We review this week’s new cinema releases, including ENOUGH SAID and CAPTAIN PHILLIPS…

ENOUGH SAID (USA/12A/93mins)
Directed by Nicole Holofcener. Starring James Gandolfini, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Toni Collette, Catherine Keener
THE PLOT: Masseuse Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) discovers that one of her clients is the ex-husband of Albert (James Gandolfini), the man she has just started seeing. Eva uses her connection to find out more about the man she is dating, but soon learns that there is a fine line between information, and too much information.
THE VERDICT: James Gandolfini is on fantastic form in Enough Said. As Albert, the actor plays a character that is warm and endearing, but not without his flaws. Gandolfini, however, manages to make Albert feel like a rounded character, rather than the seemingly perfect man, with dark secrets. It is hard to tell whether the knowledge that the actor has sadly passed away deepens audience affection for the character, but it is very clear that Gandolfini’s easy and gently flirtatious role is that actor at his best.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus is well matched with the Sopranos actor; arguably she has more to do, but her scenes with Gandolfini are natural and moving, even as she changes from a caring woman, into a nagging harpy. Louis-Dreyfus plays the awkward neurotic well and, like Gandolfini, easily steps away from the TV role she is best known for.
Toni Collette, Catherine Keener and Ben Falcone make up the rest of the cast. Keener is fantastic as the kind of person you find yourself drawn to before realising that she is a pretentious, horrible individual. Collette and Falcone’s bickering and side stepping of one another is funny and effortless.
Writer/Director Nicole Holofcener has worked on some of the best shows on TV, including Parks and Recreation, Bored to Death and Six Feet Under, and she brings this experience with her to the big screen, although don’t be fooled into thinking this is her first cinema outing. Holofcener has written characters that are relatable, a situation that is just weird enough to be real and pays wonderful attention to detail. Under her direction, actors interrupt one another, confess their hatred of feet and find themselves in the wrong place at the most awkward of times, but all of this serves to make Enough Said a well rounded, exasperating and heart warming film.
With Enough Said, Nicole Holofcener has shown the late Gandolfini at his best and created a film that feels true, for all of the flaws on display here. Gandolfini and Louis-Dreyfus compliment each other effortlessly as they explore the boundary between knowing, and knowing too much. Enough Said is one of the funniest, most touching and most heart warming films of the year, even though the characters, and the situation, is far from perfect.
Review by Brogen Hayes

Directed by Paul Greengrass. Starring Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed, Mahat M. Ali, Michael Chernus, Catherine Keener, David Warshofsky, Corey Johnson.
Based upon true events, Greengrass’s latest assault on the senses tells the true-life tale of Captain Richard Phillips (Hanks), who, back on April 8th, 2009, was heading out with 17,000 metric tons of cargo – 5,000 metric tons of which were relief supplies for Somalia, Uganda and Kenya – when his ship, the Maersk Alabama, was hijacked by four Somali pirates (led by Abdi’s nervy Muse). With the bulk of the 20 crew members locking themselves in the engine room, Captain Phillips and two other crew members tried to placate and delay the pirates, in the hope that a Michael Bay-sized rescue was on its way. But it would be some time before the navy goons and all their shiny hardware would come trundling over the horizon. In the meantime, it’s a sweaty-palmed, highly-strung game of cat and mouse…
Far more Das Boot than U-571, Captain Phillips manages to make the slow-motion world of sea-faring headspinningly, heartstoppingly daring and dangerous. Think Speed 2, only the complete and utter opposite.
Greengrass’s take on the true-life high-seas misadventure of an American naval captain skis over all those bad memories and nautical potholes that Hollywood has generally fallen victim to whenever it comes to adventures out at sea, and it does so with serene grace and dizzying thrills. The fact that you leave this wet and wild ride suitably excited and delighted is doubly admirable given that the leading man is Tom Hanks – an actor whose career has been out to sea for quite some time now.
So, it’s understandable that the one-time box-office champ would sign up for a true-life thriller from the director of the two finest Bourne outings and the nail-biting Flight 93. This is the man whose frenetic directing style – where the handheld camera is not so much fly-on-the-wall as fly-on-fire – gave the Bond franchise a fright and, once the Broccoli offspring had finally digested those middle two Bourne movies, a much-needed shot in 007’s arm.
The fact that Captain Phillips has been made for under $50m also means that it’s unlikely to lose any money. Even if Hanks – who famously refunded two disgruntled Larry Crowne viewers out of his own pocket when they confronted him at a petrol station – has his big Average White American Male face on the poster. And so what, if the real-life crew members reckon their captain wasn’t half as heroic as he’s portrayed here – this is one hard-hitting, far-reaching movie that says as much about the world economy as it does about the funny games people play in order to survive.
RATING: 4/5 
Review by Paul Byrne 

