Film Review: 'Cake'

★★☆☆☆
The crippling nature of living with severe chronic pain is a subject that affects millions of people around the world and is severely under-represented in cinema. Daniel Barnz's Cake (2014) attacks the subject head-on and explores the often embarrassing world of dealing with support groups, pain management instructors, healthcare workers, and one's own paralysing self-doubt about what the next day holds. As a sincere look at difficult subjects like suicide and prescription drug addiction, this could have been a phenomenal movie baring vital messages about pain and recovery. Instead, it's as hard to take in as the Oxycontin Jennifer Aniston repeatedly dry-swallowing during bouts of extreme muscle pain.

Film Review: 'The Boy Next Door'

★☆☆☆☆
The inclusion and modern interpretation of literary classics like Homer's The Iliad and tales of Oedipus the King juxtaposed with the detrimental dialogue present throughout the entire film is just one of many reasons as to why Rob Cohen's The Boy Next Door (2015) will be remembered as one of the worst movies of the year. The sub-par acting, overdramatic cinematography and horribly predictable shock value of the film makes it all the more difficult to sit through without laughing at the ludicrous production or checking a cellphone to gauge how much torture one is expected to sit through before it finally ends. Worst of all, however, is the warped desire to sexualise the misogynistic actions of the lead sociopath.

Special Feature: Batman to Birdman

F. Scott Fitzgerald once claimed that "there are no second acts in American lives." Though dismissive of the phoenix-like revival of his fellow countrymen, it's proved largely unfounded when it comes to the Hollywood leading man. Amongst the showbiz second acts, eighties relics such as John Travolta and Mickey Rourke have both managed to pick themselves up and brushed off a whole slew of bad career choices to forge another path to respectability, however lacking in quality or as fleeting a reappearance that may have been. Michael Keaton has never quite been the box office non-entity of those 1980s counterparts, but his sharp comedic presence and edgy performances have been largely sidelined for some time now.

GFF 2015: Baumbach's 'While We're Young' to open Glasgow

Glasgow Film Festival co-directors Allan Hunter and Allison Gardner took to a makeshift stage at the citizenM hotel to announce the full programme for this year's 11th edition. Noah Baumbach's While We're Young, starring Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts, has been chosen to open the festival, while Force Majeure - which won the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at last year's Cannes Film Festival - will close proceedings. In total, 174 events will take place across the famed cinema city from 18 February to 1 March, including 11 world premières, 10 European premières and 33 UK premières. Highlights include fall festival favourites Mommy, Clouds of Sils Maria and Girlhood, Alan Rickman's directorial debut A Little Chaos, the Pedro Almodóvar-produced black comedy Wild Tales and Still Alice.

Film Review: 'Selma'

★★★★☆
Events over the course of the last six months - most notably those surrounding the riots in Ferguson, Missouri in August - have once again given rise to urgent discourse on race relations in the United States. As though fated, into that charged atmosphere comes Ava DuVernay's Selma (2014), a stirring and complex portrayal of three civil-rights marches that took place in 1965 between the eponymous Alabama town and nearby state capital, Montgomery. The demonstrations were intended to force through legislation on voting rights and were spearheaded by Martin Luther King Jr himself, perfectly embodied on-screen in a towering performance by a transformed David Oyelowo.

Film Review: 'Mortdecai'

★☆☆☆☆
Johnny Depp continues his descent into self-parody with the mawkish and turgid caper Mortdecai (2015) from director David Koepp. Based on Kyril Bonfiglioli's 1970's comic novels, it follows the misadventures of the dodgy art dealer Charlie Mortdecai. He is a buffoonish British aristocrat who gives dear Johnny plenty of scope to up-the-ante on his long list of insufferably tiresome character performances. Like the Mad Hatter, Jack Sparrow and Willy Wonka before, he seems all too at home with the eccentricities of the role; complete with plummy British accent, twittering facial whiskers, and nods to the films Peter Sellers, Ronald Neame's Gambit (1966) and its 2012 remake.

Film Review: 'Ex Machina'

★★★★☆
The very best science fiction serves as a barometer of the times, a tool with which to gauge the concerns of our age. In Ex Machina (2015), the impressive directorial debut of genre polymath Alex Garland, our great contemporary technological fear is internalised then cast into the future's void. The consequences of The Age of Information – from Google to Snowden – are taken as given and next steps are considered. It is a film about human possibilities and digital anxieties, positing technological innovation as an endless cycle. The science changes, but the moral narratives stays the same; Garland confronts the technological zeitgeist of our day, but considers it within the tradition of late 20th century sci-fi.

