MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT:
Woody Allen’s latest sees Colin Firth (returning to his signature brand of romantic British charm) travel to the sunny south of France to help debunk the myth of a clairvoyant (Emma Stone), who has taken in a family of wealthy Americans. As one might predict, romantic and professional complications ensue as the skeptical Firth not only begins to doubt the certainty of his convictions but begins to suspect he’s falling in love. While not quite as sharp or as acclaimed as last year’s Blue Jasmine and slightly hindered by a lead romance perhaps lacking in chemistry, Magic in the Moonlight is a sweet-natured screwball-style romance from one of cinema’s modern masters, carried by an effortless lead performance from Firth.
Frances McDormand gives a powerful, understated performance in this critically-acclaimed miniseries based on the Pulitzer-prize winning novel. Tracing 25 years in the life of a retired country schoolteacher and her husband (an equally impressive Richard Jenkins), Oliver Kitteridge is a moving and painstaking character study about people, relationships and the passage of time. Directed by Lisa Cholodenko (The Kids Are All Right) and featuring supporting roles from Bill Murray, Rosemarie DeWitt and Zoe Kazan, Olive Kitteridge has been picking up awards and acclaim all over.
THE MAZE RUNNER:
A young man wakes up in a rusty elevator remembering only his name and finds himself delivered to the centre of an enormous maze with a group of other boys. These boys gradually form a society as new boys arrive and eventually attempt escape. So begins Hollywood’s latest young-adult soon-to-be-franchise. The film is darker and moodier than expected and the unfolding mystery of the Maze is enough to sustain the interest and tension of the film, even for those suffering from Hunger Games fatigue. Great for a teenage audience or a night of easy, fast-paced entertainment.
Daniel Radcliffe may finally be transcending his boy-wizard image with this fun, charming rom-com, whose best feature is the brilliant chemistry of Radcliffe and co-star Zoe Kazan. With the duo’s sparkling interplay and a witty script, What If manages to overcome a slightly familiar storyline: boy, hurt by a string of bad relationships, meets girl that lives with her long-term boyfriend. Though the spark between them is undeniable and they become close friends, both begin to wonder if their best friend might not actually be more than that.
As Richard Corliss of Time writes: “[Luke Evans] carries Untold by admirably fulfilling the two essential functions of a period-movie hero: to enunciate comic-book dialogue with Shakespearean authority and to look great with his shirt off.” If that floats your boat, then go right ahead and enjoy the CG-action silliness on offer in this updated origin story, surprisingly featuring very little in the way of fangs or neck-biting, because you certainly get what you pay for here.
The latest Scandi drama for those who just can’t get enough is here. The Legacy was sold to UK TV even before it had aired in its native Denmark, so strong was the buzz. But rather than pitch-black noir, this is a complicated family drama, exploring how the lives of several people have been affected by their eccentric and difficult mother, a world-renowned artist. Tensions come quickly to the surface after their lives are altered by tragic events and the sprawling manor of their upbringing becomes the stage for their differences and the consequences of the past. Surely a must-see for any fan of this wave of Scandi entertainment, The Legacy is sure to prove a big hit in the UK and in-store.
It’s hard to say much about The Rewrite that one can’t immediately tell from its poster and star. It’s a safe bet that anyone who liked any of Grant’s previous rom-coms (mostly directed by Rewrite helmer Marc Lawrence) will find plenty to like here. This time Hugh is a past-his-prime screenwriter who begins a teaching career at university, only to find love with single-mom Tomei. The predictable plot is elevated by two likable leads, Grant actually playing a character who seems to be his own age for once, and fans of the genre or its formula are not likely to be too disappointed.
HECTOR AND THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS:
Simon Pegg does his thing with the usual brand of infectious comedy in this sweet and good-natured but perhaps overly schmaltzy story of a psychiatrist who decides to find the secret to true happiness. Frustrated with his job and his life, Hector feels he can no longer advise people how to be happy when he has no idea. So begins a round-the-world trip in the style of Eat, Pray, Love or The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Unfortunately this lacks the weight and skill of either of these, but Pegg and a very likable cast manage to do a fine job of making us care despite the barrage of sentimentality and guidebook locations.
THE BEST OF ME:
If you’re thinking that the poster for The Best of Me is reminiscent of the multitude of Nicholas Sparks adaptations in the last decade, that’s because it is the latest in this long (and profitable) line. It’s highly unlikely that anyone not already enamoured with Dear John, The Lucky One or The Notebook will find much to change their minds here, but fans of Sparks’ particular brand of deeply emotional, hand-wringing romance will find themselves more than satisfied. Former high-school sweethearts reunite upon returning to their hometown. If you just have to know what happens next (or if you’re extra-hydrated and feel that a good cry might do you some good) then get some tissues and settle in.
This charming animation adventure is perhaps an unexpected follow-up to director Juan Campanella’s 2009 sensation The Secret in Their Eyes, the utterly gripping thriller that brought him the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. His latest tells the story of Amadeo, a keen foosball player whose foosball figures come to life to help him defeat his arch-nemesis (and actual football superstar) and win the heart of Laura, the girl of his dreams. There is plenty of great humour in here for both football fans and those who do not love the Beautiful Game, and the animation easily rivals Hollywood fare. Although this might be a bit of a slog for the parents among us, the young (and possibly the young-at-heart) will be thoroughly entertained.
This knowing homage to old B-movies and monster flicks features Australia’s answer to Sasquatch and the rag-tag group of treasure hunters, rangers and deadbeat cops that comes face-to-face with it. A search for the lost gold of a 19th-century outlaw is the catalyst for the action/horror/suspense/adventure mash-up that ensues as the characters battle for survival against their mythical foe. Fans of schlock and B-grade homages like Grindhouse or Hobo With a Shotgun should find more than enough fun packed into this flick to entertain. For those with less adventurous tastes, this might be a great opportunity to introduce some weird into your movie nights.
THE WAY HE LOOKS:
This tender and compassionate feature explores the confusing feelings of blind teenager Leonardo. Planning to leave his overbearing mother and best friend Giovana behind for an exchange programme, he is unprepared for the arrival of new student Gabriel. The arrival of this new personality causes Leonardo to start questioning the feelings he finds starting to develop inside himself. The film explores Leonardo’s coming-of-age with humour, tenderness and respect for the age of innocence the three protagonists are emerging from. This Brazilian gem has been receiving acclaim from critics and prizes from film festivals around the world since its release.
The Overnighters is an award-winning, uncompromising and blisteringly relevant documentary in which one cannot help but see shades of The Grapes of Wrath. The films tells the story of migrant labourers chasing the dying embers of the American Dream to a small oil town in North Dakota. There, their presence is met with hostility and it falls to the local pastor to give them shelter and take pity on them. This is a stark, devastating but also incredibly humane portrait of not just a place but a moment in time that never ceases to surprise and move.