Reviews – New Movies Opening August 19th 2011

Paul Byrne reviews this weeks movies including COWBOYS & ALIENS

COWBOYS & ALIENS (USA/15A/116mins)

Directed by Jon Favreau. Starring Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde, Keith Carradine, Paul Dano, Sam Rockwell, Buck Taylor, Abigail Spencer, Adam Beach.

THE PLOT: Arizona, 1873, and quite a lot of shit is about to go down in the sleepy one-horse town of Absolution – the Man With No Memory (Craig) is banged up in the sheriff’s truck, having just discovered that he’s a wanted man, whilst sitting alongside him is the spoilt son (Dano) of local cattle baron Woodrow Dolarhyde (Ford). The latter is about to bust his boy out when, hey, alien ships suddenly come swooping down, lassoing the natives…

THE VERDICT: A title that has been bouncing around Hollywood since 1995, even producer Steven Spielberg has struggled to come up with a worthy script. Originally planned as a follow-up of sorts to Men In Black, when Wild Wild West bombed in 1999, Hollywood backed away from the idea of a sci-fi cowboy comedy. Which may explain why Jon Favreau decided to play this jokey title as a straight Western. Which works beautifully for the first hour or so, but the bombastic Gunfight At The E.T. Coral battle in the closing reel is more than a little jaded. RATING: 3/5


Directed by Kevin Tancharoen. Starring Cory Monteith, Dianna Agron, Lea Michele, Gwyneth Paltrow, Darren Criss, Jane Lynch, Chris Coffer.

THE PLOT: Straight forward enough – a concert documentary shot during the Glee Live! In Concert! summer tour of this year. Recorded at their East Rutherford, New Jersey gig, the cast sing songs from the first and second season of the hit TV series, and there is, of course, some backstage footage, plus three young fans reveal how the show has impacted their lives.

THE VERDICT: Hollywood was a little taken aback when the latest offering from the hugely successful Glee franchise died a relative death at the US box-office last week – hitting number 11 with a plastic bullet, having taken in a mere $5.7m on its opening weekend (Hannah’s 2008 concert film opened to $31.1m, whilst Bieber’s recent live doc opened to $29.5m). Creator Ryan Murphy and 20th Century Fox won’t be too upset, given that the film cost a mere $9m to put together, but it does suggest that, as far as Glee fans are concerned, the thrill is gone. Fact is, the thrill went from this promising show about seven episodes into its first season, when this John Waters-esque take on High School Musical became, well, just another High School Musical. And to think these all-singing, all-dancing karaoke assholes beat The Beatles for most hits in the US Top 40 at the one time. RATING: 1/5

A BETTER LIFE (USA/15A/117mins)

Directed by Chris Weitz. Starring Demian Bichir, Jose Julian, Eddie ‘Piolin’ Sotelo, Nancy Lenehan, Gabriel Chavarria, Bobby Soto, Joaquin Cosio.

THE PLOT: LA, and illegal immigrant Carlos (Bichir) is struggling to make ends meet, scraping by as a gardener, whilst his teenage son, Luis (Julian), has begun hanging out with the wrong crowd. Convinced by his regular employer Blasco (Cosio) to buy his truck, Carlos branches out on his own. But life quickly takes a turn for the worst…

THE VERDICT: Living below the radar in America can be demoralising, dull and dangerous, and, when you’re dealing with a good guy like Carlos, heartbreaking. Director Chris Weitz takes a distinctly left turn after About A Boy and New Moon for this muted, underplayed tale of hard times in East LA for a Mexican immigrant, and he’s helped enormously in his quest by a towering central performance from Demian Bichir. Towering because Bichir keeps all the pain, the hurt, the frustration and disappointment bottled up inside. RATING: 3/5


Directed by Ben Palmer. Starring Simon Bird, James Buckley, Blake Harrison, Joe Thomas, Emily Head.

THE PLOT: Will (Bird), Jay (Buckley), Neil (Harrison) and Simon (Thomas) head off on a holiday together to Malia, having just finished Year 13 at school. And, er, that’s all we know…

THE VERDICT: London-based Entertainment Film Distributors have once again dismissed Ireland as not quite important enough to press screen their film to. They are that cheap. So, who knows how good or bad this is? Hopefully, better than Kevin & Perry Go Large. Then again, part of me hopes that it is that bad. And it does that badly at the box-office. Either way, it’ll be on the telly soon enough. RATING: n/a


As part of Ireland’s first Burlesque Festival, the Screen Cinema in Dublin – who, bless ‘em, like to get classics back on the big screen – have put together a mini-season Burlesque On Screen.

The season opens with Baz Luhrmann’s over-rated Moulin Rouge!, starring two of the cinema’s greatest and most desperate hoofers, Ewan McGregor and Nicole ‘I love to dance!’ Kidman. Also screening will be Stephen ‘Laughing Boy’ Frears’ Mrs Henderson Presents, Judi Dench leading the way for this 1930s London-set tale of mild scandal as a dying theatre is revived by a little exotic dancing.

Far more intriguing is the closing documentary Behind The Burly Q, which looks back at the golden age of Burlesque. Amongst the talking heads is Alan Alda, whose father Robert was a singer in a Burlesque joint.

Each screening will have as your hostess with the mostess Mz Epiphany deMeanour from The Burlesque And Cabaret Social Club, whilst the mini-deMeanour Usherettes will look after all your seating and serving needs. Nice.

Ireland’s first Burlesque Festival launches at Harry’s On The Green on August 24th at 7pm, whilst the festival itself runs from September 23rd to the 25th. Full details of the screenings on


Continuing their mission to bring classics back to the big screen, Dublin’s Screen Cinema’s bi-monthly Monday night action fest in August and September has Arnie’s original Conan The Barbarian on Aug 29th, Stallone’s First Blood on Sept 15th and a host of other goodies – such as Rocky 2, Starship Troopers, Some Like It Hot, Terminators 1 & 2 (but not 3! Or Salvation!) and Spaceballs. Check out for full details, or call 1520 927005. Ask for Pete.


With the likes of the Coens’ True Grit and Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff proving there’s life in the old Western yet, the IFI will be exploring the political edge of both the celebrated and the buried in their upcoming season called, yep, The Western.

Running from August 24th to the 28th, the five-day season will include such classics as The Searcher, High Noon, The Outlaw Josey Wales and Rio Bravo alongside rarities such as Czechoslovakia’s Lemonade Joe and Alex Cox’s career-ending Walker.

Guest curator Declan Clarke will take part in a post screening discussion with Austin Fisher,

author of Radical Frontiers in the Spaghetti Western: Politics, Violence and Popular Italian Cinema after the screening of A Bullet for the General on August 27th.

Full details on