Happy Christmas to all our readers and welcome to our Christmas Bumper, combining weekly editions No 928, 929, 930, 931. Our next edition (No 932): January 15, 2015. Box office reports Dec 29, Jan 2, 5, 8, 12.
Thursday, December 18, 2014

BEST & WORST FILMS OF 2014 Everybody loves lists- it's a genetic thing humans have. So, here are our lists for the best and worst films we have seen during 2014. In our opinion, of course.

Releasing Dec 18 - Movie reviews: 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.

Latest: NEWS: Gossip-free zone * Asia Pacific Screen Awards - winners; * Alliance Francaise French Film Festival returns in 2015; * Advance Australian Film - on Foxtel and to buy; * True Aussie Grit - Meet the Filmmakers;

BOX OFFICE: Reports & charts every Monday & Thursday (after 4pm)

Win one of 10 Holiday Horror Blu-ray Libraries, comprising Deliver Us From Evil (Dec 11), starring Eric Bana; As Above, So Below (Dec 18), starring Perdita Weeks, Ben Feldman; Lemon Tree Passage (Dec 18), starring Jessica Tovey, Tim Phillips; The Purge: Anarchy (Jan 1), starring Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, courtesy Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Prizes will be sent late January, 2015.

Releasing Dec 26 - Movie reviews: 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.

Movie reviews: 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; "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?" adds Louise.

Movie review: 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.

Movie review: 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.

(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 last 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.

Movie review: 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.

Releasing Jan 1 - Movie review: 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.

(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.

Releasing Jan 8 - Movie review: 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.

Biographies and their lead cast - four of the five drama film nominations - dominate this year's Golden Globes, while whimsy and fancy dominate - four of the five - comedy/musical film nominations.

[Coming in February 2015, Black Sea, starring Jude Law, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn. "It's an explosive journey filled with tension," says Louise; "The hidden treasure genre is full of inventive stories and this is yet another one, a smart screenplay that pushes all the right elements to the fore, from the desperate hero to the disparate and dangerous team he recruits for the mission, to the stinging tale of a haul of gold bullion," says Andrew.]
Calendar of films releasing in January 2015

Big Eyes, stars Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz; Mad Max: Fury Road, stars Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron; Me Myself and Mum, stars Guillaume Galliene; Terminator: Genisys, stars Arnold Schwarzenegger; Shaun the Sheep, from Aardman Studios; Birdman, stars Michael Keaton, Naomi Watts, Emma Stone;

At a glance: TOP 20
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 favourites if they don't make the top 20)

Stars Colin Firth, Emma Stone. "Rational thought and logic is pitted against magic and optimism in Woody Allen's delightful comedy in which Colin Firth and Emma Stone epitomise both ends of the spectrum," says Louise.

Stars Angus Sampson, Leigh Whanell, Hugo Weaving. ''The performances are the Crown Jewels in this otherwise lackluster film, notably the veterans Hugo Weaving as a world weary detective who bends the rules and Noni Hazlehurst as Ray's doting mum,'' says Andrew.

Stars Eric Bana, Edgar Ramirez, Olivia Munn. ''My cynicism aside, the film blasts its way through the loudspeakers with great determination and the performances are excellent, including young Lulu Wilson as Sarchie's daughter Christina, Olivia Munn as his wife Jen and the hard working Sean Harris as the evil one, Santino. Eric Bana is likeable and effective as the disillusioned Catholic,'' says Andrew.

Stars Ryan Guzman, Briana Evigan, Adam G. Sevani. “Sensational high energy dancing with inventive choreography and sassy rhythms make this fifth film in the franchise fly, even though the plot is wafer thin and the girl boy dynamic wanting," says Louise.

Stars Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies. ''Engulfed in a plethora of terrifying special effects, it's like being caught in the middle of a twister; the point of difference is that all the characters have hand-held cameras through which much of the action is seen," says Louise.

Stars Robert Gustafsson, Iwar Wiklander, David Wiberg. ''There's more than a sprinkling of magic in this beautifully conceived and executed tale about a centenarian who likes blowing up things, a drink loving station master, a perennial student, a feisty lady with an elephant, a crime boss, a bikie gang and a suitcase stuffed with stolen money,'' says Louise.

Competition winners: BEGIN AGAIN DVD
To win, courtesy Roadshow Entertainment, we asked: Who among family and friends would make a great recording artist and why? John Hamilton (NSW): Whether she's singing in the rain or walking on sunshine, my young daughter radiates the chutzpah and charisma of a great recording artist.

Every Australian film we have ever reviewed (film / DVD / video release), or have reported from the set, or featured in any way, is listed here, going back to films made even before the launch of Urban Cinefile, such as The Piano, Romper Stomper, Muriel's Wedding, The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, The Crossing (Russell Crowe, pic) and dozens more. Over 500 films.

Uniquely recalling the endings of relationships, this award winning museum is really a compelling collection of melancholy, intimate snapshots from the lives of strangers. Andrew L. Urban found its cathartic vibe surprisingly uplifting.

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