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The Hundred-Foot Journey

  • Rated as: 3/5

If you catch whiffs of ‘Chocolat’, you’re not imagining them: this middlebrow culture-clash foodie fable, based on a novel by Richard C Morais, shares more than just a director with that Juliette Binoche confection from 2000. There’s also the quaint, postcard-ready French setting, the heavy-handed musings on the mystical power of spices and a prickly, purse-lipped antagonist butting against change. The latter, Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren, in a deliciously salty turn), oversees a starched-linen fine-dining temple in southern France. Her primary concern is securing yet another Michelin star – that is, until thrifty Mumbai import Papa (Om Puri) and his brood move in across the road to open a vindaloo-stirring, AR Rahman-soundtracked eatery of their own, helmed by kitchen-prodigy son Hassan (Manish Dayal). (read more)

The Drop

  • Rated as: 3/5

European actors do an uneven job of bringing a 'hey-yous-guys' Brooklyn crime drama to life in the English-language debut of Belgian director Michaël R Roskam ('Bullhead'). The film's distinctly working-class Catholic vibe is best attributed to novelist-screenwriter Dennis Lehane ('Mystic River'), whose source material – a 2009 short story called 'Animal Rescue' – has been expanded by the author himself into a script that probably worked better on the page (and in his original setting of Boston's scrappy Dorchester). Largely set in a dark, roomy Irish pub that bears little resemblance to the hipster-laden borough that Brooklyn has become, 'The Drop' focuses on a trio of characters shivering through one chilly January. (read more)


  • Rated as: 3/5

Adapted from Mississippi writer Larry Brown’s 1991 novel, ‘Joe’ is a moody, melancholic throwback to the dramas that first gained director David Gordon Green attention, and which he ditched to make stoner comedies like ‘Pineapple Express’. A subdued Nicolas Cage is terrific as Joe, an ex-con who runs a semi-illegal business poisoning trees for corner-cutting corporations. That said, he’s a good boss, paying his staff on time and employing anyone in need. When troubled 15-year-old Gary (Tye Sheridan, the kid from ‘Mud’) crosses his path, there’s an instant father/son connection – something the boy could use, considering his own dad (Gary Poulter, exceptionally scary) is a roaring-mean drunk. (read more)

The Dance Of Reality

  • Rated as: 4/5

A full-bodied and mischievous autobiography in the spirit of Federico Fellini’s 'Amarcord', Alejandro Jodorowsky’s return to filmmaking after 28 years of financial frustration explodes with great ideas. Only on the surface is it about girlish, flaxen-haired Alejandro (Jeremias Herskovits), a sensitive kid growing up in 1930s coastal Chile under the watchful eye of his severe Communist father (comically played by the director’s son, Brontis) and a bosomy mountain of a mom (Pamela Flores) who sings all her dialogue in soprano. (read more)

The Maze Runner

  • Rated as: 3/5

Teenagers are getting it in the neck again, in the latest dystopian Young Adult literary sensation to get the Hollywood treatment. 'The Maze Runner', adapted from the first novel in a series by James Dashner, takes a 'Lord of the Flies' setting of boys fending for themselves in the great outdoors and chucks in some 'Lost'-style sci-fi. Sixteen-year-old Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) wakes up in a field known as The Glade, remembering only his name. For three years, boys have been arriving here at a rate of one a month, and say what you like about crap teenagers, but this lot are doing all right for themselves: farming, building shelters, even herding goats. (read more)

Yves Saint Laurent

  • Rated as: 2/5

Lucky old Coco Chanel with her rags-to-riches fairytale life (talk about biopic-friendly: taught to sew by nuns in an orphanage; scarred by the tragic death of her great love). Yves Saint Laurent might be a fashion legend up there with Chanel, but if this sluggish drama is anything to go by, we can live without his story. It picks up with Saint Laurent as a 21-year-old boy wonder (played brilliantly by French actor Pierre Niney), nervy and tortured by self-doubt. It’s 1957 and he’s the new head designer of France’s biggest fashion house, Christian Dior. A couple of years later, conscripted to fight in the Algerian war, he suffers a mental breakdown after bullying about his sexuality. (read more)

The Grand Seduction

  • Rated as: 2/5

During its opening minutes, the Celtic strains on the soundtrack, the rugged coastal landscapes and, most of all, the presence of a lazily-accented Brendan Gleeson in the lead role could trick you into thinking that Canada’s ‘The Grand Seduction’ is an Irish movie. But this wonky comedy is set in remote Newfoundland. It spins a painfully contrived yarn about a desperate one-time fishing community trying to persuade a city doctor (Taylor Kitsch) to relocate in order to make itself more attractive to a corporation considering gifting them a factory complete with ample jobs. The filmmakers hope for a fable-like charm rather than gritty credibility, but the whole thing feels as cynical as the villagers’ convoluted mission. Worst of all, it looks like barely anyone believes they’re making even a half-decent film.

Wish I Was Here

  • Rated as: 2/5

No matter where Zach Braff gets his money from – Kickstarter (as in this case), Hollywood or the piggy bank – he still only knows how to make one kind of movie: cutesy, faux ironic, desperately emo and aggressively indie. In the case of 2004’s ‘Garden State’, early to the trend, he got away with it. But his shtick now seems fossilised, especially in the context of so many superior filmmakers (from Judd Apatow to Richard Linklater) mining the setup of anxious parenting for real insights. ‘Wish I Was Here’ has a too-familiar LA family in crisis: the glibly failing actor dad (Zach Braff), the long-suffering wife with her own dreams on hold (Kate Hudson), the precocious kids who’d benefit from a little personal attention. (read more)

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