Bone Tomahawk (18) | ★★★★☆
Dir: S. Craig Zahler
The western has been given more than a few new coats of paint lately, but none will be as surprising as Bone Tomahawk, which mixes traditional Old West with horror. Kurt Russell keeps his Hateful Eight beard as a sheriff who rides out to confront a tribe of cannibals who have abducted people from his town, flanked by grumpy co-stars Richard Jenkins and Patrick Wilson. The charisma of all involved creates an interesting 'men on a mission' plot, while the mild horror works better than one might think. Gritty and entertaining, it's one of the more original movies you'll see this year.
Triple Nine (15) | ★★★☆☆
Dir: John Hillcoat
A group of criminals (including Chiwetel Ejiofor, Norman Reedus and Aaron Paul) stage an elaborate heist, which involves killing a rookie cop to appease a powerful Russian-Israeli mob boss (Kate Winslet). Winslet is terrific in an unusually nasty role, while Woody Harrelson is everything you would expect as the alcoholic cop on their tail, but getting exactly what you expect is the film's biggest problem. As the heist to end all heists moves forward, there's little in the way of surprises and the cast feels crowded, with a lot of characters feeling underdeveloped. An entertaining ride but one that could have been better.
The Finest Hours (12A) | ★★★☆☆
Dir: Craig Gillespie
Chris Pine is the perfect choice to lead this nostalgic rescue movie, loosely based on a true story of a coast guard crew who defy the odds to rescue a wrecked oil tanker. What so easily could have been an epically patriotic Michael Bay wet dream instead turns out to be a sincerely told tale of heroism, with a group of likable stars hardening their resolve as they forge ahead into the spectacular rescue sequence. It may be hokey, but this effects laden disaster drama does exactly what it says on the tin.
Freeheld (12A) | ★★☆☆☆
Dir: Peter Sollett
Ellen Page's first lead role since her very public coming out is based on the true story of Laurel Hester (Julianne Moore), a terminally ill police officer who fights to get her pension benefits passed to her partner (Page). It's a powerful premise, let down by director Sollett's soft, fuzzy direction that gives it a cheap TV movie feel, where nothing feels that urgent and a rousing speech is never far away. Moore and Page do their best to overcome the basic dialogue, but you leave Freeheld not nearly as moved as you were expecting to be.
How to be Single (15) | ★★☆☆☆
Dir: Christian Ditter
Dakota Johnson is playing the dating game in New York, helped by wild new friend Rebel Wilson and a whole host of singletons trying to navigate their disastrous love lives. For a film so obviously proud of its modern approach, it's a muddle of rom-com tropes borrowed from a million other films. Particularly wasted (in both senses of the word) is Wilson's party girl, who adds an energy that the half-awake script and lead desperately need. Amusing in parts, but ultimately as satisfying a microwave meal for one.