Directed by Mike Mitchell. Starring the voices of Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas.
THE PLOT: With a plot that owes more than a little to It’s A Wonderful Life, our boy gets his wish to turn back the clock and become a carefree, crowd-scaring grumpy ogre once again, his marriage to Princess Fiona and having all those screaming little tykes suddenly wiped from his history. And it’s all thanks to a conniving little Rumpelstiltskin who looks uncannily like Patrick Kielty playing Jurys. Which can only be a matter of time.
THE VERDICT: I’m sure Capra would love seeing his story retold once again, even if his leading man is now a great big bogie. And if the US opening proved a tad on the softer side of expectations, the jolly green ogre nonetheless went on to dominate the no.1 spot. Thanks largely to the competition being particularly poor. So, you know, pencil in his return for some time around 2012. RATING: 3/5
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Starring Vincent Gallo, Alden Ehrenreich, Maribel Verdu.
THE PLOT: We open with the teenage Bennie (Ehrenreich) arriving in Buenos Aires and going in search of his older half-brother, Angelo (Gallo). Only Angelo now calls himself Tetro. And he wants nothing to do with his family, especially his writer/conductor father – which may explain why he can’t quite complete his play all about an imploding family. When Tetro’s girlfriend (Verdu) encourages Bennie to finish the work, it’s the spark that lights the fuse, and a terrible family secret is
THE VERDICT: It’s hard to imagine that Francis Ford Coppola even gets excited about a new Francis Ford Coppola film these days, but the noted wine maestro has been making quite a bit of noise lately about life outside the mainstream Hollywood system. The amount of countries needed to come up with the low budget here reflects just how far the mighty Coppola has fallen. Or merrily slid.
You can see the attraction for Franny boy though – this story of a family at war, and expressing its trials and tribulations through their art, must have hit a nerve or two. A big improvement on 2007’s insipid Youth Without Revolt, Coppola may be going back to his roots in more ways than one here, but, despite the shimmering black’n’white photography (courtesy of Mihai Malaimare Jr.), this is no Rumble Fish. Then again, at least it’s no Youth Without Youth. Or Jack, thank crisp. RATING: 3/5
Directed by Tom DiCillo. Starring Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger, John Densmore.
THE PLOT: Opening on little Jimmy’s early years, reading Nietzsche and idolising Elvis, when the Florida flasher finally hooked up with keyboard player Manzarek, guitarist Krieger and drummer Densmore at UCLA, life was soon rock’n’roll, mystic musings and meanderings, and hot leather trousers.
THE VERDICT: A film that clearly sets out to praise rather than appraise The Doors, this slick documentary nails its colours to the mast early on when narrator Johnny Depp refers to leader Jim Morrison as “a rock’n’roll poet, dangerous and highly intelligent”.
The hardcore fans will find much to revel in here, especially given that director – a hardcore Doors fan himself – Tom DiCillo has rooted out much previously unseen archive footage. DiCillo makes good use of Morrison’s own experimental film HWY too, the scenes of the Lizard King driving off into the desert playing perfectly into the myth of the man.
Like his hip-shaking hero, Morrison died alone, lonely and bloated in a bathroom, both men finding out the hard way that, in rock’n’roll, it’s far better to burn out than to fade away… RATING: ***
Directed by Pascal Cahumeil. Starring Romain Duris, Vanessa Paradis, Francois Damiens, Julie Ferrier, Andrew Lincoln.
THE PLOT: We open on this charming man, Alex (Duris, The Beat That My Heart Skipped), who, along with his sexy sis (Ferrier) and her slapstick hubby (Damiens), specialises in seducing poor unsuspecting souls whose partners just don’t have the style, or the balls, to dump them. Much easier to make someone your ex when they’ve cheated on you.
Unfortunately for our troublemaking trio, times are tough, and so they take on the Herculean task of separating Juliette (Paradis) from Jonathan (Lincoln). Which won’t be easy, given that this very, very rich couple are very, very much in love. And they’re pretty darn stubborn too.
THE VERDICT: Taking some time off from playing house with Johnny Depp, the fetching Vanessa Paradis delivers a very fine, and very funny, turn this sweet, sugar-coated kick of a movie. A Hollywood remake on the way, Heartbreakers benefits not only from the breezy talents of its top-notch cast but also from a wonderfully lightfingered script (by Laurent Zeitoun and Jeremy Doner) and some lightfooted direction from Pascal Cahumeil. Makes last week’s Killers look like the corporate crock of crap that it is. RATING: 4/5
Directed by Claire Denis. Starring Isabelle Huppert, Isaach De Bankole, Christophe Lambert, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Michel Subor.
THE PLOT: The formidable Huppert plays Maria Vial, living in Africa in the midst of a civil war, and determined to stand her ground. Literally. As roving militias take over white-owned plantations by force, Maria ignores the advice from departing French soldiers that she should flee, having decided to hold onto the land belonging to her ex-father-in-law (Subor) – after his son (Lambert) proves himself just that little bit too lazy. With a fiery mixture of bravery and blind faith, Maria is ready to take on the ever-encroaching madness.
