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Now showing at Chapter Market Road,Canton,Cardiff,South Glamorgan CF5 1QE 029 2030 4400

  • A Most Wanted Man
  • Four Corners
  • Life, Above All
  • Magic In The Moonlight
  • Maps To The Stars
  • The Bloodiest (Les Saignantes)
  • Westworld
  • Withnail & I

A Most Wanted Man 4 stars

movie title

German intelligence operative Gunther Bachmann hopes to identify and break up terrorist cells by extracting information from the local Muslim community. He believes but cannot prove that philanthropist Dr Abdullah is channelling funds to one such cell. The surveillance operation on Abdullah becomes complicated when Chechen refugee Issa Karpov enters Hamburg illegally and is identified as a terrorist by Russian intelligence.

  • GenreAdaptation, Drama, Thriller
  • CastRachel McAdams, Robin Wright, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Willem Dafoe, Daniel Bruhl, Nina Hoss, Homayoun Ershadi, Grigory Dobrygin.
  • DirectorAnton Corbijn.
  • WriterAndrew Bovell.
  • CountryUK/US/Ger
  • Duration121 mins
  • Official sitewww.amostwantedmanmovie.com
  • Release12/09/2014

Great actors don't just play a role, they become the role, vanishing beneath the skin of a character so every word and gesture appears organic. Philip Seymour Hoffman was one such rare talent. On stage and screen, his emotional range and versatility were breath-taking including a bravura embodiment of Truman Capote that won him the triple whammy of BAFTA, Golden Globe and Academy Award.

He was heart-breaking as a boom-mike operator in Boogie Nights, whose crush on a porn star ends in humiliating rejection, hilarious as a maverick CIA agent in Charlie Wilson's War and monstrous as a charismatic cult leader in The Master. Each physically and emotionally demanding role fitted him like a glove.

A Most Wanted Man is distinguished by Hoffman's final performance in a leading role and it's a typically understated yet riveting portrayal of a German intelligence agent, who lives on his nerves and occasional swigs of whisky or puffs of a cigarette.

Based on the 2008 novel of the same name by John Le Carre, Anton Corbijn's slow-burning espionage thriller steadily cranks up the tension, building to a nerve-jangling finale that has us holding our breaths.

Chechen refugee Issa Karpov (Grigory Dobrygin) enters Hamburg illegally and seeks refuge with a kind Turkish woman (Derya Alabora) and her son (Tamer Yigit). They put Issa in touch with immigration lawyer Annabel Richter (Rachel McAdams) and Tommy Brue (Willem Dafoe), who is head of the private bank used by Issa's sadistic father to store his ill-gotten coffers.

German intelligence operative Gunther Bachmann (Hoffman) and his team comprising right-hand woman Irna Frey (Nina Hoss) and juniors Maximillian (Daniel Bruhl) and Niki (Vicky Kreps) identify Issa as an escaped militant jihadist.

They choose not to arrest him but use Issa as bait to snag Muslim academic and philanthropist Dr Faisal Abdullah (Homayoun Ershadi), who is suspected of channelling funds to terrorist Islamic organisations. Gunther and his team exert pressure on Richter and Brue to coerce Issa into donating his father's money to Abdullah.

However, the plan doesn't unfold smoothly and Gunther's operation faces intense scrutiny from high-ranking CIA operative Martha Sullivan (Robin Wright), whose view of humanity is summed up when she observes, "Every good man has a little bit of bad, doesn't he?"

Like the 2011 film adaptation of Le Carre's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, A Most Wanted Man delights in the minutiae of the spy game. Expertly choreographed scenes of surveillance are punctuated by verbal fireworks and threats of violence.

Corbijn refuses to be rushed - even when he is orchestrating a chase by train and car, which is as close as the film comes to a conventional action sequence. Hoffman's nuanced, world-weary performance is complemented by a uniformly excellent international cast. It's a splendid swansong.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Wednesday 22nd October 2014
Thursday 23rd October 2014

Four Corners 3 stars

Thriller.

  • GenreThriller
  • CastJezzriel Skei, Lindiwe Matshikiza, Brendon Daniels.
  • DirectorIan Gabriel.
  • WriterIan Gabriel, Terence Hammond.
  • CountryS Africa
  • Duration114 mins
  • Official site

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Tuesday 21st October 2014

Life, Above All 3 stars

movie title

When her baby sister dies and her mother Lillian collapses with grief, 12-year-old Chanda takes charge of the funeral arrangements and cares for her step-siblings. She reluctantly drops out of school and begs her mother to see a doctor, certain that the lesions on the mournful matriarch's body are a sure indication of the disease ravaging her body. Superstitious neighbour Mrs Tafa intervenes by inviting a witch doctor to cleanse the house.

