December in film: My recommendations

Columbia Pictures

The last month of 2021 is somehow upon us (when did this happen?!) and so it’s time to have a look at the main movies we can look forward to this December.

The Power of the Dog

Jane Campion‘s latest won praise at the Venice Film Festival so I can’t wait to see what all the fuss is about. Benedict Cumberbatch plays against his usual type as Phil Burbank, an oppressive rancher who sets out to make his brother’s new wife, played by Kirsten Dunst, a living hell. On Netflix 1st December.

West Side Story

Steven Spielberg‘s movie adaptation of the classic stage musical finally comes to the big screen with Rachel Zegler and Ansel Elgort as Maria and Tony, star-crossed lovers from two rival gangs in New York. The original 1961 film is a classic so it’ll be interesting to see how Spielberg makes it his own. In cinemas from 10th December.

Spider-Man: No Way Home

Superhero nerds can finally find out what rumours are true and who is actually in this movie along with Tom Holland, Zendaya and the usual suspects. Will he be joined by Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield?! What other villains are in the mix?! There’s only one way to find out and I CANNOT WAIT TO SEE IT. In cinemas 17th December.

The Matrix Resurrections

After an 18-year wait, Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss are back as Neo and Trinity for the fourth instalment in the sci-fi franchise. Set 20 years after the previous film, Neo seems to be living a normal life as Thomas Anderson and takes blue pills, but all that changes when Morpheus (now Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) offers him a red pill and once again opens his mind to the Matrix. I’m not as hyped about this as some people but I’m intrigued about the story. In cinemas 22nd December.

Don’t Look Up

Adam McKay has assembled a ridiculously star-studded cast for his next satirical comedy. Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence star as two astronomers who have to go on a press tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy Earth. They are joined by the likes of Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, Cate Blanchett, Timothee Chalamet, Ariana Grande, Kid Cudi and so many more. In cinemas from 10th December and Netflix from 24th December.

Being the Ricardos

Nicole Kidman has been winning praise for her portrayal of Lucille Ball in Aaron Sorkin‘s next movie. The drama, also starring Javier Bardem as Ball’s husband Desi Arnaz, follows a production week on their TV show I Love Lucy, from the table read through to the live taping. I’m really keen to see her performance in this. In cinemas from 10th December and on Amazon Prime Video from 21st December.

The Lost Daughter

Maggie Gyllenhaal‘s directorial debut stars Olivia Colman as a professor on holiday in Greece who becomes obsessed with a young mother and her daughter and this obsession brings back memories from her past. Colman gives a spectacular awards-worthy performance and is supported by the likes of Dakota Johnson, Jessie Buckley and Paul Mescal. On Netflix from 31st December and in cinemas 7th January.


Julia Ducournau‘s Palme d’Or-winning film finally comes to cinemas! The body horror film follows Alexia (Agatha Rousselle), who has a titanium plate in her head. I’m not going to say anything else because everything is a spoiler. But trust me when I see this is a wild and very unexpected movie. Strap yourselves in, it’s going to be a bumpy ride! In cinemas 26th December.

Chaos Walking: Film Review

Chaos Walking

The response to Chaos Walking has been overwhelming negative and the Rotten Tomatoes score isn’t great, so I went in with super low expectations and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Sure, it definitely doesn’t live up to its potential, but it’s not as terrible as I’d been led to believe.

This dystopian adventure, based on The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, is set in 2257 on New World, an alien planet which has been colonised by humans. The main action takes place in Prentisstown, which is only inhabited by men – the women got killed by the natives – and they all have ‘the Noise’, meaning their thoughts are broadcast for all to hear, so they can have no secrets, although some can control or hide their Noise better than others. One day, Todd Hewitt (Tom Holland) comes across Viola (Daisy Ridley) – the first female he’s ever seen in real life – after her spaceship crashes down on New World. He helps her escape Prentisstown, run by the cunning mayor David Prentiss (Mads Mikkelsen), and find a way to contact another ship.

I loved the concept – it is such a terrific idea ripe with potential – and enjoyed discovering this new world and watching them venturing into new terrain and getting to know each other and become friends. There are plenty of great ideas in here – particularly about how the indigenous people are perceived – but they are poorly executed, and the characters are generic and aren’t well developed so it was hard to care about them (I genuinely cared more about the dog Manchee). The action sequences were a bit confusing to watch sometimes, they felt rushed and not properly thought through. I also thought the screenplay by Ness and Christopher Ford also needed work. I felt like Todd’s Noise at the beginning was used for a lot of exposition which didn’t feel realistic – would somebody really think those things? – and some of the emotional beats didn’t always work.

