Jersey Boys – 7

It must be a half-hour into the movie before we get what we came for – Sherry, Baby – and all the music before that, including a screechy Silhouettes, is pretty execrable. That’s only one of several confounding choices by director Clint Eastwood, making this movie much more than a singalong, although that’s where the main pleasure is found. Christopher Walken’s mob boss and the Bob Crewe character are great fun, and Tommy DeVito is a convincing problem. It’s also a great touch to have Bobby from the Sopranos running the barber shop in the opening scene, establishing the Jersey milieu. There are problems: the failed safe heist is absurd, and the early 1950s seem to run well into the 1960s. But all is forgiven as the boys run through the catalogue (ex-Marlena) and the Slumdog Millionaire-style finale kept us happily in our seats well into the credits. [smoking – lots]

Ida – 8

Absolutely gorgeous black-and-white cinematography, reminiscent of Kertesz or Brassai, brought out the purity of Ida’s faith. By implicit contrast, the drugs/sex/rock’n’roll and politics of the world outside the convent was unsatisfying, if not pointless, although filmmaker Pawlikowski seemed to be speaking just for Ida.

A Million Ways to Die in the West – 2

A total misfire. Seth MacFarlane’s jokes missed their target as often as his character’s bullets. Many reminded me of the kind of things one heard in a 6th-grade lockerroom. All that raised this above a zero were the steely presence of Liam Neeson and the soap-bar beauty of Charlize Theron.