Directed by Hirokazu Koreeda. Starring Masaharu Fukuyama, Keita Ninomiya, Yokio Maki 

THE PLOT: When they learn that their son was switched at birth with another boy born the same day, Ryota Nonomiya (Masaharu Fukuyama) and his wife Midori (Machiko Ono) have their world turned upside down. They meet with the Saiki family, and try to decide how to do what’s best for both families.
THE VERDICT: Lead actor Masaharu Fukuyama is a well-known singer in his native Japan, but rest assured that his casting in Like Father, Like Son is not done for kicks. Fukuyama plays a conservative father who has strict beliefs about who a father should be, and what he should do. Although Ryota is a borderline workaholic, it is clear that he has his son’s best interests at heart, and the scenes between man and young boy are warm and touching, if slightly reserved. Machiki Ono, as Ryota’s wife, is a woman who is used to her husband’s beliefs and accepts them, but she also shows some fragililty when she realises the enormity of the situation they face. Her scenes with her young colleague too, are gentle and warm, although she shows more love and affection that her more stoic husband. Keita Ninomiya plays their wide eyed and innocent son. The young actor does a fantastic job with everything he is given, and it is through him that the film truly comes to life.
The Saiki family are rather unlike the Nonomiyas; their family is larger and more chaotic and, far from being the tightly wound, career focused man that Ryota is, Yokio Maki plays Yukari as a man who knows the balance between work and family. Lily Franky, as Yukari’s wife Yudai, is as open and relaxed as her husband; the house is chaotic, mealtimes are a time for the family to come together – unlike Ryota, who is more concerned that his young son can use his chopsticks properly, than with enjoying his food – and bath time is a chance for everyone to bathe together. Shôgen Hwang, as the Saiki’s son, is much less introspective than his counterpart, but no less touching as he tries to come to terms with the change in his life.
Hirokazu Koreeda’s screenplay is comments on both the gender roles within Japanese society, as well as the idea that children are a source of pride. Ryota feels a sense of disappointment in his son, so when the chance arises to swap him with his biological child – someone who may not be as disappointing academically or musically – it is clear that Ryota sees this as a vindication for his son’s academic struggles. As well as this, gender lines are clearly drawn in the film, with the mothers being more concerned with love than bloodlines, and the men being more concerned with raising a child who is not their flesh and blood. Also, Hirokazu Koreeda seems to be almost unknowingly examining cultural differences between East and West; on viewing the film, the question of the families’ acceptance of their fate with very little emotion arises, as we, in the West, believe that we would have a stronger emotional reaction to such news. Maybe the mothers are too stunned to react or, and the films makes this seem more likely, they acquiesce to their husbands’ demands. Either way, it is an interesting debate.
Koreeda’s direction feels natural and unforced, particularly in the scenes with the children, who seem utterly at ease with the situation and the people around them. This leads to beautiful, innocent scenes with the kids, and a warmth that suffuses the entire film. As well as this, the film is surprisingly light for one that deals with such a strong and often shocking subject.
Like Father, Like Son suffers slightly from it’s running time, and Western audiences may find choices made due to cultural differences bewildering, but the film is warm and rich. The kids shine in the film, which feels like a character study and a comment on the cultural and economical divide within Japan. Hirokazu Koreeda’s film may raise more questions than it answers, but it is filled with fantastic performances, endearing characters and genuine emotion.
Review by Brogen Hayes 

