When Texas rodeo cowboy and electrician Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) wakes up in hospital with thirty days to live, he’s not happy. As a (generally) straight non-junkie, HIV is not something he’s supposed to have in 1985. His friends promptly shun him and trash his house. The treatment available does nothing. So he does what a hustler does – he pays an orderly to steal him a supply of AZT, a drug that, maybe, might help.
Biopics that attempt to cover the whole life of their subject often end up just skimming the surface. It’s just not possible to fit an entire life into a feature-length film, even if a big chunk of that life was spent in a prison cell. This follows the life of Mandela (Idris Elba), starting from his days as a young lawyer in South Africa. Initially more interested in the ladies than in revolution, he gradually became more involved in the anti-apartheid movement, first following the non-violent model set out by Gandhi in India, then moving towards armed struggle when the regime cracked down.
The year is 1987. Adele Wheeler (Kate Winslet) is a single mom living in a rural home with her 13-year-old son, Henry (Gattlin Griffith). Depressed ever since her husband left her (not because she misses him, we’re told, but because she “loves love”), she now rarely leaves the house; so it’s just bad luck that she’s shopping with Henry when a dodgy type with a bloodstained t-shirt comes up to them and tells them that their giving him a lift “needs to happen”.
While in theory it’s a good thing that Hollywood has finally realised old(er) people go to the movies, in practice this has led to the creation of Last Vegas. Which is a bad thing. Not that it starts out that way: Billy (Michael Douglas), Paddy (Robert De Niro), Archie (Morgan Freeman) and Sam (Kevin Kline) have been best friends since childhood. Now Billy is getting married – to a woman well under half his age, who he proposed to at a funeral – and he wants his best buds to be there on his bachelor weekend in Las Vegas.
The year is 1841, and Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a free man living with his family in upstate New York. Then he’s offered two weeks touring work as a fiddle player; only at the end of the tour the (white) men he’s with get him drunk and he wakes up in chains in a Washington D.C. slave trader’s basement. He’s shipped south to New Orleans where he’s sold by Theophilus Freeman (Paul Giamatti) to plantation owner William Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch).
For a franchise based around one idea – found footage of creepy hauntings – the Paranormal Activity series has proved to be surprisingly consistent when it comes to quality. That is to say, every second film (the second and fourth) are a waste of time, while the first, third and now fifth actually manage to find new ways to get scares out of the old formula. Here the initial twist is that it’s an all-Latino cast: the year is 2012, and in the Los Angeles suburb of Oxnard high school graduate Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) lives with his dad and grandmother in a block of flats above a creepy woman named Anna, who everyone thinks is a witch.
Everyone loves fan fiction. Well, everyone in Hollywood loves fan fiction. It’s a great way to give people exactly what they want – or more accurately, exactly what they’ve already had – without having to pay out the big money in licensing fees. So 50 Shades of Grey is basically Twilight with the numbers filed off (and the vampires left out), Mortal Instruments: City of Bones started out life as Harry Potter fan fiction, and Grudge Match?