Now showing at Everyman Winchester Southgate Street,Winchester,Hampshire SO23 9EG 0871 906 9060
- Gone Girl
- NT Live Encore Screening: Frankenstein
- Royal Opera Live: I Due Foscari
- The Book Of Life
- The Judge
Fury 4 stars
Norman Ellison is a new recruit, who is assigned the role of driving an M4 Sherman tank called Fury under the command of Sergeant Don Collier. This battle-weary veteran began the war in Africa and moved to Europe, killing numerous Germans along the way in the name of freedom. Aided by the rest of his crew, Boyd Swan, Trini Garcia and Grady Travis, Collier gives Norman an initiation he will never forget.
- GenreAction, Drama, Historical/Period, War
- CastLogan Lerman, Shia LaBeouf, Brad Pitt, Jon Bernthal, Michael Pena.
- DirectorDavid Ayer.
- WriterDavid Ayer.
- Duration134 mins
- Official sitewww.facebook.com/OfficialFuryMovie
At a critical juncture in David Ayer's wartime thriller, Brad Pitt's grizzled tank commander turns to an inexperienced new recruit and sounds the death knell on morality and diplomacy in a time of conflict. "Ideals are peaceful, history's violent," he growls with an icy glare.
Those words resonate throughout Fury, a brutal, mud-spattered tour of duty during the final weeks of the Second World War, as seen through the gun sights of an M4 Sherman tank crew on a collision course with Hitler's troops.
The film opens with Pitt's inspirational leader stabbing an unsuspecting German officer in the eye and Ayer repeatedly sates a thirst for close-up gore with expertly choreographed battle sequences and hand-to-hand combat between ground troops. The bloodbath temporarily abates for brotherly banter inside the claustrophobic tank, but the air is always chokingly thick with impending doom.
Eight weeks after he enrolls in the US Army as a clerk typist, Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman) is assigned the position of assistant driver in a tank christened Fury under the command of Sergeant Don 'Wardaddy' Collier (Brad Pitt). This battle-weary veteran began the war in Africa and moved to Europe, killing numerous Germans along the way in the name of freedom.
Aided by the rest of his crew, Boyd Swan (Shia LaBeouf), Trini Garcia (Michael Pena) and Grady Travis (Jon Bernthal), Collier gives Norman an initiation he will never forget on a series of missions led by Captain Waggoner (Jason Isaacs) and Lieutenant Parker (Xavier Samuel).
Three other tanks commanded by Sergeant Binkowski (Jim Parrack), Sergeant Davis (Brad William Henke) and Sergeant Peterson (Kevin Vance) flank Fury as US soldiers push on towards Berlin. "It will end soon," Collier assures Norman, "but before it does, a lot more people gotta die."
Fury paints a familiar picture of the hell of war, directed with testosterone-fuelled swagger by Ayer, who previously helmed the bombastic police thrillers End Of Day and Sabotage. His script is studded with polished dialogue that doesn't quite ring true, like when Collier berates thuggish Grady, "You're an animal. All you understand is fist and boot".
Or when Collier encourages Norman to sow his seeds with a pretty young German (Alicia von Rittberg) by purring, "She's a good clean girl. If you don't take her into that bedroom, I will".
Pitt leads the cast with a strong performance as a battle-weary commander, who holds back a tide of anguish and uncertainty until he is alone and can allow the sobs to shake his scarred body. Lerman is equally compelling as a naive whelp, who develops a taste for killing Nazis.
Ayer obliges him with an astronomical body count and foreign fields slathered as far as the eye can see in mud, freshly spilt blood and the bodies of the fallen.
Gone Girl 4 stars
On her fifth wedding anniversary, Amy Dunne vanishes without trace. Her husband Nick works with the police to front a high-profile media campaign to secure the safe return of his "amazing Amy". In the glare of the spotlight, fractures appear in the Dunnes' marriage and police and public both question Nick's innocence. With Amy's creepy ex-boyfriend Desi Collings as another suspect, Detectives Rhonda Boney and Jim Gilpin search for answers.
- GenreAdaptation, Drama, Romance, Thriller
- CastNeil Patrick Harris, Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Boyd Holbrook, Scoot McNairy, Missi Pyle, Patrick Fugit, Kim Dickens.
- DirectorDavid Fincher.
- WriterGillian Flynn.
- Duration149 mins
- Official sitewww.gonegirlmovie.cok
Ignorance is bliss when it comes to Gone Girl. If, like me, you haven't read Gillian Flynn's 2012 psychological thriller and you know nothing of the serpentine twists that propelled the novel to the top of the bestsellers list then jealously guard your cluelessness.
