Movies - new releases: Maleficent (PG)
Maleficent turns Sleeping Beauty on its head to create a less black-and-white version of the fairy tale. Angelina Jolie plays the title role, the most iconic of Disney's rogues' gallery and recasts her as a tragic figure.
Every curl of her mouth and flick of the eye is layered with expressiveness, while her influence over the entire production is obvious. It's the most female-centric Disney film we've seen in years, with basically every male character a weak-willed buffoon while the women are the ones with the strength and power. Right on.
In 1932, real-life folk hero Jimmy Gralton (Barry Ward) returns to his homeland in Leitrim after years away and reopens the abandoned village hall with a view to inspiring people to think, learn and work for themselves. The church and the Free State frown on Jimmy and his new world thinking and set about putting a stop to him. Veteran director Ken Loach once again shows his penchant for sticking it to the establishment (this time pointing out the contradictions of the church) but he also draws a warm, joyful picture of rural Ireland in a state of change.
Three of the Best
Fading Gigolo (selected cinemas)
John Turturro directs and stars as a genteel New York florist convinced by a friend (Woody Allen) to become a gigolo and make them both rich. It's a slightly creepy setup but the entire cast (Woody in particular, plus Sharon Stone and Liev Schreiber) are in fine comic form and Turturro's New York – all falling leaves and hazy afternoons – is a treat for the eyes. An enjoyable comedy drama about what happens when you abandon your inhibitions – romantic, sexual, religious or otherwise.
X Men: Days of Future Past
Director of the original X-Men, Bryan Singer, almost aggressively takes control of the film series back from those that followed him with this complex and satisfying prequel-sequel-reboot. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) travels back in time to 1973 to convince frenemies Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) to join up and help defeat a common enemy.
An ancient 300-foot tall lizard stomps all over the pacific coast while Bryan Cranston and his son Aaron Taylor-Johnson try to keep up. File this one alongside Jurassic Park and Independence Day. It's great fun but if only, like those 90s classics, it took itself a little less seriously.
First published in INSIDER Magazine, exclusive to Thursday's Irish Independent