Cinema: what’s on this week

Undated Film Still Handout from Black Swan. Pictured: Natalie Portman as Nina Sayers. See PA Feature FILM FILM Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Fox UK Film. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM FILM Reviews.
Undated Film Still Handout from Black Swan. Pictured: Natalie Portman as Nina Sayers. See PA Feature FILM FILM Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Fox UK Film. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM FILM Reviews.

Your guide to the latest films on general release

Black Swan (15)

Artistic director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) presides over a ballet company at New York’s Lincoln Center, all too aware that his productions have lost their edge. So he very publicly terminates the services of prima ballerina Beth Macintyre (Winona Ryder) and chooses Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) as her replacement to lead an erotically charged new staging of Swan Lake. Nina is technically gifted but she struggles to express her emotions on stage, which causes friction with Thomas. Soon after, sensual ballerina Lily (Mila Kunis) is cast as understudy to the lead role and Nina feels threatened, as if the new girl is trying to usurp her. Harangued by her mother (Barbara Hershey), a former dancer who gave up everything to raise a family, Nina wrestles with fear and paranoia, teetering on the brink of an emotional breakdown.

Rating: Four and a half stars

John Carpenter’s The Ward (15)

Kristen (Amber Heard) is incarcerated in North Bend Psychiatric Hospital for setting fire to an abandoned farmhouse. She is remanded to the isolation ward under the care of Dr Stringer (Jared Harris) and immediately clashes with dour Nurse Lundt (Susanna Burney) and orderly Roy (Dan Anderson). Kristen soon meets the other patients: Self-abusive Emily (Mamie Gummer), talented artist Iris (Lyndsy Fonseca), flirtatious Sarah (Danielle Panabaker) and babyish Zoey (Laura-Leigh). Late one night, Kristen glimpses a ghostly face staring at her through the window and she senses that something is terribly awry at North Bend. Sure enough, the hospital conceals a shocking secret about a former patient and as Kristen searches for clues, she discovers why no one leaves Dr Stringer’s care alive.

Rating: Three stars

Morning Glory (12A)

Becky Fuller (Rachel McAdams) is one of the brightest stars at Good Morning New Jersey but her sterling efforts are rewarded with redundancy. Unperturbed, the young producer telephones every TV network searching for a job to the despair of her mother (Patti D’Arbanville), who wants her daughter to give up her dream of working in television. Thankfully, New York network manager, Jerry Barnes (Jeff Goldblum), comes to Becky’s rescue. He offers her the poisoned chalice of Daybreak, the station’s breakfast show which ranks a lowly third in the ratings. Arriving on set, Becky discovers that co-anchors Paul McVee (Ty Burrell) and Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton) are at loggerheads. So Becky bravely fires Paul and aggressively pursues Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford) as a replacement.

Rating: Four stars

The Dilemma (12A)

Ronny (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Kevin James) have been best friends since college and now work together at B&V Engine Design, the company they both own. They hope to pitch their state-of-the-art electric engine design to executives at a major company. While Nick works tirelessly to iron out gremlins in his design, Ronny frets about proposing to his girlfriend, talented chef Beth (Jennifer Connelly). During preparations to go down on bended knee, Ronny makes a shocking discovery: Nick’s wife Geneva (Winona Ryder) is cheating with a tattooed younger man called Zip (Channing Tatum). Therefore Ronny faces an agonising decision: Keep the truth from his best friend until the automotive company has signed on the dotted line or tell Nick everything, aggravate his stomach ulcer and plunge the engine design project into chaos.

Rating: Three stars

The Green Hornet (12A)

Media magnate James Reid (Tom Wilkinson) dies from an allergic reaction to a bee sting, leaving his empire to his wastrel son, Britt (Seth Rogen), a mainstay of the city’s hedonistic party scene. The son forges an unlikely friendship with his father’s driver, Kato (Jay Chou), and together they fight crime on the city streets. In his guise as The Green Hornet, Britt strikes fear into the heart of the underworld controlled by Benjamin Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz), aided by Kato and his seemingly indestructible car, The Black Beauty. Unfortunately, Britt underestimates the determination of Chudnofsky, who intends to swat the masked heroes and seize back control of Los Angeles.

Rating: Two stars

Conviction (15)

Betty Anne Waters (Hilary Swank) is a wife and mother of two in Massachusetts, who has always defended her troublemaker older brother, Kenny (Sam Rockwell). In 1980, Kenny is questioned about the murder of diner waitress Katharina Brow but is released. Two years later, ex-girlfriends Roseanna Perry (Juliette Lewis) and Brenda Marsh (Clea DuVall) testify against Kenny and seal a murder conviction, resulting in a life sentence. Betty refuses to accept the verdict and puts herself through law school to prove her brother’s innocence.

Rating: Three stars

Henry’s Crime (15)

Keanu Reeves stars as Henry whose marriage to his broody wife, Debbie (Judy Greer) is stagnating. A deep discussion between man and wife is interrupted by Henry’s friends Eddie (Fisher Stevens) and Joe (Danny Hoch), who need their pal to drive them to a baseball game. Little does Henry realise that Eddie and Joe plan to rob a bank and he will be their driver. Security guard Frank (Bill Duke) arrests a bewildered Henry at the scene, who is sentenced to three years behind bars. Freed after one year, Henry decides to rob the bank for real. “I did the time, I may as well have done the crime,” he concludes. With his cellmate Max (James Caan) as an accomplice, Henry concocts an ill-advised plan to break into the bank vault via the dressing rooms of a nearby theatre, which is staging The Cherry Orchard.

Rating: Three stars

The King’s Speech (12A)

When King George V (Michael Gambon) dies in 1936, eldest son Edward (Guy Pearce) ascends to the throne, but his reign is shrouded in scandal as he continues to romance American divorcee, Wallis Simpson (Eve Best). Love triumphs over duty and Edward abdicates, forcing youngest son Albert (Colin Firth) into the spotlight. However, the newly crowned King George VI suffers from a crippling stammer, which renders him unable to deliver public addresses. With war imminent and the country looking to its King for leadership, Queen Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) approaches unconventional Australian-born speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) on the recommendation of a friend, and persuades him to help her husband overcome his fears.

Rating: Four and a half stars