Review New Movies 2021 You Can Watch on Streaming This Weekend, Last Night in Soho, Ron’s Gone Wrong, Belle and Sword Art Online Progressive.
Last Night in Soho review – a deliciously twisted journey back to London’s swinging past
Slasher fantasy and ghostly magic collide in Edgar Wright’s heady thriller about a fashion student who is mysteriously transported into the life of a 60s nightclub singer.
It’s not what you imagine, London,” says Rita Tushingham in this deliciously twisted love letter to Britain’s cinematic pop-culture past. Director and co-writer Edgar Wright, whose CV runs from the rural action-comedy Hot Fuzz to the recent dramatic music doc The Sparks Brothers, has cheekily described Last Night in Soho Movies as “Peeping Tom’s Midnight Garden”, a mashup of seedy Soho nostalgia and melancholy magic. Making superb use of its West End and Fitzrovia locations, and boasting a cast that includes Terence Stamp (cutting a silhouette that weirdly recalls William Hartnell’s Doctor Who) and Diana Rigg in her final role, it’s a head-spinning fable that twists from finger-snapping retro fun to giallo-esque slasher fantasy as it dances through streets paved not with gold but with glitter, grit and splashes of stabby gore.
Thomasin McKenzie, who dazzled in Debra Granik’s Leave No Trace, is Eloise Turner, a wide-eyed, 60s-obsessed fashion student with a “gift” that leaves her haunted by Don’t Look Now-style visions of her dead mother. Having earned a place at the London College of Fashion, “Ellie” finds herself in a top-floor bedsit from whence she is nightly transported back into the capital’s swinging past through the ghostly mirrored-life of wannabe singer Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy). In her dreams, Ellie (who says the 60s “speak to me”) both watches and becomes Sandie, aiming for the stars but falling to the streets as the meat-hook realities of London life hit home. Is Sandie a figment of Ellie’s overheated imagination – a wish-fulfilment turned into a nightmare – or has she somehow made a genuine connection across generations?
The line “London can be a lot” recurs throughout the script, co-written by Krysty Wilson-Cairns (Oscar nominated for 1917), and the same could be said of the film. Some viewers may find themselves overwhelmed or under-enthused by the dizzying blizzard of interlinking themes, references and motifs thrown at the screen. Yet anyone who shares Wright’s frenetic enthusiasm for this movie-literate milieu will thrill to the sheer exhilaration of Ellie’s early flashbacks, as the director leads us from darkened streets to shining cinema marquees (the poster for Thunderball never looked better!) and then down into the heady world of the Café de Paris.
From the jukebox combat of Shaun of the Dead, through the Sex Bob-Omb songs of Scott Pilgrim vs the World, to the choreographed car chases of Baby Driver, Wright’s movies have always teetered on the brink of becoming musicals. Here, that promise is consummated in a film that starts with Ellie dancing in her Redruth bedroom to A World Without Love, moves to Sandie and Jack (a superbly slimy Matt Smith) twisting the London night away to the sounds of the Graham Bond Organisation, and then features an empty-theatre a cappella rendition of Downtown that is as eerie as it is evocative.
Edgar Wright: how Martin Scorsese helped me through lockdown
Like a gorgeous melody that drifts almost imperceptibly off key before descending into screaming discord, so Last Night in Soho Online slips seamlessly between harmony and dissonance, with nods to Julie Christie in Darling mutating into evocations of Jessica Harper in Suspiria. As always, Wright’s jukebox antenna is sharply attuned, not least in a scene that capitalises upon the weirdly Herrmannesque violin stabs of Cilla’s You’re My World, which becomes a brilliantly contrapuntal backdrop to fiery violence – murder most musical.
“It’s still the same old London underneath,” says a predatory cabbie when Ellie first arrives in the Smoke, a connection enhanced by the Mona Lisa vibe of some scenes, providing a neo-noir link between the past and the present. Elsewhere, there are nightmarish nods to John Landis’s An American Werewolf in London (dreams within dreams) and George Romero’s beloved zombie movies, although it’s arguably the homegrown ghost of Nigel Kneale that casts the longest shadow. For all its scattershot reference points, however, Last Night in Soho still emerges as Wright’s most personal film – you can feel how much he loves the material. Frankly, I felt the same way.
