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FIRST LOOK

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THE SECRET LIFE OF

WALTER MITTY
Knock, Knock Whos there? The Secret Life of Walter Mitty The Secret Life of Walter Mitty who? The Secret Life of Walter Mitty the upcoming film starring and directed by Ben Stiller. That joke represents the kind of humour one can expect from Stillers Christmas-due readaptation (Danny Kaye starred in a musical version) of James Thurbers classic short story. Humour that is simple, inoffensive and largely unlikely to cause any LULZ, but pleasantly amusing. Despite flashing the short storys title on its poster, this film really has little to do with Thurbers tale of a middle-aged husband who spends his tedious days with his wife away in the clouds, acting out realistic mental fantasies in which he is a hero in an exciting situation. In the film, Mitty is an unmarried writer for LIFE magazine who falls for his co-worker, played by Kristen Wiig. His boss (Adam Scott of Parks and Recreation) dispatches Mitty to find a missing picture featuring a, lets say, intriguingly dressed Sean Penn that is needed for the final issue. Obviously, every situation Mitty encounters is transformed into something a tad more interesting- a car trip is a car chase, a flight is a crash and a brief meeting with Wiigs character is a wedding. Yes- its basically a film about an insane person!

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THE MONUMENTS MEN


There have now been so many films about World War II, you have to dig deep to find ground left uncovered says George Clooney in the editing bay of his Oscar-contender period heist movie The Monuments Men. The film, Clooneys fifth as director and second in three years, stars Matt Damon. Bill Murray, John Goodman, Bob Balaban, Cate Blanchett, and in a surprisingly little advertised role, Jean Dujardin, who famously defeated Clooney at the 2012 Academy Awards for his fabulously subtle work in The Artist (although Clooneys performance in The Descendants was something, indeed, to write home about). First announced to play Damons role, which the films director describes as the core romantic lead, was Daniel Craig, but for as yet unexplained reasons, the casting didnt work out. Anyway, why should anyone have the right to complain about or comment on a cast list that includes all the greats listed above, as well as Downton Abbey breakout Hugh Bonneville in by far his largest Hollywood role to date. The film focuses on a team of art experts who must enter France during the aforementioned war to reclaim expensive works stolen by the Nazis. The story and cast sure sound likely to take home some gold on March 2, will the direction and script?

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SAVING MR. BANKS


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THE WOLF OF WALL STREET


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Everyones gotten over The Avengers by now. Thats the main message that one will take away from Marvels second post-Whedon film after Mays Iron Man 3, which unfortunately suffered from a severe case of This-isnt-as-good-as-Avengers-itus. Some film had to take the hit of being next in line after The Battle of New York exploded onto our screens in Summer 2012, and Shane Black and Robert Downey Jr drew the short straws. Would Thor: The Dark World be as thoroughly enjoyable as it is had it been released in the place of Iron Man 3, well never know, but its unlikely! The film, the first of the Avengers-brand movies to really work as a standalone story since the original Iron Man, begins as it means to go on- with an insanely over-the-top prologue about Malekeith (a prothetic-heavy Christopher Eccleston) and his Dark Elves. The detailed, sparsely populated landscape of The Dark World in question lie before the films chief villain, designed to perfection by Charles Wood and Game of Thrones veteran director Alan Taylor. Throughout the narrative, when the action isnt taking place in the spectacularly beautiful and deeply immersive Asgard or central London, its in The Dark World. This is the setting for the films midpoint setpiece and part of its joyfully convoluted and unexpectedly insane finale, which sees the God of Thunder himself and Malekeith jump between locations by way of a McGuffin device as they battle. Its about the quietest, emptiest place youll ever see in a Marvel film, and its a sign of how much the film sets itself apart from the overall franchise that so much screentime is dedicated to it. Alan Taylor recently spoke of his dislike of a particular mid-credits scene which sets up a future Marvel film, and its easy to see his reasons! Natalie Portmans Jane Foster, Thors Earth-bound girlfriend from Kenneth Branaghs 2011 Thor, has moved from New Mexico to London, hence preventing another Breaking Badwith- superheroes. London is an astonishingly refreshing setting for the film, even as it is being somewhat ripped to shreds by the final act, as it was in last years Skyfall. It reminds one of just how tedious it is to watch supermen do battle in an obviously chosen, or worse- fictional, US city when you see the interesting locations, angles and twists that can come with writing a battle scene for a city like London, or in the case of Guillermo Del Toros Pacific Rim, Hong Kong. Theres no particular

