Film, Reviews

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Get Santa

2 Dec 20144 stars

Christopher Smith's festive film shows both a dark side and refreshing compassion

From the director of Severance and Triangle comes a heartwarming and very funny Christmas tale about a father who, after his release from a two-year prison sentence, has to learn the virtue of reliability...

Dumb and Dumber To

15 Dec 20143 stars

Hit-and-miss sequel from the Farrelly brothers featuring returning star Jim Carrey

Twenty years have passed since Dumb and Dumber provided Bobby and Peter Farrelly with a box-office smash. Since then, their brand of comedy has become something of an endangered species, with both the writer-directors and star Jim Carrey no longer…

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

15 Dec 20142 stars

Ben Stiller and co return for the third film in Shawn Levy's family friendly franchise

Even in a dual role, Ben Stiller can’t keep the bored look off his face as he fronts the third instalment of the Night at the Museum franchise. What started eight years ago as a charming kids’ romp has evolved into a series of overlong ‘comic’ sequences…

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

8 Dec 20143 stars

Peter Jackson's Middle-earth saga closes in sporadically spectacular style

Following on directly from The Desolation of Smaug, Peter Jackson kicks straight into the action with the final installment of The Hobbit trilogy. This sad farewell to the dwarves, wizards, elves and other inhabitants of Middle-earth provides grand…

Paddington

24 Nov 20144 stars

The beloved bear is brought to the big screen by Paul King's charming adaptation

Ever since his creation in 1958 by author Michael Bond generations of children have grown up with Paddington Bear, so writer-director Paul King (The Mighty Boosh, Bunny and the Bull) faced no small task in bringing the hirsute hero to the big screen. By…

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Guys and Dolls

15 Dec 20145 stars

Joseph L Mankiewicz’s musical starring Brando and Sinatra returns to the big screen

The gritty, gutsy, funny short stories of Damon Runyon form the basis for this most rousing and delightful of big studio musicals, which boasts Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, a smart script and some of the best screen songs ever. The setting is a…

Penguins of Madagascar

1 Dec 20143 stars

Knockabout spin-off featuring the voices of John Malkovich and Benedict Cumberbatch

Over their three Madagascar features to date, DreamWorks Animation have successfully established a menagerie of comic characters. The franchise's penguins have already struck out with their own short film and TV show, and they now get their own movie...

Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast

10 Dec 20143 stars

The fairy franchise's latest is charming if somewhat lacking in laughs

Directed by Steve Loter, this is the sixth instalment in Disney's series of animated Tinker Bell movies. Like its predecessors, it's an entertaining adventure that should play well with its young target audience without annoying dragged-along…

Concerning Violence

24 Nov 20144 stars

A smart, passionate essay film from Göran Olsson, narrated by Lauryn Hill

This sobering, important and expertly curated documentary details Africa's hard-fought liberation from colonial rule in the 60s and 70s. Narrated by the musician Lauryn Hill and directed by Göran Olsson, the viewer is taken through nine definitive…

Electricity

8 Dec 20144 stars

Striking British drama featuring a revelatory turn from model Agyness Deyn

The family unit has been a cornerstone of storytelling since time immemorial, and of cinema since the first moving pictures flickered into life. It's rare to see a film that doesn't feature these relationships, screenwriters from across genres…

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Kon-Tiki

15 Dec 20143 stars

A ripping, Oscar-nominated yarn from Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg

Seventy years ago Thor Heyerdahl's epic voyage from Peru to Polynesia was the real-life, high seas equivalent of Interstellar, as daring young men risked their lives on an adventure into the great unknown. Norwegian directors Joachim Rønning and Espen…

St Vincent

1 Dec 20143 stars

Bill Murray's latest is a likeable mix of crabby and cute, co-starring Naomi Watts

Bill Murray is certainly no stranger to misanthropic sad-sacks and his titular Vincent is one such crabby feller, albeit with a slightly coarser edge. Vincent is given a crack at redemption when a young boy in need of a father figure moves in next door…

Bonobo

1 Dec 20143 stars

Commune-set dramedy starring Tessa Peake-Jones and Josie Lawrence

While the father/son dynamic is a mainstay of narrative features, it’s less common to see a filmmaker explore the relationship between a mother and daughter. For that reason alone the premise of Bonobo is certainly promising, as it examines the strength…

