Since I don’t get to the cinema to see new releases that often anymore, this is my new weekly feature reviewing the latest releases on Sky Cinema Premiere (and in turn, Now TV). I will write a short review and rating for each of the films that I have watched and then give you the details for the ones that I didn’t get a chance to see.
This week’s feature sees the release of Mad To Be Normal, Dark River, Iceman, Frat Pack, Book Club, The Negotiator, and Shock and Awe.
4th February – Mad To Be Normal
Synopsis: Challenging the cruel prison-hospital ethos of tranquillisers and electroconvulsive shock treatment, a renegade Scottish psychiatrist opts for group therapy and communal healing at his East London refuge. Set during the 1960s, he stirs up controversy within his profession for his approach to the field and for the unique community that he creates for his patients to inhabit.
Director: Robert Mullan
Cast: David Tennant, Elisabeth Moss, Michael Gambon, Gabriel Byrne, David Bamber, and Trevor Whit
5th February – Dark River
Synopsis: Seasonal worker Alice learns that her widower father has died and she must return to the family home, a tenant farm in North Yorkshire, which her brother Joe has let become derelict. A nervy wreck, he blames Alice for running out, leaving the job of looking after their ill father to him. Their relationship explodes into sibling warfare when Alice reveals that she intends to become the sole tenant.
Director: Clio Barnard
Cast: Ruth Wilson, Mark Stanley, Sean Bean, Esme Creed-Miles, Aiden McCullough, and Shane Attwooll
Review: With a similar story to 2016’s The Levelling because of its rural setting and dark themes, Dark River is an atmospheric drama with standout performances from Ruth Wilson, Mark Stanley, and Joe Dempsie.
6th February – Iceman
Synopsis: Intense thriller set more than 5,000 years ago in the Nordic Ötztal Alps. Clan leader Kelab is seeking an act of brutal revenge after a trio of wanderers raped and murdered his wife and killed his young son, as well as the rest of the members of the settlement. Told in early Rhaetian, an extinct language with no subtitles.
Director: Felix Randau
Cast: Jürgen Vogel, André Hennicke, Susanne Wuest, Sabin Tambrea, and Martin Augustin Schneider
7th February – Frat Pack
Synopsis: When his mum announces that she is getting remarried to her new man in America, shy British graduate student Elliot gets dragged on a wild road trip across the States to an out-of-control fraternity party by his soon-to-be step-brothers.
Director: Michael Philip
Cast: Richard Reid, Rachel Risen, Morgan Bedard, Brendan Coughlin, Danny Trejo, Elizabeth De Razzo, and Beverly D’Angelo
8th February – Book Club
Synopsis: Vivacious sexagenarian Vivian introduces S&M bonkbuster classic Fifty Shades of Grey to her book club – divorced federal judge Diane, recently widowed mother Diane and long-married Carol. They find that the raunchy prose puts the spark into their moribund loves lives and that a new future could be around the corner.
Director: Bill Holderman
Cast: Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen, Andy Garcia, and Craig T Nelson
Review: Comedy ensembles like this are typically more underwhelming than you hope they would be because of the great cast, which is exactly why I wasn’t too fussed about this film, despite the phenomenal talent of its leading women. But I was told by many that this one was definitely worth a watch. Sadly I don’t agree. All this film is, is an excuse for constant sexual innuendoes with the backdrop of 50 Shades of Grey. None of the jokes were particularly funny, the story wasn’t heartwarming, and the photoshop effects were truly awful.
9th February – The Negotiator
Synopsis: Jaded diplomat and negotiator Mason Skiles finds himself sent from Boston back to Beirut where he has grim memories of a terrorist incident. Dosing himself with booze, he finds himself delicately negotiating the release of an old buddy amid the political minefield of Christian and Muslim factions, the PLO and the neighbouring Israelis.
Director: Brad Anderson
Cast: Jon Hamm, Rosamund Pike, Dean Norris, Mark Pellegrino, Larry Pine, Shea Whigham, and Alon Moni Aboutboul
10th February – Shock and Awe
Synopsis: The true story of how the stubborn journalists of Knight Ridder Newspapers – specifically reporters Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel – revealed how President Bush used the false pretext of weapons of mass destruction to invade Iraq following the World Trade Center attack.
Director: Rob Reiner
Cast: Woody Harrelson, James Marsden, Rob Reiner, Tommy Lee Jones, Jessica Biel, Milla Jovovich, and Richard Schiff