Silver screen doozies, tenfold, from our man in the tip-up seat Keiron Self, these UK film selections span this whole month of June and range from homegrown lo-fidelity horror in All My Friends Hate Me to lurid Elvis hagiography in the eponymous biopic. Previews of all these films can also be found in the June issue of Buzz, available to read online now.
Following the breakout lo-fi horror hit of lockdown Host, where a Zoom call gets possessed, innovative British director Savage is back with a bigger budget and another twist on the genre in Dashcam. Controversial vlogger Annie Hardy plays a version of herself – an opinionated anti-vaxxer who, desperate to escape the pandemic in LA, goes to Britain and continues making her livestream programme Band Car, spouting political opinions that rankle as she drives around while getting messages from her followers. In the course of one such stream, she picks up Angela, an apparently sick older woman who has far more to her than meets the eye. Savage continues to push the envelope of what The Blair Witch Project started, building on his technical know-how in the wake of Host which utterly terrified; Dashcam is bigger budget, but still rough and ready, with more chaotic iPhone camera work, set-pieces and satire thrown into the mix. Brace yourself for something exhaustingly tense, trippy and motion sickness-inducing.
Dir: Rob Savage (15, 77 mins)
Dashcam opens Fri 3 June
ALL MY FRIENDS HATE ME
A dark British horror comedy that trades on social anxiety and uncomfortable university reunions with a capable cast, All My Friends Hate Me should hit funnybone home and induce winces. Tom Stourton, who also co-wrote the script with Tom Palmer, plays Pete, who’s been off working for with refugees for 10 years since university. Invited to a uni-mates weekend at the posh family home of wealthy George (Josh Maguire from recent BBC comedy Cheaters), Pete is looking forward to reconnecting with old chums but is riddled with worry – what will they think of him now? Well, it seems they all hate him: constantly winding him up, playing pranks and enlisting a random local man Harry, played a by a creepy Dustin Demri-Burns, to dispense insults. Events, obviously, will darkly descend as director Gaynord layers on the squirmy relationship foibles and blends them with more hardcore horror in a nightmarishly awkward and nasty friends-reunited tale.
Dir: Andrew Gaynord (15, 93mins)
All My Friends Hate Me opens Fri 10 June
JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION
The second Jurassic trilogy reaches its climax in massive blockbuster style and a dash of nostalgia in Dominion. The last entry in the Jurassic World franchise, Fallen Kingdom, was a taut thriller that unleashed dinosaurs into the world, no longer isolated on an island or laboratory. Dominion picks up four years later with dinosaurs now living alongside humans in deeply challenging ways: humanity may no longer be at the top of the pecking order. Under Fallen Kingdom producer Colin Trevorrow’s direction, this reunites the cast of the original Jurassic Park – Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum and Laura Dern – with their new trilogy lantern-bearers and Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard’s continuing story, concerning velociraptor Blue and her baby. This spectacular will hopefully build on Fallen Kingdom, offer global dinosaur mayhem – raptor/motorbike chases, planes vs pterodactyls – and an environmental message about the precariousness of humankind. And there’s that little hissy spitty dinosaur in it that terrifies me!
Dir: Colin Trevorrow (12A, 146 mins)
Jurassic World: Dominion opens Fri 10 June
BRIAN AND CHARLES
Expanded from his winning short film, Brian And Charles is director Jim Archer’s collaboration with writers and stars David Earl and Chris Hayward looks set to be a droll comedy about loneliness and masculinity. Standup Earl plays Brian, an inventor who has created such wonderful things as a pinecone bag and an egg belt, who is isolated in his rural Welsh community. So he builds a companion, Charles: seven feet tall, boxy, mad professor looking and charmingly played and voiced by Hayward. Whilst Brian wants him to be his companion, Charles has a thirst for knowledge and embracing the wider world; they end up entering the local community, full of stalwart Welsh character actors like Lynn Hunter and Lowri and Mari Izzard. There he meets Hazel (Louise Brealey) who offers potential romance for Brian, if they can avoid being demonized in the village. The original short film was charming – let’s hope the feature-length version retains those gentle quirks.
Dir: Jim Archer (15, 90 mins)
Brian And Charles opens Fri 17 June
The Toy Story toy who doesn’t think he’s a toy gets an origin movie… of sorts. Lightyear, the newest extension of the Pixar hit universe, is the film that inspired the Buzz Lightyear action figure young Andy has in the first Toy Story. Very meta. So we have Chris Evans taking over voice duties from Tim Allen in this iteration of Buzz and a straight-up, spectacle filled space adventure rather than a parody of the character, we’ve grown to know and love. This Buzz is stranded on the far-off planet of T’Kani Prime, needing to find a way to escape, while also battling robots led by the evil Zurg – Toy Story 2 fans rejoice. Plenty of star wattage comes in the supporting cast, Lightyear’s crew including Taika Watiti, Rhys Darby and Keke Palmer – plus there’s baddie James Brolin and a cute robot cat called Sox, amidst a swathe of nostalgia. Another chance to go from infinity to beyond.