LOVE, MARILYN (USA, France/TBC/107mins)
Directed by Liz Garbus. Starring Marilyn Monroe, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeremy Piven, Elizabeth Banks,Adiren Brody
THE PLOT: An examination of the life of Marilyn Monroe is given new insight with the discovery of her personal papers. Narrated and dramatised by Jeremy Piven, Evan Rachel Wood, Viola Davis and Uma Thurman – among others – the film gives new insight into the fame and tragic life of one of Hollywood’s most enduring stars.
THE VERDICT: The story of Marilyn Monroe is well documented and known, but what we have had little idea of, until now, is how Marilyn herself felt about her life. Director Liz Garbus has taken Marilyn’s personal correspondence, journals and poetry and used them as a backdrop for examining the star’s life… Once again.
Using Marilyn Monroe’s personal thought as backdrop for a new investigation into her life was a clever move. There is a feeling that Monroe is the 20th century version of a Greek myth; so little is known about the untimely death of a woman who flew too close to the sun. Instead of dryly reading and combing through the letters, Garbus’s decision to use well known faces to dramatise Marilyn’s own work, as well as the work of authors that have written about her, allows the audience to get an idea of how the star felt throughout her life, Rumour is gone, speculation is gone, and what we are left with is the facts.
As well as the actress’s personal writing, Garbus also uses interviews from those who knew Monroe, either from the archives or new recordings, which shed a little more light on the torment that she found herself going through, both personally and professionally. The trouble is that so much is made of the intrusion into Monroe’s life, and the fact that Marilyn Monroe was a persona, a mask that Norma Jean hid behind, that it feel as though the documentary is both fascinating and intrusive.
Garbus manages to push aside the icon, the woman created to be Marilyn and give the audience a glimpse at the person hiding behind the mask. What emerges is an articulate, clever and self-conscious woman who fought hard to be taken seriously in both her career and her love life.
Love, Marilyn is an intimate look at the person behind an international icon that often feels a little too intimate. The world is still fascinated by Monroe, but it seems as though it is the mystery that intrigues us. Peeling this away then, feels intrusive and overly personal. Garbus’s choices to dramatise the readings are the strength of the film that magnifies the tragedy of Monroe’s life.
Review by Brogen Hayes

Directed by Bill Couturie. Starring the voices of Mark Ruffalo, Channing Tatum, Viola Davis, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michelle Williams, Chris Cooper, Berenice Bejo, Demian Bichir, Allison Janney, Zooey Deschanel.
THE PLOT: Centred around the letters – the hundreds of thousands of letters – sent to Jackie Kennedy following the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22nd, 1963, the words of comfort and the deep sense of loss are read out over home movie footage and family portraits of both the 35th President of the United States and of those who wanted offering their condolences and thoughts. Context for those thoughts are offered up through news reports, TV footage and facts and figures dealing with such landmark issues such as the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the Peace Corps and the Civil Rights Bill.
THE VERDICT: A deeply moving and revealing documentary, Letters To Jackie sees a heartbreaking moment in history brought crushingly back to life. Utilising the love and real sense of loss felt around the world when John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22nd, 1963, writer/director Bill Couterie reminds us that America at the time was full of hope and anticipated glory. He also reminds us that America has a nasty habit of eating its young idealists.
On that sunny Friday in Dallas, the 1st American President to be born in the 20th century – the man who was Elvis, The Beatles, Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln all rolled into one – was gunned down by what was, it seemed, merely a madman with a mail-order rifle. By the Monday, the White House had received 45,000 letters. And that was just the beginning.
Letters written from the broken hearts and reeling heads of not just Americans but people all over the world, these emotional words of comfort were meant only for Jackie Kennedy’s eyes. No one was straining for soundbites, no one was searching for that viral spark. This was everyday people trying to understand a gruesome new chapter in the American Dream, a nightmare on Elm Street, right across from the Texas School Book Depository.
There is, of course, an Adam Curtis 10-parter hiding in the shadows here, but back then, before the Oval Office’s dark arts and the Quimby traits were dragged into the light, JFK was a shining beacon of hope, representing a time when the moon was no longer the limit. A handsome, charming, intelligent family man whose politics, dreams, aspirations and home life echoed those of so many others. But not all, of course.
By crystallising the words of those everyday people, Bill Couterie – who also made the wonderful 1987 HBO doc Dear America: Letters Home From Vietnam, and who’s working here from Ellen Fitzpatrick’s eponymous book – perfectly captures the intoxicating sense of hope and the devastating sense of loss that bookended that cruel day in Dallas.
LETTERS TO JACKIE: REMEMBERING PRESIDENT KENNEDY is showing exclusively at Odeon Cinemas
Review by Paul Byrne 

