The rise and fall of Handmade Films. Linear documentary – reliant on talking heads, clips, and archive interviews – charting George Harrison and Denis O’Brien’s company; in doing so, offering a potted history of 80s British cinema, and of the making of some key movies (Time Bandits, Withnail & I, Mona Lisa etc) of that period.
Two mountaineers attempt a re-creation of the 1924 Mallory/Irvine Everest expedition. Generally-effective documentary (with perhaps-recreated scenes as well as some dramatisation) that tells the story of the original attempt while also covering the 1999 emulation; the experiment indicates Mallory and Irvine could have completed the ascent.
A desperate writer turns to forging literary letters. Excellent melancholic comedy-drama, anchored by two great central performances and by sensitive writing and direction. Lots to appreciate, though the tone might be too downbeat for some.
A now-aged mob hitman reflects. A stunning revisiting of themes preoccupying Scorsese throughout his career; gang life, organised crime, Catholic guilt. Sombre and melancholy, and Ellroy-like in its alt-history approach to the American 20th century. A technical, dramatic and stylistic marvel, with fine performances all around, none less than from Pesci, who’s revelatory here. Hugely recommended.
A biography of Rudy Ray Moore, focusing on the making of his film Dolemite. A swaggering movie with a heart, focusing – like its scriptwriters’ Ed Wood – on an upbeat try-hard outsider – with affection for the exploitation underbelly of Hollywood. As a star showcase, it reminds us how good Eddie Murphy is when he’s backed with the right material.
A presidential hopeful’s nomination campaign is derailed by his philandering. Smart observational true-life political drama clearly in love with the likes of All The President’s Men. While it doesn’t quite grapple with its protagonist’s weaknesses, the film is nevertheless professional, skilful and well-crafted throughout. Recommended.
A widow investigates an insurance company; a complicated web of financial fraud unravels. Superficially similar to The Big Short and Vice in its mix of drama, comedy and mockumentary, The Laundromat offers a clear and accessible primer to the Panama Papers scandal, and to Mossack (Oldman) and Fonseca (Banderas), both gleeful at its heart.