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Perception is key in cop thriller with depth

End Of Watch (15)

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Dir: David Ayer

With: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena, Anna Kendrick

Runtime: 108 minutes

THOUGH on the face of it another buddy cop movie, End Of Watch is a daring, unconventional piece, not least in the way it shows LAPD officers in a good light. Make that a good-ish light. The film is, after all, made by David Ayer, the director of the no-nonsense Training Day and Harsh Times.

Brian and Mike (Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena) are patrol cops and pals. As we see from the opening scenes of an arrest, they couldn't be confused with social workers.

Ayer's cameras are not the only ones watching Brian and Mike: there is a camera in their patrol car too. Anyone would think the force had once disgraced itself on camera. Brian is also making a film of his own for a college course. In a movie that's all about perceptions, Ayer offers the audience several to choose from. Will we find out that we like this pair, or will they, and the film, conform to our preconceived notions?

At the same time as he is posing those questions, Ayer delivers a thriller that tears along with tyres squealing. In the course of cruising their mean streets, Brian and Mike have discovered something that rattles even these experienced officers. Solve this case and there could be promotions.

The action is impressive, but it's the scenes in the patrol car, where Mike and Brian are shooting the breeze, that really stand out. Funny, insightful, plain daft sometimes, they say everything about these men while seeming to reveal very little.

While Gyllenhaal is his usual engaging self, it's Pena who makes the biggest impact. Like Ayer's film as a whole, his character has layers upon layers, each well worth delving into.

Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan (PG)

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Dir: Gilles Penso

Runtime: 97 minutes

THERE are not many filmmakers who could spur the likes of James Cameron, Steven Spielberg and Guillermo Del Toro to line up and shout their praises, but Ray Harryhausen is one of them. Gilles Penso's fascinating and painstakingly researched documentary traces Harryhausen's special effects craft from early films including It Came From Beneath The Sea (in which the monster octopus, due to budget constraints, only had six legs) up to Clash Of The Titans. Stellar as the talking heads are, it is Harryhausen, explaining how each creature and effect came about using not much money and vat-loads of imagination, who stands tallest. As Spielberg says, Harryhausen is "the father of all we do today in science fiction, fantasy and adventure".

Cameo, Edinburgh, November 28

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