Film view: Reviews of the latest releases this week

Film view: Reviews of the latest releases this week

Nicole Kidman as Christine Lucas and Mark Strong as Dr Nash in Before I Go To Sleep. Picture courtesy of PA Photo/Studio Canal.

Helen Mirren as Madame Mallory in The Hundred-Foot Journey. Picture courtesy of PA Photo/Entertainment.

Jay (Jason Segel) and Annie (Cameron Diaz) in Sex Tape. Picture courtesy of PA Photo/Columbia Pictures.

Dan Stevens stars as David in The Guest. Picture courtesy of PA Photo/Icon Film Distribution.

First published in Local Leisure © by

FILM OF THE WEEK

BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP (15, 92 mins)

Thriller/Romance/Action. Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Anne-Marie Duff. Director: Rowan Joffe.Released: September 5 (UK & Ireland)

There has been a rich harvest of taut thrillers in 2014, including the independent American features Blue Ruin and Cold In July and gritty British films Locke and Starred Up.

With David Fincher's adaptation of Gone Girl looming on the horizon, this is undoubtedly a year when audiences will catch themselves returning to filthy habits and furiously biting their nails in the dark of an unbearably tense cinema.

Before I Go To Sleep is guaranteed to jangle nerves and drop a few jaws as summer mellows into autumn.

Based on SJ Watson's bestselling novel, this ingenious thriller places us in exactly the same hellish predicament as the heroine, who wakes up each morning without any memory of the past, including her own identity.

Through the eyes of this terrified wife, we absorb scraps of information from supposedly reliable sources and try to piece together the truth, unsure if writer-director Rowan Joffe is leading us a merry, sadistic dance.

Following a car accident, 47-year-old Christine Lucas (Nicole Kidman) is diagnosed with anterograde amnesia.

Each morning, she wakes in a strange bed next to a man she does not know and creeps into the adjacent bathroom where a series of photographs on the wall begin to fill in the blanks, letting her know that the man is her husband Ben (Colin Firth) and they have shared many happy years together.

"You store up information for a day, wake up, and it's all gone," explains Ben, whose love for his wife holds strong.

He leaves for work and Christine continues to learn about her past from information in the house.

Then she receives a mysterious telephone call from someone called Dr Nash (Mark Strong), who instructs her to look in the wardrobe.

"We've been keeping a video diary. I'm not sure Ben knows," confides the medic.

The subsequent footage casts doubt on the facts that underpin Christine's fragile existence.

"Don't trust anyone!" whispers Christine to herself in the video diary, tears glistening in her eyes.

As Christine reconnects with Claire (Anne-Marie Duff), who is supposedly her best friend, contradictory testimonies drive her to the brink of insanity.

Before I Go To Sleep drip-feeds us fragmented flashbacks, clouding our judgement of characters as they orbit Christine, purportedly out of love.

Kidman captures the fragility of a woman at the mercy of her condition, who knows she must stare into the abyss before sleep robs her of a day's detective work.

Firth and Strong offer sterling support and Joffe cranks up the tension masterfully with each hairpin twist.

The guessing game of who to trust is part of the film's diabolical appeal and the script engineers some wonderful bluffs until a gasp-inducing big reveal that should have audiences teetering precariously on the edge of their seats.

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SEX TAPE (15, 94 mins)

Released: September 3 (UK & Ireland)

Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel, who previously locked horns in the raunchy comedy Bad Teacher, reunite for this equally potty-mouthed tale of a married couple, who decide to spice up their sex lives by committing their amorous antics to film.

When they first meet, Jay (Segel) and Annie (Diaz) cannot keep their hands off each other and enjoy a frenetic sex life. Two children later, the opportunities for amorous one-on-one time are few and far between, so, on a rare night together, Annie suggests they make a sex tape.

Jay and Annie energetically work their way through every position in The Joy Of Sex but the exhausted husband forgets to erase the video file and it uploads to the cloud and syncs to several other iPads, which the couple have given away as presents.

