Prisoners (Early Digital Release)
Hugh Jackman stars in one of 2013’s most under-rated films, now available at blinkbox. He plays a blue-collar family man in small town Pennsylvania who quickly snaps when his daughter goes missing. The police –led by hotshot detective Jake Gyllenhaal– arrest a suspect (Paul Dano) who was seen driving around the area in an RV. As it turns out, Dano’s a simpleton and the cops have no evidence to tie him to the disappearance, so they’re forced to let him go. Predictably, Daddy Wolverine’s not happy about this state of affairs so he takes matters into his own hands. A well-crafted thriller that thoroughly fooled us with its plot-twists, Prisoners is one of the finest examples of its genre.
Rush (Early Digital Release)
One of motor-racing’s greatest rivalries gets the big screen treatment this week courtesy of the people who brought you Frost/Nixon. Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl play James Hunt and Niki Lauda, Formula One champions who couldn’t be more different. Hunt, the English playboy, is bold and reckless while his Austrian counterpart is intelligent and calculated in his risks. Director Ron Howard does a great job creating some of the best motorsports action we’ve ever seen; while writer Peter Morgan elevates it above the usual sports biography fare by showing us two sides of the same coin. It’s a great human drama wrapped in a high-octane action film.
This might be writer/director Richard Curtis’ first foray into science/speculative fiction but the elements are reassuringly familiar. Domhnall Gleeson plays a young Hugh Grant-type with the ability to travel back in time throughout his own life. He has a group of friends that includes a kooky sister (just like in 4 Weddings and Notting Hill) and a seemingly unobtainable love interest who just so happens to be an American (just like in 4 Weddings and Notting Hill). As it would happen, Gleeson’s gift turns out to be a curse as he threatens to undo his own happiness by trying to perfect the past.
Sure, the elements are recycled, but there’s a thick air of melancholy that pervades About Time, distinguishing it from Curtis’ past successes.
Runner Runner (Early Digital Release)
Justin Timberlake is a smart guy working on his Masters at Princeton; he dabbles in online gaming in order to pay for his tuition. When he loses his life savings in a virtual poker game, he realises that he’s being cheated by the site and heads to Costa Rica to confront the site’s wealthy owner Ben Affleck. Suitably impressed by JT’s moxy, he offers him an incredibly lucrative job. Of course, when you’re working for a crazed millionaire in a pseudo-legal industry, it won’t be long before the law comes knocking on your door. Co-stars Anthony Mackie and Gemma Arterton.
42 (Early Digital Release)
This movie from LA Confidential writer Brian Helgeland tells the familiar story of Jackie Robinson, the first African American man to play baseball in the big leagues. Recruited from the Negro leagues by a forward-thinking executive for the Brooklyn Dodgers (Harrison Ford in a Noo Yawk accent), Robinson not only faces resistance from the public, but from his own team mates as well. It’s a well-known story told in a straightforward manner. There’s nothing particular fancy about it, but when you’re dealing with compelling historical material, you don’t need many bells and whistles.
White House Down (New to Rent)
Better known as the other White House siege movie of 2013, this film is actually a decent amount better than the earlier Gerard Butler vehicle, Olympus Has Fallen. Channing Tatum plays a Washington cop and Secret Service reject who just so happens to be in the White House with his daughter when mercenaries storm the place. Being a true patriot and whatnot, Tatum has to protect the President (Jamie Foxx), keep his daughter safe, and stop the baddies from getting their hands on the nuclear codes. As we said: if you only want to see one movie about a sweaty guy saving the president, make it this one.
Hours (Early Digital Release)
As one of Paul Walker’s final performances, this Katrina-set indie drama was something of a pet project for him — he served as a producer and had a big hand in getting it made. He plays a man whose pregnant wife goes into labour five weeks early and dies during childbirth. Alone and bereft, Walker doesn’t have much time to grieve before the Hurricane knocks out the power at the hospital, putting his premature child in grave danger. After the excesses of the Fast and Furious, Hours shows a gentler, more soulful side to Walker’s acting talent; the spectre of his subsequent death only lends the film an even deeper poignancy.
Thanks for Sharing (from Friday 24th)
Known in the tabloids as ‘that sex movie with Gwyneth Paltrow’, Thank You for Sharing centres around three characters (played by Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins and Josh Gad) who are struggling with their addition to sex. As a romantic comedy, you can safely assume it isn’t a grim Shame-type affair, but rather an uplifting story of redemption. The central trio are charming as is Paltrow as Ruffalo’s love interest, a woman beset by her own demons.
RIPD (New to Rent)
When the first trailer came out, this looked like little more than Men in Black but with ghosts instead of aliens. And while both films are based on Dark Horse comics about secret agencies that police paranormal creatures living on Earth (and both films centre around a mouthy young cop who’s paired up with a grizzled veteran), RIPD still manages to be a thoroughly entertaining action-comedy. Jeff Bridges, in particular, seems to be having a great time as deceased lawman from the 19th Century, playing it like a crankier version of his character in True Grit. If you liked MIB, you’ll probably enjoy this too!
The Tunnel: Series 1
The second programme to be based on the Danish/Swedish series The Bridge, this multi-national collaboration starts in a familiar way: the body of a politician is discovered in the Channel tunnel, straddling the international border. Investigating the case is high-functioning French detective Clémence Poésy and easy-going British copper Stephane Dillane, who must work against the clock before the killer strikes again. If you’ve seen the Scandinavian version, the first episode will seem like a carbon copy. But as the show progresses, the story diverges in some significant ways.
Fans of the original should really consider checking this out.
Sherlock: Series 3 Boxset
Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’ modern reworking of Arthur Conan Doyle’s immortal detective returns after a two year hiatus. And you know what? It’s arguably the best series to date. The first episode deals with the return of Sherlock after his apparent suicide. Facing both an imminent terrorist attack and new villain in the form of a mysterious media mogul, the stakes have never been higher for Holmes and Watson. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t time for a good ol’ fashioned wedding episode! With Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman both being wooed by Hollywood, the chances of there being more Sherlocks are growing ever-slimmer. Enjoy this while you can!
Veep: Season 2
Armando Iannucci’s scathingly satirical take on Washington politics is back for a second season and it’s fair to say that Veep has finally got into its stride. In the first episode, VP Selena Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfuss) has finally gets her wish when the President grants her a seat on the foreign policy committee. But you know what they say about being careful what you wish for…
The colourful dialogue flies as fast as ever, courtesy of Iannucci’s writers from The Thick of It who benefit from a whip-smart cast. Keep your eye on the credits to see directorial turns from British comedy figures Chris Morris and Chris Addison!
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