The Invisible Man
Written and directed by Leigh Whannell (Saw, Insidious) and produced by horror mogul Jason Blum, The Invisible Man hasn’t taken much from HG Wells’s science-fiction classic except the title and the title character’s surname, Griffin. But it could well be as scary as the novel, if not scarier. Elisabeth Moss stars as Cecilia Kass, a woman who walks out on her abusive boyfriend, one Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), only for him to kill himself shortly afterwards. Or does he? Cecilia is sure that her ex – a scientific genius – has discovered the secret of invisibility and is using it to torture her. Now she just has to get everyone else to believe her.
Released on 27 February in Australia and Hong Kong and 28 Feb in the UK, Ireland and the US
True History of the Kelly Gang
George MacKay, Russell Crowe, Charlie Hunnam, Nicholas Hoult and Essie Davis star in Justin Kurzel’s film of Peter Carey’s Booker Prize-winning novel, True History of the Kelly Gang. But despite that title, this feverish Ned Kelly biopic opens with a caption declaring that “nothing you are about to see is true”. Instead, events are remembered by the Australian outlaw himself (MacKay) – and he is keen to mythologise both his tough childhood and the exploits of his cross-dressing rebel army. Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian says that Kurzel “detonates a punk power-chord of defiance and anarchy with this brutally violent and unflinchingly stark tale that unfolds in a scorched, alien-looking landscape”.
Released on 28 February in the UK, Ireland and Turkey
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
Marvel’s superhero blockbusters may have conquered the box office, but DC’s recent films are more interesting. The first modern superheroine movie, Wonder Woman, was a phenomenon, and DC’s Scorsese-ish urban drama, Joker, has been nominated for 11 Oscars. Now we have Birds of Prey, which is the first film about a team of superheroines rather than superheroes, as well as being the first film in the genre to be directed by an Asian-American woman, Cathy Yan. Margot Robbie is back as Harley Quinn from the awful Suicide Squad. Having broken up with the Joker, she joins forces with Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) to tackle Gotham City crimelord Black Mask (Ewan McGregor).
On general release from 5 February
The Call of the Wild
Adapted from Jack London’s wilderness-adventure novel, The Call of the Wild tells the shaggy dog story of a domestic St Bernard / Scotch Collie cross called Buck who is dog-napped and taken to the frozen north during the Klondike Gold Rush. Luckily for him, he is befriended by the only creature in the area more gruff, grizzled and hairy than he is – a prospector played by Harrison Ford. Could this be the greatest Harrison Ford / furry sidekick pairing since Han Solo and Chewbacca? The computer-generated Buck certainly looks convincing, and the film’s director, Chris Sanders, knows how to make films about hostile terrains (The Croods) and human-animal friendships (How To Train Your Dragon).
Released on 19 February in the UK and France, 20 February in Australia and 21 February in the US and Ireland
Picturesque comedy-dramas adapted from 19th-Century novels seem to be making a comeback. Following in the carriage wheel-tracks of Little Women and The Personal History of David Copperfield, Jane Austen’s Emma returns to the big screen for the first time since the matchmaking know-it-all was played by Gwyneth Paltrow in 1996. The new version stars Anya Taylor-Joy as the “handsome, clever, and rich” Emma Woodhouse, alongside Johnny Flynn, Josh O’Connor, Bill Nighy and Miranda Hart. But how will this Emma compare with the wittiest ever adaptation of Austen’s novel, Clueless?
Released on 13 February in Australia, 14 February in the UK and Ireland and 21 February in US
And Then We Danced
This tender coming of age drama flips the assumption that a dance school in the 20th Century would be a nurturing environment for a young gay man. At the traditional National Georgian Ensemble in Tbilisi, Merab (Levan Gelbakhiani) is told: “Georgian dance is based on masculinity – there is no room for weakness.” It isn’t until the defiant Irakli (Bachi Valishvili) joins him at the school that Merab learns to show his softer side. Far-right groups picketed Levan Akin’s second feature film when it opened in Georgia, but And Then We Danced has had viewers dancing for joy elsewhere. Fiona Underhill at JumpCut says that it “achieves something truly special... opening up our world and giving us an experience of people in a different culture to our own, whilst connecting us on a human level through that most universal of themes – first love”.
Released on 7 February in US and 21 February in Japan
According to a report in IndieWire, just five of the 814 films released in US cinemas in 2018 were directed by black women, and only one of those five came from a major studio. As for American films which are written as well as directed by black women, there are hardly any – but The Photograph is one of them. Stella Meghie’s new romance stars Issa Rae (Insecure) as a woman who finds a photo of her late mother with a mystery man. LaKeith Stanfield (Knives Out, Uncut Gems, Get Out) is a journalist who is intrigued by what she discovers – and even more intrigued by her. Ideal Valentine’s Day viewing.
Released on 14 Feb in the US, Ireland, Norway and Sweden
Kelly O’Sullivan is both the screenwriter and star of this sensitive indie comedy about Bridget, a directionless Chicago thirtysomething who gets a job as a six-year-old’s nanny. Of course, Bridget is soon learning as much from Frances (Ramona Edith-Williams) as Frances is learning from her. But the film’s potentially twee premise is balanced by its honesty about how messy life can be. Saint Frances was the audience-award winner at last year’s SXSW festival, where Brian Tallerico at RogerEbert wrote that “the movie really snuck up on me and walloped me emotionally in the final scenes in ways I wasn’t expecting”. The reason: “we believe in its characters... Bridget makes mistakes, but they feel organic and genuine, not designed as ‘movie lessons’.”
Released on 28 February in the US
Sonic The Hedgehog
Considering that he is famous for his lightning-fast running, Sonic the Hedgehog has taken a long time to reach cinemas. The Sega video-game character debuted in 1991, but his first film wasn’t due to be released until last September. Then, when a trailer went online in April, Sonic’s prickly fans complained that he didn’t look right, and the film was delayed by three months while he was redesigned. Now at last we can see a computer-generated Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) being chased by a live-action Dr Ivo Robotnik (Jim Carrey). Let’s hope the results aren’t quite as mind-bogglingly weird as Pokémon Detective Pikachu, the last Hollywood film to be based on a Japanese game.
On general release from 12 February
Eight years on from his Oscar-nominated debut, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Benh Zeitlin has concocted an even wilder mixture of ragged reality and breath-taking fantasy: an epic reimagining of Peter Pan which begins in rural America. Newcomer Devin France stars as Wendy, a Louisiana girl who takes a train to a magical tropical island ruled by the feral Peter (Yashua Mack). Todd McCarthy at the Hollywood Reporter says that “every frame of the film is excitingly alive and freshly conceived, making it something very much worth seeing on the big screen”. But anyone thinking of taking along a small child to see it should beware: Wendy is a very different beast from Disney’s Peter Pan.
Released 28 February in the UK, the US, Canada and Brazil
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