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Film round-up: September 17, 2021

Reviews of Fauci, A Brixton Tale, 12 Mighty Orphans, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Mandibles and Gunpowder Milkshake

Fauci (12A) 
Directed by John Hoffman and Janet Tobias
★★★★

INFECTIOUS disease specialist Dr Anthony Fauci became an unlikely cultural icon in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, with Brad Pitt playing him on Saturday Night Live and even bobble-head toys being made of him.

That unforgettable image of him standing behind Donald Trump, face in hands through exasperation at the former president’s latest outrageous statement about the coronavirus, even became a meme. 

With unprecedented access to Fauci himself, this documentary provides a fascinating insight into the man who has led the fight against every major epidemic the US has faced — Aids, Sars, Ebola and now Covid — during his 40 years at the National Institutes of Health. 

The likes of former president George W Bush, Bill Gates and Bono, along with scientists, journalists and key Aids activists, share their thoughts on him professionally, while his family and friends provide a more personal assessment on the man, the father, the husband and what makes him tick. 

It is a riveting study of a relentless scientist who refuses to let up at the age of 80, despite receiving continuous death threats, in his battle to eradicate this pandemic and save lives. A must-see film. 

MD
In cinemas

A Brixton Tale (15)
Directed by Darragh Carey and Bertrand Desrochers
★★★

RACISM and class are at the heart of this raw and provocative romantic drama, in which love sadly does not save the day. 

Shot in and around the Somerleyton estate in Brixton, the film follows wealthy vlogger Leah (Lily Newmark), who chooses the young and shy Benji (an impressive Ola Orebiyi) as the subject of her first documentary. 

At the behest of her mentor and backer Tilda (Jaime Winstone), she is told to make her film edgier and so leads Benji, who she soon falls for, down a shocking and violent path. 

Darragh Carey and Bertrand Desrochers’ ambitious directorial debut feature, starring both experienced and non actors, confronts inequality and white privilege in an evocative love story driven by standout performances from its two leads. The pair, in particular Orebiyi, elevate this beyond being an exercise in social commentary. 

Maria Duarte
In cinemas

12 Mighty Orphans (12A) 
Directed by Ty Roberts
★★★

INSPIRED by the true story of the Mighty Mites, a football team of orphans who changed the face of the US sport, this awe-inspiring tale shows how these underdogs became a national symbol of pride and hope during the Great Depression. 

Based on Jim Dent’s book of the same name, it stars Luke Wilson as Rusty Russell, the Texas-born football coach and shaper of young minds and ambitions, who turned 12 scrawny teenage orphans into formidable football players by altering the play book — with the help of the orphanage’s alcoholic doctor (the fantastic Martin Sheen). 

Under Ty Roberts’s skilled direction, this is a slow-burning, captivating drama about how a group of boys with no future, who were treated worse than dogs, were given the chance to believe in themselves, regaining their self respect and self worth. Beautifully acted and devoid of saccharine sentimentality, this is a brutal yet joyous and uplifting drama.

MD
In cinemas

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (12A)
Directed by Jonathan Butterell
★★★★★

ONE of the more mystifying choices to shunt to streaming despite open cinemas, it’s with a fittingly mischievous sense of irony that the feature film adaptation of hit musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is inevitably destined to become a staple of multiplex fan screenings for years to come.

Once a Fox movie, then flogged by Disney to a presumably ecstatic Amazon Prime, it’s the story of out and proud gay Sheffield teen Jamie (newcomer Max Harwood), whose newly discovered aspirations of becoming a drag queen see him set on unveiling his creation at the forthcoming school prom.

Slickly produced, rambunctiously staged and with more than a handful of glitter to spare, it’s one of the year’s most triumphant feel-good bonanzas, riding high with delirious whimsy and low with soul-crushing despair. It’s a hell of a time, unmissable, and — chuffin’ hell fire — it’ll get you dancing.

Van Connor
Available on Amazon Prime

Mandibles
Directed by Quentin Dupieux
★★★

A PAIR of empty-headed bros attempt to train a giant fly in this bonkers French comedy that harks back to the screwball days of Steve Martin.

A breezy 80-minute romp in which the pair must hide their newfound “pet” from their hosts in a remote holiday home, this latest from Deerskin and Rubber director Quentin Dupieux offers up something of a mixed bag — one of those whacky comedies in which the bits that work really work, but the bits that don’t are genuinely terrible.

Sadly, among those terrible elements is the usually outstanding Adele Exarchopolous, whose cartoonishly comedic character utterly derails an otherwise pretty solid romp. It’s an issue of poor writing and absent comedic direction — something thankfully spared its leads, Gregoire Ludig and David Marsais.

With a consistently off-kilter energy and some very charming visual effects, there’s a decent time to be had — if you can hear over Adele’s shouting.

VC
In cinemas and on digital platforms

Gunpowder Milkshake (15)
Directed by Navot Papushado
★★★★

NO MOMENT so perfectly sums up Gunpowder Milkshake as having an Oscar-nominee deliver — with complete conviction — the words “we’re gonna bring the sky down on their motherfudging heads.”

It’s that sass combined with hyper-violence and a hilariously nasty script from director Navot Papushado that results in the kind of female-led pulp-comic actioner in which Atomic Blonde, Peppermint, et al have so valiantly tried and failed to find that John Wick sweet spot.

Here Karen Gillan is the Wickian assassin forced into the cold as the unlikely protector of a target’s daughter. Her only ally: her own estranged assassin mother, a born-for-this-badass Lena Headey.

Add in a who’s who of fan-fave dames that include Carla Gugino, Angela Bassett and Michelle Yeoh, an arsenal of deranged weaponry and the single finest use of Janis Joplin ever committed to the depiction of mass slaughter, and the stage is set for a bombastic action romp you’ll not soon forget.

It has pacing issues — an unfortunate consequence of some pretty hefty world-building — but with one foot at least always halfway down on the gas, the bombs and bullets will fly, but you’ll stay firmly on the edge of your seat.

VC 
In cinemas and on Sky Cinema & Now TV

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