What to watch | Allison Janney in crime comedy, a scary babysitter and aeronauts take flight

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Farcical situation (from left): housewife Sue (Allison Janney) explains 
to half-sister Nancy (Mila Kunis) 
and cop Cam Harris (Regina Hall) that her husband has disappeared 
in Breaking News in Yuba County. (PHOTO: UNITED ARTISTS RELEASING).
Farcical situation (from left): housewife Sue (Allison Janney) explains to half-sister Nancy (Mila Kunis) and cop Cam Harris (Regina Hall) that her husband has disappeared in Breaking News in Yuba County. (PHOTO: UNITED ARTISTS RELEASING).

Breaking News in Yuba County ****

Crime comedy. With Allison Janney, Mila Kunis and Awkwafina. Director: Tate Taylor. 16LNSV.

Sue Buttons (Janney) is an undervalued suburban housewife. When her husband, Karl (Matthew Modine), disappears, she embarks on a public search, willingly exchanging anonymity for fame. 

Local news anchor Nancy (Kunis), her half-sister, is desperate for the story but Sue opts for popular talk-show host Gloria Michaels (Natural Born Killers’ Juliette Lewis). 

But as events start to spiral out of control, Sue must evade relentless detective Cam Harris (Regina Hall), wannabe-­gangster Mina (Awkwafina) and her accomplice Ray (Clifton Collins Jnr), as well as Karl’s ex-con brother (Jimmi Simpson from Westworld), while their stories eventually merge to uncover the truth. 

One of this quirky comedy’s biggest drawcards is its diverse cast, which also includes Wanda Sykes and Samira Wiley (The Handmaid’s Tale), many of whom have a knack for playing off-beat roles in acclaimed films. 

Although it’s a comedy, the film’s various plots convey themes of loneliness, invisibility and ethical ambiguity, and none of the characters is solely defined by their race, gender or sexual orientation. 

The hairpin twists and increasingly frantic pace should keep you gripped and laughing out loud, while the great script and fantastic performances make it a must-see. 

Fans of dark comedies such as The Big Lebowski (1998) and Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999) should give this one a whirl. – CAMILLA THOROGOOD


Felicity Jones
Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones in The Aeronauts. (PHOTO: Amazon Studios)

The Aeronauts **** 1/2 

Adventure. Set in 1862 England and loosely based on real events, this film is centred on wealthy young widow and balloon pilot ­Amelia Wren (­Felicity Jones from Rogue One) and ­pioneering meteorologist James Glaisher (Fantastic Beasts’ Eddie Redmayne), who try to make history. Together they set off to fly a gas balloon higher than anyone before, with James ­taking atmospheric notes to prove that weather can be predicted. 

Redmayne’s usual mumbling, bashfulness and head-tilting performance are overshadowed by Jones’ charismatic portrayal of Amelia. 

Based on Sophie Blanchard – the first woman to work as a professional balloonist – she boldly challenges the patriarchy by stepping outside Victorian-era gender roles while saving their lives and completing the mission with acumen and courage. One of the most thrilling moments comes when Amelia climbs to the top of the balloon to break ice that’s hindering their descent, theatrically using her heel to break a symbolic glass ceiling.

But the true star of the movie is the giant 19th-century balloon. At 24m tall, this majestic piece of science adds to the viewer’s sense of wonder. Against the backdrop of breathtaking vistas and the nerve-­racking inner sanctum of a storm, the balloon conveys beauty, power, weakness and triumph. 

With inspiring characters, a ­captivating story and spectacular visual effects, this should be seen on the biggest screen you can find! – NATALI VARNEY


Samara Weaving
Judah Lewis and Samara Weaving in The Babysitter. (PHOTO: Netflix).

The Babysitter ****

Horror comedy. Most pre-teens would moan to their parents about still needing a babysitter. Not Cole (Judah Lewis), who’s best friends with high school blonde bombshell and all-around cool girl Bee (Samara Weaving).

When his parents stay over at a ­hotel one night, things take a turn for the crazy when Cole decides to spy on his babysitter after his bedtime. Stumbling upon Bee and her friends during a satanic ritual, Cole must run for his life.

When Lewis (The Christmas Chronicles) and Weaving (Bill & Ted Face the Music) share the screen, Cole and Bee’s friendship seems genuine and is so fun to watch, which makes the big twist all the more shocking (even though it’s ­given away in the trailer). 

From here on the film becomes a silly and outrageous yet utterly ­enjoyable slasher flick that doesn’t take itself seriously at all. Watching young Cole outwit the stereotypical high school kids is hilarious, with each of the actors, including Robbie Amell (The Tomorrow People) and Bella Thorne (Blended), fully embracing their tongue-in-cheek roles. 

The Babysitter is a fun bit of ­escapism with a nostalgic nod to ’80s horror films. – DEWALD POTGIETER

NETFLIX. 2017. 95 MIN. 16HLV.

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