If you're tempted to escape the heat of the city this week with a couple of hours in a dark, air-conditioned cinema then this week's line-up of new releases won't disappoint. Choose between the thriller Man on a Ledge; Journey 2, a 3D adventure starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson; or a horror flick about demonic possession, The Devil Inside.
For something more soothing, Disney's Beauty and the Beast has just been rereleased in 3D. But before fans of the original animation start shouting 'heresy', the 3D twist to this classic film is suprisingly enhancing.
Make up your own mind on Oscar nominee (up for Best Picture) The Help, ahead of the awards ceremony at the end of this month. And, finally, French cinema buffs should check out the newly-released film by director Bertrand Bonello, House of Pleasures.
This film is not to be confused with the similarly-named The Ledge which, coincidentally enough, also focuses on a man about to jump from a tall building. Ham-handedly exploring subjects like betrayal and religion, The Ledge lumbers down the path of melodrama while this suspense heads down a completely different road: actor Sam Worthington's suicide threat isn’t a starting point for musings on life and the universe, but rather, part of a plan to monopolise the New York Police Department’s attention while a diamond heist takes place unnoticed.
Dir. Asger Leth, USA, 2011. Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, Jamie Bell. 102 mins.
While a 3D rerelease of The Beauty and the Beast might sound like – and probably is – a transparent cash-grab move from Disney, there's probably more than just plain politics behind the Best Picture nomination for the film in this year's Oscar line-up.
For those unfamiliar with the plot, it’s an adaptation of a fairy tale with an unambiguous moral about inner beauty. It’s also a beautifully executed piece of cinematic animation, with musical numbers that might compel the most stone-faced viewer to sing along. It’s worth a watch for the nostalgia value it offers those who have seen it. And for the uninitiated, it's a chance to familiarize yourself – or your kids – with a classic Disney feature on the big screen.
Dir. Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, USA, 2012. Paige O’Hara, Robby Benson. 84 mins.
Following the cheap-but-popular found-footage style of Paranormal Activity, this horror flick tells the story of a woman locked in a hospital for the criminally insane after killing three people. Her ‘demonic possession made me do it’ claim sets her daughter out on a personal quest to discover the truth, twenty years later.
Dir. William Brent, USA, 2012. Fernanda Andrade, Simon Quarterman, Evan Helmuth. 83 mins.
One of the big winners of the SAG Awards (for Best Ensemble; Actress in a Leading Role, for Viola Davis; and Supporting Role, for Octavia Spencer) and nominated for no less than four Academy Awards, this film has nonetheless suffered a bit of backlash for depicting the '60s US civil rights movement through a white protagonist’s point of view. Set in Mississippi, The Help tells the story of a young journalist who causes chaos in her hometown by deciding to interview and write about the black women who work in the houses of her rich Southern neighbours.
Dir. Tate Taylor, USA, 2011. Emma Stone, Bryce Dallas Howard, Viola Davis. 146 mins.
This sequel to the 2008 adventure flick Journey to the Center of the Earth follows the same character, Sean Anderson, only this time to a – pause for dramatic effect – mysterious island, which (of course) has treasures, strange creatures and, for added suspense, a massive disaster looming; it’s about to be swallowed by the sea because of seismic shockwaves.
Dir. Brad Peyton, USA, 2011. Josh Hutcherson, Dwayne Johnson, Vanessa Hudgens. 94 mins.
Set in early twentieth-century France, L’Apollonide chronicles the final days of a brothel, capturing the underground world of working girls, and the men who become enamoured with them. It’s a provocative portrayal of the world’s most ancient profession, as well as a thoughtful look to the past.
Dir. Bertrand Bonello, France, 2011. Hafsia Harzi, Noémie Lvovsky, Jasmine Trinca. 125 mins.