Movies to watch this week at the cinema: Life, 99 Homes, more...

Out on Friday 25 September

Dane DeHaan is James Dean. Andrew Garfield has a twist on househunting. Craig Roberts is the director, writer and star of his own film. Yes, heres this weeks new releases. Click on for our reviews of Life, 99 Homes, Just Jim, Arcade Fire: The Reflektor Tapes, Orion: The Man Who Would Be King, Palio, Miss You Already, Mia Madre, McFarland, USA, Captive, Solace and Lessons In Love. For the best movie reviews, subscribe to Total Film.

LIFE

According to Ansel Adams, there are always two people in every photograph: the person whos in it and the person who took it. That description springs to mind watching Life, snapper-turned-director Anton Corbijns study of the relationship between photojournalist Dennis Stock and 50s teen icon James Dean. Avoiding the obvious angles, Corbijn frames Life (as in Life Magazine) as a snapshot of Stock and Dean at their most interesting moment both teetering on the cusp of fame and fortune, and both reluctantly using and abusing each other to try and get ahead. Set in a few wet weeks before the release of East Of Eden in 1955, it paints Dean (Dane Dehaan) as a man unsure he even wants to be a film star. Mumbling through interviews, playing the bongos in a cow field and taking speed with Eartha Kitt in seedy New York nightclubs, Dehaans Dean is a strung-out beatnik who likes to keep reminding himself that hes a rebel without a cause. Even more conflicted is Stock (Robert Pattinson), the over-eager agency hack whos washed-up at 27, constantly shelving his personal problems to try and dig himself out of his creative rut. With the balance of their friendship hinging on whos getting the most out of it, Life amounts to an elegantly crafted, intensely cynical, double portrait of the artist as a young man. Dehaan winces and whines through Deans hipster lingo, delivering a mesmerising, twitchy performance that somehow still gets overshadowed by Pattinsons quiet background presence. Its tempting to read the Twilight stars turn as deeply personal, given hes playing someone hankering to be taken seriously in his field. Intimately played but shot at a professional distance, Life chills everything with a steely winter palette; the effect is to bring Stocks most famous frames to life with slightly more depth of field than depth of feeling. Cold but cutting, its a sad, beautiful Beat biopic THE VERDICT: DeHaan and Pattinson are both on career-best form in Anton Corbijns stylish, chilly love letter to his favourite photographer. Life is beautiful even when its full of ugly ambition. Director: Anton Corbijn Starring: Robert Pattinson, Dane DeHaan, Joel Edgerton, Ben Kingsley Theatrical release: 25 September 2015 Paul Bradshaw

99 HOMES

An Englishmans home is his castle, even if the Englishman in question (Andrew Garfield) is playing an American one Dennis Nash, a single dad who is kicked out of the Orlando house he shares with mum Lynn (Laura Dern) and son Connor (Noah Lomax) when they fall behind on the mortgage payments. The man wielding the eviction notice is one Rick Carver (Michael Shannon), a real-estate broker who is making a killing refurbishing repossessed residences (at uncle Sams expense!) and selling them on for a profit. Yet instead of contemplating a killing of his own, Dennis goes to work for this pitiless scumbag, discovering along the way he has a talent for inflicting the same humiliations he himself has suffered. A Faustian morality tale with topical trappings, 99 Homes is an indignant film about a pressing societal imbalance whose sympathies are clearly with the people whose belongings end up on the sidewalk. Yet its also one in which the devil gets all the best lines. Shannons Carver justifies his conduct with America is for winners! rhetoric Gordon Gekko might have spouted three decades hence. Stood next to this sneering, vaping, grandstanding powder keg, Garfields conflicted, wavering everyman cant help but seem the lesser character, even if he does have the more significant arc. Given its a story about odds being stacked against the little guy, its strange that director Ramin Bahrani (Goodbye Solo, Man Push Cart) lets his nominal hero be so comprehensively outgunned. Then again, as Training Day showed, there is always a fascination in watching a callow novice get seduced by a charismatic scoundrel, especially one who knows how to manipulate the law to feather his own nest. Yet perhaps Bahranis greater achievement is to make the minutiae of property foreclosure no less compelling: a scene in which Garfield steals a vacated homes air conditioner has all the sweaty tension of a bank heist or drug raid. THE VERDICT: Whos that knocking at the door? Pray it isnt Shannon, icily magnetic as a man who collects houses like hes playing real-life Monopoly. If only Garfield had a part to match. Director: Ramin Bahrani Starring: Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon, Tim Guinee, Laura Dern, Noah Lomax, Clancy Bro Theatrical release: 25 September 2015 Neil Smith

