Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Waiting for Superman

Director and Writer: David Guggenheim

A bone chilling documentary about the poor quality of public schools in the US. The documentary highlights the falling standards and adverse effects of over protection of bad teachers by professional organizations such as American Federation of Teachers. The documentary poses serious questions about what has gone wrong and the ramifications of an inferior school education in US. The "Superman" in the title is the person who will fix the broken American educational system. Could be better.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Unknown

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Starring: Liam Neeson, January Jones, Aidan Quinn, Diane Kruger, and Bruno Ganz

Based on the Didier van Cauwelaert novel, Out of My Head, the movie follows pretty well trodden path. Reminiscent of Frantic and Taken, but has some edge of the seat moments. Good dramatic use of sound with some very fine photography by Flavio Labiano, especially with the taxi accident. Dr Martin Harris (Liam Neeson), arrives in Berlin with his wife Elizabeth (January Jones) to give a paper at a biotech conference. He accidently leaves his briefcase at the airport and when he tries to retrieve it an accident ensues leaving Martin half-drowned and three-quarters amnesiac. He awakens from a four-day coma only to discover his wife is living it up with a another man (Aidan Quinn) who claims to be her husband. Martin's misery continues when two unknown assassins try whacking him whenever he gets close to remembering anything important. Sound familiar ? Well of course it is but a crack good yearn deserves a retelling. Look out for Swiss veteran actor, Bruno Ganz playing the gumshoe and former member of the East German secret police.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Angèle et Tony

Director: Alix Delaporte

Cast: Clotilde Hesme, Grégory Gadebois, Evelyne Didi, and Jérôme Huguet

Odd couple romance involving Angèle (Clotilde Hesme), a fierce young woman with a criminal past and Tony (Grégory Gadebois), a sensitive coarse fisherman from a fishing village in Normandy. Angèle dates random strangers and when she meets Tony they begin a relationship although cagey at first, soon blossoms. Eager to leave her parole hostel, she accepts an offer from Tony to work alongside his formidable mother, Myriam (Evelyne Didi), selling what he catches from a quayside stall. Taking up residence with the family on the Normandy coast, she is gradually accepted into the fishing community, while at the same time battling to play a bigger role in the life of her estranged son, Yohan. Will all work out well? See the movie to find out and apart from a few red herrings in the plot the overall performances in this garlic shanty love story are très bon.

Biutiful

Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Starring: Javier Bardem, Maricel Alvarez

Barcelona villain, Uxbal (Javier Bardem) is a family man who despite his shady dealings is a loving and dedicated parent. Faced with his own mortality when diagnosed with cancer his world begins to unravel. Separated from his wife (Maricel Alvarez), who suffers bipolar with violent mood swings, who can he turn too? This is a dark, humourless movie of one man's descent into misery. Javier Bardem's performance is arresting but the movie Biutiful, is less so. The film is in Spanish with English subtitles.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

Director: Daniel Alfredson

Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist

The final installment of the trio of films based on Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo ; and The Girl Who Played With Fire). This movie ties up all the loose ends but little else. Disappointing Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) and Mikael ‘Mika’ Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) spend very little time on screen together plus the deluge of subtitles about which of the older male characters is after who and why becomes rather tiresome. Still should suit fans.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Baciami Ancora (Kiss me again)

Director: Gabriele Muccino

Starring: Vittoria Puccini, Sara Girolami, Pierfrancesco Favino,and Daniela Piazza.

This is the (long awaited) sequel to The Last Kiss (l’ultimo bacio). The action is set a decade after the first film and we see the same characters deal with their various midlife crises. The movie is without witticism or self-deprecating humor. Rather a same old same old, only they are getting old. Suit the dedicated Gabriele Muccino fan.

Barney's Version

Director: Richard J. Lewis

Starring: Paul Giamatti , Scott Speedman , Rosamund Pike , Dustin Hoffman, Minnie Driver, and Bruce Greenwood.

