Back to the Cinema – Reel Talk’s Recommendations

Edited by Issy Smith

It finally feels like the world is opening up again for a lot of us and what better way to celebrate than to go back where we all feel at home: the cinema. After a year of laptop screenings and Netflix premiers, going back to the big screen, popcorn in hand and ready to see the next big (or small) film, is a hard treat to refuse. With this in mind, our editorial team have compiled a few of our favourite cinema watches since they reopened.

The Tragedy of Macbeth (Joel Coen, 2021) – Lizzie Uzzel

With cinemas reopening recently, I had the pleasure of seeing Joel Coen’s solo directional debut – The Tragedy of Macbeth. Warwick Arts Centre’s cinema premiered it as part of the 2021 BFI Film Festival. Its limited theatrical release is Christmas day and will be available on Apple TV+ on January 14th. However, after a year of laptop viewings this is a film that begs to be seen on the big screen.

Joel Coen goes it alone and absolutely triumphs. The minimalism and manipulation of light/shadows accompanied by a monochrome filter gives some of the most beautiful and creative cinematography I’ve seen in a long time – achieved by the impressive Bruno Delbonnel. Although taking a different path to his regular work, the confidence in Coen’s direction seeps from the screen. Macbeth has been adapted time and time again (by some directing greats no less) but Coen provides a fresh take that fits perfectly in the 21st century and A24’s filmography. By using Shakespeare’s original dialogue, Coen can pay homage to the play while creating a unique piece of modern art. Prior to viewing I was unsure how well Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand would fit the lead roles, but to no surprise Joel Coen knew better and they flawlessly delivered their performances. The madness, passion and ambition that defines the characters is etched into every movement they make. Other great performances that cannot go unmentioned can be seen from Corey Hawkins (Macduff) and Alex Hassell (Ross).

This is an incredibly strong film by Joel and I believe it warrants many Oscar nods.

Last Night in Soho (Edgar Wright, 2021) – Emily Page

Mystery. Desire. Obsession. Murder. Edgar Wright’s latest film Last Night in Soho is both electrifying and captivating. A tale set in both modern day and 1960s London, we follow aspiring fashion designer and social outcast Eloise (portrayed by the outstanding Thomasin McKenzie) who has the ability to time travel back to the 60s. Here she encounters the seemingly ever-glamorous Sandy, a wannabe singer played by the incredible Anya Taylor Joy, however, Eloise soon realises that this glitz and glam is haunted by something much darker.

Last Night in Soho is without a doubt one of the best films I’ve watched in the cinema, the film completely blew me out of the water. So incredibly thrilling and unique, it was unlike anything I’d ever seen before. This film demands to be seen in cinemas, its gorgeous visuals, soundtrack and score are so much more accentuated on the big screen. What made the cinema experience for me however was the anticipation of what was going to happen next, there’s something about sitting in a room with a group all clouded in anticipation. It was a sensational atmosphere, definitely a cinema experience I will never forget. A must see!

The French Dispatch (Wes Anderson, 2021) – Ben Barnett

The French Dispatch was the first film I saw in the Warwick Arts Centre cinema, and the second film I saw in the cinema since COVID began. This, and the fact that it is a Wes Anderson film, gave me very high expectations for the movie, and I was very excited when I went to see it.

Luckily, it did not disappoint. The film was split into three distinct stories, all from the hands of journalists working at The French Dispatch newspaper, who are putting together its final issue. These segments each featured Wes Anderson’s unique storybook style, with symmetrical sets, vibrant, inspired colour pallets, as well as a shocking use of black and white. I felt, perhaps, that Anderson was purely trying to prove that his style didn’t rely on colour, though of course the use of greyscale contributed to the stories, especially the first, which revolved around art and the artist.

The acting was incredible. Again, with the signature of Wes Anderson dialogue which was simultaneously overly philosophical and entirely natural, the performers made their mark. I especially enjoyed Léa Seydoux as Simone the prison warden (and artistic muse) with her stone-cold expression.

Each story felt exactly like a written article: short, eloquent, poignant, and with a slice-of-life energy to it. There was a distinct pointlessness to it all. No story finished in an entirely satisfying way, and by the end of the film the only thing that had been accomplished was completing the final issue of the newspaper itself. However, that isn’t to say the film itself was pointless. Sometimes, life is pointless, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it.

And enjoy it I did! Each story, however random, gave me something to think about. Whether it be the value of art, the spirit of rebellion, or race and sexuality and how much they truly mean in the grand scheme of things. It was incredibly thought-provoking and hid a lot underneath the surface. All around, an amazing film which didn’t disappoint me in the slightest.

Titane (Julia Ducournau, 2021) – Nikki Wilks

One of the most exciting trips to the cinema that I’ve had post-lockdown was to watch Julia Ducournau’s Palme d’Or winning masterpiece Titane. I’m so glad that the only thing I knew about Titane before going to see it in the flashy new Warwick Arts Centre facility was that I wanted to see it. There is no synopsis or trailer that could do this film justice without ruining it; for this reason, I’ll keep this piece as concise as possible in an effort to avoid spoilers.

Titane is a monumental work of cinema. It captivates and enthrals as much as it horrifies and repulses, all while leaving you teary eyed and not quite sure what emotion you’re experiencing. Is it euphoria? Is it sadness? Is it dread?  It is a celebration of what it means to be a human. Pushing away societal norms, gender identity and sexuality along the way. Ducournau focuses on the flesh and bones that we all share. She slaps us with the notion that even though all that we share are blood and tissue, we yearn to love as much as we yearn for someone to love. Being able to share this wave of profound emotions with a room full of people was an experience that I will never forget.

Perhaps it was simply the fact that I had become so accustomed to watching films on my laptop or through my cracked screen of my phone over the pandemic, but the visuals were something which really blew me away: they were some of the most outstanding that I have seen for a long time. Perhaps this is the reason that Titane begs to be experienced on a big screen.

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