Reviews – New movies opening April 5th 2013

We review this week’s new cinema releases, including Spring Breakers and A Late Quartet…

Directed by Harmony Korine. Starring Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, James Franco, Rachel Korine, Heather Morris,
THE PLOT: Like a bad Miley Cyrus dream, we’re introduced to three teens – Candy (Hudgens), Brit (Benson) and Cotty (Mrs. Korine) – and their bible-bashing BFF Faith (Gomez), an abundance of boredom and a distinct lack of cash inspiring the bad-blooded trio to hold up a Chicken Shack with fake guns. One torched car later, and the foursome are living the life. Until they get arrested. And that’s when sleazy white gangsta Alien (played by Franco in full acid-trip mode) steps in with the bail money, seeing a solid investment in three bikini-clad babes who would do pretty much anything for kicks…
THE VERDICT: An indie answer to the abysmal Sucker Punch, Harmony Korine’s latest super-cool offering is basically porn dressed up as art house irony. Then again, this is exactly the sort of film you would expect from a faux-dangerous stoner 40-year old filmmaker who first hooked up with his 14-years-younger missus, Rachel, when she was still in her school uniform. Larry Clark would be proud.
Review by Paul Byrne 

Directed by Peter Hedges. Starring Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, CJ Adams, Dianne Wiest, Rosemarie DeWitt, Ron Livingston, David Morse, Odeya Rush.
THE PLOT: Dreaming of having a child of their own, despite the fact that their doctor has told them it won’t happen, happily married couple Cindy (Garner) and Jim (Edgerton) are more than a little surprised when, one stormy night, a young boy turns up on their doorstep. Jim had convinced Cindy that writing down on paper all the characteristics and events of their dream child’s life and burying it the notes in the back garden would be therapeutic, but, before you can say magic beans, little nature boy Tommy (Adams) is claiming to be their son. And he would seem to be just what they ordered. If you don’t count the leaves growing out of his feet…
THE VERDICT: The Odd Life Of Timothy Green is an odd fish of a film. Sure, it’s got a charming, life-affirming and novel premise (dreamt up by Ahmet ‘son of Frank’ Zappa, no less), but there’s something, well, wooden about Hedges’ film. Somewhere between an overly sentimental dud and a true-life disease-of-the-week TV movie, the sentimentality here far outweighs any potential Kaufman-esque kookiness. 
Review by Paul Byrne

Directed by George Isaac. Starring Toby Stephens, Rufus Sewell, Mark Badham, Gabriel Byrne, Gil Darnell, James Frain, Leo Gregory, MC Harvey, Julian Sands.
THE PLOT: Top thief Riley (Stephens) has just been hired for, yep, “the ultimate sting”, but, as with all such grandiose skulduggery, he soon finds himself up to the proverbials in double-crossing twists and backstabbing turns. It doesn’t help that he’s also caught between tough copper Parker (Sewell) and crime kingpin Corso (Byrne)…
THE VERDICT: Both men destined to only trouble the multiplexes when trying to kill James Bond or some vampire kids, leads Stephens and Sewell set the tone, the pace and the expectations here, and they’re aided and abetted with such stalwarts as James Frain, Julian Sands and our own Gabriel Byrne. It’s interesting to see writer/director George Isaacs working with professional grown-ups, after Kidulthood (2006) and Adulthood (2008), but he fails to break any new ground here. Or cover some very old ground with any new tricks.
Review by Paul Byrne

A LATE QUARTET (USA/15A/105mins)
Directed by Yaron Ziberman. Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken, Catherine Keener, Imogen Poots, Wallace Shawn, Mark Ivanir, Liraz Charhi, Madhur Jaffrey.
THE PLOT: For the Manhattanj-based Fugue String Quartet, their upcoming 25th anniversary celebrations are tampered somewhat by the news that their veteran cellist Peter (Walken) has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It’s sad news, given that Peter is something of a father figure, and it that proves a catalyst for other members to address their troubles within the quartet – Robert (Hoffman) is tired of playing second fiddle to violinist David (Ivanir), whilst the former’s wife, Juliette (Keener), is not so sure anymore that she wants to stay in the marriage.
THE VERDICT: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for indie kids, not even the Spirit Awards wet-dream of a cast here can lift A Late Quartet above a mildly entertaining chamber piece. Far more cocoa than coke, there’s been quite a run of OAP dramas of late. Which is all very heartening, reflecting the simple fact that there are some acne-ridden teens out there who are happy to see how the older half live. Not that a film like A Late Quartet is going to cause much pushing and shoving for seats at your local multiplex, but there is a low-watt likeability at work here. 
Review by Paul Byrne