Ratings on the UK system – U=universal, PG=parental guidance, 12, 15 and 18 are self-explanatory, E=Excempt
Celia (Second Run, cert 15)
Oz director Ann Turner’s classic 1989 rites-of-passage debut, about one girl’s amply furnished fantasy childhood. It’s the story of a child, from a child’s point of view, rather than adult looking back, and set in 1950s Australia overrun by rabbits and the Red menace.
Of Time and the City (BFI, cert 12)
Back with a bang, grumpy, poetic old man Terence Davies’s elegy to his lost, native Liverpool, composed almost entirely of archive footage, brilliantly welded together by a master. Wait till you hear what he has to say about the Beatles.
Blindsight (Revelation, cert E)
Six blind Tibetan kids head into the Himalayas to climb one of Everest’s peaks and in a clear case of the blind leading the blind, sightless mountaineer Erik Weihenmayer is leading the expedition. Lucy Walker’s documentary starts trad and feelgood but building to a compelling examination of culture-clash.
Splinter (Icon, cert 18)
More tense than horrible – though it’s fairly horrible too – this grimly effective horror thriller dark as arterial blood sees actors you’ll just about recognise being menaced by zombies. What they saved on names they spent on SFX. Good decision.
The Children (Contender, cert 18)
AKA Ghost House Underground. Eva Birthistle and Stephen Campbell Moore star in this Brit horror about starey evil kids. The Innocents and Midwich Cuckoos provide the inspiration and it works very nicely as an indictment of liberal parenting too.
Changeling (Universal, cert 15)
Clint Eastwood directs one of his most over-hyped movies, thanks to the presence of Angelina Jolie as a 1929s mum convinced the abducted son who’s been returned to her is a ringer. Anger, tears, mood swings aplenty in a show-off piece for a precious star.
Waltz With Bashir (Artificial Eye, cert 18)
Director and former Israeli solider Ari Folman lays bleak monochrome animation over mea culpa interviews with old army buddies, complicity in the 1982 Sabra and Shatila refugee massacres his chief concern.
Lakeview Terrace (Sony, cert 15)
A great writer but only a so-so director, Neil LaBute’s drama about an interracial couple (Kerry Washington, Patrick Wilson) menaced by out-and-out racist cop Samuel L. Jackson is neighbour-from-hell horror with pretensions.
The Secret Life of Bees (Fox, cert 12)
Nearly adult Dakota Fanning in a drama about a southern gal dealing with parental abuse and segregation in 1960s USA. Amazingly sweet, considering and the all-star cast – Sophie Okonedo, Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys – is hellishly impressive.
Body of Lies (Warner, cert 15)
Leo DiCaprio is the field operative, Russell Crowe his boss in Ridley Scott’s entertaining, slick updating of the old spy thriller – Iraq, Al-Qaeda and all that done on a big cinematic scale and with a supporting cast (Mark Strong, Golshifteh Farahani, Oscar Isaac) to match.
Derek (BFI, cert 18)
Isaac Julien’s tender, surprisingly conventional homage to his old mentor, queercore maverick Derek Jarman, who died in 1994, written and narrated by muse Tilda Swinton. As a manifesto on the supremacy of art over entertainment, it’s refreshingly old school too.
My Best Friend’s Girl (Lionsgate, cert 18)
Dane Cook as a sleazeball hired to make crap ex boyfriends look so good in comparison that the women head back to safety. Zinging one-liners but the stinky rom-com chemistry with co-star Kate Hudson ruins what should be Cook’s breakout movie.
My Best Friend’s Girl – at Amazon
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© Steve Morrissey 2009