by Preeti Virdee
THIS is our take on a selection of the latest movies to hit the silver screen. It's a combination of the synopses from the film studios (in italics) and our opinions on the hits and misses of current offerings and what's to come (month by month by UK release date). So pop over to the left hand side bar for a full list of all we have on offer... And we've included the trailers for your delight so just click on the poster and you'll be transported to another world...
And just because we can, we've popped up the nominations & winners of the Golden Globes, the BAFTAs and the Oscars. So simply click on the relevant gong below, and as an when nominations & results come through, you'll find gongs on each review:
BILLY TAGGART has a promising career as a New York City cop until the night he is involved in a controversial shooting. Stripped of his badge, but kept out of jail by New York's popular Mayor, he re-makes himself as a private investigator.
Times are tough, and when the mayor offers Billy $50,000 to investigate the First Lady's extra-marital activities, it seems like a straight forward payday. Unfortunately, it quickly becomes apparent that the Mayor is not at all what he seems, and for Billy to achieve redemption he will have to risk everything -- possibly even his freedom.
CAST: Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Barry Pepper, Kyle Chandler, Jeffrey Wright
DIRECTOR: Allen Hughes
RELEASE DATE: 18/01/13 07/01/13 28/02/13 01 March 2013 07/03/13 14/03/13 03/07/13
A sexually and racially charged film noir from Oscar®-nominated director Lee Daniels, THE PAPERBOY takes audiences deep into the backwaters of steamy 1960s South Florida, as investigative reporter Ward Jansen and his partner Yardley Acheman chase a sensational, career-making story. With the help of Ward’s younger brother Jack, and sultry death-row groupie Charlotte Bless, the pair tries to prove violent swamp-dweller Hillary Van Wetter was framed for the murder of a corrupt local sheriff. Based on the provocative bestselling novel by Pete Dexter, The Paperboy peels back a sleepy small town’s decades-old façade of Southern gentility to reveal a quagmire of evil as dark as a Florida bayou.
CAST: Matthew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron, John Cusack, Scott Glenn, David Oyelowo, Macy Gray
DIRECTOR: Lee Daniels
RELEASE DATE: 05/10/12 17/10/12 28/02/13 15 March 2013 09/05/13
IN this action-packed mystery thriller, Academy Award winner, Denzel Washington stars as Whip Whitaker, a seasoned airline pilot, who miraculously crash lands his plane after a mid-air catastrophe, saving nearly every soul on board. After the crash, Whip is hailed as a hero, but as more is learned, more questions than answers arise as to who or what was really at fault and what really happened on that plane?
THE plane crash is simply brilliant, but that's just the start of the film. Washington is at his best in a film that is far from what you expect in a disaster movie. Conventional this it not. Robert Zemeckis has come a long long way since his Oscar-winning and hugely entertaining Who Framed Roger Rabbit...an exceptional directorial work which brings the essence of every character to life by each actor involved, and a super score to match the mood.
To say any more would be to give away too much, so I will say just this...as soon as it is out in your town, book it, and enjoy.
CAST: Denzel Washington, Melissa Leo, John Goodman, Don Cheadle, Kelly Reilly, Nadine Velazquez
DIRECTOR: Robert Zemeckis
RELEASE DATE: 02/11/12 24/01/13 31/01/13 01 February 2013 06/02/13 07/02/13 13/02/13 01/03/13
IN June 1939, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor host the King and Queen of England for a weekend at the Roosevelt home at Hyde Park on Hudson, in upstate New York – the first-ever visit of a reigning English monarch to America. With Britain facing imminent war with Germany, the Royals are desperately looking to FDR for support. But international affairs must be juggled with the complexities of FDR’s domestic establishment, as wife, mother, and mistresses all conspire to make the royal weekend an unforgettable one. Seen through the eyes of Daisy, Franklin’s neighbour and intimate, the weekend will produce not only a special relationship between two great nations, but, for Daisy – and through her, for us all – a deeper understanding of the mysteries of love and friendship.
AH. Right then...my conclusion at the end of this little ditty is why did anyone think this was a good enough story to bring to the silver screen? One cannot fault Michell's direction, nor Murray's tender portrayal of yet another American president who was a womanising cad. Sadly, the depiction of one weekend at Hyde Park will go down in movie history doing little for the grandeur and good done by the main protagonists - FDR, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, but is an unflattering celluloid caricature that belittles the greatness of these world-changing figures. Dear oh dear, sometimes one wonders what on earth the studio heads are thinking when they give the green light to such projects. Never mind, eh? That's why we exist, to let you know when not to waste your time!
