BOMBSHELL

Cert 15 Stars 5

This shocking, compelling and explosive real life drama explores the real life serial sexual abuse at the top of a TV network and the drama is powered by several brilliant and award worthy performances.

Oscar nominated Charlize Theron and Margot Robbie are joined by Nicole Kidman to complete an outstanding trio of talent, playing the sharp, smart, professional and highly polished news presenters, seeking to bring down the predatory boss of the Fox News TV network, Roger Ailes.

John Lithgow makes the most powerful man in American TV a horribly grasping and paranoid figure, who’s created an atmosphere of fear in order to maintain his monstrous regime of systematic sexual abuse.

Fox News and Ailes himself lack the cultural resonance in the UK they have across the pond, but imagine if Holly Willougby, Alex Jones and Steph McGovern announced they and a dozen more presenters had been abused by the Director General of the BBC, and you’d have some idea of the high profile shockwaves the case caused.

Robbie plays a fictional ambitious new employee called Kayla who’s model looks and  sweet nature puts her immediately on Ailes’ radar.

However it’s Theron who dominates the film as Megyn Kelly, Fox’s most high profile journalist, a spiky and demanding presence who describes herself as a lawyer not a feminist, and is more keen on high ratings than popularity with her colleagues.

Kidman has the least flashy but vital role as Gretchen Carlson, who sues Ailes after being demoted then fired after refusing Ailes sexual advances, which leads to his behaviour being made public for the first time.

Sadly the three actresses only appear altogether in the one brief scene, so we’re denied the fun of seeing three great acts sparking off each other.

The sheer volume of testimony is extraordinary and the scale of abuse is staggering, especially as we’re left with a postscript which is perhaps the most devastating revelation of all.

WEATHERING WITH YOU

Cert 12A Stars 4

This soaring animated adventure is a wondrous coming-of-age fable which drowns in a flood of gorgeous illustration and threatens to wash you away with its tender humour and emotional currents.

When 16 year old Hodaka runs away to Tokyo he falls for the beautiful Hina, a teenager possessed of the magical ability to make the rain stop sun shine.

As Japan suffers a deluge of biblical proportions, it’s a timely gift is which they put to practical use, but it comes with a terrible price which threatens the happiness of these star-crossed lovers.

Drawing on mythic tales of weather maidens and Sky dragons, and featuring a cast of colourful characters Charles Dickens would be proud of, it’s a whirlpool of eco-fantasy, and poignant love story of teenagers struggling to adapt to life in the big bad city.

Brit actor Riz Ahmed is joined by Lee Pace and Alison Brie in putting their voices to this this joyous affair which is a guaranteed ray of sun in the cold dark days of January.

 

SEBERG

Cert 15 Stars 2

Celebrity, activism, FBI dirty tricks, and a mental breakdown are wasted in this sympathetic if timid and low key and dull dramatisation of the tragic downfall of actress, Jean Seberg.

It’s easy to see why Kristen Stewart was drawn to playing Seberg as her career has similarly moved between blockbusters to prestigious French dramas, and the Twilight star is again excellent.

This begins in 1968 and covers a three year period when Seberg was hounded out of Hollywood by the media after being fed stories by the FBI.

They had Seberg under constant surveillance as they considered her association with revolutionary group The Black Panthers to be a threat to national security, and wanted to ‘neutralize’ her influence on her young fans.

It’s suggested Seberg became mentally ill as a result, which eventually her death aged forty, having had her Hollywood career deliberately destroyed almost a decade earlier.

Though starring in a mega flop musical western alongside Clint Eastwood as a singing gold prospector can’t have helped.

 

A HIDDEN LIFE

Cert 12A Stars 2

Nothing less than the existence of god and the meaning of life are the lofty themes explored in this typically frustrating and contemplative Second World War drama by US arthouse director, Terrence Malick.

With terminal intensity August Diehl plays Franz, an Austrian farmer who in 1940 refuses to volunteer to serve in the armed forces and swear allegiance to Hitler, a decision which brings him into conflict with his community and the authorities and has fearsome consequences for his wife and three young daughters.

Malick remains defiant in refusing to engage in crowd pleasing melodrama, and his non-linear narrative, mournful soundtrack, and sparsity of dialogue is burnished by some arresting cinematography of the Alps.

This is not quite as painfully dull and self-absorbed as his recent films, Knight of Cups and Song to Song, for which he was deservedly pilloried and which failed to bother the box office.

However it’s easy to surmise what drew Malick to this tale of martyrdom in the face of an uncaring world.

JUST MERCY

Cert 12A Stars 3

Racism, corruption and injustice litter this solid, aspirational and heartfelt true life death row courtroom drama which challenges the institutions of the US to do better.

In a change of pace from playing boxer Adonis Creed, in Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky sequels, Michael B. Jordan’s articulate dignity anchors the story as a fresh young and naive Harvard lawyer who moves to the deep south of Alabama to overturn suspect convictions.

Former Oscar winner Jamie Foxx gives an impassioned performance as a death row inmate who on the word of one unreliable witness and no evidence, was convicted of killing an eighteen year old white woman.

The script forgoes grandstanding dramatics and legal trickery in favour of quiet integrity, and makes good use of the setting of  Monroeville, which boasts of being the home of Harper Lee, author of the novel, To Kill A Mockingbird.

And the film is clearly a statement African Americans no longer need white saviours such as Atticus Finch to fight their legal battles for them.

HOBBS AND SHAW

Cert 12 Stars 4

Stuffed full of slick spectacular stunts action, fans of the Fast and Furious franchise will love this petrol and testosterone-fuelled blockbuster spin-off which sees Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham star in a typically muscle bound, knuckle-headed and banter-filled bromance.

The rival agents are forced to team up to track down a stolen deadly virus, which is also being sought by a cybernetically modified enemy agent played by Idris Elba, having great fun as a ‘black superman’.

With Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, and a kick ass Vanessa Kirby who muscles in on the action.

RAMBO: LAST BLOOD

Cert 18 Stars 2

Sylvester Stallone returns in his fifth hard-hitting action thriller as the former Green Beret and Vietnam War veteran, John J. Rambo, a long suffering one-man army of revenge who faces his Alamo moment in this perfunctory and presumably final episode.

A blood bath of limited invention for the series’ the diminishing number of fans, it sees Rambo offering violent solutions to the bloodthirsty Mexican cartel from whom he must defend his Arizona ranch.

Compared to his reinvigorated boxing franchise Rocky, this is a poor send off for a one time pop culture phenomenon and a box office powerhouse.