Movies to watch this week at the cinema: Minions, Slow West, more...

Out on Friday 26 June

The Despicable Three break loose. Keanu Reeves hears a scary knock knock joke. Imogen Poots is funny in a screwball way. Yes, heres this weeks new releases. Click on for our reviews of Minions, Knock Knock, Shes Funny That Way, Slow West, Going Clear: Scientology And The Prison Of Belief, Station To Station, That Sugar Film, The Overnight, Everyones Going To Die, Hustlers Convention, The Forgotten Kingdom, Concrete Kingdom, The Third Man, The Wrecking Crew and The Terminator. For the best movie reviews, subscribe to Total Film.


Animated sidekicks tend to be a lot less amusing when they get their own vehicles, at least if Puss In Boots, Penguins Of Madagascar and The Cleveland Show are anything to go by. No such fate awaits the Minions, though, who effortlessly take centre stage in a Despicable Me spin-off so busy, witty and all-round entertaining you wont have time to pine for the absent Steve Carell. In truth, the pint-sized lemon functionaries outgrew Gru some time ago: the mock auditions for a Minions movie that played over the end credits of Despicable Me 2 resembled not so much a gag as a coup dtat. But the makers of Minions havent taken any chances, creating a backstory prologue for their pill-shaped protagonists first solo feature that gives any Despicable Me hold-outs no excuse not to join the fun. Genially narrated by Geoffrey Rush, this introduction spells out the basics that the Minions have spent most of recorded time seeking detestable bosses to serve under; that their Minion-strations tend to prove fatal to everybody who utilises them (Prehistoric Man, Genghis Khan, Napoleon Bonaparte); and that any scene that doesnt deliver its punchline within 15 seconds and counting belongs in a different picture altogether. Preliminaries over, directors Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin begin the story proper by sending three of their gibberish-spouting sweetcorn-alikes go-getting Kevin, testy Stuart and good-natured Bob out into the world to find someone new to work for. The hunt takes them first to New York, then to Orlando and ultimately to London, there to help a female supervillain Sandra Bullocks Scarlet Overkill, all spindly limbs, malevolent grin and towering beehive depose the Queen and assume the British throne. OK, so its not much of a plot. But at least its on a level with the prevailing ethos of free-wheeling anarchy, one that encompasses 60s in-jokes (Nixon a name you can trust!), a Bonnie And Clyde family of crime-committing suburbanites and a rendition of Make Em Laugh for an audience of yawning Yetis. Crazy gadgets include a hypno-hat and a lava gun, theres a clown who juggles bombs while riding a unicycle, and it all ends with an extended Godzilla parody in Trafalgar Square. The soundtrack, meanwhile, serves up a terrific time-capsule of vintage hits that will double as a musical life-raft for parents obliged to sit through this film more than once by their Minion-mad infants. THE VERDICT: The breakout stars of the Despicable Me franchise seize the spotlight in an enjoyably demented off-shoot that is guaranteed to send their young fans bananas. Directors: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin Starring: Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Allison Janney, Michael Keaton Theatrical release: 26 June 2015 Neil Smith


Can a leopard ever really change its spots? Theres a point during Knock Knocks classy opening credits in which the camera explores every nook and cranny of family-man Evans (Keanu Reeves) stylish abode while an ominous score builds to a crescendo when helmer Eli Roths claims of a mature change of direction start to sound vaguely plausible. True to the Hostel makers word, his fifth feature a twisted home-invasion thriller has nary a bloodbath in sight. Its not long, though, before dodgy sexual politics come into play and suddenly youre in no doubt whos behind the camera. Funny Games this aint. A loose update of 1977 exploitationer Death Game, Knock Knock sees Reeves middleaged architect left home alone when his loving wife and kids head for a weekend at the beach. With a storm raging outside, hes visited by two sweet, scantily clad babes (Lorenza Izzo and Ana de Armas) looking for a good samaritan to take pity on them. After Evan inevitably gives into temptation, the strangers true intentions are revealed and so begins a cat-and-mouse game of torture, murder and humiliation. Theres an initial smattering of tension and knowing humour. But once the deed is done, as it were, Roths faux-morality tale spins out of control cue increasingly preposterous plotting, one-note antagonists and a hideously miscast Reeves. If John Wick played to the stars strengths, Knock Knocks snivelling, whiny victim reveals his biggest weaknesses, though the fact he makes it through one guffaw-inducing monologue in which he desperately likens his infidelity to eating free pizza without a hint of a smile is no easy task THE VERDICT: An initially intriguing thriller that crumbles thanks to a cringeworthy script, a miscast Reeves and Roths trademark excess. Director: Eli Roth Starring: Keanu Reeves, Lorenza Izzo, Ana de Armas, Ignacia Allamand Theatrical release: 26 June 2015 Richard Jordan