JUST JIM

Hugely influenced here by his role in Richard Ayoades Submarine, actor Craig Roberts makes his debut as writer/director at the grand old age of 23, no less with this oddball coming-of-age yarn set in rural Wales. Roberts plays Jim, a social outcast at school who, out of the blue, is taken under the wing of his new neighbour, the American-born Dean (Emile Hirsch), who promises to make him cool. Despite the debt to Ayoade, it still feels personal: the dialogue is sharp, the humour wicked and the atmosphere off-kilter. While the final act unravels, for a first feature its impressive. Director: Craig Roberts Starring: Craig Roberts, Emile Hirsch, Nia Roberts, Richard Harrington, Aneirin Hughes Theatrical release: 25 September 2015 James Mottram

ARCADE FIRE: THE REFLEKTOR TAPES

Fusing fancy dress, Caribbean carnivals and Kierkegaard in a dizzy kaleidoscope of sounds and images, The Reflektor Tapes is exactly the sort of concert film youd expect from alt-rockers Arcade Fire. Recontextualising the album experience, its a sub-sonic nosedive through the bands collective subconscious as they write, record and perform their 2013 LP, Reflektor. About as abstract as it sounds, Kahlil Josephs experimental doc also finds space for some intimate interviews with the band. Essential watching/listening/chin-scratching for any fan. Director: Kahlil Joseph Starring: Will Butler, Regine Chassagne, Richard Reed Parry, Win Butler, Tim Kingsbury Theatrical release: 25 September 2015 Paul Bradshaw

ORION: THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING

After 2013S The Great Hip Hop Hoax, Brit docu-maker Jeanie Finlay excavates a forgotten rocknroll swindle in her haunting reverie on fame and ambition. Finlays subject is Alabamas Jimmy Ellis, an Elvis Presley-ish singer who enjoyed late-70s success as masked mystery man Orion. Grieving Elvis fans swallowed the fantasy that the King lived, until dodgy management and creative frustration Ellis hated being masked killed the dream. Her approach isnt radical, but Finlay explores fames wicked game stylishly, conjuring sly truths about the intangibility of success. Director: Jeanie Finlay Starring: Jimmy Ellis, Shelby Singleton, Jim Ellis Jr, Nannette Uselton Clark, Michael McCall, Nancy Crowson Theatrical release: 25 September 2015 Kevin Harley

PALIO

In Siena, a horse race exists that (depending on your capacity for cynicism) either makes a complete mockery of the sport or a fun fetish of its potential for illicit goings-on. As Cosima Spenders dazzling documentary makes clear, the centuries-old Palio, comprising 17 competing districts, is a game of legitimate corruption, where bribery is near-compulsory, riderless horses can still win (even if the jockey has fallen off mid-race), and riders are allowed to flay one another alive with dried ox penises making these 90-second races more akin to Rollerball with hooves. Frenetic, startling and brutal. Director: Cosima Spender Starring: Gigi Bruschelli, Giovanni Atzeni Theatrical release: 25 September 2015 Ali Catterall

