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Now showing at ArtHouse Crouch End 159A,Tottenham Lane,London N8 9BT 020 8245 3099

  • Jimi: All Is By My Side
  • NT Live Encore Screening: Frankenstein
  • Serena
  • The Book Of Life

Jimi: All Is By My Side 3 stars

movie title

Keith Richards' girlfriend, Linda Keith, discovers Jimi Hendrix playing backup guitar at the Cheetah Club in New York. She immediately spots his raw talent and introduces Hendrix to Chas Chandler, who becomes his manager. As a band forms around Hendrix, including bass player Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell, the frontman begins a turbulent relationship with Kathy Etchingham that jeopardises his ascent before it has truly begun.

  • GenreBiography, Drama, Musical
  • CastAndre Benjamin, Imogen Poots, Hayley Atwell, Ruth Negga, Burn Gorman.
  • DirectorJohn Ridley.
  • WriterJohn Ridley.
  • CountryUK/Ire/US
  • Duration118 mins
  • Official site
  • Release24/10/2014 (selected cinemas)

Unable to secure the musical rights from Jimi Hendrix's estate for this biopic, writer-director John Ridley, who won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for 12 Years A Slave, focuses on the 12-month period from 1966 to 1967 before the showman cemented his place in the musical firmament. The film begins with Keith Richards' girlfriend, Linda Keith (Imogen Poots), discovering Hendrix (Andre Benjamin) playing backup guitar at the Cheetah Club in New York. She immediately spots his raw talent and introduces Hendrix to Chas Chandler (Andrew Buckley), who becomes his manager. As a band forms around Hendrix, including bass player Noel Redding (Oliver Bennett) and drummer Mitch Mitchell (Tom Dunlea), the frontman begins a turbulent relationship with Kathy Etchingham (Hayley Atwell) that jeopardises his ascent before it has truly begun.

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Thursday 30th October 2014

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NT Live Encore Screening: Frankenstein 3 stars

Two specially filmed performances of Danny Boyle's staging of Mary Shelley in a new adaptation by Nick Dear. Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller alternate the roles of Victor Frankenstein and his hideous creation, whose fates become entwined with devastating consequences. The cruelty of man gradually corrupts the creature and he wreaks revenge on Frankenstein and his bride-to-be, Agatha.

  • GenreAdaptation, Drama, Horror, Romance, Special
  • CastBenedict Cumberbatch, Lizzie Winkler, Ella Smith, Jonny Lee Miller, Naomie Harris.
  • DirectorDanny Boyle.
  • WriterMary Shelley, Nick Dear.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration161 mins
  • Official sitentlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk

Two specially filmed performances of Danny Boyle's staging of Mary Shelley in a new adaptation by Nick Dear. Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller alternate the roles of Victor Frankenstein and his hideous creation, whose fates become entwined with devastating consequences. Unleashed into the world, the monster forges an unlikely friendship with a blind, old man who teaches the outcast to speak. However, the cruelty of man gradually corrupts the monster and he wreaks revenge on Frankenstein and his bride-to-be, Agatha (Lizzie Winkler).

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Thursday 30th October 2014

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Serena 3 stars

During a visit to Boston, timber merchant George Pemberton falls under the spell of Serena Shaw and they marry. The happy couple returns to North Carolina to expand George's empire and immediately clash with Sheriff McDowell, who hopes to buy vast swathes of Pemberton land to create a national park. When the deal falls through, McDowell declares war on the Pembertons.

  • GenreAdaptation, Drama, Historical/Period, Romance
  • CastBradley Cooper, Toby Jones, Jennifer Lawrence, Sam Reid, Sean Harris, Rhys Ifans.
  • DirectorSusanne Bier.
  • WriterChristopher Kyle.
  • CountryUS/Fr
  • Duration110 mins
  • Official sitewww.facebook.com/SerenaTheMovie
  • Release24/10/2014

Good things come to those who wait. Unfortunately, so too does Serena. Shot in the early summer of 2012, just as the first instalment of The Hunger Games was exploding on the big screen, Susanne Bier's blood-smeared period drama has taken a long time to navigate the choppy waters of post-production.

In the interim, the Danish writer-director has made the frothy romantic comedy All You Need Is Love starring Pierce Brosnan and the thriller A Second Chance. Meanwhile, luminous lead stars Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper have become the toast of Hollywood with their on-screen pairings in the Oscar-winning romance Silver Linings Playbook and swinging crime caper American Hustle.

In Serena, they play love-struck newlyweds, who succumb to jealousy and poisonous desire in the North Carolina mountains at the end of the 1920s. Romance is kindled at breakneck speed - within minutes of glimpsing his expertly coiffed co-star, Cooper is telling her dreamily, "I think we should be married" - and screenwriter Christopher Kyle adopts a similarly hurried approach to characterisation and narrative development in his haphazard adaptation of the book by Ron Rash.

These gaps in plot and logic become increasingly apparent in the film's overwrought second act, relying heavily on Lawrence to hold the film together with her histrionics. She's a cracking actress, but no one could single-handedly keep this runaway train on the tracks.