  • GenreAdaptation, Drama, World
  • CastLerato Mvelase, Harriet Manamela, Khomotso Manyaka, Keaobaka Makanyane.
  • DirectorOliver Schmitz.
  • WriterDennis Foon.
  • CountryS Africa/G
  • Duration105 mins
  • Official sitewww.sonyclassics.com/lifeaboveall/
  • Release27/05/2011 (selected cinemas)

Based on the novel Chanda's Secrets by Allan Stratton, Oliver Schmitz's film tugs the heartstrings as it explores the harsh realities of life in modern South Africa for a generation of children whose parents are living with HIV and Aids. When her baby sister dies and her mother Lillian (Lerato Mvelase) collapses with grief, 12-year-old Chanda (Khomotso Manyaka) takes charge of the funeral arrangements and cares for her step-siblings. She reluctantly drops out of school and begs her mother to see a doctor, certain that the lesions on the mournful matriarch's body are a sure indication of the disease ravaging her body. Superstitious neighbour Mrs Tafa (Harriet Manamela) intervenes by inviting a witch doctor to cleanse the house, determined to hide the truth from the rest of the community who will shun Chanda and her mother once they learn the truth. Meanwhile, Chanda's best friend Esther (Keaobaka Makanyane) becomes an outcast herself by selling her body to truckers to survive.

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Wednesday 22nd October 2014

Magic In The Moonlight 3 stars

movie title

Celebrated magician Stanley Crawford answers a plea from his good friend Howard Burkan to travel the French Riviera and debunk a psychic medium called Sophie Baker, who has promised to help wealthy widow Grace Catledge make contact with her late husband. Posing as businessman, Stanley heads for the Catledge villa and witnesses Sophie's boggling feats of mind-reading and clairvoyance that defy rational explanation.

  • GenreComedy, Drama, Romance
  • CastColin Firth, Emma Stone, Hamish Linklater, Marcia Gay Harden, Simon McBurney, Eileen Atkins.
  • DirectorWoody Allen.
  • WriterWoody Allen.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration98 mins
  • Official site
  • Release19/09/2014

There is a soupcon of magic and moonlight but considerably more insecurities and bluster in Woody Allen's playful yet lightweight romantic comedy set on the sun-kissed 1920s French Riviera. The writer-director's frequent forays away from his beloved New York to European soil have been decidedly hit-and-miss affairs and Magic In The Moonlight disappoints more than it delights.

Allen affectionately evokes the era from the opening croon of the Cole Porter classic You Do Something To Me performed by Leo Reisman & His Orchestra, and the writer-director loads the soundtrack with upbeat jazzy tunes that telegraph the characters' emotions like You Call It Madness (But I Call It Love) by Smith Ballew and His Piping Rock Orchestra to underscore a blossoming central romance.

Regrettably, sparkling one-liners are in short supply on the Cote d'Azur and the on-screen chemistry between Colin Firth and Emma Stone is lukewarm, never threatening to set our pulse racing like her smouldering pairings with Ryan Gosling in Crazy, Stupid, Love or real-life beau Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man.

The film opens in 1928 Berlin, where magician Stanley Crawford (Firth) delights a sell-out audience in his guise as Chinese conjurer Wei Ling Soo. Backstage, he berates his crew for their incompetence and lives up to the description of his best and perhaps only friend Howard Burkan (Simon McBurney) as "a genius with all the charm of a typhus epidemic".

Howard entreats Stanley to accompany him to the Riviera to debunk a psychic medium called Sophie Baker (Emma Stone), who has promised to help wealthy widow Grace Catledge (Jacki Weaver) make contact with her late husband.

In return, Grace has pledged to fund an expensive institute fronted by Sophie's mother (Marcia Gay Harden). Swatting aside warnings about Sophie's beauty - "A pretty face never hurt a cheap swindler," retorts Stanley dryly - the magician bids fond farewell to his fiancee (Catherine McCormack) and heads for the Catledge villa posing as businessman Stanley Taplinger.

In no time at all, Stanley is almost as smitten with Sophie as Grace's lovesick son Brice (Hamish Linklater) and the celebrated magician struggles to find a rational explanation for her boggling feats of mind-reading and clairvoyance.

Magic In The Moonlight is a valentine to Allen's lifelong fascination with tricks and illusions, and he engineers one moment of misdirection to quickly untangle the knotty central plot. An even bigger trick would be convincing us that Firth and Stone make a perfect match but it's doubtful Houdini could have pulled off that gross deception.

Supporting cast, who have a canny knack of scoring Oscar nominations in Allen's work, are subdued, even Eileen Atkins in the plum role of Firth's straight-talking aunt, who can sniff romance on her nephew like cheap cologne.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Tuesday 21st October 2014
Wednesday 22nd October 2014
Thursday 23rd October 2014

Maps To The Stars 4 stars

Thirteen-year-old Benjie Weiss is the pre-pubescent prince of the box office whose upwards trajectory is carefully managed by his mother Christina. Back at home, Benjie's father, self-help guru Dr Stafford Weiss, realigns the chakras of wealthy clientele including fame-hungry actress Havana Segrand, who is pinning her resurgence on a remake of the film that made her mother, Clarice Taggart, a star.

