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- Howl's Moving Castle
- Ivan's Childhood
- Money Monster
- Notes On Blindness
- Piranha 3D
- Sing Street
Departure 3 stars
Beatrice and her 15-year-old only child Elliot arrive at their French holiday home for the final time. The relationship between Beatrice and her husband Philip has deteriorated beyond repair and the family is selling the home. Elliot must help his mother to box up personal belongings so they can be shipped back to England. In the midst of this emotional turmoil, Elliot ventures to the nearby town where he develops a crush on handsome local boy Clement, who has a terminally ill mother.
- GenreDrama, Indie, LGBT, Romance
- CastAlex Lawther, Juliet Stevenson, Phenix Brossard.
- DirectorAndrew Steggall.
- WriterAndrew Steggall.
- Duration108 mins
- Official sitewww.motiongrouppictures.com/departure/4534847546
- Release20/05/3016 (selected cinemas)
A mother and her teenage son struggle to maintain their close bond in writer-director Andrew Steggall's sensitively handled debut feature. Beatrice (Juliet Stevenson) and her 15-year-old only child Elliot (Alex Lawther) arrive at their French holiday home for the final time. The relationship between Beatrice and her husband Philip (Finbar Lynch) has deteriorated beyond repair and the family is selling the home. Elliot must help his mother to box up personal belongings so they can be shipped back to England. In the midst of this emotional turmoil, Elliot ventures to the nearby town where he develops a crush on handsome local boy Clement (Phenix Brossard), who has a terminally ill mother. Elliot's physical attraction to the object of his affections doesn't appear to be reciprocated, but the teenager goes out of his way to spend as much time as possible with Clement, who kindly agrees to help Beatrice with the move. Hormones rage and when Elliot finally plucks up the courage to declare his true feelings, he faces a wall of hurt and rejection.
Howl's Moving Castle 3 stars
Pretty 18-year-old Sophie is transformed into an old woman by the vindictive Witch Of The Waste. Abandoning the people she holds most dear, Sophie crosses paths with the magician Howl, whose moving castle may hold the secret to breaking the spell.
- GenreAdaptation, Children's, Comedy, Drama, Family, Family, Romance
- CastEmily Mortimer, Jean Simmons, Christian Bale, Lauren Bacall.
- DirectorHayao Miyazaki.
- Duration119 mins
- Official sitewww.howlsmovingcastlemovie.co.uk
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki, the visionary Japanese filmmaker who enthralled us with Princess Mononoke and the Oscar-winning Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle is a magical animated feature based on the book by Diana Wynne Jones. Like his previous films, this colourful and fantastical fable is awash with wondrous creatures (including a bouncing scarecrow) and wildly inventive visuals.
It's a rich, lustrous feast for the senses, but unlike some of his other masterpieces, Howl's Moving Castle doesn't quite win our hearts. The heroine is a pretty 18-year-old called Sophie (voiced by Emily Mortimer), who works at a hat shop with her mother and sisters.
With no real friends to call her own, Sophie dedicates herself to her work, staying late while the others join the crowds which line the streets, cheering the Royal army as it marches towards the battlefront.
There is excitement in the air - the moving castle of Wizard Howl (Christian Bale) has been spotted in the wasteland close to the town. Young maidens chatter dreamily about the dashing and elusive wizard, while trains belch smoke as they rumble past the hat shop.
Walking home one evening, Sophie is confronted by legions of oily, black shape shifting creatures. She is saved in the nick of time by Howl, who takes Sophie's hand for a breathtaking stroll high above the town.
This dalliance with the wizard incurs the wrath and the jealousy of the vindictive Witch of the Waste (Lauren Bacall), who casts a spell on Sophie, transforming her into an arthritic 90-year-old woman (now voiced by Jean Simmons). As part of the enchantment, Sophie cannot tell anyone about her transformation. She is trapped inside the aching, weary body of a crone, perhaps for eternity.
Plunged into despair, Sophie abandons the people she holds most dear and heads into the wasteland, in search of Howl, the one person who may be able to break the curse. Installing herself as the castle's dogsbody, Sophie befriends the clearly tormented Howl, his pint-sized assistant Markl (Josh Hutcherson) and a fire demon called Calcifer (Billy Crystal), who inhabits the castle's hearth.
She also becomes embroiled in war that consumes the kingdoms, and threatens to destroy Howl too.
