New Feature: The Friday Encourager

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I thought it was about time that I lived up to my nom de plume, as I’ve not done any specific movie encouragement, other than my trailer breakdowns, The Half Dozen (link at the top of this page). So my latest service is to encourage you to get out at some point this week and catch at least one of the good movies on release that you may not have seen yet. Everything on this list is an 8/10 or better, and while I can’t give you my personal guarantee you’ll enjoy it, I did, and you’d be mad to at least not try it before the long, long wait for the DVD (in some cases, as much as 17 weeks). So, here goes.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Still on general release (365 cinemas)

You might have been put off by the bright, flashy visuals at the core of the marketing material. You might have thought this looked a bit lightweight. You might not have realised this is brought to you by Edgar Wright, that made Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz (which even my mother likes, and she can’t stand things like this normally). But there’s strong narrative, video game and comic stylings that you will enjoy if you get the references but still can if you don’t, and at the core a tender love story that’s actually honest about the way people with a lack of social skills (i.e. you and me) end up falling in love, or having crushes, or becoming crazy stalkers.


Still on general release (158 cinemas)

If you’ve still not seen this, then maybe there’s no hope for you. It’s not too late to prove me wrong. It’s a top quality action movie, it will inspire endless pub debates and it furthers the careers of a whole slew of A-listers while making them for a couple of new names. It’s now been revealed as layered rather than complicated, so there’s no reason not to give it a go if you’ve not had chance yet.

Toy Story 3

Still on general release (442 cinemas)

Being touted in some quarters as the finest movie trilogy ever released (have your say in Empire magazine’s current poll), this is a fantastic conclusion to the original series of CGI-animated movies. As effortlessly constructed as ever, at least on the surface, there’s something for the whole family in this one. It’s not essential to see it in 3D, but it doesn’t detract from the experience either. Also contains my favourite squidgy alien moments of the whole series.

The Secret In Their Eyes

On limited release (Aberdeen, Bath, Brighton, Bristol, Warwick, Edinburgh, Dublin, Liverpool, Ambleside, London, Newcastle, Oxford, Henley-on-Thames, Wimbledon and Hawkhurst)

The winner at this year’s Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film, this stood head and shoulders with the competition, but is strongly recommended for anyone normally put off by subtitles. The core is a police procedural-cum-thriller, structured in flashback and with one of the most audacious tracking shots seen for many a year, as the camera follows events above, over, under and onto a football stadium. One brief scene at the beginning has earned the 18 rating, but other than that it’s packed full of great dialogue and touching moments.

Please Give

Showing in York and Alnwick only

Nicole Holofcener’s story of two neighbouring New York apartments and their varied inhabitants is wonderfully well observed, touching, thoughtful and packed full of great performances from the likes of Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt and Rebecca Hall.

Black Dynamite

Showing in Dublin only

Michael Jai White’s blaxploitation homage / spoof is lovingly observed and consistently laugh out loud funny. Why it didn’t get better distribution is anyone’s guess.


Showing in Wolverhampton, Stoke, Dumfries, Belper and at the End of the Road festival

This British movie has been battering its way into cinemas in a tale of triumph over the adversity of getting screen time that’s probably almost worthy of a movie itself. The reason for its success is obvious – there’s smarts, laughs and heart, all wrapped in a tale that’s both eccentric but accessibly and feels quintessentially British. Go on, give it your support.

The Illusionist

On limited release (showing in Dublin, Aberdeen, Bath, Brighton, Skipton, Cambridge, Croydon, Edinburgh, Exeter, Bury St. Edmunds, Liverpool, Ambleside, London, Newcastle, Norwich, Oxford, Sheffield, Southampton, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Brentford, Richmond and York)

A wonderful, almost silent tale of a magician plying a dying art, in a hand-drawn animated style (with occasional CG embellishments) that’s as touching as it is beautiful. Expect lots of chuckles and the odd sniffle.


On limited release (Bournemouth, Belfast, Hailsham, Haverhill, Hazlemere, Huddersfield, Berkhamstead, Chesham, Portsmouth, Aberystwyth, London and Wolverhampton)

This recent French release puts both the romance and comedy back into romantic comedies, something sorely lacking at the cinema in recent years (yes, we’re looking at you, Jennifer Aniston, Katherine Heigl and Catherine Zeta Jones). Unmissable for fans of Dirty Dancing, which I was indoctrinated into, practically Clockwork Orange-style, by my mother watching the video four times a day when it first came out.

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