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Film Talk: Latest Movie Releases – Buoy band back for sea shanty sequel sensation

I can still remember the first time my better half took me and our friends to a gig.

The cast of Fisherman’s Friends: One And All, including Dave Johns as Leadville, James Purefoy as Jim, Sam Swainsbury as Rowan and Richard Harrington as Morgan
The cast of Fisherman’s Friends: One And All, including Dave Johns as Leadville, James Purefoy as Jim, Sam Swainsbury as Rowan and Richard Harrington as Morgan

I was instantly intrigued at her suggested concert, for while as a dyed-in-the-wool music fan I’d visited many of the country’s stadium Meccas and more intimate venues, never had I ventured to a sleepy Cornish fishing village to slake my musical thirst.

Said ‘gig’ was to take place in North Cornwall’s Port Issac, and would involve an evening by the water being entertained by a local a cappella group comprised of grizzled local fishermen and other sea-faring types. She’d been watching them on family holidays for years, and assured me, myself and mine that our breath would be well and truly taken away.

I wasn’t convinced. I’ve never been more wrong in my life.

Seeing the now-legendary Fisherman’s Friends on their home turf so long ago, it was clear that one day sceptics like me across the world would be eating crow and that it was only a matter of time before these lads (if they so chose to) would be going somewhere. They were nothing short of sensational.

Sure enough, the ‘buoy band’ eventually signed a £1 million deal with Universal, and rocketed to starry sea shanty heights that included backing up Beyoncé on the Glastonbury Pyramid Stage. A movie adaptation of the charming tale was inevitable, and in 2019 we were treated to Fisherman’s Friends (the movie), which starred the talented James Purefoy as the band’s frontman, and charted their unbelievable rise to stardom.

Now, the much-awaited sequel has finally dropped in cinemas, which sees Purefoy back behind the mic and leading the charge with the next chapter of the hometown heroes’ story.

Ship ahoy folks! Let’s take a closer look...

FISHERMAN’S FRIENDS: ONE AND ALL (12A, 112mins)

Released: August 19 (UK & Ireland)

The rags-to-riches story of eight men from Port Isaac in Cornwall, who signed a record deal in 2010 and became the first traditional folk act to land a top 10 album in the UK charts, translated sweetly into the fish-out-of-water drama comedy Fisherman’s Friends.

Meg Leonard and Nick Moorcroft make their directorial debut with a life-affirming sequel that draws inspiration from the frenetic 14 month-period between the release of the LP and the group’s 2011 performance on the Glastonbury Festival’s Pyramid Stage at Worthy Farm on the same Sunday line-up as Beyonce.

The script takes bass notes of fact and adds rousing choruses of fanciful melodrama and romance including a debut acting role for Irish singer-songwriter Imelda May as a spunky love interest for one swarthy sea shanty singer.

It’s heart-warming, feelgood entertainment, filled and crimped to the same wholesome design as its predecessor, including a daring rescue worthy of an episode of Lassie and a moving cliffside rendition of Harry Glasson’s anthem Cornwall My Home.

The underdog storyline is writ large from the moment a London record label head honcho (Ramon Tikaram) dismisses the band as Moby Dick And The Whalers and supports the promotion of an airhead pop diva because “success is measured in record sales not brain cells”. Inevitably, he chokes on those words.

The nine remaining members of the Fisherman’s Friends embark on a whirlwind UK tour. Lead singer Jim (James Purefoy) hasn’t processed the death of his father Jago (David Hayman) and he seeks emotional support in a whisky flask to the dismay of A&R man Gareth (Joshua McGuire).

The ‘buoy band’ returns to Port Isaac in sombre spirits.

When the record label’s managing director Leah Jordan (Jade Anouka) broaches the thorny issue of a new singer to replace Jago, Jim vociferously protests.

“When father died, the band died with him,” he growls, picking fights with fellow members Leadville (Dave Johns) and Rowan (Sam Swainsbury) after farmer Morgan (Richard Harrington) successfully auditions to join the ranks.

Disharmony crescendos in front of the media with Jim drunk and disorderly in charge of a microphone at the Minack open-air theatre in Penzance.

Perhaps visiting songbird Aubrey Flynn (May), who has embraced sobriety after a hellraising past, can shepherd lost soul Jim back from the brink of self-destruction. Fisherman’s Friends: One And All has been composed to warm the cockles of our emotionally manipulated hearts and it’s hard to resist the siren song of Leonard and Moorcroft’s picture.