Howl's Moving Castle bears all of Miyazaki's trademarks and the two hours pass quickly, buoyed by lively vocal performances, including Crystal as comic relief. The quality of the animation is impressive but the narrative doesn't always flow smoothly, ending with a whimper rather than a bang.
Like Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle is being released simultaneously in this English dubbed version (perfect for younger audiences) and a Japanese subtitled version, aimed at purists and arthouse crowds. Check with your local cinema to see which one is playing near you.
Ivan's Childhood 3 stars
Twelve-year-old Ivan Bondarev swears revenge against the German soldiers, who killed his mother and sister during the Second World War. He pledges to fight on the front line and his diminutive stature allows him to move unnoticed on the battlefield, gaining valuable intelligence about the enemy. Lieutenant-Colonel Gryaznov and other soldiers become extremely fond of Ivan and they hope that they can save him from the bloodshed.
- GenreAdaptation, Drama, War, World
- CastYevgeni Zharikov, Nikolay Burlyaev, Valentin Zubkov.
- DirectorAndrei Tarkovsky.
- WriterVladimir Bogomolov, Mikhail Papava.
- Duration93 mins
- Official site
- Release20/05/2016 (selected cinemas)
A rerelease of Andrei Tarkovsky's celebrated 1962 war drama, based on the short story Ivan penned by Vladimir Bogomolov. Twelve-year-old Ivan Bondarev (Kolya Burlyayev) swears revenge against the German soldiers, who killed his mother and sister during the Second World War. He pledges to fight on the front line and his diminutive stature allows him to move unnoticed on the battlefield, gaining valuable intelligence about the enemy. Lieutenant-Colonel Gryaznov (Nikolai Grinko) and other soldiers become extremely fond of Ivan and they hope that they can save him from the bloodshed. However, Ivan will not be swayed from avenging his loved ones, regardless of the personal cost.
Money Monster 3 stars
Lee Gates, gregarious host of a network television show which surveys the movers and shakers in the financial market, prepares to interview Diane Lester, chief communications officer of IBIS Global Capital, whose complex trading algorithm glitched overnight, losing investors 800 million dollars. No sooner has Lee delivered his opening monologue than a labourer, Kyle Budwell, who has just lost his entire life savings in the IBIS crash, storms the set brandishing a gun.
- GenreAction, Drama, Romance, Thriller
- CastJulia Roberts, George Clooney, Jack O'Connell, Dominic West.
- DirectorJodie Foster.
- WriterAlan DiFiore, Jamie Linden, Jim Kouf.
- Duration99 mins
- Official sitewww.facebook.com/MoneyMonster/
Money talks - and it says exceedingly ugly things - in Jodie Foster's tense hostage thriller, which unfolds largely in real time during a live television broadcast. Anchored by strong performances from George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Derbyshire-born rising star Jack O'Connell, Money Monster overcomes some preposterous plot twists and a noticeable lull in the middle act to keep us on the edge of our seats. The opening 30 minutes are particularly lean and mean, capturing the frenetic whirl and chaos of a TV studio as staff behind and in front of the cameras prepare for show time. Scriptwriters Jamie Linden, Alan DiFiore and Jim Kouf pull off a jaw-dropping coup with the introduction of the hostage taker's pregnant girlfriend (Emily Meade), who we expect to tearfully plead for him to down his weapon for the sake of their unborn child. In these moments, Money Monster kicks like a mule and knocks the stuffing out of us. However, once the central plot of skullduggery reveals its intentions, Foster's iron-tight grasp on realism slackens and she is compelled to take risky gambles to engineer a slam-bang finale. Some of them don't pay off. Lee Gates (Clooney), gregarious host of a network television show which surveys the movers and shakers in the financial market, prepares to interview Diane Lester (Caitriona Balfe), chief communications officer of IBIS Global Capital, whose complex trading algorithm glitched overnight, losing investors 800 million dollars. With IBIS CEO Walt Camby (Dominic West) currently unavailable, Diane is concerned that she will be made a scapegoat. "We don't do 'gotcha journalism' here. We don't do journalism, period," quips Lee's long-suffering producer Patty Fenn (Roberts). No sooner has Lee delivered his opening monologue than a labourer, Kyle Budwell (O'Connell), who has just lost his entire life savings in the IBIS crash, storms the set brandishing a gun. Cameras continue to roll as Lee dons an explosives vest and Kyle threatens to detonate unless someone from IBIS can explain how their system was compromised. Patty tries to defuse the stand-off as viewing figures soar, aided by her producer-at-large, Ron Sprecher (Christopher Denham), and cameraman Lenny (Lenny Venito). "I came in here knowing this show is only going to end one way," Kyle informs his terrified hostage. Money Monster is a cautionary tale about the get-rich-quick mentality of a modern society that blindly trusts in technology to deliver rewards at the tap of an app. Clooney and Roberts generate molten screen chemistry, even though she is just a voice in his ear for the majority of the film, and O'Connell maintains his accent as events escalate out of his nervous captor's control. The script's barbs at voyeuristic reality TV draw blood, but sinewy subplots involving Icelandic hackers and social unrest in South Africa extend our suspension of disbelief beyond its credit limit.
