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Film Reviews: Amy - Housebound - La Grande Bouffe - Still the Water

02/07/2015 17:17 BST | Updated 02/07/2016 10:59 BST

Amy, Asif Kapadia's powerful and mesmerising portrait of Amy Winehouse, whose seductive voice placed her alongside Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holliday as one of the great jazz singers - Housebound, a horror-comedy offers a fun-scare mix, a haunted house and a vicious killer on the loose - Marco Fererri's La Grand Bouffe (The Big Feast) caused quite a stir at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival and is re-released as a new 2K restoration of the original cinema negative - Still the Water, Naomi Koware's tale of life, death and love is mysterious and visually captivating but is so self-contained that it borders on the pretentious.

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Director: Asif Kapadia

Genre: Documentary, Music, Biography

Language: English

Country of Origin: UK 2014 128 mins.

Certificate 15

Rating: *****

Powerful, haunting, mesmerising and and utterly tragic, a portrait of Amy Winehouse, a pure jazz singer who died from alcohol poisoning in July 2011 aged 27.

Asif Kapadia whose critically praised 2010 documentary Senna received two BAFTA Awards has fashioned a mesmerising film about Amy Winehouse, the vivacious, bubbly North London Jewish girl who wrote and sung from the heart, who needed love from her father, husband, family and friends and didn't always receive it. Amy Winehouse, a once in a generation talent whose seductive voice placed her alongside Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holliday.

Told through video footage from friends and family, chat shows and award events and brilliantly edited by Chris King, it starts with Amy's teenage years, her happiest pre fame years with friends Juliette Ashby, Lauren Gilbert and her first manager Nick Shymansky. The journey begins, the seductive voice of a pure jazz artist, a voice made for small jazz clubs, the success of the album Frank and Back To Back. The essence of the film is the songs and it was a brilliant touch to put the lyrics on screen as subtitles which echo the very personal nature of her songs. Amy, traumatised early in life by her father Mitch walking out on the family only for him to reappear as a Svengali-like figure at the centre of the tragic circus when fame took her by the hand and advised her against rehab. The parasites have arrived, climbed aboard the gravy train and smiled for the camera. Her love for her husband Blake Fielder, the descent into drugs and the excessive workload. No longer the intimacy and fun of a small jazz club. Amy Winehouse was public property, the subject of banal interviews and the aggressive and obscene intrusion of the paparazzi. Kick hard, humiliate for cheap headlines. It's all part of the circus.

Then her tragic death and managers, promoters, advisers distance themselves. How could you describe Amy Winehouse's talent? Listen to her duet with her hero Tony Bennett in Abbey Road - she maybe initially nervous but when she kicks in, Amy Winehouse out sings her hero.

Asif Kapadia doesn't apportion blame and leaves the audience to make up it's own mind.

Released 3rd July

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Director: Gerard Johnson

Cast: Morgano O'Reilly, Rima Te Wiata, Glen-Paul Waru

Genre: Horror, Comedy, Drama

Language: English

Country of Origin: New Zealand 2014 107 mins.

Certificate 15

Rating: ***

Gerard Johnson's horror-comedy Housebound confident directorial debut offers a fun-scare mix, a haunted house and a vicious killer on the loose.

Kylie's Bucknell (Morgano O'Reilly) got a lot of hang ups, she isn't the best of ATM robbers and when a lenient judge sentences her to home detention at her mother Mikriam's (Rima Te Wiata) creepy house in the country that's worse than a life sentence in solitary. Mum's happy and Kylie will get used to the ankle bracelet - 'Aren't you lucky, Kylie having all that high technology on you foot.' This is deep country New Zealand and it's got it's share of characters. The cops are off the planet, weirdo hoarder Krugland (Mick Innes) lives next door, stepfather Graeme (Ross Harper) not exactly great company, home detention security guard Amos (Glen Paul Waru), the eager amateur ghost buster's on hand to solve a 20 year-old murder mystery and find the ghost, a talking teddy bear pops up and to add to Kylie's agony she has regular sessions with psychologist Denis (Cameron Rhodes).

It's an oddball horror-comedy but it works. The cast are excellent and Morgano O'Reilly's terrific in the lead role, the editing's spot on and cinematographer Simon Riera offers a claustrophobic shadow filled scare haunted house feel.

With Jermain Clement and Taika Waititi's recent laugh-out-loud surreal vampire spoof What We Do in the Shadows and now the scare-laugh odd mix Housebound, New Zealand cinema's shining.

Released 3rd July

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Director: Marco Ferreri

Cast: Marcello Mastroianni, Michel Piccoli, Philippe Noiret

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Language: English, French, Italian with English subtitles

Country of Origin: France, Italy 1973 130 mins.

Certificate 18

Rating: ****

Marco Ferreri's La Grand Bouffe referred to as 'a physiological farce' by the director caused quite a stir at Cannes in 1973 but went on to win the Fipresci Award jointly with Jean Eustache's The Mother and the Whore (La Maman et la Putain).

Billed as a satire on the bourgeoisie, La Grande Bouffe is the story four middle aged men, Marcello (Marcello Mastroianni), a pilot, Philippe (Philippe Noiret), a judge, Michel (Michel Piccoli), a TV executive and Ugo (Ugo Tognazzi), a chef who retire to Philippe's country villa to eat themselves to death and engage in group sex with prostitutes and a local school teacher Andrea (Andrea Ferreol) who's game for anything. Bored with the routine predictability of their lives this is the hedonistic end game.

Dark and grotesque, gluttony rules layered with black humour and intervals for the pleasures of the flesh, La Grande Bouffe was considered perverse and decadent and faced almost total rejection but acquired cult status with three of Europe's major stars romping and rollicking in the sex and fart-filled chaos.

La Grand Bouffe is released as a new 2K restoration of the original cinema negative.

Released 3rd July

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Director: Naomi Koware

Cast: Nijiro Murakami, Jun Yoshinaga, Miyuki Matsuda

Genre:Romance, Drama

Language: Japanese with English subtitles

Country of Origin: Japan, France, Spain 2014 121 mins.

Official Entry 2014 Cannes International Film festival

Certificate 15

Rating: **

Naomi Koware's tale of life, death and love and the mystical power of nature is mysterious and visually captivating but it's so self-concerned that it borders on the pretentious.

Set on the tropical island of Anami-Oshima, 16 year-old Kyoko (Jun Yoshinaga) is in love with Kaito (Nijiro Murakami) whose parents are divorced, his mother Misaki (Makiko Watanabe) works as a waitress and his father's Atsushi (Jun Murakami) a tattooist in Tokyo. Kyoko's mother Isa (Miyuki Matsuda) lies dying surrounded by her extended family in the shade of a Banyan tree. When a dead body's washed up on the beach, Kaito reassesses his relationship with his parents and with Kyoko.

Visually powerful with metaphorical imagery but the close up shots of a goat being slaughtered was unnecessary and didn't add anything to the story.

Released 3rd July