7   +   7   =  

We’re going to veer between serious and silly this week with a collection of releases that cover everything from intimate coming-of-age drama to crazy bloodbaths. Whatever else it might be, the sheer variety should prove a whole lot of fun.

Occasionally a film comes along that manages to capture attention while doing entirely its own thing. Barry Jenkins’ phenomenal Moonlight, rightly nominated for a number of Oscars, fits into that category snuggly, tracking the life of a young African American kid growing up in Miami. The story moves seamlessly through three stages – the main character played by different actors as he ages – while he grapples with poverty, sexuality and life prospects. There’s particularly strong support from Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris, but really this is a success across the board.

We move from soulful to, well the complete opposite. John Wick burst onto screens in 2014 with one of the more ridiculous concepts of recent years. A retired hitman, played by Keanu Reeves, returns to the game to avenge the death of his dog. After mowing down gangsters last time out, he continues here in John Wick: Chapter 2 as his return to the criminal underworld has seen a large bounty placed on his head. It’s essentially more of the same, which is ok when the same was so much fun last time.

Hidden Figures is far from Moonlight in style, the latter an almost expressionist art-film compared to this strict follower of Hollywood biopic convention, but they share more than just Janelle Monáe (who appears in both, as does Mahershala Ali for that matter). Also nominated for a collection of Oscars, Hidden Figures focusses on forgotten stories; this time female African American mathematicians who worked behind the scenes for NASA to help them reach the moon. The default setting is stirring, which it achieves over and over again.

It’s back to lighter fare in the world of home entertainment as Trolls comes out. After their village is invaded, two opposites must team up to save all their friends in this colourful and glossy animation. It comes with romance, comedy, and songs, and is just the thing to keep the kids occupied while we wait for temperatures outside to increase.

That’s it for now. Next week we’ll be preparing for the Oscars and welcoming another harrowing Peter Berg/Mark Wahlberg collaboration. See you then.

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