7   +   8   =  

Awards season can be addictive but it does also lead to the release of a never-ending supply of serious films addressing weighty issues. Some do it well, others bore the life out the audience. Where’s the fun though? That question is answered resoundingly this week.

A reclusive author, an idiosyncratic director, Joaquin Phoenix attempting to give himself an afro and rolling clouds of marijuana smoke. Just what are you getting yourself into with Inherent Vice? It falls to Paul Thomas Anderson to attempt the first adaptation of a Thomas Pynchon novel. The cast is insanely good. Aside from Phoenix on top form again there’s Josh Brolin, Reese Witherspoon, Benicio Del Toro, Owen Wilson, Joanna Newsom and Katherine Waterston to name a handful. It look fantastic, sounds fantastic, and as a hippy semi-comic film noir makes no sense. Not that it matters.

Showing Johnny English how to do it, Matthew Vaughan returns to the realm of Mark Millar graphic novels with Kingsman: The Secret Service. Colin Firth is the top spy training up a working class kid in this James Bond parody full of violence, wit and flair. With Samuel L. Jackson hamming it up in full Bond villain mode, this burst of unrelenting fun is a welcome relief amongst the doom and gloom of poor awards films boring the life out of everyone in pursuit of weighty issues.

Want the same amount of fun without graphic violence or drug fuelled criminality? Look no further than Disney’s Big Hero 6. Starring an inflatable robot that can don battle armour if required, this is about as cutting edge as fantasy animation gets. Having taken everywhere in the world by storm, it’s about time the UK got in on the action

An energetic week of new releases concludes with furiously enjoyable Australian heist movie Son of a Gun. Director/writer Julius Avery produces a remarkably assured film for his feature debut as Ewan McGregor’s armed robber ropes an impressionable young man into a raid on gold mine. It rattles by, barely pausing for breath, and is over all too soon. Oh, and Alicia Vikander is in there as well, her third new release of the month.

If you can’t get out the house but still feel the need for fun, Oscar nominated animation The Boxtrolls is out on DVD as well. Set in 1805 in a world of subterranean Boxtrolls (they are what they sound), this charming stop-motion comedy proves there’s life outside Disney and Dreamworks.

Well that was all pleasantly entertaining. See you next week for the slightly more serious matter of the civil rights struggle. And an animated sheep.

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