Beast (15.93 mins)
Mr. Malcolm’s List (PG, 118mins)
Verdict: Regency romance without gloves
The beast begins with dark terror and carnage, as poachers trap and kill a pride of lions at night but fail to catch the male lion. It is naturally stung. He mauls a few poachers and roars with a new taste for human blood – and revenge.
Yes, it’s The Lion King mated with Jaws, and fresh bait enters this utterly predictable movie in the form of Idris Elba, who plays American Dr. Nate Samuels. He came with his two daughters to visit their late mother’s village in Africa.
We know where this is going to take us, but I was hoping a great actor like Elba would uplift man against beast into something smarter. Alas, that was not to be the case. At one point, Elba punches the lion on the nose. In the end, the only positive was the cinematography, with stunning views of the savannah.
Anyone lucky enough to have been on a safari knows that you always go out in your Jeep equipped for emergencies, with spare water and fuel tanks. You don’t kiss wild animals.
But Dr. Samuels and fellow ranger Martin (Sharlto Copley) leave with tiny bottles of water, and Martin plays wrestling with two adult lions he raised as cubs. What could go wrong?
The story of Dr. Samuels’ rocky relationship with his late wife and parental guilt is told without reasonable explanation, though Norah (Leah Sava Jeffries) and Mer (Iyana Halley) do a pretty good job of yelling at regular intervals when the lion appears. a paw through the window of the Jeep and fidgets.
The beast begins in dark terror and carnage, as poachers trap and kill a pride of lions at night but fail to catch the male lion
Idris Elba plays American Dr. Nate Samuels in a film that sees The Lion King mate with Jaws
While Beast might have been fun had he gone full B-movie camp, he takes himself too seriously. There are plenty of nasty-looking stitches and squirts of bloody wounds as Dr. Samuels has to show off his medical skills.
This is not the first time that Elba has had an unfortunate experience with a cat. When he played Macavity in the musical film Cats, reviews were agonizing and his furry brown onesie left viewers feeling weird.
Classic movie on TV
North by Northwest (1959)
Cary Grant, chased by a dust plane through vast dusty fields “where there are no crops”, is just one of the iconic scenes in thriller from suspense master Alfred Hitchcock, which also stars Eva Marie Saint and James Mason.
BBC2, Saturday, 1:45 p.m.
In Beast, at least the animalistic visual effects are compelling. . . first. But by the time the lion has been punched, shot and fried, it looks more like an IKEA faux-fur rug that comes out of the washing machine shredded and discarded. Frankly, you’ll be looking for the beast to win.
Jane Austen must turn in her grave, thanks to the lack of proper etiquette in the Regency romantic comedy Mr. Malcolm’s List. But in many ways, the main characters – scheming friends played by Freida Pinto and Zawe Ashton – have a refreshing, no-frills attitude that Elizabeth Bennet could applaud.
Although based on the recent novel of the same name by Suzanne Allain, the film nods to Pride And Prejudice. Mr. Malcolm, an arrogant and demanding bachelor played by Sope Dirisu (previously seen in more difficult circumstances in TV’s Gangs Of London) is well off. But to avoid being seduced by gold diggers, he also carries a list of ten attributes that his future wife must possess.
Julia Thistlewaite (Ashton) is keen to ensnare the Honorable Jeremiah Malcolm, but is disappointed on a trip to the opera by his ignorance of the Corn Laws of 1815 – and his propensity for “batting his eyelashes too much”.
It’s clear that Mr. Malcolm deserves his reward, which arrives in the form of Selina Dalton (Pinto), the daughter of a country pastor.
Julia plots to get Serena to seduce and reject Mr. Malcolm. Like the Bridgerton TV series (but without the nookie), the film has a diverse cast and plays fast and loose with history, continually allowing characters to sneak around unchaperoned.
Sope Dirisu (left) stars as Mr. Malcolm and Freida Pinto (right) plays Selina Dalton in the film based on the recent novel of the same name by Suzanne Allain
Like the Bridgerton TV series, the film has a diverse cast and plays fast and loose with the story, continually allowing characters to sneak around unchaperoned.
Selina enters the London season with a shiver of excitement in the Orangery and the Ballroom, and Mr. Malcolm is delighted – when he doesn’t tick the boxes that say ‘beautiful face’ and ‘converses sensibly’.
Poor Julia is in her fourth season in town without making a match: the Regency equivalent of suitors who all swipe left on Tinder.
Her jealousy grows when Mr. Malcolm and Serena really seem to be falling in love. . . I’ll leave it at that, but it’s worth mentioning that filming took place in Ireland, with the streets of Dublin replacing London, and much of the stately home action taking place at Killruddery House and the gardens.
The romantic foam is complemented by the splendor of the suits, from sumptuous structured silks to plain linens, all delicate indicators of class and wealth. And as you’d expect, Mr. Malcolm has a huge top hat.
Lights, camera, laughs as Cruz takes control
Official competition (15, 115min)
Official Competition is a wicked satire on the art of filmmaking, which lets three great actors have fun – with the audience. Penélope Cruz plays an eccentric and driven director who pushes her cast to its limits.
Her crazy mop of red hair reflects her temper, and she pits Felix (Antonio Banderas in Puss In Boots mode) against Ivan (Oscar Martínez), a very serious theater actor.
They’re rehearsing to play brothers who betray each other in a film funded by a millionaire who wants his name to come to light.
Method acting meets geek acting and the stars indulge in toddler trickery and tantrums, all framed by an elegant brutalist building. Results of brutality – but even that is funny.
Penélope Cruz, with her crazy mop of red hair, plays an eccentric and driven director who pushes her cast to their limits
Black Mail (15.97 mins)
Black Mail also stars an actor playing an actor: OC Ukeje is family man Ray, whose marriage problems worsen when he receives a phishing email blackmailing him about a sex video privacy that could destroy his home and professional life.
The sometimes awkward film travels through the squalid underworld of London, where Russian hackers exploit compromised victims and monitor their every move. Ray has no choice but to act like a fictional character in one of the thrillers he’s shooting.
OC Ukeje plays family man Ray, whose marriage problems worsen when he receives a phishing email blackmailing him for a private sex video that could destroy his home and professional life
His Way (18.97 mins)
The brilliant Laure Calamy shot to fame on the French TV series Call My Agent, and she plays Marie, a frazzled mom and sex worker in her own way. Calamy’s on-screen energy is electric as she struggles to earn enough money to get her expelled 17-year-old son into a private cooking school that could change his drug-ridden, apathetic life.
But Marie’s regular and sure customers are deadbeats and she’s forced to work in a spooky, neon-lit sex club with all its sinister compromises. Nissim Renard plays his son Adrien, a bulwark of teenage negativity, and your sympathy for Marie grows as she struggles to do the right thing, both rightly angry and vulnerable.
The plot lacks punch but Calamy takes on the film, furious in her fishnets, and makes every scene watchable.
The plot lacks punch but Laure Calamy (pictured) takes on the film, furious in her fishnets, and makes every scene watchable