5   +   3   =  

With a long Bank Holiday weekend stretching ahead, the new releases on offer are of a somewhat lower key nature. As the bigger titles back away from the Avengers juggernaut keeping their powder dry for battles to come, everything else serves only as counter-programming. But if superheroes aren’t your bag, or you’ve already watched them destroy half the world in an effort to save it, here’s what you have to enjoy.

You just can’t keep a good Bathsheba down. Far from the Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy’s famous novel, finds itself adapted yet again; there have been plays, musicals, a ballet and multiple films, John Schlesinger’s 1967 version with Julie Christie the most famous. Now Danish auteur Thomas Vinterberg, fresh from his harrowing 2012 film The Hunt, is taking a stab. With a screenplay by novelist David Nicholls (of Starter for Ten and One Day fame), and headlined by Carey Mulligan, there’s bound to be plenty of gorgeous scenery and convention thwarting love. Especially when Mulligan’s Bathsheba finds herself courted by the attractive trio of Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen and Tom Sturridge.

This found footage craze shows no sign of abating. Unfriended, the latest in a long line of shaky camered supernatural scare-a-thons features a group of online chat room friends haunted by a mysterious force using the account of their dead friend. First premiering last year, and receiving a run out at this year’s SXSW festival in Texas, the reviews have been ok and the financial returns impressive off a $1m budget. It’ll certainly do for a quick scare.

In a quiet week, perhaps the best choice you can make is a return to an old classic. Federico Fellini’s masterpiece 8 ½ (admittedly the same argument could be made for at least 2 of his other films but I reckon this one shades it) returns to cinemas for an extended run. If you can find somewhere to catch Marcello Mastroianni’s meandering journey through creative frustration and half-forgotten memories, you won’t be disappointed. There’s a reason it features close to the top in best film lists.

A change of pace, and scale, for the DVD pick of the week. Ridley Scott’s biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings launched at Christmas to mixed notices and disappointing box office returns. Overlong and ponderous in places, it’s still a lot better than the reception received at the time. As Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton relive a somewhat different version of the Book of Exodus, there’s lush cinematography, melodramatic sibling rivalry and a number of thrillingly executed battle sequences. If the weather rains on the Bank Holiday parade as usual, lock yourself away with this.

That’s about all folks. Enjoy the extra day off. I’ll see you next week for forgotten WWII trauma, and crazy Finish action.

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