Ron’s Gone Wrong movie review: It’s a jumbled mess
Ron’s Gone Wrong movie review: The problem with Ron’s Gone Wrong Movies is that there is so much happening, to so many people, not to say the bots that are their best buddies, that it is hard to believe the film really cares for anything at all.
Ron’s Gone Wrong voice cast: Zach Galifianakis, Jack Dylan Grazer, Ed Helms, Olivia Colman, Kylie Cantrall, Justice Smith, Rob Delaney
Ron’s Gone Wrong movie directors: Sarah Smith, Jean-Philippe Vine, Octavio E Rodgriguez
Ron’s Gone Wrong movie rating: 2 stars
The concept of friendship, loneliness, social media, big tech, investors in turtlenecks and investors in sweatshirts, are all up for consideration in Ron’s Gone Wrong Online. It means that this film couldn’t have come at a better time than now, when a fire has been lit under Facebook by the skeletons being dragged out of its deep, deep closet.
Ron’s Gone Wrong doesn’t leave anything to chance. From Bulgarian immigrants with their worst Communism fears, to an empire that is a Capitalist’s heaven, there is everything for everyone — and much to spare. The problem with Ron’s Gone Wrong is that there is so much happening, to so many people, not to say the bots that are their best buddies, that it is hard to believe the film really cares for anything at all.
These bots have been designed by a ‘Bubble Network’ as a child’s best friend. With a hand match, the bot knows everything about a child, and proceeds to accordingly be his or her’s constant companion. In function, think of a bot as a mobile phone with an oval surface and flippers for hands and feet, who posts your selfies, checks out your followers, packs a world of information, and can even give you a space experience should you want one. When the children hang out together, it is their bots who have sifted through the company, to pick out those best suited to each other.
Enter Barney (Grazer), the only boy without a Bubble Bot of his own. The amazingly sweet-natured kid of indeterminable age does little more than complain feebly to his father and grandmother (Colman, horribly wasted). Life can be cruel for such oddballs. We know this from numerous Hollywood films, but even without them, it is hard to fathom a family who would not realise that their little one might be traumatised as others his age flaunt their friend bots and even get the same to school.
When Barney does acquire a bot that is partly broken due to a fall, and names it Ron (Galifianakis), their exploration of friendship kindles some sparks here and there. However, the film constantly moves away from them, leaving no time for them to grow on us. Of the many, many other children and their many, many bots that flood the screen, only Savannah (Cantrall) who is constantly seeking social media followers makes an impact.
The dynamics between the investor (Delaney) and the inventor (Smith) is also interesting. However, the inventor flits in and out, as the investor keeps expanding the scope of the network the inventor has built “out of a garage”.
The inventor, it turns out, is a Peter Pannish-adult called Marc who could have done with some company growing up. Don’t you wish that was true for all the Marks of the world?
Belle review (LFF 2021) – Mamoru Hosoda creates a colourful triumph
After gaining an Academy Award nomination for his debut feature Mirai, Mamoru Hosoda‘s second anime movie Belle Movie 2021 doesn’t disappoint and proves to be his most ambitious project to date. A visual feast that plays on classic fairy tales mixed with a touch of cyberbullying, Belle is a touching story full of charm and imagination. Telling the story of a girl who ventures into a virtual world to overcome her trauma, here is a film that has some banging tracks, a story that may make you cry, and will undoubtedly end up being any anime connoisseur’s bread and butter.
Written by Mamoru, Belle follows high school student Suzu (Kaha Nakamura), who, after her mother’s death, can’t sing in public due to a mental block and deep-seated pain. She is also shown to be an introvert at school which doesn’t bode well for her chances with her long-time crush Shinobu (Ryo Narita), whom she continuously runs away from. However, instead of wallowing in grief, Suzu decides to log on to ‘U’, a popular virtual world that uses biometric data that brings out and amplifies the user’s inner strengths to their avatar. After logging on to U for the first time, Suzu finally finds her voice – becoming a viral sensation and the most popular pop star, called Belle, in the digital sphere.
