Redbrick Film critics preview upcoming UK releases for summer 2019 and share their personal recommendations
Toy Story 4
After what can only be described as a near-perfect trilogy of films, viewers with a nostalgic connection to the Toy Story films must feel somewhere in-between overjoyed, excitement and nervous anticipation for the fourth addition.
From the trailers, this film seems to be addressing the same themes as the previous two; witnessing the change and growth of a child through the eyes of their toys, making them question their own purpose. Unless there are some surprises, it seems as if this film will follow a similar cycle to previous instalments of the series, and it may just be another excuse to return to this incredibly charming world with its old familiar characters.
While retaining the appearance of the boyish, rosy-cheeked cowboy we met in 1995, Woody in 2019 seems as warm and wise as Tom Hanks himself. The film also features a return of Annie Potts’ Bo Peep, who, from promotional images and trailers, seems to have taken on a much more active role in the story than in the first two films – her skirt symbolically exchanged for a cape. There is also the usual astonishing list of names in the cast, from Jordan Peele to Christina Hendricks to Keanu Reeves, who plays the Canadian daredevil Duke Caboom.
The most significant addition to the Toy Story saga however, must be Tony Hale’s Forky. Rather than the usual commercial toy-franchise parody, Forky is a plastic ‘spork’ made by Bonnie. As well as potentially directing the film in a more existential direction, he could also act as a comment on Disney’s own merchandising machine, showing that creativity is overall the most meaningful asset to a child, and that you can create the best toys out of what to others seems like junk.
In cinemas now – check out Redbrick Film’s review here
Last year, we saw modern horror come to life through Ari Aster’s bone-chilling creation, Hereditary; following in its footsteps was never going to be easy. But the unnerving intrigue of the initial scenes we see in the trailer for Midsommar could easily rival it, and leave us all fearing the summer festival season.
Jack Reynor and Florence Pugh will lead the cast into a darkness hidden beneath a seemingly welcoming pagan Swedish festival-like community. The ever so slightly out of tune violin scratching away in the background of the trailer makes for a very unsettling experience, suggesting dark pagan practices and psychological uncertainties ahead. Aster’s ‘folk-horror’ film seems to want to encompass very different elements compared to last year’s Hereditary. Maypole dancing, alongside traditional folklore and ritual chanting under the Scandinavian sun, creates a disquieting sense of dread and anticipation for a terrifying discovery for our protagonists.
Flashes of evil rituals taking place in broad daylight set the scene for quite the unconventional horror, certainly not the typical haunted house horror we are used to watching. I have to be honest, the trailer was hard to finish, but perhaps the best sign of a good horror is exactly this. An absolute must watch this summer!
Released 5th July
This summer will be dominated by action and superhero flicks, all guns blazing with brutal action, vying for the flashiest on-screen fights. So how about something on the more comedic side of things to add some levity to our outings at the cinema? Luckily, there are a few choice offerings in this department.
Stuber is a bit of a risk to get excited for, but has the ingredients to pull off a charming comedy about an Uber driver having to drive a grizzled detective hot on the heels of a terrorist. For one, the aforementioned driver and detective duo are portrayed by Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick) and Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy, Spectre), a double act that could prove to strike comedic gold in this kind of setting. Add to this a strong premise that has potential for some great laughs, and a director in Michael Dowse who has an eye for the genre with 2011’s Goon on his resume, and the potential for a surprisingly strong comedy is there.
The key word here is ‘potential’. Of course, there is a risk that the elements may not all come together as seamlessly as anticipated. Stuber could however be a fun contrast compared to everything else this summer. With big budget franchises going all out with large action set-pieces and horror trying to instil fear in the world, there should be reminders that cinema can still make us laugh at our action heroes as well as be gripped by them. Hopefully the ride will be a good one.
Released 12th July
Most horror films are fortunate enough to scare their audiences; Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook did just this, but was also critically acclaimed and spawned an iconic new cinematic monster which endeared itself to a wider audience by becoming a bizarre gay icon. As it turns out, seeing the Babadook at a pride parade has done nothing to make it less scary, which makes Jennifer Kent’s return with The Nightingale even more tantalising.
Set in 19th century Tasmania, it sees an Irish convict and aboriginal tracker travel through the wilderness to seek revenge on the British occupiers who murdered her daughter. Kent writes and directs once more. Let’s hope that she can sustain the auteurist voice which seemed so clear in The Babadook, as well as the avalanche of scares and surprises which made it such a thrill in the first place.
The Nightingale premiered at the Venice Film Festival last summer, before its general release in August this year. Kent was the only woman with a film in competition, but she clearly left her mark, as reviews warn that its fury at real-world history translates into a horror which is not for the faint of heart. Should we have expected anything else?
Released 2nd August
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
Having returned from his Civil War era movies, one dubbed as a ‘southern’ rather than a ‘western’, Quentin Tarantino now takes us to the world of late sixties Hollywood. The title is a reference to two films by Sergio Leone, one of Tarantino’s biggest influences, who directed Once Upon A Time In The West and Once Upon a Time In America. This nod to the Italian director follows his last film, The Hateful Eight which featured a score by Ennio Morricone, who along with Leone, virtually created the sound of the spaghetti western.
The film had a big showing at Cannes and features Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt as an actor/stunt-double duo, who Tarantino has likened to the seventies superstars Robert Redford and Paul Newman. It also features Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate, and her murderer, Charles Manson, played by Damon Herriman. As with Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained before it, Once Upon a Time In Hollywood could provide Tarantino another way to play around with history in his usual, ultra-violent manner.
Despite this, the film seems to be less of a genre focused film than his last three pictures, closing in on a more meta-cinematic feature that the Coen brothers attempted with Hail, Caesar! Tarantino has also hinted that the structure of the film will be close to that of Pulp Fiction, which, seven movies and twenty-five years later, could come with varying results.
Released 14th August
It: Chapter Two
Andy Muschietti’s 2017 take on Stephen King’s It did damn near everything right. Being a coming-of-age film first and a horror flick second allowed for a fresh horror film, one that kept all the best parts of King adaptations, noughties horror movies, and classic teen movies of the late 20th century. His sequel is due out at the start of September, and looks to round out a summer of excellent movies.
Andy and Barbara Muschietti return to screenwriting duties, with a cast including Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, Andy Bean, and Isaiah Mustafa as the elderly Losers Club, with the original kids and Bill Skarsgard returning from the first film. Chapter Two takes place mostly 27 years after the events of the first film, and the footage we have seen so far is excellent.
After the release of the first film, Pennywise (Skarsgard) became something of an online sensation, which is why it is surprising to see so little of him in this teaser – but that ultimately works in favour of building up anticipation for the new instalment. The trailer’s opening scene is reminiscent of the slow-burn horror of It Follows, or It Comes At Night (two of my favourite horror movies this century), thankfully hinting at less reliance on the jump scares that held the first film back.
The question remains, can they do it again? The presence of adult actors means the teenage drama of the first film is off limits, but if the original, the new trailer, and King’s source material are anything to go by, this is set to be a cracker. Fingers crossed we’ll float again come September.
Released 6th September