Film Guide - January 24, 2014

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TO SW GuideMitty2 20TH CENTURY FOX The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Faan se Trein: Willie Esterhuysen delivers a pitch perfect performance, supported by a sympathetic cast, in Koos Roets’excellent folk tale set in 1950s Karoo. **** DdB

Grudge Match: Rocky and Raging Bull duke it out, in and out of the ring. Jokes about getting old abound, but it’s not funny if you don’t catch the reference to Sylvester Stallone and Robert de Niro’s previous work. *** TS

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones: The fifth one in the series marks a change in setting, but there aren’t enough thrills to justify this sequel. ** WP

The Book Thief: Great casting but so many of the book’s myriad of storylines are unnecessarily frittered away to dilute the story’s impact, so the rushed conclusion tempers the tear-jerking ending. *** WP

Richard II: It’s a classy production starring the popular David Tennant (currently on our small screens in Broadchurch) in the first of the live Royal Shakespeare Company screenings directed by Gregory Doran, the new artistic director. It’s one of Shakespeare’s most relevant plays, yet rarely seen locally. **** DdB

12 Years a Slave: Steve McQueen’s searing adaptation of the true-life account of a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the pre-Civil War South. Difficult to watch, but essential viewing. **** WP

47 Ronin: A lumpy 3D epic that fuses Japanese historical legend with generic CGI-heavy action fantasy. ** HR

Baggage Claim: Flossy, glossy and uneven, this one hits all the right notes for a romcom, but it’s not exactly original. ** WP

Before Midnight: It’s almost a decade down the road and time to catch up with the gentle Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and the quixotic Celine (Julie Delpy) as we experience their life, loss and love with and for one another in a relationship at work. **** DdB

Blue Jasmine: Cate Blanchett give a stunning performance in Woody Allen’s latest film about the vagaries of rich people. **** DdB

Delivery Man: Vince Vaughn makes for a likeable lead, but this almost charming comedy suffers in comparison to its Canadian source material. *** WP

Don Jon: A disarming film that starts as a raunch-fest but develops into an affecting story about the value of intimacy between two real people. **** WP

Empire State: Liam Hemsworth and Dwayne Johnson fail to breathe life into this film about a heist that shook America. Although based on a true story, you feel as though you have seen this one before. ** MV

Enough Said: James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss in a bitter-sweet, mature romcom with good support from Catherine Keener and Toni Collette. **** TS

Fallstaff: While baritone Ambrogio Maestri impresses in the title role, conductor James Levine's return to the Met Opera is a tad too frothy thanks to stage director Robert Carsen. *** PB

Frozen: A warming tale of the power of love, family and sisterhood in the face of adversity. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen.*** LN

Hunger Games 2: Catching Fire: Strong sequel brings back Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Woody Harrelson. Action-packed with some nifty designs. *** TS

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit: Kenneth Branagh successfully reboots the film version of Tom Clancy's action hero who prefers brain over brawn. *** TS

Last Vegas: A brisk and goofy adventure about four old friends who go on a wild holiday. Although not original, the film manages to mine fanny packs and big white tennies for more laughter than it should. *** WP

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom: With a plot still largely driven by key political moments, rather than telling the story of the man behind the public persona (as it professes to do), Mandela nevertheless makes for eye-opening viewing. *** LDM

Paradise: Cody Diablo directs Julianne Hoff as a young conservative woman who suffers a crisis of faith after surviving a plane crash. ** HR

Schuks! Your Country Needs You: Critic-proof candid camera from Leon Schuster with some help and a bit of a storyline from Rob van Vuuren. HH WM

Tyler Perry’s Madea Christmas: The fake grandmother is back with some more laughs for family viewing. If you have the collection of previous films, don’t expect too much out of this installment. *** MV

The Counselor: A lawyer bites off more than he can chew when he steps in the world of drug trafficking. Featuring a huge stellar cast. ** WP

The Hobbit 2: The Desolation of Smaug: We return to Middle Earth for plenty of action and Legolas doing impossible stunts. *** TS

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: Playing out like a luscious magazine in moving pictures, this film will appeal to anyone who likes the idea of working on a newspaper. Based more on the previous 1947 film of the same name than the most famous of James Thurber’s short stories. **** TS

The Wolf of Wall Street: Martin Scorsese maddeningly uneven indictment of the financial depredations that characterised the 1990s is centred on Jordan Belfort, a real-life swindler and penny-stock conman.**** WP

What Maisie Knew: It’s a story often told, of parents so obsessed with their own lives, they forget those they brought to life. With a superb cast including Julianne Moore and Onata Aprile as Maisie, the acting gives it power. *** DdB

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