Only God Forgives
Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott-Thomas , Vithaya Pansringarm
Ryan Gosling, he of the charmed career and photoshopped abs (see Crazy, Stupid, Love), hits a speed bump with his latest star vehicle. Only God Forgives reunites the Gos with his Drive director – Danish provocateur Nicolas Winding Refn – for a violently pulpy Bangkok-set tale of underworld vendettas and ball-breaking motherhood (Scott-Thomas, fashioned to resemble a super-trashy Donatella Versace). Sticking to Drive’s pared-down formula apart from the stylised art direction, which has been cranked to blinding extremes, Only God Forgives signals the moment when Gosling might consider giving his monosyllabic tough-guy act a rest for a film (or few). As for the cold, hard narrative, you can just picture it all being mapped out with Beavis and Butt-head-style teenage glee: 'Wouldn’t it be so cool if… the Thai-cop bad guy stopped to croon karaoke after each killing?' '…there was a maiming by metal chopstick?' '…we got Kristin Scott-Thomas to say “cum dumpster?”' Heh-heh-heh.
Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, Sharon Stone, Juno Temple
Amanda Seyfried is a million miles from Les Mis in this biopic of Linda Lovelace, the sweet smalltown girl who got, er... sucked into the porn industry, and became a celebrity thanks to 1972 fellatio-fest Deep Throat. Moving from naif to exploited (at the hands of Sarsgaard’s sleaze) to survivor, the Mamma Mia star is on scintillating form, and directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Freidman, of Celluloid Closet fame, create an authentically grubby 70s vibe while leavening Lovelace’s sad tale with nimble bursts of humour.
Tilikum, Samantha Berg, Dave Duffus
Not that we’re regulars of marine parks where trained cetaceans perform tricks in cement pools, but this heart-wrenching documentary has put us off visiting them for life. The film’s focus is Tilikum, a bull orca taken from the wild when he was three, who has since killed three people. Using haunting footage and emotive interviews to demonstrate the havoc that captivity wreaks on these intelligent animals’ minds, Blackfish ends up as a damning sermon on human cruelty.
Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner, Adam Driver
If Woody Allen was young and vital (and don’t get us wrong, we still adore the daughter-marrying auteur), he’d probably be making films like this bittersweet coming-of-age comedy about a wannabe dancer adrift in life despite being 27 and delightfully kooky. Gerwig, who co-wrote the script with her filmmaker squeeze Noah Baumbach (Margot At The Wedding), has channelled herself into the role of Frances, the wandering child-woman who’s emblematic of a generation of overeducated underachievers.
Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Ron Livingston
You’ll either be laughing your head off or jumping out of your seat at this supernatural spookfest about married demonologists (Farmiga & Wilson) trying to rid a creaky farmhouse of the malevolent spirit haunting it. Snickers will arise from watching the freaky-insane events that supposedly transpired in this “true” story (the film’s lead couple are based on a real pair of God-fearing paranormal investigators). But there are also plenty of well-executed shocks along the way.