THE VERDICT: Having given us the wonderful 35 Shots Of Rum in 2008, French filmmaker Claire Denis here delivers yet another intriguing, intelligent and utterly fascinating slice of modern life. Denis doesn’t set out to judge here, leaving the viewer to make up their own minds about whether or not this land is really Maria’s land. It makes for a powerfully oblique film that will stay with you. RATING:4/5
OUT OF AFRICA
As the World Cup comes to a close, the IFI set out to show another side of Africa with Faraway, So Close: Film From Africa, running from July 12th to the 15th.
Centred around the 1990 Grand Prix winner Tilai are three more modern offerings – post-apartheid Cape Town documentary Sea Point Days; Kenyan tribal drama in Soul Boy (which will be introduced by Nollywood star Deji Adenuga); and the music bio Youssou N’Dour: I Bring What I Love. Full details are on www.ifi.ie.
IFI FAMILY FESTIVAL
As reported last week, the annual IFI Family Festival – aimed at 4 to 12-year olds – gets underway on July 8th, and runs until the 11th, with this year’s overriding theme being animation. Pride of place amongst the premieres, short films, workshops and special events goes toToy Story 3, with Lee Unkrich, the director of the record-breaking Pixar release (due out here on July 19th) flying in for a special post-screening Q&A on the Saturday afternoon.
And there’s plenty more where that came from, including a premiere of the French animation offering Mia And The Migoo, which opens proceedings on the 8th. Check out www.ifi.ie for full details. Admission is free, so, book early.
Unless you have been living under a rock, you will know that Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight books have consumed the public’s imagination for the past few years. The books have been worldwide best sellers; the frenzy that surrounded the release of each book has not been seen since the glory days of the Harry Potter books. So it was only a matter of time, really, before the series was made into an equally successful movie franchise. Eclipse is the third instalment in the series. The film focuses on the love triangle that has fast sprung up between Bella (Kirsten Stewart), her vampire paramour Edward (Robert Pattinson) and her werewolf best friend Jacob (Taylor Lautner). As well as this, Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard) and her army of newborn vampires are out for Bella’s blood.
The first, and major, difference between this Twilight movie and it’s predecessors, is the director. David Slade was drafted in for Eclipse and his influence is immediate and obvious. The romantic scenes are toned way down to a more realistic (and dare we say, less emo) level. This is the first time that Edward and Bella not only seem to be happy with each other – Edward actually cracks a smile – and each seems to want the other equally. In the earlier films it felt a little like Bella was obsessed with Edward and he didn’t really mind one way or the other, but this one is a little more balanced. Of course, it is possible, nay, probable, that the love triangle between Edward Bella and Jacob has brought Edward’s feelings to the fore. Whatever the reason, it is a welcome change.
What would a Twilight movie be without someone trying to kill Bella, and this time the danger is brought by Victoria, her underling Riley and their band of murderous newborn vampires. This is still about revenge for James’s death in the original Twilight film, and honestly, it is about time that this narrative strand reached a close. The battle between the good and evil vampires is long overdue, and when it does happen, it’s a good one. Vampire and werewolf form an uneasy alliance to se off the bigger threat and of course, the smaller group – the under dogs – win. Let’s not forget that director David Slade recently directed 30 Days of Night, so if there is one thing this movie can deliver on, it’s vampire violence. Not too much though, it is a 12A cert after all.
There is a little too much focus on Bree Tanner (Jodelle Ferland) in the newborn vampire scenes, though. We know, from the books that she is the only newborn to survive, but one can’t help but wonder whether she would have been given so much attention if it was not for the novella The Short Life of Bree Tanner. Is this focus gearing up for a Bree film? It certainly seems that way. In Eclipse, however, it may have been nice to see a little more of the newborns as a group, and not have Bree singled out until she is the last woman standing.
Dakota Fanning as Jane – leader of the Volturi on tour – is surprisingly one note. There was a lot of room to allow Fanning to grow and enjoy her evil role, but instead, she just seems bored most of the time. Also criminally underused are Bryce Dallas Howard as Victoria and Billy Burke as Bella’s blinkered father, Charlie. Both have tons of potential, but neither are allowed to really stretch their legs in this movie. The same goes for the entire Cullen vampire clan. Rosalie (Nikki Reed) and Jasper (Jackson Rathbone) are given a chance to tell Bella their stories, but at the expense of other characters like Esme (Elizabeth Reaser), who is forced to the background to such an extent that when she does appear on screen the audience is left wondering where she has been throughout the movie. The only saving grace is that Michael Sheen is omitted from the movie entirely, instead of being restrained as he was in New Moon. This seems to be a problem with the series as a whole – the front characters are given tons of room to grow, but the supporting cast are left languishing in the background.
Overall, the film benefits from director David Slade’s touch – not only is the romance scaled back in favour of some proper vampire violence, but the moody, brooding feeling of the first two films has thankfully eased in this third instalment. There are some nice one-line quips, some interaction between the main three characters that feels genuine and flashbacks that actually help give background to and flesh out the main story. There are also some bad wigs, cheesy dialogue and a rubbish voice over that starts and stops throughout the film – but we have come to expect this from the Twilight Saga.
Although this is the best film we have seen so far in the Twilight Saga, the film will not change anyone from a hater to a believer, but believers will be enthralled and the curious may well find themselves drawn in. This film feels like less of a closed club than the first two, and the drawn out pace of the earlier films has thankfully been left behind.