Timber merchant George Pemberton (Cooper) struggles to keep his business afloat, aided by partner Buchanan (David Dencik) and woodsman Galloway (Rhys Ifans). He has fathered a love child with a local woman called Rachel (Ana Ularu) and during a visit to Boston, George falls under the spell of Serena Shaw (Lawrence), who a friend describes as "beautiful, wounded and mad for trees".

They marry and return to North Carolina to expand George's empire and immediately clash with Sheriff McDowell (Toby Jones), who hopes to buy vast swathes of Pemberton land to create a national park. When the deal falls through, McDowell declares war on the Pembertons.

In order to quench her dark thoughts about Rachel, Serena resolves to fall pregnant to provide her husband with a legitimate heir but Mrs Pemberton is at the mercy of mischievous Mother Nature when it comes to conceiving.

Serena feels like it has been crudely bolted together in the editing room. Bier and cinematographer Morten Soborg capture breathtakingly beautiful vistas of the Czech Republic, which stands in for North Carolina, but style repeatedly trumps substance.

There's a palpable lack of fluidity to the narrative and the heroine's descent into murderous mayhem happens in the blink of an eye. In the absence of a well-structured script, Lawrence and Cooper barely flesh out their undernourished characters while Ifans, Jones and European co-stars struggle to pin down wandering American accents.

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Thursday 30th October 2014

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The Book Of Life 3 stars

movie title

In the town of San Angel on the Day Of The Dead, underworld gods La Muerte and Xibalba bet on the outcome of a love triangle involving friends Manolo, Joaquin and Maria. La Muerte, ruler of the Land of the Remembered, believes that sensitive Manolo will get the girl while Xibalba, ruler of the Land of the Forgotten, selects courageous Joaquin as his champion and secretly boosts the young man's chances with an enchanted medal of protection.

  • GenreAdventure, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family, Romance
  • CastRon Perlman, Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum, Kate del Castillo, Diego Luna, Ice Cube.
  • DirectorJorge R Gutierrez.
  • WriterJorge R Gutierrez, Douglas Langdale.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration95 mins
  • Official sitewww.bookoflifemovie.co.uk
  • Release24/10/2014

In Mexican culture, Dia de los Muertos or Day Of The Dead is an important annual gathering for families and friends to honour the memory of loved ones who are no longer with them. The three-day celebration, which begins on October 31, traditionally involves adorning graves and specially constructed altars with sugar skulls, flowers and other gifts with special significance to the departed.

This fiesta of remembrance provides a vibrant and poignant backdrop to Jorge R Gutierrez's fantastical computer-animated fable about three friends, who discover there is love after death.

The Book Of Life razzle dazzles our eyes, especially in 3D, cramming as much retina-searing colour and detail as possible into each frame. Co-writer Douglas Lansdale adds plentiful humour to offset the film's air of tragedy including a chorus of singing nuns and a waspish grandmother, voiced by Grey DeLisle, who scene-steals with every purse-lipped outburst.

Museum tour guide Mary Beth (voiced by Christina Applegate) leads a group of unruly schoolchildren through an exhibition about Mexican folklore. She leads the whippersnappers to a chamber that houses the fabled Book Of Life and recounts one particular story, which unfolds in the town of San Angel on the Day Of The Dead.

Rival gods La Muerte (Kate del Castillo) and Xibalba (Ron Perlman) agree a wager on the resolution of a love triangle involving two boys, Manolo (Diego Luna) and Joaquin (Channing Tatum), who are both in love with their friend Maria (Zoe Saldana).

La Muerte, ruler of the Land of the Remembered, believes that sensitive Manolo will get the girl and realise his musical ambitions rather than take up the mantle of his matador father (Hector Elizondo). "Music is not a profession fit for a Sanchez bullfighter!" rages the old man.

Meanwhile, Xibalba (Ron Perlman), ruler of the Land of the Forgotten, selects courageous Joaquin as his champion and secretly boosts the young man's chances with an enchanted medal of protection.

When the time finally comes for Maria to choose between her suitors, conniving Xibalba attempts to influence her decision to ensure he wins the bet.

The Book Of Life inhabits a macabre universe that Tim Burton has made his own but director Gutierrez and his team of animators opt for a more jaunty, upbeat tone enhanced by a bouncy soundtrack replete with cover versions of Elvis Presley, Radiohead and Rod Stewart. "What is it with Mexicans and death?" asks a goth kid on the museum tour, somewhat tongue in cheek.

Luna and Tatum deliver lively vocal performances and Saldana essays a spunky heroine, who epitomises girl power, flanked by a cute porcine sidekick. Action sequences are orchestrated at a brisk pace, punctuated by soaring serenades.

Gutierrez's film strikes a pleasing balance between giggles and soul-searching, tackling tricky themes of mortality, self-sacrifice and the afterlife without giving young audiences nightmares.

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Thursday 30th October 2014

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