Now showing at Curzon Knutsford Civic Centre, Toft Road,Knutsford,Cheshire WA16 0PE 01565 633005
- Gone Girl
- Northern Soul
- Obvious Child
- Royal Opera Live Encore Screening: I Due Foscari
- The Book Of Life
- The Metropolitan Opera Live: Carmen
Frankenweenie 4 stars
Victor Frankenstein is an outcast in the sleepy community of New Holland. His only friend is the family's bull terrier Sparky, who has a crush on Persephone, the pampered black poodle that lives next door with Victor's classmate Elsa Van Helsing. When tragedy strikes and Sparky is laid to rest in the pet cemetery, Victor is plunged into despair until science teacher Mr Rzykruski plants the seed of an outlandish idea to reanimate Sparky using a bolt of lightning.
- GenreAnimation/Cartoon, Comedy, Horror, Science Fiction
- CastMartin Landau, Conchata Ferrell, Winona Ryder, Catherine O'Hara, Christopher Lee, Robert Capron, Martin Short, Charlie Tahan.
- DirectorTim Burton.
- WriterJohn August.
- Duration87 mins
- Official sitewww.disney.co.uk/frankenweenie
The pain of losing a loved one leaves an indelible mark on the hardest heart. Frankenweenie is a charming and impeccably crafted stop-motion animation about a lonely boy who cannot bear the loss of his pet dog. So the ingenious tyke re-animates the deceased pooch with a lightning bolt a la Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, blind to the repercussions of meddling with Mother Nature.
Writer-director Tim Burton has dealt with the pain of grief and solitude before, most powerfully in Edward Scissorhands - another haunting fable about a misfit out of step with his off-kilter surroundings. Frankenweenie shares the same screen heroine, Winona Ryder, and the spirit of Edward's creator Vincent Price lives on in the striking, sculpted features of a high school science teacher, whose class demonstration with electricity and frog's legs sows the seeds of this picture's macabre plan.
Victor Frankenstein (voiced by Charlie Tahan) is an outcast in the sleepy community of New Holland, where he lives with his parents (Martin Short, Catherine O'Hara). His only friend is the family's bull terrier Sparky, who has a crush on Persephone, the pampered black poodle that lives next door with Victor's classmate Elsa Van Helsing (Ryder).
When tragedy strikes and Sparky is laid to rest in the pet cemetery, Victor is plunged into despair. Then teacher Mr Rzykruski (Martin Landau) plants the seed of an outlandish idea. "Science is not good or bad, Victor, but it can be used both ways," counsels Mr Rzykruski.
In the dead of night, the boy digs up Sparky, constructs a machine to harness lightning and the dog is reborn, albeit with a tendency to lose his decaying tail. Victor doesn't care - he has his best friend back - and he keeps the pet hidden from prying eyes, including his parents'. Once classmates Toshiaki (James Hiroyuki Liao), Bob (Robert Capron) and Edgar (Atticus Shaffer) discover Victor's breakthrough, they plot similar experiments with their pets.
Frankenweenie looks stunning. The black-and-white visuals are crisp and every frame is peppered with horror references and in-jokes, such as the white streaks in Persephone's fur, which recalls Elsa Lanchester's iconic appearance in The Bride Of Frankenstein.
There are nods and winks to Gremlins and Godzilla, plus a torch-wielding showdown that embraces Mary Shelley with gusto. Vocal performances are strong from Tahan's moving portrayal of a boy, who tearfully tells his parents, "I don't want (Sparky) in my heart, I want him here with me", to O'Hara's ethereal whisper as the weird girl, whose cat Mr Whisker's foretells doom in his alphabet-shaped droppings.
John August's script tugs the heartstrings without ever being cloying and the grand finale is orchestrated at a brilliant, breathless pace.
Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)
- Saturday 1st November 2014
Gone Girl 4 stars
On her fifth wedding anniversary, Amy Dunne vanishes without trace. Her husband Nick works with the police to front a high-profile media campaign to secure the safe return of his "amazing Amy". In the glare of the spotlight, fractures appear in the Dunnes' marriage and police and public both question Nick's innocence. With Amy's creepy ex-boyfriend Desi Collings as another suspect, Detectives Rhonda Boney and Jim Gilpin search for answers.
- GenreAdaptation, Drama, Romance, Thriller
- CastNeil Patrick Harris, Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Boyd Holbrook, Scoot McNairy, Missi Pyle, Patrick Fugit, Kim Dickens.
- DirectorDavid Fincher.
- WriterGillian Flynn.
- Duration149 mins
- Official sitewww.gonegirlmovie.cok
Ignorance is bliss when it comes to Gone Girl. If, like me, you haven't read Gillian Flynn's 2012 psychological thriller and you know nothing of the serpentine twists that propelled the novel to the top of the bestsellers list then jealously guard your cluelessness.
