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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Sunday, March 1, 2015 

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TOP 20 FILMS IN RELEASE AT A GLANCE

Short and sweet (or not) opinions on the most popular current releases. An easy reference for choosing which movie to see tonight ... or tomorrow ... or right now! (Occasionally we also slip in a few of the editors’ favourites if they don’t make the top 20...) This list does not necessarily include new releases this week; for this week’s new releases, please see our FRONT PAGE or the REVIEWS menu.

AMERICAN SNIPER
(US, 2014) Dir: Clint Eastwood. Stars Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Luke Grimes. "It's like being there – right in the midst of a war zone, where life and death rely on split second decision ... the story of a remarkable man, as told by a remarkable filmmaker," says Louise. "Although it is a better written and made film then The Hurt Locker which won the Oscar, American Sniper is just as determined to ring emotional bells for an America that has lost much of its self assurance on the world stage," says Andrew.

BIG HERO 6
(US, 2014) Dir: Don Hall, Chris Williams. Voices of "Set in a futuristic hybrid city encompassing elements of Tokyo and San Francisco, the characters are also a mash-up of East and West, promoting strong moral values in the fight of good versus evil. Like me, you will fall in love with this giant walking marshmallow - between laughs, thrills and saving the world," says Louise.

BIRDMAN
(US, 2014) Dir: Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu. Stars Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Andrea Riseborough. .. non-stop tension in this incongruous, edgy and brilliant film from Alejandro Inarritu, whose dark comic tones agitate the unfathomable world of the creative actor. It’s a mind-blowing affair,' says Louise. 'Surprising us most just when we think we know exactly what’s coming, combining humour, pathos, drama, magic realism and a potential bag of Oscars, Birdman is virtuoso filmmaking,' says Andrew.

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY
(US, 2015) Dir: Sam Taylor-Johnson. Stars Jamie Dornan, Dakota Johnson. "Perfectly capturing the tone of E.L. James’ sensational best-selling novel, this tale of control, sex and submission is tantalizing, titillating and provocative as it offers a voyeuristic peek into a dark world behind closed doors where pain and pleasure are prime menu items. It is a big tease," says Louise.

FOXCATCHER
(US, 2014) Dir: Bennett Miller. Stars Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo. "There are many elements to this true story about wealth, wrestling and winning but it is Steve Carell’s extraordinary metamorphose as the creepy John E. du Pont, complete with unsettling gaze and manner that is the film’s most haunting element," says Louise.

THE GAMBLER
(US, 2015) Dir: Rupert Wyatt. Stars Mark Wahlberg, Jessica Lange, John Goodman. "In its portrayal of the seedy gambling world, Rupert Wyatt's dark crime drama excels; less so in its ability to deliver a satisfying journey for its self-loathing protagonist, albeit effectively portrayed by Mark Wahlberg," says Louise.

THE HOBBIT: BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES
(US, NZ, 2014) Stars Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Hugo Weaving. This was the one film to rule them all at the foreign box office tlast weekend, picking up a massive US$117.6 million. Imax screenings accounted for $6.4 million of the film’s opening. Technology delivers a payload of maximum mayhem in this final episode, a crushing sign-off for Peter Jackson’s magnum opus.

THE IMITATION GAME
(UK, 2014) Dir: Morten Tyldum. Stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode. "A riveting biopic, in which Benedict Cumberbatch portrays the eccentric mathematician who breaks the unbreakable WWII German code with unerring virtuosity. The completeness of Cumberbatch’s performance makes it one of the year’s best," says Louise. "I am reasonably familiar with the subject matter, yet the film still manages to knock my socks off," says Andrew.

THE INTERVIEW
(US, 2014) Dir: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen. Stars James Franco, Seth Rogen. "The idea is much funnier than the film: a crazy cocktail of political satire and silly buddy movie jammed with sexual innuendos and crass references to body parts," says Louise. "Some wild ideas and crazy situations by themselves don’t make a 106 minute comedy. Please try harder," says Andrew.

INTO THE WOODS
(US/UK, 2014) Dir: Rob Marshall. Stars Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, "Don’t expect to be humming the tunes afterwards; most likely you will remember the quirky ideas, the fabulous set design, Meryl Streep’s blue-haired witch and handsome Chris Pine as Prince Charming who is a real scene stealer as he hams it all up," says Louise.

JUPITER ASCENDINg
(US, 2014) Dir: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski. Stars Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Eddie Redmayne. "The scale and visuals of this high concept sci-fi spectacle are as extraordinary as the plot is confusing, but you have to hand it to the Wachowskis, in their creation of Jupiter Ascending, there is no shortage of imagination," says Louise.

KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE
(UK, 2014) Dir: Matthew Vaughn. Stars Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong, Michael Caine. "A beguiling mash-up of the spy movie genre with a seamless blend of action, satire and spoof, Matthew Vaughn's envelope-pushing film offers hip, lip and zip," says Louise.

