Now showing at Ritz Victoria Street,Burnham-on-Sea,Somerset TA8 1AN 01278 794123
- Mr Turner
- Nativity 3: Dude, Where's My Donkey?!
- Royal Opera Live: L'Elisir D'Amore
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1
Mr Turner 5 stars
Painter JMW Turner returns to London and the home he shares with his father William and housekeeper Hannah Danby. He channels his energy into his work, which continues to raise eyebrows at the Royal Academy Of Arts. During excursions to Margate, Turner meets Mrs Booth and her husband and rents a room from the couple so he can paint seascapes by the morning light. The burgeoning relationship between the artist and Mrs Booth sweetens the bitter pill of William's passing.
- GenreBiography, Drama, Historical/Period, Romance
- CastDorothy Atkinson, Paul Jesson, Timothy Spall, Ruth Sheen, Lesley Manville, Marion Bailey.
- DirectorMike Leigh.
- WriterMike Leigh.
- Duration150 mins
- Official sitewww.facebook.com/MrTurnerFilm
- Release31/10/2014 (selected cinemas)
On his death bed, celebrated landscape painter and watercolourist Joseph Mallord William Turner, who was a divisive figure in the 19th-century art world, reportedly lamented, "So I am to become a non-entity." Mike Leigh's impeccably crafted biopic, which concentrates on the final 25 years of the artist's career, ensures the genius of Turner lives on.
Anchored by a magnificent central performance from Timothy Spall, Mr Turner is another glorious ensemble piece from the writer-director of Topsy-Turvy and Vera Drake.
Developed through improvisational workshops, which are the trademark of Leigh's filmmaking process, the script melds historical fact with personal interpretation to burrow deep beneath the surface of the characters and expose the desires and fears which drove some to greatness and others to despair.
When it comes to greatness, Spall's embodiment of an artist with few social graces and a surplus of talent is the stuff that Oscars were made of. The London-born actor spent two years learning how to paint like Turner so he could convincingly hold a brush and palette in front of the camera, allowing Leigh to capture visceral scenes of artistic creativity in full flow.
Mr Turner opens with the breathtaking image of the artist capturing the rising sun over fields in Belgium. He returns to London and the home he shares with his father William (Paul Jesson) and housekeeper Hannah Danby (Dorothy Atkinson).
The relationship between the two men is sketched in exquisite, heart-warming detail in these early scenes, with Turner warmly embracing his "daddy". Turner channels his energy into his work, which continues to raise eyebrows at the Royal Academy Of Arts.
"The universe is chaotic and you make us see it," observes Turner's good friend Mary Somerville (Lesley Manville). During excursions to Margate, Turner meets Mrs Booth (Marion Bailey) and her husband (Karl Johnson) and rents a room from the couple so he can paint seascapes by the morning light.
The burgeoning relationship between the artist and Mrs Booth sweetens the bitter pill of William's passing and Turner continues to clash with the artistic establishment, represented here by Sir John Soane (Nicholas Jones) and his coterie.
Mr Turner is a glorious period piece that offers us a glimpse behind the canvasses of a misunderstood maverick, who notes at one point, "When I peruse myself in a looking glass, I see a gargoyle."
Spall is imperious and Leigh surrounds his lead star with an impeccable supporting cast of familiar faces including Jesson as an honest, hard-working man of the world who believed "the rain falls, the sun shines and the onions grow" and Atkinson as the housekeeper who allows Turner to use her to sate his sexual desires.
The 150-minute running time passes too quickly, holding our attention with ravishing costumes and period detail as well as a haunting orchestral score from composer Gary Yershon. Very nearly a masterpiece.
Nativity 3: Dude, Where's My Donkey?! 1 stars
Mrs Keen, the new headmistress of St Bernadette's Primary School in Coventry, welcomes superteacher Mr Shepherd to the fold. On his first day, Mr Shepherd sustains a swift kick to the head from the school donkey. When he regains consciousness, Shepherd doesn't recall his daughter Lauren or his impending New York nuptials to sweetheart Sophie. Buffoonish teaching assistant Mr Poppy joins forces with Lauren to restore her father's memory.
- GenreComedy, Drama, Family, Musical, Romance
- CastCatherine Tate, Adam Garcia, Celia Imrie, Marc Wootton, Lauren Hobbs, Martin Clunes.
- DirectorDebbie Isitt.
- WriterDebbie Isitt.
- Duration110 mins
- Official sitewww.facebook.com/NativityFilm
A couple of years ago, my inquisitive nephew - then six years old - asked what happens to children who are consigned to Father Christmas' naughty list. I told him that children who misbehave don't get any presents on Christmas Day and must spend the following 12 months being extra good. I know now that I was wrong.
