Scene: Quick Read Reviews and Double Bill Recommendations



Based on the bestselling novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Daisy Jones & The Six feels like an extension of Cameron Crowe’s sublime 2000 film Almost Famous. But here, the coming-of-age themes are replaced by a focus on internal band conflicts, romance and politics. Told over two timelines, interviews about the band’s collapse are weaved into a delightful exploration of the 70s music scene full of sublime original tracks. With more than a nod to Fleetwood Mac, the performances of Daisy (Riley Keough) and Billy (Sam Claflin) recreate a Nicks and Buckingham-inspired conflict, while the ensemble of Billy’s brother Graham (Will Harrison), bassist Eddie Roundtree (Josh Whitehouse), drummer Warren Rojas (Sebastian Chacon), keyboardist Karen Sirko (Suki Waterhouse) and Billy’s long-suffering wife (Camila Morrone) are an absolute delight. This is serial drama at its very best.




Set in 1981 on the Kent coast, Hilary Small (Olivia Colman) leads a solitary existence after finishing a stay in a psychiatric hospital. Sexually exploited by her vile boss (played with pathetic sleaziness by Colin Firth) and alienated from the rest of her colleagues, she trudges through life with no sense of purpose or direction. She starts an affair with Stephen (Michael Ward), the newest of the young ushers working in the cinema, who shows her the tenderness of which she is deprived.

What follows feels like an inelegant soldering together of two different films. The first is a period film about an interracial relationship and attitudes towards mental illness in the vein of a Mike Leigh drama. The second is an ensemble piece about a ragtag group of cinephiles finding comfort and solidarity in their temple of the moving image. While these ideas aren’t necessarily in conflict, the two concepts never converge.

Olivia Colman is untouchable at this point in her career, so her star power is unlikely to be dimmed by appearing in a mediocre film. Commendably, she brings her full dramatic weight to the underwhelming script. Hopefully, Michael Ward will be able to use the exposure from the movie as a springboard to more substantive projects. But, far more than any of the human players, the film’s real star is Margate’s historic Dreamland cinema, which is immaculately photographed by Mendes’ frequent cinematographic collaborator, Roger Deakins.

Empire of Light has good intentions, strong performances from the leads and handsome cinematography. But, ultimately, more is needed to save this unimaginative and thematically disjointed venture.


Each story director James Grey brings to the screen, whether science fiction, adventure or thriller, is wrapped in an intimate human journey. Often these journeys centre on family, belonging or a past event that niggles at a character’s subconscious mind demanding resolution. In Armageddon Time, Grey takes us back to his New York childhood with a semi-autobiographical drama that explores a friendship that left an indelible mark. As a result, Armageddon Time feels deeply personal, a series of joyous, loving, challenging and uncomfortable memories played out on screen.

The place is Queens, and the year is 1980. Paul (Banks Repeta) is the youngest son of Irving (Jeremy Strong) and Esther (Anne Hathaway). Paul is at that age where the idea of rebellion appeals, and in a city where cultural change is coming thick and fast, Paul longs to escape his middle-class Jewish life for an artistic adventure. The only person who seems to understand him is his grandfather (Anthony Hopkins), who encourages his love of art and sense of ambition and rebellion.

At school, he bonds with Johnny (Jaylin Webb), a Black kid who, like him, believes there must be more to life than school and endless rules. But while both Johnny and Paul may share the characteristic of a minority group, the nature and experience of persecution in New York for a Black and Jewish kid are very different.

In Grey’s engaging and atmospheric coming-of-age drama, chaotic family meal times are full of banter and love, while the streets of New York are alive with risk and change. Paul is desperate to embrace social change but has yet to discover what that change should be. However, he knows that with his friend, Johnny, in tow, change is possible and inevitable. But Paul is about to learn that childhood dreams and desires rarely survive a night of adult realities.

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