There's an undeniable delight watching Flynn wrong-foot us with this spiky satire on media manipulation and the glossy facade of celebrity marriages. When the central characters promise to love, honour and obey, till death do them part, one of them takes that vow very seriously.
Admittedly, you have to dig deep beneath the surface of David Fincher's polished film to find the jet black humour but it's there, walking hand-in-hand with sadism and torture that propel the narrative towards its unconventional denouement.
The film version of Gone Girl is distinguished by a career-best performance from Rosamund Pike as the pretty wife, who vanishes without trace on her fifth wedding anniversary and is presumed dead at the hands of her handsome husband (Ben Affleck).
Pike has to plumb the depths of human emotion in a demanding and complex role, by turns brittle and steely, terrified and driven. She's almost certain to earn her first Oscar nomination.
In stark contrast, Affleck is solid but little more as the spouse who pleads his ignorance but hides secrets from the people he adores. As battles of the sexes go, it's a resolutely one-sided skirmish.
On the morning of his anniversary, Nick Dunne (Affleck) calls detectives Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) and Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) to his home. There are signs of a struggle and his wife Amy (Pike) is missing.
Nick's sister Margo (Carrie Coon), who has never liked Amy, assures her sibling that everything will be fine. "Whoever took her's bound to bring her back," she quips cattily.
Nick and Amy's distraught parents (David Clennon, Lisa Beth) front a high-profile media campaign to secure the safe return of "amazing Amy". In the glare of the spotlight, fractures appear in the Dunnes' marriage and police and public question Nick's innocence.
Gone Girl holds our attention for the majority of the bloated 149-minute running time, with a couple of lulls and a disjointed final act. Pike's mesmerising theatrics light up the screen and there is strong support from Neil Patrick Harris as Amy's creepy old flame.
Fincher's direction is lean, complemented by snappy editing and a discordant score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, who won the Oscar for their music to The Social Network.
Once you regain your balance from Flynn pulling the rug from under your feet, this is a slick yet slightly underwhelming whodunit that doesn't quite scale the dizzy heights of shock and suspense previously achieved by Jagged Edge, The Usual Suspects or indeed, Fincher's 2005 film, Se7en.
NT Live Encore Screening: Frankenstein 3 stars
Two specially filmed performances of Danny Boyle's staging of Mary Shelley in a new adaptation by Nick Dear. Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller alternate the roles of Victor Frankenstein and his hideous creation, whose fates become entwined with devastating consequences. The cruelty of man gradually corrupts the creature and he wreaks revenge on Frankenstein and his bride-to-be, Agatha.
- GenreAdaptation, Drama, Horror, Romance, Special
- CastBenedict Cumberbatch, Lizzie Winkler, Ella Smith, Jonny Lee Miller, Naomie Harris.
- DirectorDanny Boyle.
- WriterMary Shelley, Nick Dear.
- Duration161 mins
- Official sitentlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk
Two specially filmed performances of Danny Boyle's staging of Mary Shelley in a new adaptation by Nick Dear. Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller alternate the roles of Victor Frankenstein and his hideous creation, whose fates become entwined with devastating consequences. Unleashed into the world, the monster forges an unlikely friendship with a blind, old man who teaches the outcast to speak. However, the cruelty of man gradually corrupts the monster and he wreaks revenge on Frankenstein and his bride-to-be, Agatha (Lizzie Winkler).
Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)
- Thursday 30th October 2014
Royal Opera Live: I Due Foscari 3 stars
Thaddeus Strassberger directs Verdi's searing early tragedy at the Royal Opera House in London under the baton of conductor Antonio Pappano. Placido Domingo sings the title role of the despairing father, who is torn between love for his family and duty to a corrupt city.
- GenreMusical, Special
- CastFrancesco Meli, Maria Agresta, Placido Domingo.
- DirectorThaddeus Strassberger.
- Official sitewww.roh.org.uk/cinemas
- Release27/10/2014 (selected cinemas)
Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)
- Monday 27th October 2014
Serena 3 stars
During a visit to Boston, timber merchant George Pemberton falls under the spell of Serena Shaw and they marry. The happy couple returns to North Carolina to expand George's empire and immediately clash with Sheriff McDowell, who hopes to buy vast swathes of Pemberton land to create a national park. When the deal falls through, McDowell declares war on the Pembertons.
- GenreAdaptation, Drama, Historical/Period, Romance
- CastBradley Cooper, Toby Jones, Jennifer Lawrence, Sam Reid, Sean Harris, Rhys Ifans.
- DirectorSusanne Bier.
- WriterChristopher Kyle.
