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Reviews

Film round up

Jeremy Clarke

The Epic Of Everest (DVD/BD combi, cert U; 87 mins) is an amazing silent documentary about a fatal 1924 expedition, with a terrific, contemporary score by Simon Fisher Turner.

The Russian blockbuster Stalingrad (cert 15; 131 mins) is a complex, dual narrative about German and Russian troops in that besieged city during WW2. It lapses between small scale drama and epic set pieces.

Narrated by the voice of Death, The Book Thief (cert 12a; 131 mins) takes on a different aspect of the war - the German home front seen through the eyes of a child who discovers reading. It successfully engages with the subject of illegally hiding Jews.

We Are What We Are (cert 18; 105 mins) is a clever re-imagining of 2010's Spanish cannibal family epic in a US context, shifting its action from urban environment to rural backwater.

Families abound this month. Laos' engaging The Rocket (cert 12a; 96 mins) concerns a poor family uprooted when a proposed dam-building project is set to flood their valley. South Korea's inventive Boomerang Family (DVD, cert 15; 112 mins) has a gangster, his brother a failed film director and their single mum sister (plus daughter) move in to their retired mum's flat.

The well-thought out runaway train thriller Last Passenger (DVD/BD, cert 15; 99 mins) has a doctor and young son fall in with a nice lady passenger as the London Charing Cross to Tonbridge Wells train on which they are travelling hurtles towards the end of the line. Finally, classic French gangster movie Classe Tous Risques (DVD/BD combi, cert 12; 108 mins) has a fugitive dad on the run with his young son in tow after his wife is shot and killed by the coastguard. Edge of the seat stuff.

Seminal 1971 Australian shocker Wake In Fright (cert 18; 114 mins) has a frustrated teacher escape the outback for the drinking, gambling and kangaroo shooting of the nearest town: a gripping essay on the pointlessness of life. The tale of a group of men camping for a week on The Stag (cert 15; 94 mins) before one of their number's imminent wedding is intermittently funny if predictable. Van-driving Scarlett Johansson plays a man-hunting alien on the streets of Glasgow in Under The Skin (cert 15; 107 mins), which works both as SF narrative and Scottish road movie. 8 Minutes Idle (cert 15; 86 mins) is a likeable if weak Bristol-set comedy about call centre office workers and redundancy.

Terry Gilliam's The Zero Theorem (cert 15; 104 mins), a riff on his earlier Brazil, more effectively pinpoints call centres as contemporary workhouses. Trademark visual conceits abound, including a zebra stripe suited company exec camouflaged by sitting in a zebra stripe covered chair.

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