CAST: Bill Murray, Laura Linney, Olivia Colman, Samuel West, Elizabeth Marvel, Elizabeth Wilson, Eleanor Bron, Olivia Williams
DIRECTOR: Roger Michell
RELEASE DATE: 07/12/12 10/01/13 01 February 2013 21/02/13 27/02/13 28/02/13
LURKING behind Alfred Hitchcock, cinema's "master of suspense" -- the extraordinary film icon known for orchestrating some of the most intense experiences of menace and intrigue audiences have ever seen, was a hidden side: his creatively explosive romance with his steadfast wife and filmmaking collaborator, Alma Reville.
Now, for the first time, Sacha Gervasi's HITCHCOCK lays bare their captivating and complex love story. It does so through the sly, shadowy lens of their most daring filmmaking adventure: the making of the spine-tingling 1960 thriller, Psycho, which would become the director's most controversial and legendary film. When the tumultuous, against-the-odds production was over, nothing about movies would ever be the same - but few realized that it took two to pull it off.
HAD this film been cast with anyone other than Anthony Hopkins, it would have been terribly ordinary and forgettable. But the multi-award winning Hopkins is simply the embodiment of Alfred Hitchcock, extreme padding and all. There are also notable performances from Helen Mirren as Alma, and Toni Colette as Peggy - Hitch’s production assistant.
The film is not complex, but marvellous portrayals allow one to brush over the narrowness of the subject matter, and engages you in the fascinating character that was Hitchcock. Sadly Johansson has not immersed herself in the role enough to see her as a convincing Janet Leigh, but despite this, the dynamic between the players will keep you hooked. This is a must see for fans of Hopkins and Mirren, though Hitchcock aficionados may be a little disappointed at the lack of breadth.
CAST: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Danny Huston, Toni Collette, Jessica Biel, James D'Arcy, Ralph Macchio, Michael Stuhlbarg, Michael Wincott, Richard Portnow
DIRECTOR: Sacha Gervasi
RELEASE DATE: 14/12/12 10/01/13 31/01/13 06/02/12 07/02/13 08 February 2013 21/02/13 03/13
BRUCE WILLIS returns in his most iconic role as John McClane - the "real" hero with the skills and attitude to always be the last man standing. This time the take-no-prisoners cop is really in the wrong place at the wrong time after travelling to Moscow to help his estranged son Jack. With the Russian underworld in pursuit, and battling a countdown to war, the two McClanes discover that their opposing methods make them unstoppable heroes.
YIPPE KI-YAY MOTHER RUSSIA! I, for one, as am excited about the return of John McClane as I am about Arnie Schwarzenegger’s big comeback - aptly timed may I say to hit the silver screen with just weeks between them. Great trailer, great concept...here’s hoping it’s a great movie!
CAST: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Patrick Stewart, Sebastian Kocj, Yuliya Snigir, Cole Hauser, Amaury Nolasco
DIRECTOR: John Moore
RELEASE DATE: 14 February 2013 20/02/13 21/03/13
CLOUD ATLAS explores how the actions and consequences of individual lives impact one another throughout the past, the present and the future. Action, mystery and romance weave dramatically through the story as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero and a single act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution in the distant future.
A most inexplicably bizarre film which flits between decades and centuries with such rapidity, it is hard to keep up with which era, planet and characters one is intruding on. There are six stories with the same actors playing various roles, made up as all ages and sexes just to throw you completely off kilter. Cloud Atlas is epic - epically visual, enchanting, convoluted, complicated, long, aesthetically beautiful, and awfully hard to keep up with. Oh and did I mention it was terribly long - almost 3 hours?!
It’s actually the kind of film you should go see, then probably need to see two or three more times to fully grasp in order to appreciate it. Oh, and Hanks’ Irish accent leaves much to be desired.
CAST: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, James D’Arcy, Xun Zhou, Keith David, David Gyasi, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant
DIRECTOR: Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski, Andy Wachowski
COUNTRY: Germany/USA/Hong Kong/Singapore
RELEASE DATE: 26/10/12 03/01/13 10/01/13 21/02/13 22 February 2013 13/03/13 15/03/13
Maria, Henry and their three sons begin their winter vacation in Thailand, looking forward to a few days in tropical paradise. But on the morning of December 26th, as the family relaxes around the pool after their Christmas festivities the night before, a terrifying roar rises up from the centre of the earth. As Maria freezes in fear, a huge wall of black water races across the hotel grounds toward her.
