6   +   10   =  

It might be best to avoid trains. Certainly in cinema they tend to bring bad luck. Murders, kidnappings, terrorist takeovers or just unexpected blockages on the track all pose potentially mortal threats to everyone on board. There’s something romantic about them though, and they certainly provide space to spin a good yarn, as we find out this week alongside stranglers, rotten cops and dubious TV shows.

A lot of hype attached itself to The Girl on the Train. Much of this is to do with Gone Girl, a story that took the journey from popular, addictive novel to slick, well-received film. There’s even a handsome cast. Emily Blunt takes the lead this time as secrets surrounding a missing person’s case are divulged. And there’s a train from which part of the mystery is witnessed. Paula Hawkins novel doesn’t seem to have transferred with the same success as Gillian Flynn’s but if you like a twist or two, it’ll do the job.

With a name like The Greasy Strangler, Jim Hosking’s film isn’t going to be for everyone. An oddball mix of comedy and horror, it’s full of garish costumes, puerile humour and extravagant violence. The plot revolves around a disco walking tour, a dubious father/son pairing, and the arrival of a nighttime strangler. It premiered at Sundance back in January and drew positive notices. Be aware though, it’s not for the fainthearted.

Another Berlin release arrives this week with War on Everyone. John Michael McDonagh built a good reputation off the back of his first two features, The Guard and Calvary (his brother Martin, an acclaimed playwright and writer/director of In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths is no slouch either). Here he returns to cops, and more specifically to the buddy genre, pairing Alexander Skarsgård and Michael Peña together in New Mexico. They’re hardly model police officers, happy to bend any law if it makes them a buck or two. While not lavished with the praise of his previous efforts, there are laughs to be had.

When Jodie Foster continued behind the camera, I think we all expected more substance. Out now on DVD, Money Monster brings little in the way of depth to rampant financial misdeeds, but it is relatively fun. George Clooney plays the obnoxious TV host who tells other people how to invest their money, aided by Julia Roberts long-suffering producer. Her final show all goes a little wrong when a disgruntled young man takes them hostage live on air. Aside from ineffective posturing, Foster delivers a fair degree of entertainment.

That’s it for another week. See you next time for the Tom Hanks/Dan Brown reunion tour.

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