WALKING ON SUNSHINE
Hannah Arterton, Annabel Scholey, Leona Lewis
Not that we have anything against watching men in shorts running around kicking a checkered ball, but for a whole month? This arrives as a perfectly-timed World Cup antidote, a deliriously silly musical campfest about Brit sisters infatuated with the same Italian Stallion (Giulio Berruti, who bared his eye-watering pecs for Attitude last month) that features desirable Puglia locations and dopey comic sidekicks (including Katy Brand and Leona, whose screen debut does call to mind the phrase “don’t give up the day job”). Best of all, though, is marvelling at how a succession of brilliant/awful 80s smashes – from Holiday to Turn Back Time – have been strung together, Mamma Mia!-style, to progress the dippy plot. Frankly, we’ll never forget the sight of Greg Wise, aka Mr. Emma Thompson, hoofing it across an Italian market belting out the Human League’s Don’t You Want Me (Baby). You really won’t see a more daftly enjoyable film this year.
Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke
Coming-of-age films are a dime-a-dozen but Richard Linklater’s trumps every one that’s come before thanks to his extraordinary conceit: portraying his lead character’s entire childhood by keeping the same cast and filming them periodically over a 12-year period. Following a boy as introverted as the chipmunk-cute Mason (Coltrane) means the family drama transpiring on screen doesn’t always scintillate, but the experience of watching someone literally grow up before your eyes is spellbinding and, dare we say, a little bit spiritual.
Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, James Corden
Fans of Once, Keira and music-biz navel-gazing will be hooked by this NYC-set romantic yarn, for which writer-director John Carney applies the same street-busker’s spirit that turned Once from arthouse hit to stage sensation. Knightley is sweetly convincing as a singer-songwriter dumped by her rocker boyfriend and wooed by washed-up record exec Ruffalo, who would be charming playing Vladimir Putin. Carney’s barbed commentary on the music industry alleviates the schmaltz factor.
COLD IN JULY
Michael C. Hall, Don Johnson, Vinessa Shaw
With TV’s Dexter now in serial-killer hell, Michael C. Hall is making his stab at big-screen stardom, following a notable appearance in Kill Your Darlings with this pulpy Texas noir. Otherwise it’s a patchy affair, with a compelling opening stretch in which Hall’s everyman copes with the fallout of shooting a home intruder dead giving way to an abrupt tonal shift midway through. The retro synth soundtrack is pretty genius, though.