Frankenweenie ,Tim Burton's latest return to stop-motion animation, follows the gothic path trodden by the Adam’s Family and Munsters. It charts in a slightly saccharine way (it is made by Disney, after all) one boy’s bid to bring his beloved dog Sparky back to life. If you like Frankenstein and Lassie Come Home, you’ll enjoy this film.
End of Watch stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña as LAPD officers patrolling the gangland war zones of Los Angeles. It is an unconventional take on the action thriller format, featuring plenty of ostensible “found-footage” that transports the viewer to frontline policing – at times exciting, but also distracting. This edgy flick’s strength lies in the relationship between the two central figures, whose friendship is tested as they follow the trail of a criminal cartel.
The Sessions is about a 36-year-old man, debilitated by illness, who wishes to lose his virginity. If you’d never heard of a “sex surrogate” before then this film is an education. It also features the immortal line (from the central character to a priest) “My penis speaks to me, Father”. Inspired by a true story it stars Oscar-winner Helen Hunt and John Hawkes. It might sound a bit heavy but it has moments that are incredible funny. It won the Audience Award at Sundance earlier this year.
The Sapphires is another cinematic take on a true story. The Australian film tells the story of four Aboriginal girls in a band who make it big when they play for the American troops in Vietnam. It is another smart move from man of the moment Chris O’Dowd, who became a surprise heartthrob after his turn in Bridesmaids. Filled with silliness and singing it has snootily been branded to mainstream for a film festival by the filmerati, but don’t be put off.
Antiviral, written and directed by Brandon Cronenberg, is a whodunit with a twist. It is a tale of “biological communion” whereby live viruses are harvested from celebrities and sold to obsessed fans. When the equivalent of Lady Gaga, the superstar Hannah Geist (Sarah Gadon) is killed by a virus, the mystery of her death (and the illness that killed her) is passed onto Syd March (Caleb Landry Jones), an employee at biological communion clinic. A surreal parody on sleb culture.
Beasts of the Southern Wild is about a bleak snapshot of a post-prosperity America where a desperate community lives stranded on a tiny strip of land on the Gulf of Mexico, south of New Orleans. The star of Benh Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar’s film is the fiercely independent six-year-old Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane Wallis). She is being trained by Wink, her terminally ill alcoholic father, to be as self-sufficient as possible. The blurb might sound relentlessly miserable, but it is a joyful, quirky film with unbridled spirit.
The Hunt couldn’t be a more prescient film for the London Film Festival in a week that has seen countless news stories about paedophilia and child abuse. Set in a rural Denmark town, Mads Mikkelsen plays a nursery school teacher who is accused of sexually abusing the five-year-old daughter of his best friend (Thomas Bo Larsen). It is a tense, angry piece takes you painstakingly toward justice.
Argo is Ben Affleck’s latest film, both as actor and scriptwriter, is yet another film “based on true events”. Affleck has managed to produce a funny and thrilling piece based on the 1979 hostage crisis. If you’re expecting another Good Will Hunting then think again. Affleck plays the bearded Tony Mendez, a government agent who specialises in extracting Americans from tricky situations.
Winner of the Cannes Palme d'Or award , Michael Haneke's morality tale Amour is already generating Oscars buzz. The heart-breaking story of the dying weeks of an Octogenarian couple rests on great performances by Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emanuelle Riva. The dialogue is superb.
Seven Psychopaths is the follow-up to comedy thriller In Bruges reuniting writer-director Martin McDonagh with Colin Farrell in a star line-up that includes Woody Harrelson, Tom Waits and ex-Bond girl Olga Kurylenko. It is the story of a struggling screenwriter who inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends kidnap a gangster's beloved Shih Tzu dog.