THE BEST OF ME
(US, 2014) Dir: Michael Hoffman. Stars James Marsden, Michelle Monaghan, Luke Bracey, Liana Liberato. “Grab a tissue and get ready to have your heartstrings tugged in this Nicholas Sparks melodrama, replete with its elements of love and loss….The perfect date movie, the film is romantic in the purest sense with dramatic highs and lows that sweep you along – together with its beautiful settings and rousing score,” says Louise.
(US, 2014) Dir: Graham Annable, Anthony Stacchi. Voices of Elle Fanning, Simon Pegg, Toni Collette, Ben Kingsley, Jared Harris. “The stop-motion animation is extraordinary, but there is something lacking in this third film from Laika Studios – heart,” says Louise.
(US, 2014) Dir: Stars Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini. “I have seen him in more than a dozen films, but it wasn't until Locke (2013) that I sat up and really took notice of Tom Hardy.… In The Drop, Hardy is even more of a revelation playing the quietly spoken Bob, who tends bar and waits on customers in a tough Brooklyn neighbourhood. Hardy's performance is sublime, making every action and word of dialogue meaningful,” says Louise.
(US, 2014) Dir: David Ayer. Stars Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman. “David Ayer’s film succeeds in creating a claustrophobic mood, prising us into the Sherman tank in 1945 Germany with its melting pot of tension .., although the characterisations might have been better described,” says Louise. “The film’s impact is partly explained by the heavy artillery aimed at our sensibilities, not just our eardrums, and the almost careless narrative, which only glues together in the final, extended, extraordinary sequence best described as Wardaddy’s Last Stand,” says Andrew.
US, 2014) Dir: David Fincher. Stars Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris. “As far as adaptations go, this is one of the best, Gillian Flynn’s screenplay perfectly capturing the tone of her novel, in which a dark portrait of a marriage unravels… It’s disturbingly good. As well as dense, entertaining, funny, insightful and more,” says Louise. “.. director David Fincher wanted to make a flawless murder thriller in which the audience loyalty and association with the key characters was pushed and pulled unmercifully for maximum impact. He succeeds…” says Andrew.
HOUSE OF MAGIC
(US, 2013) Animation. "It's the whimsy and mix of lovable characters that make this animated family film from Belgium a winner, especially for the youngsters, who will giggle and warm to the colourful visuals," says Louisel
(US, UK, 2014) Dir: Christopher Nolan. Stars Matthew McConnaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Wes Bentley, Matt Damon, Michael Caine. “Conceptually brilliant, Christopher Nolan’s epic sci-fi drama is all about time. Agitating the boundaries of science with fantasy, Nolan’s vision is hugely ambitious, like the film’s near 3 hour running time, enabling total immersion… It's not as complete as Memento, The Prestige or Inception, but you do feel as though you have been there for a hell of an adventure,” says Louise.
(US, 2014) Dir: David Leitch, Chad Stahelski. Stars Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe. “A thrilling and relentless shoot-fest is countered by understatement in this cool, ultra violent, heavy-action revenge thriller in which Keanu Reeves shoots, kicks, punches and stabs his way through an army of Russian bad guys. Make no mistake, there are no good guys; it’s just that some are badder than others,” says Louise.
HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 1
(US, 2014) Dir: Francis Lawrence. Stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore. "Capitalising on the Jennifer Lawrence factor, Part 1 of the final Hunger Games trilogy will please the fans, although there is too much padding around the key thrilling sequence; the film would have been more complete had the two parts of the split finale been merged," says Louise.
(UK, US, 2014) Dir: Christian Diller. Stars Lily Collins, Sam Claflin. “Bad timing is the central theme of this Four Weddings and A Funeral wanna-be, which despite several weddings, a funeral and a cliché ridden script, (based on Cecelia Ahern’s novel) groans with predictable twists and turns as the two protagonists um and err about their future together,” says Louise.
MY OLD LADY
(UK/France/US, 2014) Dir: Israel Horovitz. Stars Kevin Kline, Maggie Smith, Kristin Scott Thomas. “An inheritance is a curse and a blessing in this complex entanglement about lovers and the children who pay the price. Infidelities, cross cultures and untangling the past are the potent themes… Offering much more than imaginable at first glance, this is a sophisticated and satisfying film, directed with great sensitivity,” says Louise.
(UK, 2014) Dir: Matthew Warchus. Stars Bill Nighy, Andrew Scott, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton, Paddy Considine. “Barriers tumble and pride is upheld as the tapestry of emotions is woven together when gay and lesbian activists become staunch supporters of striking miners. With the heart of Billy Elliott and the conviction of Milk, this is a crowd pleasing film filled with passion – and passion is the fuel for change,” says Louise.
THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU
(US, 2014) Dir: Shawn Levy. Stars Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne. “Laugh or cry, there’s no correct response, says Jane Fonda’s matriarch Hillary, in this hilarious expose of a dysfunctional family thrown together at close quarters. For the audience, there is more laughter than tears… It’s caustic fun on rapids,” says Louise.
TWO DAYS ONE NIGHT
(Belgium, 2014) Dir: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne. Stars Marion Cotillard, Fabrizio Rongione. “Some may find the journey slight, but there is nothing superficial in the film – from the emotional honesty of Cotillard’s performance to the workplace injustice, bullyboy tactics and worker reactions as they are desperate to protect their own income,” says Louise. “Maybe I just don’t get it, but this multi-awarded film from the celebrated (and Cannes regular) Belgian Dardenne brothers is not only slight – as in, without cinematic scale – it is a bit contrived and tedious,” says Andrew.
(US, 2014) Dir: Stars J.K. Simmons, Miles Teller. “Thrilling and disturbing in equal parts, Damien Chazelle's magnificent film Whiplash, about a young jazz drummer obsessed with greatness and the sadistic teacher who pushes him to the brink, is a showcase in which fear, not harmony reigns. J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller offer superlative and unforgettable performances, as their characters duel as if in a fight to the death,” says Louise.
(Turkey, 2014) Dir: Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Stars Haluk Bilginer, Melisa Sözen, Demet Akbag. “The film is certainly long, but it is worth the trip, the trip along the symbolic road to hell, that is often paved with good intentions,” says Louise. “This is an extraordinary film, both extra in content and length and yet ordinary in the sense that filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan observes the ‘ordinary’ daily interactions of a sophisticated and educated older man Aydin (Haluk Bilginer, excellent), who has retired from the stage but continues a theatrical, drama-riddled existence,” says Andrew.