La La Land
As if we needed a reminder that Ryan Gosling was a beacon of perfection, with that voice and those moves he proves without a shadow of a doubt that he is (Ryan, if you're reading this, call me). This year's top contender for the Oscars sees Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone channel Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in this wistfully romantic musical that recalls the golden days of Hollywood. This sometimes sad, sometimes funny, and altogether sweet film is smart and, despite being firmly rooted in Old Hollywood musicals, wholly refreshing. Also showing at Picturehouse Central and The Ritzy Picturehouse from Jan. 8.
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Son of Joseph
An angsty, religious youth who has grown up with a single mother becomes fixated on finding out who his father is, despite his mother's refusal to tell him. After finding a lead, he discovers that biology does not make a father - a revelation which makes room for someone else to step into those shoes. Infused with director Eugene Green's trademark use of Biblical imagery and crisp cinematography, The Son of Joseph is a dryly witty drama about family and ~finding yourself~. Also showing at Picturehouse Central, Rio Cinema, and Cine Lumiere.
Scorcese's ode to Christian martyrdom sees Eastern faith conflated against Western religion on the stage of 17th Century Japan. In what is actually the third adaptation of Shūsaku Endō's 1966 novel by the same name, this (in part due to its A-list director/producer) is the most successful one yet. Scorsese explores themes of silent faith with poetry and fervour, backed by the stellar performances of Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield. Also showing at Tricycle Cinema.
Manchester by the Sea
This is the film Jimmy Fallon called "the only thing from 2016 more depressing than 2016," but don't let that dissuade you. One of the most emotional films of the year, Casey Affleck's performance just won him the Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama. With sweeping cinematography across a cold, desolate town, the visuals match the whole soul-in-pieces vibe of the storyline in a way that lends palpability to Affleck's character's emptiness. Also showing at Curzon Bloomsbury, Canterbury, Chelsea, Soho, Sheffield, and Wimbledon; Picturehouse Central, Ritzy Picturehouse, Hackney Picturehouse, BFI Southbank, Rio Cinema, The Barbican Centre, and pretty much everywhere else.
The lads are back in town! They say that when it comes to heroin, nothing beats your first high, but Danny Boyle's second hit comes pretty close. Renton, Sick Boy, Spud, and Begbie are 20 years older but not necessarily wiser — Renton's back after being on the run and seeking amends from his old pals just as Begbie, who isn't too keen on forgiving and forgetting, gets out of prison. Expect a killer soundtrack (featuring Wolf Alice and Young Fathers amongst others), and plenty of nods to the original film to satisfy all the nostalgics out there. Also showing at Curzons Victoria, Canterbury, Aldgate, Sheffield, Knutsford and Wimbledon; Picturehouse Central, Hackney Picturehouse, ArtHouse Crouch End, and BFI Imax.