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Popcorn and Opinions: January 15

With the Golden Globes now out of the way, our local cinemas can finally start releasing the films that are receiving the latest hype from Hollywood. Sadly, we’re still one week away from their arrival, but one or two of this week’s releases are still worth seeing. Our in-house movie expert, Howard Elias, is here to give us the lowdown on what’s new to hit our screens.  For last week’s review click here.

 Opening This Week

Clouds of Sils Maria

It would be very easy to dismiss Kristen Stewart (Twilight series) as a flash in the pan but she keeps notching up credible performances. In Clouds, K-Stew plays Val, a young, personal assistant to Maria (Juliette Binoche), a world-famous actress. Many years earlier, Maria shot to stardom when she performed in a production about a young female assistant who sexually manipulates and uses her boss – a burnt-out, middle-aged businesswoman. Now, Maria is in the play’s revival, only this time she is playing the older woman to up-and-coming tabloid girl Jo-Ann (Chloë Grace Moretz). There’s a whole ‘mind games thing’ going on between Val and Maria, especially when they read lines together. Directed by Maggie Cheung’s ex-husband, Olivier Assayas, Clouds of Sils Maria is a thought-provoking film about aging set in the stunning Swiss Alps.

Showing at the Broadway and Grand cinemas.

Into the Woods

We’ve seen a few films over the years where stories that we’ve come to know so well have been reimagined. Sometimes it works well (Ever After) and sometimes not so well (Oz the Great and Powerful). Into the Woods takes this genre of films to a whole new level by weaving the plots of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel into an original story about a baker and his wife who wish to start a family – and then setting it to music. Based on the musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, and featuring an all-star cast that includes Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Chris Pine, and Johnny Depp, you know you’re in for a good time when you see this film.

Showing everywhere.

You’re Not You

There’s a half-truth in Hollywood that if you want to win an Oscar, you have to take on a role where the character either dies tragically, has a physical or mental illness, and/or you have to gain or lose a ridiculous amount of weight. Two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank tries for a hat trick in this story about a classical pianist who has been diagnosed with ALS (yes, the same disease that afflicts Stephen Hawking) and the brash college student who becomes her caregiver. Tries and fails. That’s my prediction at any rate. You’re Not You is one clunky tear-jerker.

Showing at the AMC, Grand, and UA cinemas.

Howard Elias is a Hong Kong-based film critic and film event organiser. You can hear his reviews every Thursday morning at about 8:40 am on RTHK Radio 4, and read his reviews anytime on his website at howardforfilm.com.

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