Directed by Chris Morris. Starring Riz Ahmed, Adeel Akhtar, Kayvan Novak, Nigel Lindsay.
THE PLOT: Following the slapstick antics of four would-be Islamist terrorists in deepest, darkest north of England, Morris has explained his comedy vehicle by stating that “terrorist cells have the same group dynamics as stag parties and five-aside football teams. There is conflict, friendship, misunderstanding and rivalry. Terrorism is about ideology, but it’s also about berks”.
The four berks in question are the idealistic Omar (Ahmed), the dimwitted Waj (Novak), the sad-sack Faisal (Akhtar) and English convert Barry (Lindsay), the latter more Captain Mainwaring meets Viz’s Big Vern than Abu Hamza al-Masri. Together, they plan on bringing England to its knees. They’re just not sure when. Or where. Or how.
THE VERDICT: Having given us The Day Today and Brass Eye on the small screen, Chris Morris is seen by many as the daring, politically-charged and subversively outrageous godfather of British comedy. And he puts all of his provocative, comic talents to good use here.
Cameron touched on such terrorist everyday incompetence in True Lies, as Art Malik’s Jihad leader rages against a video-camera’s dying battery, but Morris takes the joke even further. Naturally enough. The resulting film manages to be both funny and frightening. Think The Ladykillers. In dishdashas. RATING: ****
Directed by Samuel Bayer. Starring Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara, Katie Cassidy, Thomas Dekker, Kellan Lutz.
THE PLOT: Heading the distinctly non-star cast this time out is the likeable and fittingly creepy Jackie Earle Haley (Little Children, Shutter Island, Rorschach in Watchmen), who plays the knife-fingered man of every pretty teen’s nightmares, resplendent in his trademark Dennis The Menace sweater, and keen to revisit those little kids he molested in preschool some years ago. First up is Dean (Lutz), his eventual slump into a slumber viewed by his friends as a suicide jump, given the belief that once Freddy kills you in your sleep, you stay dead. For his surviving friends, the gradual discovery that their nightmares are linked to events that took place when they were 5 years old – horrific events their parents have kept hidden from them – gives them some hope of facing their demon.
THE VERDICT: Proving just how blissfully easy it is to sell old rope at the multiplexes these days, yet another pensionable, and very tired, horror franchise has been resurrected, hitting the no.1 spot in the US last weekend. For Warner Bros, sweet dreams are made of this – a cheap and cheerful remake of an old favourite that, when it first conquered the box-office in 1984, went on to spawn six sequels, as well as a showdown with Friday The 13th’s Jason.
Wes Craven – who not only gave us Freddy, but also The Hills Have Eyes, The Last House On The Left and the Scream outings – will no doubt be happy to see yet another of his early hits scaring the bejasus out of a new generation, but pop-video director Samuel Bayer brings nothing new to the table here. RATING: **
Directed by Alan Poul. Starring Jennifer Lopez, Alex O’Loughlin, Michaela Watkins, Eric Christian Olsen.
THE PLOT: Here, the artist formerly known as J-Lo plays Zoe, whom we first meet as she undergoes a little artificial insemination, her loveless life no doubt about to change drastically when she and hunky Aussie Stan (hunky Aussie O’Loughlin) hop into a New York cab at exactly the same time. Aaah. For the next hour and a half, they do the on-again, off-again shuffle.
THE VERDICT: With enough wit, style and inventiveness to make a mediocre half-hour sitcom. Having fallen from grace, favour and bankability with more than a few thuds in recent years, Jennifer Lopez ploughs on regardless with this hugely uninspired romantic comedy. One of those fluffy Hollywood outings that make just about enough money for everyone involved because they’re basically box-office Pollyfilla aimed at female cinema-goers who really should know better. Sassy, sophisticated and stupid.
Recently dropped by her record label (if there’s a greatest hits album, may I suggest Jenny On The Chopping Block), and with a string of box-office flops to her name in recent years -An Unfinished Life, Bordertown, El cantante – even taking the career nosedive escape route of getting married and having a baby (and being self-mocking on Saturday Night Live) hasn’t worked for Lopez. And neither does this. RATING: *
Directed by Steve Pink. Starring John Cusack, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, Bob Corddry, Crispin Glover, Chevy Chase.
