Directed by Lee Unkrich. Starring the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, John Ratzenberg, Joan Cusack, Don Rickles, Michael Keaton.
THE PLOT: The teenage Andy is getting ready for college, and so Woody, Buzz, Rex the Dinosaur, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head and the rest of his childhood toys are fearing the worst – rubbish bags. Due to a little mix-up, they end up at the Sunnyside Day Care centre, with Woody unable to convince his playtime buddies that Andy had other plans for them. When they discover that this retirement haven is not quite the dream home they had first thought, a daring escape is the only answer for our toy wonders.
THE VERDICT: As with the 1995 original and the 1999 sequel, Toy Story 3 concerns itself with letting go, a bunch of toys convincing themselves that their owner, Andy, has grown out of love with them. Within that limited toy box that has already generated two feature films, director Lee Unkrich (who co-directed Toy Story 2) and his team of writers (Little Miss Sunshine scripter Michael Arndt joining the Pixar regulars) have somehow come up with enough magical moments to more than justify your love. Again.
Early on, Buzz is determined that he and the toys “go out on a high note”, and here, they certainly do, the humour and pathos throughout making the emotional ending all the more heartfelt. And tear-inducing. It’s a film about being needed, about feeling loved, about not becoming redundant. It’ll reduce quite a few parents to tears too. RATING: ****
Directed by Bart Freundlich. Starring Catherine Zeta Jones, Justin Bartha, Sam Robards, Andrew, Jake Cherry.
THE PLOT: Jones plays a scorned woman, walking out on her cheating husband (Robards) with their three kids and setting up home above a small Manhattan cafe. Where aimless, almost clueless 25-year old Aram (Bartha) happens to work. He’s trying to get over a break-up with his French girlfriend. She’s more interested in trying to get her leg over.
THE VERDICT: It’s like last week’s Leaving, only without the style, the wit, the sophistication. Or a reason to exist. The May-September love tryst has been done to death, and the introduction of the cougar to the modern lexicon (it’s a mild step up from MILF, basically) means we’re seeing the same old story with a brand new coat of paint. Only, there’s nothing new or glossy about this particular offering, and this will be a dusty DVD in a bargain bin quicker than it takes a bunny to boil. And is there a duller actor than Justin Bartha alive today? There may even be a few dead ones with more life in them than this glorified seat-filler. RATING: *
Directed by Ross McDonnell, Carter Gunn. Starring Lance Seppi, David Seppi, George Clutter, David Mendes, David Hackenberg.
THE PLOT: A visually beautiful film, Colony’s real strength lies in the passion of the people up on screen as they see their livelihood suffer from a drastic, sudden and mysterious decline in honeybees. Most striking of all is the Steppi family. Part Norman Rockwell, part Norman Bates, these Californian farmers dedicate their lives to the honeybee and are soon turning to God and on one another when the industry starts dropping its prices.
THE VERDICT: It’s a documentary all about the sudden decline in our buzzing, honey-making, pollinating friend the bee, and it might just turn out to be the best-reviewed Irish movie of the year.
The American film industry bible Variety love it, stating that Ross McDonnell and Carter Gunn’s film “may be the most aesthetically beautiful documentary of the season, as well as one of the more urgent and intelligent”. The winner of the First Appearance Award at the Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival, Colony is also being tipped as an Oscar contender, thanks to its inclusion in the prestigious IDA DocuWeeks programme. The true spirit of the beehive can be found here…
Directed by Raymond De Felitta. Starring Andy Garcia, Julianna Margulies, Dominik Garcia-Lorido, Steven Strait, Ezra Miller, Alan Arkin.
THE PLOT: Garcia (who also produces) plays prison guard Vince Rizzo, who gives Tony (Strait) a place to stay when he discovers that the young inmate is actually his son from an old fling. Naturally, Vince doesn’t tell his wife (Margulies) and kids about their house guest’s DNA, and it’s not the only secret the man of the house is keeping – he’s also taking acting lessons. Other family secrets include daughter Vivian (Dominik Garcia-Lorido) working a strip joint for her lost college fees, and son Vince Jr. (Ezra Miller) getting his obese women kicks on the internet, where he discovers their neighbour’s fetish site.
THE VERDICT: Hidden secrets lie at the heart of this agreeable comedy drama from writer/director Raymond De Felitta (The Thing About My Folks, Two Family House). There’s enough drama here to keep a daytime soap in lather for at least 6 months, but De Felitta neatly wraps it all up in under two hours, steering just the right side of farce so you actually care about this pack of little white liars. RATING: ***
IF IT AIN’T BARAKA…
Ron Fricke’s visual feast Baraka (USA/IFI/96mins) from 1992 is a state-of-the-planet variation on Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi(which Fricke photographed) offering from ten years before. No plot, no story arc, no deep, dark narration – just a travelogue montage worthy of National Geographic. Or thereabouts. Running at the IFI on 70mm for just three days, July 23rd, 24th and 25th, at 6.25pm, you may want to bring some incense to chew on for this one. Given that the IFI is the only cinema in Ireland who can handle 70mm, having Nag Champa breath for a few days would be a small price to pay…