Directed by James Mangold. Starring Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard, Viola Davis, Paul Dano.
THE PLOT: Diaz is the hot, innocent bystander, June Havens, who finds herself caught up in the high-octane world of Cruise’s top-of-the-range secret agent Roy Miller, the two soon jetting around some of the world’s hotspots as the latter realises his life is in danger and the former goes from hostage to huggy bear.
THE VERDICT: Cruise turns on the charm as only Cruise can, but there’s a hollowness now to the chiseled everyman persona that has served him so well in the past. And no amount of jump-cuts, high-octane set pieces and surprisingly brutal violence in this by-the-numbers hitman-and-her comedy thriller is going to distract from that career-stopping fact. RATING: **
Directed by Brad Peyton. Starring the voices of James Marsden, Bette Midler, Christina Applegate, Katt Williams, Neil Patrick Harris, Wallace Shawn.
THE PLOT: No doubt a paean to peace in the Middle East, the plot has our feline and canine friends uniting in the face of a common enemy, the scheming Kitty Galore (voiced by Midler) deciding to mess with the tiny minds of man’s best friend. And turn them against their masters. And therefore leave world domination open to our little furry fiends. Hot on her tail is keystone K-9 Diggs (Marsden) and feisty feline Catherine (Applegate)…
THE VERDICT: All wrapped up nicely as a James Bond spoof (director Brad Peyton even getting Roger Moore along, as the voice of Tab Lazenby, no less), The Revenge Of Kitty Galore has enough pace, pooches and puns to keep even the dumbest cat lover giggling throughout. And that’s saying something. A big improvement on the 2001 original. RATING: ***
Directed by John Chu. Starring Rick Malambri, Adam G. Sevani, Sharni Vinson, Alyson Stoner.
THE PLOT: Whatever…
THE VERDICT: So, Step Up 3D. The third in the teen dance-off outings. In 3D. Choreographers not only have to think outside the box now, but the frame too. So, they can add eye-poppin’ to the body-poppin’. Wicked. Just like the a-bumpin’ and a-grindin’ StreetDance 3D.
The 2006 original gave us Channing Tatum. The first sequel, in 2008, gave us, eh, Briana Evigan. Here, the star is Rick Malambri. I sense a pattern emerging here. Can’t they just send these things straight to Tesco from now on? RATING: **
Directed by Rachel Ward. Starring Ben Mendlesohn, Bryan Brown, Sophie Lowe, Rachel Griffiths, Maeve Dermody, Josh McFarlane.
THE PLOT: Fortysomething writer Ned (Mendelsohn) reluctantly returns to the old family farmstead in the Aussie outback to visit his dying father (Brown), bringing along the fiery beauty Toni (Dermody). Who turns out to be the least of Ned’s worries as he struggles to come to terms with the past. A past that includes a dangerous infatuation with his twin sister, Kate (Lowe), her death years ago in a car crash, and the suicide of their brother, Cliff (McFarlane), that same night, hiding a world of deceit, lust and pain.
THE VERDICT: Adapted from Newton Thornburg’s novel, this is somewhere between Festen and The Sullivans. But, in a good way. The feature directorial debut of former 1980s screen minx Rachel Ward (Against All Odds, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid), after two award-winning shorts, the happily-married mum-of-three decided she was ready to make the big leap to her first feature. And she was right,Beautiful Kate weaving its dreamy, walkabout magic around a story that sweetly messes with your head. And heart. RATING: ***
Directed by Javier Fuentes-Leon. Starring Cristian Mercad, Manolo Cardona, Tatiana Astengo, Atilia Boschetti, Jose Chacaltana.
THE PLOT: In a sun-bleached Peruvian fishing village, happy-go-lucky Miguel (Mercad) is, alongside his smiling wife, Mariela (Astengo, a Liz Bonnin lookalike, chirpy TV presenter fans), about to become a parent. Which makes his secret trysts with the cuckoo in the village, painter Santiago (Cardona), increasingly troubled. Troubled enough for Miguel to insist it’s over, sending Santiago off in anger. And returning soon after as a ghost that only Miguel can see. Being able to walk hand-in-hand down the main street with the man he truly, madly, deeply loves is a revelation to Miguel, but he soon realises that this honeymoon can’t last.
THE VERDICT: A little covert fun in the blistering sun takes an unexpected turn in this Peruvian film centred on that perennial chestnut, the auld love triangle. Like a hazy, lazy sunny afternoon, Undertow plays out its intriguing tale of questioned manhood versus smalltown machismo, and its lightness of touch makes for a sweet and sour love story. RATING: ****
Directed by Jan Kounen. Starring Mads Mikkelsen, Anna Mouglalis, Elena Morozova, Natcha Ludinger.
THE PLOT: Based on the book Coco & Igor by Chris Greenhalgh (one of the three screenwriters here, alongside Kounen), proceedings open on the 1913 Paris premiere of the daring ballet Le Sacre du printemps by Stravinsky (Mikkelsen), the ensuing mayhem over this controversial work being much enjoyed by Chanel (Mouglalis). Cut to seven years later, and the two finally meet, Chanel offering to become Stravinsky’s artistic benefactor, by setting him up in her country estate. Much to the distress of Stravinsky’s ailing wife (Morozova), mother to their four sweet kids. From there, it all goes considerably John & Yoko-shaped.
THE VERDICT: And somewhat shapeless as a film, as the artfully-lit rumpy-pumpy comes to dominate the action. A film that could almost be a sequel to last year’s Audrey Tatou-led Coco Before Chanel, Jan Kounen’s outing charts the early 1920s, short-lived love affair between the fashion icon and the Russian composer. And it’s suitably stylish. And more than a little one-note. RATING: **