This Month in Film: March 2020

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On the movies side of things, February was a month marked by the Oscars conversation. After a long night of predictable wins, Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite walked away with the big awards in what was a historic, jubilant victory for cinema – the best film of the year wins Best Picture, who would have thought it possible? These first couple months of 2020 have been quite interesting and varied on British shores, with the remaining awards contenders (Parasite, for example) finally landing in UK cinemas. Moving into March, the state of affairs is looking a little lighter when it comes to new releases. Still, we make do. On that slightly dour note, here are the top picks for March…

THE BLOCKBUSTER: Mulan, dir. Niki Caro

Release date: 27th March

Starring: Liu Yifei, Donnie Yen, Gong Li, Jet Li

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Disney’s latest live-action remake is that it is the first to be given a PG-13 certificate over in the States. Mulan doesn’t look like it is going to shy away from the violent spectacle closely associated with depictions of Imperial China. I haven’t seen the original animation, but this reimagining looks like a genuine martial arts bonanza of epic proportions. However, the film faces several challenges. Fans have been in uproar over the removal of their beloved Mushu, the scrawny dragon voiced by Eddie Murphy back in 1998, and further controversy was brought to the film last year when star Liu Yifei seemed to come out in support of police action in the ongoing protests happening in Hong Kong. Mulan‘s release in China may not go ahead at all, with the coronavirus situation meaning all cinemas in the country are currently closed indefinitely. This could be a rare flop for Disney, but not for reasons you’d ordinarily expect.

THE ALTERNATIVE: A Quiet Place Part II, dir. John Krasinski

Release date: 20th March

Starring: Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Djimon Hounsou, Cillian Murphy

It only took a couple of years to get a sequel for 2018’s A Quiet Place in production and ready for release, hardly enough time to consider whether it was actually necessary in the first place. The first film was a critical and commercial hit, widely praised for its unique concept and doom-laden atmosphere. It was with great surprise that John Krasinski, best known for his role as Jim in the American version of The Office, emerged as a director to keep a firm eye on. His return as director on Part II is a reason for hope, with the way forward for this fledgling franchise uncertain after the dramatic conclusion of the original. We know there will be new characters, with Cillian Murphy and Djimon Hounsou curious additions to the cast, and at least one flashback to before – the time when alien monsters with a very keen sense of hearing hadn’t completely taken over the planet. Don’t get too excited though – they’ll hear you…

EDITOR’S PICK: Onward, dir. Dan Scanlon

Release date: 6th March

Starring: Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Octavia Spencer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus

There’s a new Pixar film out this month, which in itself is a good enough reason to get off your butt and go to the cinema. Their latest outing is the beloved animation house’s own take on D&D-style fantasy, with teenage elf Ian Lightfoot (voiced by Tom Holland) and his brother Barley (Chris Pratt) involved in a magical quest to reunite with their father in a world where wizards and centaurs coexist with television and commercial air travel. The father-son story at the centre of this enchanted narrative is sure to be a tear-jerker. Director Dan Scanlon is a relative beginner amongst the Pixar ranks, having only directed the underrated spin-off Monsters University, but Onward looks like it could be a real winner. The mix of a personal, poignant tale with an expansive, visually striking landscape… that’s Pixar’s forte. Think back to UpWALL-E, and Coco – even Inside Out fits that criteria. If Onward can match up to those classics, it’ll be a hell of an adventure.

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Film Editor 2019/20. Enjoys classic Simpsons, R.E.M. and the MCU.

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