- Duration110 mins
- Official sitewww.facebook.com/SerenaTheMovie
Good things come to those who wait. Unfortunately, so too does Serena. Shot in the early summer of 2012, just as the first instalment of The Hunger Games was exploding on the big screen, Susanne Bier's blood-smeared period drama has taken a long time to navigate the choppy waters of post-production.
In the interim, the Danish writer-director has made the frothy romantic comedy All You Need Is Love starring Pierce Brosnan and the thriller A Second Chance. Meanwhile, luminous lead stars Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper have become the toast of Hollywood with their on-screen pairings in the Oscar-winning romance Silver Linings Playbook and swinging crime caper American Hustle.
In Serena, they play love-struck newlyweds, who succumb to jealousy and poisonous desire in the North Carolina mountains at the end of the 1920s. Romance is kindled at breakneck speed - within minutes of glimpsing his expertly coiffed co-star, Cooper is telling her dreamily, "I think we should be married" - and screenwriter Christopher Kyle adopts a similarly hurried approach to characterisation and narrative development in his haphazard adaptation of the book by Ron Rash.
These gaps in plot and logic become increasingly apparent in the film's overwrought second act, relying heavily on Lawrence to hold the film together with her histrionics. She's a cracking actress, but no one could single-handedly keep this runaway train on the tracks.
Timber merchant George Pemberton (Cooper) struggles to keep his business afloat, aided by partner Buchanan (David Dencik) and woodsman Galloway (Rhys Ifans). He has fathered a love child with a local woman called Rachel (Ana Ularu) and during a visit to Boston, George falls under the spell of Serena Shaw (Lawrence), who a friend describes as "beautiful, wounded and mad for trees".
They marry and return to North Carolina to expand George's empire and immediately clash with Sheriff McDowell (Toby Jones), who hopes to buy vast swathes of Pemberton land to create a national park. When the deal falls through, McDowell declares war on the Pembertons.
In order to quench her dark thoughts about Rachel, Serena resolves to fall pregnant to provide her husband with a legitimate heir but Mrs Pemberton is at the mercy of mischievous Mother Nature when it comes to conceiving.
Serena feels like it has been crudely bolted together in the editing room. Bier and cinematographer Morten Soborg capture breathtakingly beautiful vistas of the Czech Republic, which stands in for North Carolina, but style repeatedly trumps substance.
There's a palpable lack of fluidity to the narrative and the heroine's descent into murderous mayhem happens in the blink of an eye. In the absence of a well-structured script, Lawrence and Cooper barely flesh out their undernourished characters while Ifans, Jones and European co-stars struggle to pin down wandering American accents.
The Book Of Life 3 stars
In the town of San Angel on the Day Of The Dead, underworld gods La Muerte and Xibalba bet on the outcome of a love triangle involving friends Manolo, Joaquin and Maria. La Muerte, ruler of the Land of the Remembered, believes that sensitive Manolo will get the girl while Xibalba, ruler of the Land of the Forgotten, selects courageous Joaquin as his champion and secretly boosts the young man's chances with an enchanted medal of protection.
- GenreAdventure, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family, Romance
- CastRon Perlman, Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum, Kate del Castillo, Diego Luna, Ice Cube.
- DirectorJorge R Gutierrez.
- WriterJorge R Gutierrez, Douglas Langdale.
- Duration95 mins
- Official sitewww.bookoflifemovie.co.uk
In Mexican culture, Dia de los Muertos or Day Of The Dead is an important annual gathering for families and friends to honour the memory of loved ones who are no longer with them. The three-day celebration, which begins on October 31, traditionally involves adorning graves and specially constructed altars with sugar skulls, flowers and other gifts with special significance to the departed.
This fiesta of remembrance provides a vibrant and poignant backdrop to Jorge R Gutierrez's fantastical computer-animated fable about three friends, who discover there is love after death.
The Book Of Life razzle dazzles our eyes, especially in 3D, cramming as much retina-searing colour and detail as possible into each frame. Co-writer Douglas Lansdale adds plentiful humour to offset the film's air of tragedy including a chorus of singing nuns and a waspish grandmother, voiced by Grey DeLisle, who scene-steals with every purse-lipped outburst.
Museum tour guide Mary Beth (voiced by Christina Applegate) leads a group of unruly schoolchildren through an exhibition about Mexican folklore. She leads the whippersnappers to a chamber that houses the fabled Book Of Life and recounts one particular story, which unfolds in the town of San Angel on the Day Of The Dead.
Rival gods La Muerte (Kate del Castillo) and Xibalba (Ron Perlman) agree a wager on the resolution of a love triangle involving two boys, Manolo (Diego Luna) and Joaquin (Channing Tatum), who are both in love with their friend Maria (Zoe Saldana).
