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Don­ald Clarke and Joe Grif­fin re­view all cur­rent cin­ema re­leases

ALIENS IN THE AT­TIC Di­rected by John Schultz.

Star­ring Kevin Nealon Aliens make life dif­fi­cult for hol­i­day­ing sib­lings in this light­weight fam­ily film. The young ac­tors are pretty good, but the com­puter-gen­er­ated aliens are un­be­liev­ably shoddy. Twitchy in move­ment, unimag­i­na­tive in fa­cial construction, they couldn’t look crum­mier if made of sticky-backed pa­per and lava­tory rolls. PG cert, gen release, 86 min DC NEW RELEASE BRIGHT STAR PG cert, lim release, 119 min See re­view, page 11 NEW RELEASE A CHRIST­MAS CAROL PG cert, gen release, 96 min See re­view, page 12

CIRQUE DU FREAK: THE VAM­PIRE’S AS­SIS­TANT Di­rected by Paul Weitz. Star­ring Josh Hutch­er­son, Chris Mas­soglia, John C Reilly, Ken Watan­abe, Ray Steven­son, Pa­trick Fugit, Salma Hayek,

Willem Dafoe Largely use­less at­tempt to de­velop a fran­chise from Lim­er­ick­man Dar­ren Shan’s nov­els about a war be­tween nice vam­pires and not-so-nice vam­pires. The de­pic­tion of the freak show that lures the two young he­roes away is rea­son­ably en­gag­ing. But the his­tor­i­cal ba­sis be­hind the con­flict is ob­scure, the spe­cial ef­fects are far from spe­cial, and the main adult role ap­pears to have been cast by a ma­niac. You, John C Reilly, are no Vin­cent Price. 12A cert, gen release, 108 min DC CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEAT­BALLS Di­rected by Phil Lord, Chris Miller. Voices of Bill Hader, Anna Far­ris, James Caan, Mr T, Bruce Camp­bell, Neil Pa­trick Har­ris, Ben­jamin Bratt In­spired by a pop­u­lar book, this an­i­mated com­edy fol­lows an ec­cen­tric sci­en­tist who in­vents a ma­chine that turns wa­ter into food. Slap­stick culi­nary-themed hi-jinks fol­low. The sec­ond half is less ap­petis­ing than the open­ing scenes, but it’s pleas­ingly an­i­mated and gen­er­ally amus­ing. G cert, gen release, 90 min JG

COU­PLES RE­TREAT Di­rected by Peter Billingsley. Star­ring Vince Vaughn, Ja­son Bate­man, Jon Favreau, Malin Akerman, Kristin Davis, Kris­ten Bell, Faizon Love, Jean

Reno Un­nec­es­sar­ily ap­palling com­edy in which the tal­ent listed above re­tire to a trop­i­cal is­land for cou­ples coun­selling and mildly risqué hu­mour. The film-mak­ers are too in­ter­ested in teach­ing us lessons about why peo­ple drift apart and how they might get back to­gether, so time that could have been spent push­ing the he­roes into tide pools or hav­ing them walk into palm trees is taken up with long, te­dious con­ver­sa­tions with nod­ding an­a­lysts. A dis­as­ter. 15A cert, gen release, 107 min DC THE COVE Di­rected by Louie Psi­hoyos An­gry, sur­pris­ingly ex­cit­ing doc­u­men­tary about a for­mer marine an­i­mal trainer’s ef­forts to record the an­nual slaugh­ter of dol­phins near a Ja­panese fish­ing vil­lage. The coy man­ner in which footage of the butch­ery is held back till the fi­nal mo­ment is both melo­dra­matic and coun­ter­pro­duc­tive (noth­ing can live up to that hype). But this re­mains a pow­er­ful piece of work with a lu­cid, im­por­tant mes­sage. PG cert, Queen’s, Belfast, 92 min DC CRE­ATION Di­rected by Jon Amiel. Star­ring Jen­nifer Con­nelly, Paul Bet­tany, Jeremy Northam, Toby Jones De­cent if un­spec­tac­u­lar at­tempt to en­gage with Dar­win’s tor­tured pre­var­i­ca­tion be­fore pub­lish­ing

On the Ori­gin of Species. Con­nelly is not quite be­liev­able as Emma Dar­win, but Bet­tany’s turn helps hu­man­ise a fig­ure, too of­ten treated as a saint or a de­monic God killer. Based on Ran­dal Keynes’s mov­ing book,

An­nie’s Box, the film is touch­ing about the death of Dar­win’s daugh­ter. PG cert, Lis­towel Clas­sic, Kerry, 108 min DC AN ED­U­CA­TION Star­ring Carey Mul­li­gan, Peter Sars­gaard, Al­fred Molina,

Do­minic Cooper, Rosamund Pike, Olivia Wil­liams, Emma

Thomp­son Im­pres­sive adap­ta­tion of Lynn Bar­ber’s mem­oir (adapted by Nick Hornby) telling how, while study­ing for her A-lev­els in the early 1960s, Bar­ber car­ried on an af­fair with a con­sid­er­ably older busi­ness­man. The pe­riod de­tail is de­li­cious and Mul­li­gan is a rev­e­la­tion in the cen­tral role, though per­haps her age – she was ac­tu­ally 22 when the film was shot – makes the re­la­tion­ship seems less in­ap­pro­pri­ate than it was. But this is still a crack­ing drama. 15A cert, lim release, 95 min DC FAN­TAS­TIC MR FOX Di­rected by Wes An­der­son.

Voices of Ge­orge Clooney, Meryl Streep, Ja­son Schwartz­man, Bill Mur­ray,

Owen Wil­son A fox goes to war with three fat farm­ers. You could, if you were be­ing dif­fi­cult, point out that Wes An­der­son’s stop-mo­tion adap­ta­tion of Roald Dahl’s clas­sic doesn’t have much in it for kids. Sure, the twangy mu­sic is cool, the retro-an­i­ma­tion is quirky and the voice work by the likes of Mur­ray and Clooney is drily ironic. But do in­fants care about all that? Maybe not, but An­der­son fans will have a ball. PG cert, gen release, 87 min DC


Di­rected by Marc Webb. Star­ring Zooey Deschanel,

Joseph Gor­don-Le­vitt Does the re­cent de­base­ment of the rom­com make this mope-rock cover ver­sion of An­nie Hall seem some­what bet­ter than it is? Per­haps. But it re­mains a de­light. Jum­bling up the time scheme – a counter ap­pears show­ing us where we are in the 500-day du­ra­tion of the story to good ef­fect – Webb de­vel­ops the re­la­tion­ship be­tween up­tight Gor­don-Le­vitt and fey Deschanel to good ef­fect. 15A cert, lim release, 95 min DC GOOD­BYE SOLO Di­rected by Ramin Bahrani. Star­ring Souléy­mane Sy

Sa­vané, Red West One evening, Solo (Sy Sa­vané), a jolly Sene­galese taxi driver, picks up a tac­i­turn old man named William (Red West). The passenger strikes an un­usual deal: af­ter pay­ing a de­posit and promis­ing a sig­nif­i­cant fee, he sug­gests that Solo drive him to a re­mote moun­tain out­crop in a few days’ time. Bahrani’s highly praised film is well struc­tured and un­de­ni­ably sin­cere, but his cen­tral char­ac­ter is just a tad too an­noy­ing. 15A cert, Em­pire, Clare; Or­monde, Dublin, 91 min DC THE IMAG­I­NAR­IUM OF DOC­TOR PAR­NAS­SUS Di­rected by Terry Gil­liam.

It’s show­time: Michael Jack­son in This Is It, on natonal release

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