Lawless

A violent prohibition drama, Lawless offers Tom Hardy and Shia La Beouf juicy roles – in which they impress – but neglects to give other players, such as Jessica Chastain and Gary Oldman, much to do.  Tonally uneven, the occasional comedy beats are random and often disruptive. Enjoyable but far from definitive.

The Imposter

With a plot so riddled with holes you couldn’t believe it if it weren’t fact, The Imposter pushes on the limitations of documentary film-making to present a film where the truth is a constantly shifting sand. Disturbing, creepy, upsetting, and occasionally even amusing, the film’s ace is its parting ambiguity.

The Grey

Though the tension is in certain set-pieces unbearable (crossing a chasm on a rudimentary rope), this is, for the willing, a film concerned with more than mere popcorn survival-movie thrills. As yet another former hard-ass with a very particular skill-set Neeson imbues Ottway with enough soul to make you care.

Synechdoche, New York

Willfully weird, Synechdoche New York takes some effort to understand, let alone like. Often frustrating, and ocassionally even boring, it’s a challenging film. But as it grows more obscure it also reveals itself: as a wise, painful meditation on the time we waste. Beautifully acted, and quietly devastating.

Rec 3

After a traditionally shaky-cammed opening, Rec 3 jettisons the found-footage format and strikes out in a stylish new direction; surprisingly it works. Rec 4 may render this the series weirdo, but riffing Evil Dead it’s got gags, scares and in the bride a stunningly realised horror icon with a chainsaw.

 

V/H/S

A found-footage anthology, V/H/S is an innovative horror with a killer hook. Totalling 6, the films explore the format in differently queasy ways. Some are more effective than others, but three are genuinely exciting. The only disappointment is a recurring misogyny; the genre needs to take a look at itself.

The Bourne Legacy

Taking 40 minutes to get started, TBL lazes in the kind of exposition dealt with promptly in leaner thrillers. When it gets going it’s mostly nonsense; one wonders if Norton’s job of ceasing metastasis might be interminable. Fatally there’s little intrigue comparable to Bourne’s quest to know who he is.

Columbiana

A B-movie with pretensions to existential drama, after a thrilling (and silly) prologue Columbiana drops the fun for the glum and ends up being guess how enjoyable? Contrivances, clichés and genuinely baffling character behaviours soil whatever plot there is, making this only worth a look for film’s least effective detective.

Take This Waltz

Image

A film that manages to be both twee and bad natured, the point Take This Waltz is trying to make is lost in a mire of cringe inducing dialogue, over-egged symbolism and actors of whom you are usually fond behaving like assholes. Sarah Polley, you and I have fallen out.