Mischievous scamps on the naughty list will be punished by spending 110 minutes in the company of Nativity 3: Dude, Where's My Donkey?!. There are elements of this shambolic third instalment of writer-director Debbie Isitt's improvised festive fables that my little nephew might enjoy: flatulence, dollops of donkey dung and a gurning man-child dressed in an oversized animal costume.
However, no amount of wrapping can disguise an early Christmas turkey, overstuffed with sickly sentiment, mawkish musical sequences and gargantuan leaps of logic. It's a crying, snivelling shame: the original Nativity!, released in 2009, was an unabashed delight that has become an annual treat in my tinsel-laden household.
This third and hopefully final chapter is a nightmare before Christmas. Mrs Keen (Celia Imrie), the new headmistress of St Bernadette's Primary School in Coventry, welcomes superteacher Mr Shepherd (Martin Clunes) to the fold to whip the pupils into shape ahead of an Ofsted inspection.
On his first day, Mr Shepherd sustains a swift kick to the head from the school donkey. When he regains consciousness, Shepherd doesn't recall his daughter Lauren (Lauren Hobbs) or his impending New York nuptials to sweetheart Sophie (Catherine Tate).
Buffoonish teaching assistant Mr Poppy (Marc Wootton) joins forces with Lauren to restore her father's memory by visiting favourite haunts from his childhood and participating in a flash mob competition in London.
Meanwhile, in the Big Apple, Sophie's old flame, arrogant flash mob guru Bradley Finch (Adam Garcia), worms his way back into her brittle affections with help from her parents (Duncan Preston, Susie Blake), brother (Ralf Little) and bridesmaid (Niky Wardley).
Nativity 3: Dude, Where's My Donkey?! is possibly the worst film I've seen this year. The script's definition of a flash mob is extremely loose, some of the children at St Bernadette's look too old to attend primary school, several New York scenes have clearly been shot closer to home with British actors at odds with the accent and Mr Poppy is a major irritation rather than a joyous source of giggles.
Performances are as wooden as a Norwegian spruce and the song and dance numbers are unevenly lip-synced. Characters behave without melodic rhyme or reason. Sophie's brother inexplicably vows to help slimeball Bradley win back Sophie, then sabotages the nefarious plan in the next breath.
To answer the over-punctuated question in the film's title: with regret, dude, he's at the knacker's yard dragging the entire cast and crew with him.
Nightcrawler 4 stars
Ghoulish loner Louis Bloom monitors a police scanner, races to crime scenes and captures gruesome footage of critically injured victims on a handheld camera to sell to TV news stations, who are hungry for raw footage of real-life crime. As his business takes off, Louis hires an inexperienced protege called Rick to capture gangland shootings, murder and misfortune in grisly close-up.
- GenreAction, Drama, Thriller
- CastRene Russo, Jake Gyllenhaal, Riz Ahmed, Bill Paxton.
- DirectorDan Gilroy.
- WriterDan Gilroy.
- Duration117 mins
- Official sitewww.nightcrawlerfilm.com
Set on the mean streets of modern day Los Angeles, Dan Gilroy's directorial debut is a delicious and twisted media satire starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a ghoulish loner called Louis Bloom, who exploits human misery for personal gain.
It's a tour-de-force and genuinely creepy performance from the handsome Oscar-nominated star of Brokeback Mountain, who has shed a significant amount of weight to portray an emaciated social limpet, who lives by the mantra that good things come to those who work hard.
In the case of Nightcrawler, this 'work' involves monitoring a police scanner, racing to crime scenes and capturing gruesome footage of critically injured victims on a handheld camera to sell to TV news stations, who are hungry for raw footage of real-life crime.
Gilroy's lean script doesn't shy away from the despicable and morally repugnant actions of the bloodthirsty anti-hero, nor does it forget to remind us that we are culpable for devouring this graphic news footage. If only we turned off, or could drive past a motorway accident without glancing at the carnage when we should be concentrating on the road ahead...
Louis is a product of base human desires and, like a vampire, he feeds off them with ghoulish glee. When we first meet Louis, he's struggling to find direction in life, until he pulls over on a highway close to a fatal accident and meets cameraman Joe Loder (Bill Paxton).
"If it bleeds, it leads," cackles Joe, who sells his footage to the highest bidder. Louis purchases a small camera and tries his luck then approaches Nina Romina (Rene Russo), ratings-hungry editor of the graveyard shift at one news station, with amateurish footage of a victim fighting for life.