Dir: Angus MacLane (PG, 102 mins)
Lightyear opens Fri 17 June
An unflinching look at the American porn industry from Thyberg, expanding upon an earlier short film, Pleasure will be an uncomfortable watch. The film follows Sofia Kappel’s Swedish 19-year-old Linnea as she travels from her homeland to make it big in LA’s adult film world. She renames herself Bella Cherry and makes a close group of friends also trying to break into the industry but to get the attention of top producers you have to go the extra mile. The grim realities of a world where the more degrading and extreme the sexual acts you do the more successful you become are explored, making a raw tale of shattered dreams and unsettling compromise, with very explicit sex. Thyberg’s film is not without humour, however, and has attracted cameos from the real stars of the porn world, giving it a stamp of authenticity and Kappel’s fearless performance has gained critical plaudits. Probably not the best film to take an elderly aunt to, unless she is very broad-minded.
Dir: Ninja Thyberg (18, 109 mins)
Pleasure opens Fri 17 June
THE BLACK PHONE
A very scarily-masked Ethan Hawke looks set to induce nightmares in this 70s-set horror about a child serial killer called the Grabber in Black Phone. Mason Thames plays Finney, a bullied 13-year-old with a harder-nosed sister (Madeleine McGraw). He becomes the newest victim, bundled into a van by the black balloon-bearing psychopath and placed in a soundproof basement with a disconnected black phone on the wall. Believing all is lost, Finney hears the phone suddenly ring: it offers him a supernatural conduit to speak to the Grabber’s previous victims, whom he also sees in visions along with his sister. Soon, he is plotting an escape as the authorities flounder in their search for the missing children. Creepily directed by Dr Strange director Derrickson, with Hawke looking to be on truly unsettling form, this will be a horror to make you hide behind the cushions.
Dir: Scott Derrickson (15, 102 mins)
The Black Phone opens Fri 24 June
The King of Rock’n’Roll as seen through the big-budget campery of Baz Luhrmann, this Elvis biopic utilizes the relationship between Presley and his longtime divisive manager Colonel Tom Parker, who many blame for his drug-addled downfall. Austin Butler steps into Presley’s snakehips, sneer and voice nailed; Tom Hanks, buried under distracting prosthetics, is Parker, armed with a southern drawl and porkpie hat. Olivia DeJonge plays Priscilla Presley – aged 14 when Elvis started seeing – with Kodi Smit-Mcphee also lending his gangly talent to the ensemble. The film progresses 20 years, from the birth of Presley’s fame down to his tragic end, and the soundtrack will inevitably be chock-full of his masterworks, from Jailhouse Rock to Doja Cat mashing up Hound Dog. Director Luhrmann will make sure this is a lavish tribute to the man and his music, let’s hope it’s more than just surface gloss before Elvis leaves the building. Viva Las Vegas!
Dir: Baz Luhrmann (12A, 120 mins)
Elvis opens Fri 24 June
A monochrome blend of documentary and drama, immersive work Faya Dayi places the viewer in Harar, eastern Ethiopia, where the stimulant khat is the most lucrative crop. Director Beshir grew up in this region and over the years had noticed how khat became the only game in town. Coffee used to be grown there, but now there is only this plant which holds the local populace in thrall. Get a chewing habit and you can escape the rigours and oppression of life, a habit many of the people have fallen into. The film follows several of these stories told in a visual dreamlike state as various people relate how the khat has affected them and their relationships. Khat itself is personality-altering, so stories of abuse, somnambulism and myth weave throughout the narrative. A slow-paced but visually arresting experience, Faya Dayi will be unlike anything you’ve seen before.
Dir: Jessica Beshir (15, 120 mins)
Faya Dayi opens Fri 24 June
GOOD LUCK TO YOU, LEO GRANDE
Emma Thompson stars in Good Luck To You, Leo Grande, a comedy-drama that’s been rustling up excellent word of mouth, as a 55-year-old woman who has never had an orgasm. Now a widow and retired religious education teacher, she has decided that is about to end. She hires sex worker Leo (Daryl McCormack) and they embark on her sexual bucket list, everything from oral sex to roleplay. It’s essentially a two-hander, written by comedian Katy Brand and directed by Sophie Hyde who made the excellent Animals. It promises a frank discussion on relationships, sexual satisfaction and frustration and facing fears, all anchored by a superb performance from Thompson as the woman who has conformed all her life and denied herself adventure. Destined to be a crowdpleaser, this should be a funny and warm experience with some added saucy benefits.
Dir: Sophie Hyde (15, 97 mins)
Good Luck To You, Leo Grande opens Fri 24 June
words KEIRON SELF
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