Also Out In Cinemas: December 2014

We reviewed the month's other releases.

The Rest Of December's Theatrical Releases

The big movies out this month include Paddington, Electricity, Men, Women & Children, Exodus: Gods And Kings, The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies and Unbroken. But here we review a selection of the other new releases. Remember to keep an eye out because we'll be adding more each week.

OPEN BETHLEHEM

Directors who appear in their own documentaries can sometimes end up getting in the way as demonstrated here. Spanning several years before abruptly cutting off in 2006, this is the story of filmmaker Leila Sansours return to her hometown of Bethlehem, where she mounts a campaign to raise awareness of its plight under the Israeli army.Her hearts in the right place, but the focus too often falls on Sansour (shes an affluent Christian exile; those less fortunate barely get a look-in). Hard not to feel an opportunity has been lost to look through the eyes of a wider community. Out 5 December Andrew Lowry

HELLO CARTER

Sadsack Carter (Charlie Cox), jobless and homeless, doubts life can get worse. Fate, via a chaotic chain of events involving a Hollywood film star (Paul Schneider) and a stolen baby, has other plans. Writer/director Anthony Wilcox mounts a solid production whose strong cast (notably an on-form Jodie Whittaker) and crew (veteran DoP Andrew Dunn) belie his low budget. Efficiency only goes so far, though. Despite the odd well-timed laugh, Wilcox cannot muster the madcap energy that would justify the storys many coincidences, and patience and credulity soon flounder. Out 5 December Simon Kinnear

MEA CULPA

Guilt-ridden ex-cop Simon (Vincent Lindon) lives in disgrace following a fatal car accident; old partner Franck (Gilles Lellouche) investigates a series of mob slayings. When the unlikeliest of coincidences unites their worlds, Simon has a shot at redemption. The latest thriller from Fred Cavay (Anything For Her) isnt strong on subtlety, but once past the unwieldy scene-setting it does have Cavay: a genre specialist near his A-game, staging chases and shootouts with whipsmart camerawork and ludicrous lan. Its already halfway to the inevitable US remake. Out 5 December Simon Kinnear

EASTERN BOYS

This mysterious French tale kicks off at the Gare du Nord: thats where middle-aged businessman Daniel (Olivier Rabourdin) picks up and invites back to his flat teenaged Ukranian hustler Marek (Kirill Emelyanov), in a meeting which changes both of their lives. Eastern Boys is not an easy film to pigeonhole. Moving fluidly between styles and genres, its a suspenseful thriller (look out for the home-invasion sequence) and a shrewdly observed relationship drama, in which writer/ director Robin Campillo refuses to judge his protagonists actions. Impressive. Out 5 December Tom Dawson

GET SANTA

Christopher Smiths previous films (Severance, Black Death) hardly seem ideal preparation for a Yuletide fantasy about an ex-convict (Rafe Spall) coming to the aid of a downed Father Christmas (Jim Broadbent). Yet the bracing black comedy of those horrors remains detectable here, especially when Saint Nick gets banged up and has to reinvent himself as a hardened lag to survive behind bars. A subsequent shift into Polar Express territory isnt successful, due in part to flying-sleigh FX that stay defiantly earthbound. But nods to Shawshank and The Godfather keep the laughs rolling. Out 5 December Neil Smith

THE PYRAMID

The Inbetweeners James Buckley takes the clunge into horror, playing a docu-cameraman who follows father and daughter archaeologists Denis OHare and Ashley Hinshaw into a three-sided pyramid so old it rewrites the rule book on Egyptian genealogy. Trapped, they realise theyre not alone... Essentially The Descent with CGI rat-dogs rather than Crawlers, it also chucks toxic dust and enough traps to scare off Indy into the uneven mix. Grgory Levasseur directs, killing everyone off in the exact order youd expect as the tone wobbles between panic and vom-com. Out 5 December Jamie Graham

PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR

Theyve already got their own TV series, so why not a movie? Alas, this Madagascar spin-off marks a disappointing big-screen bow for Skipper (Tom McGrath) and co, exposing the flightless foursomes weaknesses as characters. Which would be less of a problem if the story amounted to more than just a generic Bond parody pitting the penguins against John Malkovichs villainous octopus. Hectic, laboured and a little cynical, POM will tickle children, but doesnt set a particularly high bar for animated sidekick spin-offs. Over to you, Minions Out 5 December Neil Smith

BONOBO

This British indie follows Judith (Tessa Peake-Jones), an uptight widow whose daughter Lili (Eleanor Wyld) has dropped out of law school to join a hippie commune one that follows the philosophy of the peaceful, sex-loving bonobo ape. Matthew Hammett Knotts feature debut is, as youd expect, comic, although not overtly so. Rather, it touches upon themes of human nature and self-discovery with a charmingly delicate sense of wit especially in the growing affection between Judith and Josie Lawrences 46-year-old commune leader, Anita. Smart, funny and original. Out 5 December Stephen Kelly

SCHOOL OF BABEL

Julie Bertuccellis heartwarming yet unsentimental fly-on-the-wall Parisian classroom doc plants itself in a group of teen immigrants, struggling with big issues (parental abandonment, asylum appeals, forced marriage) and their fledgling command of French. Like a real-life reproach to Laurent Cantets very similar blackboard jungle drama The Class, it unshowily illustrates how vital the patient, empathetic Madame Cervoni becomes to her students emotional wellbeing, as well as their verb endings. Sharpen your pencils, and get out your handkerchiefs Out 5 December Kate Stables