SHORTCUTS

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODFILM -

NEW RE­LEASES

Grandma: Elle Reid, a tart-tongued sep­tu­a­ge­nar­ian au­thor who charges through life like a bull in a china shop, is the sort of char­ac­ter Lily Tom­lin might have cre­ated decades ago. But it’s doubt­ful the 75-year-old Tom­lin could have played Elle then with the same deep re­serves of anger and sor­row she brings to Grandma, an ini­tially breezy fam­ily com­edy about moth­ers, daugh­ters and abor­tions that slowly sneaks up on you and packs a ma­jor wal­lop. A most im­pres­sive de­tour into low-bud­get DIY film­mak­ing for writer-di­rec­tor Paul Weitz, this sur­pris­ing char­ac­ter piece should spark awards chat­ter for Tom­lin and at least one of her co-stars. ★★★★★ Brook­lyn: A 1950s Amer­i­can im­mi­grant story told as if it took place a half-cen­tury ear­lier, this film un­folds al­most like a prim Vic­to­rian novel, pre­sent­ing a young Ir­ish woman, nobly brought to life by Saoirse Ro­nan, torn be­tween two lovers – one a po­lite, red-headed chap from her home town, the other a brash Ital­ian-Amer­i­can who falls for her dur­ing her new life abroad – where her big de­ci­sion has as much to do with choos­ing be­tween coun­tries as courters. ★★★★ The Pro­gram: Di­rec­tor Stephen Frears’ cau­tious study of Lance Arm­strong’s fall from grace doesn’t crack the cy­clist’s ve­neer in this drama­ti­sa­tion of Arm­strong’s fall from grace. Ev­ery­body knows Arm­strong’s story by now, and John Hodge’s screen­play ex­ca­vates few fac­tual or emo­tional nu­ances that weren’t cov­ered in Alex Gib­ney’s 2013 doc­u­men­tary The Arm­strong Lie. Styled in semi-doc­u­men­tary fash­ion it­self, with a com­mit­tedly clenched lead per­for­mance by Ben Foster that never quite catches up to its sub­ject. ★★★ Wolf Totem: With its sweep­ing Mon­go­lian panora­mas and ma­jes­tic, real-life wolf packs, Wolf Totem should lure lovers of na­ture into the cin­ema. But di­rec­tor Jean-Jac­ques An­naud’s 3D ac­tion drama will also re­pel them, for this is the sad, bloody tale of a cam­paign to erad­i­cate wolves from the steppes. ★★★ The Loft: This out­ra­geously over­plot­ted, bor­der­line-camp erotic thriller sees five friends find a corpse in the apart­ment they use for their assig­na­tions. It’s a melo­dra­matic mashup of The Apart­ment and Mur­der on the Ori­ent Ex­press, with naughty bits of Very Bad Things thrown in. ★★ How to Make Love Like an English­man (aka Some Kind of Beau­ti­ful): The Hol­ly­wood ro­man­tic com­edy hits an as­ton­ish­ing new low with this dis­as­trous pair­ing for Pierce Bros­nan and Salma Hayek. Some Kind of Beau­ti­ful is a per­fect storm of ro­man­tic-com­edy aw­ful­ness that seems to set the ail­ing genre back decades. ★

ON CIR­CUIT

Bridge of Spies: Steven Spiel­berg’s first ven­ture into Cold War es­pi­onage movie ter­ri­tory is co-scripted by the Coen broth­ers and Bri­tish writer Matt Char­man. It is a con­sum­mately crafted, richly lay­ered af­fair, with fine per­for­mances from Tom Hanks and Mark Ry­lance. ★★★★ A Walk in the Woods: Robert Red­ford and Nick Nolte star in this adap­ta­tion of Bill Bryson’s mem­oir about an epic walk along the Ap­palachian trail. The film is as slow-mov­ing as its two cur­mud­geonly leads and is un­abashedly sen­ti­men­tal, but it has a re­demp­tive charm. ★★★★ Big Stone Gap: In a small town, spin­ster Ave Maria Mul­li­gan finds her life shaken up when she learns a long­buried fam­ily se­cret. The film has an end­ing that’s rather im­plau­si­ble, but in a lot of ways this is a Chicken Soup for the Soul sort of movie and some­times, that’s ex­actly what one needs. ★★★ War Room: Clum­sily writ­ten faith­based drama is a soap opera-style tale which sees a strug­gling couple chal­lenged to es­tab­lish a ‘war room’ and a bat­tle plan of prayer for their fam­ily. ★★ Leg­end: Leg­end is a biopic on a lav­ish scale. The lead char­ac­ters, the Krays, leg­endary gang­ster twins (both played by Tom Hardy) are Bri­tish, the set­ting is Lon­don in the 1960s, but the film has the feel of an Amer­i­can gang­ster epic. It takes a mythol­o­gis­ing and, at times, ab­surdly ro­man­tic, ap­proach to its low-life he­roes. In spite of the blood­let­ting and violence, it is a very glossy film, beau­ti­fully shot by cin­e­matog­ra­pher Dick Pope and with plenty of Burt Bacharach on the sound­track. ★★★★ Dis Ek Anna: Based on Anchien Troskie’s two top-sell­ing nov­els, Dis ek, Anna and Die Staat Teen Anna Bruwer. The film is about the sex­ual abuse of Anna Bruwer by her step­fa­ther over a pe­riod of eight years. The viewer be­comes in­ti­mately in­volved in the child’s world of shame, threats and si­lence. ★★★★

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