Film Review: 'Stations of the Cross'

★★★★☆
Rigidity is both alpha and omega in Dietrich Brüggemann's stark and startling new religious drama, Stations of the Cross (2014) which arrives in British cinemas this Friday on the back of much festival praise. With form echoing function it is aesthetically austere and structurally meticulous in telling the story of a young girl whose saintly altruism is predestined to end in tragic martyrdom. Built around an exceptional lead performance from débutante Lea van Acken, Stations of the Cross is a captivating and visually arresting catastrophe designed as a series of fourteen almost entirely static shots in which characters movements must shift and shape the elegant compositions.

Film Review: 'Paddington'

★★★★☆
Originally conceived in 1958 by Michael Bond, Paddington Bear is given new life in Paul King’s quintessentially British family comedy. Packed to the rafters with a stellar cast that boasts Sally Hawkins and Ben Whishaw, Paddington (2014) is a tale of delights. Opening with the click of a black and white newsreel, a mustachioed explorer, Montgomery Clyde (Tim Downie) hacks through deepest, darkest Peru and encounters a rare species of talking bear with a penchant for the sticky orange stuff. Fast forward to the present day where we meet the pint-sized bear (Ben Whishaw) collecting oranges for his furry Aunt Lucy and grizzled Uncle Pastuzo, voiced by Imelda Staunton and Michael Gambon.

Film Review: 'Horrible Bosses 2'

★★☆☆☆
Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis reunite for Horrible Bosses 2 (2014), a predictably bland and entirely unnecessary sequel to the 2011 comedy in which three mistreated employees conspired to murder their managers. While that film suceeded in at least aprtially delivering on its amusing premise, its follow-up does not. Fed up of being used and abused by their employers, Nick (Bateman), Kurt (Sudeikis) and Dale (Day) start their own business. Their first product attracts the attention of rich investor Bert Hanson (Christoph Waltz), who places a big order. Unexpectedly, though, he pulls out of the deal and steals their idea, leaving the trio in thousands of dollars of debt.

Film Review: 'Concerning Violence'

★★★★☆
In answer to what he would do to follow 2011's multi-layered collage The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975, Göran Hugo Olsson has settled on the fight against Colonists in Africa by its indigenous people by again raiding the archives of Swedish Television for Concerning Violence (2014). This time he is using as the contextual device the words of Frantz Fanon spoken by Lauryn Hill, from Fanon’s book The Wretched Of The Earth. With a filmed introduction by postcolonial theorist Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, the film is split into nine chapters that delve into different perspectives on the African uprising that sprung up all over the continent from 1975 onwards.

DVD Review: 'You and the Night'

★★★☆☆
After causing a stir on the Croisette where it premiered last year in the Critic's Week Sidebar You and the Night (2013) is the debut feature from Yann Gonzalez and it is as infuriating as it's spectacular. With a wholly original score from the director's brother, M83, it seems unsure of what it wants to be. To say it's confused would to an understatment, and no matter that it's moments of wonder make one imagine what could have been, ultimately we are left with a failure, which stems from the risible unintentionally laugh-out-loud first half. The opening forty-five minutes create problems that leaves the film in a place that no matter how great the last forty-five are, it cannot save the film from it's own petard.

DVD Review: 'White Reindeer'

★☆☆☆☆
Even as far back as 1843, when Charles Dickens penned his illustrious novella A Christmas Carol, the materialism of Christmas was already apparent. Dickens wrote “Christmas is a poor excuse every 25 December to pick a man’s pocket” and it’s a cynical, yet astute statement that resonates even to this day. Fast-forward 171 years and we have Zach Clark’s pitch-black Christmas comedy White Reindeer (2014) – a film that appropriates the distilled essence of contemporary consumerism and the gauche spectacle of the holiday season and examines it through an excruciatingly pretentious and emotionally detached tale of grief and forced self-discovery.

Blu-ray Review: 'The Thief of Bagdad'

★★★★☆
In the early 1920s, Douglas Fairbanks was transformed from comedy star into swash-buckling heartthrob via The Mark of Zorro (1920), The Three Musketeers (1921) and Robin Hood (1922). Arguably one of the high-notes amongst his sensational ripping yarns is 1924's The Thief of Bagdad, a reworking of the Arabian Nights that gave ample opportunity for his charisma to burst from the screen. His performance is complemented by lavish production design and unparalleled special effects in what was one of the decade's most expensive features. Now released on a terrific blu-ray transfer as part of the Masters of Cinema collection, this silent fantasy epic is well worth revisiting.

