Directed by Carlos Cuaron. Starring Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna, Guillermo Francella, Dolores Heredia.
THE PLOT: Bernal plays Tato, a wide-eyed, dirt-poor banana loader, whilst Diego Luna plays his dodgy brother, and foreman, Beto. Tato dreams of becoming a professional singer, being the only one in his ramshackle village, it seems, who doesn’t realise he has a terrible voice, but his plans to move to Texas with his trusty accordian by his side are put on hold when a flashy talent scout (Guillermo Francella) reckons each of the brothers could make it to the top in football.
By the time the brothers have hit the First Division, the George Best curse has struck. Striker Tato – who earns the nickname Cursi because of his bad language – and goalkeeper Beto – aka Rudo, meaning ‘rude’ or ‘rough’ – are deep in battle with one another, and in deep trouble. Tato is dating a flashy, fleshy material girl, and Beto’s gambling leads him to an underground high-stakes casino…
THE VERDICT: The third-biggest grossing movie of all-time in Mexico, the extremely likeable Rudo y Cursi is something of a rare beast – a football movie that doesn’t suck.
The fact that, as with 2009’s other equally fine footie film, The Damned United, there is very little actual football on display may be the key to this rare achievement. It helps too, of course, when you’ve got a smart script, a fine cast, and a solid director.
And let’s not forget that the film marks a reunion between the director, writer and two leading men of the 2001 Mexican sensation Y tu mama tambien. This time out, the director, Alfonso Cuaron, takes a back seat as producer whilst his writing brother, Carlos, makes his directorial feature debut. That the latter has written a story all about two brothers competing in the same high-pressured world suggests inspiration was never too far away.
Both witty and wise, and a little wild, Rudo y Cursi is a little gem… RATING: ****
Directed by Harold Ramis. Starring Jack Black, Michael Cera, David Cross, Oliver Platt.
THE PLOT: Black and Cera play to their strengths and expose their weaknesses (especially in Black’s case, his wild-eyed, deluded loser schtick having long grown old) as Zed and Oh, a pair of tribal losers who find themselves banished from their village. Heading out to see if the world really does end beyond yonder mountain, the duo are soon traipsing through history, as they first happen upon a bickering Cain and Abel (Cross and Paul Rudd), and subsequently – after going on the run with Cain after he ‘accidentally’ bashes his brother over the head with a rock many, many times – taking leaps and bounds forward in time again and again. All along the way, Ramis and his two co-writers take a few swipes at religious superstition, but this is largely all about the easy laughs.
THE VERDICT: Coming across as Mel Brooks’ Apocalypto, the shamelessly gag-fueled Year One is an old school comedy mixed with a dash of new-school gross-out. It stars Vinnie Jones as a Roman general. Which should give you a fair idea of the Carry On on offer.
Behind the camera is Harold Ramis – responsible for the Greatest Comedy of All Time, Groundhog Day (1993), as well as such mediocre offerings as Multiplicity, Analyze This (and That) and Bedazzled – along with co-producer, and current king of comedy, Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, The 40 Year Old Virgin) – which may explain the strange mix here, of faces, and comedy, old and new. And there are, thankfully, quite a few, but Year One is almost quaintly sedate in its delivery, never particularly clever in its comedy, and rarely actually hilarious. RATING: ***
Directed by Christine Jeffs. Starring Amy Adams, Alan Arkin, Emily Bunting, Steve Zahn.
THE PLOT: Set in the present day, Rose (Adams) is keen to raise the money to send her 7-year-old oddball son Oscar (Jason Spevack) to private school, and so, on the advice of her married cop boyfriend (Zahn), she sets up the eponymous crime scene post-mortem business. With a little help from her partying sister, Norah (Blunt). Both girls are in need of a change, Rose feeling increasingly depressed about her motel liaisons, especially given she was once the queen bee in high school, whilst Norah still hasn’t gotten over the early death of their mother, her continued anguish leading her into an uncertain relationship with an older woman.
For his part, Arkin has a little fun unleashing his frank-talking grandpa routine once again, little Oscar getting a few lessons in life he’s unlikely to forget in a hurry.
THE VERDICT: The great Mr. Arkin has been none too impressed by critics dismissing his latest outing as nothing more than a pale imitation of his Oscar-winning 2007 hit, Little Miss Sunshine. The fact that this film shares not only Arkin as a sardonic grandfather in a dysfunctional Albuquerque family, but also the same producers, Big Beach, means that the decision to use the word ‘Sunshine’ in the title suggests, well, these people were clearly cruising for a bruising.
Not that Sunshine Cleaning is a bad movie; it’s just not half as good as Little Miss Sunshine. And you can’t help but be aware of that. All the way through. RATING: ***
Directed by Chris Nahon. Starring Gianna Jun, Allison Miller, Masiela Lusha, JJ Feild, Koyuki, Liam Cunningham.
THE PLOT: Based on the cult 2001 anime, all about a 400-year old samurai who is forever a 16-year old girl in the flesh who likes nothing better than going all Blade on vampires’ asses. I, for one, am looking forward to it, even if we’re unlikely to witness anything particularly new here.
THE VERDICT: The reason I don’t actually know if this film delivers is because those lowlifes at Pathe in the UK haven’t screened Blood: The Last Vampire for us lowly Irish critics – – so, can’t really say until next week whether it’s any good or not. Still, it’s a 16-year old vampire-slaying girl! And Liam Cunningham’s in it! RATING: n/a