Shortlist’s Ralph Jones and Tristan Cross on this week’s releases: House of Cards cancels Kevin Spacey for good and Disney adapts a ballet for Christmas
This week our pick of the week is the return of House of Cards, whose final season comes after Kevin Spacey’s firing from the Netflix show following allegations of sexual assault in 2017. Elsewhere, Mike Leigh’s got a new one out about the Peterloo massacre, Disney has a festive adaptation of The Nutcracker, and Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have made a high school thriller involving fracking. Yes you read that right.
Cast: Asa Butterfield, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost
Run time: 103 minutes
The first rule of Slaughterhouse is: don’t ask why we named our school ‘Slaughterhouse’, or why anyone would send their child here – just accept that they just do, alright? Second rule is: despite being an esteemed boarding school, we’ve allowed a culture of hierarchical sadism to reign supreme, where younger students get ritualistically bullied to the point that we would be liable for gross negligence. Third rule is: don’t worry, this is a comedy-horror starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, so drop the concerns that this is a harrowing viewing experience. Nearby fracking has caused a sinkhole to open in the school, releasing some supernatural spookiness that threatens to upend the school’s pecking order among pupil and teacher alike, and also kill them all. In cinemas 31 Oct.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
Cast: Kiera Knightley, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren
Run time: 99 minutes
It’s The Nutcracker… as you’ve never seen it before! Think ‘immersive cinematic experience’ in one of those coffee shop/pub hybrids littered with knick-knacks, haberdashery and jam jars that seem to appear in every corner of gentrified London. Also, it’s steampunk now, so you better prepare yourself for the most magical cog-filled Tchaikovsky adventure this side of a Sugar Plum Fairy novelty alarm clock. In cinemas 2 Nov.
Cast: Maxine Peake, Pearce Quigley
Run time: 154 minutes
For the majority of the past 100 years, every film about British history has tried to invoke a sense of patriotic fair play, usually centred on the times we were the ‘good guys’. Thankfully, with the recent release of Black ’47 and now Peterloo – which depicts the bloody government-backed assault on the 80,000 peaceful protesters who gathered in Manchester advocating for political reform in 1819 – more stories that challenge our history are coming to the fore. In cinemas 2 Nov.
Cast: Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke, Chris O’Dowd
Run time: 105 minutes
Do you know, I thought Rose Byrne was American. You know where she’s from? Australia. What? Next they’ll be telling me Ian McKellen isn’t magnetic. In Juliet, Naked, Byrne enters into an intimate correspondence with a singer-songwriter with whom her husband is obsessed. It’s the kind of film that triggers the following sequence of reactions: 1. “Sounds far-fetched – think I’ll avoid”, 2. “Oh, it’s based on a Nick Hornby book? Right, well I’m definitely going then.” In cinemas from 2 Nov.
Cast: Sean Penn, Natascha McElhone, LisaGay Hamilton
Running time: 45 minutes
From the creator of House of Cards, The First – about a team of astronauts who become the first humans to visit Mars – marks big-time actor Sean Penn’s first major role in a TV series. Watch on Thursday 1 November at 9pm on Channel 4.
House of Cards (Season 6)
Cast: Kevin Spacey (RIP), Robin Wright
Run time: 43-59 minutes
Like the smell of fish sauce after you’ve rustled up a pad Thai, The Spacey Problem and its associated pong has hung heavy over the sixth series of House Of Cards. Rather than throwing their hands up in the air and deciding that the actor’s actions ought to bring the show to a sudden halt, Netflix decided to turn a weakness into a potential strength. So… Frank Underwood’s dead, they’ve said. Remember Frank Underwood? Yeah, dead. His wife, Claire, is president now. Deal with it.
Grasping the nettle this firmly means acknowledging, tongue-in-cheek, the unique and awkward situation in which the programme finds itself. “Do you miss Francis?” Claire says at one stage, directly to screen – implicitly asking the viewer if they miss Kevin.
Time will tell whether or not the viewers do miss Kevin, but for now it’s Claire’s presidential tenure that the show explores.
It’s a tenure blighted by the conspicuous and untimely departure of her predecessor. But the show is also concerned with broaching the objections that arise when, for the first time ever, a woman occupies the most powerful position on Earth. These were objections of which we saw a good deal when Hillary Clinton looked poised to become the 45th president. Never has it been truer to say that House Of Cards has always had an amusing relationship with the real world.
Death, the deceased Frank Underwood once said, puts even the most powerful men on their backs. Without Frank by her side, will Claire be able to weather the misogynistic storm? If you’ve watched more than seven minutes of the show, you’ll know that Claire sometimes made even Frank look like a pussycat. On Netflix from 2 November.
I think she’ll be alright.
Cast: Julia Roberts, Bobby Cannavale, Stephan James
Running time: 11x30 minutes
Heidi Bergman (Julia Roberts) is a caseworker at Homecoming, a Geist Group facility helping soldiers transition to civilian life. Years later she has started a new life, living with her mother and working as a waitress, when a Department of Defence auditor questions why she left the Homecoming facility - and Heidi realises the truth may be a different story than the one she has been telling herself.
Coming to Amazon Prime Video on 2 November
The Other Side of the Wind
Cast: John Huston, Oja Kodar, Peter Bogdanovich
Running time: 2h 2min
After being limbo for several decades, we’ve finally got a complete, restored version of Orson Welles’s unfinished film ‘The Other Side of the Wind’. This satire follows the final days of a legendary director striving for a comeback.
It’s a must-watch for full-blooded cinephiles.
Coming to Netflix on 2 November