A Hologram for the King
Released 22 April, it is based on the 2012 novel of the same name by Dave Eggers, about a failed businessman (Tom Hanks) who attempts to recoup his losses by pitching an idea for a 3D holographic meeting system to a wealthy monarch in Saudi Arabia. Hanks reunites with director Tom Tykwer – the pair worked together on the film adaptation of David Mitchell’s ambitious Cloud Atlas – and looks set to stray away from his more mainstream roles once again. Although Ben Whishaw is also in the cast, he doesn’t have a huge amount of screen time. “It’s almost a joke that I’m even credited in that,” he told W Magazine. “I love Tom Tykwer… and I always said I’ll do anything in your films and he’s taken my word and put me in everything, but sometimes just for like half a second. I play the hologram. So I appear for about 30 seconds at the end of the film.”
With one of the more unexpected plots of the year, Green Room stars Patrick Stewart as the neo-Nazi owner of a nightclub (Darcy Banker) who finds himself up against punk band The Ain’t Rights in a life-or-death backstage showdown. Director Jeremy Saulnier follows up his debut Blue Ruin with what is, according to Indiewire, “a thinking person’s thriller… littered with clever dialogue, a beautifully constructed narrative, as well as moments that shift between the energising and sheer terror”. According to The Guardian, it’s “a riff on the hillbilly survival nightmare, typified by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes”, and is likely to be “a late night horror favourite for years to come”.
Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele – known for their sketch comedy series Key & Peele, as well as an appearance in the first series of Fargo – star as friends posing as drug dealers to rescue a stolen cat called Keanu. While some critics have expressed disappointment at the duo’s big-screen outing, most reviews have been positive. “The actors make the transition with ease in a consistently funny action-comedy,” says The Hollywood Reporter. “It will delight the show’s fans while winning over others unlucky enough never to have seen it.” According to Collider: “There’s crazy behaviour and zany scenarios, but it’s all backed by honest emotion, and that’s a pairing you don’t see in broad comedies very often.” And, of course, there’s the kitten. As Vanity Fair puts it, “when the comedy from the humans starts to sag and audiences miss the subversive kick of Key and Peele, there’s always Keanu’s third star… to help the whole thing hang together.”
Everybody Wants Some
Following his Oscar-winning Boyhood, director Richard Linklater dishes up what’s been billed as a ‘spiritual sequel’ to his 1993 coming-of-age hit Dazed and Confused. A comedy about a freshman joining a college baseball team, it’s an unabashed celebration of youth: according to Variety, “few filmmakers have so fully embraced the bittersweet joy of living in the moment – one that’s all the more glorious because it fades so soon”. In that respect, Linklater’s latest is as much a follow-up to Boyhood as to his 1970s high-school movie. “The film is one hundred per cent concerned with navigating a sea of testosterone,” says The Hollywood Reporter, “but it’s as honest and clear-eyed about the past as its predecessor, another in a filmography of unpredictable gems.” It might even enjoy some of the success of Boyhood: Little White Lies simply called it “a marvel”, stating that “The ‘best film of 2016’ race starts here”.
The Jungle Book
This live-action remake is one of two in the works, with Jungle Book: Origins set to be released in 2017. That Warner Brothers feature is directed by Andy Serkis (who knows a thing or two about combining CGI and acting) and stars Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch and Naomie Harris – it will no doubt be a darker tale than Jon Favreau’s Disney version. His Jungle Book features the voices of Idris Elba (Shere Khan), Scarlett Johansson (Kaa), Christopher Walken (King Louie), Bill Murray (Baloo) and Lupita Nyong’o (Rakcha); Mowgli is played by the 12-year-old Neel Sethi. Favreau hasn’t shied away from the 1967 classic animation: “You have the Kipling stuff, which has a really strong mythic theme,” he told Collider. “But then you also have this personality of the Walt Disney film – which, although tonally is different from what we’re doing, there’s a lot of great images and feelings that I remember from being a kid that I’d love to incorporate using today’s technology and storytelling techniques.” His approach didn’t aim for photorealism. “What creating the world allows us to do is exaggerate proportions and scale. So the jungle is slightly heightened. The animals are slightly heightened.” King Louie has become something that is half-orangutan, half-Yeti. On general release from 13 April.