PAPER PLANES
(Aust, 2015) Dir: Robert Connolly. Stars Sam Worthington, Ed Oxenbould, David Wenham. 'An impressionable 12 year old ready to discover the world, a grieving father intent on shutting the world out and a madcap granddad keen to embrace it are the three key characters in this rousing and heartwarming family film in which winning, losing and family are everything,' says Louise.

PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR
(US, 2014) Dir: Eric Darnell, Simon J. Smith.Voices of John Malkovich, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ken Jeong. "Penguins play charades, dress in lederhosen, dance Irish style and wear mermaid suits in this fast moving, high energy, witty and inventive 3d animation whose central plot involving a revenge seeking octopus is couched in themes that reinforce the importance of family." says Louise.

SELMA
(US, 2014) Dir: Ava DuVernay. Stars David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tom Wilkinson, Tim Roth. "By focusing on specific events in the lead up to the change of America's voting rights act in 1965, this powerful drama about Martin Luther King Jnr. has maximum clout. It’s a role of a lifetime for classically trained English actor David Oyelowo," says Louise. "I do like Ava DuVernay's film for the opportunity to consider in cinematically visceral terms this profoundly important piece of history," says Andrew.

STILL ALICE
(US, France, 2014) Dir: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland. Stars Julianne Moore, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth, Alec Baldwin. "It is impossible not to be affected by this devastatingly sad portrait of a woman, whose reliance on memory and its compilation to communicate in her role as professor of linguistics at Columbia University, accentuates the intensity of her loss," says Louise. (Special advance screenings January 23, 24, 25; releases January 29.)

TAKEN 3
Dir: Olivier Megaton. Stars Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Jenssen, Dougray Scott, Forest Whitaker. 'Cars pirouette, spin, flip and are crushed in a dramatic freeway car chase, while a nail-biting sequence involving a small plane and a black Porsche makes hearts stop. Incredible plot aside, the charismatic presence of Liam Neeson and his impenetrable sense of decency carry the film way beyond its thrilling action sequences,' says Louise.

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
(UK, 2014) Dir: James Marsh. Stars Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones. "Defying every expectation both scientific and personal, this film depicting the extraordinary story of Stephen Hawking is unforgettable," says Louise. "Eddie Redmayne’s performance – wrapped in his uncanny physical investment - is the absolutely vital key in this film and it’s a scorcher, both sensitive and brave and effecting and devoid of sentimental mush, yet infinitely sad and moving," says Andrew.

UNBROKEN
(US, 2014) Dir: Angelina Jolie. Stars Jack O’Connell, Domhnall Gleeson. 'Resilience and a willingness to forgive are the moral threads of this true-life personal story that Angelina Jolie has brought to the screen in a riveting, involving and powerful film,' says Louise. 'Laura Hillenbrand’s exceptionally detailed and superbly written book is a vast, immersive experience; Angelina Jolie’s sensitive and faithful film of it (with the help of the screenplay writers) is a visceral experience,' says Andrew.

THE WATER DIVINER
(Aust/Turkey/US, 2014) Dir: Russell Crowe. Stars Russell Crowe, Olga Kurylenko, Jai Courtney. "The strength of the film is its personal nature and Crowe convincingly embodies a man whose decency and love of family, propels him on a soul-searching journey of discovery in search of redemption," says Louise. "…this quiet determination (of an important private objective) is well managed in the screenplay and in Crowe’s direction and performance, serving as the film’s emotional and moral backbone," says Andrew.

THE WEDDING RINGER
(US, 2014) Dir: Jeremy Garelick. Stars Josh Gad, Kevin Hart. "It’s a mix of silly, crass, wild and predictable, but one thing is for sure, Garelick’s debut feature is hare-brain funny," says Louise.

THE WEDDING RINGER
(US, 2014) Dir: Jeremy Garelick. Stars Josh Gad, Kevin Hart. "It’s a mix of silly, crass, wild and predictable, but one thing is for sure, Garelick’s debut feature is hare-brain funny," says Louise.

WHAT WE DID ON OUR HOLIDAY>
(UK, 2014) Dir: Andy Hamilton, Guy Jenkin. Stars Rosamund Pike, David Tennant, Billy Connolly. "Some may find the resolutions to the many complex issues somewhat simplistic, but this uplifting and funny film has so much heart, that it is impossible not to be charmed. If only all our family dysfunctions could be resolved so easily,"says Louise.

WILD
(US, 2014) Dir: Jean-Marc Vallee. Stars Reese Withers;poon, Gaby Hoffmann, Laura Dern. "A stunning central performance from Reece Witherspoon as Cheryl Strayed, who overcomes physical hardships to confront her inner demons to find her best self: the woman her mother thought she was," says Louise.

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Updated February 23, 2015


Fifty Shades of Grey

LATEST BOX OFFICE

UPCOMING EVENT
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre, Parramatta, Sydney.

Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.







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