CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (Sony). Globalisation has a serious effect on poor nations and has led to international organised crime on the high seas. It was only three months ago that I was strongly recommending a Danish hi-jacking film.
Now here is another, and it is equally good. A cargo ship, crewed by Americans, is hi-jacked by Somali pirates and the captain is taken hostage. Based on a true story, it is directed by Peter Greengrass with a sure touch and it always feels totally authentic. The tension is enormous throughout. Tom Hanks, without any heroics and underplaying, is the captain. Barkhad Abdi is his Somali abductor.
ENOUGH SAID (20th Century Fox). Two middle-aged single parents date. She is a masseuse and he is a librarian. Their children are about to go off to university. They start a relationship and she then suddenly realizes that one of her clients, with whom she has become very friendly, is his ex-wife. She keeps the knowledge to herself, not telling either of them, and learns a lot of biased and unpleasant things about him. Nicole Holofcener’s intelligent, grown-up romantic comedy is acted with gentle and affectionate bitter-sweet humour. The late James Galdofini (in his last role) is a charming, self-deprecating flabby bear and a bit of a slob. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a delight, lovely and funny. The two actors are perfect.
DEATH COMES TO PEMBERLEY (BBBC). Jane Austen’s characters are recreated in a PD James murder mystery and the end result is a pleasant-to-look-at British heritage costume drama. Darcy (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth (Anna Maxwell Martin) are married and their marriage is already on the rocks. George Wickham (Matthew Goode), who, you will remember, eloped with the ghastly Lydia, is accused of murder. But did he do it? Will he end up on the gallows? Or will Elizabeth be able to save him? Will the US cavalry (or its equivalent) arrive in the nick of time? The story gets rushed towards the end and a bit silly.
LE WEEKEND (Curzon). A British couple (Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan) celebrate 30 years of marriage with a trip to Paris where they spent their honeymoon. The script begins in a trivial and very touristy manner but gradually gets surprisingly serious; so serious you may think twice about revisiting Paris yourselves. Their lives – in marriage and in work – have not been the success they had imagined they would be. Can Jeff Goldblum’s grating bonhomie lift them out of their doldrums?
PRINCE AVALANCHE (Metrodrome). Two unhappy and lonely losers (Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch) spend the summer re-painting yellow traffic lines on a road through a burnt-out forest. Small-scale, lyrical and quickly made on the spur of the moment by David Gordon Green, the script doesn’t go anywhere. The two men and their relationship with each other and their relationship with women we never see are insufficiently interesting in themselves to carry a non-existent plot. The old forlorn woman who lost her home in the fire feels like an awkward and unassimilated addition; and is indeed only included because she just happened to be around when the film was being shot.
FILTH (Lionsgate) is an adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s brutal and sexually abusive novel. The leading character is a debauched detective, repellent in every respect. He wants promotion and is prepared to do anything to get it. The film, directed by Jon S Baird, is always thoroughly unpleasant. James McAvoy’s performance (hallucinatory, drug-driven, his mental condition rapidly deteriorating) is quite extraordinary. But who actually wants to see filth, that’s the question? The answer, possibly, is Irvine’s Trainspotting fans.
HOW I LIVE NOW (Entertainment One). Five children are all on their own in a remote farm in Britain when World War 3 begins. Can they survive? Will they be killed? Kevin Macdonald’s film might satisfy the teenage market at which it is aimed; but the script is never taut enough to be truly effective. The one scene which really does have an impact is when a teenage girl (Saoirse Ronan) is looking for her boy friend and is unzipping a pile of body bags to see if he is one of the dead.