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The Water Diviner: A moving tribute 100 years after Gallipoli

By on April 3, 2015

Russell Crowe’s directorial debut The Water Diviner is a moving tribute and contribution to the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings, writes Ruth Allen.

Spring holiday films also include family laughs with The Spongebob Movie, teen angst with The Duff, a touch of middle-years crisis in While We’re Young, and The Dark Horse, an “inspiring” true-life tale of the Maori speed-chess champion Genesis Potini.

THE WATER DIVINER (15)

(Run time: 111mins; Director: Russell Crowe; Cast: Russell Crowe, Yilmaz Erdogan, Olga Kurylenko, Ryan Corr)

Synopsis: Four years after the devastating Battle of Gallipoli, Arthur, Edward and Henry Connor are still reported missing in action. With no further news, their father Joshua, travels from his farm in Australia to the war-torn peninsula but finds his questions blocked by military bureaucracy. Desperately holding on to hope, Joshua meets a Turkish war hero who becomes an unlikely ally as he struggles to find his own peace. facebook.com/TheWaterDivinerUK

In a recent television interview, Russell Crowe said he was inspired by hearing about the work of Lt. Col Cyril Hughes and the Imperial War Graves Commission and his new film,  which he both directs and stars in, is timed to coincide with the centenary of Australia’s ANZAC Day on April 25, 2015

This is an intense epic filmed in stunning locations in Australia and Turkey as Joshua (Russell Crowe) travels to Gallipoli to learn the fate of his three sons in the disastrous World War One campaign.

In Constantinople Joshua forges a relationship with a beautiful widow, Ayshe (Olga Kurylenko) who owns the hotel in which he initially stays.  Later with the help of a Turkish officer, Major Hasan (Yilmaz Erdogan) a distinguished war veteran, Joshua battles bureaucracy and faces danger as he travels across the war devastated Turkish landscape.

With a script from Andrew Knight and Andrew Anastasios, stunning cinematography from Andrew Lesnie and a moving music score from David Hirschfelder, Russell Crowe’s film is a moving tribute and contribution to the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings.

THE SPONGEBOB MOVIE: SPONGE OUT OF WATER 3D (U)

(Run time: 92mins; Director: Paul Tibbitt ; Voice cast: Tom Kenny, Antonio Banderas, Bill Fagerbakke, Rodger Bumpass, Carol Lawrence. Clancy Brown, Matt Berry)

Synopsis:  Life in Bikini Bottom couldn’t be better for eternal optimist SpongeBob and his friends: loyal starfish Patrick, the sardonic Squidward, scientist squirrel Sandy and crustacean capitalist, Mr. Krabs. But when the top secret recipe for Krabby Patties is stolen, eternal adversaries SpongeBob and Plankton must join forces on a trip through time and space to harness their internal superpowers and battle fiendish pirate Burger Beard with his own plans for the delicious delicacies. squarepantsmovie.co.uk

The SpongeBob phenomenon is popular with children and adults alike and this is the second film version of the successful television show. Director Paul Tibbitt has also directed 12 episodes of the television series and has writing credits on the first 2004 film, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie .

There’s lots of comedy action and jokes in this new 3D animation adventure with Antonio Banderas great fun as a live action diabolical pirate Burger Beard who has his own plans for the delicious Krabby Patties.  A terrific voice cast includes SpongeBob (Tom Kenny); Mr Krabs (Clancy Brown); Sandy (Carolyn Lawrence); Squidward (Rodger Bumpass); Plankton (Mr Lawrence) and Bubbles (our own ‘Toast of London’ and IT Crowd’s Matt Berry)

With a good mix of classic cartoon style and CG1 and an enjoyable time travel narrative, THE SPONGEBOB MOVIE: SPONGE OUT OF WATER is an entertaining comeback for all the family – and don’t miss Squidward’s end credit dancing.

 THE DUFF (12A)

(Run time: 100mins; Director: Ari Sandel; Cast: Mae Whitman, Bella Thorne, Robbie Amell, Allison Janney)

Synopsis: Every school has their labels and nicknames, and some ‘classics’ still exist. But what happens when you discover that your friends, your fellow students and practically everyone you know have you labelled as ‘The Duff’? facebook.com/EntertainmentOneUK

‘The Duff’  is an acronym for the ‘designated ugly fat friend’, and the premise here is that if you can’t remember who that was in your school or college friend group – it was probably you. Of course this is Hollywood, so no-one is really like that and in Director Ari Sandel’s teen romcom, based on a novel by Kody Keplinger, Bianca (Mae Whitman) is in fact an individual, feisty, A-student with plenty of interests and two best friends.

