Out Now – 12th September 2014

At Berkley

In which I encourage you to see a four-hour documentary about an American University…

The Boxtrolls
Boxtrolls are cave-dwelling trash collectors, otherwise known as wombles. Under threat from an evil exterminator the trolls a rescued by a young orphan boy they raised in a manner that in no way constitutes kidnap. Stop-motion animation and rave reviews mean this might not be a bad choice.

A Most Wanted Man
Philip Seymour Hoffman’s last lead role, we’re a while away from his last on-screen appearance ever, is as a German spy in this John le Carré thriller. Truly the end of an era for fine character-led performances from one of modern cinema’s greats.

When you first see promotional material for Pride it is too easy to dismiss it as just another Billy Elliot or Full Monty. Then you see some full scenes from the film and read reviews and realise that this might actually be a British comedy gem about the marginalised fighting back. Then you remember that this is precisely what Billy Elliot or Full Monty were and feel silly for being so judgemental. I will be seeing this.

At Berkeley
Frederick Wiseman presents a four-hour documentary set at University of California at Berkeley. Wiseman’s style is simply to film for hours/days/weeks on end and then carve out a film from the footage. There is no voiceover or interviews and the result is mesmerising. I saw this at the London Film Festival last year and it was sincerely worth four hours of my time.

Finding Fanny
No obvious jokes please! This is an Indian romantic comedy drama about a man hitting the road to find his first love. This is about romance, not the smut going on in your mind.

Ballet Boys
Speaking of Billy Elliot… Documentary about boys who do ballet.

A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness
Documentary exploring those who try to live a spiritual lifestyle in the modern world. “It is a record of experience that proposes belief in transcendence as a viable outcome of living in the now.” Good…

One Night in Istanbul
“A screen adaptation of the hit play about the exploits of a group of Liverpool Football fans at the European Cup final in Istanbul.” Oooh a play! Oh, football.

A Dangerous Game
Follow-up to 2011’s brilliant documentary You’ve Been Trumped. Sadly this latest attack on the beautifully coiffed Donald Trump is said to be less worthy of a cinema trip.

In Order of Disappearance
A sort of Scandinavian Tarantino film starring Stellan Skarsgård about revenge, gang warfare, and the like.

Manuscripts Don’t Burn
Iranian drama with a lie for a title.

Out Now – 5th September 2014

The Guest

Let’s all take a moment to pause and reflect on the fact that it is already September. I think I spend the first week of every month baffled by the date. On to the films!

Before I Go to Sleep
Colin Firth continues his recent trend of being in not very good thrillers by co-starring in Before I Go to Sleep; a not very good thriller starring Nicole Kidman as a woman who can’t remember anything beyond her most recent night’s sleep. Like Memento but bad.

The Hundred-Foot Journey
Chocolat director Lasse Hallström continues his trend of making mediocre films about French towns who get upset about a new food provider opening up shop with this story of an Indian family who move to France and sell Indian food. The cheek of it! Helen Mirren stars as a French person and reviews are TERRIBLE.

Sex Tape
Surprisingly in this film about a couple who accidentally share their sex tape via the cloud we do not see Jason Segel’s penis. If you would like to see Jason Segel’s penis then I suggest you watch Forgetting Sarah Marshall. If you would like to read more about “the cloud” then I suggest you read the Daily Mail. If you would like to see sexual images accidentally shared via the cloud then expect a stern letter from Jennifer Lawrence’s lawyers.

The Guest
Downton Abbey‘s Dan Stevens has lost the puppy fat you never knew he had and has become an all American beefcake. The Guest is a throwback thriller with a song in its heart that wants to entertain you. I liked it and my opinions are valid and should be heard.

Life of Crime
Jennifer Aniston used to be famous. Ask your parents. Now she stars in a comedy crime caper about a kidnapping gone awry (I can hear you chuckling just at the thought of it) that is only out in key cities. People used to cut their hair to match hers and now Odeon is turning her away.

Finding Fela!
“A look at the life and music of Nigerian singer Fela Kuti.” What else would it be?

