reviews in brief
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (M) The second part of Peter Jackson’s inflated version of that famously slim novel The Hobbit, this is packed with beautifully handled action sequences but long before the end the padding becomes pretty evident. Still, Jackson’s skills as a classical filmmaker are never in doubt and this lengthy addition to his work is filled with wonders, not least the spectacular New Zealand backdrops.
David Stratton ★★★ ✩
Short Term 12 (M) This film thrums with the veracity of contemporary adolescent angst and confusion. It also features, in a breakout leading performance by Brie Larson, a richly complex protagonist whose emotional hypocrisy is a burden transformed from a crutch of memory to an agent of change. Director Destin Cretton adapted the film from his 2008 Sundance-winning short, and his natural gift with ensembles is apparent from the first frame. Short Term 12 acts, and feels, real. An indie discovery indeed.
Eddie Cockrell ★★★★✩
Frozen (PG) A visually beautiful, very traditional Disney animated feature filled with rather old-fashioned songs and based loosely on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen. The pacing is on the slow side but this romantic story of rival sisters and suitors should please a great many people. It’s important not to miss the accompanying short film, Get a Horse!, a brilliantly inventive tribute to the pioneering black and white days of Disney animation.
DS ★★★ ✩
Kill Your Darlings (MA15+) In his feature-film debut, director John Krokidas brilliantly evokes the mood of American wartime academe and the beginnings of the beat generation. Daniel Radcliffe ( Harry Potter) stars as Allen Ginsberg and is strongly supported by a lesser-known cast. This sinuous tale of jealousy, obsession and murder will surprise many with its boldness and power.
Evan Williams ★★★ ✩
Closed Circuit (M) Eric Bana stars as a London barrister assigned to defend a suspected terrorist in this crafty conspiracy theory thriller that, despite some prosaic elements, is still pretty entertaining. A fine cast also includes Rebecca Hall, Ciaran Hinds, Kenneth Cranham and Jim Broadbent.
DS ★★★ ✩