Film Review: 'Beyond Clueless'

★★★★☆
As something of a voice of a modern cinema-going generation, British multimedia wunderkind Charlie Lyne has forged a career out of thoughtful irreverence, crossing multiple platforms to make his contemporary and pop culture-savvy voice heard. Serving as critic and journalist for both The Guardian and his own blog Ultra Culture - which also sidelines in twinning film premières with a keg and a sing-song, Lyne now makes the somewhat inevitable leap to filmmaking with his debut Beyond Clueless (2014), a documentary that takes an extensive look at the decade-long, seminal years of the teen movie sub-genre.

Film Review: 'A Most Violent Year'

★★★★☆
With just three films J.C. Chandor has managed to prove himself a director capable of morphing to suit his subject matter. Margin Call (2011) was dialogue-heavy and cerebral, reflected in the computer screens and shimmering steel and glass of the surroundings. In the far more elemental All Is Lost (2013) the sea was the ever-shifting landscape for Robert Redford's near-wordless toil. Most recently, the director has turned his hand to a crime drama of sorts, adopting a grimy, muted aesthetic in keeping with the tumultuous setting of New York in 1981. The scintillating A Most Violent Year (2014) highlights what has been the through-line of Chandor's terrific career to date; the struggle to survive.

DVD Review: 'Very Good Girls'

★★☆☆☆
Very Good Girls (2014) has all the trappings of an indie coming-of-age story: a hip soundtrack commandeered by musician Jenny Lewis; fresh-faced and innocent actresses; dreamy cinematography; just a dash of drama to appropriately weight the plot. This is all well and good but in a sea of films of this ilk, it gets drowned in its own good intentions. Naomi Foner's first outing as writer and director falls by the wayside very quickly, feeling like a exercise in derivative perceptions on what it means to become a woman. The narrative focuses on Lily (Dakota Fanning) and Gerry (Elizabeth Olsen) who are on their last summer vacation before college.

Blu-ray Review: 'Two for the Road'

★★★★☆
Stanley Donen could see the writing on the wall. The counter-culture was dawning and it was only a matter of time before the spirit of the Beats and the sexual force of Elvis reached the American cinema. The country was changing around him and he offered an unconscious reaction in the form of a classical Hollywood musical. Funny Face (1957) took Old Hollywood to the counterculture and tore a strip off it. It was showbiz as artistic imperialism, with Donen turning a song and dance number into a form of cultural battering ram, taking on the beatniks, the bohemians and the dropouts. It was a last hurrah for the Hollywood musical, but Donen offered neither a limp celebration nor mournful epitaph.

DVD Review: 'Obvious Child'

★★★★☆
If mainstream entertainment like HBO's Girls and Frances Ha (2013) have done anything, they've elevated the platforms for women in the entertainment industry to share their views and opinions and explore issues and debates within modern feminine society. Following suit is Gillian Robespierre's debut feature Obvious Child (2014), an expansion of her 2009 short film of the same name that chronicled the crises a young woman faces when she becomes pregnant. Reprising her role as said woman, Donna, is American actress and stand-up comic Jenny Slate, who brings an air of authenticity to a character with whom she shares many notable traits.

Blu-ray Review: 'Metropolis'

★★★★★
During the making of Metropolis (1927) Germany was caught in a tundra of political restructure and cinematic prosperity. Beneath the cindered waste cast aside by the First World War was a fatherland set for reform by the Weimar Republic and a film industry set to take the world stage. The so-called 'ethic of change' was in the air and the country's cultural isolation was dwindling. With the realities of war being all too real, the Expressionist movement was en vogue and German auteurs were at the forefront of an artistic uprising. The likes of Robert Weine and Fritz Lang were paving a macabre, fantastical path that would reshape the forms of storytelling. Deep in metaphor, heaped in rhetoric.

DVD Review: 'A Most Wanted Man'

★★★☆☆
In the wake of terrorism, governments have been left to wonder how they missed crucial signs, what preventative measures need to be taken and what can effectively stamp out the destructive actions of a few. A Most Wanted Man (2014) is set in a post-9/11 Hamburg, Germany: on high-alert after allowing plotters involved in the New York attack to work right under its nose. Adapted from John le Carré's novel of the same name, the film seeks to explore the war on terror from a new perspective and contemplates just what toll espionage takes on those who are caught in its web. Chechen Muslim Issa Karpov's (Grigoriy Dobrygin) arrival in Hamburg is an ominous one.

