A ROYAL NIGHT OUT
(UK, 2015) Dir: Julian Jarrold. Stars Sarah Gadon, Emily Watson, Rupert Everett, Jack Reynor. "The ordinary and the extraordinary sit side by side in this charmer of a film in which the two closeted royal princesses go incognito on V-E day for a night out in London..... Beautifully capturing the upstairs downstairs nature of the story, director Julian Jarrold film has a feather light touch, encapsulating the humour and essence of amazement as Elizabeth and Margaret are exposed to people, places and situations they have never experienced," says Louise.
(US, 2015) Dir: Cameron Crowe. Stars Bradley Cooper, Rachel McAdams, Emma Stone, John Krasinski. "It’s the scenes without dialogue that are the most memorable in this warm, likeable film in which issues big and small grapple for attention. Cameron Crowe has the knack of putting heart into his films and while this one may not be in the same class as Jerry Maguire or Almost Famous, it is nonetheless highly enjoyable," says Louise.
AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON
(US, 2015) Dir. Kevin Feige. Stars Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johnasson, Hayley Atwell, Tom Hiddleston, Chris Hemsworth, Samuel L. Jackson. "High scale escapism is in abundant supplies in this tornado of action and special effects in which Marvel's heroes are ready, willing and able save the world… While the visuals are extraordinary and the wry humour is welcome, what's missing is a coherent story with light and shade," says Louise.
(US, 2015) Dir: Kenneth Branagh. Stars Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Richard Madden, Stellan Skarsgard, Derek Jacobi. "There are many highlights, but none more memorable than the sequence when the clock strikes midnight …It’s a bumpy ride for the radiant Ella (Lily James) …as the night comes to a crashing end as the pumpkin bursts – just like her dreams," says Louise. "Disney’s live action Cinderella benefits from Ken Branagh’s kudos in being able to attract the kind of cast and achieving the kind of tone such a well known and loved fairy tale needs," says Andrew.
(US, 2015) Dir: Doug Ellin. Stars Adrian Grenier, Jeremy Piven, Kevin Connolly, Kevin Dillon. "A breezy romp about Hollywood and the movie business, Entourage is plain, unadulterated fun, never taking itself too seriously as it trips over issues of ego, money, power and success... A mindless, amusing satire that is a cross between spicy chewing gum and Hollywood fairy floss," says Louise.
(US, 2015) Dir: Alex Garland. Stars Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac. "Although there’s a fatal flaw that diminishes its overall satisfaction rating, Alex Garland (who penned 28 Days Later) has conceived a dazzling film filled with intrigue and an innate edginess that is elevated by three startlingly good performances," says Louise. "Borrowing body parts from the age old horror/sci-fi workbook, Alex Garland makes a female Frankenstein movie (sort of) and interrogates the pursuit of AI in the process. I won’t reveal what he thinks is the answer or end result, but there are serious leaps of faith involved for the audience in the execution," says Andrew.
FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
(UK, 2015) Dir: Thomas Vinterberg. Stars Matthias Achoenaerts, Carey Mulligan. "With enigmatic Matthias Schoenaerts solid as the emotional anchor and Carey Mulligan impressive in her best role since An Education, The Hunt director Thomas Vinterberg has woven the complex elements of love, desire, need and greed into a visual and engaging tale, filled with visual and emotional richness," says Louise.
(France, 2014) Dir: Anne Fontaine. Stars Gemma Arterton, Fabrice Luchini. "Captivating at every turn, the intriguing idea of life imitating art is beautifully realised in this charming fable in which Flaubert's masterpiece Madame Bovary is the driving force... As playful, melodic, dramatic, lively and emotive as the wonderful score which complements it," says Louise.
(US, 2015) Dir: Tim Johnson. Voices: Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Steve Martin, Jennifer Lopez. "Adapted from Adam Rex’s novel in praise of family and friends, Antz director Tim Johnson’s film is original and fresh, with an easy to understand narrative that finds its endearing protagonist Oh (voiced by Jim Parsons) on a journey that takes him from zero to hero," says Louise.
(US, 2015) Dir: Anne Fletcher. Stars Reece Witherspoon, Sofia Vergara. "Thank goodness for sassy Sofia Vergara, whose chaotic former Colombian beauty queen and drug lord’s widow is not only gorgeous to look at, but is a riot every second she is on screen. Her decorative comedic turn makes this inane comedy almost bearable," says Louise.
JURASSIC WORLD 3D
(US, 2015) Dir: Colin Trevorrow. Stars Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Nick Robinson, Ty Simpkins. "I jumped out of my seat numerous times in this ripper of a 3D rollercoaster ride; it pushes the boundaries, stimulates, terrifies and is great fun," says Louise.