From Whats Up, Doc? in 1972 to 1992s Noises Off..., Peter Bogdanovich is no stranger to screwball comedy. The veteran directors back to revitalise the classic genre once more with the exhilarating, exhausting Shes Funny That Way. No wonder it was originally called Squirrels To The Nuts (a nod to screwball master Ernst Lubitsch) just about everybody here is off their nut. Co-written with Bogdanovichs ex-wife Louise Stratten, the script was penned for late comedic actor John Ritter but now stars Owen Wilson as acclaimed Broadway director Arnold Patterson, in New York to cast his new show. Soon enough, hes making call girl Izzy (Imogen Poots) a tantalising offer: $30,000 to give up life as a lady of the night and pursue her dreams of acting stardom. It soon transpires that Arnold, with his slightly strange heart of gold, has a habit of offering prostitutes paydays to escape their lives. But this is just the beginning of an increasingly tangled web that involves Izzys mouthy shrink (Jennifer Aniston), an obsessed judge (Austin Pendleton), Arnolds wife and star of the play (Kathryn Hahn), her sleazy co-star (Rhys Ifans) and the plays scribe (Will Forte). With a support cast also including Cybill Shepherd, Illeana Douglas and Tatum ONeal, Bogdanovich even gets to call on an old friend for a celebrity cameo in the punchy finale. Wilson may be his usual wide-eyed self but Poots and Aniston are right on cue, entering stage left with immaculate comic timing. It also refreshes to see a comedy that, bar one tampon joke, doesnt rely on bodily fluids for gags. It may not be fashionable, but its still funny that way. THE VERDICT: Bogdanovichs quicksilver comedy is expertly paced and played, with adorable turns from Poots and Aniston and almost more laughs than you can handle. Director: Peter Bogdanovich Starring: Owen Wilson, Imogen Poots, Will Forte, Jennifer Aniston, Kathryn Hahn Theatrical release: 26 June 2015 James Mottram


Written and directed by John Maclean (of shambling Scots indie outfit The Beta Band), scored by Jed Kurzel (who did The Babadook) and starring three of the smartest indie actors around, this New Zealand-shot, British- American western is a strange, strange brew. Imagine Belle & Sebastian remaking The Proposition in South Africa, and you have some idea just how strange although the Sundance jury were beguiled enough to award it a World Cinema prize. Its 1870 on the US frontier, and Jay (Kodi Smit-McPhee) a 16 year old from the cold shoulder of Scotland is seeking lost love Rose (Caren Pistorius) and her father (Rory McCann Game Of Thrones hulking Hound), although the dangerous terrain renders him a jackrabbit in a den of wolves, in the eyes of hired-gun Silas (Michael Fassbender). We first see Jay, in his sleeping bag, gazing up at the stars, but Slow West isnt really interested in romance. He clutches his trusty compass, but this isnt a nutsand- bolts examination of western life. Soon he encounters a bloodied Native American who meets a cruel end, but Maclean isnt too concerned with the countrys brutal foundations either. Lets drift, says Silas offering to escort Jay for his own questionable reasons, and drift they do. While there are many charming, almost Coen-esque moments along the way a jolt of violent slapstick here; woozy, absinthe-tinged anecdotes there; a fantastic showdown with Payne (Ben Mendelsohn) and his bounty hunters Slow West never quite coalesces into one thing or another. Once upon a time (1870 to be exact)... begins Silas voiceover, inadvertently highlighting the disconnect of a film thats neither dreamy myth-making nor gritty drama. Robbie Ryans blue-sky cinematography is lovely, the performers (bar a few accent slips) do what theyre paid to, and Maclean crafts his world with care, but it always feels constructed, like a half-remembered movie lovingly re-enacted, rather than the genuine article. THE VERDICT: Full of character, but lacking depth, Slow West deserves kudos for moving to its own beat, but its so quirkily picaresque you begin to question the point. Director: John Maclean Starring: Michael Fassbender, Ben Mendelsohn, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Caren Pistorius, Rory McCann Theatrical release: 26 June 2015 Matt Glasby


