Directed by David Twohy. Starring Steve Zahn, Milla Jovovich, Timothy Olyphan, Kiele Sanchez, Chris Hemsworth, Marley Shelton.
PLOT: An Hawaiian honeymoon turns decidedly Deliverance for Cliff (Zahn) and Cydney (Jovovich) when they realise that there’s a killer couple loose on their exotic island hotspot. Where, their helpful helicopter pilot informed them upon their arrival on Kauai, there are only two ways out – by foot, or by kayak.
Hooking up, somewhat reluctantly, with another couple – former Special-Ops soldier Nick (Olyphant) and his Southern beauty Gina (Sanchez) – after a none-too-friendly-like encounter with rednecks Kale (Hemsworth) and Cleo (Shelton), the newlyweds have to figure out which one of their new buddies might just be crazy enough to be tourist-butchering psychos. Chances are though, those couples are having the exact same thoughts.
VERDICT: After a build-up that takes its sweet, sweet time before getting to the meat of the matter (you’ll have to just enjoy the beautiful scenery, both geographical and physical, along with the building tension), about an hour in, A Perfect Getaway starts twisting like Chubby Checker having a fit, throwing the audience left and right and then left again enough times to keep you guessing right until the grisly end. Thankfully, there’s plenty of humour in writer/director David Twohy’s script to keep you chuckling as the blood starts to flow. RATING: ***
Directed by Todd Graff. Starring Vanessa Hudgens, Gaelan Connell, Aly Michalka, Lisa Kudrow.
PLOT: Uber-geek Will Burton (Connell) is the new kid in town who’s determined to become the Paul McGuinness of his school, and is soon putting together a raggle-taggle band of Benetton kids. Geeky Asian girl on keyboards, Asian wannabe punk on guitar, sexy librarian on cello, hairy animal on drums, Flea-wannabe on bass, and foxy lady (Michalka) up front. Beyond the eponymous band competition, the plot centres around said foxy lady having come over from the cheerleader side to sing with the freaks and geeks, and subsequently having to decide – when the chips are down, when pops has popped his clogs, when the show must go on – whether or not her outsider aim is true.
VERDICT: You kinda have to admire a high school musical that drops names like Arcade Fire and Sly’n’Robbie. Nice. And sleazy.
Clearly aiming for a slightly hipper audience than the traditional High School Musical crowd, the makers of Bandslam are wise enough to try and entice that very large, very lucrative fanbase along too. The female star of Disney’s hugely successful HSM franchise, Vanessa Hudgens, extends her range ever so slightly here as yet another cute bookworm with a naked-pics-in-a-hotel-room smirk.
Connell and Hudgens get to do all the meet-cute, home video montage stuff, such as breaking into New York’s sacred punk birthplace, the now-defunct CBGBs, but the music here, of course, is far more Taylor Swift than Patti Smith… RATING: ***
Directed by Karey Kirkpatrick. Starring Eddie Murphy, Yara Shahidi, Thomas Haden Church, Ronny Cox.
PLOT: Murphy plays financial manager Evan Danielson, whose ex-wife has decided to force a little quality time on him with their young daughter, Olivia (Yara Shahidi), in the hope that a week together might actually forge a real connection. Having long gotten used to her lack of parenting, Olivia has formed a few invisible friends to fill in the caring, sharing gaps in her life. Much to her father’s annoyance. Until said invisible friends start, eh, dishing out some sound investment advice.
VERDICT: It’s Bedtime Stories meets Wall Street. How could it fail? Continuing his slow, steady slide into direct-to-DVD territory, Eddie Murphy gives us one of those sentimental family comedies that’s impossible to feel anything for. Except mild contempt, of course. With a just a nudge of nausea.
On the plus side, director Karey Kikpatrick (Over The Hedge) lets our imaginations do the work when it comes to Olivia’s fantasy world. On the minus side, this is a bit crap. RATING: **
ALIENS IN THE ATTIC (USA/Canada/PG/86mins)
Directed by John Schultz. Starring Ashley Tisdale, Carter Jenkins, Austin Robert Butler, Ashley Boettcher, Henri Young.
PLOT: The film’s only star, former HSM bad girl Ashley Tisdale, is one of the unlucky Pearson kids, who find themselves having to defend their family vacation home in Michigan from, yep, some nasty aliens in the attic. But, are these little green CGI ETs really that nasty? And, more importantly, could they really be smarter than your average American nuclear family? Unfortunately, the answer to both questions is no.
