Belfast Telegraph

My tomboy tips for the best new flicks

By Frances Burscough

The weather’s atrocious; there’s nowt good on the telly; a night down the pub costs an arm and a leg and restaurants are packed out and noisy on a Saturday night at this time of year. There’s only one thing for it: how about an evening with your old friends Pearl&Dean down at the flicks?

As a film critic I get invited to lots of new movies so I’ve seen most of the latest releases and I can honestly say there are some fantastic films doing this month. Now I must admit I’m not your typical girlie in terms of my viewing preferences, so I don’t generally do chick-flicks, rom-coms, slapstick or tear-jerkers. Give me some gangsters, a western, a war movie, a murder investigation or a violent crime spree and I’ll be happy. As long as it comes with an adult cert and a full set of warnings I’ll consider it. If Jennifer Aniston and/or Renee Zelwegger are in it, I probably won’t.

So here are a few tips from my tomboy top ten.

I enjoyed the press preview of “The Drop” for lots of reasons. It’s the last movie that James Gandolfini AKA Tony Soprano (RIP) made, so it’s worth seeing for that alone, although it is sad and poignant to note when you do look closely that he obviously wasn’t in the best of health even then. He’s overweight and looks worn-out and jaded, but this certainly adds resonance to the character he plays as a chain-smoking has-been who’s fallen on hard times and got on the wrong side of the mob.

His partner in crime is one of my absolute favourites of the moment, the very delectable and brilliantly versatile Tom Hardy. Even though he is as English as afternoon tea, he is totally convincing as a broke Brooklyn bar tender with a love of animals and occasional sociopathic tendencies. Unlike a lot of crime thrillers doing the rounds, the plot isn’t too complex to follow. Similar in style to Mystic River which was by the same director, it’s just a good old fashioned yarn about simple folk versus the mob, which keeps you entertained and interested without being too much of a head-melter.

Next up, Nightcrawler starring my beloved Jake Gyllenhall which for me is the movie of the year, if not the decade. It really is a masterpiece of movie-making from the very opening scene – a breath-taking twilight vista of the Los Angeles skyline in such staggering high definition you can pick out individual street lights . Once again it’s about a sort-of sociopath (a very common theme in cinema at the moment) who’s obsessed with personal goals and career development but untroubled by morals, scruples or human relationships of any sort. In fact, he’ll do virtually anything to anyone to make a few dollars.

He chances across a crime scene, takes a few photographs and...well I don’t want to spoil the story, but let’s just say the rest is history.

Jake G is mesmerisingly quirky and unpredictable. In fact he reminded me of Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver and, like that movie, Nightcrawler is destined to become a classic. It’s clever, original, shocking, slick, deep, bitter and twisted but all in a good way. If you don’t see any other films this month, go see that!

Closer to home, the film ‘71 – which is still showing in Belfast after six weeks due to its popularity - tells the tale of a young English squaddie who arrives in Belfast and immediately gets into a whole heap of err...trouble. Although it was actually filmed in Yorkshire, due to the fact that Belfast has become too modernised, it very cleverly uses a lot of stock footage from Belfast streets of the early 70s to build atmosphere and tell the tale very convincingly.

Also showing this weekend at a cinema near you in Interstellar which goes on far too long – by at least an hour – but the sci-fi plot and CGI effects are really astounding. What’s more, Matthew McConaghey continues his astonishing re-invention from the handsome darling of many a rom-com to a serious contender for most versatile method actor of the century so far. Impressive to see but it requires a lot of nips and tucks to make it more watchable. Or you can simply wait until it comes out on DVD and fast-forward the last hour. 

Interestingly, DVDs are now so much cheaper than they used to be and cinema tickets are so much more expensive, it’s actually cheaper to buy a film these days than see it at a movie-house. But the one thing money can’t buy is the sense of occasion you get from a trip to the flicks and for that reason alone I believe it’s worth every penny.

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