Youd have thought everything that ought to be said about L. Ron Hubbards pseudo-religion had been said already. Crucially, though, Alex Gibneys film invites former members to lend their voices to the chorus. Former insiders (now considered suppressive persons) offer chilling testimonies that combine to present Scientology as a powerful, influential and repressive organisation. Gibney starts by dissecting L. Ron himself, depicted here as an entrepreneurial charlatan who eventually began to believe the sci-fi fantasies he moulded into a creation myth: the one about thetans, volcanoes and H-bombs that filmmaker Paul Haggis hilariously recalls having outlined to him after many years as a devoted acolyte. Hubbard receives a surprising degree of sympathy that ensures this doc, based on Lawrence Wrights best-selling 2013 expos, is no mere hatchet job. There are times, indeed, that Clear seems almost regretful that what might once have been a harmless sect has been apparently warped into a controlling, tax-avoiding cult one that subjects its followers to ludicrous demands, criminal deprivations and, its implied, industrial quantities of blackmail. Which brings us to Tom Cruise and John Travolta. Archive footage of The Cruiser receiving some bogus accolade from CoS kingpin David Miscavige is a queasy reminder of the faux legitimacy that can come with celebrity. Travolta, meanwhile, knows well how his faith treats those who disappoint it: just look at Sylvia Spanky Taylor, his erstwhile handler, whose seven-month disciplining at Scientologys LA HQ as described here makes Gitmo look like Center Parcs. THE VERDICT: In giving ex-believers a platform from which to relate their experiences, Gibney delivers a rigorous, persuasive critique of Scientology. Director: Alex Gibney Starring: Keanu Reeves, Jason Beghe, Paul Haggis, Sylvia Taylor Theatrical release: 26 June 2015 Neil Smith


If a train leaves New York and arrives at San Francisco 24 days later picking up various musicians, performers and artists along the way, how much art is created? In the case of this arthouse anthology, the answer is 61 one-minute films, each capturing an artistic project crafted on this journey through modern creativity as director Doug Aitken calls it. Contributions from Beck, Thurston Moore and Patti Smith lend credibility, and the variety on offer keeps things interesting, but you need to have a strong stomach for pretension. Director: Doug Aitken Starring: Cat Power, Cold Cave, Giorgio Moroder, Patti Smith, Savages, Eleanor Friedberger Theatrical release: 26 June 2015 Matt Looker


When Morgan Spurlock wanted to highlight the pernicious legacy of the fast-food industry, he ate nothing but burgers and, unsurprisingly, nearly did himself in. In the similarly themed That Sugar Film, however, its not junk food frontman Damon Gameau eats to highlight the damage caused by the all-too prevalent white stuff (including diabetes, mood swings and obesity) but foods perceived as healthy, like fruit juice yet which still contain obscene levels of a substance that in perhaps 10 years may be seen as toxic as nicotine is today. Entertaining and alarmingly educational. Director: Damon Gameau Theatrical release: 26 June 2015 Ali Catterall


Shot in less than a fortnight, The Overnight has a ragged, unrehearsed quality that doesnt always work in its favour. New-in-town couple Alex (Adam Scott) and Emily (Taylor Schilling) join swaggering hipster know-it-all Kurt (Jason Schwartzman) and his wife, Charlotte (Judith Godrche), for a dinner party that uneasily turns into an all-nighter. Writer/director Patrick Brice conjures an uncomfortable atmosphere, and isnt afraid to wave prosthetic dicks around freely. The performances are strong, but it winds up feeling more interesting experiment than fully satisfying experience. Director: Patrick Brice Starring: Adam Scott, Jason Schwartzman, Taylor Schilling, Judith Godrche Theatrical release: 26 June 2015 Matt Maytum


Melanie (Nora Tschirner) is an unemployed German hazily disconnected from life; Ray (Rob Knighton) is a grieving loner on a shady job. The chance meeting of these two lost souls drives this downbeat, almost-romantic comedy from UK filmmaking collective Jones. Set over a day, it sees the duo wander aimlessly around a sleepy seaside town, developing a tentative connection. With Jones expertly capturing the somnambulant drift of lives on hold, it resembles a Morrissey song brought to life. While the narrative may prove too understated for some, its everything a lo-fi debut should be: dryly funny, charmingly performed and punctuated by memorably surreal grace notes. Director: Paul Solet Starring: Nora Tschirner, Rob Knighton, Kellie Shirley Theatrical release: 26 June 2015 Simon Kinnear

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