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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Sunday, April 20, 2014 - Edition No 893 

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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.

12 YEARS A SLAVE
(US, 2013) Dir: Steve McQueen. Stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Garret Dillahunt, Lupita Nyong’o. “McQueen shoots long takes in which the action (as in the emotional action, or intention) is the focus, involving us deeply and meaningfully in the characters, their circumstances and the broader context,” says Andrew. “Involving and disturbing with an inspiring central performance by Chiwetel Ejiofor, this is a ballsy film with themes every bit as confronting as those broached by McQueen in his earlier films,” says Louise.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
(US, 2014) Dir: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo. Stars Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Cobie Smulders, Hayley Atwell, Dominic Cooper. “High energy martial arts choreography and humour by way of slick one-liners are in plentiful supply too, and as expected, the film is non-stop dizzying action designed to propel teenage boys into comic-book heaven,” says Louise.

DALLAS BUYERS CLUB
(M) Dir: Jean-Marc Vallée. Stars Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto, Denis O’Hare. “Two stand-out performances and the claustrophobic depiction of a death-infested reality are the significant elements of Dallas Buyers Club. It’s a tough film, based on a true story,” says Louise. “ .. how a reprobate womaniser, boozer, snorter and hustler made a difference to hundreds if not millions of lives …and how an actor called Matthew McConaughey resurrected the remarkable spirit of Ron Woodroof, in a performance that swallows the actor – body and all,” says Andrew.

DIVERGENT
(US, 2014) Dir: Neil Burger. Stars Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Ashley Judd, Jai Courtney. “Totalitarianism versus the individual is the basic concept of Divergent, a thrilling sci-fi adventure that is every bit as good as The Hunger Games with a dash of The Matrix added for good measure,” 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.

LE WEEK-END
(UK, 2013) Dir: Roger Michell. Stars Jim Broadbent, Lindsay Duncan, Jeff Goldblum. “Disarmingly truthful with a bittersweet centre, this highly observant exploration of the complex shades of a long marriage, complete with its tensions, biting barbs, playfulness and loving familiarity weaves an edgy tale,” says Louise. “Textured, truthful, tart, painful, hilarious, heartbreaking, uplifting and compelling, Le Week-End is a landmark film, as was Roger Michell’s Notting Hill (1999),” says Andrew.

THE LEGO MOVIE
(US, 2014) Dir: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller. Voices of Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman, Jonah Hill. “…a healthy dose of off-the-wall humour as the action speed-skates into overdrive, challenging and surprising us constantly as ideas veer left of centre. Coupled with Animal Logic’s extraordinary designs and special effects,” says Louise. “Teaming with life, the lifeless, virtually immovable figurines come alive and appear to move with all the dynamics of people, albeit smaller and cuter. Or uglier. The animation and the voices – along with sound and music - combine to completely convince us of their three dimensional reality,” says Andrew.

THE MONUMENTS MEN
(US, 2014) Dir: George Clooney. Stars George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville, Bob Baliban. “It’s a story with scale, texture and layers and whatever it lacks in grit and tension (required for a story based on fact) is compensated by chutzpah,” says Louise. “Sometimes perfunctory, often hitting false notes, the film lacks the punch of its story,” says Andrew.

MR PEABODY & SHERMAN
(US, 2014) Dir: Rob Minkoff. Voices of Ty Burrell, Max Charles, Stephen Colbert, Lauri Fraser, Guillaume Aretos. “Father and son relationships, time travel and being a dog have never been so much fun as in this witty, hilarious 3D animation adventure that will have the whole family barking happy,” says Louise. “Full of clever, sweet and invention, Mr Peabody & Sherman is proof of the old adage (in reverse) that every dog should have a boy,” says Andrew.

MUPPETS MOST WANTED
(US, 2014) Dir: James Bobin. Stars Tina Fey, Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tom Hiddleston, Christoph Waltz, Salma Hayek. “Tina Fey as a Siberian Gulag prison guard is one of the highlights of this happy Muppet sequel in which Kermit is replaced by a look-alike criminal frog and Ricky Gervais plays a crooked entrepreneur,” says Louise.

NEED FOR SPEED
(US, 2014) Dir: Scott Waugh. Stars Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Scott Mescudi, Imogen Poots, Michael Keaton. “For all its predictable turns and its final resolution, Need For Speed excels at what it sets out to do as a gripping action thriller which offers us high speed escape and wish fulfillment,” says Andrew.

NOAH
(US, 2014) Dir: Darren Aronofsky. Stars Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Ray Winstone. “Above the expectation of the biblical epic disaster movie, it is Darren Aronofsky’s top layer of morality that allows Noah safe passage, with Russell Crowe delivering his truest performance for some time - although it’s not smooth sailing all the time with an overblown script that occasionally goes off course,” says Louise. “Trying to tell the Noah story as a biblical epic for 21st century audiences seems ambitious at best, which is perhaps why it hasn’t been done before,” says Andrew.

NON-STOP
(US, 2014) Dir: Jaume Collet-Serra. Stars Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Michelle Dockery. "Liam Neeson, with his towering frame and credible persona, is an asset to any film and here, he does his best to counter a script that’s as frenetic as the camerawork. It’s not all bad and there are moments of genuine tension....(but) the scenario might have had legs, had it not been thwarted by too many distractions by way of character overload and red herrings." says Louise.

RIDE ALONG
(US, 2014) Dir: Tim Story. Stars Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, Tika Sumpter, John Leguizamo, Bruce McGill. “The poster, the tagline (‘Propose to this cop’s sister? Rookie mistake’) and the cast tells us all we need to know what we’re in for with Ride Along, and if we decide to ride along with the film’s escapist mood, it is an undemanding fun ride, ideal accompaniment to popcorn. If not, it’s hard labour,” says Andrew.

TRACKS
(Aust, 2013) Dir: John Curran. Stars Mia Wasikowska, Adam Driver. "Solitude and a great sense of place is central to this gripping tale recounting Robyn Davidson’s trek across the vast Australian desert in 1975, walking 1,700 miles with four camels and a dog as company," says Louise. "John Curran has delivered film that has many more plusses than camels with big, sad eyes and hilarious lips. Above all, it has Mia Wasikowska as Robyn Davidson, absolutely authentic and credible as a character as well as being insightful about her," says Andrew.

WADJDA
(Saudi Arabia/Germany, 2012) Dir: Haifaa Al Mansour. Stars Waad Mohammed, Reem Abdullah, Abdullrahman Al Gohani, Sultan al Assaf, Ahd. “This charming and deceptively simple film about a rebellious young Saudi girl with a dream that defies the culture in which she lives, is a breath of fresh air; the insight into lifestyle and culture fascinating,” says Louise. “The film disguises its liberal editorial message with a superbly veiled screenplay; we’re just looking … but of course, we’re also seeing, a much more invasive activity,” says Andrew.

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET
(US, 2013) Dir: Martin Scorsese. Stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey. “Excessive and entertaining in equals portions, Martin Scorsese’s wild tale of greed and its spoils of sex, drugs and debauchery earns its R rating as well as a big tick for Leonardo diCaprio who lets fly with no safety net in a dizzying rollercoaster ride of misguided morality,” says Louise. “Belfort’s frank memoir is a seductive confessional of how not only he but so many on Wall Street treated (treat?) Americans with contempt in their greedy drive to become rich enough to burn 100 dollar bills,” says Andrew.



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Updated April 15, 2014

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