In cinemas this week: The Man From U.N.C.L.E, Girlhood, Iris, 5 Flights Up and Survivor.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E – Henry Cavill stars as Napoleon Solo opposite Armie Hammer as Illya Kuryakin in director Guy Ritchie’s “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” a fresh take on the hugely popular 1960s television series. Set against the backdrop of the early 1960s, at the height of the Cold War, it centers on CIA agent Solo and KGB agent Kuryakin. Forced to put aside longstanding hostilities, the two team up on a joint mission to stop a mysterious international criminal organization, which is working to proliferate nuclear weapons. Alicia Vikander and Elizabeth Debicki co-star. I still embrace Guy Ritchie’s (overused)style, and with a fun cast added to the mix this looks like it has plenty of opportunities to please.
Girlhood – Fed up with her abusive family situation, lack of school prospects and the “boys’ law” in the neighborhood, Marieme starts a new life after meeting a group of three free-spirited girls. She changes her name, her style, drops out of school and starts stealing to be accepted into the gang. When her home situation becomes unbearable, Marieme seeks solace in an older man who promises her money and protection. Realizing this sort of lifestyle will never result in the freedom and independence she truly desires, she finally decides to take matters into her own hands. Girlhood is wonderful. One of the very best films I saw in Toronto last year. It has been a longtime coming, but Celine Sciamma’s (Tomboy) third feature explodes with style while being incredibly observant and intimate.
Iris pairs legendary 87-year-old documentarian Albert Maysles with Iris Apfel, the quick-witted, flamboyantly dressed 93-year-old style maven who has had an outsized presence on the New York fashion scene for decades. More than a fashion film, the documentary is a story about creativity and how, even in Iris’ dotage, a soaring free spirit continues to inspire. Iris portrays a singular woman whose enthusiasm for fashion, art and people are life’s sustenance and reminds us that dressing, and indeed life, is nothing but an experiment. Despite the abundance of glamour in her current life, she continues to embrace the values and work ethic established during a middle-class Queens upbringing during the Great Depression. I feel lucky to be working. If you’re lucky enough to do something you love, everything else follows. Reviews have been strong, and there was a lot of talk at the Sydney Film Festival about this fascinating lady.
5 Flights Up – Forty years ago, artist Alex Carver (Morgan Freeman) bought a run-down apartment in a sketchy part of Brooklyn with his wife, schoolteacher Ruth (Diane Keaton). Today, their neighborhood is now very hip and their apartment worth a small fortune. The now- retired Ruth and Alex haven’t changed – they are still as much in love as ever. But they have let Ruth’s niece Lily (Cynthia Nixon), a real estate agent, list their property to see what the market might bear. On the eve of their open house, the Brooklyn Bridge is rumored to be under a terrorist attack, sending the media into a frenzy and people’s attitudes about living in New York. Closer to home, Dorothy, the Carver’s beloved dog, is suddenly having trouble walking. While Dorothy is having expensive treatment at the vet, Ruth convinces Alex to go apartment hunting in Manhattan, where they miraculously come across an ideal place they might actually be able to afford. As the world around them seems to mirror their own chaos and confusion, Ruth and Alex realize the same bond of love that has kept them together all these years will allow them to see their way through this crazy weekend as well. This premiered at Toronto last year and I didn’t hear a thing about it. 12 months on and I still haven’t.Freeman and Keaton will draw in the crowds.
Survivor – After being mysteriously framed for a terrorist bombing, a Foreign Service Officer (Milla Jovovich) must evade government capture and death by a ruthless assassin (Pierce Brosnan) in order to stop the real perpetrators’ master-and much deadlier-plan. Ouch. This sounds like so many other films.
Weekly Recommendation: Girlhood. Will be predominantly screening at Palace (in fact, it could be exclusive) but well worth seeking out. Amongst the Top 10 to hit Australian cinemas in 2015 so far.