LOVE & MERCY
(US, 2015) Dir: Bill Pohlad. Stars Paul Dano, John Cusack, Elizabeth Banks, Paul Giamatti. "To describe it in musical terms, the film can switch from major to minor key in seconds," says Louise.
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
(Aust, 2015) Dir: George Miller. Stars Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne. "Like the earlier Mad Max films, in which edgy stunts and bravado filmmaking are an integral part, George Miller's Fury Road is a visceral experience: a head-on collision of surreal imagery in an eye-boggling apocalyptic reality ... While the undercurrent of emotion drives the film like a throbbing V8 engine, it is the impact of Oscar-winning cinematographer John Seale's visuals that make it, along with its mind-blowing stunts and relentless action ...It's one hell of a film," says Louise.
MAFIA KILLS ONLY IN SUMMER, THE
(Italy, 2013) Dir: Pif. Stars Pif, Cristiana Capotondi. "Mafia blood and true love are strange bedfellows in this black comedy whose wonderful title promises more than the film offers," says Louise.
(US, 2015) Dir: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin. Voices Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin, Sandra Bullock, Michael Keaton, Steve Coogan. "Wonderfully absurd, brilliantly inventive and totally adorable, the Minions is literally a laugh a minute… You don’t need a kid to see this film," says Louise
(China, 2014) Dir: Philippe Muyl. Stars Li Bao Tian, Li Ran Xiao, Hao Qin, Xin Yi Yang. "Simple but far from simplistic, The Nightingale sings its song with gentle power, telling a story that is both affecting and effective as cinema," says Andrew. "There is plenty of heart in this affecting film whose song sings sweetly as it finds its notes on the forest stave," says Louise.
PITCH PERFECT 2
US, 2015) Dir: Elizabeth Banks. Stars Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow. "It’s the offbeat nature of the characters and their approach to the a cappella music they sing that gives this upbeat sequel edge. In musical terms, you might say it feels syncopated. …a spirited film that feels fresh, using humour and music to distinctly coat the narrative," says Louise.
(US, 2015) Dir: Brad Peyton. Stars Dwayne Johnston, Carla Gugino. " As far as disaster movies go, they don’t come much better than this: heart-stopping action with ginormous stunts and a story that touches your heart. It also helps to have the rock-solid Dwayne Johnson on your side (pun intended) as cars fly, buildings topple, bridges disintegrate, the ocean swells and chaos descends," says Louise.
(US, 2015) Dir: Paul Feig. Stars Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Jude Law, Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale. "The laughs come flying every which way – conceptually, visually and through a smart and hilarious script that ambushes us with off the wall humour as it canvasses the sense of the ridiculous. It’s spoof, comedy and action all bundled together in one delicious entertainment package.." says Louise.
TED 2(US, 2015) Dir: Seth MacFarlane. Stars Mark Wahlberg, Seth MacFarlane (voice), Amanda Seyfried, Jessica Barth, Giovani Ribisi, Morgan Freeman. "Seems like the bear is over-stuffed this time around, with a drawn out sequel that struggles to juggle the elements of buddy movie, romance, social justice, offensive comedy and a tribute to Hollywood musicals. It’s a pity because everybody loves a bear," says Louise.
(US, 2015) Dir: Brad Bird. Stars George Clooney, Britt Robertson. "As the fate of the world hangs in the balance, Brad Bird's film plays like a giant rollercoaster ride, complete with thrilling peaks and troughs, appealing to all ages with its genuine sense of fun, originality and brilliant structure," says Louise.
(Argentina/Spain, 2014) Dir: Damian Szifron, Stars Dario Grandinetti, Maria Marull, Ricardo Darin, Monica Villa, Rita Cortese. "Revenge is the common thread that links Damian Szifron’s six fearlessly entertaining tales that range from uproariously funny to bleakly black. While not all the tales are entirely successful, they zing with ideas and energy, economically exploring extreme scenarios and characters pushed to their limits. It’s a bit like a multi-coloured mosaic.. " says Louise.
WOMAN IN GOLD
(US/UK, 2015) Dir: Simon Curtis, Stars Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Daniel Bruhl, Charles Dance, Katie Holmes. "It's an extraordinary story but sadly the film is not. Plodding and mechanical instead of involving and moving, the film fails to sweep us away on what should be a hugely emotional journey. As a consequence, this story about wartime art theft, preserving heritage and fighting for justice pales into muted colours of disappointment," says Louise.