No irony, no right-on rewrites, no modern-day settings. Director Kenneth Branagh delivers Cinderella straight up in his new live-action adaptation of the fairytale for Disney, loosely based on its classic 1950 cartoon feature. Downton Abbey’s Lily James is the orphaned youngster forced into servitude by her Wicked Stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and horrid stepsisters, while Helena Bonham Carter is the kooky Fairy Godmother who sends her to the ball to meet Prince Charming (Game of Thrones’ Richard Madden) with the aid of a pumpkin, mice, lizards and a goose.
After the unexpected smash that was comedy-drama The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, the adventurous British old-timers making a new life for themselves in an Indian retirement home – Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Celia Imrie, Penelope Wilton, Ronald Pickup, among them – are back with a sequel. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel sees owner Dev Patel looking to attract some American investment to expand his business while also juggling preparations for his upcoming wedding. And while the rest of the cast contend with their own assorted personal entanglements, up rocks mysterious writer Richard Gere, who Patel is convinced is an anonymous inspector sent by his prospective investor.
The winner of this year’s Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, Citizenfour is director Laura Poitras’ film of her encounters with Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who blew the whistle on the huge secret surveillance program run by American intelligence agencies. Contacted by “citizenfour” – the pseudonym he used in his initial emails – while already making a film about surveillance, she first met him with journalists Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill in Hong Kong in June 2013 where, over eight days, he explained the digitally encrypted dynamite he had stored on his laptop.
Stings in the tale
Focus stars Will Smith as a con artist who takes young grifting novice Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street) under his wing to teach her the tricks of the trade. Casting her aside after romance blossoms, the pair eventually hook up again three years later on opposing sides of a scam centered on a Buenos Aires Formula 1 race. Duo Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (Crazy, Stupid, Love) write and direct this slick thriller.