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Film review: Stoker

Stoker (18)


Dir: Park Chan-wook

With: Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman

Runtime: 98 minutes

OF all the premieres at the Glasgow Film Festival, Park Chan-wook's slow-burn, noirish thriller probably caused more arguments in the bar afterwards than any other. One couple I eavesdropped on (sorry folks) were torn between thinking it was out and out dreadful (him), or the most gorgeous film of the festival (her). Either way, it is a picture you won't forget easily.

Mia Wasikowska plays India Stoker, daughter of Evelyn (Nicole Kidman). With the head of the family recently deceased, the Stoker clan, including the mysterious uncle Charles (Matthew Goode), gathers for the funeral at the family mansion. While India tries to keep her distance from a mother she loathes and an uncle she doesn't know, the charming Charles sets out to win her over.

Park Chan-wook, helmer of Old Boy and Sympathy for Mr Vengeance, is heavy-handed when it comes to the story. The real pleasure here comes from the seductive performances – Goode's especially – and the endlessly stylish execution. Whether it be a pair of shoes or a field of swaying grass, the South Korean director can make anything look stunning.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (3D) (15)


Dir: Tommy Wirkola

With: Gemma Arterton, Jeremy Renner

Runtime: 88 minutes

AFTER Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter comes Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. Neither work will have historians and professors of early literature rushing to revise their theories.

Tommy Wirkola's radical updating of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale , pictured, is all over the forest. Though set in faux medieval times, the dialogue is Noughties and naughty (a few F-bombs are dropped), the humour is playground sarky, and the weaponry would not look out of place in a Tarantino film. All that and lots of bone-crunching, eye watering violence too.

Gemma Arterton (best thing in the movie and no slouch in the action scenes) and Jeremy Renner play the brother and sister out to rid society of troublesome women with bad teeth and unfortunate tendencies to cackle. With a plot as heroically daft as the dialogue, Wirkola's bash-em-up picture is aimed more at teens with short attention spans than anyone else.

Safe Haven (12A)


Dir: Lasse Hallstrom

With: Josh Duhamel, Julianne Hough

Runtime: 115 minutes

LASSE Hallstrom's adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks novel is sure to provide a safe haven in the cinema for anyone in search of a warm, soothing, sun-dappled romantic tale with added marshmallows of soppiness on top.

All the usual ingredients of a Sparks tale are here– a cute heroine (Julianne Hough), a strong-jawed, kindly hero (Josh Duhamel), a couple of gorgeous kids, a whiff of sadness, and a picture postcard setting stuffed with fishing boats, homely restaurants and good neighbours.

This time, though, there is an added edginess as we find out more about Katie (Hough). She has moved across the country to start a new life, is clearly in need of friends, yet she is desperate to keep everyone at a distance.

The injection of thriller elements is a welcome, and well done, change of pace and style. Alas, it doesn't last long enough. Before you know it, Hallstrom's film has settled into a too familiar groove. In short, catnip if you are a fan, a head-nipper if not.

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