Once Jay and Annie realise their energetic efforts are available to download to friends, family and even Annie's boss Hank (Rob Lowe), they race through the night to steal or destroy the iPads and spare their blushes.

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THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY (PG, 122 mins)

Released: September 5 (UK & Ireland)

Adapted by Steven Knight (Dirty Pretty Things) from the novel by Richard C Morais, The Hundred-Foot Journey is a comedy drama about the battle of wits and flavours between rival restaurateurs in a close-knit French village.

Papa Haji (Om Puri) and his eldest son Hassan (Manish Dayal) flee Mumbai after an arson attack on their restaurant, which results in the death of Papa's wife (Juhi Chawla).

Initially, father and son head for London but the Hajis seek new horizons across Europe.

Their van breaks down and they seek refuge in a village, which boasts a Michelin star establishment run by widow Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren).

The building across the road happens to be vacant and Papa purchases the property with the intention of opening his own eaterie serving traditional Indian fare.

This rivalry sparks hostility between the Hajis and Mallory, which spirals out of control, culminating in an attack on the new restaurant and a period of collaboration.

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THE GUEST (15, 100 mins)

Released: September 5 (UK & Ireland)

Adam Wingard's violent psychological thriller premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and showed a very different side to actor Dan Stevens from his celebrated role as Matthew Crawley in Downton Abbey.

Spencer Peterson (Leland Orser) and his wife Laura (Sheila Kelley) are devastated when their oldest son, Caleb, is killed during a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Caleb's siblings Anna (Maika Monroe) and Luke (Brendan Meyer) are inconsolable until one of their brother's fellow soldiers, David Collins (Stevens), arrives at their front door to fulfil his comrade's dying wish.

Spencer and Laura welcome this brother in arms into their home, but Anna and Luke are initially wary of the stranger in their midst.

However, David gradually wins them over and he is the perfect houseguest until a series of accidental deaths force the Petersons to question if their lodger is really who he claims to be.

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LIFE OF CRIME (15, 99 mins)

Released: September 5 (UK, selected cinemas)

Written and directed by Daniel Schechter, Life Of Crime is a black comedy based on Elmore Leonard's novel The Switch about a bungled kidnapping that takes a turn for the bizarre.

Bumbling ex-cons Ordell Robbie (Yasiin Bey) and Louis Gara (John Hawkes) need to make a large amount of money with the minimum of effort.

So they hatch a scheme to abduct feisty socialite Mickey Dawson (Jennifer Aniston) and hold her to a sizeable ransom, which they demand from her obscenely wealthy husband Frank (Tim Robbins).

Unbeknownst to the kidnappers, Frank is planning to divorce his wife and start anew with a younger mistress, Melanie Ralston (Isla Fisher), so her abduction is extremely fortuitous.

Frank refuses to pay the ransom, hoping this will seal his spouse's grim fate.

Once Ordell and Louis realise that their target is unwilling to come up with the funds and they are stuck with Mickey, the dim-witted duo must conceive a new plan to turn the tables on Frank and still score their pay day.

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ATTILA MARCEL (12A, 106 mins)

Released: September 5 (UK, selected cinemas)

French animator and comic writer Sylvain Chomet, who previously made Belleville Rendez-vous and The Illusionist, moves into live action with this charming comedy of eccentric manners.

As a toddler, Paul (Guillaume Gouix) witnessed the deaths of his parents in mysterious circumstances and he has been mute ever since.

Now 33, Paul is a piano prodigy, who lives with his two overbearing aunts (Helene Vincent, Bernadette Lafont) - a pair of dance instructors who don't let their nephew out of their sight.

During a party thrown by his controlling relatives, Paul escapes to the apartment of downstairs neighbour Madame Proust (Anne Le Ny).

She serves up a heady herbal tea that purportedly unlocks fractured memories. With regular sups of the brew, Paul begins to unravel the truth about his parents' demise.