Blu-ray Review: 'Spirited Away'

★★★★★
There is a scene part of the way through Hayao Miyazaki's exceptional Spirited Away (2001) in which the young girl, Chihiro (voiced by Rumi Hiiragi) helps to bathe an odorous spirit that frequents the bathhouse in which she is forced to work. Her tenacity in serving a customer that everyone else has shunned is rewarded when the spirit is revealed to have been a polluted river spirit in need of cleaning. The sequence echoes the entire film's perfect blend of Miyazaki's recurrent themes in a beautifully realised world of traditional Japanese myth. This is a magical, joyous, complex and heartstring-tugging masterpiece of cinema.

DVD Review: 'Mood Indigo'

★☆☆☆☆
After having his expressive wings clipped in exchange for genre formula with The Green Hornet (2011) and relinquishing his creative control to a group of Bronx school kids in his collaborative teen comedy The We and the I (2012), Michel Gondry returns to the land of the fantastical with comic drama Mood Indigo (2013). Pitting together two of contemporary French cinema’s most prominent actors – Audrey Tautou and Romain Duris, Gondry attempts to fashion a visual representation of the golden period that immediately follows falling in love, yet in abandoning rhyme or reason in his construction of such a vivid world Gondry has made something almost entirely incomprehensible.

DVD Review: 'Ida'

★★★★☆
Making his return to filmmaking after the groggy adaptation of Douglas Kennedy’s novel The Woman in the Fifth (2011), Polish filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski’s latest, Ida (2013), is a spare and outstandingly minimalist drama very much in keeping with his cinematic fixation with outsiders who find themselves out of their depths. Set in 1960s Poland and starring Agata Trzebuchowska in her acting debut, the film sees her playing Anna, a sheltered 18-year-old novitiate nun who’s been raised in a convent all her life. On the verge of taking her vows, Anna makes a variety of life-changing discoveries: her real name is in fact Ida and her Jewish parents were killed during the Nazi occupation.

DVD Review: 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

★★★★☆
When Marvel announced that the next characters they were going to introduce in Phase Two of their ongoing saga would include a walking tree and a talking raccoon, eyebrows were raised. With Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), a substantial punt is being taken not only on characters less familiar to the public, but in firing their universe into the unknown cosmos. Fortunately, the gamble has well and truly paid off. Helmed by James Gunn, this intergalactic yarn is not only a refreshing addition to the space opera sub-genre, but also one of the studio's most enjoyable films to date. Abducted from Earth as an orphan, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) has grown into the swaggering 'Star-Lord' out in deep space.

Blu-ray Review: 'Diary of a Lost Girl'

★★★★☆
A new restoration of G.W. Pabst’s 1929 masterpiece Diary of a Lost Girl, demonstrates the luminosity of his iconic star, Louise Brooks, in what was their final of two legendary collaborations, the other being Pandora’s Box in the same year. Having left Paramount studios to work for the celebrated German director in 1928, Brooks had been back in the US for six months when Pabst called upon her to again take the lead in his latest production. Like Lulu in Pandora’s Box, her character, Thymian Henning in Diary of a Lost Girl was one of questionable morality, occupying, throughout the film, positions in both ‘respectable’ and ‘sleazy’ society.

DVD Review: 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes'

★★★★☆
Memories of Tim Burton's woeful 2001 Planet of the Apes remake were thankfully replaced with far fonder recollections in 2011 following the release of Rupert Wyatt's Rise of the Planet of the Apes. An earnest entry in the flagging sci-fi franchise and a surprise hit at the international box office, a sequel was quickly green-lit with Wyatt once again penned in to direct. After dropping out of the project due to a conflict in vision with 20th Century Fox, Wyatt was replaced by Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Let Me In) who, with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), not only carries on the torch of series rejuvenation but has also crafted an eminently darker, grey matter-stimulating post-apocalyptic follow-up sure to please fans.

