The Lego Movie (Early Digital Release)
After the family entertainment juggernaut that was Frozen, parents everywhere are now faced with yet another movie that their kids will want to re-watch ad infinitum. The good news for them is that The Lego Movie is actually a proper movie: full of characters, story and all that other good stuff.
Emmet is just a regular lego man with a job as a construction worker. He does what he’s told, eats what everyone else eats and listens to the same song everyone else listens to (the dangerously catchy earworm, ‘Everything is Awesome’). Everything changes however, when he’s singled out as ‘The Chosen One’ by a group of elite ‘master builders’. (It’s basically the plot of The Matrix)
This is so densely packed with visual jokes and great writing that you probably won’t mind having to watch this the first dozen times with your kids. And if you don’t have children, you’ll still enjoy this genuinely funny movie.
The Grand Budapest Hotel (New to Rent)
There’s no director on the planet as visually distinctive and whimsical as Wes Anderson – his signature is writ large on every frame of his movies. And with The Grand Budapest Hotel, he may have created the most perfect example of ‘a Wes Anderson film’.
Set in a fictional European republic in the years between the world wars, Ralph Fiennes plays M. Gustave: the fastidious and roguish concierge of the titular hotel.
Taking a young lobby boy under his wing, he’s thrown into a twisty-turny plot when his most esteemed patron (Tilda Swinton) suddenly dies, bequeathing him a priceless painting. Suddenly, he’s the focus of unwanted attention from the woman’s murderous family.
This is truly delightful movie. It’s a treat for the eye, unexpectedly hilarious, and achingly nostalgic. We have already reserved a space for The Grand Budapest Hotel in our year-end top ten list.
Under the Skin (Early Digital Release)
Scarlett Johansson has always been an indie actress in the guise of a blockbuster star. So it’s no co-incidence that this is her finest on-screen performance since Lost in Translation. She plays an alien creature who invades the body of a beautiful woman in Scotland. Wondering through the streets and outskirts of Glasgow, she prey on lonely men, seducing and killing them.
Directed by Sexy Beast’s Jonathan Glazer, this is a beautiful and haunting film. It’s made all the better by Johansson’s stunningly intense performance.
Check it out, you won’t regret it.
The Book Thief (New to Rent)
Based on Markus Zusak’s bestseller of the same name, The Book Thief is the story of the rise of the third reich as seen through the eyes of a young girl (Liesel, played by Sophie Nélisse). Separated from her birth mother and sent to live with a kindly couple (Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson), she observed the world around her changing: from book burnings to keeping the secret of Jewish boy hidden in their house, she’s forced to encounter some dark aspects of humanity.
However, this isn’t all doom-and-gloom: despite Liesel’s challenges, the film does manage to remain uplifting without hitting too many saccharine notes.
For those of us who haven’t read the popular series of Vampire Academy teen novels: it’s basically a sexier Harry Potter.
Newcomer Zoey Deutch plays Rose, a half-human-half-vampire, who attends a secret school for vampires with her best friend, a girl who comes from noble vampire stock. Having run away from the academy years before, the pair of them are dragged back into the school. Once there, they discover a dangerous conspiracy as well as… you guessed it: romance.
This film knows precisely what audience it’s playing to, so naturally it won’t be to everyone’s tastes. However, if you’ve been craving trashy vampire romance since the last Twilight film, you may have found your fix.
Keanu Reeves makes his directorial debut in this delightfully bare-bones martial arts movie. Working with legendary fight choreographer Yuen Woo-Ping and martial artists like Tiger Chen and Iko Uwais (The Raid), he’s made an Enter the Dragon-style movie that pits a number of different fight styles against each other. Reeves also makes an appearance as the central villain, the man in charge of an underground fight club catering to the whims of billionaires.
As with these types of films, the story barely matters. All you need to know is that there’s a lot of quality action from start to finish.
Andrew Scott (Moriarty from Sherlock) stars in this new comedy that was surely pitched as ‘The Irish Hangover’. With his best mate just about to get married, Scott plans a calm weekend away in the country. For two non-lads such as themselves, this sounds like the perfect stag do. But when the groom’s wild future brother-in-law gets added to the mix, their quiet holiday begins to go off the rails!
Pulp: A Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets (Early Digital Release)
Pulp were always the most evocative and intelligent band of the Brit Pop era, so it comes as no surprise that a retrospective of their careers is as thoughtful as this documentary. Taking place around the their final UK concert in their hometown of Sheffield, it sees Jarvis Cocker & co. ruminate on the long-delayed final act of their story. It’s also partly an homage to the working class people of Yorkshire, the kind of people that inspired the lyrics of their songs greatest songs.
Even if you’re just a casual Pulp fan, this is a must-see movie for you.
True Blood (New Episodes)
Anna Paquin is back as Sookie Stackhouse in what promises to be a thrilling final season of the acclaimed vampire drama. This year, a season-opening battle between raging Hep-Vamps and Bon Temps prey sets the stage for a season-long series of hair-raising denouements for Sookie, Bill, and all the other characters you’ve grown to know over the past 6 years!
If you haven’t caught up with the show yet, now’s the best time. If you start binging the first 6 seasons now, you could easily be up to date by the time the whole show draws to a close.