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Cabin fever that's worth catching

As the creator of the sublime and subtly subversive TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its wonderful offshoot Angel, Joss Whedon has serious form when it comes to messing with the structures and conventions of horror fiction, a streak he's continued in thrilling fashion with his contribution to The Cabin in the Woods. Co-written by Whedon and director Drew Goddard, what we have here is a construct which plays merry hell with the standard tropes of horror/slasher cinema, adds in dollops of deliciously dark humour and emerges largely unscathed despite going utterly bonkers in the final act.

We open with what appears to be a pair of middle-aged, lab-coated middle-management types (Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford) on their way to work at some gleaming chrome-and-steel facility, discussing their respective plans for the weekend.

Cut to the movie's title emblazoned across the full screen in vivid crimson and then we're off to a campus residential house where five students are about to head off for a weekend at, yep, you're way ahead of me, a cabin in the woods.

And that's about as much as I can give away about the story, honest.

The script is laced with great lines as very bad things happen out in yonder woods and if you're a horror aficionado you'll be beside yourself trying to spot the teasers as the story develops and throws curveballs at regular intervals. Rating: HHHHI

battleship sci-fi/action. Starring Taylor Kitsch, Liam Neeson, Brooklyn Decker, Rihanna. Directed by Peter Berg. Cert 12A

Based on yet another Hasbro toy property (those thoughtful people responsible for the Transformers series), this loud, relentless and utterly nonsensical pile of garbage almost makes one long for the Bergmanesque storytelling qualities of Michael Bay.

No cliche is skipped as a rough but ready naval lieutenant (Taylor Kitsch) finds himself about to be drummed out of the service after a fight with a fellow officer until, as luck would have it, a fleet of alien spaceships land in the sea off Hawaii and he has to save the world.

Liam Neeson appears in about five scenes as the admiral in charge of the naval task force, Kitsch yet again lives up to his surname while Rihanna gets to say 'Boom!' once or twice and doesn't look like she'll be giving Meryl Streep sleepless nights. Rating: HIIII

BLACKTHORN western. Starring Sam Shepard, Eduardo Noriega, Stephen Rea. Directed by Mateo Gil. Cert 15A

There's more than a touch of Unforgiven about this elegiac Western, set in Bolivia in the early 1920s as ageing horse breeder James Blackthorn (Sam Shepard) plans to return to the US after almost three decades in self-imposed exile.

The reason for his sojourn in South America soon becomes clear as it turns out that he is, in fact, Butch Cassidy, who didn't perish alongside the Sundance Kid in a shootout in 1908 but was happy for the authorities to think otherwise.

The movie looks absolutely beautiful as Blackthorn's attempt to return home is sidelined when he decides to help a Spanish mining engineer (Eduardo Noriega) who's being pursued by a posse. Sam Shepard's timeworn features are a perfect fit for the worldweary Blackthorn and there's a marvellous interplay between himself and Stephen Rea. Rating: HHHII

delicacy romantic drama. Starring Audrey Tautou, Francois Damiens. Directed by David Foenkinos. Cert 12A

Adapted from David Foenkinos' best-selling novel, Delicacy is a charming and warm-hearted movie in which we see Nathalie (Audrey Tautou) gradually re-engaging with the world three years after her husband has been killed in an accident.

Francois Damiens provides a perfect comedy foil as Markus, a Swedish co-worker who finds it difficult to believe that Nathalie could even consider him as a romantic possibility and, while it's not difficult to guess where the story is heading, the journey is a pleasant one. Rating: HHHII

MOZART'S SISTER drama. Starring Marie Feret, Marc Barbe, David Moreau. Directed by Rene Feret. Cert 12A

The latest addition to the 'sometimes it's hard to be a woman' school of cinema focuses on how tough times were for Nannerl Mozart (Marie Feret), a thwarted musician and composer who was effectively ignored by her father Leopold (Marc Barbe) at the expense of her younger brother Wolfgang (David Moreau), a wee lad with a decent way with a tune. A decent, if rather, dull film. Rating: HHIII


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