FILM REVIEWS: The Color Purple, All of Us Strangers and Baghead

Fresh from Odeon Luxe Broadway Plaza winning the ‘Best Family Destination’ at the WOWs 2024 awards, GRAHAM YOUNG reports on what’s showing there and at Cineworld Broad Street.

THE COLOR PURPLE (12A, 141 mins). It’s almost 40 years since Danny Glover and what were then newcomers Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey starred in Steven Spielberg’s all-black film about Southern woman Celie’s fight back from cruelty and abuse.

Famously and controversially, the film didn’t win any of its 11 Oscar nominations, and the director didn’t even get a nod. Now, like Mean Girls, it has been remade as a musical with varying degrees of success given the additional resilience needed to condone the 141 minute running time.

The verdict: *** Lusciously shot in Georgia and featuring the wonderful sound of black gospel, ragtime, jazz and blues singers, The Color Purple will intrigue any fans of the original film or stage musical. The uplifting ending justifies the means.

Although no songs have been Oscar-nominated to match the nod for best supporting actress nominee Danielle Brooks as Sofia, the washing clothes in a waterfall sequence is still a humdinger.

Nobody was screaming for The Color Purple to be remade in this way, but having got the musicals bug with his West Side Story remake, executive producer Spielberg clearly fancied backing more recycling. Perhaps one day he’ll remodel E.T. just so that he can use Ozzy Osbourne’s Bark at the Moon.

ALL OF US STRANGERS (15, 106 mins). Based on the 1987 novel Strangers by Taichi Yamada, this romantic fantasy stars Irish actors Andrew Scott (1917) and Paul Mescal (Aftersun) as characters Adam and Harry. Meanwhile, Claire Foy and Jamie Bell play Adam’s late parents, who appear to be living as they did just before they died 30 years before.

The verdict: *** In challenging the stranglehold of grief via the life-affirming attraction of a new partner, All Of Us Strangers is rated a 15 for its ‘strong sexual detail, sex, drug misuse, [and] very strong language’.

But this is also a very well-acted film searching in difficult terrain for the DNA of our common humanity. Like Anthony Minghella’s Truly Madly Deeply (1990), it skilfully explores the hugely complex and always different aspects of grief which can do more than anything else to shape your personality, especially if you lose one or both parents when you are young.

Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s The Power of Love and Birmingham’s own Fine Young Cannibals singing Johnny Come Home both add to the big screen experience.

BAGHEAD (15, 94 mins). A shapeshifting woman with a bag on her head lurks in the basement of a pub inherited by a young woman who barely cares that her father burned to death. The creature’s creepy finger tricks are better than the facial effects, but the idea that the dead can be brought back to life is never credible.

The verdict * Just a month into the New Year, here’s an early contender for the turkey of 2024, not the Oscars.

Baghead offers overwhelming evidence that the horror genre is flatlining – there’s lame acting, a mumbo-jumbo script and hapless characters, with only Scottish star Peter Mullan offering any kind of engagement.

As cliched, heavy duty sound effects constantly fill spaces in your head that should be left empty to generate a creeping sense of fear, it’s pretty clear how horror should be reinvented.

And that’s with a frustrated Ordinary Joe cinemagoer heading for an editing studio ready to pull some daft soundscape engineers out into the cold night air in a horror called Ear We Go. ENDS

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