Great new movies come in threes

I think great new movies come in threes, as the ones I saw premiered at the 61st London Film Festival are films you should be excited about.

The London Film Festival opened its doors for the 61st time in October to premiere another mouth-watering collection of new movies and I was there. It only seemed like the blink of an eye since I previewed the collection of films I was seeing at the festival last year in my post Four marvellous new movies bound for glory.

This time, rather than just preview the trio of films I’d chosen to see, I felt I should share some of my initial thoughts on them, as following their screenings they led me to come up with my post’s title – great new movies come in threes.

And so those movies are:

Stronger (UK release date: 8 December 2017) – director David Gordon Green; stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany and Miranda Richardson.

Stronger was the best film I saw at this year’s festival – it’s absolutely superb. Telling the true story of Jeff Bauman (played exceptionally by Jake Gyllenhaal and surely to be Oscar-nominated) who is caught up in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and then has to learn to live again in its aftermath, it will move you to tears and make you glow with pride at its heroism.

The movie is grittily told by Gordon Green, with the working-class, blue collar Boston milieu of Bauman’s world wonderfully evoked and the performances by Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany (from TV’s Orphan Black) as his on / off girlfriend Erin and the fantastic Miranda Richardson as his formidable mother Patty make this an out-and-out must see.

Last Flag Flying (UK release date: 26 January 2018) – director Richard Linklater; stars Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston and Laurence Fishburne.

Linklater’s new film, after his Oscar-winning Boyhood and more recent frat comedy Everybody Wants Some! couldn’t be more different, as Last Flag Flying follows Steve Carell’s emotionally scarred ‘Doc’ whose recent bereavements have lead him to the rough ‘n ready pub owned by his old Vietnam buddy Sal (an ebullient Bryan Cranston).

From there, they hook up with their initially reluctant fellow veteran Richard (a stately Laurence Fishburne) because ‘Doc’ has a mission he needs their help with. If that all sounds quite serious, it is but there are also light moments that pepper this beautifully wrought drama about the value of friendship and the lengths people will go for one another. Linklater has created a very affecting journey here that’s almost a sequel to Hal Ashby’s 1973 movie The Last Detail and it’s one you should definitely see.

Downsizing (UK release date: 19 January 2018) – director Alexander Payne; stars Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz, Kristen Wiig and Hong Chau.

In one of my posts back in 2013, I called Matt Damon ‘the new everyman’. And writer / director Payne has certainly utilised that quality in his latest film. It’s a clever social satire about the trials of ordinary man Paul Safranek caught up in sci-fi type scheme of shrinking people as a solution to Earth’s over population. But of course the seemingly idyllic small world that awaits Damon and his wife Kristen Wiig has just as many pitfalls and problems as our normal sized existence.

Christoph Waltz delivers his usual charismatic supporting turn as Damon’s wacky neighbour Dusan but the revelation of the picture is Thai actress Hong Chau as the refugee Ngoc Lan Tran who Safranek meets in his new world. She is my tip for next year’s Oscar for Best Supporting Actress as Chau gives quite the most eye-catching performance I’ve seen for some time. Whilst I don’t feel Downsizing is Payne’s best movie, his customary mixture of wit and pathos and Chau’s winning performance mean this is a film you should catch.

So the next few months yield some fabulous cinematic experiences – make sure you track them down when they’re on release.

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