HITCHCOCK (12: 20th Century Fox), a fact-based account of the making of the famous film director’s Psycho, is a disappointingly inconsequential affair.
The movie opened in cinemas shortly after TV drama The Girl, which portrayed Hitchcock as little more than a sadistic lech.
Here we have a more agreeably comic portrayal, if little else, with Anthony Hopkins, under a mound of make-up, playing the man as a stubborn, wisecracking old teddy bear whose worst crimes are overeating and petty jealousy. But the film runs no deeper than that.
Psycho, Hitch’s belligerent reaction to the success of North By Northwest, has to be self-financed because of studio disinterest and an unhelpful censor.
Meanwhile, there’s a love-triangle involving his wife and creative partner, Alma Reville (a miscast Helen Mirren), and Strangers On A Train adapter Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston).
Sadly, director Sacha Gervasi struggles to bind the two strands to a misjudged fantasy element in which real-life serial killer Ed Gein becomes Hitchcock’s ghoulish confidant.
> A zombie has a strange reaction to eating a man’s brain in offbeat romantic comedy WARM BODIES (12: Entertainment One) – he begins to fall in love with his victim’s girlfriend.
Writer/director Jonathan Levine breaks the rules of the genre by giving us an undead hero, R (Nicholas Hoult), who is able to think deeply about his life (or lack of it) and conveys this in a rib-tickling voiceover.
That spark of humanity is fanned into something warmer by mortal blonde Julie, whose boyfriend Perry literally gives R some food for thought as it allows him to experience old memories of Julie.
The interplay between the couple is suprisingly witty and tender, and there’s a shot of adrenaline later on when R faces off with Julie’s zombie hunter dad (a rabid John Malkovich) and an army of lethal skelton zombies.
While the plot does tend to lumber at times, Hoult carries the burden gracefully, even with a lopsided gait.
> Based on the first in a series of popular boy-meets-witch books, BEAUTIFUL CREATURES (12: Entertainment In Video) is perfect for teens left bereft by the end of the Twilight films.
Alden Ehrenreich plays bored Ethan, who falls for Lena (Alice Englert), the weird new kid in his Deep South home town.
It turns out that she’s a ‘Caster’, a kind of witch, and will come into full possession of her powers on her 16th birthday.
But the youngsters’ budding romance goes wrong when two feuding elders (Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson) start battling to determine whether Lena’s powers will be turned towards good or evil.
The two young leads are terrific, as are the smartly written early scenes of small-town conservatism and awkward boy/girl smoochy stuff.
The second half doesn’t quite cast the spell of the first, yet it remains decent teen entertainment and augurs well for further films in the franchise.