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Cinema

Ready to swoosh: Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man, aka Peter Parker

The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Too much bang-bang, not enough kiss-kiss

Cinema

Have you seen that pizza with a cheeseburger crust? If not, just imagine a normal pizza, except where the pizza ought to end — and civilised society begin — there’s a ring of about ten miniature burgers, all encased in… Read more

Kelly Reilly and Brendan Gleeson: on tremendous form

Waiting for Godot - but with plot

Cinema

If the very first scene of Calvary doesn’t immediately draw you in there’s every chance there is something seriously wrong with you and I would urge you to book an appointment with your GP. It is a terrific opening and… Read more

Mia Wasikowska as Hannah in ‘The Double’

The Double will stay in your mind, like a bit of food caught in a tooth

Cinema

I should warn you that if you go see The Double it is one of those films that will trouble you long after the event. It will trouble you at breakfast and it will trouble you at lunch and it… Read more

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What backing singers are really thinking behind the ‘ooh, ooh, oohs’

Cinema

Have you ever looked at backing singers and thought: what is their story? Do they or have they ever prayed for their time to come? As they are going ‘ooh ooh, ooh ooh’ behind Kylie are they thinking, ‘I want… Read more

Will she jump? Imogen Poots as Jess, the daughter of a politician

These screen suicides deserve a nudge off the ledge

Cinema

A Long Way Down is about four would-be suicides who meet for the first time on the top of a tall London building, intending to jump, but instead of jumping they decide to hang around and annoy the hell out… Read more

Vroooooooooom! Vroooooooooom! No need for speed

Are you a lobotomised teenager? Then Need for Speed is for you

Cinema

OK, Need for Speed, if we must, and we must because I sat through it (running time: 130 minutes) and do not see why you should be spared. Need for Speed is based on a video game and here is… Read more

Insanely rich but unrecognisable: Tilda Swinton as Madame D

A film to enjoy with your eyes

Cinema

The Grand Budapest Hotel is the latest Wes Anderson film and it is beautiful to look at, scrumptious, luscious, such a delicious confection I would have marched up to the screen and licked it if only, at the screening I… Read more

Sophie Nélisse and Nico Liersch in ‘The Book Thief’

I'm proud to say The Book Thief couldn't pull my heartstrings

Cinema

The Book Thief is based on Markus Zusak’s novel of the same name which, although written for young adults, appears beloved by many, judging from the readers’ reviews on the internet, and the frequent declarations of ‘it’s the best book… Read more

Loving each other deeply, deeply, deeply: Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston

You may be the Only One Left Awake at Only Lovers Left Alive

Cinema

Jim Jarmusch is the noted American ‘cult director’, and if you were to judge him solely on the basis of Only Lovers Left Alive you’d be minded to think the cult can keep him.  It’s a take on the vampire… Read more

Crack team: Matt Damon and George Clooney in ‘The Monuments Men’

Bury every copy of Monuments Men in mines across Europe, so George Clooney can try again

Cinema

You know that old quip ‘I’m not just a pretty face’? I always thought it was meant to be said tongue-in-cheek, with an undertone of self-deprecation. Surely it’s not for those literal instances when a really beautiful person does something… Read more

Matthew McConaughey: top performance

Dallas Buyers Club - Matthew McConaughey gives the best performance of anyone's career

Cinema

Although you’ll have heard that Dallas Buyers Club is fantastic and Matthew McConaughey gives the performance of his career, I know you won’t believe it unless you hear it directly from me so here you are: it is fantastic and… Read more

Lance Armstrong: no shame, no remorse

Can Lance Armstrong squirm? We don't know because The Armstrong Lie doesn't make him

Cinema

Alex Gibney’s The Armstrong Lies is fascinating as far as it goes but it may not go as far as you would like, and may not ask the questions you would like. It’s a documentary portrait of the American cyclist… Read more

Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep in ‘August: Osage County’

August: Osage County? Why not make your own?

