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Neighbours, Nora and Netflix: James King's Week in Movies

BBC Radio 2 critic James King tells us his top pick films for the week

James King

So many films, so little time! Since our list of must-watch flicks grows longer by the day, we can't think of anyone better to advise us on what is worth our time than one of television's biggest film critics, James King. Having previously presented ITV's The Movie Show, BBC's Homegrown Hollywood and appearing on Film4's 50 Films to See Before You Die, James definitely knows his stuff! Find out his top recommendations for this week here…

ON THE BIG SCREEN...

Who's the kindest actor in Hollywood? Keanu Reeves is known for his good deeds. Will Smith charms people like it's going out of fashion. Yet it's Tom Hanks who's been the soft-hearted guy-next-door for years. It makes perfect sense, then, that the film world's longest serving Mr Nice Guy should now be in A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood playing Fred Rogers. No surprise either that Tom's just picked up his sixth Oscar nomination for the role.

james-king

Meet our resident film critic, James

If you're not familiar with the legendary Mr Rogers, think 'America's favourite uncle'. His children's TV show ran in the States across five decades; a mixture of songs, puppets and learning. Generations grew up understanding right and wrong thanks to his gentle ways. His regular outfit - red cardigan, beige chinos, blue plimsolls - is iconic.

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Whilst the story of A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood centres on Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys), a stressed-out journalist doing a profile on Rogers, it's the man himself who is the film's heart and soul. Hanks is deliberately slow and soft-spoken, calm and collected - not such an easy task for an actor known for his dynamism. Yet he nails it. As Lloyd discovers that Fred's simple, childlike and somewhat outdated way of life might contain answers to his problems, so do we in the audience. So even if you've never heard of this American television fixture before, you'll leave the cinema wanting to be just a little bit more like him. I'm even considering buying a red cardigan.

Out in cinemas now 

ON THE SMALL SCREEN...

Awkwafina is everywhere. Kids will know her from the recent Jumanji film, teens from her NSFW rap videos, adults from Ocean's 8 and Crazy Rich Asians. This month also sees the release of her new sitcom, 'Nora from Queens' (her real name is Nora Lum). In between all of those she somehow found the time to also star in The Farewell, the wonderfully bittersweet tale of Billi, an Asian American girl who heads to China to be with her terminally ill grandma. The twist? Granny doesn't know she's unwell - and no-one's going to tell her.

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Writer/director Lulu Wang has crafted a family gathering movie that brilliantly plays up to cultural differences. Billi is stuck between two worlds: part American, part Chinese, utterly dedicated to her family yet utterly frustrated by them too. Should she be rekindling relationships or saying goodbye?

READ: Tan France discusses Netflix's Next in Fashion: is season 2 happening?

In an ideal world The Farewell would have been showered with Oscar nominations but it wasn't to be. It's still something special though. Awkwafina might have made her name as the joker but here she shows she can bring tenderness to the table too, able to make you chuckle one minute, blub the next. Nice work, Nora.

Available to rent on Amazon Prime or iTunes 

 

COMING SOON...

Enjoyed the Netflix adaptation of Jenny Han's To All the Boys I've Loved Before back in 2018? You weren't alone. The teen rom-com was so big a sequel was swiftly given the go-ahead, with Lana Condor reprising her role as letter-writing high-schooler Lara Jean.

READ: The best 8 new films and TV shows to watch on Netflix this week

And in To All the Boys: PS I Still Love You the central question is a biggie: can you be in love with two people at once? You won't have to wait long for an answer. The latest trailer has just dropped and the full movie hits the streaming service just in time for Valentine's Day. And yes - Part 3 (Always and Forever, Lana Jean) has already been filmed.

Available on Netflix on Wednesday 12 February

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