DVD Review: '1915: The Battle for the Alps'

★★★☆☆
Ernst Grossner's war drama, 1915: The Battle for the Alps (released as The Silent Mountain in 2014), is set in the Dolomite Mountains during World War One. A classy European cast includes William Moseley, of The Chronicles of Narnia fame. The dramatic backdrop is the fight between Austro-Hungary and Italy for control over territory stretching from Trentino through the South Tyrol to Trieste. Interweaving the political and personal, Grossner uses the wider focus of war as a stark contrast to the fortunes of two families who live on the border and intermarry. Andreas (Moseley) and his sister Elisabeth (Emily Cox), the offspring of an affluent Austrian hotelier, both fall for local Italians.

Weekly Round-up: 'Whiplash', Oscar nominations

Welcome to our regular weekly round-up of the best DVD, Blu-ray and cinema releases over the past seven days in the UK. We'll also strive to keep you updated on upcoming festivals, events and the latest trailers from across the web. Come back each Friday to see what our talented team of writers are recommending and catch up on all the week's new releases. As an independent film site, our aim is to reach out to the largest audience possible, whilst also highlighting and championing some of the more diverse and less known new releases from the world of cinema. We can only do this with your help and support, so please feel free to add your comments and let us know what films and events you'd like to hear more about. For regular updates or to continue the conversation, be sure to follow us on Twitter.

Oscars 2015: Nine nods apiece for 'Birdman' & 'Grand Budapest'

Following hot on the heels of last week's Bafta nominations in London as well as the weekend's telling Golden Globe results, at 1.30pm GMT today the list of nominees for this year's 87th Academy Awards were broadcast across the globe. With presenting duties split between J.J. Abrams and Alfonso Cuarón, as well as Chris Pine and Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, it was Alejandro Iñárritu's Birdman and Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel that were the two stand-out performers, with both receiving nine nominations each including Best Picture and Best Director. Clint Eastwood's American Sniper (six), Richard Linklater's Boyhood (also six) and British offerings The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything also picked up nods in key categories.

Film Review: 'Wild'

★★☆☆☆
After the Oscar success of last year's Dallas Buyers Club (2013), where both Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto walked away with awards, Jean-Marc Vallée returns with Wild (2014), an adaptation of Cheryl Strayed's account of her treacherous, life-affirming hike along the Pacific Crest Trail. Despite a career best performance by Reese Witherspoon, Vallée's has again defined himself as an 'actors director', with his latest a hideously contrived self-help travelogue for the narcissistic and wilfully ignorant. Opening on a scenic vista, complete with rolling hills and lush Pacific greenery, we hear the murmurs of moaning and groaning stemming from off screen.

Film Review: 'Whiplash'

★★★★☆
After making his first and comparatively more sombre feature in the form of 2009's Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, American filmmaker Damien Chazelle returns with Whiplash (2014). A bruising and bracingly melodious cat and mouse story, it continues the director's fascination with the way music simultaneously inspires and affects everyday life. With what has already proven itself to be a festival favourite and awards contender, Chazelle's latest is an exemplary study of the both fruitful and dangerous ramifications of pure, naked ambition, one that skilfully marries a dark sense of humour with viciously high tension.

Film Review: 'Testament of Youth'

★★★★☆
Débutante British feature film director James Kent, along with Calendar Girls (2003) screenwriter Juliette Towhidi, has succulently crafted an emotionally bruising, evocative and smartly streamlined adaptation of one of the greatest rallying cries to pacifism, Vera Brittain's remarkable Testament of Youth (2015). An account of her war years between 1914-18, Brittain's book is unique in a variety of ways and the challenges of adapting for the screen are numerous as a result. Kent, who gathers a cast of extremely bright young things, creates a drama that glides with sorrowful grace, pitching at a respectful and tear-inducing tone.

Film Review: 'Point and Shoot'

★★☆☆☆
Point and Shoot (2014) is a bizarrely fascinating documentary, recording the adventures of Matt VanDyke, a young American from Baltimore who ended up fighting in and filming the war in Libya that saw the overthrow of Col. Moammar Gadhafi. With a extensive use of his own footage and some animation and talking head interviews, we see VanDyke, a privileged young white male with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, who was inspired by repeated watchings of Lawrence of Arabia to head off to North Africa in 2011 with a motorcycle and a camera. A 36,000-mile road trip ensues as VanDyke seeks out a what he describes as ‘crash course in manhood’.

Film Review: 'Duck Soup'

★★★★★
Within its opening premise, the concept of a utopian Freedonia, the Marx Brothers' glorious Duck Soup (1933) is already flinging mud in the eye of Western democracy. Bankrupt, the aforementioned country's lofty name is skewered when it is hauled back into the black by its richest citizen, Mrs. Teasdale. She insists on replacing the ousted premiere with a bold new leader of her choosing. The power of money may be absolute, but it's the enduring power of absurdist humour that is evident in her selection - Groucho Marx' wise-cracking Rufus T. Firefly. Leo McCarey's film throws meaningful narrative out of the window, presenting a masterclass in political satire and gut-busting slapstick.