They Came Together
A spoof romantic comedy from super-comics Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd. Some people seem to love it, while others hate it. If only there were a spread-based metaphor for this type of film. Either way it can’t be any worse than Alyson Hannigan’s Date Movie.

White Settlers
A young couple move from London to an isolated farmhouse on the Scottish borders. As you might imagine they aren’t warmly received and horror unfolds. We can pretend this is a comment on Scottish independence if that makes you feel better.

“A documentary on how water shapes humanity.” Could be the best thing you see this decade. Could bore the knees off you. Let me know.

Out Now – 22nd August 2014

Deliver Us from Mild Concern

What If
Good not great romantic comedy starring Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan that can’t quite reach the heights of (500) Days of Summer to which it aspires as it fails to cast aside the genre tropes it so desperately wants to distance itself from. I saw it. I enjoyed it. I probably won’t buy the DVD.

Into the Storm
A film relying heavily so heavily on the spectacle of the titular storm it doesn’t worry itself too much with things like plot, character, and the audience’s enjoyment. I saw it. I disliked it. I definitely won’t buy the DVD.

A silly sci-fi thriller in which Scarlett Johansson becomes superhuman and evolves into a higher being over the course of ninety frenetic minutes. I totally understand if you do not enjoy the film as much as I did and realise that if I watch it again I will disagree with myself but my gut instinct was to give it five stars. I saw it. I LOVED IT. I don’t dare ever see it again.

Deliver Us from Evil
Eric Bana stars as a New York cop forced to team up with an exorcist to combat a spate of possessions across the city. To put this film in context Mark Wahlberg turned down the lead role. Imagine a film that Wahlberg doesn’t want to be in. I haven’t seen it. I might stream it one day for the sake of Joel McHale.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Nine years ago Sin City was cutting edge, edgy, and on edge. Back for a second outing will it still pack the same punch? The reviews say no. In fact the reviews all say two things; the film is awful and Eva Green is naked a lot. Therefore anyone who subsequently sees the film is doing so purely to see Eva Green naked. The film opens in London today and the rest of the UK later in the week. I haven’t seen it. I will never admit to having seen it.

Two Days, One Night
Marion Cotillard stars as a young woman who must persuade her work colleagues to give up their bonuses so that she can keep her job. Critics are positively gushing about this latest feature from the Dardenne brothers. I haven’t seen it. I definitely will.

God Help the Girl
Imagine the lead singer from Belle and Sebastian wrote an indie drama set in Scotland and starring Emily Browning. IT EXISTS! You did it all with the power of your imagination! I haven’t seen it. I will at some point down the road.

Charulata / The Lonely Wife
Re-release of the 1964 Indian romantic drama about a woman who fall in love with her cousin-in-law. I have not seen it. I am bored with this joke now.

The Police Officer’s Wife
“Add a Plot”

Art Party
“Part documentary, part road movie and part political fantasy, The Art Party! feature film captures the spirit of the Scarborough conference held in November 2013; championing the importance of art and its place in education and modern politics. A kaleidoscopic mix of performance, artist interviews and imagined scenes.” I have no idea.

Out Now – 1st August 2014

Mood Indigo

Guardians of the Galaxy
The Marvel universe finally lets its hair down with the exploits of a ragtag bunch of people trying to get a thing to save another thing… IN SPACE! I defy you to accurately describe the plot of any Marvel film entirely from memory. The plot is not important, just do as Marvel ask and give them some more money. You might even enjoy it.

The Nut Job
Let me break this pun down for you.

1. The film is about squirrels planning to raid a nut store, hence the nut job.
2. A nut job is a term used to describe someone who is crazy/insane/wacky.

1 + 2 = HILARITY! It took four people to write this film.

Step Up 5: All In
Five steps and we are finally all in. I cannot wait for Step Up 6: Poking Out the Other Side or Step Up 6: All Out followed by Step Up 7: The Hokey Cokey.

Mood Indigo
Some might say that this new romantic comedy from Michel Gondry starring Romain Duris and Audrey Tautou looks too twee to be worthwhile but not me. I have a high tolerance for Michel Gondry. I have a high tolerance for the pairing of Duris and Tautou. I have a high tolerance for twee. I haven’t seen the film yet and I am already happy to call it my favourite film of 2014. Expect surreal moments and to roll your eyes at least once.

