9   +   3   =  

We’re in that strange dumping ground at the moment between the end of summer and the start of autumn blockbusters. Now’s the time to ship out critically acclaimed films that might otherwise get lost amidst the sound and fury, and smaller Hollywood movies that are likely to suffer the same fate. It comes as no surprise then to find Tom Cruise returning to a modest success alongside Ken Loach’s continuing journey into the recesses of Britain, an uplifting Iranian documentary and minor Melissa McCarthy comedy.

Tom Cruise can’t seem to go long without appearing as a super tough action hero. Inevitably he’ll ride a motorbike and wear leather at some point as well. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back sees him returning to Lee Child’s character, a role he first played in 2012. That film was actually pretty good, and included a quite brilliantly random line of dialogue involving drinking blood from boots. No doubt here, picking up four years after the last film, he’ll get involved in more subterfuge and military shenanigans. You’ll have seen it all before, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Ken Loach has never been a director to hide his feelings. Much of his work openly addresses biting social issues. I, Daniel Blake, his second film to win the coveted Palme d’Or at Cannes keeps to this, following the travails of a joiner who struggles in austerity Britain when he falls ill. Red tape and diminishing resources conspire to keep him down as he meets others struggling to get back into a society that seems keen to cast them aside. Unsurprisingly given its award win, the film has drawn strong reviews. Expect it to hit hard.

We close out the new releases with another film possessing a strong impact. Sonita follows a young Afghan teenager living in Iran over a three year period. She wants to be a rapper in a society that does not allow women to sing publicly, and she must contend with the very real possibility she’ll be sold off into marriage to raise family funds. Yet through it all she sticks with her art, turning her situation into an award winning song that helps open up unexpected opportunities. Offering insight and optimism, it’s a real crowd pleaser.

That’s the new releases out of the way so we turn to home entertainment. The Boss was not exactly a critical darling when it came out in cinemas earlier in the year. That didn’t hurt too much at the box office where Melissa McCarthy’s turn as a Martha Stewart figure attempting to rehabilitate after prison drew healthy returns. Out now on digital download (and on DVD/Blu-ray from 24 October), expect the comedy to be big and broad. Whether you actually find it funny is another matter altogether, but McCarthy is usually good for at least a couple of laughs.

Well that’s over and we’ve come to the end again. See you next week for Sherlock the superhero.

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