Notes On Blindness 3 stars
In 1983, writer and academic John Hull completely lost his sight after decades of steady deterioration. He decided to make sense of this dramatic change in his day-to-day existence by keeping a diary on audiocassette in which he documented his thoughts and feelings. Over the course of three years, he recorded more than 16 hours of deeply personal material. This documentary draw inspiration from the original audio recordings to paint a life-affirming portrait of Hull.
- CastSimone Kirby, Dan Renton Skinner, John M. Hull.
- DirectorPete Middleton, James Spinney.
- WriterPete Middleton, James Spinney.
- Duration90 mins
- Official sitewww.notesonblindness.co.uk
- Release01/07/2016 (selected cinemas)
In 1983, writer and academic John Hull completely lost his sight after decades of steady deterioration. He decided to make sense of this dramatic change in his day-to-day existence by keeping a diary on audiocassette in which he documented his thoughts and feelings. Over the course of three years, he recorded more than 16 hours of deeply personal material, which were published in 1990 under the title Touching The Rock. The book was acclaimed as a unique testimony of loss, rebirth and renewal. Filmmakers Pete Middleton and James Spinney draw inspiration from the original audio recordings for this life-affirming portrait of Hull, who died shortly after the film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
Piranha 3D 3 stars
Lake Victoria is a tranquil beauty spot until the spring break when the population of 5,000 increases tenfold with the arrival of fun-seekers and tourists keen to cool off in the waters. However, the holiday makers get a lot more than they bargained for when an underwater tremor unleashes a school of prehistoric, man-eating fish. The voracious creatures attack people in the water without mercy and a small group of survivors band together to outwit the predators.
- GenreAction, Horror, Thriller
- CastRichard Dreyfuss, Elisabeth Shue, Kelly Brook, Eli Roth, Christopher Lloyd, Jerry O'Connell, Adam Scott.
- DirectorAlexandre Aja.
- WriterPete Goldfinger, Josh Stolberg.
- Duration88 mins
- Official sitewww.piranha-3d.com
You already know what to expect from Piranha 3D before you even settle down in your seat with a bucket of popcorn and drink. Kelly Brook, who plays glamour model Danni, has described the 3D remake of the 1978 horror as "a big, fun B-movie with lots of boobs, blood, gore and drama", and there are plenty of these ingredients in this cheesy romp to keep horror fans satisfied.
French filmmaker Alexandre Aja - of The Hills Have Eyes fame - has turned his hand from mutants to the flesh-eating piranhas, which unsurprisingly show little mercy as they chomp and chew their way through fresh-faced teenagers and fun-seekers celebrating their annual spring break festivities.
Sheriff Julie Forester (Elisabeth Shue) is a working mum who has to leave her teenage son Jake (Steven McQueen) to babysit her younger children as she heads off to patrol the spring break parties at Lake Victoria - but Jake would rather spend time with porn king Derrick (Jerry O'Connell) and his two glamorous busty sidekicks Danni (Brook) and Crystal (real-life erotic actress Riley Steele).
Jake helps his new friend find a quiet spot at the lake to shoot scenes for his new film, which includes a raunchy kiss between the two actresses. The tranquil spot just so happens to be the same area where a recent underwater tremor opened a deep chasm, unleashing swarms of prehistoric razor-toothed fish that had been dormant for thousands of years and now have a taste for human flesh. "This particular piranha vanished two million years ago," explains Goodman (Christopher Lloyd).
