An­der­son fol­lows up with a gorgeously shot, head-twist­ing gem of a puz­zle pic­ture. Phoenix plays a

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MADA­GAS­CAR 3: EUROPE’S MOST WANTED Di­rected by Eric Dar­nell, Tom McGrath. Voices of Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Sch­wim­mer, Jada Pin­kett Smith, Sacha Baron Co­hen, Cedric the En­ter­tainer, Jes­sica Chas­tain, Frances McDor­mand Un­like its pre­de­ces­sors, and with a curt­sey be­fore Her­bie and In­spec­tor Clouseau, the third part of the bil­lion-dol­lar fran­chise traces a fran­tic chase across Europe. It’s a good move for the neu­rotic New York zoo an­i­mals. Freed from the nar­ra­tive con­straints of be­ing ship­wrecked and/or cap­tive, the quar­tet tear through the old con­ti­nent with McDor­mand’s de­mented French cap­tain hot on their re­spec­tive tails. G cert, gen re­lease, 93 min THE MASTER Di­rected by Paul Thomas An­der­son. Star­ring Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Sey­mour Hoff­man, Amy Adams, Laura Dern There Will Be Blood dam­aged naval veteran who falls in with – but is not en­tirely in­doc­tri­nated by – a cult leader (Hoff­man) who closely re­sem­bles L Ron Hub­bard, cre­ator of Scien­tol­ogy. Phoenix of­fers a star­tlingly an­i­mal­is­tic per­for­mance. Hoff­man of­fers ar­ro­gance and barely con­cealed un­cer­tainty. The film is most no­table for the way it cre­ates end­less fas­ci­nat­ing nar­ra­tive stubs that the viewer is forced to com­plete. 16 cert, gen re­lease, 143 min NA­TIV­ITY 2: DAN­GER IN THE MANGER! Di­rected by Deb­bie Isitt. Star­ring David Ten­nant, Jes­sica Hynes, Marc Woot­ton With Martin Free­man safely hob­bit­ing on the other side of the world, it falls to Mr Poppy (BBC3 reg­u­lar Woot­ton) the first in­stal­ment’s ter­tiary, sub­nor­mal side­kick, to come off the bench and make armpit noises. Ten­nant joins the panto crew as a pair of war­ring twin brothers fac­ing off at an X Fac­tor- in­spired Christ­mas sin­ga­long. We are not re­minded of Kind Hearts and Coro­nets. This isn’t a cast, it’s a pe­nal bat­tal­ion, and the film is as “fun” as the zany ex­cla­ma­tion point sug­gests. G cert, gen re­lease, 105 min PARA­NOR­MAN Di­rected by Sam Fell and Chris But­ler. Voices of Kodi SmitMcPhee, Anna Ken­drick New Eng­land mis­fit Norman (SmitMcPhee) can see dead peo­ple. Dad bel­lows when Norman passes on mes­sages from his late grand­mother to turn the heat­ing up. Cheer­leader sis­ter (Ken­drick) de­rides her sib­ling as a freak. Now, as Norman’s al­ready gothic home­town ap­proaches the 300th an­niver­sary of the hang­ing of a no­to­ri­ous Salem- era witch, only his sixth sense can save the pop­u­lace from a wave of ma­raud­ing zom­bies. Splen­did new an­i­ma­tion from the mak­ers of Co­ra­line. PG cert, gen re­lease, 92 min NEW RE­LEASE RISE OF THE GUARDIANS G cert, gen re­lease, 97 min See re­view, page 12 RUST AND BONE/DE ROUILLE ET D’OS Di­rected by Jacques Au­di­ard. Star­ring Mar­ion Cotil­lard, Matthias Schoe­naerts Au­di­ard’s fol­low-up to A Prophet is a weird beast in­deed. Cotil­lard plays a killer whale trainer who suf­fers a ter­ri­ble aci­dent and falls in with scowl­ing drifter Schoe­naerts. The ac­tors are all ex­cel­lent. Au­di­ard films in soft shades that are both se­duc­tive and wor­ry­ing. But the clutch of plots (from sto­ries by Craig David­son) never quite meld to­gether. One minute we’re in Fight Club. The next it’s a bit­ter ro­mance. A success in spite of it­self. 15A cert, Show­time Cinemas, Lim­er­ick, 120 min SAM­SARA Di­rected by Ron Fricke Stag­ger­ingly beau­ti­ful, oc­ca­sion­ally dis­turb­ing “chill­out” doc­u­men­tary fea­tur­ing shots of the world’s most as­ton­ish­ing sights scored to a fine ethe­real sound­track. Fricke & co de­serve credit sim­ply for lo­cat­ing so many pe­cu­liar struc­tures, land­scapes and peo­ple. Who knew the world con­cealed all this ec­cen­tric, undis­cov­ered love­li­ness? The eco­log­i­cal grand­stand­ing is oc­ca­sion­ally op­pres­sive, but the star­tling im­ages – chant­ing monks, enor­mous gorges, chick­ens be­ing pro­cessed – are im­pos­si­ble to re­sist. 12A cert, Light House, Dublin, 102 min THE SAP­PHIRES Di­rected by Wayne Blair. Star­ring Chris O’Dowd, Deb­o­rah Mail­man Slight but en­joy­able Aus­tralian com­edy, based on a true story, that fol­lows an in­dige­nous soul group as they tour Viet­nam dur­ing the war. The tunes are belt­ing. The cast is strong. It is, how­ever, a bit short on plot, and the bud­getary re­straints show through at the frayed cor­ners. Hap­pily, O’Dowd makes it fly as the mildly al­co­holic Ir­ish man­ager. With­out him this feath­er­weight en­ter­tain­ment would float off the screen. PG cert, gen re­lease, 103 min NEW RE­LEASE SIGHT­SEERS 16 cert, lim re­lease, 88 min See re­view, page 13 Di­rected by David O Rus­sell. Star­ring Bradley Cooper, Jen­nifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Anu­pam Kher, Ju­lia Stiles, Chris Tucker Rus­sell’s fol­low-up to The Fighter is a mix of in­tegrity and