  • GenreDrama, Romance
  • CastMia Wasikowska, Julianne Moore, Robert Pattinson, Olivia Williams, John Cusack, Evan Bird.
  • DirectorDavid Cronenberg.
  • WriterBruce Wagner.
  • CountryCan/US/Ger
  • Duration112 mins
  • Official site
  • Release26/09/2014 (selected cinemas)

At the end of the 1990 comedy Pretty Woman, as Julia Roberts and Richard Gere savour their fairy-tale romance, a nameless man strolls across a sidewalk and hollers to the hills. "Welcome to Hollywood!" he bellows, "What's your dream? Everybody comes here, this is Hollywood, land of dreams. Some dreams come true, some don't, but keep on dreamin' - this is Hollywood."

More than two decades later, that rose-tinted dream turns sour in David Cronenberg's relentlessly grim satire of ambition, greed and dark familial secrets.

Scriptwriter Bruce Wagner, who crafted this lacerating portrait while he was working as a limousine driver in Tinseltown, is unflinching in his depiction of how far some starlets will go to extend their 15 minutes of fame... even if it means thrusting a stiletto heel into the head of a rival to clamber up the pecking order.

Precocious child stars bound for rehab and New Age healers are in Wagner's sights as he laments the death of raw talent and berates the rise of the perfectly packaged commodity.

And they don't come more lucrative than 13-year-old Benjie Weiss (Evan Bird), the pre-pubescent prince of the box office whose upwards trajectory is carefully managed by his mother Christina (Olivia Williams).

Back at home, Benjie's father, self-help guru Dr Stafford Weiss (John Cusack), realigns the chakras of wealthy clientele including fame-hungry actress Havana Segrand (Julianne Moore), who is pinning her resurgence on a remake of the film that made her mother, Clarice Taggart (Sarah Gadon), a star.

Havana hopes her friend Carrie Fisher (playing herself) might put in a good word with the director of the remake, indie wunderkind Damien Javitz (Gord Rand). While Havana awaits news on the role, she employs a new personal assistant, a "disfigured schizophrenic" called Agatha (Mia Wasikowska), whose sardonic take on Hollywood attracts handsome limo driver Jerome Fontana (Robert Pattinson).

Meanwhile, Benjie succumbs to the green-eyed monster when a young co-star (Sean G Robertson) steals his thunder and Stafford prepares a defence to counter slurs on his reputation: "Worst case scenario: I go on Oprah again, do the whole Lance Armstrong thing."

Maps To The Stars is anchored by Moore's fearless and emotionally raw performance as a screen siren, who is haunted - literally - by the ghost of her more successful mother.

Wasikowska is similarly impressive as a daughter undone by the sins of her father and Pattinson continues to shove a stake through the heart of his image as a swooning teen dreamboat in the Twilight saga.

Screenwriter Wagner doesn't always achieve smooth transitions between black comedy, drama and tragedy, and he tips the wink too early to the skeletons rattling in the Weiss family closet. However, he does puncture over-inflated egos of the rich and supposedly fabulous with the skill of someone who has been there and almost done that.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Tuesday 21st October 2014
Wednesday 22nd October 2014
Thursday 23rd October 2014

The Bloodiest (Les Saignantes) 3 stars

Drama.

  • GenreDrama
  • CastJosephine Ndagnou, Emile Abossolo M'Bo, Adele Ado, Dorylia Calmel.
  • DirectorJen-Pierre Bekolo, Jean-Pierre Bekolo.
  • WriterJean-Pierre Bekolo.
  • CountryFr/Camer
  • Duration97 mins
  • Official site

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Thursday 23rd October 2014

Westworld 3 stars

Chilling fantasy set around the premise of a western-styled theme park malfunctioning with deadly results.

  • GenreThriller
  • CastYul Brynner, Richard Benjamin, James Brolin.
  • DirectorMichael Crichton.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration89 mins
  • Official site

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Tuesday 21st October 2014

Withnail & I 5 stars

Seminal 1987 comedy about the eponymous failed actors, whose life of squalor is slowly wearing them down. When the lascivious Uncle Monty offers the friends the use of his countryside retreat, they readily accept but are unprepared for the attentions of the crazy locals or of Monty himself.

  • GenreClassic, Comedy, Drama, Gay
  • CastRichard E Grant, Paul McGann, Richard Griffiths.
  • DirectorBruce Robinson.
  • WriterBruce Robinson.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration102 mins
  • Official site
  • Release07/09/2007 (selected cinemas); 03/10/2014 (selected cinemas)

Richard E Grant and Paul McGann headline a most welcome reissue of Bruce Robinson's seminal 1987 comedy, playing the eponymous failed actors, whose life of squalor and self-loathing is slowly wearing them down. When the lascivious Uncle Monty (Richard Griffiths) offers the friends the use of his countryside retreat, they readily accept but the friends are unprepared for the attentions of crazy locals and Monty himself, who has an anecdote and a bon mot for every occasion: "I can never touch meat until it's cooked. As a youth I used to weep in butcher's shops."

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Tuesday 21st October 2014
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