MISS YOU ALREADY

It would be easy to be cynical about this cancer-centric dramedy given the recent spate of weepies wringing the subject for every last tear; sadly, Miss You Already does itself few favours as it follows rebellious Milly (Toni Collette) and her struggle with the disease, supported by jolly best bud Jess (Drew Barrymore). Director Catherine Hardwickes (Twilight) middle-class vision of London life grates, and much of the humour falls flat. Collette, though, delivers an upsetting, vanity-free turn that cuts to the truth of this devastating disease. If only the rest of the film had followed her lead. Director: Catherine Hardwicke Starring: Drew Barrymore, Toni Collette, Dominic Cooper, Paddy Considine Theatrical release: 25 September 2015 Josh Winning

MIA MADRE

Both a film about filmmaking and a shrewdly understated character study, Italian writer/director Nanni Morettis Mia Madre focusses on middle-aged director Margherita (Margherita Buy), whose mother (Giulia Lazzarini) lies terminally ill in a Rome hospital. margherita is also in the thick of a problematic film shoot, in which the temperamental star (an amusing John Turturro) is struggling to even remember his lines. Moretti sensitively explores the unexpected feelings thrown up by an impending bereavement: its his most satisfying work since 2001s The Sons Room. Director: Nanni Moretti Starring: John Turturro, Margherita Buy, Giulia Lazzarini Theatrical release: 25 September 2015 Tom Dawson

MCFARLAND, USA

Hot on the heels of Draft Day and stirring fond memories of Bull Durham, Field Of Dreams and Tin Cup comes yet another Kevin Costner sports movie. He plays Jim White, a disgraced football coach whos no sooner moved to McFarland, CA than he spies the running potential of some of his dirt poor Mexican students, and starts a crosscountry team. Its a true story, albeit clichd and Disneyfied as Kev learns to embrace the Latino culture en route to a predestined finale. But hey, the manipulations work and Costners homely charm is very much in evidence. Director: Niki Caro Starring: Kevin Costener , Maria Bello, Morgan Saylor, Martha Higareda, Michael Aguero, Sergio AvelarTheatrical release: 25 September 2015 Jamie Graham

LESSONS IN LOVE

Richard (Pierce Brosnan) is a Cambridge prof whose love of Byron extends to his Lothario lifestyle, yet a move to America with new flame Jessica Alba sparks belated growing up. Tom Vaughans farce is a tonal misfire, its soft-focus satire marooned between outdated, offensive British bawdiness and banal Californian self-help platitudes. Only a suitably louche Brosnan anchors an unsettled plot that desperately scrambles Duis, deportations and unconvincing romantic complications with Salma Hayek (Albas disapproving sister). Vaughan once nailed this genre in Starter For 10, but fails his university challenge here. Director: Tom Vaughn Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Salma Hayek, Jessica Alba, Malcolm McDowell, Ben McKenzieTheatrical release: 25 September 2015 Simon Kinnear

CAPTIVE

Veteran TV director Jerry Jameson fails to think bigger than the small screen with this flat, preachy true story drama about a killer on the run (David Oyelowo) connecting with the recovering drug addict he takes hostage (Kate Mara). Both leads fully commit, but they cant save a film lacking in drive. With focus given to both characters finding faith during their confinement, their road to redemption seems implausible, and dubious morals abound. Not least because we are expected to sympathise with a multiple murderer just because he starts paying attention to a self-help book. Director: Jerry Jameson Starring: Kate Mara, David Oyelowo, Mimi Rogers Theatrical release: 25 September 2015 Matt Looker

SOLACE

Any film in which an FBI agent asks Anthony Hopkins to help him track down a serial killer risks comparisons to a certain 1991 Oscar grabber. This time around, he plays a resting clairvoyant whose psychic powers are the only thing standing between a loony toon who offs terminal cases and his next victim. Throw in Abbie Cornish as a Clarice-alike and some Matrix-aping slo-mo, and its clear Brazilian director Afonso Poyart is struggling for new ideas. Hopkins breezes through it all with a twinkly charm, but he is all that props up this derivative grab-bag of gotcha shocks. Director: Afonso Poyart Starring: Colin Farrell, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Abbie Cornish Theatrical release: 25 September 2015 Neil Smith

We recommend