Based on a true story, THE IMPOSSIBLE is the unforgettable account of a family caught, with tens of thousands of strangers, in the mayhem of one of the worst natural catastrophes of our time. But the true-life terror is tempered by the unexpected displays of compassion, courage and simple kindness that Maria and her family encounter during the darkest hours of their lives. Both epic and intimate, devastating and uplifting, The Impossible is a journey to the core of the human heart.
IF you didn’t have any phobias to start with, you may well develop a fear of fast moving water early on, along with an aversion to ever going under water, even in your bathtub; the drowning scenes are very authentic and claustrophobic. Next up, the injuries are brutal and graphic; the scenes of Watts experiencing pain made me feel wretched to my core - so a strong stomach is required, and that’s just in the first half hour.
There is much screaming, crying, death and devastation to give you an impending feeling of doom. And then it turns into a group therapy session.
The stand out performance comes from young Tom Holland as Lucas who is magnificent; Watts is convincingly sickly, but stroppy with it, while McGregor is nothing more than ordinary. Overall, the film is gut-wrenchingly depressing, frighteningly dramatic, and you’ll need to have the constitution of an ox to cope with the most downward spiralling rollercoaster that makes you feel awfully queasy in the pit of your stomach. If you can fathom those emotions, then it is a wildly realistic disaster movie you may want to see. Given the choice again, I would pass.
CAST: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland, Samuel Joslin, Oaklee Pendergast, Marta Etura
DIRECTOR: Juan Antonio Bayona
RELEASE DATE: 21/11/12 01 January 2013 03/01/13 24/01/13 31/01/13
GERARD BUTLER, Jessica Biel, Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Dennis Quaid star in PLAYING FOR KEEPS, a romantic comedy about a charming, down-on-his luck former soccer star (Butler) who returns home to put his life back together. Looking for a way to rebuild his relationship with his son, he gets roped into coaching the boy’s soccer team. But his attempts to finally become an “adult” are met with hilarious challenges from the attractive “soccer moms” who pursue him at every turn. Playing For Keeps is directed by Gabriele Muccino, the director of "The Pursuit of Happyness."
THIS offering has an excellent cast which is entirely wasted on a predictable and unimaginative script. Saying that, it is harmless, cutesy and will not offend anyone, and in its defence, is far better than most toe-curlingly awful romcoms. So wait for it to pop up on DVD but don’t waste your time on a cinema ticket.
CAST: Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel, Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Dennis Quaid
DIRECTOR: Gabriele Muccino
RELEASE DATE: 07/12/12 01 January 2013 10/01/13 28/02/13
LIFELONG friends Wilf and Reggie, together with former colleague Cissy, are residents of Beecham House, a home for retired opera singers. Every year on Giuseppe Verdi’s birthday, the residents unite to give a concert to raise funds for their home. But when Jean Horton, a former grande dame of the opera fallen on hard times, also Reggie’s ex-wife and the fourth and most celebrated member of their former quartet, moves into the home to everyone’s surprise, the plans for this year’s concert start to unravel.
As old grudges threaten to undermine past glories and theatrical temperaments play havoc with the rehearsal schedule, it becomes apparent that having four of the finest singers in English operatic history under one roof offers no guarantee that the show will go on.
Oscar® winning actor Dustin Hoffman makes his directorial debut with QUARTET.
A handful of British acting royalty come together for what looks like a most delightful yarn. The sheer weight of the number of Oscar & BAFTA nominations and awards between this spectacular cast would sink a shelf through to the centre of the earth! The trailer is hilarious and with that much wit between them, no doubt the film will follow suit.
CAST: Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins, Michael Gambon, Sheridan Smith
DIRECTOR: Dustin Hoffman
RELEASE DATE: 26/12/12 01 January 2013 04/01/13 11/01/13 24/01/13 19/04/13 09/05/13
LOS ANGELES, 1949. Ruthless, Brooklyn-born mob king Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) runs the show in this town, reaping the ill-gotten gains from the drugs, the guns, the prostitutes and--if he has his way--every wire bet placed west of Chicago. And he does it all with the protection of not only his own paid goons, but also the police and the politicians who are under his control. It's enough to intimidate even the bravest, street-hardened cop...except, perhaps, for the small, secret crew of LAPD outsiders led by Sgt. John O'Mara (Josh Brolin) and Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling), who come together to try to tear Cohen's world apart. THE GANGSTER SQUAD is a colourful retelling of events surrounding the LAPD's efforts to take back their nascent city from one of the most dangerous mafia bosses of all time.