TURBO (USA/G/95mins)
Directed by David Soren. Starring the voices of Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Michael Pena, Luis Guzman, Bill Hader, Richard Jenkins, Ken Jeong, Michelle Rodriguez, Samuel L. Jackson, Snoop Dogg, Maya Rudolph.
THE PLOT: Theo (Ryan Reynolds) is a garden snail who dreams of a bigger life or, more accurately, a faster one. When a freak accident leaves him with super speed, Theo – who renames himself Turbo –  finally sees the path to his dreams open before him, but he may need a little help.
THE VERDICT: If you’re thinking that the plot for Turbo feels familiar, you’d be right. As the film goes on, it becomes clear that Turbo borrows liberally from other animated works – Ratatouille and Cars come to mind – and it is fairly obvious that DreamWorks have accepted that one of the things that makes Pixar films great is the attention to detail, which is definitely on show here. The voice actors – Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Maya Rudolph, Samuel L. Jackson, Ken Jeong – do a great job with voicing their characters. Their timing is brilliant and Jackson gets some of the best lines in the film; ‘Your trash talk is needlessly complicated’ is a standout. Reynolds and Giamatti work well together, with the latter’s voice suiting his character as the world weary snail, Chet. The story is where we start to run into trouble. It is easy for the audience to accept that, like many superheroes, Theo’s powers come from a freak accident, but once the worlds of escargot and car racing combine, many of the audience members may give it up as a bad job. There is plenty here that has been inspired by other films, and the parallels to Disney’s Planes are all too… um… plain (sorry!) as the protagonist is revealed to be a small town creature with big dreams. That said, the film’s dark humour – which will be far too dark for the littl’uns to get… I hope – leads to plenty of laughs, as do the aforementioned one-liners. Although director David Soren has been involved in many animated outings in the past, this is his first feature length film and the first film he has written with original characters. The dialogue is great in places and the story is cute enough, but the pacing of the film is where it really suffers. It takes a good half hour for the film to get going, then it stops and starts many times through it’s 96 minute running time, making it feel way longer than it actually is. The good news is that the animation is lovely as usual, but the 3D is redundant, also as usual. In all,  Turbo is a film that feels instantly familiar, however this may go in favour of the film at the box office. David Soren’s influences are clear, as the story is one we have seen a million times before – with some oddly underdeveloped supporting characters – but the dialogue is actually pretty good and the film is funnier than you might think. Reynolds and Giamatti stand out in a film that is sweet and familiar, but somehow unmemorable. Oh, and if the idea that a snail dreams of entering the Indie 500 is too much, then this is not the film for you. The kids may like it, but the film may struggle to hold their attention in places. Fort the adults, this is nothing new. 
Review by Brogen Hayes

Directed by John Noel. Starring George Mallory, Andrew Irvine
The Epic of Everest is a loving restoration of the film made by Captain John Noel as George Mallory, Andrew Irvine, their fellow explorers and their many Sherpa porters try to be the first to set foot on the summit of the world’s tallest mountain; a quest that would claim two of the team’s lives.
THE VERDICT: There is little doubt that setting out to conquer Everest is a daunting task. The name of the mountain looms almost larger than the summit itself, and many have died trying to make their way to the top of the world. Captain John Noel not only captured the majesty of the Tibetan landscape, but also is one of the first records made of Tibetan life, making the film an important historical record.
The footage, restored and re-coloured by the BFI, shows Captain John Noel’s ability to capture the scale and isolation of the voyage to Everest, as well as the daunting task that lay before the climbers. While piecing his footage together, it does seem that Noel gave into melodrama and romanticised the mountain whose shadow he stood in, but it is easy to forget that this film was made during the advent of cinema. Audiences were not as used to seeing such striking images on screen, and not yet as desensitised as audiences in 2013, that are well used to seeing the majesty of Everest in images and on the big screen.
Melodrama, and title cards filled with flowery phrasing aside, The Epic of Everest is an interesting look at the hardships faced by those that tried to be the first to conquer the mountain. Two men lost their lives during the expedition that Captain Noel spearheaded. Noel is also the first man to have ever captured moving images of Everest, during a reconnaissance mission in 1922. The trouble with this beautiful film, is that it feels slightly unfocused by today’s standards, and it’s 82 minute running time is a little too drawn out.
The Epic of Everest may not be the mountain adventure film we might expect, but it is a loving, and sometimes fearful, look at the tallest point on earth. Captain Noel filmed, and put his film together with care, and the BFI’s restoration is testament to his work. Just don’t expect a thrill ride from start to finish.

