SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN (12A)
IN THE fickle music business, raw talent seldom guarantees success or longevity. For every Adele, there is a Jedward or Cheeky Girls, whose novelty value far exceeds their musicality. In the early 1970s, rocker Rodriguez released two critically feted albums, Cold Fact and Coming From Reality, that failed to spark the interest of the American record-buying public. With his star in rapid descent, Rodriguez continued to gig and became a footnote in music legend when he tragically committed self-immolation on stage, unaware that his records would garner a fervent fan base on the other side of the world, speaking volumes to the people of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa who were contending with segregation, discrimination and economic hardship. Malik Bendjelloul's terrific documentary follows two music fans as they rake through the ashes of their idol's past in search of the man behind the façade. Archive footage is seamlessly interwoven with interviews with the people who claimed to know the real Rodriguez, building to a glorious and unexpected final flourish that makes your heart sing.
THE MAN INSIDE (15)
THE sins of the father are revisited upon the son in writer-director Dan Turner's gritty tale of retribution. Clayton Murdoch (Ashley 'Bashy' Thomas) is haunted by nightmarish memories of his sadistic old man, Eugene (David Harewood), who languishes behind bars. To escape the gangland culture that almost claimed his soul, Clayton trains hard with boxing coach Gordon Sinclair (Peter Mullan) to channel all of that pent-up rage inside the ring rather than on the streets. Unfortunately, Clayton cannot run from the past forever and when the people he cares about most are threatened, the young man meets intimidation with brutality and bruises with bloodshed to exorcise the demons of his violent childhood.
EL BULLI: COOKING IN PROGRESS (12A)
ON JULY 30, 2011, celebrated Spanish chef Ferran Adria closed the doors to his restaurant elBulli for the final time. It was a devastating loss for haute cuisine. Located on the picturesque Costa Brava, the intimate Michelin three-star eaterie had repeatedly been voted the best restaurant in the world, receiving millions of requests for the 8,000 seats available each season. While elBulli will reportedly reopen as a centre for creative excellence in 2014, allowing Adria to share the secret of molecular gastronomy, film-maker Gereon Wetzel pays tribute to the charismatic chef in this mouth-watering documentary. Cameras are granted unprecedented access to the restaurant and go behind the scenes as Adria and his team spend six months preparing the menu for the coming season, then welcome the few lucky diners who have managed to secure a table.
RED DESERT (IL DESERTO ROSSO) (12A, 116 mins)
ALMOST 50 years after its initial release, Michelangelo Antonioni's award-winning drama returns to selected cinemas to mark the centenary of the director's birth. Doting wife Giuliana (Monica Vitti) was recently involved in a car accident and fortunately she escaped physical injury. However, the incident has clearly left emotional scars and Giuliana feels increasingly isolated from her husband, Ugo (Carlo Chionetti), who manages a chemical plant in Ravenna. Thankfully, she still has her young son (Valerio Bartoleschi), who accompanies her on walks through the city. Via her spouse, Giuliana meets handsome business associate Corrado Zeller (Richard Harris), who has come to the region to recruit workers for his operation. Sparks of attraction tempt Giuliana out of her stupor and she reveals the insecurities and anxieties that are gradually destroying her marriage.
WOMAN IN A DRESSING GOWN (PG)
A WELCOME re-release of J Lee Thompson's celebrated 1957 portrait of a marriage in crisis, which garnered Yvonne Mitchell the coveted Best Actress prize at the Berlin Film Festival. Jim Preston (Anthony Quayle) and his wife Amy (Mitchell) live in London with their teenage son Brian (Andrew Ray), apparently content with their lot. However, Amy can barely muster the energy to dress herself each day, wandering around the house in her dressing gown as she completes some of the housework and serves charred remains for the evening meal. Tensions with Jim drive him into the arms of work colleague Georgie (Sylvia Sims), who demands the husband leave his family for her. Having agreed to Georgie's ultimatum, Jim is shocked when Amy invites him and his mistress round for dinner to discuss their respective futures.