Film Review: 'American Sniper'

★★☆☆☆
In American Sniper (2014), Chris Kyle (played by Bradley Cooper) insists on keeping both eyes open when peering through the sights of his rifle. His reasoning is sound; to keep a weather eye on the rest of his surroundings. As director, Clint Eastwood seems to have ignored that advice, instead allowing his protagonist's telescopic tunnel vision to suck him in. Telling the tale of the US military's deadliest sniper, one of mainstream cinema's master purveyors of masculinity and Americana seems to have completely bought into the legend he's retelling. Despite a delicate handling of Kyle's internal struggles on home soil, deeper complexity appears to lie just out of frame throughout.

DVD Review: 'Wakolda'

★★★☆☆
Lucia Puenzo's chilling drama, Wakolda (2013), based on her novel, German Doctor, follows the unlikely friendship of 12-year old Lilith (Florencia Bado) and Josef Mengele (Alex Brendemühl), Auschwitz's 'Angel of Death' on the run for his war crimes. A doctor, Mengele had conducted genetic research on human subjects in Auschwitz. After the Second World War, Argentina became a haven for Nazis who lived there, unchallenged, for decades. President Juan Peron was keen to exploit the expertise of Nazi doctors and scientists and turned a blind eye to the influx of war criminals. Wakolda opens in 1960 on a remote desert road in Patagonia.

DVD Review: 'Night Moves'

★★★☆☆
Now an established voice in American indie cinema, Kelly Reichardt has created films that consistently demonstrate a sensitivity towards characterisation that address with compassion, a diversity of approaches to the human condition. What drives an individual to self deception, is probed in Old Joy (2006); a solitary, marginal existence, in Wendy and Lucy (2008); survival on the frontier in Meek’s Cutoff (2010). Each present individuals living on the edge of society, making them both inherently curious and relatable by turns. Lives lived outside the mainstream are again a focus of Night Moves (2013) which sees three radical environmentalists plan the explosion of a large river dam.

DVD Review: 'Lucy'

★★★★☆
In recent years, Luc Besson has become most recognisable for churning out a raft of money-spinning but largely forgettable euro-flavoured actioners from his EuropaCorp studio. That has been to the detriment of his own directorial output (which has become increasingly lacklustre of late), and then along comes this screamingly ridiculous, hugely entertaining pulpy sci-fi yarn, Lucy (2014). It plays like an amped up version of Limitless (2011), rebranded as a frenetic, anything-goes comic book jaunt with a smattering of anthropological, David Attenborough-like inserts. This is a mesmerising return to form for the filmmaker, crafted with an eccentric playfulness evident in his earlier (and best) work.

DVD Review: 'Dinosaur 13'

★★★☆☆
This is long-toothed storytelling. Much like the bygone fossil at the centre of Dinosaur 13 (2014), director Todd Miller allows this semi-stirring documentary to deteriorate far too quickly. With all the courtroom complexities of Citizen Kane (1941) knotted with the soap opera melodrama of Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), we become entangled in a battle between bureaucracy and benevolence over the ownership of the largest Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton to date. Heartfelt, if not a little humdrum, a small team of amorous palaeontologists from South Dakota make the historical discovery in the badlands of Black Hills.

Weekly Round-up: 'Foxcatcher', 'Into the Woods'

Welcome to our regular weekly round-up of the best DVD, Blu-ray and cinema releases over the past seven days in the UK. We'll also strive to keep you updated on upcoming festivals, events and the latest trailers from across the web. Come back each Friday to see what our talented team of writers are recommending and catch up on all the week's new releases. As an independent film site, our aim is to reach out to the largest audience possible, whilst also highlighting and championing some of the more diverse and less known new releases from the world of cinema. We can only do this with your help and support, so please feel free to add your comments and let us know what films and events you'd like to hear more about. For regular updates or to continue the conversation, be sure to follow us on Twitter.

Baftas 2015: 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' leads nominations

Announced by Stephen Fry and Sam Claflin, this year's Bafta nominations were revealed yesterday morning. Wes Anderson's Berlinale opener The Grand Budapest Hotel leads the pack with eleven nominations, earning nods for Best Film, Best British Actor, Best Director as well as a host of technical awards. Elsewhere, Oscar hopefuls Birdman, the 12-years-in-the-making Boyhood and Second World War offering The Imitation Game also garnered numerous nominations while there were surprising shut-outs for Martin Luther King drama Selma and Mike Leigh's Mr. Turner. The inimitable Fry returns once again as host for this year's EE-sponsored Bafta ceremony, taking place at London's Royal Opera House on Sunday 8 February.