CAST: Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Nick Nolte, Robert Patrick, Michael Peña, Giovanni Ribisi, Anthony Mackie, Emma Stone, Sean Penn
DIRECTOR: Ruben Fleischer
RELEASE DATE: 10 January 2013 11/01/13 17/01/13 21/02/13 01/03/13 03/05/13
SET in the rustic surroundings of a village in Haryana, Matru ki Bijlee ka Mandola is a comedy-drama about Harry Mandola, a wealthy industrialist who loves his drink, his daughter Bijlee and the unusual bond they both share with Harry’s man friday, Matru.
Much to her father's delight, Bijlee is all set to marry Baadal, the son of a powerful politician Chaudhari Devi. This alliance which is far from just being a simple union of two young people becomes the seed for a story that brings twists and turns in the lives of Matru, Bijlee and Mandola…
THIS does not strike one as an average Bollywood movie...I suspect it’s awfully arty, awfully clever, completely bonkers and awfully entertaining; well worth a watch!
CAST: Imran Khan, Anushka Sharma, Pankaj Kapur, Shabana Azmi, Arya Babbar
DIRECTOR: Vishal Bhardwaj
LANGUAGE: Hindi/Haryanvi with English subtitles
RELEASE DATE: 11 January 2013
SET in the South two years before the Civil War, DJANGO UNCHAINED stars Academy Award®-winner Jamie Foxx as Django, a slave whose brutal history with his former owners lands him face-to-face with German-born bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz. Schultz is on the trail of the murderous Brittle brothers, and only Django can lead him to his bounty. The unorthodox Schultz acquires Django with a promise to free him upon the capture of the Brittles – dead or alive.
Success leads Schultz to free Django, though the two men choose not to go their separate ways. Instead, Schultz seeks out the South’s most wanted criminals with Django by his side. Honing vital hunting skills, Django remains focused on one goal: finding and rescuing Broomhilda, the wife he lost to the slave trade long ago.
Django and Schultz’s search ultimately leads them to Calvin Candie, the proprietor of “Candyland,” an infamous plantation. Exploring the compound under false pretences, Django and Schultz arouse the suspicion of Stephen, Candie’s trusted house slave. Their moves are marked, and a treacherous organization closes in on them. If Django and Schultz are to escape with Broomhilda, they must choose between independence and solidarity, between sacrifice and survival…
I could write an essay on the brilliance of Tarantino's latest offering, but rather than bore you with too many flowery descriptives, you need to know this...Quentin Tarantino has surpassed himself. Do you remember how excellent and fresh Reservoir Dogs was? How entertaining though comedically violent Pulp Fiction was? This is both those things, and add to it another superb cast, the most perfect score, an unbelievable and eloquent script, unrivalled direction, and not a flaw in the editing, and you have the best movie in a long while. Just how this stylish and über cool masterpiece has not earned more award nominations, and has less than half as many as the rather tedious Lincoln, I am at a loss to fathom. And all this praise from someone who really does not like any type of western... It is long just 15 minutes short of 3 hours, but the only time you will feel the urge to look at your watch will be to check the film is not coming to an end too quickly.
It's probably quite clear already, but just in case, this is one for advance booking for the day of release!
CAST: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Don Johnson, Walton Goggins
DIRECTOR: Quentin Tarantino
RELEASE DATE: 25/12/12 16/01/13 17/01/13 19 January 2013 24/01/13 31/01/13 01/03/13
ACTION icon Arnold Schwarzenegger makes his much-anticipated return to the big screen in Korean director Kim Jee-Woon’s hard-hitting US directorial debut, THE LAST STAND.
After leaving his LAPD narcotics post following a bungled operation that left him wracked with remorse and regret, Sheriff Ray Owens moved out of Los Angeles and settled into a life fighting what little crime takes place in sleepy border town Sommerton Junction. But that peaceful existence is shattered when Gabriel Cortez, the most notorious, wanted drug kingpin in the western hemisphere, makes a deadly yet spectacular escape from an FBI prisoner convoy.
With the help of a fierce band of lawless mercenaries led by the icy Burrell, Cortez begins racing towards the US-Mexico border at 250 mph in a specially-outfitted Corvette ZR1 with a hostage in tow. Cortez’ path: straight through Summerton Junction, where the whole of the U.S. law enforcement, including Agent John Bannister will have their final opportunity to intercept him before the violent fugitive slips across the border forever.
