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Reviews

Film round up

Jeremy Clarke

The Missing Picture (12A; 96 mins) is a documentary about life in a Khmer Rouge Cambodian death camp told via serial figurines in small scale tableaux carved by a former inmate, yet a lack of humanity makes it tough to watch. In adapting the narrative of WW2 POW Eric Lomax in a Japanese camp in Burma, The Railway Man (12a; 116 mins) tries to knock off some of the story's hard edges (and largely avoid Lomax's Christian faith) in a misguided attempt to sell his story of postwar reconciliation with his repentant Japanese torturer to a broad UK audience. Higher profile bio-pic Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom (12a; 146 mins) - with Idris Elba (right) superb as the great statesman and a terrific Naomie Harris as his increasingly estranged wife Winnie - similarly avoids some of the nastier torture material, but faithfully represents its story in broad outline.

A tinted colour restoration of 1925's silent Phantom Of The Opera (DVD/BD combi, PG; 103 mins) has a very different take on torture, constructing its gothic fantasy out of the Paris Opera House having been built over a labyrinth of medieval torture chambers and dungeons. It's a fantastic vehicle for its star, profiled in Kevin Brownlow's informative documentary Lon Chaney: A Thousand Faces (86 mins) on a supplementary disc. A gorgeous transfer of Shinya Tsukamoto's Bullet Ballet (DVD/BD, cert 15; 86 mins) does justice to his explosive, high-tech urban, post-cyberpunk, black and white gangster romp.

Harrowing Romanian study of overbearing motherhood Child's Pose (DVD, 15; 107 mins) has a well-off 60-something woman try to prevent her motorist son being prosecuted for speeding after he killed a pedestrian child. The Invisible Woman (12a; 111 mins) sees Ralph Fiennes directing himself in a tale about Charles Dickens' mistress (a powerful Felicity Jones). Eschewing self-indulgent costume drama in favour of provocative camerawork and staging, it marks Fiennes out as a director to watch. Tom Hollander makes a strong Wilkie Collins too.

Last Vegas (12a; 105 mins) is a predictably disposable Hollywood yarn about four old friends (Douglas, De Niro, Freeman and Kline) visiting Vegas. Edgier entry Dallas Buyers Club (cert tbc; 117 mins) casts a tremendous Matthew McConaughey as a promiscuous, white trash HIV+ man who tries to supply unapproved meds to fellow sufferers and finds himself on the wrong side of the US Food and Drug Agency. Better still, riveting drama Labor Day (12a; 111 mins) has single mum Kate Winslet fall for escaped convict Josh Brolin after he forcibly takes shelter at the home. A-list director Jason Reitman (Up In The A i r ) turns out to be really good with this sort of material. Who knew ?

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