It was Orson Welles who once said “only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone”. Well, whether or not you have someone to hold on to this month, you can rest assure that there’ll be love and companionship waiting for you within the sweet embrace of your local cinema.
As this is, by tradition, the month to celebrate all things romantic, it’s of little surprise that much of February’s slate focuses on this most nurturing of human impulses. Those who love to express themselves in an old romantic fashion will no doubt be keen to soak up the atmosphere of Grease and Casablanca, both re-released nationwide especially for Valentines Day. While those of a kinkier nature will surely have already booked tickets for Sam Taylor-Johnson’s highly anticipated adaption of E.L. James’ steamy sex novel Fifty Shades of Grey.
Love is not the only thing permeating through the air-conditioned auditoriums this month though. Snubbed by both the Oscars and BAFTAS but celebrated by us, Selma is a superbly mounted study of Martin Luther King that quite rightly sits pride of place as Culturefly’s top film pick for February. While The Interview, a film that looked destined to be blithely chucked out like a bunch of dead roses mere months ago, is finally being released in UK cinemas this month and headlines our jam-packed comedy section below.
What this all basically boils down to is that it doesn’t matter whether it’s whips and toys that turn you on, or the opportunity to see a modern day dictator assassinated by two bumbling idiots. Whatever floats your boat, there’s definitely going to be something you’ll love at the cinema this month!
February’s Top Pick
Selma (Dir. Ava Duvernay – Released Feb. 6th
Every year the Awards Season is cast in a shadow of disgust and anger by fans of the films that were snubbed. Last year it was the lack of love for the Coen Brothers’ musical masterpiece Inside Llewyn Davis that sparked fury from the masses. This year, it is the almost complete dismissal of Selma by the Academy that has boiled the blood of the public.
Held together by an unforgettable, awards-worthy performance from David Oyelowo as the legendary African-American Civil Rights leader, Selma chronicles Martin Luther King’s campaign to obtain equal voting rights via an epic march between Selma and Montgomery in 1965. In the face of violent opposition, King was able to secure one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement by convincing President Johnson to sign the Voting Rights Act.
Ever since the Oscar Nominations were announced, much of the publicity surrounding Selma has focused on its awards snubbing. But the emphasis should actually be placed on all that the film accomplishes. Director DuVernay succinctly splits her time between the Civil Rights March and Luther King himself, offering a rounded portrait of this milestone in American history. Audiences are guaranteed to see the achievements of this exceptional film, but it looks as if the hopes of seeing it recognised by the Academy is simply the stuff of dreams.
For The Lovers
Valentine’s Day weekend is, without doubt, going to be the busiest time at the cinemas this month. And the film that’s set to dominate this year is Fifty Shades of Grey (Feb. 13th), Sam Taylor-Johnson’s hot and horny adaptation of E.L. James’ novel. The BBFC recently gave the film a 15 certificate with the teasing warning that it contains “graphic nudity and unusual behaviour”, meaning fans are unlikely to be left chaste. However, if it really is anything like the book, then Fifty Shades is likely to be less sexy and more sleazy.
Indeed, for those looking for some true romance to indulge in with their other half, it is to the past they must turn, with a sing-a-long special of Grease being played for one day only at Cineworld cinemas across the country on Valentine’s Day. While on the following day Casablanca, arguably one of the greatest love stories ever told on the screen is back in cinemas for a special one-off event. If you’ve never seen it before, then this may be the start of a beautiful filmic friendship.
Love is in the air across the cinematic slate this month. Despite what the title suggests, love is anything but an odd impulse in Love Is Strange (Feb. 6th). Instead, it is soft, subtle, nurturing, and natural. We first saw this when it was on the festival circuit last year, and can say from the bottom of our hearts that it is a film you’ll fall for at first sight. Meanwhile, those titillated by the concept of Fifty Shades, but after a richer and more rewarding reflection of domination and desire should submit to the enticing allure of Peter Strickland’s The Duke Of Burgundy (Feb. 20th). Burgundy is very much a visually poetic journey, as is Hinterland (Feb. 27th), the directorial debut of British born actor Harry Macqueen. Made on a meagre budget of £8000 and shot on the Cornish coast, this touching tale of two friends reuniting after years spent apart considers love from within a different, but equally as distinguishable context.