Competition: Win 'Mood Indigo'

Set in a fantasy version of the French capital Paris, Michel Gondry's Mood Indigo (2013) is the surreal and poetic tale of Colin (Romain Duris) and Chloé (Audrey Tautou), whose idyllic love story is turned on its head when Chloé falls sick. Dedicated to his beloved bride, Colin must go out to work in a series of increasingly absurd jobs to pay for the fresh flowers that Chloe needs to be surrounded with in order to feel better. To celebrate the DVD and Blu-ray release of Gondry's Mood Indigo this Monday (24 November), we have THREE DVD copies to give away thanks to the film's distributor StudioCanal UK. 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.

Competition: Win 'Ida' on DVD

From acclaimed director Paweł Pawlikowski (Last Resort, My Summer of Love) comes Ida (2013), a poignant and powerfully told drama about 18-year-old Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska). A sheltered orphan, Anna is preparing to become a nun when she discovers that her real name is Ida and her Jewish parents were killed during the Nazi occupation. This revelation triggers a journey into the secrets of a repressed past evoking haunting legacies and the realities of post-war communism. To celebrate the DVD and Blu-ray release of Ida this Monday (24 November), we have THREE DVD copies to give away. 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.

Weekly Round-up: 'Mockingjay' & 'Winter Sleep'

Welcome to new weekly round-ups 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, interesting 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.

Film Review: 'Winter Sleep'

★★★★★
A sprawling, almost empty hotel ensconced in the Anatolian steppes plays host to inhibited and isolated souls in Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s captivating, slow burner, Winter Sleep (2014). A deserved winner of this year's Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, Ceylan's latest is a claustrophobic chamber piece spun out into a vast, rich and beautifully intricate tapestry. Woven at its centre is Aydin (Haluk Bilginer); a grey, bearded, landowner who dispenses hortatory with relish, but whose own moral authority may be somewhat questionable. Driven by discourse on conduct and self-deception, a series of conversations form the narrative, resulting in a majestic and subtly rendered multi-character study.

Film Review: 'What We Do in the Shadows'

★★★★☆
Taking into account the countless iterations of vampire mythology in popular culture over the last few years, you'd be forgiven for thinking that a stake had been driven through the heart of originality when it comes to the cinematic exploits of the toothsome undead. Thankfully, What We Do in the Shadows (2014) proves that not every last drop of blood has been drained. Akin to Edgar Wright's 2004 zom-rom-com Shaun of the Dead, this is a film that doesn't set out to outwardly parody the genre, instead using those long-established vampire tropes as a hook for the humour, flipping them for comedic effect in a whole variety of imaginative ways.

Film Review: 'My Old Lady'

★★☆☆☆
At the age of 75, and with over 70 plays under his belt, prolific theatre director Israel Horovitz makes his cinematic debut, adapting his 2002 stage play of the same name, My Old Lady (2014). Given Horovitz’s proven track record of crafting critically successful and award-winning narratives for theatre, one would be forgiven for thinking that a transition into film would be a smooth one. However the journey has proven to be bumpier than first thought, with this first feature failing to break free from the shackles of its theatre beginnings. My Old Lady centres upon three characters played by Kevin Kline, Maggie Smith and Kristen Scott-Thomas.

Film Review: 'Mary is Happy, Mary is Happy'

★★☆☆☆
The internet use to be a place to hide, a refuge in which online gamers, chat room enthusiasts and message board trolls could cultivate a new identity. As the years have passed and the popularity of social media has risen Internet culture has evolved so that our online identities now pertain to mirror our offline personas. However, as we all know these identities remain a romanticised reconstruction of our lives and rarely does the virtual personality correlate to the real. In Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit's playfully meta-fictional Mary is Happy, Mary is Happy (2013) this disconnect is explored by representing the parallel between our passive physical form and the idealised image of ourselves we construct online.

DocHouse: 'Maidan' review

★★★★☆
In his fantastic new documentary, Maidan (2014), revered Belarusian filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa presents the public protest that eventually led to the toppling of the Ukranian premiere, Viktor Yanukovych, through a number of dichotomies. It is rigorous but unhurried; cool but compelling; faceless but personal; old-fashioned reportage and formally challenging modern cinema. Kiev's Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) was the venue for demonstrations in late 2013 that concluded in brutal clashes with the police and played a key role in the president’s impeachment. Loznitsa's unblinking camera observes this tumultuous period.