reason for Portmans Jane to be in London, but the setting sets up fairly hilarious subplots involving a charming but goofy date for Jane (Chris ODowd), an intern (Jonathan Howard) whom Kat Dennings shockingly charming Darcy falls for, and Stellan Skarsgrds previously-possessed-by-Loki Selvig being shown on the news running around Stonehenge naked (and bumping into Stan Lee, topping himself once again with a brilliant cameo). Ah, Loki! What of Thors previously villainous brother whom trailers have shown to be on the good side? Well, Tom Hiddleston does a job as fabulous as usual, cackling and enunciating his way through every thoroughly fun scene. There is one chat between the brothers in particular, which I wont spoil, that ends with a CANNILY good impression of another Avenger. There are a number of almost unfollowable twists involving Loki, which I still havent quite gotten my head around, which prove either the genius or insanity of the writers, and that continue until practically the final

frame of the film (par the two post-credits scenes, BOTH of which it is vital to stick around for). Elves-wise, they are certainly a more complicated and therefore interesting bunch of evildoers than The Mandarin and his troupe were, despite not being much fun. In fact, supervillain Kurse, played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Mr Eko from Lost), is pretty damn terrifying! Meanwhile, Anthony Hopkins pretty much sleeps his way through his performance as Odin, Zachary Levy and Jaimie Alexander are pretty but one-dimensional as Thors Asagard-buddies, and Rene Russo tries her best to liven up proceedings as Thors mother. Not naming names, there is a funeral scene about one-third of the way into the film which, while beautiful (and eerily reminiscent of Portmans in Revenge of the Sith), from its music to its colours is 100% Lord of the Rings-y, and this blatant copying of

tone and style slightly takes away from the emotion. Some very Star Wars-esque flying-vehicle scenes midway through are the films action highpoint, and rival Star Trek Into Darkness for the years best sci-fi action overall! Taylor has, while not particularly leaving a distinctive mark on the film, made a distinctively standalone adventure for the always likeable characters. Natalie Portman in particular stands out, holding her own amongst the tall, strong men and the creepy evil Elves, but Tom Hiddleston as as excellent as before and Chris Hemsworth doesnt let those around him down. The final scenes are far, far more fun than Man of Steel or even Iron Man 3s could ever have been, in keeping with the films constant attempt to be fresh, unique and absurdly brilliant, which it constantly succeeds in doing. Not without its flaws, this could not have been topped, and betters by a good yard Kenneth Branaghs overly experimental (for a superhero film) 2011 film. Marvel have once again proven that just because they made 2 films a year, those dont have to be clich-ridden piles of rubbish. One to see Thor 5, please!

<"4-"*.)[1*&&*4() !!!!!
One trick that has always been used by Hollywood filmmakers is to introduce the villain from the point-of-view of the films protagonist, at face value, so that the audience will feel merely fear of hatred towards the character. In recent years, however, visionaries like Christopher Nolan have shown the audience their first glimpse of the antagonist from the antagonists perspective to , perhaps unconsciously, make the audience slightly sympathetic towards them. One could say this is what Paul Greengrass does in Captain Phillips, by setting up the stories of Tom Hanks Richard Phillips and Barkhad Abdis Somali pirate Muse simultaneously, but Muse is not the films villain. The villain of this film, though never directly referred to, is the inequality and cultural issues that force Muse and his team to take Phillips hostage. These issues are not what Captain Phillips is about. It is about two men placed in a very intense situation (by ones doing) and what happens from there, and boy, is it a great film! Greengrass has been making extremely high-quality thrillers for years, most of which have been better than the last. This continues this trend, bettering both Green Zone and, in my opinion, the somewhat overrated Bourne sequels. Despite being over 130 minutes long and practically set in real-time, at absolutely no point does the pace slow down. This can be contributed to both the superb performances from the leads and the terrifically well-structured story and script. Phillips is on his ship within ten minutes, but its another 20 before Muse arrives, and soon enough the film is finished. The dramatic final scenes are possibly the most intense of the year so far, as the audiences immediate connection with Hanks character is made use of. This review was unaware of the details of how this story ended, as many audience members may be, which helps the film to have a deeper impact that, say, last years Zero Dark Thirty, the conclusion of which was known to all.

