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GEMMA’S GENTLE SUMMER: It’s James King’s Week in Movies

Our resident film buff is back with his recommendations

James King

This week is bursting with national treasures as Gemma Arterton, Tom Courtenay and Penelope Wilton star in period drama SUMMERLAND, Sir Michael Caine voices the mysterious Psammead in FOUR KIDS & IT and Brian Blessed booms “Gordon’s alive!” in the reissue of a cult classic. Happy viewing! 

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BEST NEW FILM AT THE CINEMA

SUMMERLAND

Gemma Arterton sparkles in this story of a reclusive writer in wartime Kent, forced to look after a young evacuee and reassess her own life in the process. As wild-haired Miss Lamb, Gemma is wonderfully, wilfully nasty to the locals - so much so they suspect she’s either a witch or a Nazi spy. But young Frank (Lucas Bond) is an outsider with no such preconceptions and, after an uncertain start, the unlikely pair realise they might be just what the other one needs. 

 

WATCH: Summerland trailer starring Gemma Arterton

SUMMERLAND tackles some big topics - prejudice, depression, same-sex relationships - but does so with an enjoyably gentle touch from writer/director Jessica Swale. Charming support from legendary actors Penelope Wilton and Tom Courtenay certainly help too. But mainly this a reminder of just how lucky we are to have Gemma Arterton working in movies. As an actor she refuses to repeat herself and here’s another example of her range. Alice Lamb is at once hilarious and heartbreaking, tough and tender - a character as fascinating as the gorgeous Kent countryside is beautiful. 

SUMMERLAND [12A] is at cinemas now

BEST NEW FILM ON DVD

FOUR KIDS & IT

Bored children at home? Don’t worry, this brand new adaptation of Jacqueline Wilson’s much-loved FOUR KIDS & IT is here to help. Telling the story of a family holiday on the Cornish coast which takes an unexpected turn (thanks to a magical, wish-granting animal called Psammead who lives on the beach), Wilson’s tale mixes modern problems with nods back to E Nesbit’s classic original Five Children & It. It’s a blend that should win over even the most cynical of little ones.

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Four Kids and It is out on DVD soon

More mature viewers will like it too, since FOUR KIDS & IT is a refreshingly innocent and retro couple of hours, made even more cosy by sumptuous scenery and the cutest cottage this side of Kate Winslet’s in The Holiday. But it’s Sir Michael Caine’s voicing of Psammead that steals the show - more cockney geezer than he’s been for years and clearly relishing the role. If the rest of the film occasionally plays things a little too safe, there’s always his lovably grumpy routine to keep things enjoyably cheeky.

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FOUR KIDS & IT [PG] is available on DVD from 3rd August

BEST RE-ISSUE

FLASH GORDON

Long before Bohemian Rhapsody had Queen fans packing out cinemas there was FLASH GORDON, a deliciously kitsch adaptation of the old-school comic book hero soundtracked by Freddie and the boys. Forty years since its original release - and now a cult favourite - the space opera gets an anniversary re-release at cinemas after a glittering restoration. Brian May’s soaring guitar licks have never sounded so good. 

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Fancy watching a classic?

FLASH GORDON stars Sam Jones as the title character, a New York footballer who finds himself an unlikely astronaut when science boffin Hans Zarkov blasts him into space to investigate the intentions of intergalactic bad guy Ming the Merciless. What follows is half Star Wars, half Ru Paul’s Drag Race, packed with camp costumes, hilarious dialogue and plenty of scenery getting chewed (can Brian Blessed do anything else?) No wonder Americans didn’t entirely get FLASH GORDON back in 1980 but its sense of humour - and those blistering Queen songs - have only gotten better with age. From a different era it may be but Gordon is still very much alive. 

FLASH GORDON [15] is back at cinemas now and available as a special edition Blu-ray on 10th August