Arts

Bounce back from 'blue Monday' with a week's worth of entertaining film choices

Damon Smith chooses films to watch at home to counter the effects of 'blue Monday' this week

Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw) journeys from darkest Peru in search of a new life in London
Damon Smith

PADDINGTON (PG, 91 mins) Comedy/Drama/Adventure. Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Nicole Kidman, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi and the voices of Ben Whishaw, Imelda Staunton, Michael Gambon. Director: Paul King.

Screening on Film4 on Saturday January 23 at 4.50pm and streaming on Amazon Prime Video

MORE than 50 years after he first appeared in print, author Michael Bond's beloved bear Paddington arrives on the big screen in his first star-packed family adventure.

Director Paul King's film lovingly weaves the traditional tenets of the duffel-coat wearing bear's story into a modern narrative.

Like the books, the film starts in deepest, darkest Peru, where a well-mannered three-foot bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) lives with his elderly Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton) and Uncle Pastuzo (Michael Gambon).

When their home is threatened, Aunt Lucy packs her nephew off to the safety of London where he seeks shelter with worrywart Mr Brown (Hugh Bonneville) and his clan.

A villainous taxidermist (Nicole Kidman) becomes hell-bent on "stuffing that bear" so the Browns close ranks to keep their furry friend safe.

King's delightful adaptation is as comforting and sweet as Paddington's beloved marmalade.

The script has heaps of heart and enough humour and carefully plotted cameos to ensure everyone grins and bear hugs every feelgood frame.

BOOKSMART (15, 98 mins) Comedy/Romance. Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Mason Gooding, Victoria Ruesga, Jason Sudeikis. Director: Olivia Wilde.

Streaming now on Amazon Prime Video and from January 24 on Netflix

SCHOOL'S out for the summer but life lessons about sisterly solidarity and abusing the good nature of a teddy bear never end in the raucous rites-of-passage comedy Booksmart.

Actress Olivia Wilde identifies herself as a high achiever with a riotous feature film directorial debut, strutting confidently down the same corridors of beautifully articulated teen angst as Clueless and Mean Girls.

A sorority of four female scriptwriters cram in a dizzying array of pithy and potty-mouthed one-liners between some deeply touching moments of self-reflection and realisation.

The heartfelt hilarity is delivered with genuine warmth and grin-inducing sincerity by the dream team double-act of Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein.

They have us rooting for their sassy, self-aware misfits from the moment they prepare for another day at school with impromptu body-popping on the side of the road.

Belly laughs are bountiful, trading in pop culture references and near-the-knuckle humour that never threatens to become crude or mean-spirited.

These girls are sugar and spice and all things naughty-but-nice.

PITCH PERFECT 2 (12, 110 mins) Comedy/Musical/Romance. Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Alexis Knapp, Hailee Steinfeld, Adam DeVine. Director: Elizabeth Banks.

Screening on Film4 on Sunday January 24 at 6.45pm and Thursday January 28 at 6.45pm and streaming on Netflix

Pitch Perfect 2: Hailee Steinfeld as Emily Junk, Anna Kendrick as Beca Mitchell, Brittany Snow as Chloe Beale, Alexis Knapp as Stacie Conrad and Rebel Wilson as Patricia Hobart

LIGHTNING almost strikes twice in the sequel to aca-mazing comedy Pitch Perfect.

Actress Elizabeth Banks nestles in the director's chair for an uproarious second outing and she confidently conducts a choir of familiar faces through soaring musical mash-ups and pitch-slapping putdowns.

Screenwriter Kay Cannon, who penned the original, enforces the message of femme power by contriving a spectacular fall from grace for the Barden Bellas to inspire her plucky heroines to rediscover their sisterly solidarity.

Beyonce's anthemic Run The World (Girls) is a fitting opener for one medley of redemption, emphasising that while these girls wanna have fun, they won't do so at the expense of friendships or their careers.

Rebel Wilson turbo-charges her scenes as Fat Amy and is rewarded with the film's only solo – Pat Benatar's power ballad We Belong – that builds to a rousing call to arms for the broken-hearted.

SUPERBAD (15, 113 mins) Comedy/Drama/Romance. Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Emma Stone, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bill Hader, Seth Rogen. Director: Greg Mottola.

Streaming now on Netflix and streaming from January 21 on Amazon Prime Video

Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jonah Hill and Michael Cera in Superbad

TUMULTUOUS years, when hormone-addled teenagers cling onto the security of their high school cliques before striking out on their own, have been exploited endlessly for laughs and tears.

Written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, Superbad is a surprisingly sentimental story of two socially inept friends (Jonah Hill, Michael Cera), who live in each other's back pockets but must now acknowledge their diverging futures.

Greg Mottola's film ricochets at full pelt between gross-out humour and touching self-reflection.

Hill and Cera are an entertaining double-act.

The former spouts a machine-gun tirade of obscenities while the latter is endearingly nervous of what life on a college campus may hold.

Rogen and Bill Hader are two meddlesome cops who dispense words of wisdom about the rules of mating and dating.

"I met the missus at paintball," confides one officer. "Shot her in the neck… we really hit it off."

GONE GIRL (18, 143 mins) Thriller/Romance. Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Kim Dickens, Patrick Fugit, Carrie Coon. Director: David Fincher.

Screening on Film4 on Thursday January 28 at 11.05pm and streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Gone Girl: Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne

IGNORANCE is bliss when it comes to Gone Girl. If you haven't read Gillian Flynn's 2012 psychological thriller and you know nothing of the serpentine twists that propelled the novel to the top of the bestsellers list then jealously guard your cluelessness.

There's an undeniable delight watching Flynn wrong-foot us with this spiky satire on media manipulation and the glossy facade of celebrity marriages.

When the central characters promise to love, honour and obey, til death do them part, one of them takes the vow very seriously.

You have to dig deep beneath the surface of David Fincher's polished film to find the jet black humour but it's there, walking hand-in-hand with sadism and torture.

Rosamund Pike plumbs the depths of human emotion as the pretty wife, who vanishes without trace on her fifth wedding anniversary and is presumed dead at the hands of her handsome husband (Ben Affleck).

As battles of the sexes go, Fincher's film is a resolutely one-sided skirmish.

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