New cinema releases & trailers – w/e December 13th 2013 inc. The Hobbit 2 & Cinema Paradiso

new cinema releasesFriday 13th is upon us. Are you superstitious? Either way, the films out this week are still a hit & miss mix of new cinema releases, so the date has no bearing on them in that respect.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Last time, our heroes successfully crossed over – and under – the Misty Mountains. Now, Thorin and Company must seek aid from a powerful stranger before taking on the dangers of Mirkwood Forest – without their Wizard. If they reach the human settlement of Lake-town it will be time for the hobbit Bilbo Baggins to fulfill his contract with the dwarves.

The party must complete the journey to Lonely Mountain and burglar Baggins must seek out the Secret Door that will give them access to the hoard of the dragon Smaug. And, where has Gandalf got off to? And what is his secret business to the south?

Well, this is the big release of the week, with Ian McKellen returning as Gandalf, Martin Freeman as Bilbo, Richard Armitage as Thorin, who might pass the time by sitting down and singing about gold, plus Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, William Kircher, James Nesbitt and many more. The trailer looks superb and apparently this entry in the series gets on with the action much more quickly than the last one did, as that one took forever. I’ve already got my IMAX ticket booked for this!

At 161 minutes in length, ‘Hobbit 2’ is 8 minutes shorter than its prequel, so slightly less time to wait for your next toilet break, while the sequel is due for release in June 2014. Hopefully that’s a bit shorter still, but I somehow doubt it with Peter Jackson at the helm.

Hit or Miss? Verdict: Hit!

The Christmas Candle

Deep in the heart of the English countryside lies the enchanting village of Gladbury. Legend has it every 25 years an angel visits the village candlemaker and touches a single candle. Whoever lights this candle receives a miracle on Christmas Eve. But in 1890, at the dawn of the electric age, this centuries old legend may come to an end. When David Richmond (Hans Matheson), a progressive young minister, arrives in Gladbury, the villagers discover a new formula for miracles: good deeds and acts of kindness.

While David’s quest to modernize Gladbury sets him at odds with the old world candlemaker, he finds an unlikely ally in the lovely skeptic, Emily Barstow (Samantha Barks). Now, the fiery candlemaker must fight to preserve the legacy of the Christmas Candle. But when the candle goes missing, the miraculous and human collide in the most astonishing Christmas the village of Gladbury has ever seen.

Also starring Lesley Manville, Sylvester McCoy, James Cosmo, Sylvester McCoy, Barbara Flynn and… oh dear, Susan Boyle, I felt my will to live sapping away quickly, the more this trailer went on. It’s all syrupy sweet and massively tedious and I definitely could not stomach the full 100 minutes. It’s doing badly on IMDB, too, where it’s scored a low 4.3/10.

Hit or Miss? Verdict: Miss!

Cinema Paradiso

A re-release to celebrate the film’s 25th anniversary, a famous film director remembers his childhood, where Alfredo (Philippe Noiret), the projectionist at the Cinema Paradiso, first brought about his love of films. Returning home to his Sicilian village for the first time after nearly 30 years, he is reminded of his first love, Elena, who disappeared from his life before he left for Rome.

Also starring Salvatore Cascio as the child, Totò, this is one of the most charming films I have ever witnessed. To date, I’ve only seen the theatrical cut, which runs for 124 minutes, although there is an extended one at almost three hours. No doubt a Blu-ray Special Edition will be released before too long, and I shall be looking forward to that.

Hit or Miss? Verdict: Hit!

Fill the Void

A devout 18-year-old Israeli is pressured to marry the husband of her late sister. Declaring her independence is not an option in Tel Aviv’s ultra-Orthodox Hasidic community, where religious law, tradition and the rabbi’s word are absolute.

Made in Israel, it stars Hadas Yaron, Yiftach Klein, Irit Sheleg and Chayim Sharir, and I just didn’t really *get* this at all. It didn’t inspire me to want to see the whole film, even though it’s only a brief 90 minutes. Still, if it’s one for you, then it’s available on demand as well as in the cinema.

Hit or Miss? Verdict: Miss!