I really like Holland, I think he’s a talented actor who has this cute nerdy charm and that works perfectly well here. He has a captivating onscreen presence as the naive and sheltered Todd who is finally having his eyes opened to the lies he’s been told. Ridley didn’t offer up much more than we saw in Star Wars but they play off each other nicely and I liked the team they form, with Manchee (who is adorable) completing the trio. I didn’t like the clothes she wore either, those trousers looked super uncomfortable!

Mikkelsen was perfectly cast as the sly mayor, complete with an excellent fur coat, and I liked Cynthia Erivo as his opposite – the kind and considerate mayor of Farbranch – although she wasn’t in it as much as I would’ve liked. I can’t really comment on David Oyelowo‘s performance as the radical preacher Aaron because I didn’t understand the character at all, although he was convincing as a crazed madman. And I’m surprised Nick Jonas took the part of Prentiss’ son because it was so small and inconsequential.

Chaos Walking had so much potential. The ideas, the characters, and the setting are all ingredients for a solid action-packed adventure so it’s such a shame Doug Liman squandered it and didn’t deliver the goods. There’s still plenty to enjoy in here though so don’t write it off completely.

Available for premium rental at home on all digital platforms from Friday 2nd April

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Cherry: AppleTV+ Film Review


Tom Holland has joined forces with his Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo once again for a completely different kind of project – Cherry. But is it as successful as their previous collaborations? Not so much.

Cherry, based on the semi-autobiographical book of the same name by Nico Walker, tells the story of a US Army medic who suffers PTSD when he returns home and turns to opioids like OxyContin and heroin to numb the pain. To fund his junkie lifestyle, he turns to robbing banks.

That is the plot of Cherry in a nutshell but the film is an epic two hours and 20 minutes, so there is a lot more to it than that. The film is split into five decently-sized chapters bookended by a prologue and an epilogue, which basically depict the same events. Part one is set in 2002 when the protagonist known as Cherry meets Emily (Ciara Bravo) at college and they fall in love. During a brief split, Cherry signs up for the army and drops out of college, marrying Emily just before he goes off to Iraq. The next two chapters cover his two years in the army, and the following two parts depict his return, his PTSD, and his and Emily’s descent into “dope life”.

The film is tonally all over the place. It starts off as this irreverent crime drama, with Holland doing a lot of voiceovers and talking to the camera, then there’s a teen high school romance section, then a war movie, and then a drug/crime movie. It is also way longer than it needs to be – I truly believe we would have been fine if the film had started at part three as the meeting Emily and army training chapters aren’t completely vital to our understanding or connection to the story. I also thought the screenplay was weak, it relied on the voiceover too much, and the film was overstylised, with words occasionally appearing on screen, the aspect ratio changing for no apparent reason, and sometimes there were weird unfocused, grainy elements surrounding a focal point in certain shots.

To his credit, Holland comes out of this quite well. This is his most mature and complex role to date and although I couldn’t quite suspend my belief enough to believe him as a drug addict bank robber, I thought he threw his all into the part, which required him to go to a very dark place emotionally and drop a bit of weight to look frail and deathly thin. There is a scene in which he cries on the phone and I thought he did a terrific job with that. Bravo is completely new to me but I thought she was solid as Emily, although it really annoyed me that she went from being a responsible teacher to taking the “if you can’t beat them join them” approach to taking EFFING HEROIN. Other notable supporting cast members include Jack Reynor as the drug dealer and Forrest Goodluck as Cherry’s pal James.

I know you don’t have to actively enjoy all movies to like or appreciate them, but I found Cherry really bloody depressing. I hated watching these two lovely good-looking kids destroy their lives and slowly kill themselves, and the film depicts their junkie lifestyle in a really grim and gritty detailed way. Needless to say, Cherry really outstays its welcome and becomes a slog to get through.

Streaming on AppleTV+ from Friday 12th March

Rating: 2 out of 5.

The Devil All the Time: Netflix Film Review

The Devil All the Time

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Onward: Film Review


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Top films for March


It’s the start of a new month yet again, which means it is once again time to look ahead at what’s coming to cinemas in March.

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The Current War: Film Review

I was looking forward to The Current War because I felt like it would fill a gap in my knowledge – I knew nothing about George Westinghouse and his involvement with the evolution of electricity – but the film only offers a potted history and I felt ambivalent about the whole thing.

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Spider-Man: Far From Home – Film Review

Spider-Man: Far From Home has a tough job being the first film after Avengers: Endgame so I’m happy to report that MCU fans will come away satisfied.

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It’s about to be the start of a new month, which means it’s time, once again, to look ahead to the films coming to UK cinemas this July.

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