Barkhad Abdi and the supporting Somali actors were complete amateurs and unknowns prior to this film, and the fact that Abdi is able to so impressively hold his own beside one of the most charismatic and experienced actors in the world is a sign of his extraordinary talent. It would be deeply unfortunate if, like Precious Gabourey Sidibe, The Artists Jean Dujardin and maybe even Beasts of the Southern Wilds Quevenzhan Wallis, he drifts out of memory in a few months and falls back on small TV roles- or maybe not acting at all. He will almost certainly receive a Best Supporting Actor nomination, although the studio should really push for Best Actor for both he and Hanks. Captain Phillips could not be more gripping a drama if Tom Hanks hand reached out of the screen and grabbed you by the throat, which is at times what you feel this film is doing. Hanks doesnt exactly give a subtle performance, but thats just not what he does- and its certainly not what this role requires. For the first time in ages, its safe to say that a film about pirates is one of the best motion pictures of the year!

=(;"4%)[&".) !!!
After having massive flops earlier in 2013 with their individual comeback movies Bullet to the Headand The Last Stand, the two biggest US action stars of the 80s and 90s (the unexpendable Expendables, if you will) have teamed up for the first time outside of the aforementioned superfranchise for a clichd, mediocre and forgettable action romp- thats really fun! Sly plays a man who has made a career out of testing prison security systems, not by twisting around a screwdriver, but by breaking out of them. As you can see, realism is not Escape Plans strongest point. His latest prison turns out to be run by the extremely villainous Jim Caviezel (great on Person of Interest, not so great here) who hams his way through every scene by dusting his collar and fiddling with his non-existent moustache to make sure the audience is aware that THIS IS THE BAD GUY! THIS GUY RIGHT HERE! NO, NOT VINNIE JONES! THIS GUY! THIS MAN RIGHT HERE! Although the film is being promoted as a total two-header, Sly gets the most screentime by a good yard, but nonetheless leaves all the acting work to his buddy Arnie. Arnie hasnt acted in a decade, despite what he may have said come the release of The Last Stand, and although it is creaky in parts, his performance could be much worse. Hes just so much fun to watch batter and insult people, he raises the appreciation level of the film to a far higher standard. His best one-liner: Have a nice day Asshole! The plot structure and most of the script are laughable, and Caviezel gives probably his worst performance ever (its still fun to observe), but the incredibly old-fashioned story and chemistry between the two leading legends are irresistible. Give it a try- you know you want to!
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91%)D":)D":)B";C) !!!
The story of The Way Way Back lies somewhere between Adam Sandlers Grown Ups films and Wes Andersons superb Moonrise Kingdom. It focuses on Duncan, a solemn teenage boy dragged along on a tedious Summer holiday by his mother (Toni Colette) and her horrible boyfriend (Steve Carrell, in one of his best performances in years). Tab A into Slot B, Duncan meets an unrealistically attractive girl (AnnaSophia Robb) and an eccentric man-child (Sam Rockwell). These are the aspects of the plot Wes Anderson would have so brilliantly brought to the screen, using his spectacularly inventive visual style to create a hugely enjoyable and surreal comedy. Unfortunately, despite being great comic actors, first-time directors Jim Rash and Nat Faxon dont do a good job with the filmmaking. Rash plays the showstoppingly funny Dean Pelton on Community, and fills a similar role here, and Faxon has appeared in everything from Reno 911to Bad Teacher. If only they had spent as much of their talent on making an impressive film as they did acting on screen, this could have been a bit more special. They may also need to attend a Casting Teens 101 lecture, as young lead Liam James (2012) is shockingly uncharismatic, and his insanely depressing demeanour brings the tone of the whole film down, even in moments that should be uplifting.Rockwell is, as always, a wonderful addition to the adult cast, shooting off one-liners and getting his trademark dance moment, but the water-park-set scenes built around his character and his relationship with Maya Rudolphs are, thanks not only to her presence, very Grown Ups-y. If youre making a Sundance-Indie comedy, dont put in sleazy Sandler-esque jokes about women in bikinis and token Happy moments with characters achieving tasks that have been set up from the start of the film. The Way Way Back was so hard to get wrong, with Carrell, Rockwell and Alison Janney doing great work and two fantastic talents behind the camera, but theyre just not that talented when theyre behind the camera.

