Fresh from winning an Oscar with Million Dollar Baby (2005), Clint Eastwood turns his attention to historical drama with two films about The Battle of Iwo Jima. This first release tells the American side of the fight through an examination of the famous flag-raising photograph which came to symbolise a nation on the verge of victory. The reality of the shot was very different: it was not the first flag to be raised, the battle continued to rage long after it was taken and the resulting publicity was primarily used to raise war bonds for the cash-strapped American armed forces during World War II.
Family entertainment usually falls into two categories: fun for all or fun for only those young enough to ignore leaps of logic, pacing and character. Sadly, Night at the Museum, despite all its effort to win over the adults with it’s “A” grade comic actors, will be remembered by the children more interested in CGI trickery including a dinosaur made completely out of bones.
It is Christmas Day and a group of sorority sisters are gearing up for their seasonal celebrations at their house — but so is Billy Lenz (Robert Mann). He used to live at the house with his parents, where he was locked in the attic for years. One day he broke out, murdered his parents and got locked up at an asylum. Now he wants to come home for Christmas…and carry on where he left off.
Eyes perhaps tired of Woody Allen over the years were ignited with a fresh enthusiasm over Match Point, a welcome return to top form after a track record which had been somewhat mixed of late. The veteran director is essentially a comic though and so after this more serious filmmaking effort, the audience’s reinvigorated eyes looked towards a return to humour, and to the lofty heights of classics such as Annie Hall and Manhattan. And so we have Scoop — full of promise: again filmed in London, capitalising on this successful change in Allen’s previous film, and again starring Scarlett Johansson — but after this build up how does it fare?
Director Renny Harlin follows up the terrible The Exorcist: The Beginning with another no-brains movie: horror/action hybrid The Covenant. Its mix of typical late teen school life and mystical mumblings about ‘The Power’ are about as exciting as after school detention. You really will think you did something wrong to deserve to be put through this dire piece of work.
What would it be like if your life was the subject of a novel being written, and you could hear every word as it was being typed? Government taxman Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) wakes up one day to exactly that: an all-knowing narrator perfectly describing his actions to only him.
You may recall in my Dirty Sanchez: The Movie (Jim Hickey, 2006) review that I said I hoped the Jackass boys could do better stunts and pranks with their second offering than the MTV Europe guys managed with their debut. Thankfully they have, avoiding the general reliance on bodily fluids and nastiness in favour of a frat pack flavour that ensures much hilarity ensues.
Pan’s Labyrinth marks the third effort of Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro’s 1940 Spanish-based films and is a much welcome return to his more substantial ‘art-house’ film flavourings after Hollywood efforts Mimic (1997), Blade 2 (2002) and more recently Hell Boy (2004).
Bond is back and he is better than ever, if you listen to the hype and the advanced publicity. Has Daniel Craig really managed to stick two fingers up at the doubters by turning in a debut Bond performance to match Pierce Brosnan’s excellent first outing GoldenEye (Martin Campbell, 1995)?
Director Christopher Nolan follows up last year’s Batman Begins with a period piece about two Englsih magicians battling it out to learn each other’s secrets and perform the most amazing trick: ‘The Transported Man’.
A break up can be the source of brilliant, moving and heartbreaking drama, as Neil Jordan’s wonderful The End Of The Affair (1999) proves, but there is absolutely nothing innovative, entertaining or sympathetic about watching two pricks arguing about lemons and behaving in such a fucking despicable way. If you’re planning on seeing The Break Up I suggest you go home and piss in your partner’s shoes because you’ll have an equally shit time without having to pay for the privilege. An absolute travesty.
What must be one of the most-hyped comedies ever finally hits screens with what may come as a surprise — believe the hype. Borat could never surpass expectations as they have been built so high due to close on overexposure across the world. It at least meets the expectations as we witness Sacha Baron Cohen’s fake Kazakhstani TV reporter Borat Sagdiyev get sent to America to research its culture and improve his own country. While the Kazakhstan government may have been up in arms about the way it was perhaps unfairly portrayed in the trailer, Borat is far more subversive towards American culture than any made-up facts about Kazakhstan.
The annual Halloween treat of another set of Jigsaw’s tricks brings more grizzly deaths to the mega popular shock horror series. Tobin Bell returns as the game of death mastermind, ready to set his victims with the choice of a horrible death or the pain of survival by inflicting hurt on themselves. But he is not alone in his schemes. Still joined by former victim Amanda (Shawnee Smith), he brings one of his most elaborate schemes ever to fruition — one that places even his fate in the balance.
I really have had enough of these Hollywood Japanese horror remakes, and Hollywood horror in general actually. There seems to be a never-ending torrent of bland drivel on a monthly basis with each offering eating into my sanity, as I sit through another 90 minute slog of well-worn plot contrivances. At least Freddy vs Jason (Ronny Yu, 2003) had the decency to throw in a bit of fun as two of the most overused characters dueled it out for the finale. Grudge 2, on the other hand, barely makes any attempt to be original or new either within the confines of the franchise or the perception of Japanese horror. As long as there is a grey girl showing up in creepy places unable to walk in a straight line we are supposed to be scared. Well, those producers need to realise that while we all lapped up what was new in The Ring (Hideo Nakata, 1998), the original that is, has fast become one of the most roll-eye inducing moments in modern horror history.