Competition: Win a 'Birdman' poster signed by Michael Keaton

To celebrate the recent release of Alejandro G. Iñárritu's Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) we're giving one lucky reader the chance to win a poster signed by Birdman himself, Michael Keaton. One of this year's awards contenders, Birdman is a black comedy that tells the story of actor Riggan Thomson (Keaton) - famous for portraying an iconic superhero - as he struggles to mount an off-Broadway production of Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. In the days leading up to opening night, Riggan battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career and himself. This is an exclusive competition for our Facebook and Twitter fans, so if you haven't already, 'Like' us at facebook.com/CineVueUK or follow us @CineVue before answering the question below.

Film Review: 'National Gallery'

★★★★☆
Painting has only "the speed of light to tell its story," explains one tour guide in veteran documentarian Frederick Wiseman's National Gallery (2014), a study of the Trafalgar Square institution. Wiseman's film is nearly three hours in length (still an hour shorter than his previous effort, 2013's At Berkeley), but every frame seems to illuminate some distinctive element of the ethereal nature of the place, and even at the speed of light his portrait of an institution in motion has questions that ruminate afterwards. In his signature style, without talking heads, narration or explanatory context, Wiseman takes us straight into the London gallery itself and the inhabitants inside - both human and paint-form.

Film Review: 'The Last of the Unjust'

★★★★★
Claude Lanzmann is the custodian of the memory and oral tradition of the Holocaust. His life's work has encompassed numerous films from his grand opus Shoah (1985) to Sobibór, 14 Octobre 1943, 16 Heures (2001) and Un Vivant Qui Passe (1999). With The Last Of The Unjust (2013) he revisits an interview he made with Benjamin Murmelstein in 1975. To say that Murmelstein is a conflicted, contradicted character who creates divisive opinions is the understatement of all understatements. He was the last president of the Jewish Council in the Theresienstadt ghetto: the disguised concentration camp in the city of Terezín.

Film Review: 'Into the Woods'

★★★★☆
When it was announced that Disney would be making a film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's beloved musical for Into the Woods (2014), the ears of fans pricked up. Would the House of Mouse keep true to the sinister tone of the original or would they coat it in sugar to make it more palatable for little ones? Tasked with keeping the theatre wolves from the door is director Rob Marshall, best known for his 2002 Oscar-winning show-stopper Chicago. What he has crafted is an entertaining and highly camp magical number. For those not familiar with Sondheim's original, it is a modern re-telling of classic fairytales that generations of children were raised on, but with a deeply contemporary twist.

Film Review: 'Foxcatcher'

★★★★★
When Barton Fink was asked to write a wrestling picture, it struck him as the most demeaning use of his talents. He wished to commit to his political principles, and to the people. With Bennett Miller's Foxcatcher (2014), we have a film which, despite devoting significant screentime to the sport of large men in tights, has as its main theme the absolutely corrosive effect of too much money on just about everything. Based on a remarkable true story and set in the mid-eighties, Miller's film follows his earlier Moneyball (2011) in revealing the backrooms of sport away from the arena, and his narrative debut Capote (2005) (written by Foxcatcher scribe Dan Futterman), another 'true crime' story.

DVD Review: 'Vengeance Road'

★☆☆☆☆
Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriquez have a lot to answer for. Seven years after failing to replicate the sleazy low-budget thrills of the grindhouse era, there have been numerous attempts in their wake to achieve the same thing, the majority of which have also stumbled badly. Into that mix comes Vengeance Road (2014), yet another subpar wannabe which again seems to think that substituting in-camera effects with horribly ineffective CG blood-letting is entirely acceptable. Released in the US under the infinitely better if ridiculously lofty title 'American Muscle', it's a cheap and nasty film, minus anything much in the way of fun.

DVD Review: 'The Rover'

★★★★☆
The barren, sun-scorched Australian Outback has proved a fertile creative ground for filmmakers interested in exploring tales of a dystopian nature, and director David Michôd gets great mileage out of it for his second feature, The Rover (2014). Bypassing the inherent high-octane exploitation route of this cinematic lineage, he opts instead for a much more subdued and stripped-down storytelling approach. This runs through the whole of his film, from the sparse dialogue and plotting, to the minimal soundtrack with it's growling, guttural guitar soundscape. The results offer a gripping and delicately sobering character piece which is further bolstered by outstanding performances from its two leads.