A Monster Calls (PG) A Monster Calls is based on the 2011 novel of the same name by Patrick Ness that drew on an original idea by Siobhan Dowd. Conor O’Malley (Lewis MacDougall) lives in a small English village with his mother, Lizzie (Felicity Jones). Conor adores his mother and her illness is deeply troubling for him. The stress he experiences finds its way into his dreams. He has recurring nightmares of an earthquake that destroys the nearby church and graveyard and he’s unable to save his mother from falling into the abyss. One night he experiences a different kind of horror: a giant yew tree (voiced by Liam Neeson) that he can see from his bedroom window comes to life. Spanish director JA Bayona uses special effects with great skill, but A Monster Calls is nothing like the effectsdriven movies that fill our cinema screens these days. It’s a small, almost delicate film that will richly reward those who connect with it.
Dunkirk (M) Christopher Nolan’s remarkable film Dunkirk is based on the World War II evacuation of Dunkirk. As the Germans blitzed Europe in the opening months of the war, about 400,000 soldiers, most of them British but including some French, Belgian and Canadian troops, were stranded there. There is little dialogue and no backstory for any of the characters; not one, which is something I don’t think I’ve seen in a war movie. Nolan did not want to make a sentimental movie or one defined by heroism. He didn’t want to make one about a victory. This is about the soldiers stranded on a beach and the civilians who helped rescue them. Nolan tells the story from three perspectives: land, sea and air. There is some repetition and this, too, is quite deliberate. It underscores the endlessness of what the men are enduring, which could end in a second.
Paris Can Wait (PG) Anne Lockwood (Diane Lane) is married to workaholic Hollywood producer Michael (Alec Baldwin) who, when he isn’t doing deals on his mobile phone, is complaining about the prices. Michael is flying to Budapest in his private jet but Anne makes a last-minute decision to skip the Hungarian capital and travel overland to Paris, where they plan to meet in a couple of days. Michael’s French business partner, Jacques Clement (Arnaud Viard), offers to drive her but they’ve hardly left Cannes before Jacques is stopping for lunch at Le Moulin de Mougins and behaves flirtatiously towards her. Whether you enjoy this very attractive road movie will depend on whether you find him a creep and a cliche of a French roue or the dangerous charmer to whom Anne finds herself responding.