They may have been extinct at one point, but the killer fishes predictably make up for lost time as they terrorise the former beauty spot and the body count racks up in inventive and oddly amusing ways. One bikini-clad girl gets a nice nip on her bottom as she wallows on a rubber tube in the sea, while another meets her nasty end as she laughably tries to fight them off with a frying pan.
Forester and a small team of survivors try to outwit the predators, and attempts to make the lake off-limits to the tourists. Her colleague Deputy Fallon (Ving Rhames) helpfully said: "It's us and 20,000 kids. You do the maths," before being shocked by the gruesome discoveries: "It's like the bodies have been in the water for weeks."
The 3D adds a touch of fun to the horror - with fish and ample chests popping out - and although the effects look fake at times, guys will surely appreciate the amount of bouncy assets and bikini-clad women around.
Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)
- Sunday 3rd July 2016
Sing Street 4 stars
Robert and his wife Penny reluctantly tighten their purse strings in 1985 Dublin, to the chagrin of their children Brendan, Ann and Conor. Fifteen-year-old dreamer Conor transfers to a boys' school, where he befriends fellow students Darren and Eamon. Desperate to catch the eye of a local girl called Raphina, Conor starts up a tribute band called Sing Street and ropes in some of the local kids to help him pursue his dream.
- GenreComedy, Drama, Family, Musical
- CastAidan Gillen, Jack Reynor, Maria Doyle Kennedy.
- DirectorJohn Carney.
- WriterJohn Carney.
- Duration106 mins
- Official sitewww.filmnation.com/sing-street/
- Release17/03/2016 (Ireland); 20/05/2016 (nationwide)
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. That's the mantra of John Carney, writer-director of Oscar-winning romance Once and Begin Again, who remains in a bittersweet musical groove for this effortlessly charming coming-of-age story. Set in 1985 Dublin, Sing Street revisits the decade of questionable fashion choices, when Frankie told us all to relax and Duran Duran frolicked on sun-kissed beaches with the girls of Rio. Against this vibrant backdrop, Carney charts the rise of a pop group formed by boys' school misfits, who escape the economic hardships of the era through their infectious, self-penned music. Life knocks the lads down, but they get back up again, inspiring classmates to rebel against the dictates of their school's disciplinarian headmaster, Brother Baxter (Don Wycherley). Carney's script delicately touches upon themes of sexual abuse, domestic violence and adultery, counterbalancing the lead characters' exuberance with harsh life lessons that echo perfectly the words of the film's down-trodden heroine: "That's what love is: happy sad." Laughter and tears come together in sweet harmony. Robert (Aidan Gillen) and his wife Penny (Maria Doyle Kennedy) reluctantly tighten their purse strings, to the chagrin of their children Brendan (Jack Reynor), Ann (Kelly Thornton) and Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo). Fifteen-year-old Conor transfers to a boys' school, where he falls foul of resident bully Barry (Ian Kenny), but makes one friend in red-haired outcast Darren (Ben Carolan). Desperate to catch the eye of a local girl called Raphina (Lucy Boynton), Conor forms a band called Sing Street and ropes in some of the local kids including multi-instrumentalist Eamon (Mark McKenna) and duo Larry (Conor Hamilton) and Garry (Karl Rice). Another classmate, Ngig (Percy Chamburuka), is headhunted because, as Conor innocently observes: "He's bound to play something. He's black." Buoyed by initial success, Conor and Eamon get their creative juices flowing to pen original songs inspired by The Jam, Spandau Ballet and The Cure. Meanwhile, Conor urgently seeks advice from Brendan about wooing Raphina, whose boyfriend drives around town with Genesis blaring from his stereo. "No woman can truly love a man who listens to Phil Collins," counsels Brendan. Sing Street is 106 minutes of fizzing, pop-infused joy that unfolds though the innocent, questioning eyes of sensitive teenager Conor and his brothers in musical arms. Writer-director Carney conjures lovely scenes like Conor and his siblings dancing around a bedroom to the Hall & Oates classic Maneater, while their parents argue downstairs, or a feel-good dream sequence in a school gymnasium. Walsh-Peelo anchors the young cast with a performance of touching vulnerability, and his chemistry with on-screen brother Reynor leaves a big lump in the throat. Songs composed especially for the film by Carney and Gary Clark including the barn-storming Drive It Like You Stole It are perfectly crafted. Ireland need to recruit them for next year's Eurovision.