Directed by Larry Charles. Starring Sacha Baron Cohen, Gustaf Hammarsten, Clifford Banagale, Ron Paul, Paula Abdul.
THE PLOT: Taking the blueprint of his previous big-screen hit, Borat – national TV legend from a slightly backward, bonkers country (sorry, Austria) heads to America seeking a little fame and fortune, a trusty, loving and useless Sancho Panza (Hammarstein’s Lutz) by his side – Sacha Baron Cohen has a bigger task on his hands time out. Not only have we been here before – making unwitting Americans uncomfortable about their prejudices and preconceptions – but the world of fashion hardly needs holding up to the light to reveal that it’s a world full of bimbos and idiots. Cohen’s clueless, screamingly gay Austrian TV reporter does manage to make some raving heterosexuals feel enormously uncomfortable though…
THE VERDICT: Somewhere between Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan and Ben Stiller’s Zoolander, Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest kamikaze comic creation isn’t quite as funny as either. Every bit as outrageous as you would expect from a highly talented comedian who has balls of steel – and he isn’t shy about showing them either – this time, Cohen’s misguided foreigner’s trip through America is shooting some very dumb fish in a tight-fitting, off-the-shoulder, leather-clad barrel. To use a little Bruno speak. Most of the victims here are merely being ambushed; with Borat, America’s uncertainty, and sometimes, mistrust, of foreigners gave the gags a keen sting that justified the Candid Camera car crash. Here, it’s merely red-rag-to-a-bull territory. Still, undeniably hilarious in places. RATING: ***
Directed by Will Gluck. Starring Nicholas D’Agosto, Eric Christian Olsen, Molly Sims, Philip Baker Hall, John Michael Higgins.
THE PLOT: The plot has the Gerald Ford High School Tigers’ football team’s defensive duo Shawn (D’Agosto) and Nick (Olsen) deciding, instead of attending summer football camp, they’ll try out for the cheerleading squad, purely to get themselves a little love action. From there, it’s pretty much Carry On Bonking. Only not funny.
THE VERDICT: Everyone likes a good cheerleader comedy every now and then – especially jaded old men tired from reading too many subtitles – but there’s nothing worth shaking your pom-poms about in Fired Up!, a movie that would really love to be Bring It On when it grows up. Heck, this movie even features an outdoor screening of that not-exactly-classic cheerleader comedy.
In the end though, this is merely a Frankenstein collection of other teen comedies, with a little gay and lesbian sex thrown in to show just how with it the filmmakers are. Avoid. RATING: *
Directed by Rebecca Miller. Starring Robin Wright Penn, Alan Arkin, Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder.
THE PLOT: The always watchable Robin Wright Penn takes on the title role, her narration taking us inside the head of a wife suffering from a 20-year itch, as she takes us back through her younger, wilder, happier days (think Margot Tenenbaum). And now, a younger lover (played by Reeves, who seems to specialise in these particular roles when he’s not fighting demons, aliens or special agents from another dimension). Having just moved into a Connecticut retirement community dubbed “Wrinklebury” by her considerably older husband, Herb (Arkin), Pippa Lee is tired of being the good wife. Taking a trip through her early incarnations only reiterates Pippa’s need for a little excitement now, which she finds in her neighbour’s son, Chris (Reeves).
THE VERDICT: Rebecca Miller adapts another of her own novel (after Personal Velocity and The Ballad Of Jack And Rose, the latter starring her hubby, Daniel Day Lewis) in The Privates Lives Of Pippa Lee, a book-club favourite all about a middle-aged housewife on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Hence the book-club favourite status.
Up till now, Miller hasn’t been known for her wry humour, and, what may have raised a few chuckles, and perhaps the odd eyebrow, in the book comes across as contrived and, well, not all that funny here. The fact that this movie never quite finds its feet doesn’t help either. RATING: **
Directed by Andreas Dresen. Starring Ursula Werner, Horst Westphal, Horst Rehberg.
THE PLOT: Inge (Werner) is a Plain Jane seamstress in her ’60s who decides to hand-deliver a pair of altered pants to its owner, and quickly finds herself in the throes of passion once inside the door of 70-something Karl (Westphal). Naturally, Inge decides not to tell her husband of 30 years, Werner (Rehberg), as it might distract him from his recordings of vintage steam trains. But then, taking their long-lasting and loving relationship to mean they can casually absorb any shock, Inge reveals her passionate affair. She doesn’t get the response she was expecting, neither from her hubby or her grown-up daughter.
THE VERDICT: You’re never too old to have a mad, passionate affair seems to be the core message of this latest offering from German director Andreas Dresen (Summer In Berlin, Night Shapes). Dresen reckons the ould love triangle set amongst the world of OAPs hasn’t been tackled before, but he’s wrong, of course, as anyone who’s seen the works of Fassbinder, Elfi Mikesch and others will know. There’s also the wonderful 2002 documentary Too Young To Die, wherein a Korean couple in their ’70s talk frankly about their love lives.
So, not quite as original or intriguing as Dresen suggests in his press notes; Cloud 9 plays like a smart TV movie. Maybe they could schedule straight after The Afternoon Show? Give Joe Duffy something to get excited about.RATING: **
Running from July 30th to August 3rd, the 17th Annual Dublin Lesbian And Gay Film Festival – or GAZE, if you’re in a hurry – sees the long-running shindig moving to a new premises, the Light House Cinema in Smithfield. This year, the programme has been divided into a number of strands – Gala Events, Gaze Vision, Queer Heroes, Queer Curios and Gaze Specials.
Opening the festival will be acclaimed director Patricia Rozema (I’ve Heard The Mermaids Singing, Mansfield Park), who will be bringing her HBO adaptation of Grey Gardens, the Maysles brothers 1975 documentary (which will also be screened) turned into a dramatic feature starring Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore. Closing proceedings with be Patrick Age 1.5, a comedy centred on a gay couple who, instead of the Patrick aged 1.5 as their new adopted baby, they end up with Patrick aged 15, who just happens to be a law-breaker and a homophobe.
Representing the Irish will be Paul Ward’s comedy set amongst Dublin’s theatre world, Fur Coat And No Knickers, with the director himself in attendance. For the full line-up of premieres, guests and events, log onto www.lighthouse.ie. Tickets are now on sale