THE PLOT: Suicidal party animal Lou (Corddry) is taken on a holiday by his helpful but possibly equally jaded buddies Nick (Robinson) and Adam (Cusack), plus the latter’s reluctant nephew, Jacob (Duke). The break involves heading back to the scene of some teenage wildlife for the three now middle-aged buddies, their beloved ski resort in the Kodiak Valley now possessing all the sparkle of a bucket of spit. When their hot tub magically transforms from a dirt bowl cradling a dead racoon into a bubbling, mood-lit haven, the foursome naturally jump right in. And are promptly transported back to those heady 1980s.
THE VERDICT: Much hilarity ensues – most of it off-camera, I’m guessing. It’s a sweetly bonkers concept, having the time travel vehicle be a hot tub, but, once you’ve gotten that little chuckle out of your system, there’s a surprisingly sparse amount of good jokes on offer here. This is, after all, the eighties. The decade where good taste meant shoulder pads, jacket sleeves rolled up to the elbow, and hairstyles that seemed to be the result of a possessed hedge-trimmer.
Despite the presence of such comic stalwarts as Chevy Chase and Crispin Glover, this all just feels a little more A Flock Of Seagulls than Depeche Mode. RATING: **
Directed by Claudia Liosa. Starring Magaly Solier, Barbara Lazon, Susi Sanchez, Efrain Solis.
THE PLOT: Set in present-day Lima, Fausta (Solier) carries the weight of being born after her mother, Perpetua (Lazon), was raped during the war in Peru. According to folklore, Fausta will forever carry sorrow in her heart, as a result of being breastfed by her mother. When Perpetua passes away, Fausta has to find work to pay for her funeral, and is soon waitressing for her uncle’s catering business, and working as a maid – and later, inspiration – for a concert pianist.
THE VERDICT: Peruvian filmmaker Claudia Liosa follows up her 2006 feature debut Madeinusa with this sombre, beguiling drama, a film full of symbolism and allegories. The Milk Of Sorrow is also a deceptively quiet, gentle film – one that deals with a gruesome part of Peru’s history all the more powerfully because of Liosa’s steady hand. RATING: ***
Directed by Andrey Khrzhanovsky. Starring Grigorly Dityatkovskiy, Aleksandr Bargman, Sergei Barkovsky, Aleksei Devotchenko.
THE PLOT: Charting the young Brodsky happy childhood, as he grows to embrace girls, new jeans and rockin’ vinyl, life takes a tragic turn when this outspoken political poet is deemed a ‘social parasite’ just as the family’s Leningrad apartment is commandeered by the Soviet state. Eventually, Brodsky is forced abroad, his life in the US haunted by his inability to visit his parents in Russia, or for his parents to visit him.
With this in mind, Khrzhanovsky invents a return, and a family reunion, with Brodsky lookalike Grigorly Dityatkovskiy making it to today’s St. Petersburg.
THE VERDICT:A semi-fictional account of the life and times of Russian poet Josef Brodsky, this is the feature debut of 70-year old Russian animator and documentary filmmaker Andrey Khrzhanovsky.
Unsurprisingly, given Khrzhanovsky’s background, A Room And A Half is far from traditional, being a collage of live action and archive footage, animation and distressed film, of colour and black & white. Brodsky would have no doubt approved. RATING: ***
HEAD SOUTH, YOUNG MAN
Over at the Cork Cine Club, the second season of Sunday screenings is about to get underway. Beginning on May 16th and running until June 13th, at the Half Moon Theatre, with each screening is at 7.30pm, the new arthouse club hopes to fill the gap left by the recent closure of the Kino.
The good news for film buffs is that the second season boasts reduced ticket prices, with single tickets just €10 and a package of five costing €45.
Proceeds get underway on the 16th with the French drama Welcome (France/15A/110mins), a harrowing story set against the French government’s harsh policies towards illegal immigrants, whilst the rest of the season comprises of the sublime biopic Seraphine (May 23rd); the recent Irish drama Eamon (May 30th); the English Oscar contender An Education (June 6th) and the sumptuous Italian drama Mid-August Lunch (June 13th). Full details on halfmoontheatre.com, or you can phone (021) 4270022.
The Woody Allen season at the IFI is underway, with the rest of this month’s films comprising of Annie Hall (Sunday, 2.15pm); Interiors (May 10th, 7pm); Manhattan (May 11th & 12th, 7pm); Stardust Memories (May 13th, 7pm); Zelig (May 15th, 3pm, May 16th, 3.25pm); The Purple Rose Of Cairo (May 16th, 1.45pm); Broadway Danny Rose (May 22nd & 22rd, 1.30pm) and Hannah And Her Sisters (May 29th & 30th, 6.30pm). Part two of the Manhattan maestro’s season kick off in June.