Directed by Fred Cavaye. Starring Vincent Lindon, Diane Kruger, Lancelot Roch, Olivier Marchal.
THE PLOT: When we first meet happy loving couple Julien (Vincent Lindon) and Lisa (Diane Kruger) in here, they are in a passionate embrace in the elevator up to their apartment, where their young son and a babysitter awaits. The next time Julien and Lisa get to ride an elevator together, they are running from the police, the former having spent three years plotting an escape plan for the latter after she’s wrongly imprisoned for the brutal murder of her boss.
It’s how a humble and hurt schoolteacher becomes heroic enough to save the woman he loves – yet another appeal rejection sparking a suicide attempt by Lisa – that drives Fred Cavaye’s fine film.
THE VERDICT: It’s a slick production (Michael Mann’s former collaborator Klaus Badelt provides the score; Tell No One’s art director Philippe Chiffre and Anna M. DP Alain Duplantier take care of the look), but it would be nothing without the smart script, and a captivating central performance from Vincent Lindon. Here’s an actor who manages to conjure up the complexity and cavalier of Humphrey Bogart whilst looking like Marty Feldman’s strangely handsome younger brother.
A film that could have been called In The Name Of The Really Hot Mother, the beauty of Anything For Her is how fluidly it portrays a life having the rug pulled from underneath it. One minute you’re taking your daily happy family snap at the breakfast table; the next, you’re nursing a bullet wound in a petrol station toilet. RATING: ****
Directed by Luis Piedrahita, Rodrigo Sopena. Starring Lluis Homar, Alejo Sauras, Elena Ballesteros, Santi Milian, Federico Luppi.
THE PLOT: Four mathematical eggheads have each received an invitation with a puzzle that, once solved, will guarantee them a crack at what their invite promises to be one of the most ingenious enigmas ever set out. Each must keep their identities secret from the other three, and no one is allowed a mobile phone. Their mysterious destination turns out to be an immaculately decorated room inside an old grain factory – an immaculately decorated room that, thanks to some heavy duty hydraulics – will slowly crush its inhabitants whenever they fail to solve a riddle.
THE VERDICT: You half expect Vincent Price to pop up as the anonymous host in this curious, taut thriller, thanks to a premise that feels quaintly out of time. Sort of Clue meets The Cube, squared. Once trapped inside this slowly suffocating room, our four reluctant friends – who, despite the request for anonymity, turn out to have some troubled history together – find themselves in an increasing panic to sort out each new puzzle, as time, and the four walls, press in on them. Which makes for some wonderful 12 Angry Men panic, although some might find that Piedrahita and Sopena push their luck a little too far.
Directed by McG. Starring Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Moon Bloodgood, Anton Yelchin, Helena Bonham Carter.
THE PLOT: Going deeper and darker into the Terminators’ grey, metallic, apocalyptical future, for director McG (or Joseph McGinty Nichol, as the passport office know him), in 2018, the sun never shines on Resistance prophet John O’Connor (Bale) and the rest of the humans left raging against the thinking robot’s killing machine that is Skynet. The film opens though on death row inmate Marcus (a show-stealing Worthington), offering up his body for a cyborg experiment in exchange for a kiss from Dr. Serena Kogan (Bonham Carter) just before he heads to his execution. Meanwhile, the struggle between man and machine continues, with small pockets of freedom fighters scattered across a charred and laser-scorched America. Amongst them is Kyle Reese (Yelchin, currently on our screens in Star Trek), the man who will, eh, later travel back in time and hook up with Sarah Connor. Who will give birth to John Connor. Who’s now an adult.
THE VERDICT: Having managed to resurrect the Caped Crusader from box-office purgatory (thanks to 1997’s lame Batman & Robin) with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, Christian Bale bravely attempts another rescue mission with Terminator: Salvation – James Cameron’s time-travelling killer robots having last limped off our screens with 2003’s strictly commercial Rise Of The Machines. This time out though, Bale’s passion – and boy, does this man have passion – isn’t quite strong enough to reboot this particular faded franchise.
What’s on offer here, essentially, is a parched, sun-less Mad Max 2 – only without the thrills, spills and satisfying story arc.
The reviews for Terminator: Salvation have been largely harsh, and the all-important fanboys haven’t exactly been rushing to the film’s defense. And neither will I.
Directed by Joel Hopkins. Starring Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, Eileen Atkins, Josh Brolin.
THE PLOT: Hoffman plays sad sack New York jingle composer Harvey Shine, in London for the wedding of his daughter (Liane Balaban) when he bumps into Thompson’s bookish would-be author Kate Walker, not once, but twice. Firstly, at Heathrow, where Kate tries to get tired and emotional passengers to answer a questionnaire as they head to baggage claim, and secondly, as a very drunk Harvey exits a cab just as Kate tries to enter. Harvey has got plenty to get drunk about, his daughter having not only booked him into a hotel on his own, away from the wedding party, but she’s planning on being given away by her stepfather (Brolin) too. Add to that the extreme likelihood that he’s about to be fired from the job he’s come to hate, and sure, why wouldn’t ya get drunk.
THE VERDICT: The cheeky Dustin Hoffman and the croaky Emma Thompson here prove that you don’t have to be sixteen to have a fine romance on screen these days with a charming little film all about falling in love just when everything else in your life seems to be falling apart. That Thompson’s Kate has problems of her own – namely an elderly mother (Eileen Atkins) who spends most of her time reminding her daughter that’s she’s a spinster – means that each could do with a little help from a friend. And that’s the heart of the matter here. Writer/director Joel Hopkins’ mediocre input is elevated to something approaching special purely on the strength of his two leading players.
The Irish Film Institute will be marking the 125th anniversary of one of Ireland’s most celebrated musicians with a specialdouble-bill exploring the life and music of John McCormack.
Taking place on Sunday June 14th at 1pm, the two screening comprise of Martin Dwan’s The People’s Tenor – charting McCormack’s rise from his Athlone home to the Royal Opera House, Papal honours and global fame – alongside the Irish singer’s first talking picture, Song O’ My Heart.
Martin Dwan will be present to introduce the double-bill. Further info on irishfilm.ie, or phone (01) 6795744.
THE FACTS OF LIFE
The annual documentary festival Stranger Than Fiction hits the IFI on June 18th for its now-customary weekend of real-life wonders. And this year, the documentaries on offer tackle wannabe popstars in Afghanistan, activist pranksters and a 101-year-old sex therapist. Typical.
On the home front, there’s The Liberties, a collection of short films that focuses on the individuals that go to make this Dublin landmark what is, whilst Irish Communities On Film is a two-pronged curated programme that looks at the Irish emigrant in Irish Communities Abroad, and those closer to home in Alternative Communities In Ireland, exploring settled communities here, including an order of silent monks in Roscrea and The Screamers, who set up home in the 1970s just outside Donegal. Of course.
Running from the 18th to the 21st, full details on irishfilm.ie…