She pays up and explains that her perfect newscast is "a screaming woman running down the street with her throat cut". Taking these words to his blackened heart, Louis hires an inexperienced protege called Rick (Riz Ahmed) to capture gangland shootings, murder and misfortune in grisly close-up. At first, Rick recoils in disgust but inexorably, Louis moulds his employee in his own warped image.
Nightcrawler is a bravura and audacious debut from Gilroy that captures Los Angeles at its most grimy. Every crackle of Louis' police scanner heralds potential doom and the director impresses in a pivotal action sequence, which sees Louis and Rick join a police chase in pursuit of valuable footage, regardless of the risks to pedestrians or other drivers.
Gyllenhaal distorts his screen image as a charming, buff leading man beyond recognition, slithering through each frame like a predator in search of the next kill. Russo is luminous in a meaty supporting role and London-born actor Ahmed captures the right mix of naivete and nervousness as a fellow passenger on this sickening descent into the abyss.
Royal Opera Live: L'Elisir D'Amore 3 stars
A live broadcast from the Royal Opera House in London of Laurent Pelly's production of Donizetti's comic opera in two acts charting the love affair of lowly peasant Nemorino and beautiful landowner Adina. Vittorio Grigolo and Lucy Crowe play the lovers across the social divide with Bryn Terfel as quack doctor Dulcamara.
- CastLucy Crowe, Vittorio Grigolo, Bryn Terfel.
- DirectorLaurent Pelly.
- Official sitewww.roh.org.uk/cinemas
- Release26/11/2014 (selected cinemas)
Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)
- Wednesday 26th November 2014
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1 4 stars
Katniss Everdeen barely survived the Third Quarter Quell and she gathers her strength in the company of her friends, architect of the rebellion Plutarch Heavensbee and the President of District 13, Alma Coin. The scent of rebellion is in the air and the people look to Katniss to lead them against President Snow and the armed forces of Panem. However, Peeta has been captured by Snow and is being manipulated to quell the uprising.
- GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Drama, Family, Romance, Science Fiction
- CastJennifer Lawrence, Woody Harrelson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci.
- DirectorFrancis Lawrence.
- WriterDanny Strong, Peter Craig.
- Duration123 mins
- Official sitewww.thehungergames.co.uk
The spectre of war casts a long shadow over the penultimate chapter of the blockbusting dystopian thrillers based on Suzanne Collins' bestselling trilogy. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1 follows the lead of the Harry Potter and Twilight sagas by cleaving the final book in two.
This decision - driven as much by greed as artistic necessity - results in a dark, brooding two hours of self-sacrifice almost completely devoid of the propulsive action sequences that distinguished the earlier films. Jennifer Lawrence's portrayal of reluctant heroine Katniss Everdeen, a pawn in the battle of wits between the money-rich Capitol and the impoverished Districts, remains a mesmerising constant.
She delivers another emotionally bruising performance, especially in early scenes when her battle-scarred teenager stares over the smouldering ruins of her beloved District 12, littered with charred skeletons of friends and neighbours who were incinerated as they fled.
This hellish vision brings Lawrence to her knees, unable to hold back racked sobs of pain. The floodgates open and screenwriters Peter Craig and Danny Strong take their time channelling her aching sense of loss into an all-consuming rage that will set the Capitol ablaze this time next year. "If we burn, you burn with us!" she bellows down a camera lens at President Snow (Donald Sutherland). We don't doubt it.
Katniss barely survived the Third Quarter Quell. Separated from fellow tributes Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and Johanna (Jena Malone), who are being held in the Capitol, Katniss gathers her strength in a secret underground complex. Her allies include childhood friend Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), mentor Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), chaperone Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), architect of the rebellion Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and District 13 President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore).
The people of the Districts look to Katniss to lead them against President Snow and the armed forces of Panem. "We're going to stoke the fire of this revolution that this Mockingjay started," growls Plutarch, commissioning a series of propaganda videos directed by Cressida (Natalie Dormer) with Katniss as the reluctant star. Meanwhile, Snow initiates his own forceful media campaign fronted by Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) and a clearly disoriented Peeta.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1 is the calm before the storm of full-blown conflict. It's a slower burn than previous films and lacks some of the on-screen electricity since Katniss and Peeta are separated but Lawrence burns bright as the eponymous "girl on fire".
Effie's role is expanded from the book to bring some comic relief to the subterranean gloom. "Everything old can be made new again - like democracy!" she chirrups. Maybe so, but as Part 1 makes abundantly and agonisingly clear, you have to sacrifice innocent lives to sweep away the past.