Film Review: 'Inherent Vice'

★★★★★
There Will be Blood (2007) gave us the birth of American capitalism, The Master (2012) doused us in the uncertainty of post-war malaise and now Inherent Vice (2014) takes us to the crossroads of the modern Californian ethos. This is Paul Thomas Anderson's American history trilogy - how the West was won, bought and sold. Gore Vidal called his own series of historical novels the Narratives of Empire; it would be an apt title for PTA's trilogy, which serves as a document of the 20th century incarnation of that pioneer spirit. Daniel Plainview, Freddie Quell and Doc Sportello may initially seem like a disparate group of characters, but that spirit connects them. Each is a pilgrim staking his place in the New World.
A hilariously louche and ramshackle psychedelic noir, Inherent Vice is an audacious stylistic leap for Anderson, but his risks pay off beautifully. It's an amazing work, capturing the heady vibe of Thomas Pynchon's novel while stumbling into in the great cinematic lineage of California noir. Joaquin Phoenix plays affable stoner P.I. Doc Sportello who is investigating the disappearance of a shady real estate mogul. The plot is molasses-thick, but its tangles and apparent dead-ends are where PTA works his magic. The Summer of Love is over and yesterday's dream is tomorrow's nightmare. The shadow of Cielo Drive hangs heavy over everything; the hippies are under constant suspicion and the authorities are thirsty for blood. The sun is setting on the co-counter-culture the Nixon era is dawning.

Los Angeles is a city adept at shifting its identity following a crisis in the culture. In Inherent Vice, the dark side of the hippie dream has been rapidly seized and commodified by the elite. The cult of Manson is now the reign of commerce. Inherent Vice’s city is populated by amorphous personae; policemen double as extras on cop shows, dentists run drug rings and Jewish businessmen fraternize with the Aryan brotherhood. Whole areas disappear overnight, making way for housing developments and baseball stadiums. Everything is changing, but Los Angeles plays itself. This is noir through the looking glass; a corrupt civic order exaggerated to hallucinatory proportions.

And at the centre of the maelstrom is Doc; hapless and stoned. From Bogart’s indomitable Marlowe in The Big Sleep (1946) to Elliott Gould’s fatalistic rendition in The Long Goodbye (1973), the devolution of the gumshoe ideal in the American cinema has always served as a barometer for contemporary malaise. Anderson and Pynchon's incarnation of the private eye is a heightened product of the times he reflects, but he still fulfils the mythic role as a man apart; a disrupter perhaps, but one content to roll with the turning tide. Although compromised, the counter-culture in Inherent Vice is still a refuge of sorts from the changing times. The precarious transition from the 60s to the 70s will change the course of history in the city, but Anderson finds solace in the fringes. Turn on, tune in, drop out.

Craig Williams | @Craigfilm

Film Review: 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay'

★★★☆☆
The Hunger Games has become a cultural phenomenon over the past seven years with Suzanne Collins' alternative visions of gender and class inspiring audiences both young and old. Some fans can even be seen adorned in 'Down with the Capitol' t-shirts. However, with the franchise's penultimate instalment, Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1 (2014), Collins' revolutionary-lite rhetoric has become unravelled by the commercially driven decision to split the final novel into two films - ultimately lessening the satirical bite and reverting to the gender archetypes it originally sought to challenge. Francis Lawrence's second foray into Panem initially attempts to dissect the manipulative influence of the media.

Film Review: 'The Homesman'

★★★★☆
Tommy Lee Jones' second directorial effort following the underrated The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (which played at Cannes in 2005), The Homesman (2014) is something of a reverse western, with homesteader Mary Bee Cuddy (a sterling turn from Hilary Swank) and amoral old-timer George Briggs (Jones) heading from west to east with a cargo of three mentally-ill women, played by Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto and Sonja Richter. The characters have been variously defeated by the brutal reality of frontier life, with loneliness, diphtheria, child mortality and marital abuse having driven these women to the point of desperation and beyond into the realms of madness.

Film Review: 'Get On Up'

★★★★☆
Chadwick Boseman's portrayal of James Brown, in Tate Taylor’s candid biopic, Get On Up (2014), is a bold, brash and innovative rendition of a man who was often perceived as all ego. He was a market-machine of tremendous talent at the forefront of music, making you love him with the fury of a hellfire preacher trying to convert a sinner. He was also a man who never really confronted the horrors of his upbringing, preferring to perpetuate and live by his own myth, remaining a childish, though never innocent, man, who wanted the love of everyone without being capable of giving it back. We meet Brown in 1988, hunched shoulders and showing signs of age.