At first reluctant to become involved, and then counted out because of the perceived ineptitude of his small town force, Owens ultimately rallies his team and takes the matter into his own hands, setting the stage for a classic showdown.
SCHWARZENEGGER is back - he said he would be. How could we not all take advantage and rush straight to the nearest multiplex; it may well be almost as entertaining as him hanging out with Boris Johnson during the Olympics! But seriously - an excellent trailer which looks like the California Governor is right on top of his game.
CAST: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Eduardo Noriega
DIRECTOR: Kim Jee-Woon
RELEASE DATE: 17/01/13 18/01/13 23/01/13 25 January 2013 31/01/13 21/02/13 08/03/13 27/04/13 05/05/13
STEVEN SPIELBERG directs two-time Academy Award® winner Daniel Day-Lewis in LINCOLN, a revealing drama that focuses on the 16th President’s tumultuous final months in office. In a nation divided by war and the strong winds of change, Lincoln pursues a course of action designed to end the war, unite the country and abolish slavery. With the moral courage and fierce determination to succeed, his choices during this critical moment will change the fate of generations to come.
IT’S Spielberg and it’s epic and there’s some rather good actors (Tommy Lee Jones is particularly outstanding, as is Sally Field), but I’ve a sneaking suspicion that if you’re not American, it will hold little interest. Lincoln is terribly long, and Day-Lewis spews these awfully drawn-out monologues on the virtues of abolishing slavery, which was all well and good in the 16th century, but this from a nation that right up until the 1960s was still treating the same sectors of society as inferior beings. Lincoln was probably still turning in his grave until half a century ago. The story is a somewhat tedious. The film is not visual or cerebrally stimulating, and as Spielberg films go, it’s definitely not up there as one of the best. I know this flies in the face of 90% of the critics’ reviews, but I was rather bored, and have the distinct feeling there is a touch of the emperor’s new clothes going on.
CAST: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Hal Holbrook
DIRECTOR: Steven Spielberg
RELEASE DATE: 17/01/13 18/01/13 23/01/13 25 January 2013 31/01/13 21/02/13 08/03/13 27/04/13 05/05/13
THE hunt for Osama bin Laden preoccupied the world and two American presidential administrations for more than a decade. But in the end, it took a small, brilliant team of CIA operatives to track him down. Every aspect of their mission was shrouded in secrecy. Though some of the details have since been made public, many of the most significant parts of the intelligence operation-including the central role played by that team-are brought to the screen for the first time in a gripping new film by the Oscar-winning creative duo of Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal. Their account of bin Laden's pursuit and capture, vivid yet faithful to the facts, takes the viewer inside the hubs of power and to the front lines of this historic mission, culminating in the special operations assault on a mysterious, suburban Pakistani compound.
THIS is a long film, and for the first 45 minutes, boy do you feel it. For almost an hour, the pace drags and it is hard to get excited, the story plodding along, intermittently peppered with brutal yet convincing torture. There is no surprise with Zero Dark Thirty - we all know the story which was very publicly played out on news channels in the West, and you’ll be glad to know the remainder of the film is a great improvement. Jessica Chastain’s character Maya is like Homeland’s Carrie Mathison but permanently on Xanax - good instinct without the psychotic bipolar tendencies, and once she takes over the lead from Aussie Jason Clarke, the film becomes more engaging. The Americans eventually figure out after a decade where Bin Laden is - thanks to the persistence of Maya - and then in go the big guns and take him out. The End. It’s not a bad film, but not entirely convinced it needed to be made.
CAST: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton, James Gandolfini, Mark Strong
DIRECTOR: Kathryn Bigelow
RELEASE DATE: 11/01/13 23/01/13 25 January 2013 31/01/13 07/02/13 15/02/13
Based on the poignantly optimistic autobiographical writings of California–based journalist and poet Mark O’Brien, THE SESSIONS tells the story of a man who spends most of his time in an iron lung who is determined - at age 38 - to lose his virginity. With the help of his therapists and the guidance of his priest, he sets out to make his dream a reality.
A beautiful, delicate, profoundly touching and tender love story which is so gently yet proficiently brought to the silver screen by such talented actors that it almost takes your breath away. The carnal activity is dignified and sympathetic, the disability dealt with head on, and the humour light-hearted and uplifting. This is a remarkable, eloquent and illuminating film not to be missed.
CAST: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy, Moon Bloodgood, Annika Marks, W. Earl Brown, Adam Arkin
DIRECTOR: Ben Lewin
RELEASE DATE: 09/11/12 16/11/12 18 January 2013 14/02/13 06/03/13 28/03/13