Arts

New on-demand or to buy on DVD/Blu-ray: Ammonite, Godzilla vs Kong, Made In Italy and more...

Ammonite: Kate Winslet as Mary Anning and Saoirse Ronan as Charlotte Murchison
Damon Smith

FILM OF THE WEEK

AMMONITE (Cert 15, 117 mins, Lionsgate Home Entertainment UK Ltd, Romance/Drama, available now via Premium Video On Demand rental, available from June 11 on Amazon Prime Video/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, available from June 14 on DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99)

Starring: Kate Winslet, Saoirse Ronan, Alec Secareanu, Gemma Jones, James McArdle.

PIONEERING 19th-century palaeontologist Mary Anning (Kate Winslet) is not credited properly for her discoveries by a patriarchal scientific community, which proudly displays her painstakingly excavated work in museum cabinets in London.

She ekes out a thankless living alongside her perspicacious mother Molly (Gemma Jones) by selling fossils and curios to tourists through the family business in Lyme Regis.

Fellow palaeontologist Roderick Murchison (James McArdle) arrives in town with his young wife Charlotte (Saoirse Ronan), who is in the grip of "mild melancholia".

He entreats Mary to take care of Charlotte for "four weeks, perhaps five… no more than six" in the hope that the bracing sea air and walks along the coastline will improve his wife's disposition and reignite her maternal spirit.

Ammonite is a beautifully crafted period romance, which adopts a colour-bleached palette to reflect the characters' frozen emotional states.

Writer-director Francis Lee's follow-up to the multi-award-winning God's Own Country doesn't quite match the heady erotic charge of a closeted farmer's son and a Romanian immigrant worker in West Yorkshire but it's equally elegant and assured in the distillation of complex feelings.

Winslet's stoic trailblazer, who barely registers feelings as she prowls the beaches in search of fossils, is a stark counterpoint to Ronan's effervescent woman of learning and privilege, who has been rendered numb by the recent loss of a child.

The actresses expertly plumb despair and longing in wordless sequences, captured in bold strokes by cinematographer Stephane Fontaine, who relishes the furious splendour of Mother Nature at work on the rugged landscapes of south-west England.

Rating: 4/5

ALSO RELEASED

GODZILLA VS KONG (Cert 12, 108 mins, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Action/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Adventure, available now on Amazon Prime Video/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, available from June 14 on DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £26.99/4K Ultra HD Blu-ray £34.99)

Starring: Alexander Skarsgard, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Julian Dennison, Kyle Chandler, Demian Bichir, Kaylee Hottle.

ANTHROPOLOGIST Dr Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall) works for secret scientific organisation Monarch on Skull Island, safely containing Kong inside a hi-tech dome where her deaf ward Jia (Kaylee Hottle) secretly communicates with the prize specimen using sign language.

Former Monarch scientist Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgard) implores Ilene to let him transport Kong to Antarctica to prove his crackpot theory about a hollow earth ecosystem at our planet's core.

The mission is bank-rolled by Walter Simmons (Demian Bichir), chief executive of Apex Cybernetics.

Meanwhile, Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown), daughter of Monarch's deputy director of special projects (Kyle Chandler), unravels a conspiracy involving Apex with her wise-cracking classmate (Julian Dennison) and a conspiracy theorist podcaster (Brian Tyree Henry).

Godzilla Vs Kong is an overblown monster-mashing smackdown, which brings together behemoth brawlers from Godzilla: King Of The Monsters and Kong: Skull Island.

Director Adam Wingard's film has just one emotional string to its bow, the bond between cherubic Jia and the ape, and scriptwriters Eric Pearson and Max Borenstein pluck it frantically between impressive yet exhausting set pieces.

Bombastic action sequences, choreographed in luscious slow-motion, bludgeon character development and plausible plotting into a coma.

The wall of sound of Thomas Holkenborg's synth score launches a sustained assault on the ears to match the visual blitzkrieg.

The titular death match is conducted as two eye-popping bouts on sea and land, one of which cheerfully asks us to believe that a US navy aircraft carrier could support the combined weight of the title fighters rampaging on its deck in the Tasman Sea.