DVD Review: 'Transformers: Age of Extinction'

★★☆☆☆
One can only hope that the subtitle appended to the latest instalment of Michael Bay's colossal computer-generated Rock' Em Sock 'Em franchise actually heralds its true ending. With Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014) Michael Bay has delivered another deafeningly loud and schlocky picture, full of the explosions and glib dialogue that have bonded him and his audience in a sort of love-hate relationship for almost twenty years. The film delivers on its promises of high-energy action sequences and the return of some of the most popular Transformers, but are those things enough to push this episode, or the wider series to new heights?

Blu-ray Review: 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre'

★★★★★
Four decades after its release, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) still justifies its place in the pantheon of all-time horror greats. Fully ingrained in the psyche of genre fans via the many manifestations of real world-inspired horror directly indebted to it, the film's influence still ripples through pop culture to this day (see the putrid domicile of Rust and Marty's nemeses in True Detective). It remains a gruelling and unrelenting slice of shocking vérité terror, its power to disturb not diluted one bit (even director Tobe Hooper was fully cognisant of the challenges in trying to replicate the lighting in a bottle greatness of the original, altering the tone considerably with his 1986 follow-up).

DVD Review: 'How to Train Your Dragon 2'

★★★☆☆
After 2010's How to Train Your Dragon proved to be one of the more entertaining entries in the previous decade's proliferation of animated features - as well as arguably one of the few genuinely decent DreamWorks Animation products - its inevitable sequel, How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014) sees the company exploring the universe it so successfully created first time round. Continuing to be loosely based on the book series of the same name by Cressida Cowell, this second instalment in a planned trilogy sees director Dean DeBlois going solo this time round, proving to be a filmmaker worthy of crafting engaging narratives wrapped around pertinent and universal themes.

DVD Review: 'Grand Central'

★★★☆☆
Both the romance and the electrons are charged in Rebecca Zlotowski's Grand Central (2013), a French melodrama about illicit love in the shadow of a nuclear power plant. Tahar Rahim is Gary, a working class nomad who finds a job decontaminating aging cores at a rural power station. It’s better paid than normal, but that's because of the danger of radioactive contamination, which reveals itself to be less a threat than an everyday occurrence. He bonds with a local downtrodden traveller community with his boss, Toni (Denis Menochet), and Toni's fiancée Karole, played by Léa Seydoux, more guarded but just as sultry as she was in Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013).

Blu-ray Review: 'The Day the Earth Caught Fire'

★★★☆☆
It's amazing how in the space of fifty odd years public taste and opinions have changed. Take for instance the classic Science Fiction thriller The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961) - newly restored and released on DVD and Blu-ray to coincide with the BFI's Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder season (running from October through to December). Directed by Val Guest, the filmmaker responsible for Hammer's groundbreaking 1950s Quatermass films, and starring Edward Judd and Janet Munro, The Day the Earth Caught Fire brings a gritty tabloid realism to a terrifying subject that was very much in the public consciousness at the time of its release.

DVD Review: '22 Jump Street'

★★★★☆
That 21 Jump Street (2012) - a cinematic reboot of a vaguely remembered, Johnny Depp-starring eighties TV crime show - was met with the amount of praise that it was is testament to directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. It cannily mixed their particularly madcap sense of humour with a wealth of successful ingredients, not least a knowing wink. Fresh off the back of their critically and financially adored animation spectacular The Lego Movie (2014), the duo return for 22 Jump Street (2014), which picks up exactly where the original film finished and goes bigger, brasher, and delivers a hilarious and entirely satisfying follow-up.

Special Feature: Comic-Con's cosplayed cars

The word cosplay derives from two words - 'costume' and 'play' - and it's a word that is uttered around the world by every geek worth his salt (or perhaps, melange) when the annual San Diego Comic-Con begins. It's a light-hearted way to meet people with similar interests and sporting a cosplay costume can give a shy individual an excited confidence that is undeniably contagious. The lengths that some people have historically gone to has been quite something to behold, with the planning required, and the exacting attention to detail. Some costumes, such as this Blood Angel Space Marine, require serious commitment. As well as putting on superhero costumes or dressing up like a supernatural being, getting ready for cosplay can also include using props such as cars.

Weekly Round-up: 'The Imitation Game'

Welcome to our weekly round-up of the best DVD, Blu-ray and cinema releases over the past seven days in the UK. We'll strive to keep you updated on upcoming festivals, interesting 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.
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