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DAAWAT-E-ISHQ (Certificate and running time TBC)

Released: September 5 (UK, selected cinemas)

Love blossoms unexpectedly in writer-director Habib Faisal's comedy drama, which pairs Aditya Roy Kapur with Parineeti Chopra.

Tariq "Taru"Haidar (Kapur) is a gifted cook from Lucknow, who is revered for his tasty and aromatic biryani and kebabs, which burst with intense flavours.

By chance, Taru meets Gulrez "Gullu" Qadir (Chopra), who works as a shoe sales girl in Hyderabad and has sworn off love because all the men she meets are only interested in a dowry.

Opposites attract and Tar and Gullu begin to cook up a red-hot romance with ingredients from their contrasting cultures.

Their unlikely union challenges outmoded world views and gives the young lovers the confidence to search for a perfect recipe for enduring love.

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MARY KOM (Certificate and running time TBC)

Released: September 5 (UK, selected cinemas)

Priyanka Chopra takes the title role in this uplifting sports biopic of the eponymous Indian boxer, written by Saiwyn Qadras and directed by Omung Kumar.

Born in Manipur, Mary (Chopra) shows a keen interest in sport as a child, but it is the success of boxer Dingko Singh, who wins a gold medal at the 1998 Asian Games, which inspires Mary to continue her journey of self-discovery inside the boxing ring.

Training under Manipur state coach M Narjit Singh (Sunil Thapa), she begins her quest for glory, which coincides with falling in love with Onler (Darshan Kumar).

They marry and raise twin sons while Mary achieves unparalleled success, becoming a five-time winner of the World Amateur Boxing championship and the only Indian woman boxer to qualify for the London 2012 Summer Olympics, where she collects a hard-fought bronze medal.

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FINDING FELA (15, 120 mins)

Released: September 5 (UK, selected cinemas)

Directed by Alex Gibney, who won an Oscar for his 2008 documentary Taxi To The Dark Side, Finding Fela is a cinematic tribute to the life and times of Fela Anikulapo Kuti, who jump-started the Afrobeat musical movement as a means to criticise the dictatorial Nigerian government of the 1970s and 1980s.

By promoting Pan Africanist politics to his own people and the rest of the world, Kuti influenced democracy in Nigeria and the music and message of this struggle for freedom are shared today by oppressed people.

Finding Fela shines a spotlight on Kuti, activist and musician, and his enduring legacy in a time of political upheaval and stark cultural divides.

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THEY CAME TOGETHER (15, 81 mins)

Released: September 5 (UK, selected cinemas)

Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler headline David Wain's romantic comedy spoof, which was co-written by Michael Showalter and pokes fun at the well-worn conventions of the genre.

Molly (Poehler) runs an independent candy shop in New York City, which comes under threaten from the all-conquering Corporate Candy Company.

Joel (Rudd) works for this behemoth and he meets Molly at a Halloween fancy dress party sporting the same costume.

It's hate at first sight. Despite their many differences, and Joel's fear of commitment, which he shares with his despairing basketball buddies (Jason Mantzoukas, Ken Marino, Jack McBrayer, Kenan Thompson), these misfits slowly fall in love.

However, it's tough to maintain a relationship when Joel represents a threat to Molly's livelihood and when the lovebirds eventually break up, they must find a way to bridge the chasm that divides them.

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ISLAND OF LEMURS: MADAGASCAR 3D (U, 41 mins)

Released: September 5 (UK, selected cinemas)

Screening exclusively in IMAX cinemas, Island Of Lemurs: Madagascar is a heart-warming nature documentary narrated by Morgan Freeman filmed on location on the fourth largest island in the world.

In this lush paradise, director David Douglas employs IMAX 3D cameras to capture diverse species of lemurs in their natural environment, where they arrived millions of years ago as castaways.

Where once they thrived, the lemurs are now highly endangered and the film celebrates the endurance of this magnificent creature against the odds.

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M (PG, 111 mins)

Released: September 5 (UK, selected cinemas)

Originally released in 1931, Fritz Lang's seminal thriller gave Peter Lorre his first major starring role and subsequently pigeonholed the actor as a creepy villain.

