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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Friday, July 25, 2014 - Edition No 907 

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TOP 20 FILMS IN RELEASE AT A GLANCE

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.

A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST
(US, 2014 Dir: Seth MacFarlane. Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Sarah Silverman, Liam Neeson, Giovanni Ribisi, Neil Patrick Harris. “Today’s sensibilities and yesterday’s reality is the quirky juxtaposition for Seth MacFarlane’s 19th century western romp, filled with expletives, farts, sheep jokes and a frontier cast…. It could have been funnier and some of the sheep penis jokes could have been circumcised, but there is an appealing cumulative effect to the nonsense,” says Louise.

CALVARY
(Ireland/UK, 2014) Dir: John Michael McDonagh. Stars Brendan Gleeson, Chris O’Dowd, Kelly Reilly. “Plaiting strands of drama with gentle black humour, McDonagh has created a solid platform for the superlative Gleeson whose soulful, grounded presence is a compelling guide for a rich insight into the small coastal village inhabitants’ sins and virtues,” says Louise.

EDGE OF TOMORROW
(US, 2014) Dir: Christopher McQuarrie. Stars Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Lara Pulver, Jeremy Piven, Marianne Jean-Baptiste. "An audacious concept, superbly executed, this grand scale sci-fi thriller will knock your socks off, combining white-knuckle tension with exhilarating action and a sense of humour... This is a role like no other for Tom Cruise, whose protagonist endearingly goes from smarmy coward to selfless hero. As for Emily Blunt, who could have predicted her transformation into a combat-goddess?" says Louise.

FAULT IN OUR STARS, THE
(US, 2014) Dir: Josh Boone. Stars Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Willem Dafoe, Not Wolff, Laura Dern. “A myriad of colours and textures are examined through a multi-faceted kaleidoscope in this teenage love story in which truths about bottled up stars, puddles of tears and things that don't happen as they should, play out in a heart-wrenching journey. Within the subject matter of mortality, love and loss comes a touching tale about first love complete with equal portions of joy and angst and elevated by two stunning performances by Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort,” says Louise.

GRACE OF MONACO
(US, 2014) Dir: Olivier Dahan. Stars Nicole Kidman, Tim Roth, Parker Posey, Paz Vega, Frank Langella, Derek Jacobi. “Melodramatic from the outset, Grace of Monaco plays out like a sob-stricken soapie in which the former Hollywood star’s acting career, relationships and reality are all treated in the same breathless, unbelievable manner. Rivalling Oliver Hirchbiegel’s 2013 Diana for Razzie honours, Olivier Dahan’s film does not sing like his acclaimed 2007 La Vie en Rose, despite its classy ingredients,” says Louise.

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
(US, 2014) Dir: Wes Anderson. Stars Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, F. Murray Abraham, Edward Norton, Matthieu Amalric, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum. “Brilliantly conceived and executed … dry, droll and delightful. It’s a treasure trove of wonders – visually and emotionally – with its stylised, colourful production design,” says Louise. “Every single frame … is mesmerising, fascinating, surprising, fabulous, a stunning construct of colours and textures, the surreal and the visceral,” says Andrew.

JERSEY BOYS
(US, 2014) Dir: Clint Eastwood. Stars John Lloyd Young, Erich Bergen, Michael Lomenda, Christopher Walken. “Beyond the toe-tapping songs, it’s the drama that brings grit to Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys which, like the successful musical, explores the rough and tumble background, turbulent relationships, struggle for success and of course the unique musical sound created by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons,” says Louise.

MALEFICENT
(US, 2014) Dir. Robert Stromberg. Stars Angelina Jolie, Juno Temple, Elle Fanning. "In a word, Maleficent is magical, with Angelina Jolie hypnotic as the betrayed fairy from whose perspective this re-imagining of the Sleeping Beauty is told. Jolie has never looked more stunning – big eyes, ruby lips, porcelain skin and chiselled cheekbones – her face simply glowing and glowering from a range of emotions to match the fairy tale’s narrative," says Louise.

SUNSHINE ON LEITH
(UK, 2013) Dir: Dexter Fletcher. Stars Peter Mullan, Jane Horrocks, George MacKay, Jason Flemyng. “I feel a bit mean not to embrace Stephen Greenhorn’s adaptation of his good hearted stage musical, but the film plods instead of soars, despite its genuine characters and heartfelt performances,” says Louise.

THE TRIP TO ITALY
(UK, 2013) Dir : Michael Winterbottom. Stars Steve Coogan, Rob Bryden, Rosie Fellner. “The scrumptious combo of good food, beautiful Italy and the unbridled wit of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon makes this a compelling affair… Everything soars – the improvised patter, the left of field humour, the lunacy of the movie star improvisations and the combative, easy relationship between the two men,” says Louise.

THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY
(UK, 2014) Dir. Hossein Amini. Stars Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen, Oscar Isaac. “This is a tale filled with secrets and shadows with all the elements coming together serendipitously – good storytelling, layered performances and edge of seat tension to keep us guessing,” says Louise. “.It’s the three central performances that define this thriller, with the two men as the ‘two faces’ - the duality that they represent. (Janus was the god of beginnings and endings for the Romans …),” says Andrew.

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
(US, 2014) Dir: Bryan Singer. Stars Jennifer Lawrence, Ellen Page, Michael Fassbender, Peter Dinklage, Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart. “With director Bryan Singer comfortably back in the saddle, there’s a wondrous sense of scale about this ambitious Marvel adventure as the element of time travel to the 70s offers a springboard for unbridled creativity and imagination. The plot may occasionally defy logic, but logic can be overrated; the brilliance of ideas and their execution is more than enough to make this X-Men fantasy an outright winner,” says Louise.



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Updated July 16, 2014

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