It has been just under thirteen years since we said a fond farewell to David Brent in the Christmas Special finale of The Office, when he had been made redundant as regional manager of Slough’s branch of paper merchants Wernham Hogg. Ricky Gervais returns without his co-writer Stephen Merchant to produce, direct, and star in David Brent: Life on the Road, which offers a ‘where are they now?’ revisit to the socially inept and inappropriate character. Now working as a sales-rep for cleaning products firm Lavichem, he takes annual leave to chase his pipedream as front man of the newly reformed rock-band Foregone Conclusion, embarking on a tour to achieve ultimate success and superstardom.
If you see that Jonah Hill and James Franco are in the same film, you’d be forgiven for assuming it would be a lightweight comic affair, given their mutual associations and previous work. However, in artistic theatre director Rupert Goold’s first foray into film, laughs are nowhere to be found. The mystery thriller ‘True Story’ is based on the memoir of the same name by former New York Times writer Mike Finkel, following his journalistic fall from grace. After losing his job due to fabricated storytelling, Finkel (Hill) discovers that Christian Longo (Franco), who is awaiting trial for the murder of his wife and three children, is using his name as an alias. Eager to explore the matter further, he arranges a prison visit, which triggers a psychological meeting of the minds that changes both of their lives forever.
When actor Don Cheadle was approached to portray Miles Davis, it transformed into the perfect project for his directorial debut, and developed into a labour of love centred around one of the pioneers of jazz music, or ‘social music’ as Davis would call it. Cheadle co-writes, stars in and directs Miles Ahead, a biopic of sorts that looks back on the life and career of the controversial, innovative musician. When Rolling Stone journalist Dave Brill (Ewan McGregor) turns up at Davis’ door to discuss a comeback album, he receives a less than frosty reception. He perseveres and the forms an unlikely friendship with his interviewee, and helps him out when new material is snatched by smarmy producer Harper Hamilton (Michael Stuhlbarg). Meanwhile, Davis reminisces about his muse Frances Taylor (Emayatzy Corinealdi) and their passionate, but turbulent relationship.
Disney classics have been transitioning to live-action pictures of late with Snow White, Robin Hood and Cinderella having already received the cinematic treatment and Beauty & the Beast and Tarzan in the pipeline. Based on Rudyard Kipling’s works of the same name, the multi-talented actor and director Jon Favreau steps up to the plate to direct The Jungle Book, the latest adaptation of the beloved story. Mowgli (Neel Sethi) is an orphaned man cub, raised by wolves after wise black panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) finds him alone in the jungle. When all of the animals gather to drink during a water truce in the dry season, wicked tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) learns of Mowgli’s place in the community. Out for revenge against man following an attack years earlier, Khan wishes death upon Mowgli after the drought has passed. To protect his adoptive family, Mowgli flees the wolf pack and soon meets roguish, but fun-loving bear Baloo (Bill Murray) who takes him under his wing.
In the swinging sixties, pop artist Andy Warhol said that “in the future, everyone would be world-famous for 15 minutes” and thanks to a social-media obsessed 21st century internet generation, he may well have been onto something. The idea of brittle celebrity status is explored in techno-thriller Nerve, directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman. Based on Jeanne Ryan’s 2012 young adult novel of the same name, the plot follows Vee (Emma Roberts), a timid teenager who lives in the shadow of her popular best friend Sydney (Emily Meade) who urges her to be more outgoing. In an uncharacteristic attempt to be noticed, she signs up as a ‘player’ to Nerve; an online game in which you complete dares for money and get a hoard of ‘watchers’ in the process. This leads her to meet Ian (Dave Franco) and the pair embark on an adventure that begins as an exciting thrill-ride, but soon takes a dangerous dark turn.
In the summer that egotistical Swedish footballer Zlatan Ibrahimović has retired from International football and his club future is uncertain, he is also the subject of a documentary directed by brothers Fredrik and Magnus Gertten. Becoming Zlatan focuses on the beginnings of his playing career and his move from Malmö FF to Ajax in 2001. It is a coming-of-age story of sorts as he transitions from the young and confident Zlatan to the slightly older and even more confident rich Zlatan ahead of assuming the media persona he has had for years since.
We are all aware of the economic crisis of late and ‘Traders’, written and directed by Rachel Moriarty and Peter Murphy, explores an extreme reaction to this, through two former white-collared bankers facing financial ruin following unemployment. Harry Fox (Killian Scott) was once a lucrative businessman, and has the swanky apartment and attitude that match his previous lifestyle. When he and his co-workers find themselves out of work, Vernon Stynes (John Bradley) thinks he has a solution, presenting the idea of ‘trading’. Trading is when two consenting individuals enter into an agreement whereby their assets are converted to cold hard cash and they fight to the death to either double up or die. The preposterous Fight Club meets The Hunger Games plot is tackled with a very dark sense of humour and unnervingly realistic violence.