Cert 15 Stars 5

One of the most shameful trials in US history is brought to vivid life by a top drawer cast, cracking production values and a dynamite script in this tremendously entertaining, timely and intense courtroom drama, set in 1969 against a background of civil unrest and Vietnam War protest.

The Chicago Seven were a combative group of combative egos charged with conspiring to incite the riots which had erupted outside the Democratic Party convention the previous summer.

Among the accused are Brit actors playing to their strengths, with Borat star Sacha Baron Cohen providing a lot of sharp-edged humour, while Eddie Redmayne gives an anguished performance which suggests being self-serving, spineless and condescending comes easily to the posh actor.

President Nixon’s newly appointed administration is intent on making an example of the defendants and are seeking the maximum sentence of 10 years in jail apiece, and proceedings are marked by dirty tricks including jury tampering, police officers lying under oath, and a judge unfit for purpose.

The use of TV footage from the time to lend authenticity to flashbacks, plus with the racism, sexual assault, bloody violence and willingness of the executive to exploit the law to pursue a political agenda, it’s impossible not to see comparisons with events on either side of the pond today.

There’s no greater writer of dialogue working today in Hollywood than director Aaron Sorkin, whose career began with writing Jack Nicholson’s A Few Good Men, before going on to create TV drama, The West Wing and win an Oscar for The Social Network.

Another superb showcase for his talent, he expertly narrows down a lengthy complex trial into an easily understandable narrative, while the exchanges, especially between Frank Langella’s judge and Mark Rylance’s defence lawyer are jaw dropping.

Relevant, distressing and gripping throughout, it also sees Michael Keaton in a small but vital role, for which he should be Oscar nominated. If there’s any justice that is.


Cert PG Stars 4

A wonderfully fresh take on Baker Street’s famous detective, this is a captivating and hugely entertaining period mystery-adventure which offers adventure, action, romance, some light detecting, a huge amount of charm, and is anchored by a dazzling turn by one of Britain’s best young actresses.

Millie Bobby Brown’s talent and charisma is familiar to the multitude of fans of Netflix series Stranger Things, but even they will be surprised by her outrageously spirited, confident and appealing screen presence here, as she owns the film with irrepressible brio as the wonderfully bright, funny and ass-kicking wayward sixteen year old younger sister of revered detective, Sherlock Holmes.

Addressing the camera with a conspiratorial manner which would make Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge blush for it’s complicity, she’s trying to solve the mystery of her missing mother, played in flashback by a winning Helena Bonham Carter.

Needing a pair of stuffed shirts to play her pompous and over-privileged posh older brothers, Sherlock and Mycroft, the producers plumbed for Henry Cavil and Sam Claflin, Brit actors who aren’t asked to step out of their comfort zone. An absolute treat.


Cert PG Stars 5

This hugely important and inspiring documentary warning of impending catastrophe is all the more terrifying for being delivered by the most trusted and respected broadcaster Britain has ever produced.

Standing among the radioactive ruins of Chernobyl, Sunday evening TV favourite and all-round national treasure David Attenborough addresses us in his familiar humble and dignified manner, while his location underlines his argument climate change is a man-made mistake and we need to clean it up. And fast.

Now 93 years old but with no less passion than when he presented his first TV programme, and driven from the knowledge he can’t carry on forever, there’s an unmistakable urgency in his tone.

Giving us a whistle stop tour of his globetrotting career, he persuasively argues his very longevity as an expert on the natural world gives him a unique perspective and makes him the perfect person to deliver this most dire of warnings.

A companion piece to his recent TV show, Extinction: The Facts, he points out with our planet having witnessed five major extinction events in its lifetime – the last being the dinosaurs – we are pushing the Earth towards a sixth, with ourselves the victim.

Having presented us with a terrifying litany of destruction he proceeds to offer a terrifying view of our kids’ potential future, and it’s shocking seeing this most optimistic and beloved of TV personalities in a moment of despair.

And yet he moves on to convince us we possess the means to reverse the damage done and create a clean world for future generations, turning this into an uplifting call to arms and a celebration of the wonder of life.

As ever he’s accompanied by a supporting cast of tigers, gorillas, polar bears and more, while the photography from mountains to oceans and savannahs is as breathtaking as we’d expect.

All climate change deniers should be strapped to a chair with their eyes clamped open and forced to watch. On repeat.


Cert PG Stars 3

Get the new academic year off to a royal start by sending the kids to school for superheroes with this modern day sci-fi fantasy action caper which in typical Disney style of enjoyable breezy polished fun.

Disney Channel star Peyton Elizabeth Lee, bright lively presence as Sam, a princess second in line to the throne of a fictional European kingdom who’s astonished to find she has superpowers and belongs to a secret society dedicated to keeping the world safe.

Pop songs and street protests mix with gadgets, guns, family secrets and sibling rivalry when Greg Bryk’s baddie causes chaos at a coronation


Cert 12A Stars 4

Guaranteed to make your blood boil with anger, this easily digestible documentary provides an historic oversight to capitalism and offers an explanation for the often unfathomable actions of the UK government.

Rather than capitalism delivering social progress since the fall of the Berlin Wall, economic data suggests we’re been deliberately taken back to a model of 18th century capitalism, with vast differentials in wealth, health, education and so on.

The slightest fig leaf of optimism is unconvincingly applied at the end, otherwise this is a deserved knife in the heart of the myth we’re all in this together.


