At the Cinema: November 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I 

The first part of the final Harry Potter tale is a decent fantasy adventure, darker than earlier entries but continuing the series’ tradition of exciting action set-pieces and an impossibly strong cast of British talent. It lacks a cliffhanger climax worthy of its epic scale, but it’s solid stuff all the same. Bring on Part II. 4/5

The Kids Are All Right (2010)

Nicely observed comedy drama focusing on a lesbian couple and their children conceived by a sperm donor. When that donor suddenly appears on the scene, dramatic consequences for the family ensue. Strong performances from the whole cast, particularly Bening, Moore and Ruffalo, and a fine script co-written by director Cholodenko make this well worth seeing, though it has little new to say outside of the central relationship on which the story hangs. 4/5

Skyline (2010)

Hilariously bad sci-fi action pic that mixes up elements from other SF films (War of the Worlds, Independence Day, District 9, Transformers etc.) and tries to create an original epic adventure. Unfortunately, with dire dialogue, unlikeable characters and wooden performances, it’s impossible to sympathise with the humans. The awful script and direction often end up inducing laughter (especially towards the end) until you just wish the invading creatures would do the universe a favour and wipe out humanity. There are admittedly a couple of good action sequences, and for B-movie fun it’s not a complete waste of space. But when you start ripping off Michael Bay, you know you’re in trouble. 2/5

The Girl Who Played with Fire (2010)

Sequel to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo lacks the confident pacing and gloss of the earlier film, and has a plot that is even harder to follow and is somehow less interesting. However it is still a hugely enjoyable ride, building on the plot threads of its predecessor and retaining the same tone of darkness and duplicity. 3/5

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2010)

Superb updating of the old-fashioned investigative journalism thriller, harking back to slow-burning dramas like All The President’s Men. Starts slowly, but quickly becomes a gripping family conspiracy yarn. The central mystery is occasionally difficult to keep track of (the suspects are all members of an extended family), but the film is beautifully shot and paced, and very well acted, especially by the two leads: Michael Nyqvist as Mikael Blomkvist and Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander. 5/5

Another Year (2010)

Thoroughly absorbing and entertaining Mike Leigh slice-of-life drama, featuring strong performances (including an unforgettable turn by Lesley Manville) and a storyline that deftly plays with the full spectrum of emotion, from humour to heartfelt pain and everything in between. Low-key of course, but completely captivating. 5/5

Burke and Hare (2010)

Intermittently amusing retelling of the infamous real-life 19th century Edinburgh body snatchers. Part comedy-horror, part straightforward adaptation, its choppy narrative is compensated for by a strong and eclectic cast. Serkis is especially good value. 3/5

Let Me In (2010)

Decent US/UK remake of the acclaimed Swedish horror Let The Right One In. Manages to retain much of the atmosphere of the original, but loses some of the subtlety in favour of more explicit horror (and unconvincing CGI). May not be the equal of its fairytale-esque predecessor, but still a fine effort. 4/5

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