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Review Film - Kells excels, and that's no secret

The secret of kells.

Director: Tomm Moore, Nora Twomey

Starring: the voices of Brendan Gleeson, Liam Hourican, Mick Lally

Out now on DVD

Certificate: PG

Rating: 55

This amazing animation tells the story of a boy called Brendan, who is on a quest to find the Book of Kells, which he needs in order to give his people hope and save them from the darkness.

I admired him for his strength of character because he never gives up, even when the going is tough and his uncle tries to prevent him leaving the village. This sense of determination in the story really moved me.

There is also a lot of suspense because he has two pages that must be completed, but you will have to watch the movie to see if he succeeds.

While Brendan is a great boy, the character I didn't like was his uncle, who had no faith in Brendan. All he cared about was protecting his people within the walls of his village. But I, in the same way as Brendan, think this is too restrictive and that you should take risks if you want adventure.

I was extremely impressed by the graphics, particularly the line drawing of the animation, and the soundtrack really moved me, especially the powerful and atmospheric Celtic music.

Overall I love the film. It would be great for the whole family - it's a wonderful experience and gets five stars.

Arif Ahmed, nine, Wyvil Primary School, Lambeth, south London

Rating: 45

If you are willing to venture beyond the wonderful worlds of Disney and Pixar, The Secret of Kells is an extraordinary animated film to stretch the imagination. Written and directed by Cartoon Saloon founders Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey, it has won an Oscar nomination and eight other film festival awards, recognising its originality.

The rich greens, reds and gold of the real Book of Kells are central to the look of the film, which highlights the power of art to preserve culture and give hope in the face of impossible, dark forces. The "Northmen" are stylised as a brutal horde, burning and destroying as they cross Ireland. Their lack of mercy and humanity adds a harsh edge which may be too much for some - wolves, death and dark monsters are woven into a story of courage as the orphan Brendan challenges his uncle's misguided attempt to shut out the world.

At times the characters seem to be walking through marvellous illuminations. Revolving Celtic drawings, borders and pictures create a vivid creative landscape at times with glorious colour symbolising the hope in the book.

Children may struggle at the start of the film without some help in appreciating the context of monasteries and illuminating, and strangely the actual content of the stories in the Book of Kells is brushed over. The monastery is a multi-cultural place: there are many different accents and voices in the first scenes which, again, will be a challenge initially. The reward is a richly artistic film with an Irish heart.

Amanda Wilson, Filmclub leader, The Boswells School, Chelmsford, Essex

- Filmclub, a charity supported by Lovefilm, helps to set up after-school film clubs where children watch and discuss a range of films, promoting learning in an informal setting. Each week members of Filmclub will review everything from new releases to cinema classics. Join at www.filmclub.orgregister


Le concert

Director: Radu Mihaileanu

Starring: Aleksei Guskov, Dmitri Nazarov, Melanie Laurent

Out now on DVD

Certificate: 15

Rating: 45

Discredited and alcoholic Andrei Filipov was a renowned conductor of the Bolshoi Theatre until being deemed an "enemy of the people" and fired mid-performance for hiring Jewish musicians during the politically motivated purging in 1980s Russia.

Thirty years on, Filipov, now a cleaner in the Bolshoi, discovers a fax sent from the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, inviting the Bolshoi Orchestra to perform there. Filipov concocts a plan with his friend Sasha (Dmitri Nazarov) to redeem the concert that was stolen from him. Assembling his former orchestra, he could bring an end to his obsession with the unfinished Tchaikovsky concerto. But motives lie deeper than wanting resolution for his interrupted performance.

Le Concert skilfully combines sentiment and humour. Mihaileanu's heart-warming tale shows us that life is both sentimental and emotional, lightened with jest. This film will make you want to applaud and leave your soul glowing in a rhapsody.

Lauren Gladwin, 17, The Boswells School, Chelmsford, Essex


Director: Dennis Dugan

Starring: Adam Sandler, John Turturro, Emmanuelle Chriqui

Out now on DVD

Certificate: 12

Rating: 25

Adam Sandler plays an Israeli commando, known as the Zohan, who decides to give up fighting to become a hairdresser in New York. After faking his own death, he travels to NYC only to be caught up in the hostility between Israelis and Palestinians in the neighbourhood. To make things worse, he is recognised and finds himself being stalked by his arch nemesis, the Phantom, who is determined to kill him.

This film has some ludicrous action scenes, such as the Zohan catching a bullet in mid-air (surprisingly funny), but even Sandler's charisma cannot save it from the predictable gags and you may want to scream at him and his stupid accent.

It is hard to choose the most cringe-worthy scene: Sandler getting involved in shenanigans with elderly customers, playing keepy-uppy with cats, or the Phantom advertising his new falafel fast-food chain. By the end, it will feel like you have fallen asleep and had your hair cut into a pink mohawk against your will.

Jay Polley, 14, Isleworth and Syon School for Boys, west London.

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