10   +   6   =  

Well for the time being the country appears to have remained intact. It all got a little close though. So how to settle the nerves after that (or banish those sorrows depending on your viewpoint)? This week, there’s new Woody Allen, the latest in a never-ending line of young adult adaptations and Liam Neeson continuing his mid-life crisis descent into the world of the lonely hero. If that won’t do it, I don’t know what will.

Last year, Woody Allen was riding high with Blue Jasmine. In a career that has seen an enviable selection of hits, and an unenviable latter career slump, it marked his second recent highpoint after Midnight in Paris. Never less than prolific, he’s back again with Magic in the Moonlight, a knockabout comedy with Colin Firth as a stage conjuror and mystic debunker, and Emma Stone the alleged psychic he’s determined to disprove. A poorly developed screenplay hamstrings the entire enterprise but at least Firth gets the opportunity to demonstrate his comedy chops again.

It seems like barely a month goes by without another action packed young adult novel popping up on screen. The Giver is the latest to make it. Based on Lois Lowry’s 1993 novel, it tells the story of a war devastated future where knowledge of the real world is removed from most, stored only in the memories of one person. It’s hardly got the box office or critics energised in the US, but with the likes of Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep, there should be enough pedigree to carry it through.

Do you remember when Liam Neeson used to take on substantial roles? It all seems a long time ago now he’s launched himself headlong into the world of Taken and the frenetic action that comes with it. In A Walk Among the Tombstones, he’s in crime thriller territory as the unlicensed PI who stumbles into a brutal string of kidnapping/murders. The story is dangerously light and the characters are lucky if they get even one interesting trait but it’s surprisingly fun. Maybe Mr Neeson knows what he’s doing after all.

That’s the big screen but what if you don’t fancy going out? The highlight amongst a large number of releases is undoubtedly Frank, Lenny Abrahamson’s sparklingly unhinged comedy drama. Based (very) loosely on cult musician Frank Sidebottom, Michael Fassbender takes the title role as a papier-mâché head wearing musical genius who loses his already tenuous grip on reality the more he’s dragged into the mainstream by Domhnall Gleeson’s keyboard player. There’s a melancholic undercurrent running beneath the impressive music and quirky plot that mixed all together means Abrahamson’s onto a winner.

So we remain the same country more or less and can get back to normal. Next week Denzel Washington returns to his crime fighting days and David Cronenberg does Hollywood satire. I can’t wait.

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