Film Reviews: Lip-smacking delight to see Oscar winner

LATE NIGHT (15)

Monday, 3rd June 2019, 15:55 pm
Updated Monday, 3rd June 2019, 15:59 pm
Late Night.

All's fair in love and the war for TV ratings in director Nisha Ganatra's spiky comedy of modern manners, which provides Dame Emma Thompson with a plum role as a veteran talk show host who has grown complacent and lost touch with her viewers.

It's a lip-smacking delight to see the two-time Oscar winner in full comic flow, tossing out polished one-liners or rejecting one male staff member's request for a pay rise following the birth of his second child because it represents "the classic sexist argument for the advancement of men in the workplace".

Scripted with a deft touch by co-star Mindy Kaling, Late Night takes aim at gender equality and diversity in the workplace and occasionally draws blood from well-placed barbs at the expense of mainstream media's obsession with beauty and youth.

Some aspects of the writing are undernourished - one romantic subplot blossoms with almost no on-screen propagation and the emotional fallout of marital betrayal is too neatly contained.

MA (15)

A group of teenagers get an abject lesson in stranger danger when they ask a lonely woman to buy them alcohol, and end up taking the contraband back to her basement.

A couple of jump cuts later and Ma's basement is inexplicably filled with inebriated, under-supervised juveniles, and more robot dancing than Peter Crouch's podcast. What ensues is a horror film for the post-Get Out era - Ma aims for fear by social awkwardness, and comes complete with racial undertones, social media scare tactics, and a somewhat botched anti-bullying message. It's gratifyingly bonkers. The set pieces are self-aware and schlocky, the third act features genuinely inventive nastiness, and Octavia Spencer oozes screen presence as the malevolent Ma.