The Deer Hunter
Re-release of the classic Vietnam war film that we’ve all heard of but never gotten around to seeing. Oh, you’ve seen it? So have I obviously. My favourite bit is where he finally shoots the deer and they all have a merry Christmas.

Ghostly British thriller with a plot resembling The Shining. I have nothing more to add.

A Night At The Cinema In 1914
The BFI have put together a series of short features, news reels, and travelogues to create a feature-length programme that aims to recreate what an evening at the cinema would have been like 100 years ago. Click the title above to get a list of dates and venues as this is a one-off gem we shouldn’t miss. Come on everyone, the popcorn’s on me!

A Promise
British romantic drama set just before WWI and starring the likes of Alan Rickman and Rebecca Hall. The twist? It’s set in Germany! Everybody is speaking English of course, just as was done in pre-war Germany.

Hide Your Smiling Faces
A young boy dies one summer in a rural community and then not much else happens in this low budget american drama that left me cold. This might be your new favourite film but it certainly isn’t mine.

“Stranded in a remote Welsh village, a former war photographer’s intense love affair with a younger man propels her into exorcising the ghosts of her past.”

Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me
Apparently this film is about one of pop music’s greatest cult phenomenons. True to form I have never heard of Big Star.

A Tamil musical gangster film from India. Sadly IMDb simply says “Add a plot” which is useful advice but doesn’t bode well for the film.

Out Now – 25th July 2014

The Purge Hercules

I’ve heard whispers that this latest version of the legend of Hercules starring The “Dwayne Johnson” Rock is not completely awful. I refuse to believe these rumours and instead rely on my personal bias and prejudices which tell me it will be terrible.

The Purge: Anarchy
Last year’s The Purge brought us the interesting concept of an annual event during which all laws in America are suspended and raised the eternal debate as to whether Ethan Hawke should be taken seriously or not. The concept is back with a wider scope but without Hawke and reviews are mixed.

Earth to Echo
An alien needs help from a group of children to get home. What new element can they possibly bring to the formula so classically realised in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial? “The movie is shot in found footage format.” Oh good grief.

A period (1984) family drama about a young lad who does wrong but finds rehabilitation through his love for football. A film couldn’t appeal to me much less than this.

The House of Magic
Belgian animated adventure about a cat who goes into a house of magic. Sorry, not a house of magic. The cat in question enters The House of Magic. Hilarity ensues and everyone learns a valuable lesson.

The Lady from Shanghai
Orson Welles’ famously shambolic film noir gets a second run in UK cinemas sixty-six years after its original release. Go for the atmosphere, not the plot.

Both director David Gordon Green and star Nicolas Cage are known to be hit and miss with their output. United they are getting a great response for this low-key drama about a convict finding redemption through his relationship (not like that) with a teenage boy.

Who is Dayani Cristal?
I have no idea. Sorry.

Hindi action drama about an adrenaline junkie starting a new career as a thief. Not an option you’ll normally find at the Jobcentre.

Danish crime drama about skinheads in grey hoodies.

Scar Tissue
British thriller in which a young man finds himself being stalked by a serial killer… WHO IS SUPPOSED TO BE DEAD! If your mind isn’t blown simply by reading that sentence then maybe you can handle this film.

The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden
Documentary about some unsolved disappearances on the Galapagos Island of Floreana in the 1930s. A classic example of spicing up a weak title with an overly dramatic subtitle.

Branded to Kill
1960s Japanese action drama about a hitman who, I kid you not, has “a fetish for sniffing boiling rice”. If you find yourself targeted by such a man my suggestion would be to get some rice on the hob ASAP.

Smart Ass (Cine Lumiere only)
French comedy drama about business school students who set up a prostitution ring. I did Business Studies many years ago and we sold balloons for Valentines Day. We certainly missed a trick or two.

Mindscape (Empire Leicester Square only)
“A man with the ability to enter peoples’ memories takes on the case of a brilliant, troubled sixteen-year-old girl to determine whether she is a sociopath or a victim of trauma.”