Hailed as one of the highlights of the Edinburgh Film Festival this year, first time feature writer/director Paul Andrew Williams has crafted an uncompromising urban thriller in London to Brighton. A seedy tale of revenge set in the back street underground, it sees badly beaten London prostitute Kelly (Lorraine Stanley) flee with 11-year-old Joanne (Georgia Groome) to Brighton with her pimp Derek (Johnny Harris) in hot pursuit. As the exact events of the night before unfold through a fractured narrative and flashback, it is revealed millionaire paedophile Duncan Allen (Alexander Morton) and his cold and brutal son Stuart (Sam Spruell) have fuelled the search for the two girls. It won’t be a happy reunion.
What do you do when you don’t get accepted by any college you apply for? Well, start your own, of course! That is the set up for the latest American teen comedy, and you’ll forgive me for not jumping for joy as I sat down to watch this sometimes ludicrous offering.
When a Martin Scorcese film comes around, you sit up and take notice. When a Scrocese picture with Robert De Niro was released, it was like being treated to a extra Christmas. So what about a Scorcese movie with the legendary sinister smile of Jack Nicholson? Well The Departed treats us to ol’ Jack at his nastiest best — a mob boss with an devilish attitude, and the perfect subject for Scorcese’s specialist topic: gangsters.
Following the critical praise that met the first film about 9/11, United 93 (Paul Greengrass, 2006), many predicted that Oliver Stone would deliver a heavy-handed and inappropriate interpretation of the tragic events. Having built his reputation on flamboyant and politically-charged work it seemed these would be reasonable assumptions given the sensitivity of Word Trade Center.
In the year 2027 all women have become infertile and the world’s youngest person, 18-year-old “Baby” Diego, has just died. With the global population slowly dying out there are no children for adults to care for and schools are abandoned shells. In England, the setting for Children of Men, refugee camps hold all those who are not British as the country tries to retain some form of structure while other nations have given up hope completely. There are rumours of a group called The Human Project that is seeking a solution to the problem away from the public eye, or any official existence. But when Theodore Faron (Clive Owen) is asked for help by ex-wife Julian (Julianne Moore), he becomes embroiled in a mission that may offer a future for the human race: the delivery of 8-month pregnant girl Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey) to The Human Project.
Once upon a time in Hollywood, Brian De Palma was a cutting edge director favouring the gritty and stylish with offering such as Scarface (1983)and The Untouchables (1987). More recently he has struggled to find a project with the same conviction. Snakes Eyes (1998) and Mission to Mars (1999) were largely ineffectual and confirmed a downturn in quality that suggested he may never replicate the form he showed earlier in his career. The Black Dahlia offers de Palma a chance to prove the critics wrong be returning to the crime capers he once so effortlessly brought to celluloid. Based on a James Ellroy novel that uses the murder of Hollywood actress Elizabeth Short in 1947 as its foundation, this has a similarly classic film noir tone to one of the best Ellroy adaptations, LA Confidential (Curtis Hanson, 1997). However, heavy handedness proves to be its downfall.
One day on a search for a universal remote controller to make his life that little bit easier Michael comes across a bizarre company specialising in the most up to date experimental technology, run but a scientist called Morty (Christopher Walken). Morty takes pity on Michael’s hectic life and gives him a remote control that he can use to revisit moments of his past, pause time or skip right through the everyday tedium and concentrate on the good times. However whilst it’s all fun and games to begin with, the remote control develops a life of its own and problems quickly start to arrive.
If challenging your mates to, say, tattooing phrases only normally found scrawled on school desks to their bodies and then drinking beer laced with fag butts is your regular source of entertainment, then Dirty Sanchez: The Movie is sure to be like a night out down the pub. Crude, crass and almost unwatchable at times, it occupies a strange position as a cinematic release that is probably only comparable to Jackass: The Movie (Jeff Tremaine, 2002).
It also offers an suggestion as to the communications Tony Blair (Michael Sheen), the new Prime Minister at the time, had with Queen Elizabeth (Helen Mirren). While it never tries to pretend that it is an accurate work of non-fiction, The Queen is an intriguing affair mixing light hearted humour with drama and the facts of the British public’s frustration with its silent monarch.
Shortly after the release of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001) Kevin Smith shocked fans by announcing that he was never going to make a film starring Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) again. The he made Jersey Girl (2004). Now Smith is back, doing what he does best and attempting to make up for his most disappointing film yet by giving the fans what they want and returning to his much loved indie debut, Clerks (1994).
“Everyone pretend to be normal” Richard (Greg Kinnear) shouts to his family as they await the attention of a police officer at the roadside — a line that will have you in stitches by the time you have seen the often too real depiction of a family on the verge of meltdown. Little Miss Sunshine provides us with a view of the hopes and (some-already shattered) dreams of the Hoovers’ as they attempt a 800-mile drive to get seven-year-old Olive (Abigail Breslin) from Albuquerque to the Little Miss Sunshine pageant in Redondo Beach, California. There are the usual fractured domestic problems, but they are handled so well and with a close attention to detail that this American indie comedy has become the highlight of the late summer.