There's an undeniable delight watching Flynn wrong-foot us with this spiky satire on media manipulation and the glossy facade of celebrity marriages. When the central characters promise to love, honour and obey, till death do them part, one of them takes that vow very seriously.
Admittedly, you have to dig deep beneath the surface of David Fincher's polished film to find the jet black humour but it's there, walking hand-in-hand with sadism and torture that propel the narrative towards its unconventional denouement.
The film version of Gone Girl is distinguished by a career-best performance from Rosamund Pike as the pretty wife, who vanishes without trace on her fifth wedding anniversary and is presumed dead at the hands of her handsome husband (Ben Affleck).
Pike has to plumb the depths of human emotion in a demanding and complex role, by turns brittle and steely, terrified and driven. She's almost certain to earn her first Oscar nomination.
In stark contrast, Affleck is solid but little more as the spouse who pleads his ignorance but hides secrets from the people he adores. As battles of the sexes go, it's a resolutely one-sided skirmish.
On the morning of his anniversary, Nick Dunne (Affleck) calls detectives Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) and Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) to his home. There are signs of a struggle and his wife Amy (Pike) is missing.
Nick's sister Margo (Carrie Coon), who has never liked Amy, assures her sibling that everything will be fine. "Whoever took her's bound to bring her back," she quips cattily.
Nick and Amy's distraught parents (David Clennon, Lisa Beth) front a high-profile media campaign to secure the safe return of "amazing Amy". In the glare of the spotlight, fractures appear in the Dunnes' marriage and police and public question Nick's innocence.
Gone Girl holds our attention for the majority of the bloated 149-minute running time, with a couple of lulls and a disjointed final act. Pike's mesmerising theatrics light up the screen and there is strong support from Neil Patrick Harris as Amy's creepy old flame.
Fincher's direction is lean, complemented by snappy editing and a discordant score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, who won the Oscar for their music to The Social Network.
Once you regain your balance from Flynn pulling the rug from under your feet, this is a slick yet slightly underwhelming whodunit that doesn't quite scale the dizzy heights of shock and suspense previously achieved by Jagged Edge, The Usual Suspects or indeed, Fincher's 2005 film, Se7en.
Northern Soul 3 stars
John Clark is a loner in his northern community, one step out of time with the other young people, until he meets Matt, who introduces John to the electrifying sounds and moves of Northern Soul. The young men are swept up by this cultural movement and cannot resist the pull of the drugs and booze that are rife in the dancehalls. Friendships are tested to breaking point but the music plays on.
- GenreDrama, Indie, Musical
- CastAntonia Thomas, Christian McKay, Steve Coogan, Lisa Stansfield, John Thomson.
- DirectorElaine Constantine.
- WriterElaine Constantine.
- Duration101 mins
- Official sitewww.northernsoulthefilm.com
- Release17/10/2014 (selected cinemas)
Director Elaine Constantine steps back to the 1970s for this drama about two friends who encounter a burgeoning youth culture that changes a generation and influences numerous songwriters, producers, DJs and designers. John Clark (Elliot James Langridge) is a loner in his northern community, one step out of time with the other young people and his parents (Christian McKay, Lisa Stansfield), until he meets Matt (Josh Whitehouse), who introduces John to the electrifying sounds and moves of Northern Soul. The young men are swept up by this cultural movement and cannot resist the pull of the drugs and booze that are rife in the dancehalls. Friendships are tested to breaking point but the music plays on.
Obvious Child 3 stars
Donna Stern airs her dirty laundry as a stand-up comedian, sparing herself few blushes as she jokes about bodily functions and her disastrous love life. When her boyfriend dumps her, Donna rebounds by having a one-night stand with nice guy Max. Donna discovers that she is pregnant and doesn't hesitate to book herself in for an abortion on Valentine's Day. As the most romantic day of the year approaches and Max steps up his efforts to woo Donna, she questions her decision.
- GenreComedy, Indie, Romance
- CastJenny Slate, Gaby Hoffmann, Jake Lacy, Richard Kind, David Cross.
- DirectorGillian Robespierre.
- WriterGillian Robespierre, Karen Maine.
- Duration85 mins
- Official sitewww.facebook.com/ObviousChild
- Release29/08/2014 (selected cinemas)
Expanded from a short film, Gillian Robespierre's offbeat romantic comedy premiered to critical acclaim at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Donna Stern (Jenny Slate) works in a bookshop by day and at night, she airs her dirty laundry for big laughs as a stand-up comedian, sparing herself few blushes as she jokes about bodily functions and her disastrous love life. When her boyfriend finally dumps her, Donna rebounds by having a one-night stand with nice guy Max (Jake Lacy), who hopes to arrange a second date to get to know Donna better. However, she intends to steer clear of him and when she discovers that she is pregnant, Donna doesn't hesitate to book herself in for an abortion on Valentine's Day. As the most romantic day of the year approaches and Max steps up his efforts to woo Donna, she questions her decision to separate herself from the rest of the dysfunctional world.
Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)
- Monday 3rd November 2014
Royal Opera Live Encore Screening: I Due Foscari 3 stars
Thaddeus Strassberger directs Verdi's searing early tragedy at the Royal Opera House in London under the baton of conductor Antonio Pappano. Placido Domingo sings the title role of the despairing father, who is torn between love for his family and duty to a corrupt city.
- GenreMusical, Special
- CastMaria Agresta, Placido Domingo, Francesco Meli.
- DirectorThaddeus Strassberger.
- Official sitewww.roh.org.uk/cinemas
The Book Of Life 3 stars
In the town of San Angel on the Day Of The Dead, underworld gods La Muerte and Xibalba bet on the outcome of a love triangle involving friends Manolo, Joaquin and Maria. La Muerte, ruler of the Land of the Remembered, believes that sensitive Manolo will get the girl while Xibalba, ruler of the Land of the Forgotten, selects courageous Joaquin as his champion and secretly boosts the young man's chances with an enchanted medal of protection.
- GenreAdventure, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family, Romance
- CastRon Perlman, Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum, Kate del Castillo, Diego Luna, Ice Cube.
- DirectorJorge R Gutierrez.
- WriterJorge R Gutierrez, Douglas Langdale.
- Duration95 mins
- Official sitewww.bookoflifemovie.co.uk
In Mexican culture, Dia de los Muertos or Day Of The Dead is an important annual gathering for families and friends to honour the memory of loved ones who are no longer with them. The three-day celebration, which begins on October 31, traditionally involves adorning graves and specially constructed altars with sugar skulls, flowers and other gifts with special significance to the departed.
This fiesta of remembrance provides a vibrant and poignant backdrop to Jorge R Gutierrez's fantastical computer-animated fable about three friends, who discover there is love after death.
The Book Of Life razzle dazzles our eyes, especially in 3D, cramming as much retina-searing colour and detail as possible into each frame. Co-writer Douglas Lansdale adds plentiful humour to offset the film's air of tragedy including a chorus of singing nuns and a waspish grandmother, voiced by Grey DeLisle, who scene-steals with every purse-lipped outburst.
Museum tour guide Mary Beth (voiced by Christina Applegate) leads a group of unruly schoolchildren through an exhibition about Mexican folklore. She leads the whippersnappers to a chamber that houses the fabled Book Of Life and recounts one particular story, which unfolds in the town of San Angel on the Day Of The Dead.
Rival gods La Muerte (Kate del Castillo) and Xibalba (Ron Perlman) agree a wager on the resolution of a love triangle involving two boys, Manolo (Diego Luna) and Joaquin (Channing Tatum), who are both in love with their friend Maria (Zoe Saldana).
La Muerte, ruler of the Land of the Remembered, believes that sensitive Manolo will get the girl and realise his musical ambitions rather than take up the mantle of his matador father (Hector Elizondo). "Music is not a profession fit for a Sanchez bullfighter!" rages the old man.
Meanwhile, Xibalba (Ron Perlman), ruler of the Land of the Forgotten, selects courageous Joaquin as his champion and secretly boosts the young man's chances with an enchanted medal of protection.
When the time finally comes for Maria to choose between her suitors, conniving Xibalba attempts to influence her decision to ensure he wins the bet.
The Book Of Life inhabits a macabre universe that Tim Burton has made his own but director Gutierrez and his team of animators opt for a more jaunty, upbeat tone enhanced by a bouncy soundtrack replete with cover versions of Elvis Presley, Radiohead and Rod Stewart. "What is it with Mexicans and death?" asks a goth kid on the museum tour, somewhat tongue in cheek.
Luna and Tatum deliver lively vocal performances and Saldana essays a spunky heroine, who epitomises girl power, flanked by a cute porcine sidekick. Action sequences are orchestrated at a brisk pace, punctuated by soaring serenades.
Gutierrez's film strikes a pleasing balance between giggles and soul-searching, tackling tricky themes of mortality, self-sacrifice and the afterlife without giving young audiences nightmares.
The Metropolitan Opera Live: Carmen 3 stars
Mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili sings her signature role of the ill-fated gypsy temptress in a live broadcast of Richard Eyre's production of Bizet, co-starring Aleksandrs Antonenko as soldier Don Jose and Ildar Abdrazakov as swaggering bullfighter Escamillo. Conducted by Pablo Heras-Casado.
- GenreMusical, Special
- CastIldar Abdrazakov, Aleksandrs Antonenko, Anita Rachvelishvili.
- DirectorRichard Eyre.
- Duration220 mins
- Official sitewww.metoperafamily.org
- Release01/11/2014 (selected cinemas)
Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)
- Saturday 1st November 2014