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Sorry to Bother You (15)
Directed by Boots Riley
THIS exhilarating, raucous and surreal comedy does not skirt around its stark message warning against the dangers of capitalism and climbing the corporate ladder. First-time writer-director Boots Riley delivers a fresh and exciting analysis of greed, big business oppression and the cost of reaching the top and then selling out.
The film centres on black Oakland telemarketer Cassius Green (a sublime Lakeith Stanfield), who learns the secret to professional success is by adopting a white voice on the phone.
As his sales soar, his star begins to ascend and he is promoted to the coveted job of power-caller. But, once in post, he uncovers a shocking level of corruption, along with a macabre plot instigated by the company's charismatic boss (Armie Hammer) which makes him rethink his career path.
As Green becomes more successful, he abandons his fellow colleagues' fight for higher wages and better working conditions and even crosses their picket line to the disgust of his performance artist girlfriend Detroit (Tessa Thompson).
Stanfield is exceptional as Green, an Everyman figure who desperately wants to help his family who are in financial straits. He wants to do well at work, but, as he becomes ever more successful, he finds himself being seduced by money and power.
The film then takes a drastic twist — bonkers in the extreme — but what Riley provides is a powerful message in a riotous comedy which initially looks conventional but is completely outside the box.
This is definitely one director to watch closely.
The Old Man and the Gun (15)
Directed by David Lowery
HOW’S this for coincidence? Two films this week feature an opening sequence with the star offering to help a woman with a broken-down car
In The House that Jack Built bloody mayhem follows. But here, with Robert Redford playing real-life character Forrest Tucker and really looking his age to fit the bill perfectly, an unexpectedly charming fact-based crime saga ensues after he stops to help stranded motorist Jewel (Sissy Spacek).
That triggers a delightful crime and romance story, with director David Lowery’s sharp adaptation of the 2003 New Yorker feature about serial bank robber Tucker, who carried on into his seventies after several escapes from jail, culminating in four bank robberies in a single day.
This “mostly love story” has Redford in fine senior-citizen form, well supported by Spacek, Danny Glover and Casey Affleck.
If it’s Redford’s farewell to film acting, it's a commendable one.
Directed by Tupaq Felber
SET against the backdrop of canals in the south of England, Tides follows four friends on a boating weekend in what's a slow-burning drama about friendship and the meaning of life after the age of 40.
Shot entirely in black and white and in real time over the course of a few days, you feel like a voyeur eavesdropping on the group's booze-fuelled, intimate discussions about loss, being parents and growing older. The conversations come across as very organic and real, but the characters aren't terribly likeable.
Inspired by writer-director Tupaq Felber's own barging holidays with friends, it's an ambitious debut feature which shows great potential. Its problem is that watching other people get slowly drunk, have a good time or get into drunken heated discussions with no filters, is not much fun.
Nevertheless, it is a great advert for seeing the British countryside on a canal boat.
White Boy Rick (15)
Director: Yann Demange
YANN DEMANGE’S gritty film tells the true story of teenager Rick Wershe Jr who became a noted drug dealer in mid-1980s crack-ridden Detroit before being recruited as the youngest-ever FBI informant. He was then betrayed by the law and imprisoned.
Matthew McConaughey gives a potent, cleverly understated performance as Rick’s licensed weapon-dealer father and there are strong contributions from Bel Powley as Rick’s younger drug-addicted sister and, unexpectedly, British actor Eddie Marsan in a minor role as a Miami drugs baron.
But what makes the somewhat overlong story well worth seeing is the mesmeric portrait of Rick, a teenage criminal and father of a young daughter by a black mother delivered with a hypnotical power and conviction by newcomer Richie Merritt.
He makes an unforgettable screen debut.
Return of the Hero (12A)
Directed by Laurent Tirard
THE PALPABLE charm and dynamic chemistry between the two leads and their razor-sharp repartees elevate this frothy French farce into a pleasurable delight.
Jean Dujardin and Melanie Laurent make a formidable double act and are a joy to watch in this hilarious French comedy, set in 1809 France.
Dujardin plays the charismatic Captain Neuville who is set to marry the naive Pauline (Noemie Merlant) when war breaks out. He is called to the front and promises to write to her every day but of course doesn't.
Left broken-hearted, she starts pining away for him, so her older sister (Laurent) decides to write letters on his behalf to save her sibling, but, when he suddenly returns, it sets the cat among the pigeons.
This is the French equivalent of Pride and Prejudice, but with Mr Darcy as a lovable and handsome rogue and anything but a hero.
It is a simple comedy of errors, exquisitely shot and acted and not to be missed.
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