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On the plus side, the most clichd/obvious/unoriginal thing about this long-awaited but littlewanted sequel to 2009!s brilliant animated comedy is its title. Its also nowhere near as disappointing as the SummersDespicable Me 2, which sidelined its unique lead for his boring and irritating minions. Thankfully, Steve the Talking Monkey has not been given centre stage for this return to Swallow Falls. Unfortunately, Swallow Falls is not the place it was in 2009. It is no longer the refreshingly depressing (you heard us right), rainy fishing village occupied by inventor Flint Lockwood and his monobrowed father of few words, but is not populated by foodimals, which can only be described as the mental vomit of a deranged meth addict. Theres burger- with eight legs, a strawberry- with a face, a toasquito, hipotatomous and a very strange monkey/shrimp hybrid. Youd have to be dead not to be charmed! Sadly, the town is now, as a result, a more obviously colourful and fun location for a kids film, which isnt necessarily a negative thing, but lets the previous installment down slightly. On the character front, everythings great! The new villain, Chester V, is brilliantly unique and goes with the films Spongebob-esque theme. (If the upcoming Spongebob 2 is anything is surreal as this, it will be amazing). After Despicable Me 2s total lack of charm, heart or even genuine fun, this feels like a massive breath of really fresh air! The main problem is that originality cant work with a sequel, so a second Cloudy could literally never have been better than its predecessor! )

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Its ironic that a man so admired for his wonderful screenplays would, for his third theatrical directing job, adapt a renowned, world-famous text to which he would be able to find little fault. However, there is little else Joss Whedon would have had time to construct in the frighteningly short gap between writing and directing the third-highest grossing film of all time and its sure-to-be-bigger sequel, filmed entirely in his home and starring a cast of his friends. Mind you, the majority of these friends are very well known, and theyre all wonderful actors. Leads Amy Acker (Person of Interest) and Alexis Denisof (How I Met Your Mother, Alyson Hannigans spouse) give career-definingely well-judged performances as Beatrix and Benedick, using the films quirky, quiet tone to tiptoe around the supporting cast (and around Whedons home) whilst making the bards classic dialogue their own. There are ocassionally lines that have been written by Whedon, when the original language breaks for some updated phrasing. If it were not for these interventions, as well as the use of computers and phones, the films costumes and setting would have achieved a timeless quality (lets say, it could be set anytime after 1910). Nathan Fillion, as he always is, is a standout in an unfortunately small role as Dogberry, and manages to liven the mood brilliantly after Heros death. As with all Shakespeare films, the structure, dialogue and character development is so perfectly in place in the text, all the filmmaker has to do with these factors is not mess it up. Many have failed this test, whilst Whedon not only passes, but manages to deal with the original aspects so well that this becomes the most enjoyable and memorable Shakespeare film in many years. If Much Ado has one fault, it is that at times it can briefly become a game of Spot The Joss Collaborator, with Avengers Clark Gregg and Jillian Morgese (Uncredited Woman in Restaurant), Dollhouses Acker and Reed Diamond and Fireflys Sean Maher in major parts. Joss Whedon is such an exciting filmmaker that oh, hes so exciting! Avengers 2 may be his most high-profile upcoming feature, but hell surely produce something as magical as this during a bathroom break on Ultrons principal photography! )

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