7:00 PM, 10th June, 2017
A Monster Calls is the engrossing tale of Connor (newcomer MacDougall), a young British boy who is enduring a confusing time of his childhood. His mother (Jones) is dying, he is being bullied at school, and his grandmother (Weaver) is placing pressure on him to accept the inevitability of his mother’s death.
Help to guide Connor through this period comes from an unusual and unexpected source: an old yew tree in a cemetery visible from his window. As voiced by Neeson (and what an appropriate voice it is), the tree is there to tell Connor three stories. In exchange, Connor will be obligated to tell the tree a story of his own.
As a tale to help children deal with emotional issues, A Monster Calls rates up there with Inside Out. Where the Pixar classic dealt with anxiety and depression, this film expertly and compassionately guides us through grief and anger. You can’t help but be caught up with young MacDougall’s audacious performance, and the supporting performances are great too: Jones will break your heart, Weaver has a significant scene towards the end showing the reasons behind her motivations, and Neeson is a terrific, soothing, strong storyteller.
Whilst very young children will be scared at some of the scenes in A Monster Calls, it’s a magnificent tale for parents and their older children to sit through together and discuss afterwards. On top of that, it’s a compelling, cathartic and thrilling movie for all audiences.
8:58 PM, 10th June, 2017
In case you’re a little allergic to sappiness and you’re thinking the title is a red flag (too Hallmark, too Oprah) – this is the story of a landmark legal case in the United States, and ‘Loving’ happened to be the last name of the two main people involved. I suppose some puns are just too good to resist.
Mildred and David Loving (Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton) were a couple who were married in Washington, D.C. In their home and neighbouring state of Virginia, their marriage was illegal, because Mildred was black and David was white; so on returning home, they were arrested, and escaped prison sentences only by agreeing to exile. They appealed the decision against them and finally, eight years after their arrest, won in the Supreme Court in 1967.
The film is about loving and the law as well as the Lovings and the law, and in Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter, Mud, Midnight Special) has found the perfect director to prevent it from becoming either too saccharine or too strident. Nichols’s strange stories always seem to be telling themselves, and that works just as well when he’s venturing into territory less strange than his previous work – although that these laws existed in a Western country within living memory is strange enough.