Four new films to see this week

Blockbuster Black Widow, US indie First Cow, and Euro dramas Jumbo and Tove

Rachel Weisz, Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh in Black Widow

Rachel Weisz, Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh in Black Widow

 

BLACK WIDOW ★★★★☆
Directed by Cate Shortland. Starring Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, David Harbour, Olga Kurylenko, Ray Winstone, William Hurt. 12A cert, cinema release/Disney+ Premium, 133 min
Pretty nifty standalone interquel for Marvel’s sleek secret agent. A brief shot of Moonraker, the film that announced James Bond’s slide into full-on comedy, offers further confirmation that Shortland doesn’t expect viewers aren’t supposed to take any of this too seriously (though some will). But the actors are sufficiently committed to lend the film a degree of emotional heft. Weisz and Harbour have fun with their gruff stereotypes. Johansson and Pugh – playing near-sisters – offer convincing, almost complementary takes on the two “widows”. One of the better MCU films. Full review DC

FIRST COW ★★★★★
Directed by Kelly Reichardt. Starring John Magaro, Orion Lee, René Auberjonois, Toby Jones, Ewen Bremner, Scott Shepherd, Gary Farmer, Lily Gladstone, Alia Shawkat. Cinema release/Mubi, 122 min

John Magaro in First Cow
John Magaro in First Cow

One of the most highly acclaimed US films of 2019 finally arrives. From the opening sequence, in which a contemporary mushroom forager (Shawkat) discovers human bones, First Cow is a tactile experience in which footfall on the forest floor and dirt take centre stage. Cinematographer Christopher Blauvelt, working in muted, earthy colours, and a crunching sound design add to the sensorial experience. A delicate, persuasive near-western that makes a hero of its title character. Full review TB

JUMBO ★★★★☆
Directed by Zoé Wittock. Starring Noémie Merlant, Emmanuelle Bercot, Bastien Bouillon, Sam Louwyck. Video on demand, 93 min

Noémie Merlant in Jumbo
Noémie Merlant in Jumbo

Lonely young Jeanne (Merlant) works as a janitor in an amusement park. It soon becomes clear that she is obsessed with an old-school ride, one whose circling movements fill her with a comfort otherwise missing from an unsatisfactory life. Merlant, one of Europe’s best young actors, again shows us the inner workings of romantic tunnel vision. Bercot is equally strong as her not entirely sympathetic mother. Well worth paying your money and taking the ride. Full review DC

TOVE ★★★☆☆
Directed by Zaida Bergroth. Starring Alma Pöysti, Krista Kosonen, Shanti Roney, Joanna Haartti, Kajsa Ernst, Robert Enckel. Cinema release, 100 min

Alma Pöysti in Tove
Alma Pöysti in Tove

This good-looking biopic of the bisexual Finnish illustrator/author Tove Jansson wastes no time in signalling pertinent details. Meet her mother and father, the former a postage stamp designer, the latter a famous Finnish sculptor who disapproves of the doodles that become his daughter’s first book, The Moomins and the Great Flood. This is a fairly conventional artist’s biopic for an unconventional person but there are things to admire. It’s a delight to encounter an upbeat out-and-proud true queer history from the 1940s and ’50s. Full review TB

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