This weeks movies reviewed by Paul Byrne including The Hangover 2, Diary Of A Wimpy Kid 2, Heartbeats and La Quattro Volte..
THE HANGOVER: PART II (USA/16/101mins)
Directed by Todd Phillips. Starring Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong, Jamie Chung, Mike Tyson, Nick Cassavetes.
THE PLOT: Cooper’s nice guy Phil says it all in the opening haggard, wedding-delaying phone call to his wife – “Sorry, Tray – it happened again”. Yep, the wolf pack decided it was a smart idea to reunite two years after their mindblowing, memory-wiping Vegas bachelor party and head to Bangkok for another wedding – that of anally-retentive dentist Stu (Helms) to his Thai sweetheart, Lauren (Chung). A latenight toast on the beach (without deadwood Bartha, interestingly enough) sees the trio waking up in a grotty hotel room with a wide-eyed capuchin monkey and no sign of Lauren’s over-achieving 16-year old brother, Terry (Mason Lee). Bar his index finger, that is.
THE VERDICT: A pale and sweaty imitation of everyone’s favourite R-rated comedy, Todd Phillips and the gang brazenly repeat the same plot from the original 2009 breakout hit, letting the audience in on the joke with plenty of nudge-nudge, wank-wank moments. Trouble is, what seemed blissfully ridiculous in the first outing often comes across as desperately contrived here. It doesn’t help that the squalid, humid Bangkok allows for almost no sun, and little fun beyond the tangibly sleazy (this is, at times, more Midnight Express than Men Behaving Badly). Zach gets a few Milligan-esque zingers in, but not enough to counter the ever-growing sense here of been-there-shagged-that. RATING: 2/5
DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: RODRICK RULES (USA/G/98mins)
Directed by David Bowers. Starring Zachary Gordon, Devon Bostick, Rachel Harris, Robert Capron, Steve Zahn, Peyton List.
THE PLOT: Greg Heffley (Gordon) is now in the seventh grade, and only a tad-the-wiser. And certainly no match in the brawn department when it comes to older brother Rodrick (Bostick). Greg is also punching above his weight with the ladies, falling for top-of-the-range Holly (List). And then there’s the great teenage kryptonite of Being Publicly Embarrassed – you know, wearing Speedos to swim practice, getting locked out of your house in nothing but your underwear…
THE VERDICT: The movie that kicked Suckerpunch’s ass at the US box-office isn’t quite as charming or disarming as its 2010 predecessor. Based on Jeff Kinney’s popular novels – aimed squarely at that lucrative market known as Young Adults – anyone past that point may find little to enjoy here. Most of the life lessons on offer have already been tackled on The Brady Bunch. RATING: 3/5
Directed by Xavier Dolan. Starring Monia Chokri, Niels Schneider, Xavier Dolan, Anne Dorval, Anne-Elisabeth Bosse, Olivier Morin.
THE PLOT: Montreal fashionistas Marie (Chokri) and Francis (Dolan) are the best of sophisticated buddies, their friendship threatened somewhat though by they each fall for the statuesque Nicolas (Schneider). Narcissism runs deep, as this stylish love triangle plays like a Face photoshoot…
THE VERDICT: Young gun Dolan made quite an impact with his assured 2009 debut I Killed My Mother (being only 20 at the time), and this highly stylised love story centred around three highly stylised individuals wears its influences – Godard, Almodovar, Wong Kar-Wai, Chanel – brazenly on its well-stitched sleeve. You’ll either fall in love with it, or hate it. RATING: 2/5
MOVIES.IE’S ONE TO WATCH!
LA QUATTRO VOLTE – THE FOUR TIMES (Italy/IFI/88mins)
Directed by Michelangelo Frammartino. Starring Giuseppe Fuda, Bruno Timpano, Nazareno Timpano, Artemio Vellone, Domenico Cavallo, Santo Cavallo.
THE PLOT: Set amidst the rolling hills of the small Italian village of Calabria, and in virtual silence save for the regular clanging of the bells around the necks of his goats, an ailing, constantly coughing old shepherd (Fuda) goes about his daily chores, each ending with a bedside drink of blessed dust mixed into a glass of water. It’ll be dust to dust soon enough, and so we follow a newborn goat, and later, the fate of a tall tree the goat takes shelter beneath.
THE VERDICT: The serenity of this remarkable film is hard to explain – from a landscape that Miyazaki would be happy would be proud of to one-take shots involving animals that could show Sean Penn a thing or two about subtlety. And timing. It’s a lazy afternoon of a film, taking its sweet time to tell us nothing and everything. The sort of film that would make Michael Bay scream. Sweet. RATING: 4/5
BUILD SOMETHING MODERN (Ireland/Nigeria/Kenya/IFI/70mins)
Directed by Nicky Gogan, Paul Rowley. Starring Solomon Osho, and lots of elderly architects and missionaries.
THE PLOT: Revisiting the architectural wonders that Africa was subjected to as missionaries moved in and began, in the 1950s and ‘60s, to construct their dream shrines. It was, as one architect points out, “virgin territory”, and freedom of expression reigned. Once you allowed for the sweltering sun. And the torrential rains. And the bad taste.
THE VERDICT: Gogan and Rowley follow-up their acclaimed asylum seekers-in-Butlins doc Seaview with this highly stylised documentary on the highly stylised buildings that Irish architects inflicted upon Africa as the Catholic Church made its presence felt. It’s a documentary that seems to have been edited by Frank Gehry, long stretches of silences followed by a clatter of archival clips before another uncertain old man tries to recall his dream home away from home. Like a trip through the archives with the button on ‘shuffle’, you might want to bring along something to punch afterwards. RATING: 2/5
Running throughout the month of June, the IFI’s High Anxiety season highlights those American conspiracy thrillers that tried to make sense of, and entertainment out of, Vietnam and Watergate.
Naturally, the season kicks off with John Frankenheimer’s The Manchurian Candidate, and takes in the likes of Alan J. Pakula’s Klute and The Parallax View, Polanski’s Chinatown, Coppola’s The Conversation, Arthur Penn’s Night Moves, another Pakula, Rollover, the troubled Winter Kills and, finally, Costa-Gavras’ Missing.
In the middle of it all, Ivan Passer’s Cutter’s Way – starring the great Jeff Bridges – gets a welcome re-release, on June 10th, for one week only.
Running from June 1st to the 26th, full details can be found on www.ifi.ie.