Friday, March 30, 2012

Step up revolution

Director: Scott Speer

Starring: Kathryn McCormick, Ryan Guzman, Stephen Boss, Cleopatra Coleman, Misha Hamilton, Peter Gallagher

The fourth installment in the "Step Up" film series taps into the dance "flash mob" phenomenon. Set in Miami, Emily (Kathryn McCormick), the daughter of a wealthy businessman has aspirations of becoming a professional dancer, but soon falls in love with Sean (Ryan Guzman), a young man who leads a dance crew (the MOB )in elaborate, cutting-edge flash mobs. As the MOB, work hard towards a major sponsorship, Emily's father threatens to develop the MOB's historic neighborhood and displace thousands of people, the dancers need to turn their performance art into protest art, and risk losing their dreams to fight for a greater cause. Stirring stuff and set to a good score. Reminded me of the Young Ones (1961) with Cliff Richard and Rent for teenyboppers. Strictly for fans of dancing.

Irvine Welsh's Ecstasy

Director: Rob Heydon

Starring: Adam Sinclair, Kristin Kreuk , Billy Boyd

Based on Irvine Welsh’s Ecstacy novel, this Canadian/Scottish movie is an exploration of the drug Ecstasy and the hard-hitting realities of artificial love. Sadly, unlike Trainspotting and Acid House this movie is shite (drab to the extreme). All the more so, because the accents are awful, characterizations poor, plot thin and generally a complete absence of dark humour (a particular strength of Welsh's writing). Oh yes, and the music is unremarkable. Great pity because had they done it better it could have been a retro classic. Lloyd Buist (Adam Sinclair) is an ecstasy drug dealer who likes to party and live life fast and on the edge. Living a glamorous lifestyle on the back of pills mean dealing directly with bad people and crime lord, Solo (Carlo Rota) threatens Lloyd with menace to pay off his debts. Into the mix is thrown Heather (Kristin Kreuk), a fragile innocent who holds her own secrets and Lloyd’s father Jim (Stephen McHattie) coping with depression. Will the anti heroe’s love for Heather be enough to overcome his addiction. Well unfortunately, you will need to see the movie to find out. As they say in Quebec, ‘Aucuns points.’

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wish you were here

Director: Kieran Darcy-Smith

Starring: Joel Edgerton, Felicity Price, Kieran Darcy-Smith, Teresa Palmer

Dave Flannery (Joel Edgerton ) is on a holiday in Cambodia with his Alice (Felicity Price), and sister -in-law sister Steph (Teresa Palmer) and her new boyfriend, Jeremy (Kieran Darcy-Smith), when Jeremy goes missing after a wild party. When the authorities fail to turn up any leads, the group returns to Australia and attempt to resume their daily routines. When Alice discovers Dave and Steph had a drunken tryst, she and her husband quickly grow apart, and all three of their lives start to unravel. Dave’s behavior continues to grow increasingly strange and secretive and the mystery of the last night in Cambodia threatens to destroy their marriage before they can begin reconciliation. Good performances from the cast in this slow-burn plot thriller with twists and turns. Despite being worth a watch the ending is rather predictable.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Way

Director: Emilio Estevez

Starring: Martin Sheen, Debra Kara Unger, Yorick van Wageningen, James Nesbitt

When successful optomtrist (Martin Sheen) learns of his son's death he somewhat begrudgingly flies to Spain to attend to matters. In an attempt to try to reconcile matters he decides to complete the pilgrimage to Camino de Santiago de Compostela, On the life changing journey he meets and shares adventures with a trio of bruised fruits. A sort of Golden Pond meets Canterbury Tales but to its credit the movie is warm and full of empathy. Good performances but rather over long at two hours.

Black & White & Sex

Director: John Winter Starring: Katherine Hicks, Anya Beresdorf, Valerie Bader, Roxane Wilson, Michelle Vergara Moore, Dina Panozzo, Saskia Burmeister, Maia Thomas Filmed in black and white, a sex worker called Angie (played by eight actors) is engaged to be interviewed by a faceless man and filmmaker (Matthew Holmes). Quizzed on camera with a small crew, the pair explore the life and times of a whore with everything from notions of self-respect to the dirty details. As the conversation takes odd twists and turns the power dynamic shifts and insecurities and motivations are slowly extracted to reveal a feisty, strong-willed character expertly fleshed out by the brilliant cast. Confronting at times the quality of the dialogue is superb, througout. The movie is shot on a single set with multi-cameras and minimalist soundscape. An interesting and original Australian movie which is absolutley first-rate.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

This must be the place

Director: Paolo Sorrentino

Starring: Sean Penn, Kerry Condon, Harry Dean Stanton

Cheyenne (Sean Penn) was once a Goth rock star with a frail voice and slow walk. He is in decline after his music drove a few young people to suicide and lives with his long-suffering wife (Frances McDormand) in guilty retirement in an elaborate Dublin mansion. At his father’s funeral he finds out his dad, a Holocaust survivor, was on the hunt for a Nazi war criminal and decides to pick up on the trail. The news gives the rocker new meaning and the unlikely sleuth goes undercover to out the Nazi. What follows is a series of bazaar encounters as Cheyenne seeks the truth. Shot in Dublin and North America this is a bewilderly movie destined for cult status. Wait till it comes to an art house cinema near you and dress up like Cheyenne and you might even enjoy it.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Salmon fishing in the Yemen

Director: Lasse Hallstrom

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Amr Waked , Kristin Scott Thomas, Emily Blunt, Catherine Steadman, Tom Beard, Tom Mison

A gentle romantic dramedy based on Paul Torday’s 2006 novel of the same name. A wealthy sheikh (Amr Waked) comes up with an implausible scheme to bring salmon fishing to the Yemen and the British prime minister jumps on the idea as a ploy to distract public interest from the nasty business in the Middle East. Dr. Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor) is a fisheries expert working for the British government and the sheikh’s British representative, Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Emily Blunt), cajoles Alfred into helping. The prospect of exporting 1000s of live salmon to the Middle East causes uproar with British fishermen and at the last minute farmed salmon are substituted but will they adapt to their new local. You need to see the movie to find out. Meantime Jones and his wife (Catherine Steadman) are drifting apart, and Harriet’s beau (Tom Mison) has just been deployed to Afghanistan, so naturally what follows is a love story of sorts. Good performance (as always) from Kristin Scott Thomas as Patricia Maxwell, the press secretary for the British Prime Minister. This is a feel good movie which is mildly amusing, but little else.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

A motley bunch of grey-mads abandon the austerity of the UK for the promise of Shangri-La in a luxurious hotel for retirees in India. The only trouble is not all is as advertised. In spite of the hardships, everybody in this sentimental farce finds themselves falling for the hotel and the country with old loves rekindled, new friendships formed and prejudices broken down. Superb performances from a sterling cast the movie is a joy to watch from beginning to end. Based on Deborah Moggach’s These Foolish Things , The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel carries a very important message that it is never too late. Well worth a view.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Dangerous Method

Director: David Cronenberg

Starring: Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender, Sarah Gadon, Vincent Cassel

This is a dramatised account of the friendship between Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen ) and his brilliant protégé, Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and its ultimate undoing by a brilliant female patient-student, Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley), who came between them. It is a complex story told through a series of conversations, treatment sessions and exchanged letters. A Dangerous Method has been adapted from John Kerr’s book by Christopher ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ Hampton, who originally turned it into a play called The Talking Cure. The dense and wordy screenplay provides the main actors with meaty roles. Bit wordy but undoubtedly appeal to the art house crowd.