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Reviews

Film Round Up

Jeremy Clarke

PT Anderson's riveting The Master (cert 15; 143 mins) casts Philip Seymour Hoffman as the leader of a quasi-religious cult and Joaquin Phoenix as the drifter who falls in with him and ultimately threatens to tear the cult apart. While Anderson has admitted it was inspired by the origins of Scientology, he has played down any literal connection.

Argo (cert 15; 120 mins) is a surprisingly intelligent thriller about six US embassy staff holed up in the Canadian ambassador's home in Tehran during 1979's Iranian Revolution. A daring CIA plan invents a fake movie shoot to get the six out of the country. The period detail is perfect and you'll be on the edge of your seat. Even better is the police procedural End Of Watch (cert 15; 108 mins) which follows two cops patrolling South Central, Los Angeles. Violent and full on, it boasts deft characterisations and a devastating finale which will leave you shaken.

Devastating in a quieter way, The Hunt (cert 15; 115 mins) turns upside down the life of teacher Mads Mikkelsen following a child's untrue statement which leads others to believe he's committed child abuse when he hasn't. It's a harrowing portrait of a small rural town where the community's jumping to (wrong) conclusions has terrible personal consequences.

French Canadian entry Starbuck (cert 15; 109 mins) concerns a sperm donor who discovers that he's fathered 533 children. It goes where few films dare and has the courage of its convictions. From India, The Pool (cert tbc; 98 mins) has a teenager working in a hotel who becomes obsessed with the swimming pool next door. A slow, languorous affair, it's an original vision unlike anything else and well worth seeking out.

The new version of Dickens' Great Expectations (cert 12a; 128 mins) holds your interest, largely on the strength of its casting, including Helena Bonham-Carter (left) as a memorable Miss Faversham.

Michael Haneke's latest Amour (cert 12a; 127 mins) is a character study of medical conditions affecting an elderly couple.

Jeremy Clarke