Those fed up with love or looking for something a bit more simplistically sentimental, may prefer to turn their attentions towards Cake (Feb. 20th). Jennifer Aniston received a Golden Globe nomination for her performance here as a woman undergoing severe trauma. And while her performance is certainly admirable, it doesn’t stop the film from being distinctly average.
Back in December, it looked as if Seth Rogen’s grand idea to make a film about the assassination of Kim Jong Un was a joke too far. Well now we get to finally see if it is actually funny with the release of The Interview (Feb. 6th). Early word on the film has been decidedly mixed, but if it’s crude humour and controversy you’re after then you’ll doubtless be entertained.
Those looking for a film to keep the young ones amused over the half term period need look no further than the Shaun The Sheep Movie (Feb. 6th). This latest big screen adventure by those great guys from Aardman Animation is a warm and comforting woolly jumper of a movie that sees Shaun, with his flock in tow, heading to the big city after his owner goes missing. We’ve seen it and it’s baa-rilliant!
If this cold, biting weather leaves you desperately craving some inner warmth, then why not join Maggie Smith & co. who journey back to India and check in to The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Feb. 26th), which sees the whole gang from the first film (plus a few fresh faces) coming together to celebrate the impending marriage of Dev Patel’s Sonny. Or alternatively let Eddie Marsan warm your heart in Uberto Pasolini’s Still Life (Feb. 6th). Here Marsan plays a lonely council caseworker looking for the relatives of those who have died alone, a job which soon takes him on a liberating journey of love and self-discovery.
Action & Excitement
Can you believe that it’s been nearly 16 years since we first entered The Matrix? Well now, after various delays, it is time to journey to another world created by the Wachowski siblings with the release of Jupiter Ascending (Feb. 6th). Transporting us to a bright and colourful galaxy that’s far, far away, this spirited-looking space opera pits Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum against a sinisterly pale Eddie Redmayne in a battle for supremacy of the universe. If it’s a hit like The Matrix, then expect a couple of sub-par sequels to emerge in a few years time.
One director who shows little interest in sequels is Michael Mann, so it’s likely that his latest film Blackhat (Feb. 20th) is unlikely to spawn a franchise. There’s every possibility it’ll get people talking though, with its focus on high-level cybercrime being particularly pertinent given the recent furore surrounding the Sony Pictures hacking.
No doubt hoping that recent disasters such as After Earth have not stopped him from being a bankable star, Will Smith returns to the big screen this month alongside the seductively superb Margot Robbie in Focus (Feb. 27th). The pair play con artists whose relationship turns complicated when they become romantically involved. There really is no escaping love on the big screen this month, is there?
Best Of The Rest
As it happens, there is an antidote to all this onscreen romance in the form of It Follows & White God (Both Feb. 27th). In the former, a teenager finds herself plagued by strange visions and the persistent sense that someone, or something, is following her after having an innocent sexual encounter with her high school sweetheart. While the latter follows a young girl as she tries to find her abandoned dog, just as said dog instigates a canine uprising. Perhaps not the best films to take someone to see on a first date!
Over the BFI however, there are lots of lovely treats for you to choose from. Headlining their Katharine Hepburn season is the extended re-release of The Philadelphia Story (Feb. 13th), a biting societal satire that’ll have you howling with laughter. While the end of the month heralds the reissue of Powell and Pressburger’s The Tales Of Hoffman (Feb. 27th), a visually vivacious musical fantasy that deserves to be seen, like all of this month’s movie treasures, on the biggest screen you can find.