Directed by Nigel Cole. Starring Sally Hawkins, Bob Hoskins, Miranda Richardson, Geraldine James, Rosamund Pike, Andrea Riseborough, Jamie Winstone.
THE PLOT: It’s 1968, and women working at the Ford motor plant stage a one-day strike over equal pay – having been classed as ‘unskilled’ labour. Leading the charge is young mum Rita (Hawkins), who brings the women’s campaign to Westminster. As publicity grows, so does Rita’s struggle, pressure mounting on the home front as Ford try the charm offensive. But these ladies are not for turning…
THE VERDICT: Producer Stephen Wolley first heard of these real-life 1960s labour equality campaigners on a BBC Radio 4 reunion, their march on Westminster with a half-opened banner demanding sexual equality in the workplace giving the film its original title – We Want Sex. Dreadful title, but then, it’s hard to know what sort of title would help sell this sweet-natured and surprisingly old-fashioned, I’m All Right Jacqueline satire. There’s something flatly predictable about not only the line-up of feisty women here but also their fight. As much Benny Hill as Ken Loach, catch it on TV. On a Tuesday. After tea. RATING: **
Directed by Casey Affleck. Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Casey Affleck, Anthony Langdon, Eddie Rouse, Sean Combs, Ben Stiller.
THE PLOT: Opening on some home video from February 12th, 1981, as the young Phoenix attempts a waterfall jump (and ending on a recent revisit to the same Panama spot), we’re thrown into the turmoil created when the Walk The Line star casually reveals on an American entertainment TV show that he is retiring from acting. To, he later explains to an open-jawed Mos Def, “make a hip-hop Bohemian Rhapsody”. Early on, Entertainment Weekly quote a friend of the actor as stating that the whole thing is a hoax, and Phoenix finds it’s an uphill battle to be taken seriously. Even by P. Diddy.
THE VERDICT: Initially touted by subject Joaquin Phoenix and his director (and brother-in-law) Casey Affleck as a year-long diary of the former’s retirement from acting to become a hip-hop artist, the sting of I’m Still Here has altered somewhat now given that both have recently stated the whole thing was, as many believed, a hoax. What you’re left with is an elaborate joke, as Phoenix proves far more Borat than B-Boy, more Andy Kaufman (right down to a very awkward David Letterman appearance) than Vanilla Ice, more Jackass than 8 Mile. Phoenix is happy to make a complete ass of himself (doing coke, shouting out his assistants, ordering escorts so he can “smell their buttholes”). Seemingly setting out to defecate on the cult of celebrity – and perhaps the creative process itself – as he pushes this self-mocking freak show further and further, even Phoenix seems to realise early on that the novelty gradually wears off. And all you’re left with is that sinking feeling of a long and elaborate joke that proves to be not all that funny. Joaquin should have gotten Vincent Gallo to play his part. RATING: ***
Directed by Rodrigo Cortes. Starring Ryan Reynolds, Jose Luis Garcia Perez, Rob Patterson, Stephen Tobolowsky, Ivana Mino.
THE PLOT: On a route delivery mission in Iraq, truck drive Paul Conroy (Reynolds) wakes up inside a coffin, quickly surmising that he has been buried alive after his convoy was ambushed by insurgents. Luckily, his mobile phone still works, and attempts to call family, friends and work colleagues for help. Only his reception isn’t all that great. Being six feet underground. In Iraq. His kidnappers do manage to get through though, demanding the US government cough up $5million within two hours. And that’s when things get kinda sticky for Paul, as he tries to preserve the remaining air, and phone battery, for that all-important rescue.
THE VERDICT: It’s a brave concept, staying with one man, inside a coffin, for just over an hour and a half, but director Rodrigo Cortes and writer Chris Sparing somehow manage to keep our interest. Reynolds deserves credit, of course, for tackling such a tricky role so well, a far greater challenge than Colin in his phone booth or those Devil idiots stuck in a Shyamalan script. As for kick-ass Thurman, she only managed minutes of screen time in her Kill Bill coffin too. The claustrophobia is palpable here – we never get even a glimpse of daylight – and if there are flaws (such as a wayward snake slithering comically into shot) Buried, eh, digs deep, and triumphs. RATING: ***
Directed by John Luessenhop. Starring Paul Walker, Matt Dillon, Idris Elba, Chris Brown, Hayden Christensen, Michael Ealy.
THE PLOT: LA, and a band of merry bankrobbers find their best laid plan is in danger of, well, not going to plan. Thanks to the eagle eye of ambitious detective Welles (Dillon), no big fan of these “cocky assholes”. The big job is an armoured car with a $25m payday inside, and… well, you know.
THE VERDICT: Quite a few people were surprised when this just-above-average heist movie pipped the well-above-average horror flick The Last Exorcism to the no.1 in the US a few weeks back, but then, you should never underestimate any movie featuring a bunch of dangerous men on a mission. Even when they’re largely no-hopers struggling through some really cheesy dialogue and a flat script. What gives Takers its extra star is the pacing, director Luessenhop (who previously gave us Lockdown) handling the chase scenes particularly well. RATING: **
BACK TO BACK TO THE FUTURE
Always good to have an excuse to watch Back To The Future once again, and Universal have just given a damn good one – the 1985 sci-fi blockbuster returns to the big screen this week for a limited run. So, you know, get on your rickety old skateboard, and get your ass over to Marty and the gang. McFly, like an eagle. Etc, etc.