This weeks movie reviews by Paul Byrne, including Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Chico and Rita

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HOLLOWS: PART 1 (USA/UK/12A/145mins)

Directed by David Yates. Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Brendan Gleeson.

THE PLOT: They say the darkest hour is right before the dawn, and chosen one Harry (Radcliffe) has to go on the run with fellow Hogwarts School Of Witchcraft & Wizardry students Hermione (Watson) and Ron (Grint) as the evil Lord Voldermort (Fiennes) closes in for that final battle. Rowling has described this closing book as a “bizarre road movie”, and that means we get shoot-outs in London diners, manic car chases and moments of self-doubt deep in the woods. Oh, and lots and lots of encroaching darkness…

THE VERDICT: And so, the long goodbye to the boy wizard who has headed up the most successful movie franchise of all time – having so far pulled in $4.8gazillion, or thereabouts – finally gets underway, mild-mannered Brit director David Yates (State Of Play, Sex Traffic, Girl In The Cafe) here capturing some of the twilight magic of Alfonso Cuaron’s towering Prisoner Of Azkaban, the third and finest big-screen Potter adaptation. There’s certainly plenty of flash, bang, wallop for your buck here, the plot fairly rattling along as our trio look for seven fragments of soul to bring down Voldermort whilst avoiding the seemingly endless army of killers on the loose. There’s even some girl-on-girl action with Bellatrix (Carter) and Hermione. What more could you ask for? RATING: ***

 

UNCLE BONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES (Thailand/UK/France/IFI/114mins)

Directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Starring Thanapat Saisaymar, Jenjira Pongpas, Sakda Kaewbuadee, Natthakam Aphaiwonk, Geerasak Kulhong, Wallapa Mongkolprasert.

THE PLOT: During their visit to Uncle Bonmee (Saisaymar), Tong (Kaewbuadee) and the elderly Jen (Pongpas) are visited one evening by both the spirit of their host’s late wife, Huay (Aphaiwonk), and his deceased son, Boonsong (Kulhong), the latter returning as a glowing-red-eyed ape. Boonsong tells of how he had mated with a monkey ghost in the jungle. Meanwhile, a facially-disfigured princess (Mongkolprasert) is enchanted by a talking monkfish, who lures her into the water and makes, eh, sweet, sweet love to her. After that, proceedings get a little weird.

THE VERDICT: This is a film that I feel positively guilty, and not a little bit stupid, for not loving. The winner of the Palme D’Or, acclaimed director Thai director Weerasethakul here deals with reincarnation and issues of migration whilst letting his imagination run away with him. It makes for an, at times, blissfully bonkers film, in a David-Lynch-on-safair way, but, I was never entirely convinced here. The amateur acting, the Aesop-on-acid storylines, the pregnant pauses, the long stares; it just didn’t reach the parts for me. Perhaps when I’m older. And wiser. And know more about the fine art of filmmaking.RATING: ***

 

MOVIES.IE’S ONE TO WATCH!

MAMMOTH (Sweden/12A/125mins)

Directed by Lukas Moodyson. Starring Michelle Williams, Gael Garcia Bernal, Tom McCarthy, Marife Necesito, Sophie Nyweide, Natthamonkarn Srinikornchot, Jackie Vidales.

THE PLOT: Happy, shiny New York couple Leo (Bernal) and Ellen (Williams) appear to have it all – stunning loft apartment, sweet, smart little girl, and a wonderful Filipino nanny to do all the everyday stuff. Like raise little Jackie (Vidales). Leo is off to Bangkok, to sign a multi-million pound deal on the video game company that he founded, but he’s soon lost in translation – with nothing but a sweetie (Srinikornchot) to help him over his sudden mid-life crisis. Ellen, meanwhile, is struggling to find some peace of mind, and a good night’s sleep, as life in ER begins to take its toll. Both though seem blind to the struggles of their nanny (Necesito), who has two young boys back home crying for her return.

THE VERDICT: One of modern cinema’s most intriguing filmmakers (if you haven’t seen Together or Lilya 4-Ever, Do So Now!), Swedish filmmaker Lukas Moodyson makes his English-speaking debut with this,yep, intriguing drama that plays like Babel without the bombast. This melancholic study of parents separated from the children through their desire to afford a better life for them highlights the disconnect people inflict upon themselves in the name of making a living. Moodyson pulls his punches so when the heartbreak arrives, it’s quietly devastating. RATING: ****

 

MOVIES.IE’S ONE TO WATCH!

 

CHICO & RITA (Spain/UK/15A/93mins)

Directed by Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal, Tono Errando. Starring the voices of Limara Meneses, Eman Xor Ona, Bebo Valdes, Idania Valdes.

THE PLOT: Havana shoeshine man Chico (Bebo Valdes) finds his mind cast back to earlier times by a jazz tune on the radio, recalling his time as an ace pianist back in 1948. Meeting the beautiful singer Rita (Idania Valdes), Chico falls in love, and the future looks bright as they head for America. But they fight, and Chico stays as Rita becomes a major star. Touring Europe, Chico also has a hit with the song he wrote for his beloved – who isn’t exactly having the time of her life in the US, thanks to segregation.

THE VERDICT: That animation is no longer just for kids or men who want to see little Japanese girls kick ass whilst flashing their tiny whiteys is old news, but it’s still a treat to find a curious offering such as this Cuban love letter to love and to its music. The pedigree behind the camera is impressive – Mariscal is known for his design work, and bandleader Bebo Valdes (the voice of Chico) and flamenco star Estrella Morente (playing herself) are Latin American music legends – giving the verging-on-childlike visual treat up front hidden depths and delights. Sweet. RATING: ****

 

POWELL (AND PRESSBURGER) TO THE PEOPLE!

Just a reminder that the first part of the IFI’s Michael Powell (And Emeric Pressburger) retrospective is well underway, with the towering A Matter Of Life And Death screening on November 29th and 30th at 18.50. Be there. We’ll let you know when the line-up for the second collection will be. Or you could always get yourself over to ifi.ie, of course.

 

YOUNG AT HEART

This month’s Wild Strawberries screening is Ramond De Felitta’s recent City Island, starring Andy Garcia as the head of a family with quite a few secrets and lies in the mix. Screening on the 24th and the 26th at 11am, the admission price of €4 includes a free cuppa. We spoil those old folk, we really do.

 

SMALL ORDER

Running on November 29th at 18.10, Irish Shorts pretty much does what it says on the poster. Collecting together offerings from both the live action Short Stories and the animated Frameworks, this third programme of new Irish shorts offers, the blurb says, ‘a foretaste of films to be presented in the IFI throughout 2011’. Nice.

 

FAMILY AFFAIR

The IFI Family film on November 21st will be the classic 1970 Brit offering The Railway Children, re-released to mark the 40th anniversary. Jenny Agutter is the eldest kid, whilst Bernard Cribbins is prickly porter Perks. Screening is at 11am. Bring sandwiches and a flask.

 

RAIDERS OF THE FINE ARCHIVES

Offering three programmes – from 1970, the 30-minute Irish Countrywomen’s Association: Sixty Years A Growing; from 1964, the 6-minute Amharc Eireann Montage; from 1957, the 15-minute More Power To The Farmer – the IFI are offering free Archive At Lunchtime screenings every Monday and Wednesday at 13.10pm. All you have to do is collect your ticket at the IFI box-office. Super nice.