UK Cinema Releases: Friday 21st November 2008


Body Of Lies (Warner Bros): A thriller exploring the war on terror through the eyes of a CIA operative (Leonardo DiCaprio) in the Middle East and his boss (Russell Crowe) who come up with a scheme to uncover an elusive terrorist leader behind a wave of attacks in Europe. Directed by Ridley Scott, with his usual visual flair, it bears some similarities to his earlier film Black Hawk Down but has a darker and more cynical attitude towards US foreign policy. Although there are a few concessions to mainstream audiences, it is an absorbing examination of cultural and practical problems in dealing with extremism in the Middle East. Warner Bros are still reeling from the costly failure of this film at the US box office last month and generally tepid reviews won’t help matters here. Despite that, it is a smart actioner with two big stars that could generate positive word of mouth across the weekend. If the Bond effect starts to wane, then this might provide some superior action for audiences unimpressed with 007’s latest outing. [Cert 15]

Blindness (Pathe): A dystopian drama from Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles set in a modern (but unnamed) city where people start to go blind for no apparent reason. The film focuses on a group of people, which includes a doctor (Mark Ruffalo) and his wife (Julianne Moore) as they try to survive in a makeshift prison set up by the government as a quarantine area. Although parts of the film are unrelentingly dark there is a good deal to admire here in the performances and directing. It got a mixed reaction when it opened the Cannes film festival earlier this year and isn’t in the same class as Meirelles’ previous work like Cidade de Deus or The Constant Gardener, but still remains a challenging and admirable film. Pathe will be hoping for discerning arthouse audiences but in a crowded week the downbeat vibe might put them off. [Cert 15]

Choke (Fox): A black comedy directed by Clark Gregg and adapted from the novel by Chuck Palahniuk. It stars Sam Rockwell as a sex-addicted med-school dropout, who keeps his strange mother (Anjelica Huston) in an expensive private hospital by working days as a historical re-enactor at a theme park and scamming rich customers in upscale restaurants. This might attract fans curious of the author (this is the first adaptation since Fight Club in 1999) but given the mixed critical reaction in the US and the tepid awareness factor, this will do very well to make it’s mark in a crowded weekend. [Cert 18]

Quarantine (Sony): Another genre horror from Sony’s Screen Gems label comes to the UK on the back of an impressive opening in the US last month. This is a remake of the excellent Spanish horror film [REC], which only came out last year, and is directed by John Erick Dowdle. It stars Jennifer Carpenter as a TV reporter following a fire crew on a night-shift as they are called to an apartment building beset by some serious problems. Given the seemingly insatiable appetite for horror at the moment, this could appeal to mainstream audiences but the ad campaign hasn’t been the strongest so a lack of awareness might be an issue, especially with so much else out this week. [Cert 18]   

My Best Friend’s Girl (Lionsgate): Another vehicle for US comedian Dane Cook as a man who is put to the test when his best friend (Jason Biggs) hires him to take his ex-girlfriend (Kate Hudson) on a lousy date just to show her how great he is. This might appeal to undemanding female audiences but given the fact that it is probably best known for Cook’s infamous MySpace rant about the film’s marketing and some poor US reviews, it could struggle to do any solid business. [Cert 15] 



Waltz With Bashir (Artificial Eye): A remarkable animated film in which director Ari Folman explores his memories of the 1982 Lebanon War, which culminated in the Sabra and Shatila massacre. Although dealing with a highly charged historical event, the innovative visual style makes for compelling viewing and manages to say a great deal about the futility and pain of war. Although the subject matter makes it a hard sell, rave reviews and the unique look might power it towards a very healthy arthouse gross. Artificial Eye are giving it an impressively wide release for a film of this type and you can check the UK cinemas screening it here. One of the must-see films of the year. [Cert 18]

* Listen to our interview with Ari Folman about Waltz With Bashir *

Tis Autumn – The Search For Jackie Paris (Verve Pictures): An exploration into the mysterious life of the late jazz vocalist Jackie Paris, which examines the question of how much we need to know about an artist’s life to appreciate their art. [Showing at Apollo West End & Key Cities / Cert 15]

Conversations With My Gardener (Cinefile): A French film about a successful artist (Daniel Auteuil), weary of Parisian life, who returns to the country to live in his childhood house. He needs someone to make a real vegetable garden and finds out the gardener (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) happens to be a former school friend. [Showing in Key Cities / Cert 12A]

Special People (Guerilla Films): Director Justin Edgar directs this tale of a struggling film director (Dominic Coleman) who takes a job teaching a group of disabled teenagers. [Showing at Genesis Mile End Rd, Phoenix Finchley, Birmingham & Sheffield / Cert 12A]

Yuvvraaj (Eros): Bollywood film starring Anil KapoorSalman KhanMithun Chakraborty and Katrina Kaif. Directed by Subhash Ghai it is the tale of three brothers who fight and play games with each other in order to inherit their father’s wealth. [Showing at Cineworld Cinemas in Feltham, Shaftesbury Ave, Vue O2, Odeon Greenwich & in Key Cities]


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The rest of the UK cinema releases for November 2008
Check out our latest DVD picks for this week (From Monday 17th November 2008)