Also released: Churchill, Fireman Sam: Alien Alert and Whitney: Can I Be Me
CHURCHILL (PG, 98 mins)
ARRIVING several months ahead of director Joe Wright's Oscar-tipped biopic of Sir Winston Churchill with Gary Oldman as the cigar-puffing statesman, Jonathan Teplitzky's film casts Brian Cox as the bombastic British prime minister during one of the most turbulent periods of his leadership: the D-Day landings. The year is 1944 and Churchill is haunted by the ramifications of his decision during the First World War on the beaches of Gallipoli. Plagued by depression and determined to solidify his place in history, Churchill frustrates General Dwight Eisenhower (John Slattery) and Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery (Julian Wadham) by suggesting the invasion should be delayed. Political rivals circle, questioning his resolve, but Churchill's unflappable wife Clementine (Miranda Richardson) standsby him. She reminds him of his responsibility to the men on the front line. Together, they fight his physical and mental decline, aided by a sassy new secretary called Helen (Ella Purnell). The script is penned by British historian and author Alex von Tunzelmann.
FIREMAN SAM: ALIEN ALERT (U, 63 mins)
THE plucky Welsh firefighter created by Dave Gingell, Dave Jones and Rob Lee faces an otherworldly threat in this feature-length animated adventure, directed by Gary Andrews. The residents of Pontypandy are beside themselves with excitement when TV presenter Buck Douglas (voiced by David Tennant) arrives in the peaceful town with his show Alien Quest to search for incontrovertible evidence of extra-terrestrials. Sam Jones (Steve Kynman) and his colleagues at the fire station run by Norris Steele (David Carling) are driven to distraction by reported sightings of UFOs and other supernatural activity. Emergency services suspect the reason for the hullabaloo will originate far closer to terra firma than celebrity alien hunter Buck wants everyone to believe.
WHITNEY: CAN I BE ME (15, 105 mins)
ON FEBRUARY 11 2012 emergency responders raced to the Beverly Hilton hotel in California following a report of a 48-year-old woman unresponsive in a bathtub. The victim turned out to be singing superstar Whitney Houston, whose accidental death prompted an outpouring of grief and tough questions about the contributing factors that led to her drowning. Documentary film-makers Nick Broomfield and Rudi Dolezal set out in search of answers, tracing the rise of Houston from singing in her church choir under the watchful eye of her mother Cissy to the dizzy heights of chart supremacy. Their film incorporates family photographs and archive material as well as new interviews with friends and relatives.