Welcome to this week's cinematic trawl and as it's half-term, what better time than to take your fellow family clan to the flicks!
Let's have a gander ….
David Ayer's war film takes many of the gripping elements of his cop films, providing an excitement along with a visual and visceral flair to the conventions that war movies often provide.
Set in Nazi Germany toward the end of World War II, the film follows a battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) who commands a Sherman tank and its five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. The film is an unadulterated take on the "against all odds", attempting to blend extreme battle violence with a deeper psychological portrayal of warfare.
Some critics have five-starred the film! Some haven't. Either way you look at, it's probably the most noted film of this week.
From the title you might be forgiven that this is some kind of profound biblical epic but in fact The Book of Life is a spritely realised animation, with critics divided on whether story has the same level of detail that the visuals provide.
Actually, the profound title is a hint to a story which is as old as life (and death) itself.
The film follows Manolo, a young man, torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart, who embarks on an adventure that spans three fantastic worlds where he must face his greatest fears. So it is sort of profound, you'd think in that "U" certificate jolly kind of way with added doses of popular music and culture referencing which Mums, Dads and kids will all appreciate too. That said, it also has a gothic sensibility and fans of Guillermo del Toro or even The Nightmare Before Christmas will spot and appreciate that too.
The Babadook (15)
I thought The Babadook sounded quite jovial but it is this week's horror offering. A single mother (check), plagued by the violent death of her husband (check), battles with her son's fear of a monster lurking in the house (check), but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her - don't cross The Babadook.
Actually though, horror story archetypes are perfectly fine if the characters and script are good, and the monster is genuinely sinister. In the Babadook, they have hopefully a spook of substance. The film is getting great reviews because it's not juvenile or obvious or resort to gross-out instead of scary.
Horror movie expert Kim Newman has said it's one of the best horror films in decades. I'm sold!
Outside of the usual mainstream releases this week, there's a whole bunch of interesting stuff happening at The Electric. First, is Effie Gray the scandalous true story, with a script from Emma Thompson, of a troubled relationship between Victorian art critic John Ruskin (Greg Wise) and Effie (Dakota Fanning), his teenage bride. After marrying at the tender age of 19, Effie quickly realises her marriage is a lie when Ruskin refuses to consummate it. Second, they have some great one offs like the Trash Film Night showing of Cool as Ice (yes, remember Vanilla Ice!) on Friday night (it's terrible in true Trash Night tradition), to a showing and Q&A of Michael Baig Clifford's documentary Bicycle (Sunday), which asks why the bicycle and cycling is so back in fashion. There are also a couple of showings on Monday and Tuesday plus a live acoustic set of The Possibilities are Endless, the uplifting documentary charting Edwyn Collins and his recovery from a massive stroke since 2005.
At the mac, alongside their showing of Effie Gray (see above) you'll find Night Train to Lisbon which stars Jeremy Irons as Raimund Gregorius, a Swiss Professor, who abandons his lectures and buttoned-down life to embark on a thrilling life-affirming adventure.
That's it from me. As is usual, any queries or comments, please let me know at @timmy666 on Twitter. Have a great week and be sure to support your local cinema if you can.