VERDICT: A movie with a distinctly 1980s feel, Aliens In The Attic looks like it was made by a Joe Dante fan – only without the Gremlins helmer’s wit, imagination or glasses. If only these aliens were vicious, then we might have had some fun. As it is, this makes for a very poor, very predictable family film. Purely for the very young. And dumb. RATING: *
Directed by Robert Schwentke. Starring Eric Bana, Rachel McAdams, Ron Livingston, Michelle Nolden.
Those fine, fine fellows at Entertainment Films in the UK have once again failed to screen one of their films to the press, this time The Time Traveller’s Wife (USA/15A/107mins). They say it’s because the print has arrived too late, and once again, I’m disinclined to believe them. Our film censor got to see a print, after all. Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams lead the way in this long-gestating adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger’s much-loved novel. The word is actually pretty good on it…
Directed by Cary Fukunaga. Starring Edgar Flores, Paulina Gaitlan, Kristyan Ferrer, Tenoch Huerta Mejia.
PLOT: We first meet gang member is El Casper (Flores) as he sets about helping his 12-year old friend, Smiley (Ferrer) join the Mara Salvatrucha (part of his initiation being a slow and vicious 13-second beating). We soon realise though that Casper might be a sheep in wolves’ clothing – he’s also busy across town with a sweetheart he’s determined to keep oblivious to his gang activity. Her suspicions though lead her into a Mara meeting, where a bungled rape attempt by gang leader Lil’ Mago (Tenoch Huerta Mejia) leads to her accidental death. Which leads Casper to a fatal moment of revenge as they raid the migrants aboard one of those slow trains, a train Casper instantly realises it’s best he stay on. Having saved teenager Sayra (Gaitlan) with his act of revenge, Casper soon finds himself with a quietly fawning travelling companion.
VERDICT: Co-executive produced by Mexican It boys, and longtime buddies, Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna, the very fine Sin nombre has been compared to Amores Perros and City of God. Much to first-time feature writer/director Cary Fukunaga’s chagrin. There be no rapid editing or bleached cinematography in this tale of gun-toting, slum-dwelling street life.
Having made the Sundance-winning short Victoria para chino in 2004 after reading about a group of foreign stowaways suffocating in a refrigerated truck in Texas, Fukunaga was given the opportunity to expand the idea into a feature. Fukunaga hung out with Mara gang members and took that 27-hour train journey as part of his research, his hope being that an emotional experience for the audience would say more, and reach more people, than a thousand news articles might. He was right. RATING: ****
Directed by Gianni Di Gregorio. Starring Gianni Di Gregorio, Valeria De Franciscis, Marina Cacciotti, Maria Cali, Grazia Cesarini Sforza.
PLOT: Set in modern-day Rome, in the working class district of Trastevere, as the city is deserted for the Italian holiday, Ferragosta, middle-aged Gianni (Di Gregorio) is unemployed and living in an old building with his demanding mother (De Franciscis), and trying to cope with mounting bills, and fellow residents who would rather have new neighbours. With this in mind, the building administrator (Alfonso Santagata) makes Gianna an offer that’s pretty hard to refuse – looking after his old mother (Cacciotti) for two days, and see many of those bills disappear. All well and good until Luigi also brings along his Aunt Maria (Maria Cali). Who’s soon joined by the mother (Sforza) of good doctor Marcello (Marcello Ottolenghi) after Gianni is pressed upon once again.
VERDICT: And that’s about it. For two days, Gianni becomes carer, confidant and concierge for four old ladies, initially with some reluctance and grace, and gradually, with bewildered joy. You’ll feel the same way when the end credits roll. For a glorious 75 minutes, you actually forget about the fact that Italy is now run by a crass individual such as Silvio Berlusconi. Playing like a hazy, lazy, sunny afternoon, the delightful Mid-August Lunch is daringly sedate, serene and even a little senile in its central premise. RATING: ****
Calling all kids interested in animation and filmmaking – The Light Exchange studio in Rathmines, Dublin are offering two workshops that will guide you on your way to becoming the new Brad Bird or Henry Selick. Visit thelightexchange.ie for full details, or phone Susan or Emer on (01) 4975626.