What I’ve Seen: March 11, 2016

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Each week in the UK sees the arrival of a handful of films – sometimes more, sometimes less. I don’t always get a chance to see all of them, but from now on – week to week – I’ll be documenting, along with a few words’ review, each of the films I do see.

Films out this week that I’ve seen:

Kung Fu Panda 3

Everyone’s favourite unlikely hero returns in this vibrant conclusion to DreamWorks’ best ever franchise. Po (Jack Black, hilarious as ever) learns valuable lessons while coming face to face with Kai (JK Simmons), an evil warrior who’s out to steal other kung fu masters’ ch’i. It’s hugely entertaining and the animation is some of the most vibrant ever seen. (Full review)

Allegiant

The penultimate instalment in the Divergent franchise is as dull as they come, combining bad CGI with an even worse, convoluted story to deliver one of the blandest YA films yet. Shailene Woodley is back as Tris, though her role is pushed into the background while other, less important plot parts unravel. (Full review)

High Rise

Ben Wheatley’s latest is an adaptation of J. G. Ballard’s novel about a modernist high rise block in the 70s whose resident descend into madness. Tom Hiddleston plays Robert Laing, a newcomer to the block. It’s a case of visceral pleasure over narrative here as the violence is extremely polished, yet the potent themes are somewhat diluted and muffled.

Anomalisa

In the style of Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run, Charlie Kaufman uses stop-motion animation for Anomalisa, an altogether grown up and one-of-a-kind adult drama. On a business trip to Cincinatti, Michael Stone (David Thewlis) confronts loneliness and love. The animation enhances the humanness of the film, and it pulls at the heartstrings, while providing awkward, yet no less funny laughs. (Full review)

The Witch

Folkloric horror The Witch broke out in Sundance earlier this year – and rightly so. It’s under-your-skin scary in a way that not many films are anymore. It concerns a family in 17th century New England who are forced out of their community to the edge of the forest, where something sinister occurs that inserts paranoid into their minds, forcing them against one another as a greater terror breeds.

The Ones Below

David Farr, the man responsible for BBC One drama The Night Manager, makes a strong directorial debut with The Ones Below, a clever suspense drama about two middle-class couples who play psychological games with one another. The script is taut and gripping, while the performances from all four main cast members make you care about the characters and their individual plights.

Also out: Fifty Shades Of Black, The Here After, Next To Her

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