Cinematographer Toby Moore showcases Cornwall’s natural beauty in every conceivable light including a heart-to-heart on a cliff-top bench with a spectacular panoramic view of the port.

Pacing is gentle and the only point of contention is an on-screen discussion about scone layering etiquette.

Battle lines are drawn in jam then cream… or vice versa.

ORPHAN: FIRST KILL (15, 98 mins)

Released: August 19 (UK & Ireland)

Matthew Finlan as Gunnar Albright and Julia Stiles as Tricia Albright in Orphan: First Kill

Murder is child’s play in director William Brent Bell’s prequel to the 2009 psychological horror Orphan about a thirtysomething psychiatric patient with a rare gland condition that stunts growth, allowing her to pass as a young girl and infiltrate unsuspecting families.

The cuckoo in the nest is happy as a lark and crazy as a loon in Orphan: First Kill, which chronicles the antagonist’s first forays outside of secure confinement and pits the wily predator against a surprisingly worthy adversary.

Screenwriter David Coggeshall pulls the rug from under his villain (and us) with a satisfying swish at around the hour mark and savours the acrid tang of white supremacy and class privilege as his plot whirls in a tantalising new direction.

Unfortunately, he’s tightly handcuffed to back story disclosed in the first film and can’t deliver on the sadistic promise, reverting to slasher conventions to sever dysfunctional family ties in the most primitive ways possible.

Isabelle Furhman reprises her creepy embodiment of the duplicitous title role, staring soullessly into the camera as her master manipulator hoodwinks adults, who treat her like an innocent child.

Make no mistake, she will peck your eyes out given half a chance.

In 2007, 31-year-old Leena Klammer (Fuhrman) is a deeply disturbed patient under the care of Dr Novotny (David Lawrence Brown) at the Saarne Institute in Estonia, where staff see through her child-like facade and recognise the psychopath in their midst. Leena exploits the weakness of one smitten security guard to escape the facility and reinvent herself as Esther Albright, a missing-presumed-kidnapped American girl with similar facial features.

A member of staff at the US embassy in Moscow reunites Esther with her tearful mother Tricia (Julia Stiles): “Be prepared for change. Four years is a long time in the development of a child!”

The imperious matriarch of one of America’s wealthiest clans spirits Esther home by private jet to Darien, Connecticut into the embrace of the girl’s delighted artist father (Rossif Sutherland) and older brother (Matthew Finlan).

In the guise of Esther, Leena acclimatises quickly to the trappings of wealth and attends sessions with child therapist Dr Segar (Samantha Walkes).

However, inconsistencies in her recollections and the nagging suspicions of Detective Donnan (Hiro Kanagawa) threaten to expose Leena’s diabolical deception.

Orphan: First Kill is a solidly entertaining but predictable yarn that merrily ignores any stain removal concerns of the costume department to spatter Fuhrman with freshly spilt blood at every grisly juncture.

DRAGON BALL SUPER: SUPER HERO (12A, 100 mins)

Released: August 19 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas)

The latest instalment of the long-running Dragon Ball anime series arrives more than three years after Dragon Ball Super: Broly with director Tetsuro Kodama installed at the helm of a colourful adventure penned by Akira Toriyama.

Goku (voiced by Masako Nozawa) and Vegeta (Ryo Horikawa) continue to train hard for battle under the guidance of teacher Whis (Masakazu Morita).

Meanwhile, Magenta (Volcano Ota) joins forces with Dr Hedo (Miyu Irino) to revitalise the Red Ribbon Army and seek revenge on heroes Gohan (Nozawa again) and Piccolo (Toshio Furukawa) using two androids.

This diabolical plan culminates in the creation of Cell Max, an improved version of the Cell weapon designed by Dr Hedo.

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero is released in the UK as the original Japanese version with subtitles and an English language dubbed edition.

THE FEAST (18, 93 mins)

Released: August 19 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas)

Directed by Lee Haven Jones and written by Roger Williams, The Feast serves up plentiful food for thought on themes of greed and corruption.

Steeped in folklore and filmed in the Welsh language, this contemporary horror unfolds in the home of wealthy politician Gwyn (Julian Lewis Jones) and his wife Glenda (Nia Roberts). They are throwing a lavish dinner party at their home made of glass and steel in the Welsh mountains to seal a deal for mineral mining in the area.

A mysterious young woman called Cadi (Annes Elwy) is hired as a waitress for the evening. Painfully shy and largely silent, she exerts an increasingly poisonous influence over the dinner party.

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