for fear of being apprehended.
It is totally surreal as he accidentally becomes dragged into the community’s local politics and affairs.
No Bears is an understated yet poignant critique of the Iranian regime, the lack of personal freedom and the regime’s determination to curtail Panahi’s creativity and film-making, which unfortunately they achieved.
Out in cinemas November 11.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (12)
Directed by Ryan Coogler
WITH the death of Chadwick Boseman in 2020 it was incomprehensible to imagine a Black Panther film without him but this sequel is a moving tribute to the late actor whose memory permeates almost every frame of this film — an exploration of crippling grief and the difficulties of overcoming loss and moving forward.
The action takes places a year after King T’Challa’s (Boseman) untimely death when his mother, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), realises her daughter Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright) still hasn’t begun to heal from her brother’s passing.
In a mother and daughter bonding retreat to the wild they are confronted with a new and superior enemy, Namor (Tenoch Huerta), the king of a secret underwater civilisation a la Atlantis who has breached Wakanda’s defences undetected.
A cross between Aquaman and the wing-footed Hermes, he suggests they team up to destroy a greater global threat, though the two women do not agree with his solution.
Co-writer-director Ryan Coogler returns to the helm with a compelling female-driven superhero film about motherhood, mothers and daughters and the power of grief but set within thrilling action scenes and car chases plus techno gadgets galore.
Although on the long side it is a fitting homage to Boseman while neatly moving the Black Panther legacy forward.
Out in cinemas November 11.
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