Thursday, November 24, 2011

A few best men

Director: Stephan Elliott

Starring: Rebel Wilson, Xavier Samuel, Olivia Newton

A lame and unfunny comedy about a groom and his three badly behaved best men. David ( Xavier Samuel) returns to London from an island vacation with a new Australian fiance, Mia (Laura Brent) and his three mates crackup. Feeling betrayed and abandoned, Tom (Kris Marshall), Graham (Kevin Bishop) and Luke (Tim Draxl), get into trouble all the way to Australia and beyond. Three men behaving badly gives ample opportunity for sheep jokes, smut and other body function wheezes, but little else.

Melancholia

Director: Lars von Trier

Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Alexander Skarsgård, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland), John Hurt, Charlotte Rampling.

Deep and meaningful well you will need to see it to make up your mind. A movie of two halves which starts off after the spectacular tableaux, which if you know the story summarizes it perfectly. Curtain rises and the setting is an all night wedding reception for Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Michael (Alexander Skarsgård), which is being held at the palatial country estate owned by Justine’s level-headed sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and her wealthy husband John (Kiefer Sutherland), who is given to much grumbling about how much the affair is costing him. Clearly not all is well as Justine drifts aimlessly among her oddly behaved guests. The second part of the movie finds Justine now estranged and depressed living with Claire and John. The news a rouge planet called Melancholia has Claire consumed with impending doom and John, an amateur astronomer excited at the forthcoming the event. Justine’s trance-like calm is juxtaposed with Claire’s increasing anxiety. In the end what does it all matter? Good performances from a stellar cast and excellent photography but this is a movie for the curious only.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Albert Nobbs

Director: Rodrigo Garcia

Starring: Glenn Close, Janet McTeer, Mia Wasikowska, Aaron Johnson

The movie is adapted from a short story by Irish author George Moore, titled “The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs.” Set in Dublin, in 19th century Ireland, Albert Nobbs (Glen Close) is a woman passing as a man in order to work and survive. As the shy butler in a small hotel she has suppressed her real personality but her orderly existence is threatened one day by the arrival of a scrappy housepainter. Transpires she is another cross dresser played by Janet McTeer. The housepainter is housepainter is married which cause causes 'Albert' to re-assess her own life. Keen to woo one of the pretty housemaids, Helen (Mia Wasikowska), the relationship is further complicated because Helen is attracted to a handsome handyman (Aaron Johnson). This unusual love triangle is constrained by the lack of narrative but none the less overall good performances by the cast.

Arrietty

Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi

English voicings: Saoirse Ronan, Mark Strong, Olivia Colman, Tom Holland, Phyllida Law, Geraldine McEwan

An animated film based on Mary Norton's 1950s Borrowers novels. This is the latest movie from Studio Ghibli (Japan) and is an exquisite blend of imaginative animation and good old-fashioned storytelling. Miniature people live like mice under the floorboards and survive by stealing (borrowing) leftovers from the human beans. Arrietty is a young teenager, curious learn more about the world around her. Against best advice ‘the borrower’ makes a friend of Sho, a sickly human boy. The growing friendship threatens her family's secret existence and Arrietty learns a thing or two about compatibility. Utterly charming, beautifully made and genuinely moving. Highly recommended.

The Iron Lady

Director: Phyllida Lloyd

Starring: Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Olivia Coleman, Richard E Grant

"What we think is what we become. And I think I am fine." The Iron Lady

A biopic about Margaret Thatcher (Meryl Streep), the longest serving British Prime Minister in the 20th century. Told in flashback, we see her rise from grocer’s daughter (Alexandra Roach) to Conservative MP, the nation’s supremo, then lonely old lady. The widowed Baroness Thatcher is now assailed by memories that tell her that her husband still lives and that she remains the prime minister reflects on her past life. Plenty archival footage to contextualize a rather sentimental narrative which unfortunately covers too wide a time span for much expose but there are some revealing glimpses into the Iron Lady, for all that. Credible performances throughout from the superb cast. Jim Broadbent is just outstanding as husband, Dennis (The Menace) Thatcher. Tipped for Oscars, I would hope personal hair and makeup designer; J. Roy Helland will be recognised. Thatcherites or otherwise this is worth a view.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Brave

Directors: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman
Voices: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, Sally Kinghom, Eilidh Fraser, Peigi Barker, Steven Cree, Steve Purcell, Callum O'Neill, Patrick Doyle, John Ratzenberger

