(US, 2014) Dir: John R. Leonetti. Stars Ward Horton, Annabelle Wallis, Tony Amendola, Alfre Woodard. “The overuse of flashing lights is always a sign of creative weakness in horror films (and many use it) as is the high volume slap sound scape and music. But nothing can make up for insipid characters who are two dimensional and unworthy of our attention, never mind sympathy,” says Andrew.
THE BEST OF ME
(US, 2014) Dir: Michael Hoffman. Stars James Marsden, Michelle Monaghan, Luke Bracey, Liana Liberato. “Grab a tissue and get ready to have your heartstrings tugged in this Nicholas Sparks melodrama, replete with its elements of love and loss….The perfect date movie, the film is romantic in the purest sense with dramatic highs and lows that sweep you along – together with its beautiful settings and rousing score,” says Louise.
(US, 2014) Dir: Graham Annable, Anthony Stacchi. Voices of Elle Fanning, Simon Pegg, Toni Collette, Ben Kingsley, Jared Harris. “The stop-motion animation is extraordinary, but there is something lacking in this third film from Laika Studios – heart,” says Louise.
(US, 2014) Dir: David Ayer. Stars Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman. “David Ayer’s film succeeds in creating a claustrophobic mood, prising us into the Sherman tank in 1945 Germany with its melting pot of tension .., although the characterisations might have been better described,” says Louise. “The film’s impact is partly explained by the heavy artillery aimed at our sensibilities, not just our eardrums, and the almost careless narrative, which only glues together in the final, extended, extraordinary sequence best described as Wardaddy’s Last Stand,” says Andrew.
US, 2014) Dir: David Fincher. Stars Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris. “As far as adaptations go, this is one of the best, Gillian Flynn’s screenplay perfectly capturing the tone of her novel, in which a dark portrait of a marriage unravels… It’s disturbingly good. As well as dense, entertaining, funny, insightful and more,” says Louise. “.. director David Fincher wanted to make a flawless murder thriller in which the audience loyalty and association with the key characters was pushed and pulled unmercifully for maximum impact. He succeeds…” says Andrew.
HOUSE OF MAGIC
(US, 2013) Animation. "It's the whimsy and mix of lovable characters that make this animated family film from Belgium a winner, especially for the youngsters, who will giggle and warm to the colourful visuals," says Louisel
(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.
(US, 2014) Dir: David Leitch, Chad Stahelski. Stars Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe. “A thrilling and relentless shoot-fest is countered by understatement in this cool, ultra violent, heavy-action revenge thriller in which Keanu Reeves shoots, kicks, punches and stabs his way through an army of Russian bad guys. Make no mistake, there are no good guys; it’s just that some are badder than others,” says Louise.
(US, 2014) Stars Robert Downey Jnr, Robert Duval, Vera Farmiga. “The law may be black and white but there is nothing black and white about the father son relationship in this potent drama that comes to a blistering head during a murder trial…. It's a powerhouse of a film, worth seeing for the performances alone,” says Louise.
(UK, US, 2014) Dir: Christian Diller. Stars Lily Collins, Sam Claflin. “Bad timing is the central theme of this Four Weddings and A Funeral wanna-be, which despite several weddings, a funeral and a cliché ridden script, (based on Cecelia Ahern’s novel) groans with predictable twists and turns as the two protagonists um and err about their future together,” says Louise.
THE MAZE RUNNER
(US, 2014) Dir: Wes Ball. Stars Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Will Poulter, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Patricia Clarkson. “It doesn't quite have the bite or originality of The Hunger Games, but there are parallels in this first of a new sci-fi action fantasy franchise about survival in a controlled environment,” says Louise.
(UK, 2014) Dir: Matthew Warchus. Stars Bill Nighy, Andrew Scott, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton, Paddy Considine. “Barriers tumble and pride is upheld as the tapestry of emotions is woven together when gay and lesbian activists become staunch supporters of striking miners. With the heart of Billy Elliott and the conviction of Milk, this is a crowd pleasing film filled with passion – and passion is the fuel for change,” says Louise.
(US, 2014) Dir: Ben Falcone. Stars Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Dan Aykroyd, Allison Janney, Toni Collette, Kathy Bates. “Contender for worst film of the year, Tammy is a painful experience. If you are looking for a good laugh, a well-written script, engaging characters, quirky relationships, a story with a bit of heart and having a whale of a time, this Melissa McCarthy comedy is not it,” says Louise.
THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU
(US, 2014) Dir: Shawn Levy. Stars Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne. “Laugh or cry, there’s no correct response, says Jane Fonda’s matriarch Hillary, in this hilarious expose of a dysfunctional family thrown together at close quarters. For the audience, there is more laughter than tears… It’s caustic fun on rapids,” says Louise.
TWO DAYS ONE NIGHT
(Belgium, 2014) Dir: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne. Stars Marion Cotillard, Fabrizio Rongione. “Some may find the journey slight, but there is nothing superficial in the film – from the emotional honesty of Cotillard’s performance to the workplace injustice, bullyboy tactics and worker reactions as they are desperate to protect their own income,” says Louise. “Maybe I just don’t get it, but this multi-awarded film from the celebrated (and Cannes regular) Belgian Dardenne brothers is not only slight – as in, without cinematic scale – it is a bit contrived and tedious,” says Andrew.
(US, 2014) Dir: Stars J.K. Simmons, Miles Teller. “Thrilling and disturbing in equal parts, Damien Chazelle's magnificent film Whiplash, about a young jazz drummer obsessed with greatness and the sadistic teacher who pushes him to the brink, is a showcase in which fear, not harmony reigns. J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller offer superlative and unforgettable performances, as their characters duel as if in a fight to the death,” says Louise.