Sometimes you're just so glad to get into a cinema, power down the head for two hours and forget about the "whole wonky world" that exists beyond the doors. And at the end of this awful month we get two films that allow us to do just that, while also taking us back to simpler times. One is next week's Finding Dory and the other is this Friday's The BFG. It'll do your heart good to see both.
Reuniting Steven Spielberg with his Bridge of Spies Oscar winner Mark Rylance, this decades-in-the-works adaptation of Roald Dahl's heroic hand-me-down is very sweet, a bit scary and a feast for the eyes. It was adapted for the screen by the late ET writer Melissa Mathison, and for many in a new generation this will be their comfort blanket in years to come. Chances are most of us will sneak another watch when the going gets tough.
Our hero is Sophie (Barnhill), the feistiest resident of a London orphanage who breaks the three golden rules of "Never get out of bed, never go to the window, never look behind the curtain" at 3am and is kidnapped by 25-foot misfit The BFG (Rylance). Back in the BFG's giant-cave his initial gruffness soon falls away to reveal a sensitive soul who's bullied by bigger giants and is as lonely as Sophie. And so begins the adventure that will change both their lives.
For all the ante-upping use of live-action and CGI here, The BFG is a decidedly old school treat. Released by Disney in the US, it feels very close in spirit (and 'oi guv'nor' vision of London) as, say, Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Mary Poppins. That said, there's also a bit of darkness and bite in the story as Dahl would have wished - a welcome antidote to the vanilla that blights so many kids' movies these days. For the windy aftermath of the Queen's quaffing of Frobscottle it's worth the admission price alone, but there's lots more besides. If you felt short-changed by Spielberg's Tintin he really makes amends here.
The director's decision to approach Rylance about The BFG on the first day of filming Bridge of Spies was, to put it mildly, inspired - even with all the technological wizardry going on you never forget it's Rylance you're watching. The rhythm he brings to the BFG's way of talking is infectious and the chemistry of dreams and derring-do with youngster Barnhill is mixed just right. Each brings out the best in each other and, hopefully, you.
There are a few quibbles about pacing here and there but as Spielberg approaches his 70th (!) birthday The BFG shows just how young at heart he is - this feels like a 35-year-old filmmaker with the bit between his teeth. Having done the thriller and fantasy genres with Rylance as his leading man, the duo are now set to shake up sci-fi with the just-started-shooting Ready Player One. Sounds like the stuff dreams are made of.