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The latest reviews

Annie

  • Rated as: 2/5

Updating the story from the Great Depression to the Great Recession, this new ‘Annie’ is a candied corporate fantasia. Annie (Quvenzhané Wallis) is now a plucky New York foster kid who, by chance, becomes the live-in ward of an antisocial billionaire (Jamie Foxx, terrific as mayoral candidate Will Stacks). At first, Stacks is literally allergic to poor people – ‘germaphobic’ – but after singing some songs with Annie, he learns that the 99 percent might just be human after all. (read more)

The Babadook

  • Rated as: 5/5

Who brings into their home a kid’s book called ‘Mister Babadook’, crammed with drawings of scary toothy shapes peering around bedroom doors? The answer is left deliciously vague in this slow-building, expertly unnerving horror movie built around a broken Australian family. Amelia (Essie Davis) is a tired-looking carer in a nursing home and grapples with single motherhood in the wake of a car accident that killed her husband while he was driving them to the maternity ward. Samuel (Noah Wiseman), the surviving child, now six, is stuck in his shouty phase, has a hyperactive imagination and is obsessed with weapons. These are precisely the wrong people to be reading dark bedtime stories, yet mysteriously, there’s the book on the shelf. (read more)

’71

  • Rated as: 3/5

Belfast, 1971, and Gary (Jack O'Connell), a young private in the British army, is thrown in at the deep end of the Troubles; more than that, his hands are tied and there are bricks in his pocket. This quiet lad from Derbyshire has barely been in Belfast a day when he finds himself in the middle of a violent street riot sparked by a heavy-handed house search by police in a Catholic area. Matters turn worse when he becomes separated from his colleagues and has to flee down menacing alleys and up war-torn streets to escape with his life. As night falls, the stark reality of the situation begins to look more like something from a foggy, street-lamp-lit nightmare. (read more)

Redirected

  • Rated as: 1/5

This painfully unfunny, laddish and tiresomely anarchic crime comedy is interesting only for being a British-Lithuanian co-production, set partly in London but mostly in Vilnius and its surrrounds. When a robbery goes wrong, a rag-tag bunch of likeable British chancers are chased to Lithuania by a much harder bunch of crims led by, oh yes, Vinnie Jones, older but shoutier as ever. Some of the sadistic treatment meted out to the Brits abroad by the locals might make some Eastern Europeans chuckle, and there are surely cultural references that fly over British viewers’ head. But this is basic, hackneyed stuff, essentially Guy Ritchie exported, diluted and cheapened, like bootleg vodka.

Whiplash

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice

You already know the ferocious jazz teacher played by JK Simmons in the electrifying New York-set drama ‘Whiplash’ if you've seen things like ‘Full Metal Jacket’, ‘Battle Royale’ and – just to be clear – the grizzly bear in ‘Grizzly Man’. Clad fully in black, biceps bulging, Simmons’s Fletcher exudes attitude: he rules the top department of an elite New York music school with a clenched first. Part of the joy of watching dramas like this must be a masochistic thrill in seeing young hopefuls suffer. (read more)

Taken 3

  • Rated as: 3/5

When the dismal ‘Taken 2’ became France’s biggest ever global hit, a third instalment was inevitable. The only question was: would writer-producer Luc Besson and director Olivier Megaton be happy just to coast along, offering audiences another brainless cavalcade of shakycam action and growling macho nonsense? We catch up with ex-CIA operative Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) in yet another emotional tangle. (read more)

Hector and the Search for Happiness

  • Rated as: 2/5

Simon Pegg plays the world’s most unconvincing psychiatrist in this fluffy, irritating Brit comedy. He’s Hector, who leaves his successful London practice and hot girlfriend (Rosamund Pike) to travel around the world searching for the secret to happiness. The problem for comedian Pegg (Shaun of the Dead) is that the role requires a bit of Serious Acting—and every time he puts on his compassionate face, he just looks smug. (read more)

Paddington

  • Rated as: 4/5

Anyone with fond memories of the books or a dusty Paddington Bear sitting on a shelf in their childhood bedroom can rest easy: this first-ever movie take on Peru’s furriest export is a cuddly, thoughtful triumph. But not too cuddly. The beauty of this winning film from ‘Harry Potter’ producer David Heyman and writer-director Paul King (‘The Mighty Boosh’) is that it’s charmingly simple. But it also offers a sharp modern spin on Michael Bond’s London-set stories without being cynical. For kids, it’s fun, fast and sweet. For adults, it’s a parable of immigration: the story of a big-eyed outsider having his hopeful dreams challenged by the realities of the British capital. (read more)

More film reviews

Recommended films

Nightcrawler

  • Rated as: 5/5

Whiplash

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice

Birdman

  • Rated as: 5/5

The Babadook

  • Rated as: 5/5

Still Alice

  • Rated as: 5/5

Cold in July

  • Rated as: 4/5