However, Suzu’s emotional journey isn’t the primary focus in this movie. Instead, her personal character arc works in tandem with another plotline throughout Mamoru’s complex script. A spin on Beauty and the Beast is integrated into Belle when martial arts gamer, Dragon, crashes Belle’s concert, and the two are put onto a road of healing as they connect online.
There are magical roses, a mysterious castle where Dragon hangs out, and even a romantic musical number, giving the feature almost a Disney movie quality. As we see the two bond, being chased by the self-appointed police of U, and belting out a killer number, it is easy to get swept away by the bright world and interpersonal dynamic. It is also refreshing to see a take on the well-known fairy tale that adheres to the modern world. Belle showcases the benefits of technology and connecting with like-minded people online – a message that we don’t often see in movies about virtual reality, or anything computer related in general.
Mamoru’s script work further shines as he raises the stakes of the typical romance plot. As the users of U become obsessed with ‘unmasking’ Dragon – by revealing the person behind the avatar – Suzu gets caught in the crossfire. After seeing the two form a relationship through their shared pain triggered by family trauma, the threat of their safety and potentially not seeing each other again is a great driver for the story, and you can’t help but empathise with the characters.
But, all this being said, the writing isn’t faultless. In the film’s third act, the plot takes a misstep as it loses focus on Suzu, with the pacing throughout tending to dip as tension breaks whenever we see her log off and venture back into the real world.
Given the contrast between Suzu’s online life and the one she lives in the real world, there’s a meaningful balance to be pulled off by the script in bringing us into both with equal value. For the most part, Belle achieves this but struggles to stick it out for the film’s full length, leading to an ending that feels imprecise despite the strengths of the film’s first and second act.
However, the film is enjoyable, even as it jumps, thanks to Mamoru’s ability to craft incredibly likeable characters. In Belle, there is a bundle of typical high school anime tropes that are a pure delight and add a lot of needed humour into an otherwise heavy film. Suzu’s best friend Hiroka is a hilarious whiz kid, loveable dorky Shinjiro is the only member of the school’s canoeing club, and Shinobu is a stone-cold ‘cool guy’ with a heart of gold. It’s a familiar dynamic, and certain comedic moments between the high schoolers are scenes that anime fans will recognise immediately.
The anime influences also stretch into the look of the film. Like the previously mentioned two narrative plotlines working together in this movie, the art style is vastly different depending on if the action is in the real world or in the virtual space of U. Suzu’s everyday life has a soft hand-drawn 2D quality that is very Ghibli-esque.
Sword Art Online Progressive Movie Gets US Theatrical Release
Funimation announced early Wednesday that the Sword Art Online Progressive Movie (Aria of a Starless Night) will get a theatrical release. This release will be in both the U.S. and Canada.
Funimation released the first details about the movie’s international release, revealing that the film will get a limited theatrical release. This scheduled theatrical run is December 3. Tickets are available for preorder on November 5. The movie will also be released in Australia and New Zealand on December 9, with preorders starting a month before. The company also plans to release the movie in the United Kingdom and in Latin America at an unspecified date.
At the same time as this news, a new English subtitled trailer has also been released. At the time of its release, there will be tickets for an English dub and a Japanese dub with English subtitles.
Sword Art Online Progressive: Aria of a Starless Night takes place in the same continuity in the Sword Art Online series. Instead, the film shows the beginning of the series through the perspective of Asuna, the main heroine. She is also accompanied by her classmate Inase, who initially introduced her to the game. When the game starts killings its players, Inase dedicates herself to protecting Asuna before she meets Kirito.
What We Know about Aria of a Starless Night
Aria of a Starless Night is directed by Ayako Kohno. Kohno has previously worked on other movies such as Seven Deadly Sins The Movie and the Bleach franchise. Yuki Kajura, a longtime anime and video game composer, will provide the music for the film. Singer LiSA will also perform the theme for the Sword Art Online Progressive movie 2021.
Haruka Tomatsu will reprise her role as Asuna’s original voice actor. Kirito’s voice actor, Yoshitsugu Matsuoka is also reprising his role. The original Sword Art Online anime is available to watch on Funimation, Netflix, and Hulu. The spinoff series Gun Gale Online is also available to watch on the same platforms. Aria of a Starless Night will release in theaters on December 3.