This week: a treat for Christmas as Tim Burton's animated masterpiece goes 3D (Nightmare Before Christmas 3D), a Soviet agent starts questioning his life in London's Swinging Sixties (Joy Division) and a philosophising serial killer paints canvases with his victims' blood (Antibodies).
As that big tinselly jelly-bellied day creeps slyly upon us a special treat is in store for fans of 1993's excellent Nightmare Before Christmas. Wendy Ide hails it as "a terrific Christmas movie with a soundtrack that gets more achingly lovely with every listen". But are the effects any good? Ide doesn't seem to think so but doesn't elaborate more than to say that "When applied to a film like this, which wasn’t originally designed for 3-D, you don’t get the full effect".
Peter Bradshaw agrees that "it is [Danny] Elfman's elaborate Lloyd-Webber-ish numbers - sung by Elfman himself - that dominate proceedings" but makes no mention of how good the 3D aspect of the new version is. The Independent don't even review the film - we'll just have to chance it and see...
No, no, it's nothing to do with the band (boo!) and unfortunately sounds like a real stinker as all three reviews slate Joy Division, starting off with Andrew Pulver , who awards a meagre one star for this "woodenly told yarn about a German PoW spying for the Soviets in a cartoon cut-out swinging London in the 1960s".
Ed Stoppard plays an adopted Soviet agent operating in London at the start of the 1960s, but still haunted by the memory of the Red Army laying waste through his native Silesia in the last days of the Second World War
describes Anthony Quinn, who gives the film a moderately more complimentary two stars. He calls it a "thumpingly earnest spy drama" where "the texture of Sixties London never progresses beyond a red telephone box and The Shadows on the soundtrack". So far so negative.
Wendy Ide is equally unimpressed with this "ambitious but misguided" piece, "two different films...welded together with a desultory voiceover" rendering "much of the film practically unwatchable". We just might give this one a miss.
Finally this week, Antibodies sounds a little more promising: "a German thriller so aware of its debt to The Silence of the Lambs that it gets its philosophising serial killer to make a joke about Hannibal Lecter", as describes Ian Johns. It sounds like it may be a little heavyhanded on the religious side but "for the most part this is an unsettling, well-acted thriller".
Peter Bradshaw agrees that it's an "efficient, derivative but sometimes exciting thriller about a satanic serial killer banged up behind bars", "nasty, by-the-numbers stuff, but well handled by director Christian Alvart, for whom a Hollywood future beckons".
Anthony Quinn sounds less impressed, awarding the film just two stars and keeping it short and sweet:
Alvart's film plunges on through some rankly unpleasant forensics to raise questions about sexual violence and the contagion of evil, mainlining The Silence of the Lambs at regular intervals.
Other films out this week: Gabrielle (Isabelle Huppert stars in a Joseph Conrad short story transposed to the upper bourgeoisie of early 20th-century Paris), Special (a melancholy parking attendant longs for a better life), Requiem (a German film exploring the lead-up to a fragile young woman’s emotional breakdown) and 37 Uses For A Dead Sheep (a documentary portrait of the central Asian Pamir Kirghiz tribe).
Trailer of the week: The Simpsons Movie.