Reviews – New movies Opening Dec 9th 2011

This weeks movies reviewed by Paul Byrne including Puss In Boots, Another Earth and New Years Eve

Directed by Chris Miller. Starring Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis, Amy Sedaris, Guillermo del Toro, Constance Marie, Billy Bob Thornton.
THE PLOT: Hayek plays the clawless feline felon Kitty Softpaws, hooking up with a quickly besotted Puss In Boots (Banderas) to kidnap the goose that lays the golden egg. Only trouble is, the goose is at the top of the beanstalk. And the magic beans needed to grow the beanstalk are in the hands of hairy, horrible hick couple Jack and Jill (voiced by former movie star Thornton and funny girl Sedaris). The man with the masterplan is Humpty Dumpty (Galifianakis), a scorned childhood friend of Puss In Boots whose life of crime led to his downfall. Off that wall.
THE VERDICT: Having received a critical battering for his Shrek The Third, director Chris Miller finds a different route into the lucrative big green ogre franchise that he has helped nurture from day one with this spin-off. And, well, the resulting origins tale is okay. Verging on fine. The animation is a little dark and murky, and the gags don’t always land, but the 18-year chemistry between Banderas and Hayek shines through, whilst Galifianakis just about makes an annoying character pretty likeable. And it’s a damn sight better than Happy Feet Two. If that’s any kind of recommendation. RATING: 3/5
NEW YEAR’S EVE (USA/12A/117mins)
Directed by Garry Marshall. Starring Ashton Kutcher, Lea Michele, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Pfeiffer, Abigail Breslin, Halle Berry, Jon Bon Jovi, Robert De Niro.
THE PLOT: That most maudlin time of year gets the film it deserves with a host of stars big and small, talented and untalented, playing out a series of small vignettes as the big day approaches. Abigail Breslin enjoys her first screen kiss! Ashton Kutcher and Glee’s Demi Moore lookalike Lea Michele get it on. Robert De Niro just grins and bears it. Once again.
THE VERDICT: Ah, good old Garry Marshall, the 77-year old legend who brought us Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley and Pretty Woman. And then Runaway Bride. And Raising Helen. And Valentine’s Day. It was the runaway box-office success of the latter, highly-insipid, star-studded ensemble piece (taking in $216m, despite being hated by everyone bar those working for Mr. Marshall) that inspired this highly-insipid, star-studded ensemble piece. Only New Year’s Eve takes insipid to a whole new level. And who the hell said it was okay to have Bon Jovi and De Niro in the same movie? RATING: 1/5

Directed by Mike Cahill. Starring Brit Marling, William Mapother, Matthew-Lee Erlbach, DJ Flava, Meggan Lennon, AJ Diana.
THE PLOT: On the night that our planet’s doppelganger is spotted in the sky, 17-year old Rhoda (Marling, pretty, and pretty bland) is merrily driving home from a party, watching those skies. When she should be watching the road, ploughing into a family of three, leaving the driver, John (Mapother), in a coma, and his wife and child dead. Four years later, Rhoda is released from prison, a shell of a woman, lost in a Flake commercial, contemplating suicide, but settling for the next best thing – janitor at a high school. An attempt to apologise to the still shellshocked John is fumbled into a request for work as a cleaning lady, and before you can say Another Girl, Another Planet, the two broken, dazed strangers find refuge in one another…
THE VERDICT: When it comes to major film festivals, there’s a tendency for everyone involved – the journalists just as much as the distributors – to try and find that hidden low-budget gem that’s going to take the world by storm. It’s this heightened expectation that can turn an intriguing idea with a hot lead and little else into an overnight sensation. Only trouble is, the overnight sensation is often gone the morning after. And so it proves with Another Earth, a Sundance rave that inspired the normally wise Fox Searchlight to slap $1m down on the table. What they’ve gotten for their buck is a lo-fi sci-fi with an intriguing idea (another earth popping up out of the blue; unfortunately, the science here is far more that dick David Blaine than Philip K. Dick) and a hot lead in Brit Marling (who has all the presence of a director’s girlfriend). As for Mapother, his unsympathetic role isn’t helped by the fact that he looks like the lovechild of Jeremy Renner and Tom Cruise (his cousin). As you might have guessed already, this film really annoyed the s**t out of me. RATING: 2/5

LAS ACACIAS (Argentina/Spain/IFI/85mins)
Directed by Pablo Giorgelli. Starring German de Silva, Hebe Duarte, Nayra Calle Mamani.
THE PLOT: Returning to Buenos Aires from Paraguay, truck driver Ruben (de Silva) picks up a woman, Jacinta (Duarte), and her five-month old daughter, having agreed with his boss to bring them to the capital. Ruben clearly doesn’t want any passengers, and even contemplates, at one point, buying a bus ticket for Jacinta. Gradually though, the ice thaws, and the two begin to talk…
THE VERDICT: A road movie where the road itself is unimportant; just what’s going on inside the vehicle. The feature directorial debut of Argentinian editor Pablo Giorgelli (Moebius, Just For Today, Natural), Las Acacias is a lesson in patience, and letting silence speak for itself. Any mapping done here is purely human mapping, as we barely see the landscape that whizzes past our two protagonists. It’s a lesson in loneliness, and that special kind of despair that can come with being a parent. So, you know, perfect date material. RATING: 3/5

Reviews by Paul Byrne