Sam's film five
Anna Karenina (M)
Director Joe Wright has used a style which matches the manners and codes of aristocratic Russia and the tragedy of appropriate marriage confronted by passionate love. Many viewers may have difficulty with the complex images and stagey sequences, but this is superb cinema, and worth the effort of engaging the mind.
Django Unchained (R16)
Quentin Tarantino underlines his genuinely perceptive expose of the evils of slavery in America's past with some of the funniest, albeit goriest, screen violence since Sam Peckinpah.
Alfred Hitchcock changed the face of cinema with his emphasis on the ordinary made extraordinary and his skill in building tension. Here, director Sacha Gervasi uses the making of his best-known film, Psycho, the focus, and gives the lead to that chameleon of character actors, Anthony Hopkins.
Apart from the fact that this is world history through Steven Spielberg's revisionist eyes, his overwrought and overlong film is a sad waste of Daniel Day-Lewis's enormous potential as an actor. The prosthetic face makes him stiffer than a Lincoln image on a stamp.
Zero Dark Thirty (R16)
At 20 minutes less than three hours, Katherine Bigelow's film is surprisingly successful at keeping audiences riveted to the screen, but could have done with a tight edit. Is this a genuine representation of the assassination of Osama bin Laden? Of course not. CIA secrecy ensures that. Is it an accurate take on history? Probably, if you believe that one female CIA agent should be credited with locating bin Laden. Is it gripping entertainment? You betcha.