This animated feature from Disney Pixar incorporates the most exquisite animation ever put to film. More narrative than recent Disney Pixar efforts, it captures a folkloric tale set in 10th century, Scotland. Princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald) is the raven-haired daughter of King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson). Her parents promise to marry her off to one of the sons to the kingdom’s three lords (Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, Robbie Coltrane). Transpires the fellows are not exactly the best suitors and Merida is not quite ready for marriage. Her controlling mother insists she adhere to tradition and pick a husband, upholding the shaky truce between the lords in the process. Tempestuous Merida bolts to the woods in a fit of anger, and happens upon a witch (Julie Walters) who promises to change her fate. When the dust from the spell eventually settles, Merida discovers she has put everyone at risk, and even awoken the fabled demon bear that once terrorised their land and claimed her father’s leg. The young lady must make amends and what follows is slap-stickingly funny. The wild beauty of Scotland is lovingly rendered with a gorgeous palette of painterly colors and the voicings in particular are exceptional and pleasurable. The movie does contain some scary bit so do be warned with very young viewers, otherwise a delight.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Arthur Christmas

Director: Sarah Smith

Voiced by: James McAvoy (Arthur), Hugh Laurie (Steve), Bill Nighy (Grandsanta), Jim Broadbent (Santa), Imelda Staunton (Mrs. Santa), Ashley Jensen (Bryony), Marc Wootton (Peter), Laura Linney (North Pole Computer), Eva Longoria (Chief De Silva), Ramona Marquez (Gwen) and Michael Palin (Ernie Clicker).

Aardman Animations (makers of Wallace & Gromit) have teamed up with Sony Pictures Animation to produce the 3 D, Arthur Christmas. Arthur Christmas (James McAvoy), is the youngest of Poppa Santa’s (Jim Broadbent) sons. He is a bumbler and kept busy answering children’s letters. Older sibling and heir apparent Steve (Hugh Laurie) has co-ordinated the high-tech production and delivery system that enables Santa to meet the gift needs of the entire world in a single night. It’s Christmas Eve, and Steve is expecting Poppa Santa (Jim Broadbent) to retire once the last present is delivered. Trouble at mill just when everyone thinks all the kids have had their Christmas presents delivered it is realized one toy has been overlooked. Can Arthur and gnarly old Grandsanta (Bill Nighy) deliver it the old-fashioned way, to save Christmas? Well you need to see this movie to find out. Far too sophisticated for most toddlers perhaps, but will suit older kids, and there is plenty to keep the adults amused here too.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Toomelah

Director: Ivan Sen

Sarring: Daniel Connors, Christopher Edwards, Dean Daley-Jones, Buster Michael Connors

Set in an impoverished Australian Aboriginal community (Toomelah), this is a story about a 10 year old boy, Daniel (Daniel Connors) who strikes up a relationship with a drug dealer. Daniel is left to fend for himself with an absentee father Buster (Michael Connors), who is a drunkard and mother and old aunt who are negligent. He lives in rank poverty in a ramshackled house with no supervision. The boy has a talent for boxing but bored with his peers, seeks out a role model in the older Linden (Christopher Edwards), a local low-end drug dealer and hard man. Linden makes him part of his gang but when rival gangsta, Bruce (Dean Daley-Jones) returns from jail and threatens to take over a violent confrontation follows. Daniel is caught in the middle and finally has to take a decision which road he needs to follow. This is a coming of age movie set in the grim reality of living in poverty. Confronting, the movie is not without humour, but brutally honest and draws its acting talent from within the community.

Restless

Director: Gus Van Sant

Starring: Henry Hopper, Mia Wasikowska , Ryo Kase , Schuyler Fisk

Poinant love story between a haunted and death-obsessed teen, Enoch Brae (Henry Hopper) and his paramour, a terminally-ill beauty, Annabel Cotton (Mia Wasikowska). After Enoch was orphaned in a car crash, he was brought up with his aunt. His only friend is the ghost of a Japanese kamikaze pilot named Hiroshi (Ryo Kase). With the sense of morbid Enoch crashes funerals until at one day he meets the spritely Annabel Cotton (Mia Wasikowska). Annabel is suffering a terminal illness but the two young people start a loving courtship. Annabel’s sister, Elizabeth (Schuyler Fisk), is wary of Enoch’s motives. Good performances in this sweet and sour weepie.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Ages of Love (Manuale d’amore 3)

Director: Giovanni Veronesi

Starring: Robert De Niro, Carlo Verdone, Riccardo Scamarcio, Monica Bellucci, Michele Placido, Laura Chiatti, Donatella Finocchiaro, Valeria Solarino, Vittorio Emanuele Propizio, Marina Rocco

This is a romantic comedy involving a trilogy of vignettes of love stories connected by a taxi-driving Cupid (Emanuele Propizio). Set in Italy it explores the three ages of love (i.e. youth; maturity; and beyond). The first tale involves an ambitious lawyer Roberto (Riccardo Scamarcio) who wants to marry Sara (Valeria Solarino) until he is bewitched by Micol (Laura Chiatt) . Next we meet Fabio (Carlo Verdone) a married newscaster who is seduced by Eliana (Donatella Finocchiaro). Finally there is Adrian (Robert De Niro), an art professor from the US now living in Rome, who meets and courts his doorman’s daughter,Viola played by (the gorgeous) Monica Bellucci . Amusing and entertaining and a must for all who hanker to see Robert De Niro talking Italian.