All this week's cinema releases reviewed
Oscar nod... The Descendants
After a boating accident leaves his wife in a coma, absentee dad Matt King (George Clooney) is forced to rebuild his relationship with his daughters. Scottie (Amara Miller) is a precocious 10-year-old but it's 17-year-old Alexandra (Shailene Woodley) who is going to prove to be the biggest problem. As Matt struggles with his kids, he is hit by the devastating news that his wife was cheating on him. He decides to confront the other man, and sets off to Hawaii. The land around him holds a special significance to his family, and Matt is also in the process of giving it all up for a healthy profit. Is Matt going to destroy his legacy or is he securing the future for his daughters?
What we think:
Clooney is irresistible in this quiet comedy-drama that captures the best of director Alexander Payne's style and spirit. There's nothing original on offer, but it has undeniable honesty and a subtle sense of humour.
The word out there:
The Guardian: Payne has found his softcore style, and it's fluent and persuasive, but I preferred the earlier voice: comic, lacerating and unflinching.
Empire: There are few filmmakers out there as incisively and entertainingly intelligent as Alexander Payne, and he makes few films. So, like Sideways before it, The Descendants is something to be cherished.
Scotsman: The Descendants is a heartfelt and tragic piece, but it’s also mature and very funny.
Sky Movies: Seven years after his last outing, Payne - neatly subverting the idea of Hawaii as an untroubled island paradise - shows he can still steer a sure path between humour and heartache.
Release date: 27 January
Runtime: 115 mins
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The Grey – 4/5
Liam Neeson in The Grey
Having spent several months drilling for oil in Alaska, a group of men head back to civilization. On board their flight home is a mysterious loner who is going through a personal crisis, but John Ottway (Liam Neeson) is about to face an even bigger problem. A rough storm downs the plane and only a handful of survivors are left in the wilderness, and to top things off a savage attack from a pack of wolves reduce their number even further. Ottway knows the animals well, he had been recruited to protect the oil workers from them, but this time things are different. There are no guns. The men are outnumbered. And the wolves can smell blood...