Directed by Anne Fletcher. Starring Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Craig T. Nelson, Mary Steenburgen, Betty White.
THE PLOT: Bullock plays hard-nosed publishing editor Margaret Tate, feared by all who know her, and served well beyond the call of duty by her personal assistant, Andrew Paxton (Reynolds). When Miranda Priestly knock-off is informed that, being a Canadian who has yet to sort out her American visa, she will have to leave the country fortwith, before you can cry, “Hey, this is just like that movie, Green Card!”, Margaret grabs her bewildered assistant by the lapels and claims that, surprise, they’re about to get married. Much to the groom-to-be’s shock and horror.
Andrew’s not about to sleep his way to the middle though, and has his own demands after all those years satisfying his highly-demanding boss’ every whim. The comedy comes into play once the two have to prove their undying love to a highly suspicious immigration officer (Denis O’Hare), and that means going to meet Andrew’s parents. Who appear to live in a Norman Rockwell painting.
THE VERDICT: Sandra Bullock’s career was beginning to get pretty darn Meg Ryan-shaped there for a while, with painful flops such as The Lake House and Premonition stacking up against painful sequels such as Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous, but the actress with the perfectly upturned nose is firmly back in the saddle with one of those easy, high-concept, young chalk/old cheese romantic comedies that just about gets by on its warm and highly familiar charms.
It’s a highly cliched affair, with plenty of well-worn stereotypes straight out of central casting (including one standard-issue randy gran, played by former Golden Girl Betty White), but there’s an undeniable chemistry between Bullock and Reynolds that keeps you chuckling until the final reel. When they all die in a horrible plain crash. RATING: ***
Directed by Lars von Trier. Starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Willem Dafoe, Storm Acheche Sahistrom.
THE PLOT: Gainsbourg (who won the Best Actress gong at Cannes) and Willem Dafoe are the happy, bonking couple whose latest moment of high passion is dampened somewhat by their toddler son falling out of a window to his death. Being the therapist that he is, hubby (neither character is given a name) decides it best they take a break, far away in a log cabin in the wilds. Where she becomes ever-more unstable – slapping him in the groin with a block of wood; jerking him off until it bleeds; and drilling a hole in his leg. So she can bolt on a grinding wheel. He gets his bloody revenge though.
THE VERDICT: Your enjoyment of Antichrist will rest not only on your taste for disturbing dramas, but also on your feelings about the always highly controversial filmmaker behind it, Lars von Trier – the man who brought the world the stripped-down filmmaking manifesto Dogma 95, and such films as The Idiots, Dancer In The Dark, Breaking The Waves, The Five Obstructions and Dogville. Von Trier revels in confronting and confounding his audience, and Antichrist is no exception.This is the man who once said, “A film should be like a rock in the shoe”. This is a nightmare film about a nightmare situation. On that front, it delivers. Wonderfully. RATING: ****
Directed by Ole Bornedal. Starring Andrs W. Berthelsen, Rebecka Hemse, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Chalotte Fich.
THE PLOT: Jonas (Berthelsen) is a happily married father of two who, thanks to his work as a police photographer, finds himself at the hospital bedside of Julia (Hemse), comatosed after a road accident. Julia’s family mistakenly think he’s the mysterious boyfriend, Sebastian, they’ve heard so much about. He doesn’t have the heart to tell them otherwise.
When Jonas discovers that Sebastian reportedly been shot dead in Hanoi, he’s happy enough to take up the offer of a large wad of cash from Julia’s father to nurse her back to health. Soon after, he discovers she’s pregnant. And there’s some mysterious guy in bandages and a wheelchair lurking around the hospital.
THE VERDICT: The man behind the great Nightwatch (and its so-so Ewan McGregor-led remake), Danish filmmaker Ole Bornedal has a little fun with both the romantic comedy genre and film noir in Just Another Love Story.
It’s been described as While You Were Sleeping remade as a Scandanavian potboiler, which is a good starting point, but Bornedal is clearly paying homage to quite a few noir classics here. From the opening nod to Sunset Boulevard – body in the gutter, narrating his story in voiceover – to The Passenger, Something Wild and beyond, there’s plenty for the cinephile to have fun with here. Luckily, there’s an awful lot of fun on offer for everyone else too.
It may not be quite as smart or intriguing as Nightwatch, but Just Another Love Story is still an entertaining noir ride. RATING: ***
CIRCUS BORN (Ireland/IFI/95mins)
Screening at 1pm on Sunday July 26th in the IFI, Circus Born is not the John Major story, but a documentary charting the life of the Fossett Circus family.
Part of the IFI/Ireland On Sunday monthly showcase for new Irish fiction and documentary films, this Dublin premiere charts the story of the oldest continuously running circus in the world, having first come into being way back in 1888. Highly regarded DoP Matt Skinner marks his directorial debut here, following the Fossett Circus through seven generations, looking behind the glitz, the glamour and the goofy make-up.