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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Sunday February 1, 2015 

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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.

AMERICAN SNIPER
(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.

ANNIE
(US, 2014) Dir: Will Gluck. Stars Jamie Foxx, Quvenzhane Wallis, Cameron Diaz, Rose Byrne. "As sure as the sun will come out tomorrow, you’ll fall in love with Annie! I couldn’t stop smiling throughout this happy film that the whole family will embrace," says Louise.

BIG HERO 6
(US, 2014) Dir: Don Hall, Chris Williams. Voices of "Set in a futuristic hybrid city encompassing elements of Tokyo and San Francisco, the characters are also a mash-up of East and West, promoting strong moral values in the fight of good versus evil. Like me, you will fall in love with this giant walking marshmallow - between laughs, thrills and saving the world," says Louise.

BIRDMAN
(US, 2014) Dir: Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu. Stars Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Andrea Riseborough. .. non-stop tension in this incongruous, edgy and brilliant film from Alejandro Inarritu, whose dark comic tones agitate the unfathomable world of the creative actor. It’s a mind-blowing affair,' says Louise. 'Surprising us most just when we think we know exactly what’s coming, combining humour, pathos, drama, magic realism and a potential bag of Oscars, Birdman is virtuoso filmmaking,' says Andrew.

THE HOBBIT: BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES
(US, NZ, 2014) Stars Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Hugo Weaving. This was the one film to rule them all at the foreign box office tlast weekend, picking up a massive US$117.6 million. Imax screenings accounted for $6.4 million of the film’s opening. Technology delivers a payload of maximum mayhem in this final episode, a crushing sign-off for Peter Jackson’s magnum opus.

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.

THE IMITATION GAME
(UK, 2014) Dir: Morten Tyldum. Stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode. "A riveting biopic, in which Benedict Cumberbatch portrays the eccentric mathematician who breaks the unbreakable WWII German code with unerring virtuosity. The completeness of Cumberbatch’s performance makes it one of the year’s best," says Louise. "I am reasonably familiar with the subject matter, yet the film still manages to knock my socks off," says Andrew.

INTERSTELLAR
(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.

INTO THE WOODS
(US/UK, 2014) Dir: Rob Marshall. Stars Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, "Don’t expect to be humming the tunes afterwards; most likely you will remember the quirky ideas, the fabulous set design, Meryl Streep’s blue-haired witch and handsome Chris Pine as Prince Charming who is a real scene stealer as he hams it all up," says Louise.

MR TURNER
(UK, 2014) Dir: Mike Leigh. Stars Timothy Spall. "Watching Mike Leigh’s Mr Turner is a little like being immersed in a beautiful painting. Exquisite to look at with wonderful cinematography and production design, this portrayal of British landscape painter, J.M.W. Turner is a showcase for veteran actor Timothy Spall," says Louise.

NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM 3
NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM 3 (US, 2014) Dir: Shawn Levy. Stars Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Rebel Wilson, Owen Wilson, Ricky Gervais, Steve Coogan "A zippy script injects renewed life to the Museum franchise, offering a crowd-pleasing mix of inventive ideas, quirky humour and impressive visual effects to its star-studded cast," says Louise.

PADDINGTON
(UK, France 2014) Dir: Paul King. Stars Nicole Kidman, Peter Capaldi, Sally Hawkins, voice of Ben Whishaw. "Wildly entertaining, genuinely funny and exuding a heart as sticky as a marmalade sandwich, this happy film, whose furry star is the much loved character from Michael Bond's best selling children’s books, is every bit as good as expected. It's easy to fall in love with Paddington," says Louise.

PAPER PLANES
(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.

PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR
(US, 2014) Dir: Eric Darnell, Simon J. Smith.Voices of John Malkovich, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ken Jeong. "Penguins play charades, dress in lederhosen, dance Irish style and wear mermaid suits in this fast moving, high energy, witty and inventive 3d animation whose central plot involving a revenge seeking octopus is couched in themes that reinforce the importance of family." says Louise.

ST VINCENT
(US, 2014) Dir: Theodore Melfi. Stars Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Chris O’Dowd. "Bill Murray is the drawcard, always enjoyable as a rogue, witty eccentric and he does a great job with what he has," says Andrew; Louise adds: "Let’s face it: who else could make a heavy-drinking, gambling, cursing man with a pregnant Russian stripper girlfriend and squashed-face Persian cat so likeable? "

STILL ALICE
(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.)

TAKEN 3
Dir: Olivier Megaton. Stars Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Jenssen, Dougray Scott, Forest Whitaker. 'Cars pirouette, spin, flip and are crushed in a dramatic freeway car chase, while a nail-biting sequence involving a small plane and a black Porsche makes hearts stop. Incredible plot aside, the charismatic presence of Liam Neeson and his impenetrable sense of decency carry the film way beyond its thrilling action sequences,' says Louise.

UNBROKEN
(US, 2014) Dir: Angelina Jolie. Stars Jack O’Connell, Domhnall Gleeson. 'Resilience and a willingness to forgive are the moral threads of this true-life personal story that Angelina Jolie has brought to the screen in a riveting, involving and powerful film,' says Louise. 'Laura Hillenbrand’s exceptionally detailed and superbly written book is a vast, immersive experience; Angelina Jolie’s sensitive and faithful film of it (with the help of the screenplay writers) is a visceral experience,' says Andrew.

THE WATER DIVINER
(Aust/Turkey/US, 2014) Dir: Russell Crowe. Stars Russell Crowe, Olga Kurylenko, Jai Courtney. "The strength of the film is its personal nature and Crowe convincingly embodies a man whose decency and love of family, propels him on a soul-searching journey of discovery in search of redemption," says Louise. "…this quiet determination (of an important private objective) is well managed in the screenplay and in Crowe’s direction and performance, serving as the film’s emotional and moral backbone," says Andrew.

WILD
(US, 2014) Dir: Jean-Marc Vallee. Stars Reese Withers;poon, Gaby Hoffmann, Laura Dern. "A stunning central performance from Reece Witherspoon as Cheryl Strayed, who overcomes physical hardships to confront her inner demons to find her best self: the woman her mother thought she was," says Louise.



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Updated January 27, 2015


Anerican Sniper

LATEST BOX OFFICE

UPCOMING EVENT
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release on 4 consecutive Tuesdays in February, following a FREE introductory screening on February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre, Parramatta, Sydney.

Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.







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