On first look you might not be able to recognise the star of quirky comedy drama FRANK (Curzon).
For Michael Fassbender wears a large papier-mache head to play the title character in this strange and delightful ode to artistic expression.
Frank is based on real-life cult entertainer Frank Sidebottom, the creation of musician and comic Chris Sievey, who died four years ago.
Writer Jon Ronson draws on his own experiences as a member of Sievey’s band to tell the tale of young keyboardist Jon Burroughs (Domhnall Gleeson), who falls in with a group of crazy rockers led by an eccentric musical genius refusing to show his face.
Burroughs builds a strong following for this avante garde band on social media, albeit in secret given that group member Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is vehemently anti-social.
Plenty of laughs are generated by this set-up, although the humour is wisely kept understated.
Gleeson gives a finely tuned performance, Gyllenhaal is on snarling form and despite his expressionless appearance, Fassbender subtly conveys the sadder elements of a story about a man whose head begins to weigh heavily on his shoulders.
> The yellow brick road is now riddled with dangerous traps in LEGENDS OF OZ: DOROTHY’S RETURN (U: Signature), an animated attempt to follow on from the classic L. Frank Baum yarn. Watchable, but hardly wizard, it’s based on a story by his great-grandson Roger Stanton Baum.
Kansas farm girl Dorothy (Glee’s Lea Michele) and dog Toto get carried back by rainbow to an Oz under threat from flying monkeys and a diabolical jester (Martin Short).
Although a brash and charmless affair, the quality voice cast, including Patrick Stewart, Dan Aykroyd and Kelsey Grammer, gives it pep and pace that should appeal to younger kids.
However, some mildly scary scenes may unsettle more sensitive little souls.
> A vampire fearing the downfall of civilisation is reunited with his 3,000-year-old lover in ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE (15: Soda Pictures).
Eve (Tilda Swinton) leaves an undead Christopher (John Hurt) in Tangier to check on her husband Adam (Tom Hiddleston) in the Detroit garret where he makes dirge-like rock music and despairs of the “zombie” humans who have messed up the world.
He contemplates ending it all with a wooden bullet while Eve tries to raise his spirits, but her task is complicated by the arrival of her little sister (Mia Wasikowska).
Directed by Jim Jarmusch, whose laconic vision of vampirism is injected with wry wit and soulful melancholy.
> The latest Nicolas Cage straight-to-DVD flick to roll off the production line is TOKAREV (15: Anchor Bay).
The publicity blurb describes this as a “tense, fast-paced action thriller with a shocking twist in its tail”, but that’s not the film I saw.
Predictable and far too long at 134 minutes, Cage plays Paul Maguire, a reformed criminal and now a successful businessman and family man.
His daughter is kidnapped and killed and detective Peter St John (Danny Glover) is assigned to the case. When told that a gang of Russians stormed the house and took the girl, Maguire takes the law into his own hands and enlists help from former cronies to scour the underworld.