John le Carré has always been a good source for the movies. His stories are both entertaining and complex, and his characters, often as complex and deceptively drawn as le Carré’s plotting, are the kind that actors can have a veritable field day with. Our Kind of Traitor, with its criminal Russian oligarch seeking to defect to the West, is, on the page, a terrific blend of cat-and-mouse political manoeuvring and heightened thrills. By making his main character a naïve teacher (played here by Ewan McGregor), le Carré draws the reader/viewer in by using their lack of experience to muddy the waters further in terms of what’s going on. With luck, the more than competent cast, along with screenwriter Hossein Amini and director Susanna White, can pull off yet another movie adaptation of a le Carré novel that’s both compelling and engrossing, and the cinematic equivalent of a page-turner (just like its source).
Making his second directorial feature – after Bad Words (2013) – Jason Bateman brings yet another dysfunctional group to the big screen, The Family Fang. It’s also yet another indie comedy, with quirky characters and even quirkier situations, but this appears to have a better pedigree than most, being an adaptation of the novel by Kevin Wilson – though the script is courtesy of David Lindsay-Abaire, whose last screenplay was for Poltergeist (2015) (not a great recommendation when you think about it). Hopefully, the top-notch cast, including Bateman himself, Christopher Walken, Josh Pais, Kathryn Hahn, Michael Chernus, and Nicole Kidman (in a performance that will hopefully remind us just how good she can be after a slew of recent, underwhelming performances), have brought their A-game to the material, and this will be one movie that proves to be both memorable and funny in equal measure.
It’s directed by Steven Spielberg. It’s a children’s fantasy from the extraordinary mind of Roald Dahl. It’s The BFG. And it looks – on the evidence of the trailer – a lot like Pan (2015). But again, this is Spielberg at work here, and when it comes to spinning magic on the big screen, he’s in a league of his own. The BFG also features the final screenplay written by the late Melissa Mathison, whose last collaboration with Spielberg was a little movie called E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial (1982). And with recent Oscar-winner Mark Rylance playing the titular giant – his amazing voice tips you off before you even see the BFG’s face – it all looks to be in very good hands, even if – and this is just an instant reaction to seeing them – the other giants, Fleshlumpeater et al., all look like early character designs from Warcraft (2016).