This weeks movies reviewed by Paul Byrne, including Pirates 4, Win Win, Julia’s Eyes, Red Hill and more…
RED HILL (Australia/IFI/85mins)
Directed by Patrick Hughes. Starring Ryan Kwanten, Steve Bisley, Tommy Lewis, Claire van der Boom, Christopher Davis, Richard Sutherland.
THE PLOT: For his first day at the small town of Red Hill, young police officer Shane Cooper (Kwanten) gets a lot more than he bargained for. Convicted murderer Jimmy Conway (Lewis) has escaped from prison, and is no doubt heading home to seek revenge on the local law enforcement – headed by the cantankerous Old Bill (Bisley) – who put him away.
THE VERDICT: From the beginning, this film has so much going for it – small Aussie outback town gears itself up for a verging-on-apocalyptic, one-man killing machine (Lewis’ Conway coming across like Leonard Smalls’ Mini-Me), with a wide-eyed father-to-be caught up in the crossfire, and the gruff macho politics of a small town. Such a sweet set-up is left writhing on the floor though, shot down by the simple fact that the posse hillbillies are always about two steps behind the audience. God, this film bugged me. RATING: **
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES (USA/12A/136mins)
Directed by Rob Marshall. Starring Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Geoffrey Rush, Ian McShane, Kevin McNally, Sam Claflin, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Stephen Graham, Keith Richards.
THE PLOT: The search is on for the Fountain Of Youth, Captain Jack (Depp) hooking up with triple-crossing old flame Angelica (Cruz), both soon serving under the iron voodoo fist of the notorious Blackbeard (McShane) and his ship of merry zombies. Also out to snag the prize is Hector Barbossa (Rush), now working for King George (Richard Griffiths), whilst the Spanish are keen to destroy this God-mocking hocus pocus…
THE VERDICT: Perhaps the only person in the world really looking forward to a fourth Pirates outings is producer Jerry Bruckheimer, the multiplex messiah having just suffered a string of embarrassing flops. Lucky for Jerry, Captain Jack is Depp’s soft (or is it blind?) spot, and so, the $2.6billion juggernaut sails again, without the grandiose vision of Gore Verbinksi (happy-go-lucky hack Marshall taking his place), $100m less in the budget kitty (At World’s End cost $300m), and a double battle-cry of a shorter running time (only just) and much less ‘mathematics’ (as Johnny puts it) when it comes to the plot. The result is actually pretty entertaining, the slapstick and innuendos saving the day somewhat. Not as good as the original, but certainly better than those two sprawling, waterlogged sequels. RATING: ***
MOVIES.IE’S ONE TO WATCH!
WIN WIN (USA/15A/103mins)
Directed by Tom McCarthy. Starring Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Bobby Cannavale, Jeffrey Tambor, Burt Young, Melanie Lynsky, Alex Shaffer.
THE PLOT: It’s another dull day at the office for smalltown attorney Mike Flaherty (Giamatti), struggling to make ends meet when he realizes that becoming the guardian of an elderly client (Young) would earn him some much-needed extra weekly income. When the latter’s teenage grandson (Shaffer) turns up, Mike soon realizes his high school wrestling team might just have a winning new member. Finally.
THE VERDICT: It’s another day at the office for Paul Giamatti, taking on another not-so-beautiful, Eeyore-esque loser in the latest fine offering from writer/director McCarthy (The Station Agent, The Visitor). Real-life New Jersey wrestling champ Shaffer is a find, like a young, broody Penn, whilst the topline supporting cast lets you know that you’re watching Quality American Indie Drama. And you are. RATING: ****
JULIA’S EYES (Spain/16/117mins)
Directed by Guillem Morales. Starring Belen Rueda, Lluis Homar, Pablo Derqui, Francesc Orella, Joan Dalmau.
THE PLOT: When her twin sister, Sara, is found hung, Julia (Rueda) sets out to prove it was murder. The sisters shared an eye disease that leads to blindness, so it’s a race against time as Julia discovers that Sara had a boyfriend. Her investigation is initially disapproved of by her psychologist husband (Homar) – who is promptly found hung after he helps his wife acquire a tape of Sara and her boyfriend. As her sight weakens further, Julia has the same operation as her sister, and her eyes must remain bandaged for a week. Which means employing some home help…
THE VERDICT: Guillermo del Toro is on as producer, and the makers here delivered 2007’s horror hit The Orphanage – so, you know walking in what sort of film you’re dealing with here. Visually strong (ironically enough), Julia’s Eyes lets itself down though in the clichés department – of which there are far too many here, the familiar shocks and jolts techniques slowly wearing down our goodwill. And patience. RATING: **
Taking place at the Sugar Club on Saturday 4th of June, Film Fatale present their 1940s night of cinema nostalgia with a screening of Casablanca followed by a Moroccan-themed party with music from that era.
Film Fatale is a bi-monthly film event, celebrating classic movies with some old-fashioned fun, and, as such, should be supported. You multiplex-shagging swines. Tickets are €15, available on www.tickets.ie. Doors open 8pm, screening 9pm, and after-party from 11pm (tickets at the door for the latter; €5).