New films for November/December 2018

Hoorah! The long dry autumn season is at an end and we are into Christmas bounty....or at least pre-Christmas.

And maybe even that is unfair to what has been going on in the cinema over the last month or so. Because while it has been a dry season for those in search of something different, something to draw them out on a cold dark there has nonetheless been the odd gem.

Two of those are still playing this week and maybe even next. Bohemian Rhapsody is the wonderful flawed tale of how Queen – and of course, Queen front man Freddie Mercury – rose to the top of the pop world in the 1970's. It gets a lot wrong, story-wise, but for sheer enthusiasm and energy, plus at least a dozen well-loved Queen tracks this is well worth a visit.

Also up there in the surprise hit category is A Star Is Born. It's a musical rom drama – a remake of a 1937 classic - produced and directed by Bradley Cooper (his first time out as director) and starring Lady Gaga, Andrew Dice Clay, Dave Chappelle, and Sam Elliott – as well as Bradley Cooper. This is good old-fashioned impossible romance between a pair of performers whose careers are pursuing diametrically opposite trajectories. And it's still packing audiences in six weeks after it first arrived.

This week, the first of the big Christmas movies is out with the latest in the Harry Potter (pre-)franchise. The Crimes of Grindelwald brings together Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), first seen in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and a young Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) to take on evil magician Gert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp).

Eat your heart out Voldemort! Your evil plans were as nothing next to the evil of Grindelwald. Critical verdict is that this is one of the darkest films yet in the franchise – quite apart from the controversy accompanying the casting of Johnny Depp in such an important role after his recent all too public fall from grace.

Stand by for even more action later in the month with the release of yet another version of Robin Hood, this time with Taron Egerton (of Kingsman fame) in the lead role, supported by “his Moorish commander” (Jamie Foxx) in the role of Little John. Expect pretty much the same old same old, as Robin and his merry band rise up against a corrupt English establishment (if only!). Loads of sword play: thrilling feats with arrows (natch!); and an intriguing departure....Tim Minchin in the role of Friar Tuck!

Look out, too, for Wajib, a tale of father and son reconciliation over the delivery of wedding invitations. In Arabic with English sub-titles, this bitter-sweet comedy drama, the first in a series of World Cinema Sunday Films that the Broadway is putting on with support from the Independent Cinema Office, is in Letchworth for one evening only: 25 November!

For younger audiences, already here is a new 3D computer-animated version of the Grinch. Produced by Illumination, also behind The Lorax (2012), and with Benedict Cumberbatch voicing the lead role, this reproduces once more the antics of Dr Seuss' grumpy grinch as he attempts to stop Christmas coming to Whoville by stealing all the town's decorations and gifts.

Is it really 18 years since this film was last made with Jim Carrey greening it up on-screen as a live action grinch? Apparently so!

Last but by no means least, and also getting ready for the Christmas break, is the second in the Wreck-it Ralph saga. This time round, in Ralph Breaks the Internet (and you thought only Google were allowed to do that...) the Sugar Rush arcade cabinet has broken: So Ralph (John C Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) must travel to the Internet via Wi-Fi router to retrieve the widget capable of saving the game. Notable for Gal Gadot (of Wonder Woman fame) taking her first voice credit as tough gal (sic), Shank!

An interesting if largely safe month ahead, dominated by big blockbusters: and that doesn't even get us to half way through December!