Directed by Paul Duane. Starring Jerry McGill, his long-suffering best friend Paul, his long-suffering girlfriend Joyce, and a handful of rockers and recording engineers caught up in his tailspin.
THE PLOT: As he enters his 70s, struggling to come to terms with a recent cancer diagnosis and moving in for a tumultuous relationship with his childhood sweetheart, Joyce (who didn’t want to have her face revealed here) after 46 years apart, Jerry McGill actually just has one thing on his mind – to get back up onstage and finally make it as a rock’n’roll star. He’s certainly got the history for it, even if his early promise as a songwriter and performer – most notably releasing a single, Lovestruck, on Sun Records in 1959 – was quickly overshadowed when McGill merrily became the kind of wanted outlaw buddies such as Waylon Jennings (for whom he road managed, played guitar and co-wrote songs, when not sourcing drugs and girls) and Johnny Cash would only dare sing about. Claiming to have been arrested in Memphis 97 times by the mid-’70s, McGill was soon living the nomadic life. “Music and crime took me on the road,” he later explained, McGill spending much of the last few decades on the run, living under various pseudonyms, staying one step ahead of the law and of the people he’d just burnt.
THE VERDICT: If Jerry Lee Lewis had never made it, he probably would have ended up a lot like Jerry McGill. This rock’n’roll animal was the real messy deal, a man who would make Keith Richards nervous and Tom Waits scream like a little girl. He’s also, of course, an asshole, someone most sensible people wouldn’t allow in their home. Or, as in the case of longtime friend and record producer Jim Lancaster, into a close friend’s home, McGill not only wearing his absent host’s clothes but also somehow managing, in three short days, to turn said house into something resembling an abandoned squat.
To be fair to McGill, he’s always looked and sounded like the trouble that he is, so, anyone who parties with him should know it’s going to be hard. When Irish filmmaker Paul Duane began filming McGill’s efforts at a musical comeback, he and producer Robert Gordon knew it was going to get messy. Just not quite this messy though, I should imagine, the pills, thrills and major bellyaches testing their patience beyond breaking point. Still, it all makes for a great rock’n’roll fable.
Managing to burn that little bit brighter again just before fading away, McGill didn’t live long enough to see Very Extremely Dangerous gets its theatrical release, passing away in May of this year at Huntsville Hospital in Alabama.
Review by Paul Byrne 

