Chequered pasts and checkmate: What's coming to cinemas this weekend?

'The Picture Show' host Philip Molloy looks ahead to a big weekend at the movies

Chequered pasts and checkmate: What's coming to cinemas this weekend?

Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard star in 'Allied' [Paramount]

Philip Molloy, the host of Newstalk’s The Picture Show, is looking forward to a weekend of big releases. If you’re planning a trip to flicks over the days to come, here’s Molloy’s picks of what’s worth taking a punt on...

A United Kingdom is the ironically titled true story of an insurance clerk (Rosamund Pike) who falls in love with - and marries - a student (David Oyelowo) she meets at a Missionary Society Dance in London in 1948.The problem is that he happens to be the heir to the throne of the southern African country of Bechuanaland (now Botswana) and the marriage causes uproar at a personal (her father disowns her) and international level (set against the break-up of the British Empire).

Allied, by Forrest Gump and Back to the Future-director Robert Zemeckis, is the story of a Canadian intelligence officer (Brad Pitt) who meets a French Resistance agent (Marion Cotillard) on a mission to kill a Nazi official in Morocco in 1942. They reunite in London later, have a child and appear to be blissfully happy until her past intervenes and threatens their future together. The producer of Allied, Graham King, will be on The Picture Show at 6pm on Saturday.

Bad Santa 2 has been a long time coming - it is the sequel to the 2003 Terry Zwigoff comedy about drunken, foul-mouthed, small-time thief Willie Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton) who meets up with his diminutive partner (Tony Cox) once a year to rip off a string of shopping outlets on Christmas Eve.

In this one, Stokes’ estranged mother (Kathy Bates) lures him from Arizona to Chicago rob the safe at a homeless shelter at a time when it is full to bursting. Christina Hendricks, from TV’s Mad Men, has a prominent supporting role in the film, which opened on Wednesday.

In Almost Christmas, a dysfunctional African-American family comes together for the first time since the death of their mother. Sons, daughters, in-laws and grandchildren bicker heartily as the grandfather (Danny Glover) searches for the recipes that made his wife’s Christmas dinner such an annual success. Shot, and set in Atlanta, Georgia, Almost Christmas co-stars Omar Epps, Gabrielle Union, John Michael Higgins, Mo’Nique and Kimberly Elise.

Magnus is a portrait-of-a-genius documentary built round the appearance of Magnus Carlsen at Harvard University in 2013 to face off against ten of the world’s greatest chess players in simultaneous games – and he does it blindfolded. That’s right, the 25-year-old Norwegian prodigy plays all ten games in his head at once. From there the 78-minute movie chronicles Magnus’s background story, showing how he became the world’s youngest grandmaster at the age of 13 and is now the highest ranked player in the history of chess.

Paterson, the new film by Jim Jarmusch - the director of Only Lovers Left Alive - was chosen to compete for the Palme d’or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Starring Adam Driver, one of the most interesting actors in American cinema, it covers a rich but uneventful week in the life of a New Jersey bus driver and poet.

Tune into The Picture Show on Newstalk at 6pm on Saturday, or you can listen back to the podcasts here.

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