Black Sea

1 Dec 20144 stars

Gripping submarine thriller from Kevin Macdonald featuring a commanding Jude Law

Directed by Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland), this enjoyable thriller stars Jude Law as Robinson, a Scottish former submarine captain who's made redundant from his job at a salvage company after 11 years of service. When he hears a story…

Eastern Boys

1 Dec 20144 stars

Morally complex, skilfully performed French thriller from Robin Campillo

A transgressive sexual connection gives way to a deeper, far more risky bond in this elegantly made and morally complex French thriller. Daniel (Olivier Rabourdin) initially solicits young Latvian immigrant Marek (Kirill Emelyanov) solely for sex...

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Hello Carter

1 Dec 20142 stars

Charlie Cox and Jodie Whittaker star in this so-so romantic comedy

Britain’s got talent and, at first glance at least, few low budget films show that better than Hello Carter. Starring as the lovelorn London loser Carter is Charlie Cox, soon to be American TV’s new Daredevil. Nimble romantic support comes from Jodie…

The Green Prince

8 Dec 20143 stars

Fascinating but flawed documentary focussing on an Israeli informant

‘The Green Prince’ was the codename used by Israel’s intelligence service for its most highly placed informant, Mosab Hassan Yousef, when he was passing information to them on Hamas’ activities during the Second Intifada. So, at least, runs Yousef’s own…

The Circle

8 Dec 20144 stars

Swiss love story about a real-life romance and the struggle for gay rights

Hogmanay 2014 will bring the first same-sex marriages in Scotland. In terms of the struggle for equality it should be a moment to reflect on battles won, rights achieved and how far the UK has come. Sadly, global events from Uganda and Russia to the…

Me, Myself and Mum

1 Dec 20143 stars

Award-winning French comedy from Guillaume Gallienne that'll amuse and bemuse

Me, Myself and Mum has been one of French cinema's surprise crowd-pleasers over the past 18-months. Feted at Cannes 2013, it was also showered with César awards, including Best Film. You suspect British audiences might regard it as more of an acquired…

The Face of Love

8 Dec 20144 stars

Powerful romantic drama starring Annette Bening, Ed Harris and Robin Williams

Originally called 'The Look of Love', Arie Posin's love story assumes the guise of a compelling psychological drama, taking in grief and obsession and overcoming its cheesier moments to deliver something unexpectedly powerful. Set in Los Angeles…

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Manakamana

8 Dec 20144 stars

A mesmeric documentary following pilgrims as they visit the titular temple

Perched atop a mountain in the Nepalese countryside, the temple of Manakamana is a destination for thousands of visitors, devotees and tourists alike, who all make the trip via a panoramic cable car. And it's in this intimate setting that the entirety…

The Pyramid

4 Dec 20142 stars

Uninspired, Egypt-set horror starring The Inbetweeners' James Buckley

James Buckley appears in his first horror film as a toned-down version of his character Jay from the popular TV series, and now film franchise, The Inbetweeners. His role as Fitzie the cameraman allows him to keep his cockney accent and dole out lines…

The Grandmaster

1 Dec 20143 stars

Stunning but emotionally undernourished martial arts biopic from Wong Kar-wai

Flying fists and the agony of unconsummated romance power Wong Kar-wai's Oscar-nominated kung fu spectacle, which receives a belated UK release after its clandestine premiere when it was unmasked as the 2013 London Film Festival's surprise film

Horrible Bosses 2

24 Nov 20142 stars

Limp sequel teaming Bateman and co with newbies Chris Pine and Christoph Waltz

Like its title, this sequel to Seth Gordon’s 2011 comedy lacks imagination. The first 30 minutes or so are particularly uninspiring as we catch up with Nick (Jason Bateman), Dale (Charlie Day) and Kurt (Jason Sudeikis), the trio of white-collar dudes…

Hockney

24 Nov 20144 stars

Warm, insightful documentary from Randall Wright examining the celebrated artist

Britain’s most enduringly popular modern artist, David Hockney, has been the subject of many documentaries, including one made for TV by this film's director Randall Wright in 2003 (David Hockney: Secret Knowledge). None could claim to be as intimate…