At The Flix with @timmy666

Hello one and all and welcome to this week’s trawl through the latest cinematic releases out in and around Birmingham.

Spy (15)

Writer/director Paul Feig once again teams up Melissa McCarthy’s unique blend of ad-lib self-deprication and f-word fuelled quips doing so whilst also doing a comedic take on the spy-ish action flick. It appears they are onto a winner.

The absurdity of the setup where McCarthy, a desk-bound CIA analyst goes into the field to go after a deadly arms dealer, provides many of the humour tropes from the get go. Add to this a supporting cast including The Stathe (especially), Jude Law and Rose Byrne where they are all playing heightened stereotypes of what you’d expect, the aim is for comic impact is to turn up to 11.

Feig and McCarthy are a big comedy force right now - they understand each other really well - and with Spy clearly having much affection for the spy and action genres, the critics have latched on to the film’s effectiveness replacing fat jokes with gags about the setup and the situation instead.

Insidious: Chapter 3 (12A)

Horror director James Wan passes the mantle over to franchise creator Leigh Whannell in the third instalment of this massively successful franchise.

This is a prequel, set before the haunting of the Lambert family and reveals how gifted psychic Rainier reluctantly agrees to use her ability to contact the dead in order to help a teenage girl who has been targeted by a dangerous supernatural entity.

Insidious films are proven examples of knowing how to terrify an audience at the cinema riffing off many of the classic horror conventions - lots of high musical notes, strong use of sound and silence and enough long-pauses to make you really jump when the scares happen.

Survivor (12A)

Clearly pitched as a cross between The Fugitive, Salt and a Bourne film, on paper this “woman on the run” flick has familiar and likeable casting of Jovovich and Brosnan playing up to the film’s game of cat and mouse.

Sadly even the trailer showed little fun here - Survivor has received negative reviews in large part because it feels so tired compared to the many other superior films it clearly owes a debt to.

Clouds of Sils Maria (15)

Showing at the Electric, Kristen Stewart and Juliette Binoche’s performances have been getting great plaudits in Olivier Assayas’s film - a take on fame, acting and ageing, one which is shot in a linear fashion but filled with conviction and intensity.

The film follows the two characters - as Maria Enders is asked to revive a play that made her career twenty years earlier, but she is being asked to play the role not of Sigrid, the young woman who disarms and drives her boss Helena to suicide, but the role of the older Helena! 

Rehearsing in the alps with her assistant played Stewart, Maria finds herself in the company of  a woman who is, in essence, an unsettling reflection of herself.

Samba (15)

Showing at the mac, this is the story of Samba, a migrant to France from Senegal, who after plugging away for years to make a living, meets Alice (Charlotte Gainsbourg), a senior executive who has recently undergone a burn-out. Their mutual struggles draw them both together - the film tracks their relationship and how to get out off their own predicaments.

That's it from me this week. As always, any queries or quibbles, you can find me @timmy666 on twitter. Have a great week at the cinema!