Paul Byrne gives his verdict on the latest movie releases including THE DEATH AND LIFE OF CHARLIE ST. CLOUD and LIFE AS WE KNOW IT
Directed by Oliver Stone. Starring Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Josh Brolin, Carey Mulligan, Charlie Sheen.
THE PLOT: A sequel to the 1987 hit, it’s New York, 23 years later, and having served his seven years in prison for securities frauds, Gordon Gekko (Douglas) is keen to climb back on top. His estranged daughter (Mulligan) wants nothing to do with him, but her boyfriend (LaBeouf) is soon in cahoots when the duo realise they both love the same girl, and hate the same double-crossing investment shark (Brolin).
THE VERDICT: Set in 2008, just before that nice big crash that has us all on our knees, the timing couldn’t be better for Oliver Stone to deliver his first-ever sequel. Because, once again, the world is having to think about the nasty side effects of greed on a global scale. Douglas – in a role that won him an Oscar – plays it close to his chest, and his heart, aided and abetted by a solid supporting cast, and a very brief cameo from the unpolished Mr. Sheen. RATING: ***
Directed by Greg Berlanti. Starring Katherine Heigl, Josh Duhamel, Josh Lucas, Christina Hendricks, Sarah Burns, Melissa McCarthy.
THE PLOT: Thanks to a disastrous blind date – he’s a dirty big motorbike; she’s a tiny, shiny Smart car – Holly (Heigl) and Messer (Duhamel) have enjoyed ripping one another for many years now, thanks to the fact that they are godparents to their best friends’ kid, Sophie. A kid they have to soon shack up together to help raise when those best friends die in a car accident. From there, it’s like watching The Break-Up in reverse, as the bickering couple slowly fall in love – as opposed to out of it – whilst sharing a big house.
THE VERDICT: Not so much Knocked Up as Knocked Sideways, the death of a happy young couple is a strange springboard for a romantic comedy, and it’s an awkwardness that Life As We Know It never overcomes. The gags simply aren’t there, and when they are, they belong to supporting players Burns (as a Wiig-esque social worker) and McCarthy (as the neighbourhood gossip). The 437 montages don’t help either. RATING: **
Directed by Burr Steers. Starring Zac Effron, Amanda Crew, Kim Basinger, Donal Logue, Ray Liotta, Charlie Tahan.
THE PLOT: Having lost his younger brother, Sam, in a car accident that he survived, thirteen years later, Charlie (Effron) works at a cemetery. Where, it turns out, he can talk with ghosts. Including younger brother Sam (Tahan). When local yachtswoman Tess (Crew) turns up one night at the cemetery, the two go out on a date. But Tess soon becomes concerned. Why is she being ignored? And why can’t she see her own reflection?
THE VERDICT: Hollywood must have thought they had another Ghost on their hands when this 2004 best-selling novel by Ben Sherwood landed in their laps. Throw in the hot-to-trot Zac Effron – keen to drag his tween High School Musical fanbase with him into older roles – and you’ve got yourself a surefire smasheroo. Right? Wrong. This died a death in the US, and has little hope of doing that much better here. Which is a shame. It’s not that bad. Then again, it’s not that good either. RATING: **
Directed by Bernard Rose. Starring Rhys Ifans, Chloe Sevigny, David Thwelis, Luis Tosar, Crispin Glover.
THE PLOT: Bookended by the man himself on one of his popular talking tours, Wales’ most loveable dope dealer Howard Marks (Ifans) takes up through his colourful life, from his happy childhood to his introduction to the wonderful world of drugs whilst at Oxford, and then his rise and fall as an amiable and dapper international criminal. Peddling dope. Which, Marks argues, means he’s merely someone who sells the dope he can’t consume by himself.
THE VERDICT: Ifans is well cast, and Marks is well charming, with Mr. Nice feeling like a cuddly, softer version of Demme’s and Depp’s Blow (charting California’s one-time cocaine king George Jung). Which is not a bad thing, of course. Based on Marks’ bestselling 1996 autobiography, there’s a mellowness to Mr. Nice that the man himself would no doubt approve of.RATING: ***
MOVIES.IE’S ONE TO WATCH!
Directed by Corneliu Porumboiu. Starring Drago Bucur, Vlad Ivanov, Ion Stoica, Irina Saulescu.
THE PLOT: Recently married, and more than a little tired of trying to be a good cop in a bad country, undercover agent Cristi (Bucur) has been given the job of trailing teen Victor (Radu Costin) amongst the somewhat battered and bruised city of Vasliu, in the hope that they might just be able to figure out where the little tyke is getting his weed from. And whether or not he’s a dealer. It’s a job Victor knows is trivial and somewhat futile, given the state of the country around him…
THE VERDICT: The follow-up to his 2006 Cannes-winning 12:08 East Of Bucharest, writer/director Corneliu Proumboiu here holds his beloved home country up to the light – and it ain’t pretty. But it is the perfect backdrop for this good-cop-drowning fable, a film where nothing much seems to be happening. But there’s a world of bitter truths in the small detail. RATING: ****
Directed by Tim Hetherington, Sebastian Junger. Starring Dan Kearney, Lamont Caldwell, Kevin Rice, Misha Pemble-Belkin, Kyle Steiner.
THE PLOT: Starting off in June 2007, Respreto follows the movements of Second Platoon, Battle Company, 173rd Airborne Brigade as they do battle with guerrila Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, defending the eponymous outpost (named after medic killed in action there, Juan Retrespo) . Our two American journalists Hetherington and Junger – reporting mainly for Vanity Fair – join the platoon ten times over the course of a year, the fight proves to be as much Goons as gung-ho.
THE VERDICT: The winner of the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance, this solid documentary has picked up rave reviews but, yep, little box-office, having debuted in the US in its natural home – television. Hetherington and Junger capture the terror and the tedium, Respreto as good a record as any of the futility of just about any war. RATING: ***
LOST IN POLAND
As part of the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival’s Lost In Translation season, the IFI will be presented a curated programme of four Polish films, from 1948 to 2009.
Entitled Civility In Crisis, the four films examine the themes of social alienation and stifling state intervention through the various phases of Poland’s post-war history. Running on Oct 16thand 17th, and curated by Micha Olesczyk, the four films are The Treasure (16th, 12.30), How to Live? (16th, 16.25), O-Bi, O-Ba: The End Of Civilisation (17th, 12.30) and Zero (17th, 18.00). Full details on ifi.ie.
GET OFF ME GOOD CABBAGES!
The late, very great Mick Lally will be the subject of a special tribute at the IFI this coming Monday, Oct 11th, at 6.30pm.
The evening will be introduced by Lally’s close friend and Druid Theatre co-founder Garry Hynes, whilst films screened will include Billy McCannon’s 1989 short That’s All Rightalongside the 1979 RTE drama Roma, by Eugene.McCabe.
All proceeds will to Pakistan Flood Relief, and full details can be found on ifi.ie.