Based on Mordechai Richler's novel of the same name. The main character is Barney Panofsky’s (Paul Giamatti) is a producer of a long-running soap opera in Montreal. He is cranky, condescending and self-loathing, and at the same time worldly, perceptive and charming. When Barney’s worn enemy publishes a tell-all book that uncovers many of the more sordid details of Barney’s past life. This unsettles him. The book includes reference to his failed marriages, some shady entrepreneurial ventures, and the mysterious, unsolved disappearance of best friend and drug addict, Boogie (Scott Speedman). The grumpy old man reflects on his tumultuous life. The movie is a dark, comedic, love story, which relies on flashbacks. Villain or Saint? Well you will need to see the movie to find out. Good performances.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Griff the Invisible

Writer and Director: Leon Ford

Starring: Ryan Kwanten , Patrick Brammall, and Maeve Dermody

An Australian romantic comedy set in Melbourne. Griff (Ryan Kwanten) is a nerdy customer-liaison officer in a shipping company who thinks he's an invisible superhero. Bullied at work at night he roams the streets of in a rubber suit scanning the neighborhood for criminals to sort out. His brother Tim (Patrick Brammall) is increasingly concerned by Griff's eccentric behaviour, and tries to draw him back into the 'real world'. He introduces his paramour, Melody (Maeve Dermody) to Griff . A bit of a space cadet herself Melody falls for Griff the Invisible and as Griff is forced to face up to realities Melody is left to rescue Griff the Invisible. A mildly amusing low budget movie.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Conviction

Director: Tony Goldwyn

Starring: Hilary Swank, Kenny Waters, Melissa Leo, Minnie Driver and Peter Gallagher)

Based on a true story the movie tells of a man, Kenny Waters (Sam Rockwell) who was wrongly imprisoned for murder in 1983. Convicted on circumstantial evidence, new DNA technology throws him a lifeline, a decade later. Kenny’s sister, Betty Anne (Hillary Swank) is so convinced of his innocence she reads law in a desperate bid to reverse the guilty verdict. She and law school friend Abra Rice (Minnie Driver), bring the case to the attention of attorney Barry Scheck (Peter Gallagher) from a non-profit organisation set up to help wrongly convicted people overturn their sentences. Together the girls overcome every barrier in this Jack the Giant killer court room drama. If you enjoyed Erin Brockovich and A Civil Action, then you are sure to lap up Conviction.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never

Director: Jon M. Chu

Starring: Justin Bieber

An engaging back-story captures Justin Bieber's meteoric rise from YouTube clips to super stardom. Fly on the wall stuff we see the preparations for the Madison Square Garden concert and we follow the teeny bopper and his sizeable entourage as they face a series of issues on the way to the show. Using achieve footage from his childhood in Canada to showcase his early musical talents, we then hear from a series of show people and fans what makes him so special. This is complete with 3D footage from his lavish stage shows. Sanitized and over-long film that definitely needs some editing but that will be insignificant to his millions of fans.

Friday, February 4, 2011

127 Hours

Director: Danny Boyle

Starring: James Franco, Lizzy Caplan, Kate Mara, Amber Tamblyn, and Clémence Poésy

This movie is definatley not for me. I am claustrophobic and still recovering from the tunnel scene in the Great Escape. 127 Hours is based on the true life experience of 28 year old, outdoorsman Aron Ralston who was forced to amputate his right arm with a dull pocket knife after it was pinned against a canyon wall by a boulder in Blue John Canyon, Utah. The film’s title refers to the amount of time he spent stuck in the that crevice, with little food or water, enduring freezing cold nights and the growing realization that, because no one was coming to rescue him, the only way to survive was to literally lose part of himself. To me the movie holds horrors on the scale of The Exorcist, but I was also fascinated with the staggering cinematography (Enrique Chediak and Anthony Dod Mantle), humour and excellent acting. James Franco is exquisite as the Aron Ralston character. "127 Hours" is a worthwhile movie and remarkably uplifting, floating along on gorgeous undercurrents of second chances and raw determination and a lust for life. It is also harrowing and not recommended for those who are uncomfortable in confined spaces. A true horror flick.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wasted on the young

Director: Ben C. Lucas

Starring: Alex Russell, Oliver Ackland, and Adelaide Clemens

Another high school drama, this time step-brothers Darren (Oliver Ackland) and Zack (Alex Russell) have little in common and when Zack and his clique drug and rape Darren’s sweetheart, Xandrie (Adelaide Clemens), film explores the aftermath. Revenge by computer may have mass appeal to the (wasted) young but came over as a nasty movie crammed with cinema clichés as old as Hollywood. OTT and brimming with crass over-indulgence. The sex-obsessed, drink-and-drugs-fuelled story of school and internet bullying did not make a pleasant film going experience. But then again I am an old man.