Cinema

If you and your family are bored — if, for example, it’s one of those dull Sunday afternoons that seem to drag on for ever and it feels as if it’s never going to be time for The Antiques Road… Read more

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Fists of cash, hookers and a candle in your bum palls after a while

Cinema

Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street will set the cat among the pigeons as a number of films do. 12 Years A Slave set the cat among the pigeons with some critics claiming it was ‘torture porn’ and other… Read more

Great performance: Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup

Deborah Ross: 12 Years a Slave harrowed me to within an inch of my life

Cinema

Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave goes directly to the heart of American slavery without any shilly-shallying — unlike The Butler, say, or even Django Unchained — and is what I call a ‘Brace Yourself’ film, as you must brace… Read more

Idris Elba and Naomie Harris in The Long Walk to Freedom (Photo: Pathe / The Kobal)

'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom' is a very, very long walk indeed

Cinema

The biopic Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom is a timely tribute, and an earnest and respectful and well-meaning one, but it does seem like a very, very long walk indeed. It’s a slog, a plod, a trudge uphill, and… Read more

Fallen angel: Naomie Harris as Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

Interview Naomie Harris: It was hard playing the dark side of Winnie Mandela

Cinema

How do you solve a problem like Winnie Madikizela-Mandela? Perhaps it wouldn’t have legs as a format for a BBC Saturday-night talent show, but it’s a question that Naomie Harris has been trying to answer ever since she agreed to… Read more

All girls together: Sheridan Smith (Sam) and Jaime Winstone (Chanel, the slag)

What it's like to spend 90 minutes in the women's loo of a thumping nightclub

Cinema

Powder Room is a small British film all about women and starring only women — boo-hoo, men; my heart bleeds for you all — yet it is almost entirely set in a nightclub, so whether you enjoy this film may… Read more

Unlikely partners: Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) and P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson)

Deborah Ross: If you don't enjoy Saving Mr Banks, there's something wrong with you

Cinema

Saving Mr Banks tells ‘the untold true story’ of the making of the Disney classic Mary Poppins via the stand-offs between Walt and the book’s author, P.L. Travers, and it is not a taxing film. You always know where it’s… Read more

Eddie Murphy, Jamie Lee Curtis and Dan Aykroyd in Trading Places Photo: Paramount / The Kobal Collection

Trading Places at 30 - one of the funniest films of all time

Cinema

Next month marks the 30th anniversary of the release of what is, in my opinion, one of the funniest films of all time: Trading Places. Starring comedic demigods Eddie Murphy and Dan Ackroyd, together with Jamie Lee Curtis and Denholm… Read more

Winning games: Sam Claflin and Jennifer Lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence is plain brilliant in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Cinema

In the future, everyone will have silly names. Some people will be called Haymitch Abernathy. Others will be Effie Trinket or Finnick Odair. And they’ll all live in various districts, numbered from one to 12. And because those districts rebelled… Read more

They also serve: the Kennedy family enter the White House

The Butler, about a black domestic in the White House, is too painfully obvious

Cinema

The Butler tells the story of an African–American butler at the White House who served eight American presidents over three decades and it plays as a ‘greatest hits’ of the civil rights movement, along with whatever else they decided to… Read more

Give us the money: James Toback and Alec Baldwin

Ryan Gosling couldn’t play Taki better than Taki

Cinema

Seduced and Abandoned is both a satire on film-making and a love letter to film-making and a joy. A documentary made by the director and writer James Toback, in cahoots with his friend the actor Alec Baldwin, it follows the… Read more

Searching for her lost son: Judi Dench and Steve Coogan

Philomena is Dame Judi’s film

Cinema

Philomena is based on the true story of an Irish woman searching for the son stolen from her by the Catholic Church 50 years earlier, and although, as a cinematic experience, it could so easily have felt as if you… Read more

The Selfish Giant (Picture: The Kobal Collection)

Deborah Ross: The Selfish Giant is not fresh, but it's superbly performed

Cinema

The Selfish Giant is a British social-realism film in the tradition of all such films from Kes onwards, so it never feels particularly fresh, but it does feel real and true, is superbly performed, and it does pack quite an… Read more

One of the greatest actors alive: Tom Hanks as Captain Phillips

Tom Hanks is the greatest actor alive

Cinema

The main thing you should know about Captain Phillips is that it really puts you through the wringer. It’s based on the true 2009 story of the hijacking of a US container ship by Somali pirates, and the Navy Seal… Read more

In it together: Benedict Cumberbatch (Assange) and Daniel Brühl (Berg)

Four good reasons not to watch The Fifth Estate

Cinema

Just how interesting you find The Fifth Estate may entirely depend on how interested you are in the whistle-blowing site WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, in the first instance. This does not do what Senna did, for example, or… Read more

James McAvoy: terrific

I watched Filth from behind my hands. It's ghastly and unpleasant, but what I saw of it was brilliant

Cinema

People are generally saying Filth fully fulfils the promise of its title and is not for the faint of heart or queasy of stomach or lily of liver and, alas, I am all three, in spades. (My liver is, in… Read more