Paul Byrne reviews this weeks new releases including Attack The Block, Take Me Home Tonight, The Way and more…

THE WAY (USA/12A/128mins)

Directed by Emilio Estevez. Starring Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Joaquim de Almeida, Deborah Kara Unger, James Nesbitt, Yorick van Wageningen.

THE PLOT: Having lost his estranged son, Daniel (Estevez), American Dr. Tom Avery (Sheen) decides to complete the famous Camino de Santiago pilgrimage from France to Spain that his son had only just begun when he passed. Along the way, he befriends Joost (van Wageningen), a Dutchman who’s trying to lose weight, Sarah (Unger), a Canadian divorcee who’s trying to give up smoking, and Jack (Nesbitt), an Irish novelist suffering writer’s block. We also see Daniel’s short adventure in flashback.

THE VERDICT: Inspired by father and son Sheen and Estevez hiking the Camino de Santiago, The Way weaves a few facts into its fiction, taking inspiration from Jack Hitt’s Off The Road as well as DP Juan Miguel Azpiroz’s own father (being the basis for Tcheky Karyo’s cop here). So, it’s very much a family affair, and that makes for a warm and heartfelt film. A little slight, perhaps, but warm and heartfelt nonetheless. RATING: 3/5

MOVIES.IE’S ONE TO WATCH!

ATTACK THE BLOCK (UK/16/87mins)

Directed by Joe Cornish. Starring Nick Frost, Jodie Whittaker, Luke Treadaway, John Boyega, Paige Meade, Terry Notary.

THE PLOT: A gang of south London thugs get more than they bargained for when they kill the strange little creature that crashlands near their latest mugging, as larger versions of their trophy kill begin arriving. Soon, the lads are being hunted down throughout their estate, and they’re not really sure why…

THE VERDICT: Pretty much doing for our little green friends what Shaun Of The Dead did for zombies, Joe Cornish’s smartly trashy homage to Corman and his many disciples (but especially John Carpenter) is fittingly short and sweetly twisted. And every bit as inventive and cuddly as those woolly puppet recreations of classic movies they used to do on The Adam & Joe Show. RATING: ****

TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT (USA/Germany/16/97mins)

Directed by Michael Dowse. Starring Topher Grace, Anna Faris, Dan Fogler, Teresa Palmer, Chris Pratt, Lucy Punch, Michelle Trachtenberg, Demetri Martin.

THE PLOT: It’s 1988 – screamingly so, as far as the set designer is concerned – and video store clerk Matt (Grace) is madly in love with hot babe Tori (Palmer). And he’s desperate enough to pretend that he works at Goldman Sachs when they finally talk, and, naturally, comes to regret his lie almost immediately as a wild night leads them to that place where every good game of truth or dare leads you – to bed.

THE VERDICT: Grace and Palmer (last seen in I Am Number Four) may have ended up walking away from this pic arm-in-arm, but they’re probably the only ones smiling about this sorry mess, given the critical mauling, and the poor box-office, in the US. And deservedly so – it’s cock. RATING: 1/5

MOVIES.IE.’S ONE TO WATCH!

LOVE LIKE POISON (France/16/85mins)

Directed by Katell Quillevere. Starring Clara Augarde, Lio, Michel Galabru, Stefano Cassetti, Thierry Neuvic, Youen Leboulanger-Gourvil.

THE PLOT: Fourteen-year old Anna (Augarde) is looking after her ailing grandfather, Jean (Galabru), with her mother having recently moved there after a separation from her husband, Paul (Neuvic). As her mother battles Catholic guilt and depression, Anna takes her first tentative steps towards sexual maturity with local choirboy Pierre (Leboulanger-Gourvil), just as granddad asks to have one last glimpse of “the place I came from”…

THE VERDICT: The coming-of-age of young teens and pre-teens has provided many a filmmaker with a rich and volatile palette, the blueprint, in many ways, being Godard’s The 400 Blows (1959). Maybe that’s why the French are so bloody good at them. Here, director Katel Quillevere is blessed with a perfect cast (Augarde, in the lead role, is particularly impressive), a clever, touching script (co-written by Quillevere with Mariette Desert), and a steady, calm hand behind the camera. Well worth catching. RATING: ****

MOVIES.IE’S ONE TO WATCH!

A SCREAMING MAN (France/Belgium/IFI/92mins)

Directed by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun. Starring Youssouf Djaoro, Dioucounda Koma, Emile Abossolo M’bo, Hadje Fatime N’Goua, Marius Yelolo, Djeneba Kone.

