It's easy to have a bit of a cinema hangover post-Film Festival, when it feels like all the freshest, most vital films have rolled out town. However, there are some wonderful titles releasing that cinema-goers shouldn't pass up. Undoubtedly one of the best is the under-the-radar Support the Girls (dir. Andrew Bujalski, rated M). Hiding a raw and furious spirit within its relatively low-key exterior, Girls explores the trials and tribulations of the women working at a Hooters-style restaurant. Led by their put-upon manager Lisa (Regina Hall, Girls Trip, Shaft), the film follows a day of rising calamities and stress as the women attempt to stay afloat in a leering, harshly capitalistic environment.
Boasting a rich cast of wonderful rising stars including Haley Lu Richardson (Columbus, Five Feet Apart) and Dylan Gelula (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Support the Girls is a smart, intelligent and ultimately bittersweet slice-of-life celebrating solidarity and empowerment in spaces where women are often discouraged from having either. The beating heart at the centre of the film is undoubtedly Hall, who lends her manager a den-mother presence brimming with warmth, humanity and quiet dignity. What's fascinating about this film is that it captures the exhausting and dehumanising slog of late-capitalism in a way that is all the more powerful for its understatedness, subtlety, and intense focus on the shared struggle of working class people. It's this that elevates Support the Girls beyond simple comedy, into something truly remarkable. This is one of the best films of the year - don't let it pass you by.
Rating: Five Stars
The trajectory of the Fast and Furious series is deeply strange, growing from Point Break-style pulpiness to thrilling, cartoonish soap opera across the decades in ways that have been at times inspired (Tokyo Drift; the brilliant Fast Five and Furious Six), other times lamentably messy (The Fate of the Furious, a late nadir for the series). Following the off-camera dramas of that last film between series anchor Vin Diesel and series saviour Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, we now have Fast and Furious: Hobbs and Shaw (dir. David Leitch, Rated M), which spins off Johnson's super-cop Luke Hobbs with his long-time nemesis, some-time partner Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) as they attempt to wrest a world-killing virus from the hands of a mechanically advanced super-villain (Idris Elba). Sound cartoonish? You're not wrong - Hobbs and Shaw is the loosest, broadest Furious offering to date, with Deadpool helmer Leitch lending the action an overbearing light-heartedness that saps the film of some of its energy and magic - a shame when part of what makes the series great is that it takes itself and its theme of family seriously, even when others haven't. Performance-wise, Johnson gets a chance to play a few shades he doesn't always get a chance to, while Statham is appreciably suave, an unflappable presence. Both are ultimately outshone by Vanessa Kirby as Shaw's flinty younger sister, building on her brief but memorable turn in Mission Impossible: Fallout by all-but stealing the show out from under her male counterparts with ease. An inessential but ultimately harmless addition to the franchise - but a far cry from the high-points of the Furious universe.
Rating: Three-and-a-half stars