This weeks movie reviews by Paul Byrne, including Arthur, Fast And Furious 5, TT3D, and more…
Directed by Jason Winer. Starring Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Greta Gerwig, Jennifer Garner, Luiz Guzman, Nick Nolte.
THE PLOT: Playboy drunk Arthur Bach (Brand) is given a stark choice by his mother – either accept marriage to the stern, social-climbing Susan (Garner), or say goodbye to the $950m family fortune. As the wedding day approaches though, Arthur falls in love with kooky working class gal Naomi (mumblecore poster girl Gerwig).
THE VERDICT: A sobering opening weekend in the US has cast doubt on Brand’s pulling power, and his Arthur certainly proves more boorish fop than loveable rapscallion. Then again, Arthur is a man out of time – back with the 1981 original, greed was good, and excess was the great escape. Now is not the time for self-confessed “pampered pricks”. Ultimately though, this just isn’t all that funny, despite the sterling cast. RATING: 2/5
FAST & FURIOUS FIVE (USA/12A/130mins)
Directed by Justin Lin. Starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Jordanna Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris.
THE PLOT: The old gang meets up in Rio for the mother of all heists, former cop Brian (Walker) and his missus (Brewster) having rescued Dominic (Diesel) from a prison van with, eh, a matching pair of hot rods. In Rio, they soon have hard-headed fed Hobbs (Johnson) on their tail, and local drug lord Ryes (Joaquim de Almeida) after their heads. The gang is hoping to relieve the latter of $100m…
THE VERDICT: With the surprise $71m+ US opening of the last Fast & Furious outing, it would seem as though this B-movie franchise – basically Ocean’s Eleven on alloyed wheels – might just be armour-plated. And it has $1billion in the bank to prove it. That might be why director Justin Lin – returning for his third outing – is letting it all go to his head, cutting back on the car chases despite pushing the time to two hours and ten minutes. Roger Corman would not approve. Galway’s adopted son wouldn’t be too impressed by the script either. He might just get a kick out of the damn fine – but scarce – set-pieces though. RATING: 3/5
TT3D: CLOSER TO THE EDGE (UK/15A/103mins)
Directed by Richard De Aragues. Starring Guy Martin, Ian Hutchinson, John McGuinness, Michael Dunlop, Keith Amor.
THE PLOT: Every great documentary needs a strong protagonist, and this warts, thrills, spills and all fly-on-the-motorbike account of last year’s annual Isle Of Man Tourist Trophy has a particularly rich one in Guy Martin. “Every man and his dog wants Guy Martin to win this year,” says one observer, and it doesn’t take long before you feel the same way about the sideburn-blaring, easygoing protagonist. The fact that he has never won before adds to those thrills and spills…
THE VERDICT: As with Wim Wenders celebration of the late German dance choreography Pina Bausch (see below), hairy lads going really, really, really fast on motorbikes is one of the few times when 3D actually does turn the experience up to 11. Having received rave reviews in the UK (with even glossy brochures such as Empire going the four-star route), TT3D is a tough a sell as its title is unweildly and confusing. But don’t be put off – this tears strips off Fast & Furious 5. RATING: 4/5
PINA [3D] (Germany/France/UK/G/103mins)
Directed by Wim Wenders. Starring Egina Advento, Malou Airaudo, Ruth Amarante, Rainer Behr, Andrey Berezin.
THE PLOT: Opening with an aeriel shot of the Tanztheater Wuppertal in Germany, home of the late choreographer Pina Bausch for 36 years, right up until 2009 (when she died, just months before this documentary began shooting). We then get to see sections of four Bausch productions, the final outing moving outdoors, as the dancers, in voiceover, reflect on the legendary choreographer…
THE VERDICT: It’s been a while since Wim Wenders has made a movie that wasn’t laughed off the few screens it managed to land on, so, it’s something of a joyful surprise to see the noted German filmmaker so inspired here. Capturing dance such as this truthfully on film is a difficult trick to pull off, but by the time we’re out in the great wide open, you’re almost convinced that this art form is actually quite amazing. As opposed to a bunch of skinny, self-loving neurotics trying to put out an invisible fire. Nina Sayers would love it. RATING: 3/5
THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF ADELE BLANC-SEC (France/12A/104mins)
Directed by Luc Besson. Starring Louise Bourgoin, Mathiew Amalric, Gilles Lellouche, Jean-Paul Rouve, Jacky Nercessian, Philippe Nahon.
THE PLOT: Indiana Jones in sexy drag, and not entirely a good girl, Adele (Bourgoin) is in Egypt, out to steal a mummy doctor so that he can cure her paralysed sister. In another part of the world, another doc, Professor Esperandieu (Nercessian), has managed to hatch a pterodactyl egg, sending Paris into a panic, and leaving the prof condemned to death. But Adele rides in and saves him. On the pterodactyl. It’s then proceedings get a little fanciful. Even for 1912.
THE VERDICT: One can help think of fellow French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Juenet, and, in particular, his 2001 hit Amelie, when watching this rose-tinted, comic strip flight of fancy from the once-revered Luc Besson (who went from slick director of films such as Nikita, Leon and The Fifth Element to chubby Bruckheimerette in recent years). Part Tomb Raider, part Blondie (Chic Young’s old comic strip, that is, Adele being based on a popular French 1970s strip), Besson’s latest, for all its beauty, just doesn’t quite entrance half as much as it should. RATING: 2/5
HOW I ENDED THE SUMMER (Russia/IFI/130mins)
Directed by Aleksei Popgrebsky. Starring Grigory Dobrygin, Sergei Puskepalis, Igor Chernevich.
THE PLOT: Life in The Artic Circle is getting a little tense, and more than a little Beckett, for research outpost residents Sergei (Puskepalis) and Pavel (Dobrygin). It’s their final shift, and cabin fever is kicking in when tragic news arrives. Tragic news for veteran Sergei, who’s out on a fishing trip. So, the young Pavel decides not to tell him…
THE VERDICT: Beautifully shot, this Berlin Prize-winning Russian captures life in the outpost beautifully. Throw in some rain and a scattering of miserable looking sheep, and this could be any shack in the wilds of West Cork – the log piles, the gloss-painted doors, the whistling wind, the uncertain lumps of meat, the beautiful scenery, the time-lapse photography, the smile on a pig’s face. The sort of place where The Shining is always just around the corner. The drama gets a tad hysterical, but this is an impressive film nonetheless. RATING: 3/5