THERE are some big hitters heading the way of cinemas this Christmas. Cats, Jumanji, Star Wars, Little Women... December 2019 will close the decade with a bang, make no mistake about it. By the measure of all to come, this first week of the month errs on the quieter side.

Biggest of the week’s releases is Motherless Brooklyn, a sophomore turn in the director’s chair for actor Edward Norton, who also stars, writes and produces. It’s a long, often infuriating, affair, running for only a little under two and a half hours, but has aesthetic flair and musical verve to make the journey worthwhile. Just about.

Norton plays Lionel Essrog, a Tourette syndrome suffering detective in noirish 1950s New York. Rescued from the grasps of abuse by Bruce Willis’ Frank Minna, Lionel is just one of four orphans at his agency but stands apart by virtue of his photographic memory.

When, whilst working on a secret case of his own, Frank asks Lionel and co-worker Gerald to shadow him to a meeting, Lionel is soon drawn into a maze of iniquity as increasingly dark turns unfold. There’s a mystery to solve and no easy answers to be found. Expect twists, betrayal and a race against time.

Be prepared too for confusion. While the central mystery certainly intrigues, the excess diversions around it distract no end. Norton, at least, impresses and is well supported with strong work from Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Willem Dafoe and Alec Baldwin. Hard work on the whole.

Easier to chew, StarDog and TurboCat is one for the kids but should win favour locally as a Screen Yorkshire production. Specifically, directed by Ben Smith, this one comes from Sheffield based studio Red Star 3D and marks their first feature animation to date.

The voice cast glitters too. Luke Evans (Beauty and the Beast) and Gemma Arterton lead, with roles too for Bill Nighy (Love Actually) and Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz).

Launched into space by his owner in 1969, lost dog Buddy and genius cat Felix must team up to embark on a voyage in space to find their way home. No mean feat, when Buddy learns he’s travelled 50 years into the future. The pair must also be cautious of a pet ban which has been enforced by an angry police officer. Bonus points for the cooky premise. Woof.