La Muerte, ruler of the Land of the Remembered, believes that sensitive Manolo will get the girl and realise his musical ambitions rather than take up the mantle of his matador father (Hector Elizondo). "Music is not a profession fit for a Sanchez bullfighter!" rages the old man.
Meanwhile, Xibalba (Ron Perlman), ruler of the Land of the Forgotten, selects courageous Joaquin as his champion and secretly boosts the young man's chances with an enchanted medal of protection.
When the time finally comes for Maria to choose between her suitors, conniving Xibalba attempts to influence her decision to ensure he wins the bet.
The Book Of Life inhabits a macabre universe that Tim Burton has made his own but director Gutierrez and his team of animators opt for a more jaunty, upbeat tone enhanced by a bouncy soundtrack replete with cover versions of Elvis Presley, Radiohead and Rod Stewart. "What is it with Mexicans and death?" asks a goth kid on the museum tour, somewhat tongue in cheek.
Luna and Tatum deliver lively vocal performances and Saldana essays a spunky heroine, who epitomises girl power, flanked by a cute porcine sidekick. Action sequences are orchestrated at a brisk pace, punctuated by soaring serenades.
Gutierrez's film strikes a pleasing balance between giggles and soul-searching, tackling tricky themes of mortality, self-sacrifice and the afterlife without giving young audiences nightmares.
The Judge 3 stars
In the midst of a trial, big city lawyer Hank Palmer learns that his mother has passed away. He ventures back to his hometown, which he abandoned 20 years ago, and tentatively rebuilds bridges with his two brothers, Glen and Dale, and father Joseph, who has been the community's venerable judge for 42 years. As Hank prepares to fly back to Chicago, Joseph is arrested for killing a scoundrel who passed through his court.
- GenreDrama, Romance, Thriller
- CastRobert Downey Jr, Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Vincent D'Onofrio, Leighton Meester, Billy Bob Thornton, Dax Shepard.
- DirectorDavid Dobkin.
- WriterNick Schenk, Bill Dubuque.
- Duration141 mins
- Official sitewww.thejudgemovie.com
The law is an ass and the people who administer it bigger asses in David Dobkin's courtroom drama about an estranged family reunited under the testing conditions of a murder trial. The Judge takes its sweet time going through the legal motions, grafting on a superfluous romantic subplot to the revelations in the dock.
Thankfully, lead actors Robert Downey Jr and Robert Duvall sink their teeth into their broadly sketched characters and energise the dysfunctional father-son relationship that provides the film with its conflict and heart-tugging emotion.
Both men relish the verbal sparring, galvanised by screen chemistry that convinces us they are chips from the same unmovable block. The lead role of a smarmy big city lawyer, who proudly proclaims, "Innocent people can't afford me", is a snug fit for Downey Jr.
Like Tony Stark in the Iron Man films, this slick operator has arrogance and wise-cracks to spare, yet, beneath the impeccably tailored suits and designer shades, there beats the fragile heart of a man terrified of losing the people he loves. As the lead prosecutor of the murder trial sagely observes, "You're a bully with a big bag of tricks."
The legal eagle in question is Hank Palmer (Downey Jr), who helps his wealthy clients to escape the State of Illinois' prosecutorial clutches. During one trial, Hank learns that his mother has passed away.
He ventures back to his hometown, which he abandoned 20 years ago, and tentatively rebuilds bridges with his two brothers, Glen (Vincent D'Onofrio) and Dale (Jeremy Strong), and father Joseph (Robert Duvall), who has been the community's venerable judge for 42 years.
His mood brightens when he learns that old flame Samantha (Vera Farmiga) owns the local bar. As Hank prepares to fly back to Chicago, Joseph is arrested for killing a scoundrel who passed through his court.
Special prosecutor Dwight Dickham (Billy Bob Thornton) is drafted in to secure a conviction and Joseph chooses local defender CP Kennedy (Dax Shepard) rather than his son to represent him. "Your honour, I'm going to fight like a badger for you," pledges Kennedy, whose inexperience in front of presiding Judge Warren (Ken Howard) convinces Hank that he needs to take charge of the case.
The Judge plays out the gradual role reversal of parents and children as caregivers in the rarefied surroundings of a wood-panelled courtroom. Downey Jr and Duvall are both excellent and D'Onofrio and Strong offer sterling support as siblings in crisis.
Unfortunately, Farmiga is short-changed as the token love interest, who gives Hank a flimsy reason to stay in town. Nick Schenk and Bill Dubuque's script doesn't conceal any narrative aces up its sleeve but does play fair, methodically resolving issues within the Palmer family as the court case reaches a suitably tense resolution.