‘Carol’

America in the ‘fifties. Two women – one older, wealthy and sophisticated and on her way to a divorce, the other an ingenue shopgirl, begin a relationship. Complications inevitably arise.

There is a slow-burning interiority to the movie, and moments of incandescence that are utterly convincing.

Director: Todd Haynes. Cate Blanchette, Rooney Mara

Verdict: Still waters flow deep. Bourbon. On the rocks.

‘Amy’ distilled

Whatever circle of hell the jazz singer Amy Winehouse may have descended to, the documentary ‘Amy’ puts you right there with her, voyeur, watching. It’s an uncomfortable feeling. Observing the opportunists and piranhas circling – her drug-riddled boyfriend/husband, her creepy dad, the mobs of unfeeling, slavering paparazzi – as fame and addiction slowly swallow her is deeply disturbing. I hadn’t realised before this quite how unmediated and raw Amy’s songs were – life dumped on the page, bleeding. But what a voice, what a huge talent. And what a loss, and tragedy.

A morality tale for the celebrity era.

Verdict: Tough love, terrific. No alcohol please. Thank you

 

‘The Danish Girl’ distilled

The Danish Girl, set in Copenhagen and Paris in the 1920s and based on a true story, relates the travails of a married painter who decides he is a woman, and undergoes a sex change operation. Beautifully shot, wrenching. The universal in the particular.

Director: Tom Hooper. Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander

Verdict: Strong stuff. Excellent. Double whisky

‘Youth’ distilled

Set in a Swiss spa, ‘Youth’ focuses, if that is the word, on the philosophizing and reminiscences of two elderly creatives, one a composer, played by Michael Caine, the other a film director, played by Harvey Keitel.

Director: Paolo Sorrentino

Verdict: Artifice not art. Pretentious; lacks sparkle. Tap water.

‘Mr Turner’ distilled

The past is another country, and Mike Leigh shows us this is about more than differences in costume and manners. The world that JMW Turner, in this terrific portrayal, inhabits and paints is different from ours – none of our cold scientific rationalism, or post- post-modernism here. But then – this is not history, or biography, or art documentary, but drama, and a fine drama it is too. Beautifully, even lavishly filmed, there is nary a false brush-stroke to be found.

Director: Mike Leigh. Timothy Spall

Verdict: It’s a Mike Leigh film, right? A fine red wine – Rhone? Bordeaux?