Commissioned to write an article for the school newspaper, she seems to have a good handle of things and tells us that nowadays high school stereotypes are different: Jocks now play video games; Princesses are on anti-depressants and the nerds are running things.  However she is too shy to speak to Toby (Nick Eversman) on whom she has a crush.

Bianca’s two best friends Jess (Skyler Samuels) and Casey (Bianca A. Santos) get all the attention when no-one really acknowledges her.  In fact the school’s queen of mean, Madison (Bella Thorne) excludes Bianca from her party list.  At home Bianca’s divorced mother, Dottie (Allison Janney) has become a bestselling author and self-help guru thanks to an idea she gleaned from watching an episode of The Simpsons.

When popular Jock next door, neighbour Wes (Robbie Amell) tells her that she is the DUFF, everything changes. The adverse effects of social media and cyber-bullying are all examined in this new girl-meets-boy, coming of age, teen movie which has amusing moments, likeable principal stars and engaging new takes on familiar territory.

WHILE WE’RE YOUNG (15)

(Run time: 97mins; Director: Noah Baumbach; Cast: Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Amanda Seyfried, Adam Driver, Charles Grodin)

Synopsis: Josh and Cornelia are happily married middle-aged members of New York’s creative class. Josh labours over the umpteenth edit of his cerebral new film, it’s clear that he has hit a dry patch and that something is still missing. Enter Jamie and Darby a free-spirited young couple, who are spontaneous and ready to drop everything in pursuit of their next passion. For Josh, it’s as if a door has opened back to his youth—or a youth he wishes he once had. It’s not long before the restless forty-somethings, Josh and Cornelia, throw aside friends their own age to trail after these young hipsters who seem so plugged in, so uninhibited, so Brooklyn cool. facebook.com/whilewereyoungmovie?fref=ts

This glorious, hilarious, thought-provoking generational comedy from director Noah Baumbach [Frances Ha (2012), The Squid and the Whale (2005)] boasts an outstanding ensemble cast. It tackles the bittersweet theme of growing older and feeling younger and offers many wry moments of recognition.

Josh (Ben Stiller) is a middle aged, stalled documentary film maker settled with wife, Cornelia (Naomi Watts).  His eyesight is failing, his memory unreliable and and he doesn’t have that creative spark or ambition anymore. Then he meets aspiring filmmaker Jamie (Adam Driver) and wife, Darby (Amanda Seyfried) and everything changes as the four become close friends despite the age differences.

Cornelia is flattered by their attention and energised by their enthusiasm and ‘retro’/‘hipster’ lifestyle. ’ It’s like their apartment is full of everything we once threw out’, Cornelia remarks and soon they abandon prudence and their own friends for the new relationship.

However, the carefree tone darkens into something more profound, and when issues about the ethics of documentary film-making emerge, Josh and Cornelia are compelled to act their age.

The chemistry between Stiller and Watts is outstanding and Adam Driver is excellent as the duplicitous Jamie; plus there is a superb cameo from veteran Charles Grodin as Josh’s eminent documentary film-maker father.  A film not to miss.

THE DARK HORSE

(Run time: 124mins; Director: James Napier Robertson; Cast: Cliff Curtis, James Rolleston, Kirk Torrance)

Synopsis: One-time Maori speed-chess champion Genesis Potini battles many things on a daily basis including bi-polar disorder, prejudice and violence. Despite his own adversities he finds the courage to lead, purpose and hope in passing on his gift to the disadvantaged children in his community. facebook.com/thedarkhorsemovie?fref=ts

This moving and inspiring film is the true story of Genesis ‘Gen’ Potini, a charismatic Maori speed-chess champion who struggled with severe bi-polar disorder.

Cliff Curtis [(Once Were Warriors (1994), The Whale Rider (2002), Sunshine (2007)] gives the performance of his career as the overweight, fragile Gen who gets his life back on track by coaching Eastern Knights, a speed-chess club for local youths at risk.  He also involves his nephew Mana (James Rolleston) in the group, introducing the teenager to a world beyond the macho biker gang culture of his father, with deep and lasting consequences for all. A compelling and inspiring film.

Chris Curtis talked about Genesis Potini and bringing his story to film when he appeared at the recent Glasgow Film Festival – http://www.glasgowfilm.org/theatre/gft_blog/7319_the_dark_horse_actor_cliff_curtis_talks_about_going_method

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WHILE WE'RE YOUNG

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