In one haunting sequence from writer-director David Lowery’s reinvention of the 14th-century alliterative poem Sir Gawain And The Green Knight, a seemingly benign character assists the eponymous adventurer then whispers under their breath, “Remember this dream, because it gets tricky”.
Those menacing words, lost to a bitter wind that swirls over battlefields strewn with contorted bodies, are an understatement.
Equal parts beautiful, beguiling and befuddling, The Green Knight is a fantastical odyssey torn from Arthurian legend that casts Dev Patel as a booze-soaked disappointment to himself, who yearns to be regarded in reverence by the rowdy royal court.
Lowery’s script bookmarks Gawain’s quest into chapters in keeping with chivalric storytelling tradition, incorporating key motifs from the 2,500-word poem, which was translated into English by JRR Tolkien.
Cinematographer Andrew Droz Palermo canters side by side with the director, conjuring woozy, nightmarish encounters with a Lord (Joel Edgerton) and Lady (Alicia Vikander) and an opportunistic scavenger (Barry Keoghan) that echo the mournful tone of Lowery’s 2017 film, A Ghost Story.
A talking fox and a tribe of eerie giants marauding through billowing mist, both rendered using digital trickery beyond the understanding of Merlin (Emmet O’Brien), linger tantalisingly in the memory when the meaning of some heavily stylised vignettes slips through our grasp.
An increasingly frail and weary King Arthur (Sean Harris) presides over the kingdom of Camelot with Queen Guinevere (Kate Dickie) as valiant knights tuck into a lavish Christmas feast assembled along the round table.
The king beckons reckless nephew Sir Gawain (Patel) to approach his throne so they might become better acquainted.
“Tell me a tale of thyself so I may know thee,” urges Arthur.
“I have none to tell,” ruefully responds Gawain.
“Yet…” Guinevere corrects him, foreshadowing a life-changing odyssey that is already in motion thanks to the pagan witchcraft of Gawain’s mother, Morgan le Fay (Sarita Choudhury), and her chanting coven.
A hulking emerald-skinned warrior on horseback gate-crashes the Yuletide festivities and issues a challenge.
The Green Knight (Ralph Ineson) offers his axe as a prize to any man who can land a glancing blow in combat.
The challenger must agree to receive a blow of comparable force and ferocity the following December.
Gawain impetuously accepts and one year hence, the king’s nephew honours his promise, embarking on an epic six-day journey north to the Green Chapel.
Shot in Ireland, The Green Knight employs a wintry colour palette to send a chill down the spine almost as much as composer Daniel Hart’s otherworldly score.
Patel is compelling as a young man gripped by self-doubt, who strives to be perfect and discovers that the strongest armour can’t protect him from life’s most devastating blows.
Nor should it, because pain, regret and acceptance are necessary steps on the path to nobility.
OASIS KNEBWORTH 1996 (15)
In August 1996, girl power was in full force with the Spice Girls zigazig ah-ing at the top of the UK charts, surfing a wave of Cool Britannia alongside Blur, Oasis, Pulp, Suede and contemporary artists Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin.
Damon Albarn and the boys had drawn first blood in the tabloid-fuelled Battle of Britpop when their single Country House outsold Roll With It.
However, Gallagher brothers Liam and Noel counter-punched by shifting over four million copies of (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? and triumphing at the Brit Awards.
To underline their popularity, Oasis announced two shows in the grounds of Knebworth House in Hertfordshire supported by The Prodigy, Manic Street Preachers, Ocean Colour Scene, The Chemical Brothers and The Charlatans.
More than 2% of the UK population applied for tickets on May 11 1996 and all 250,000 sold out in less than a day, breaking UK box office records in a pre-internet golden age when eager fans had to queue outside record shops and ticket offices or dial a telephone booking number (invariably hitting redial for hours on end in response to the dreaded engaged tone).
Director Jake Scott’s nostalgic documentary relives the weekend of August 10 and 11 1996 through the eyes of fans, incorporating extensive concert footage captured over two nights by Dick Carruthers with previously unseen material and dramatic reconstructions of fans’ journeys.
Their first-hand testimony can be hit and miss but the recollections of Madeleine Hamilton are poignant.
Then 14 years old, she secured two tickets on a parent’s credit card and only attended because her brother – not an Oasis fan – agreed to chaperone.
In the film, Hamilton describes the concert as one perfect moment with her beautiful older sibling before his cancer diagnosis.
Director Scott and editor Struan Clay largely resist the urge to meld concert performances across the two nights, opening Sunday’s performance with Noel’s off-quoted remark to the crowd: “This is history. Right here, right now.”
Blissfully, there’s not a single mobile phone in the undulating crowd. Everyone is defiantly in the moment.
Don’t Look Back In Anger oscillates between Noel singing and Liam on the side of the stage, rudely gesticulating into a roving camera, while Stone Roses guitarist John Squire energises Champagne Supernova.
The political backdrop to the gigs is largely forgotten from the moment “five lads from two different council estates in Manchester”, as Noel describes the band, launch into Columbia and Acquiesce.
Backstage footage of Liam canoodling with fiancee Patsy Kensit is a fleeting distraction from an impressive wall of sound that includes many of the hits, including a suitably rousing finale of Wonderwall.
Today is gonna be the day that Scott’s film is gonna bring it all back to you.
THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK (15)
For six series, David Chase’s sprawling crime drama The Sopranos gripped viewers and collected numerous awards including multiple Emmys and Golden Globes.
Almost 15 years after the TV series concluded its run, Alan Taylor directs an eagerly awaited feature film prequel shot on location in New Jersey and New York, based on a script by series creator Chase and Lawrence Konner.
Beloved characters from the original HBO series are featured as time reverses to one of the most tumultuous eras in Newark’s history.
The DiMeo crime family’s vice-like grip on the increasingly race-torn city weakens as impressionable teenager Anthony Soprano (Michael Gandolfini) becomes a man.
The youngster looks to his idol and uncle, Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola), for guidance as rival gangsters jostle for supremacy and blood ties are severed in dramatic fashion.
Operating under Dickie’s influence, Anthony witnesses the brutality first-hand and takes tentative steps towards becoming an all-powerful mob boss.
THE ALPINIST (12A)
Twenty-three-year-old Canadian rock climber Marc-Andre Leclerc has accomplished some of the boldest solo ascents in history but he is nomadic and publicity-shy.
Far from the limelight, he doesn’t own a mobile phone or a car, and doesn’t permit cameras to capture his dizzying ascents.
Documentary filmmaker Peter Mortimer attempts to make a portrait of Leclerc, who is reluctant to allow a crew to compromise his pure vision of climbing.
As Mortimer struggles to keep up with his elusive subject, Leclerc prepares for a perilous ascent in Patagonia that will push the boundaries of solo climbing.