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Reviews

Film round up

Jeremy Clarke

Fred Wiseman's absorbing documentary National Gallery (cert 12a; 181 mins) observes London's famous art gallery. Manakamana (cert U; 118 mins) is likewise fascinating, watching visitors to a religious shrine in Nepal. Ridley Scott's Biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings (cert 12a; 150 mins, right) manages state of the art plagues and Red Sea parting.

1934's French Les Misérables (BD/DVD, cert PG tbc; 300 mins) is reckoned to be the novel's best adaptation. Andrej Wajda's lavish 1974 The Promised Land (DVD, cert 15; 163 mins) has a 19th-century German, Pole and Jew set up a factory for profit. Testament of Youth (cert 12a; 129 mins) impressively tackles WW1 from the perspective of the young British generation caught up in it. G W Pabst's silent Diary of a Lost Girl (BD/DVD combi, cert PG; 115 mins) offers terrifying glimpses of the underbelly of interwar Germany. Japanimation Giovanni's Island (BD/DVD, cert PG; 102 mins) tackles the plight of Japanese islanders under WW2 Russian occupation. Clint Eastwood's American Sniper (cert 15; 133 mins) concerns a Navy SEAL in Iraq whose shooting skills elevate him to a military god.

The 19th-century German Romantic outing Amour Fou (cert 12a; 95 mins) has a young woman succumb to a melancholic German philosopher's suicide pact. Whiplash (cert 15; 106 mins) cleverly charts the relationship between a gifted jazz drumming pupil and his sadistic tutor. Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's novel Inherent Vice (cert 15; 148 mins) is compelling if tough to follow. Peter Strickland's affecting The Duke of Burgundy (cert tbc; 104 mins) explores role-playing within an S&M relationship. Mario Bava's 1964 The Girl Who Knew Too Much (BD/DVD combi, cert 12; 86+92 mins) provides the template for Italy's later Giallo horror/mystery genre.

J C Chandor's A Most Violent Year (cert 15; 125 mins) skilfully weaves a tale of ascendant businessmen and mob corruption through 1981 New York. The Gambler (cert 15; 111 mins) casts Mark Wahlberg as a high stakes gambling-obsessed Californian college professor. Stephen Daldry's Trash (cert 15; 113 mins), set among homeless children in Brazil, disappoints. Wild (cert 15; 119 mins) has Reese Witherspoon traverse rural landscapes while heroin addiction collapses her marriage in flashback.

Into the Woods (cert PG; 124 mins) is Disney's highly effective movie of Sondheim's fairytale musical. The seminal 1924 silent Hollywood fantasy The Thief of Bagdad (BD/ DVD combi cert U; 140 mins) boasts a cast of thousands. Finally, Shaun the Sheep: The Movie (cert tbc; tbc mins) is a rare children's film that adults will adore.

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