Too much monkey business.

Rating: 3/5

MADE IN ITALY (Cert 15, 104 mins, Lionsgate Home Entertainment UK Ltd, Drama/Romance, available now on Amazon Prime Video, available from June 14 on BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, also available from June 14 on DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £19.99)

Starring: Liam Neeson, Micheal Richardson, Valeria Bilello, Lindsay Duncan, Yolanda Kettle, Helena Antonio.

Made In Italy: Liam Neeson as Robert Foster and Lindsay Duncan as Kate

TWENTY-something Jack Foster (Micheal Richardson) is embroiled in an acrimonious split from his wife Ruth (Yolanda Kettle), who discloses that her parents intend to sell the London art gallery that he manages.

She gives him one month to meet the steep asking price.

Jack hastily organises a trip to Tuscany with his estranged painter father (Liam Neeson) to sell the family's villa, which has lain dormant for 20 years since the death of his mother Raffaella (Helena Antonio).

A ramshackle road trip to "cheer the place up a bit, get it sold" becomes an extended odyssey of self-healing when Jack discovers the bucolic hillside retreat has fallen into ruination.

Perchance, restaurant owner Natalia (Valeria Bilello) can salve his broken heart.

Blessed with picture postcard locations, Made In Italy is a drama of reconciliation and healing, which is easy on the eye but far less generous to the heart.

Writer-director James D'Arcy's script trades in ramshackle cliches rather than piercing psychological insight and a rundown Italian villa is employed as a heavy-handed metaphor for the men's disintegrating relationship.

Neeson deftly navigates his character's maelstrom of feelings but Richardson can't match the heavy lifting, which is achingly apparent in the film's centrepiece where father and son break down with juddering sobs in each other's arms.

Contrivance and familiar dramatic devices facilitate a tear-filled reconciliation against a ravishing backdrop of sun-kissed hills and a picturesque town square that conjure fonder memories of expeditions to A Year In Provence, Cinema Paradiso and Call Me By Your Name.

You'll wish you were there, not here.

Rating: 2/5

BOX SETS / SERIES

LUPIN PART 2 (5 episodes, streaming from June 11 exclusively on Netflix, Thriller/Romance)

Lupin Part 2: Omar Sy as Assane Diop and Antoine Gouy as Benjamin Ferel

THE gripping French series Lupin created by George Kay, which is inspired by the eponymous gentleman burglar in the novels of early 20th-century French writer Maurice Leblanc, was a surprise international hit when it launched on Netflix with five chapters at the beginning of the year.

The modern retelling of the literary saga expands with a second salvo of five episodes focused on Assane Diop (Omar Sy), who is more determined that ever to avenge his murdered father and expose power-hungry businessman Hubert Pellegrini (Herve Pierre).

At the beginning of this series, Pellegrini seems to have the upper hand and Assane's back is against the wall.

As an ardent fan of literary character Arsene Lupin, Assane will do whatever it takes to achieve his goal.

Consequently, he puts himself in danger and potentially imperils his ex-girlfriend Claire (Ludivine Sagnier) and loyal confidant Benjamin Ferel (Antoine Gouy).

HOME BEFORE DARK – SEASON 2 (10 episodes, streaming from June 11 exclusively on Apple TV+, Drama/Thriller)

Home Before Dark: Jim Sturgess as Matt Lisko and Brooklynn Prince as Hilde Lisko

BROOKLYNN Prince reprises her role as a young investigative journalist in the second series of the Apple TV+ drama inspired by the headline-grabbing exploits of real-life child reporter Hilde Lysiak.

The second series returns to the small Washington town of Erie Harbor where Hilde (Prince) has relocated from Brooklyn with her father Matthew (Jim Sturgess).

The girl's dogged pursuit of the truth continues when a local farm becomes the site of a mysterious explosion.

As the health of the close-knit lakeside community hangs in the balance, Hilde asks uncomfortable questions.

Her investigation causes embarrassment to a powerful and influential corporation with friends in high places.

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