THE PLOT: Chad, the recent past, and former swimming champ Adam (Djaoro) works as pool attendant at a swanky tourist hotel, his son, Abdel (Koma), employed as his assistant. With civil war raging, Adam is pushed by a local chief to support the regime just as new hotel management demote him to gatekeeper and promote his son to pool attendant. And that’s when Adam decides to contribute to the struggle by volunteering his son for the army…

THE VERDICT: Winner of the Jury Prize at Cannes last year, shades of Ozu abound in this quietly devastating film that keeps its distance from the politics involved in Chad’s many civil wars over the last three decades (we are never told which one, exactly, is the backdrop here), and also keeps its distance, literally, from our main protagonist, A Screaming Man containing very few close-ups. As much Aesop’s fable as arthouse 101, A Screaming Man is a dark and delicious slow burner. RATING: 4/5

13 ASSASSINS (Japan/UK/16/141mins)

Directed by Takashi Miike. Starring Koji Yakusho, Takayuki Yamada, Yusuke Iseya, Goro Inagaki, Masachika Ichimura, Mikijiro Hira.

THE PLOT: Japan, 1840s, and the fine art of the samurai is deeply under threat by the evil Lord Naritsugu (Goro), a man who is happy to use his bow and arrow to wipe out a tied and bound family of servants one by one. The sadistic young Naritsugu is the younger brother of a Shogun, and therefore untouchable, his sadistic cruelty about to reach new heights when he’s promoted. And so it is that high-ranking official Doi (Mikijiro) hires renowned samurai Shinzaemon Shimada (Koji) to assassinate Naritsugu.

THE VERDICT: If Hollywood can take Kurosawa’s The Seventh Samurai and turn it into The Magnificent Seven, there’s no reason Japan can’t take The Wild Bunch and turn it into a samurai freakout. The veteran Takashi Miike (more than 80 films in the last 20 years) builds up to a 45-minute battle here that takes the fine art of bloodletting from the balletic to just about an entire opera production. A remake of a forgotten 1963 film by Kudo Eiichi, this isn’t quite the glorious masterpiece some critics have been trumpeting, but it certainly kicks ass. Or, to be more precise, slices it off with a dirty big sword. RATING: ***

MIDNIGHT RAMBLER

Kicking off their Midnight Movies this Friday, May 13th, with Russ Meyer’s wonderful Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill! will be none other than one of the film’s stars, Lori Williams.

Yep, Lori Williams. In person. Or, at least, on Skype.

Now aged 65, Williams probably has to tuck her impressive chesticles into her belt these days, but, hey, she’s still a legend. A Russ Meyer legend.

Celebrating grindhouse, blaxploitation, exploitation, horror, underground and cult classics, this Midnight Movies debut will be followed by a special cult film retro set by DJ Shrem (Andrew Sisters’ Brothers).

Strictly over 18s, it’s €9, or €7 for students, and doors open 11pm. More info on

http://midnightmovienights.blogspot.com or www.facebook.com/mid.

I SCREAM, YOU SCREEN…

We all scream for the Screen Cinema to get its website up and running. Which, hey, is finally happening. So, if you want to keep up with Dublin’s original arthouse cinema, check out screencinema.ie. Where you’ll not only find their daily listings, but also information on such special nights as their bi-monthly sci-fi screenings.

And to mark the launch, those nice people at Screen Cinema (led by the lovely Anna) are offering one lucky punter the chance to a private screening of their favourite film. All you have to do is email info@screencinema.ie to enter before June 13th, with the winner being announced on June 20th. That’s a private screening for up to 180 people, between 10am and 2pm, and film will, of course, be subject to license availability. Oh, and the prize must be redeemed within six months. Sweet as.

TURN ON YOUR DARKLIGHT…

Darklight 2010 Transmedia Symposium is online now, my friends, and you can watch it via Darklight’s YouTube channel, DarklightFestival. Presented with more than a little help from the Irish Film Board, and programmed by Nicky Gogan and Katie Holly, topics include fund-raising models, distribution platforms and crowd-sourcing collectives.

A fun way to wile a way a week. Or two.

I’VE SEEN THE FUTURE…

And it works. Well, it does, if you head over to the Screen Cinema’s Screen Sci-Fi bi-monthly season, where the programme kicks off with Ridley Scott’s Alien (June 6th), followed by Aliens (June 20th), Tron (July 4th) and Solaris (July 18th). With more films to be announced, check out screencinema.ie for further details.

BACK TO THE EIGHTIES!

There mission statement reads, ‘If Tango And Cash took a Knight Ride with TJ Hooker down 21 Jump Street, they’d have their asses handed to them by Team Switchblade’. Which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about this planned web series inspired by an unhealthy love of 1980s TV.

And they’re looking for you fine people to help Switchblade – a web show about two cops fighting crime and cleaning up streets – become a reality. Just get your ass over to fundit.ie and become a part of the process. By becoming a producer. Easy agus peasy. Just don’t turn into Jerry Bruckheimer.