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Also Out In Cinemas: December 2014

ME, MYSELF AND MUM

Guillaume Gallienne writer, director and star of this witty, topsy-turvy coming-out tale adapted Me, Myself And Mum from his own one-man show, with colourful, sweet and funny results. He plays both the delicate and inexperienced Guillaume of his own youth and his overbearing mother. From a childhood brought up as girl, through boarding school angst and then out into the world, our heros journey runs with adorable gaucheness and a sense of self-deprecation. Consider the language barrier smashed, because this one translates charmingly. Out 5 December Emma Johnston

THE POLAR EXPRESS

Travel back to the dark days of pre-Avatar 3D with Robert Zemeckiss 2004 festive (not-so) favourite about a kids night-time Christmas trip. And dark days they certainly were, especially reflected in the Botox-zombie faces of multiple characters digitally refashioned, The Congress-style, from Tom Hanks mush. In fairness, the titular trains journey to the North Pole delivers magical images (snowflakes float, tickets flutter) at a lick. Once he reaches Santa, Zemeckis runs out of plot steam and starts shovelling on the sentiment, leaving the Express torn between two poles: too sickly for adults, too weird for kids. Dont look at the eyes Out 12 December Kevin Harley

THE GREEN PRINCE

What would make the proudly Palestinian son of a firebrand Hamas leader become a mole for the Israeli security agency? Thats a question the man himself Mosab Hassan Yousef only partially answers in Nadav Schirmans documentary, for all the time he and handler Gonen Ben Yitzhak spend stating their respective positions directly to camera. Their friendship is just one unlikely development in a film that offers a fascinating glimpse into the workings of Hamas and Shin Bet, Israels unseen shield. What wed give, though, for even one additional voice or viewpoint. Out 12 December Neil Smith

THE GREAT MUSEUM

Eschewing voiceover narration, interviews or musical score, Johannes Holzhausens fly-on-the-wall doc goes behind the scenes at Viennas palatial Kunsthistorisches Museum, as it prepares for the reopening of its renowned Kunstkammer, a collection of artistic treasures acquired over the centuries by the Habsburg dynasty. Holzhausen observes the daily activities of staff from different departments, all devoted to restoring, curating and exhibiting the artworks. Tensions emerge between the gallerys custodial duties and its need to attract more paying visitors, but in lieu of any real emotional drama, the big attraction here is the elegant lensing. Out 12 December Tom Dawson

THE CIRCLE

Stefan Haupts doc broaches some astonishing subject matter thats tragically little-known. Switzerland of the 40s and 50s was a quasi-haven for gay men, one free of the legal censure other countries enforced. Centred on magazine The Circle, a community thrived until a spate of murders led to a clamp-down from the authorities. Fascinating stuff, but Haupt makes the mistake of splitting his time between period dramatisations and contemporary interviews with a central couple. Theyre very sweet, but really The Circle would have been better going down one route or the other, since each robs the other of the necessary detail this story demands. Out 12 December Andrew Lowry

MANAKAMANA

High in the foothills of Nepal sits a Hindu temple the eponymous Manakamana accessible only by cable car. Pilgrims come from miles around to take the slow 10-minute ride to the top, and we ride with them watching from a fixed camera in the facing seat through a series of unbroken, mostly silent, shots. A few old women gossip, a group of teens take selfies and an entire carload of terrified goats make curious diversions, but its more of a moving-portrait gallery than a straight documentary. The faces and the landscape reflect each other perfectly making for a strangely hypnotic experience thats hard to tear your eyes from. Out 12 December Paul Bradshaw

MONTANA

Teenage drugs courier Montana (McKell David) is taken under the wing of a mysterious old hitman (Lars Mikkelsen), seeking vengeance on the Bosnian warlord-turned-East-End-drug lord who murdered his family during the Balkan conflict. Director Mo Ali (2010s Shank) has acknowledged the influence of Luc Bessons Leon. Yet with its weird blend of school blazers and massacres in Turkish baths, its rather more like Cronenbergs Eastern Promises re-tooled for BBC Three and precisely calibrated to appeal to your average grime-loving 15-year-old. Cameos from Zlatko Buric (Pusher) and Ashley Walters round things out the latter perfecting his Stringer Bell impersonation. Out 12 December Ali Catterall

BRINGING TIBET HOME

Artist Tenzing Rigdol embarks on a dangerous mission in this compelling documentary. Reeling from the death of his Tibetan refugee father, who never got to go home again, Rigdol resolves to sneak 20,000 kilos of Tibetan soil over the border into India, where he hopes to offer Tibetan immigrants the chance to experience their home turf for the first time in decades. One problem: the strict Chinese authorities. While shying from intricate political debate, Bringing Tibet Home still has a great deal to say about human suffering and the tragedy of a nation exiled from its own land by colonising forces. Its rousing, quietly impassioned stuff. Out 12 December Josh Winning

THE FACE OF LOVE

We all have a double somewhere in the world, sighs an underused Robin Williams at the start of this mawkish drama, setting up a ludicrous plot in which Annette Benings grieving showroom decorator (its a thing, apparently) Nikki stumbles across the exact double of her dead husband (Ed Harris) and decides, naturally, to date him. Bogged down in cockeyed coincidences and further mired by crushing improbability, director Arie Posin (2005s Chumscrubber) is clearly aiming for Vertigo-style pathos, but ends up with an unintentionally absurdist comedy. You know youre in trouble when even Oscar-nommed heavyweights Bening and Harris look like theyre floundering. Out 12 December Josh Winning

TINKER BELL AND THE LEGEND OF THE NEVERBEAST

It may not be a premium Disney release, but judging by the reaction of the under-10s at the screening, its magical enough as a stop-gap until the next Frozen comes along. The story sees Tinker Bells (Mae Whitman) animal-loving fairy friend Fawn (Ginnifer Goodwin) discovering and caring for a huge beast, despite a legend that says he will bring about the destruction of their world. There are giggles, terror, and buckets and buckets of tears as we learn, for the umpteenth time, not to judge a book by its cover. Out 12 December Emma Johnston