A LITTLE CHAOS
(UK, 2014) Dir: Alan Rickman. Stars Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman, Stanley Tucci. "The scene in which a metaphor using a rose at its various stages of bloom and decline to depict a woman is one of the memorable moments in this rich, picturesque costume drama whose central theme revolves on the design and creation of part of the extensive gardens of Versailles," says Louise.
(US, 2014) Dir: Clint Eastwood. Stars Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Luke Grimes. "It's like being there – right in the midst of a war zone, where life and death rely on split second decision ... the story of a remarkable man, as told by a remarkable filmmaker," says Louise. "Although it is a better written and made film then The Hurt Locker which won the Oscar, American Sniper is just as determined to ring emotional bells for an America that has lost much of its self assurance on the world stage," says Andrew.
US, 2015) Dir: Tim Burton. Stars Christoph Waltz, Amy Adams. "A lie, compliance and the windows to the soul are the elements of this extraordinary true story in which male domination and female repression play key roles," says Louise. "It’s fascinating to discover that an item of what is essentially pop culture with which one was familiar some years ago has such a colourful history," says Andrew.
(US, Mexico, 2015) Dir: Neill Blomkamp. Stars Dev Patel, Hugh Jackman, Sharlto Copley, Sigourney Weaver. "Countless problems plague this misfire by South African director Neill Blomkamp, but above all it’s the total incredulity of the narrative concerning the development of the robotic Chappie that crushes it to rubble," 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.
FIFTY SHADES OF GREY
(US, 2015) Dir: Sam Taylor-Johnson. Stars Jamie Dornan, Dakota Johnson. "Perfectly capturing the tone of E.L. James’ sensational best-selling novel, this tale of control, sex and submission is tantalizing, titillating and provocative as it offers a voyeuristic peek into a dark world behind closed doors where pain and pleasure are prime menu items. It is a big tease," says Louise.
(US, 2015) Dir: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa "It's slick and fast and crammed with cons both big and small, but it's the irresistible dynamic between Will Smith and Margot Robbie that makes this smoke and mirrors flick so enjoyable," says Louise.
(US, 2015) Dir: Etan Cohen. Stars Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart. "Offensive by design and low-brow by nature, the joke wears thin by the end, but the film’s saving grace is its raw energy; a feeling that anything goes, as the narrative leapfrogs from one unlikely bad-taste scenario to the next," 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.
INFINITELY POLAR BEAR
US, 2014) Dir: Maya Forbes. Stars Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana, Keir Dullea, Ashley Aufderheide, Imogene Wolodarsky. "Domestic chaos is delicately handled, in this feature debut by Maya Forbes, whose childhood experiences living with her bi-polar father while her mother studies form a kaleidoscope of tumultuous emotional adventures," says Louise. "The film’s saving grace is the cast, especially perhaps the two girls, Imogene Wolodarsky and the younger Ashley Aufderheide, who deliver vibrant and authentic performances, charming and real and utterly convincing," says Andrew.
(US, 2014) Dir: Paul Thomas Anderson. Stars Joaquin Phoenix, Jena Malone, Reese Witherspoon, Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro, Owen Wilson. "There is nothing straightforward about anyone in Paul Thomas Anderson’s bewitching mystery in which each character is a stepping-stone in a journey in which no-one is quite sure who or what they are chasing," says Louise.
(US, 2015) Dir: Robert Schwentke. Stars Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Theo James, Jai Courtney, Naomi Watts, Kate Winslet, Maggie Q, Ashley Judd. "Kate Winslet as the villainous, power-hungry, ice-cool blonde is the best thing in this overlong sequel in which spectacular special effects dominate and whose narrative is too cluttered to involve us beyond the superficial," says Louise.
(US, 2014) Dir: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski. Stars Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Eddie Redmayne. "The scale and visuals of this high concept sci-fi spectacle are as extraordinary as the plot is confusing, but you have to hand it to the Wachowskis, in their creation of Jupiter Ascending, there is no shortage of imagination," says Louise.
KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE
(UK, 2014) Dir: Matthew Vaughn. Stars Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong, Michael Caine. "A beguiling mash-up of the spy movie genre with a seamless blend of action, satire and spoof, Matthew Vaughn's envelope-pushing film offers hip, lip and zip," says Louise.
(Aus, 2015) Dir: Anthony Mir. Stars Carl Barron, Leeanna Walsman, Roy Billing. "I like the concept – a successful comedian who can’t relate to anyone beyond his audience – but somehow this well-meaning comedy starring Aussie comedian Carl Barron fails to ignite," says Louise.
(Aust, 2015) Dir: Robert Connolly. Stars Sam Worthington, Ed Oxenbould, David Wenham. 'An impressionable 12 year old ready to discover the world, a grieving father intent on shutting the world out and a madcap granddad keen to embrace it are the three key characters in this rousing and heartwarming family film in which winning, losing and family are everything,' says Louise.
RUN ALL NIGHT
(US, 2015) Dir: Jaume Collet-Sera. Stars Liam Neeson, Ed Harris, Joel Kinnaman, Genesis Rodriguez,Vincent D’Onofrio. "Revenge and redemption are the themes of this edge of seat action thriller in which no sin goes unpunished and Liam Neeson searches for solace for his life’s misdeeds…. It’s a ripper of a film, filled with action, tension and drama," says Louise.
SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, THE
(US/UK, 2015) Dir: John Madden. Stars Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Richard Gere. "While it's agreeable to spend another interlude with the characters we met four years ago in the first film, this second chapter is too slight, too laboured and too long to warrant as much attention,… the mood is somewhat tarred by a miscalculation that leaves us with a coating of melancholy, instead of the feel-good vibe for which we crave, " says Louise.
SHAUN THE SHEEP
(US, France, 2014) Dir: Mark Burton, Richard Starzack. Voices of Justin Fletcher, John Sparkes. "A baa baa shop quartet, a cat making Hannibal Lecter noises and a dog disguised as a surgeon are some of the elements of this Aardman stop animation that relies on simple ideas, keenly observed action and a flock of humour. But don’t set your expectations too high," says Louise. "The wonderful English eccentricity of Aardman’s Wallace and Gromit captured our hearts and minds, their naïve antics and slam dunk adventures fed our funny bones. There is still a trace of all that in Shaun the Sheep, but not the distinctive personas nor the full bottle of wit, " says Andrew.
(US, France, 2014) Dir: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland. Stars Julianne Moore, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth, Alec Baldwin. "It is impossible not to be affected by this devastatingly sad portrait of a woman, whose reliance on memory and its compilation to communicate in her role as professor of linguistics at Columbia University, accentuates the intensity of her loss," says Louise. (Special advance screenings January 23, 24, 25; releases January 29.)
(US, 2015) Dir: Ken Scott. Stars Vince Vaughn, Dave Franco, Tom Wilkinson, Sienna Miller, James Marsden, Nick Frost. "The biggest surprise of this contrived, crass comedy is that it actually has a heart. When the film started, my heart sank lower and lower as it set out its silly premise of three losers on a road trip to Berlin to try to seal a business deal with a handshake. It's not until the final reel that the cumulative effect of all the unlikely elements spewed a payoff of sorts," says Louise.
WHAT WE DID ON OUR HOLIDAY
(UK, 2014) Dir: Andy Hamilton, Guy Jenkin. Stars Rosamund Pike, David Tennant, Billy Connolly. "Some may find the resolutions to the many complex issues somewhat simplistic, but this uplifting and funny film has so much heart, that it is impossible not to be charmed. If only all our family dysfunctions could be resolved so easily,"says Louise.