Pushing boundaries

With its blue-hued main characters, Avatar was a genre changing revelation in the film world. A sequel is due out soon. American rock band Weezer has moved the goalposts by releasing its Sznz album in four parts. And books are always page turners!


The wild, stonewalled Yorkshire moors and dales were where Emily Brontë felt most at home. Against this backdrop a “reimagining” of the journey to womanhood of the author of Wuthering Heights, a woman who was “a rebel and a misfit” is set.

The biographical drama charts the somewhat brief life of Emile Brontë, one of the now famous Brontë sisters, who died at the age of 30 in 1848. It was both written and directed by Frances O’Connor who makes her directorial debut with this film about the writer of whom relatively little is known. Literary scholars have had to piece together Emily’s life, much of it apparently sympathetically edited by her older sister Charlotte.

What is known is that educated, independent and outspoken women were frowned upon – and as is obvious from this movie, Emily was all of those. But she was known to be extremely quiet and shy, preferring animals to people which makes the power and dynamics at play in Wuthering Heights such a classic.

The title role of Emily is portrayed by actress Emma Mackey, known to audiences for her appearances in the movies Eiffel and also Death on the Nile.

 The Menu

Billed as a black comedy with horror and thriller elements, The Menu taps into the world’s fascination with food, gastronomy and celebrity chefs.

The premise is that a select group of just 12 guests are boated out to an island for an evening of molecular gastronomy prepared by world-famous chef Slowik, known for treating food as a form of performance art.

The boat departs as they troop into a restaurant unlike anything they have experienced before. Low lighting sets the moody tone as immaculately white-coated staff begin the spectacle. The guests are unaware of what awaits them, both gustatory and performance-wise and how involved they will need to be.

Joseph Fiennes is menacing in his understated and chilling portrayal of celebrity chef Slowik.

“He’s not just a chef,” one of the guests whispers to her companion, “he’s a storyteller.” She is blissfully unaware of the role they are to play in the unfolding narrative of the night. Nicholas Hoult, Anya Taylor-Joy, Judith Light, Janet McTeer and John Leguizamo portray a few of the guests who add their own twists and turns.

 Avatar –
The Way of Water

Avatar (the original) when released in 2009 reset expectations of science fiction and the implementation of computer graphics and imaging. It took director James Cameron years to complete the project but there was no doubting that audiences loved this evolutionary leap in the movie world.

Since 2017, Cameron has been working on two sequels to the original mega blockbuster.

The first, due for release soon, has tentatively been titled The Way of Water. Returning for repeat performances are Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington and Sigourney Weaver, and this time they are joined by Kate Winslet, Cliff Curtis, Michelle Yeoh and Vin Diesel.

Although little is known about the specific plot and details are thin, the story is apparently set several years after the original film and the action is centred on the Metkayina, a free-diving clan who inhabit a planet dominated by seas and volcanoes.


 SZNZ: Winter – Weezer 

SZNZ (formerly SZNS, pronounced “Seasons”) is an interesting musical project by Californian quartet, Weezer planned for release throughout the year. Spring, Summer and Autumn have already been released to mixed reviews.

The project is a collection of four studio EPs released on the first day of each seasonal solstice, with each having its own motif and production style based on the corresponding season. SZNZ: Winter is the final album due to be released on the winter solstice (for the Northern Hemisphere).

Band frontman Riveres Cuomo, a “keytarist” according to Weezerpedia, said the spring album was a “breezy, carefree acoustic-type album,” while the upcoming winter one would conjure up the 90’s genre with “lots of loss and despair and kind of quiet”. He cited Franz Ferdinand and the Strokes as inspirations.

 Profound Mysteries III ­­– Röyksopp  

It’s been more than 20 years since Norwegian electronic music duo released their first album, Melody A.M. In the intervening decades the duo has constantly experimented with their preferred electronic genre, encompassing synth pop, house music and even ambient styles – being nominated for two Grammy awards along the way.

“As human beings, what we don’t know vastly overshadows what we do know,” the duo state on their website. “As teenagers, we would discuss our own fascination and preoccupation with the infinite and the impossible – the most profound mysteries of life.”

And hence their multi-genre exploration which takes the form of the third and final album in their Profound Mysteries series – and features new collaborations with Susanne Sundfor, Astrid S, Alison Goldfrapp and others.

 On the other side –
The Stone Foxes  

In August, popular American rock band, The Stone Foxes went public with the announcement of their sixth album, On The Other Side. This is the band’s first new full-length album since 2015.

Described by a recent press release as: “A cinematic western rock ’n roll soundtrack to pull you through when the journey gets rough. The lyrics and signature hard-driving sounds reflect lead singer Shannon Koehler’s journey through a second open heart surgery, the brothers’ struggles with anxiety, being grounded by love, and the experience of living in a deeply disturbing America.”

Inspiration for one of the tracks, Man’s Red Fire, came from a lyric in the musical version of The Jungle Book. “I’ve always loved that song (I want to be like you – which King Louis sings), and living in California, surrounded by wildfires every summer for the past four years, it was stuck in my head,” Shannon Koehler said. 


 Our Crooked Hearts –
Melissa Albert

In our family, magic runs deep, but secrets run deeper. Ivy's summer starts with a series of disturbing events – unnatural offerings appear on her doorstep and she's haunted by fragmented memories from her childhood. Soon she grapples with a dark secret that she's always known – but never faced – that there is more to her mother Dana than meets the eye ...

Dana's story starts the summer she turns 16, when, with the help of her best friend and an ambitious older girl, she embarks on a major fling with the supernatural. As the trio's aspirations darken, things soon take a more sinister turn.

Years after it began, Ivy and Dana's shared story will come down to a reckoning amongst a mother, a daughter and the dark forces they never should’ve messed with.

 Notes on Falling – Bronwyn Law-Viljoen

Thalia, adrift in a small university town in South Africa in the nineties, heads to New York to study photography and to pick up the faint trail left for her by someone she has never known. The city helps her to find her way as an artist, but it never quite provides the answers she’s seeking.

Robert is a photographer in New York in the 1970s, desperate to make memorable images in a time of spectacular experimentation in dance, music and theatre. He intuits the importance of what he is photographing, but finds it almost impossible to transcend the troubles of his own life.

Paige leaves South Africa in the seventies to pursue her dream of being a ballet dancer. She does not anticipate the ways in which this pursuit will challenge her understanding of her art, and she is ill prepared for the catastrophic moment that will undo everything she has worked for.

Unbeknownst to them, Thalia, Robert and Paige share a story that links them to the turbulent worlds of New York in the 1970s and South Africa in the 1990s and, finally, to the photographs that hold the secrets of their lives.

 The Apartment Upstairs – Lesley Kara

Scarlett's aunt lived – and was brutally murdered – in the apartment upstairs. But Scarlett is determined that life should return to some kind of normal, even if that means living with just a ceiling between her and the scene of such a devastating crime. After all, this is her home. She's safe here. Isn't she?

Dee is busy balancing her job as a funeral director with organizing an event to mark the disappearance of her best friend, 10 years ago. So she's got enough on her plate without worrying about the threatening messages that are appearing on her company's Facebook page.

When Scarlett approaches Dee about planning her aunt's funeral, an unexpected link emerges between them. Together, the two women could uncover secrets that have long been buried. Even while someone wants to stop them digging ...