SIL­VER LIN­INGS PLAYBOOK fa­tal com­pro­mise. Cooper is strong and Lawrence ex­cel­lent as a pair of bi-po­lar mal­con­tents who get to­gether in a grey, grit­tily ren­dered Philadel­phia. Much of the di­a­logue is sharp. About half­way through, how­ever, the film takes a re­gret­table turn to­wards the mun­dane when the pair en­ter a po­ten­tially lifechang­ing dance com­pe­ti­tion. What started out as a brave com­edy ends up feel­ing like a sen­ti­men­tal con. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 121 min SKY­FALL Di­rected by Sam Men­des Star­ring Daniel Craig, Javier Bar­dem, Ralph Fi­ennes, Al­bert Fin­ney, Judi Dench The lat­est Bond ad­ven­ture is cer­tainly a great im­prove­ment on the mud­dled, com­pro­mised Quantum of So­lace. Men­des brings real sweep and mo­men­tum to the ac­tion. The re­la­tion­ship be­tween Craig’s class­less 007 and Dench’s flinty M is very nicely played. But, like ev­ery Bond flick of the past 30 years, Sky­fall feels more than a lit­tle com­pro­mised: at­tempts to up­date the grue­some “Bond girl” par­a­digm are laugh­ably per­func­tory; the prod­uct place­ment is dis­gust­ing. A fine thriller, but no mas­ter­piece. 12A cert, gen re­lease, 143 min NEW RE­LEASE TROU­BLE WITH THE CURVE 12A cert, gen re­lease, 111 min See re­view, page 13 TAKEN 2 Di­rected by Olivier Ma­ga­ton. Star­ring Liam Nee­son, Mag­gie Grace, Famke Janssen So, Liam Nee­son is a huge ac­tion star. Good for him. Re­turn­ing for an­other bout of pur­suit and vengeance, he does a de­cent job of growl­ing like a lat­ter-day Lee Marvin. But Taken 2 is even worse than its pre­de­ces­sor. The fights are edited into mean­ing­less chaos. The vil­lains are car­i­ca­tured to a racist ex­tent. There are some nice shots of Is­tan­bul, but the story is so an­noy­ingly ab­surd that one can’t even en­joy the trav­el­ogue. 12A cert, gen re­lease, 90 min THE TWI­LIGHT SAGA: BREAK­ING DAWN – PART 2 Di­rected by Bill Con­don. Star­ring Kris­ten Ste­wart, Robert Pat­tin­son, Tay­lor Laut­ner, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Michael Sheen, Dakota Fan­ning The fran­chise is fi­nally placed in its tomb (for now) with an epic ad­ven­ture that finds the vam­pire lovers or­gan­is­ing an as­sault against their camp Vol­turi en­e­mies. As ever, the pic­ture strikes a few bum notes (the Ir­ish vam­pires are par­tic­u­larly hi­lar­i­ous). But Break­ing Dawn 2 of­fers a very ef­fi­cient, mildly touch­ing, morally unim­peach­able con­clu­sion to a chron­i­cle that has left an in­deli­ble im­pact on con­tem­po­rary pop­u­lar cul­ture. The leads are as charis­matic as ever. 12A cert, gen re­lease, 115 min UN­TOUCH­ABLE/ IN­TOUCH­ABLES Di­rected by Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano. Star­ring François Cluzet, Omar Sy, Anne Le Ny Sene­galese émi­gré Driss (Sy) has no in­ten­tion of get­ting hired when he ap­plies to be a live-in carer for mil­lion­aire para­plegic Philippe (Cluzet). Fol­low­ing a dis­as­trous in­ter­view – dur­ing which Driss flirts with the aris­to­crat’s foxy sec­re­tary and steals a Fabergé egg – no one is more sur­prised than he when the older man takes him on for a trial. Slowly the two be­come friends in this feel­good smash, the big­gest gross­ing non-English-lan­guage film of all time. 15A cert, Light House, Dublin; Eye, Gal­way, 112 min Di­rected by Lenny Abra­ham­son. Star­ring Jack Reynor, Roisin Murphy, Sam Kee­ley What Richard Did opens with three young south Dublin men in a car cruis­ing be­tween the get-to­geth­ers and hook-ups of a pre-col­lege sum­mer. The driver is school­boy rugby star Richard (Reynor), a “su­per-rich” kid with a car, ac­cess to the fam­ily beach house and a charmed life. He has never wanted for any­thing and, sure enough, when he sets his sights on Lara (Murphy), he seems to eas­ily win her over from Conor (Kee­ley). There are no di­rect ref­er­ences to the source novel (Kevin Pow­ers’s Bad Day in Black­rock) or the case that pre­ceded it in Lenny Abra­ham­son’s fine third fea­ture: there are only im­per­fect teens with im­per­fect lives ahead. 15A cert, Screen, Dublin; Model, Sligo, 87 min


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