Cert 12A Stars 3

Late life romance, lots of fresh air and plenty of gentle exercise are the basis for this unassuming and heartfelt low budget British drama.

Scouse born actress Alison Steadman and Dave Johns, the Geordie comic who detoured into straight acting in Ken Loach’s 2016 hard-hitting social drama I, Daniel Blake, are engaging company on a languid stroll which offers time for reflection on the concerns of ageing in Britain.

They play dog-walkers who they meet by chance in an idyllic London park and during 23 walks edge towards an understanding, but potential happiness is threatened by a lack of honesty.


Cert 15 Stars 4

A fraught mother and daughter relationship is at the heart of this wonderful bittersweet drama of empowerment and resilience, anchored by Nicole Beharie who delivers a performance of remarkable range.

As Turquoise Jones, Beharie’s a single mother and former teen beauty queen who enters her 15-year-old daughter in the local pageant, the winner of which is crowned Miss Juneteenth, and receives a full scholarship to university.

Alexis Chikaeze plays the reluctant Kai with all too believable disinterest, and has little interest in following in her mother’s footsteps down the catwalk of the African American beauty pageant, which recognises the day the slaves of Texas found out they were free, fully two years after Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation.

Written with clear-eyed observation and empathy by Channing Godfrey Peoples on an accomplished feature directorial debut, she crams in a great deal of social comment and friction with precision and economy.

Turquoise’s own mother offers another area of all realistic inter-generational conflict, however there’s a welcome note of optimism at the end to add an emotional flourish to the terrific soundtrack.


Cert PG Stars 4

Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter get the band back together as their goofy time travelling rock musicians return with a third knockabout sci-fi adventure comedy.

As they once more travel back to the future and all about in a phone box, they must compose the greatest song ever written to unite the world in rhythm and harmony to save reality, but have only 75 minutes to do it.

First appearing as Bill and Ted in their 1989 Excellent Adventure and returning in 1991’s Bogus Journey, the stars generate the same warm charm and silly earnest chemistry, and have great fun playing different versions of their future selves.

As the playful script pays homage to the history of popular music, Jimi Hendrix, Louis Armstrong and Mozart among the famous artists encountered, as well as a killer robot.

Upcoming talents of Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine are the new kids on the block and are endearingly bright eyed as Bill and Ted’s  adult daughters, and many fan favourites appear – not least William Sadler as the Grim Reaper.

Brisk, funny, nostalgic and with a great deal of heart, it’s an uplifting power chord of love, signalling it’s time to be most excellent to each other, and not forgetting to party on dudes!


Cert 18 Stars 4

Violence, prejudice, loyalty and rivalry feature heavily in this powerful Kiwi biker drama which features enjoyable camaraderie between horrifying scenes of drugs, prostitution and child abuse.

Australian actor Jake Ryan is immense as the brooding and volatile gang enforcer known as Damage, who’s torn between his biological family and his surrogate family, a biker gang called The Savages, a conflict which threatens his lifelong friendship with gang president, Moses.

With alarming facial tattoos, Ryan is a real life Taekwondo black belt and brings an all too believable ferocity to the brutality while also essaying a moving portrayal of the wounded integrity and inner turmoil of a man weary of being feared,

Strong in detail and sense of place, ambitious in its scope yet intimate in mood, writer and director Sam Kelly spreads his narrative over 30 years and coaxes lovely performances from the child actors as younger versions of the characters.

Inspired by the true stories of New Zealand’s criminal underworld, this a little explored aspect of New Zealand society, far more often associated in cinema with the lovable and genteel Hobbits.


Cert 12A Stars 3

The abundance of breezy light-hearted charm in this enjoyable escapist New York romcom is in large part to the irrepressible screen presence of its hugely engaging and likeable star, Geraldine Viswanathan.

She was great in 2018’s comedy hit Blockers where she starred as John Cena’s screen daughter on a wild night out, and again she’s delightful here, anchoring the good natured tale with energetic confidence, comic timing and no small talent, addressing the camera in a confessional manner as she negotiates the hurdles of life and love as a 26 year old in the Big Apple.

As Lucy, a vaguely ditzy 26 year old and extreme hoarder of sentimental bric-a-brac, who in the wake of suffering two relationship break-ups within the first ten minutes, is ordered by her friends to declutter her life.

However taking her bits and pieces and those given by others, she creates a public art space she calls ‘the broken hearts gallery’.

Providing romance and proving opposite attracts, is the understated presence of Dacre Montgomery as Nick, who’s much more minimalist in his taste, and is trying to build a boutique hotel almost from scratch, a great example of the type of aspirational lifestyle career everyone here seems to be enjoying.

And of course Lucy has a pair of best friends to provide frank sex talk, emotional support and break up advice.

A passion project for actress turned producer, Selena Gomez, it’s skilfully marshalled by writer Natalie Krinsky in her directorial debut and her smart script provides her bright eyed cast with some nice lines and enjoyable exchanges.

Though she has a nice eye for the absurdity of people’s obsessive behaviour, Krinsky is kind to a fault to her characters, meaning Utkarsh Ambudkar as Lucy’s ex-boyfriend lacks the bad boy allure Hugh Grant deployed so effectively in Bridget Jones’ Diary.

I enjoyed watching it but it will speak more loudly to an audience younger than myself, and my twentysomething niece and her girly mates will probably love it.