ESCAPE PLAN (USA/15A/116mins)
Directed by Mikael Håfström. Starring Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger,Jim Caviezel, Vincent D’Onofrio, Sam Neill, Vinny Jones.
Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) is a professional escape artist; he tests prison security systems by infiltrating the prison, then escaping. When he is offered the chance to break out of the world’s most high security prison, Breslin jumps at the chance – and the fee – but it is not long before he realises that he has been set up.
Stallone plays a familiar character; a man wronged, who must find his way back to the life he cherishes, and he does it well. Stallone is not an actor known for his subtlety, so action, not emotion, is the name of the game here. Arnold Schwarzenegger is Breslin’s accomplice and friend on the inside; both actors have some truly awful lines, but the worst of them fall to the former Governor. The good news is that he seems to enjoy a trite script and delivers his lines with aplomb.
Jim Caviezel – remember him? – plays prison warden Hobbes, and rarely is there a piece of scenery left unchewed when he is on screen. It is clear that the former Christ takes great pleasure in playing the villain, but he camps it up so much that, at times, it is hard to believe that this man would be left in charge of a cat, never mind a maximum security prison. Sam Neill turns up as prison doctor Kyrie, and does not have a whole lot to do. The same goes for Vincent D’Onofrio, whose turn here does little to cleanse the palate of his terrible, hammy performance in this year’s Fire With Fire. Vinny Jones also turns up, playing a thuggish thug, as usual. Hey, you have to hand it to the guy, he has found his niche, and he is sticking to it.
Screen writers Jason Keller – known for Mirror Mirror and Machine Gun Preacher – and Miles Chapman – in his first big screen outing – have written a script that is so filled with cliché that it is often laughable. The dialogue feels like it was lifted from a James Bond film that was written – and rejected – in the 1980s, and the set up for the break out is so needlessly complex that it often leaves the audience wondering what the heck is actually going on.
Director Mikael Håfström has done both horror films – The Rite, 1408 – and thrillers – Derailed – but Escape Plan never lives up to the tension highs that it sets itself. Instead, the film is filled with odd camera angles – including an amazingly over the top shot of Schwarzenegger through the blades of a helicopter – over the top acting and Stallone and Schwarzenegger trying to do their best not to be acted off screen by Caviezel; an odd, and often unintentionally funny combination.
Escape Plan is a throwback to the cheesy action movies of the 1980s with a villain and score to match. Stallone and Schwarzenegger do what they do best – and to be fair, they manage to make the film watchable – but the rest of the film is so over the top, and filled with horrible one-liners, that it is hard to believe in any of it, even for a second. Not that the film is not entertaining; it is, just not for the reasons you would hope.
Review by Brogen Hayes 

Directed by David Gordon green. Starring Emile Hirsch, Paul Rudd.
Alvin (Paul Rudd) and Lance (Emile Hirsch), two highway workers, spend the summer of 1988 marking the roads through rural Texas. Although the pair are at odds at first, two life changing events make them realise that they are not actually that different.
Paul Rudd has also made a name for himself working on comedies like Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, This is 40 and I Love You Man, but he has always been an actor with the ability for the dramatic – he also appeared in William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet, and had a surprisingly touching role in Friends – so it is great to see the actor stretch himself. With Alvin, Rudd is not playing for laughs, although he sometimes gets them. Rudd allows Alvin to be a man so caught up in bettering himself, and with the notion that he is loftier than his companion, that he cannot see the two ironies present in his life; that by being apart from his girlfriend, he is driving her away and he is deeply in love with the countryside, yet is working on roads that will destroy it. As well as this, Rudd also allows Alvin to be selfish and almost cruel to the only person in his company; Lance, while showing off his tender side to almost everyone else they meet.
Emile Hirsch did not start off well last year, with the horrible alien invasion film The Darkest Hour, thankfully he managed to redeem himself somewhat with Killer Joe. Hirsch takes another step in the right direction with Prince Avalanche as he plays a man-child who appears to be as selfish as his colleague, but also has hidden depth of kindness.
Prince Avalanche is a remake of an Icelandic film called Either Way, which was only released in two cinemas in its home country. If it seems a rather odd choice of a remake, it sort of is, but it also serves to remind audiences that there is more to David Gordon Green than the stoner comedies that he has been making for the past few years. Green handles the dialogue between the characters – much of it the same as in the original film – with care and ease; he never allows the characters to becomes over sentimental, but does allow these two men, both struggling with relationships and themselves, to gradually open up to one another and eventually, find common ground. The locations – desolate roadways and scarred forests – serve to underline the damage that these men are suffering from, but also forces them to become friends as there is almost no one to talk to but one another. Where the film falls down, however, is that even at the darkest moments, the characters are filled with innocent hope, which becomes rather tiresome after a while. As well as this, while the first hour of the film is enjoyable and serene, it does feel rather muddled and unfocused.
Prince Avalanche is a return to form for David Gordon Green. Paul Rudd gives his most serene performance in years, Emile Hirsch reminds us of his potential and the landscape is as haunting as it is inviting. It’s just a shame that Green’s return to still but slightly dark films is a remake. However, if it took a remake for the director to return to quiet but hopeful films, then better this than nothing at all.
Review by Brogen Hayes