Released in 1991, Beauty and the Beast rebooted the classic Disney fairytale when it introduced the fiercely independent Belle.
Bill Condon’s live-action remake of(PG), which stars Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Steven as the Beast, doesn’t stray too far from tone and theme of the source material; imprisoned by the Beast in his castle, Belle’s blend of intelligence, wit and compassion soothes the Beast’s savage soul.
It’s a fabulously realised reimagining of the original’s fairytale qualities, from the pastoral setting of Belle’s mediaeval village to the permanent winter of the Beast’s gothic splendour, its combination of age-old story and cutting-edge special effects combining to stunning effect.
Fans of the animated version will note an extra scene or two dedicated to generating sympathy for the Beast, and there are a couple of new songs, but for the most part Condon, realising it ain’t broke, doesn’t attempt to fix it.
All the classics are given their due, with Watson not only acting but singing, although it’s ‘Be Our Guest’ that proves the big hit here, with Ewan McGregor (voicing the candelabra Lumière) on vocal duties in a full-blown Busby Berkeley spectacular.
The animation, meanwhile, is beautifully blended in, as Lumière, Cogsworth (Ian McKellen) and Mrs Potts (Emma Thompson) go to work on behalf of the Beast as he tries to woo Belle, that trio part of an impressive ensemble cast that includes Kevin Kline as Belle’s father Maurice and Luke Evans in a memorably hilarious turn as the self-absorbed Gaston.
In a word? Spectacular.
(15A) opens with Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) planning a weekend visit to Rose’s home, where Chris will be meeting Rose’s parents, Missy (Catherine Keener) and Dean Armitage (Bradley Whitford), for the first time.
Unconvinced by Rose’s reassurances that her family won’t object to his skin colour, Chris spends a very uncomfortable couple of days settling in, the mood brittle as everyone tries just a little too hard to prove they aren’t racist.
Gradually, however, the sense of uneasiness gives away to a more sinister tone as Chris begins to realise all is not what it seems in the apparently liberal Armitage household …
Written and directed by Jordan Peele, Get Out is billed as a social thriller, and unfolds as a tautly told tale of psychological cat-and-mouse before exploding into a full-blown macabre horror.
Racial tension is to the forefront, as the easy-going Chris shrugs off the Armitage family’s clumsy attempts to prove their liberal credentials, only to find that the family’s domestic staff — all of whom are black — are less significantly responsive to his friendly overtures.
It’s a compelling exploration of race relations that deftly disguises its true intent until the latter stages, with Catherine Keener and Allison Williams in excellent form as Missy and Rose weave a terrible web around Chris, offering superb support to Daniel Kaluuya’s show-stealing turn as the charismatic lead.
An extended metaphor for extremist intolerance, Get Out is a cleverly crafted and deceptively subtle horror which delves deep into the roots of the American psyche.
Mourning the recent death of her twin brother Louis, Maureen (Kristen Stewart) works as a(15A) in Paris, attending to every whim of her employer, the supermodel Krya (Nora von Waldstätten).
A medium with the power to sense spiritual emanations, Maureen is haunted by the possibility that her brother is trying to communicate with her from the Great Beyond, and it may well be a theme of writer-director Oliver Assayas that the day-to-day grind of the rat-race tends to distract us from what is truly important.
It is difficult to work out what exactly Assayas is trying to say in Personal Shopper, however; Maureen’s daily trials and tribulations as she tries to keep Kyra happy seem entirely dislocated from the storyline that follows her attempts to connect with Louis, to the extent that this film frequently feels like two separate movies spliced together.
Assayas also seems to be deliberately engaged in self-sabotage; just as one storyline builds up a head of steam, the focus switches to its parallel narrative, or digresses into yet another sub-plot, which results in a frustratingly stop-start progression (the excruciatingly prolonged scene in which Maureen texts back and forth with a stranger is particularly ill-advised).
Even so, Kristen Stewart’s performance is captivating, her low-key turn an intriguing variation on grace under pressure as Maureen quietly explores the extent of her debilitating grief.
Ultimately, however, the fractured narrative fails to persuade, being unconvincing as a ghost story and too disjointed to effectively function as a cohesive character study.