TOP 20 FILMS IN RELEASE AT A GLANCE
TOP 20 FILMS IN RELEASE AT A
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.
ARE WE OFFICIALLY DATING?
(US, 2013) Dir: Tom Gormican. Stars Zac Efron, Imogen Poots, Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan. “..an amiable romcom endowed with romance, penis-humour and MA-rated sex,” says Louise.
BOOK THIEF, THE
(US/Germany, 2013) Dir: Brian Percival. Stars Sophie Nélisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson. :.. a masterful tale about life, made all the more effective by the fact that it is narrated by the supercilious voice of death,” says Louise. “For all its splendid veracity to look at, authentically replicating wartime provincial Germany, The Book Thief struggles to find matching authenticity in the story and the characters,” says Andrew.
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.
(US, 2014) Dir: Shana Feste. Stars Gabriella Wilde, Alex Pettyfer, Bruce Greenwood, Joely Richardson, Robert Patrick. “It’s formulaic and predictable, but with its two appealing leads and romantic notions, this Hollywood style Romeo and Juliet melodrama about forbidden love, caters perfectly for its young target market as they discover a love that is worth fighting for,” says Louise.
(US, 2013) Dir: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee. Voices of Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Ciaran Hinds. “Destined to be the family hit of the Christmas season, Frozen has all the elements to make it an outright winner. Visually gorgeous in 3D with its winter wonderland setting, ice palaces and trees dripping with crystal icicles…” says Louise.
(US, 2013) Dir: Alfonso Cuarón. Stars Sandra Bullock, George Clooney. “We are on edge throughout. There is no respite, no relief, no safety net and the fact that almost the entirety of the film takes place in space instills tension and a profound sense of claustrophobia. Tranquility is contrasted by chaos; ethereal beauty by destructive disruption,” says Louise. “Together with perfect casting and a superb score, Gravity gets its exclamation mark from the astute use of 3D – adding a layer of thrills at key moments. Hell, they’re all key moments,” says Andrew.
(US, 2013) Dir: Jon Turtletaub. Stars: Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline, Jena Sims, Mary Steenburgen. “Last Vegas is not one of Fogelman’s good scripts. Like The Guilt Trip, that relied heavily on the casting of Seth Rogan against the diva Barbra Streisand, this flimsy premise of four sixty-something guys heading to Vegas for a last hurrah is counting on the star power of its four stars with little else to offer,” says Louise. “With stars of this calibre, the movie can’t be all bad, and it ain’t. It’s just hollow,” says Andrew.
(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.
MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM
(US, 2013) Dir: Justin Chadwick. Stars Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Terry Pheto, Tony Kgoroge, Riaad Moosa, Jamie Bartlett. “It’s a powerhouse of a film: informative, powerful, moving, involving and inspirational with Idris Elba outstanding in the title role,” says Louise. “The importance of the events in Mandela’s life – the whole world was watching – have seemingly constrained the filmmakers and made some of the key moments feel heavy handed. Yet even so, the film does manage to convey the notion that a single human being can change the world,” says Andrew.
(US, 2013) Dir: Alexander Payne. Stars Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb, Bob Odenkirk, Stacey Keach. “This is a beautiful film filled with melancholy, regret and longing and whose delicacy lingers,” says Louise. “Full of little riches of observation, character and irony, Nebraska is a gem of a film from a master filmmaker,” says Andrew.
(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.
(UK, 2013) Dir: Stephen Frears. Stars Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Sophie Kennedy Clark, Michelle Fairley. “Frears uses cinematic tools to convey emotions, memories and the past, with great skill. The screenplay takes us across hurdles and impassible walls, adding to the tension,” says Andrew. “A substantial drama with comic elements that makes you cry when it counts and laugh when you least expect it,” says Louise.
(US, 2014) Dir: José Padilha. Stars Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Abbie Cornish, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, Jackie Earle Hayley. “It’s a film meant for young and excitable audiences (who don’t mind scrambled images), and I don’t qualify. Still, there are ideas here that grapple (fairly simply) with serious themes,” says Andrew.
SAVING MR BANKS
(US/UK/Australia, 2013) Dir: John Lee Hancock. Stars Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Colin Farrell, Ruth Wilson, Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman. “Take a tissue and be prepared for a heartfelt experience; the true story of author P.L. Travers and the rocky road travelled for her famous character Mary Poppins to reach the screen is not only filled with surprises, but delivers an emotional tour de force... As for the winning combination of Emma Thompson as Mrs Travers and Tom Hanks as Walt Disney, nothing could be finer or more enjoyable,” says Louise.
(US, 2014) Dir. Akiva Goldsman. Stars Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Will Smith. “Problematic from the outset, this melodrama about destiny, chance and connections trips over its own self importance as it canvasses its ludicrous plot involving angels and demons, twinkling stars, true love and a magical white horse that flies,” says Louise.
WOLF CREEK 2
(Aust, 2013) Dir: Greg McLean. Stars John Jarratt, Ryan Corr, Shannon Ashlyn, Phillipe Klaus, Gerard Kennedy, Annie Byron. “ .. filled with unrelenting terror, but the suspense that was so effective in his 2005 original film that made its controversial debut at Director’s Fortnight in Cannes, has been relegated to an ugly shock-filled, torture porn fest filled with depravity,” says Louise. “If it weren’t for some misjudged – and extended – sequences that simply don’t work, Wolf Creek 2 would have been a stronger propellant for No 3,” 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 March 3, 2014
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