Film Review Round-up – THE EQUALIZER (2014); CALVARY (2014) and MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT (2014)

51oyKeg-TOL._SY300_Equalizer, The (2014; USA; DeLuxe; 131m) ∗∗∗  d. Antoine Fuqua; w. Richard Wenk; ph. Mauro Fiore; m. Harry Gregson-Williams; ed. John Refoua.  Cast: Denzel Washington, Chloë Grace Moretz, Melissa Leo, Haley Bennett, Marton Csokas, Dan Bilzerian, Bill Pullman, Vladimir Kulich, Johnny Messner, Robert Wahlberg, David Harbour, Meredith Prunty, Chanty Sok, David Meunier. In this big-screen adaptation of the cult ‘80s TV show, McCall believes he has put his past behind him and has dedicated himself to beginning a new, quiet life. But when he meets a young girl under the control of ultra-violent Russian gangsters, he can’t stand idly by –— he has to help her. Washington adds class to this exceedingly violent crowd-pleaser. Much of the plot stretches credulity, but there are passages that allow characters to breathe too. Fuqua’s intrusively flashy approach to the subject matter occasionally strangles the action set-pieces. Original TV series devised by Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim. [15]

51IK9Y74doL._SY300_Calvary (2014; Ireland/UK; Colour; 100m) ∗∗∗  d. John Michael McDonagh; w. John Michael McDonagh; ph. Larry Smith; m. Patrick Cassidy; ed. Chris Gill.  Cast: Brendan Gleeson, Kelly Reilly, Chris O’Dowd, Aidan Gillen, Domhnall Gleeson, David Wilmot, Dylan Moran, Marie-Josée Croze, Killian Scott, Isaach De Bankolé. After he is threatened during a confession, a good-natured priest must battle the dark forces closing in around him. This parable has a sharply observed script and a powerful performance from Gleason with a subject matter that is both thought-provoking and shocking. [15]

51Yj1OhZlLL._SY300_Magic in the Moonlight (2014; USA; DeLuxe; 97m) ∗∗∗  d. Woody Allen; w. Woody Allen; ph. Darius Khondji; ed. Alisa Lepselter.  Cast: Emma Stone, Colin Firth, Marcia Gay Harden, Jacki Weaver, Eileen Atkins, Simon McBurney, Hamish Linklater, Erica Leerhsen, Jeremy Shamos, Antonia Clarke, Natasha Andrews, Valérie Beaulieu, Peter Wollasch, Jürgen Zwingel, Wolfgang Pissors, Sébastien Siroux, Catherine McCormack. Set in the south of France in the 1920s during the glamorous Jazz Age, it’s a romantic comedy about a master magician (Firth) trying to expose a psychic medium (Stone) as a fake. Firth is engaging and Stone charming, but the romantic elements fail to gell in this otherwise light confection that occasionally amuses. [12]

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