Hans Beckert (Lorre) is a child murderer, who preys on the young and the vulnerable of Berlin.

He attacks little Elsie Beckmann (Inge Landgut) on her way home from school and subsequently pens an angry missive to the media, which provides the police, led by Inspector Karl Lohmann (Otto Wernicke), with some valuable clues.

Their hunt for the killer disrupts the city's vast criminal network and underworld boss Der Schranker (Gustaf Grundgens) eventually convenes a meeting of his fellow thieves and kingpins, who agree to hunt the killer by guarding the children.

Beckert stalks another girl but a blind balloon vender (Georg John) recognises the tune he whistles, In The Hall Of The Mountain King by Edvard Grieg, and alerts some fellow beggars, who manage to secretly mark Beckert with an M to signal his guilt.

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WATERMARK (U, 91 mins)

Released: September 5 (UK, selected cinemas)

In 2006, award-winning filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal collaborated with renowned photographer Edward Burtynsky on the visually stunning documentary, Manufactured Landscapes.

They reunite for this study of mankind's relationship with water, travelling around the world to witness how different people are drawn to water, rely on it and the consequences of our abuse of this precious resource.

The film juxtaposes the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, where 30 million people gather for a sacred bath in the Ganges, with thrilling footage of the US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach.

The directors also share the findings of scientists, who drill two kilometres down into the Greenland Ice Sheet to learn about the past.

Blessed with myriad aerial shots, Watermark reminds us of our reliance on water in everyday life and the dire repercussions when it is gone.

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THE GREAT MUSEUM (PG, 94 mins)

Released: September 5 (UK, selected cinemas)

Directed by Johannes Holzhausen, who began a degree in art history at the University of Vienna in 1981, The Great Museum is a documentary tribute to the refurbishment and reopening of the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien.

This important museum is a hive of activity that houses many rare treasures and the film offers a unique glimpse behind the scenes at the institution and its charismatic protagonists, who love their jobs and are dedicated to upholding the museum's standing as a vehicle for stately representation.

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WHITE SETTLERS (15, 79 mins)

Released: September 5 (UK, selected cinemas)

Taking its title from a term used by hardcore Scottish nationalists to describe unwanted English immigrants, White Settlers is a low-budget horror about a doting couple, who leave behind the city for a new life in the country... and quickly regret it.

Ed (Lee Williams) and Sarah (Pollyanna McIntosh) abandon the London rat race for a gentler pace of life in an isolated farmhouse on the Scottish border.

The local estate agent (Joanne Mitchell) reveals that the building has been constructed on the site of a famous battle between the English and the Scottish.

On their first night in the new home, Sarah becomes convinced that someone is watching them and when Ed disappears into the dark to investigate, her worst fears are confirmed. A gang of angry locals wearing pig masks attack the couple, forcing poor Sarah to hide around the farmhouse and in the surrounding countryside to stay alive.

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HERMITAGE REVEALED (U, 83 mins)

Released: September 9 (UK, selected cinemas)

Located in St Petersburg, The State Hermitage Museum is one of the largest and oldest collections of its kind, housing more than three million treasures.

The museum also supports more curators than any other art institution in the world. To celebrate 250 glorious years since it first opened its doors, the museum has allowed documentary filmmaker Margy Kinmouth unprecedented access to areas that remain hidden from the public eye and the special collections.

The film showcases some of the museum's rare and most priceless artefacts, including the private gemstone collection of Catherine The Great, and also sketches the tumultuous history of an architectural gem that was once an imperial palace.

By juxtaposing present and past, Kinmouth's documentary offers a rare insight to centuries of culture and history in Russia.

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UK FILM TOP 10

1.  Lucy

2. The Inbetweeners 2

3. Let's Be Cops

4. Guardians Of The Galaxy

5. If I Stay

6. Sin City: A Dame To kill For

7. How To Train Your Dragon 2

8. As Above, So Below

9. Into The Storm

10. Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

Chart courtesy of Cineworld.co.uk

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