This weeks movies reviewed by Paul Byrne, including Troll Hunter, Friends With Benefits, Jane Eyre and more…

FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS (USA/16/109mins)

Directed by Will Gluck. Starring Mila Kunis, Justin Timberlake, Patricia Clarkson, Jenna Elfman, Woody Harrelson, Andy Semberg.

THE PLOT: Being a thoroughly modern couple, Dylan (Timberlake) and Jamie (Kunis) reckon they can treat sex “like playing tennis”, and still remain just good friends. Which, unsurprisingly, works extremely well for a short while before, hey, pesky emotions start getting in the way. Along with, despite early claims to the contrary, some very conventional romantic comedy clichés…

THE VERDICT: As with the recent Kutcher and Portman-led No Strings Attached (whose original title was actually Friends With Benefits), here buddies Timberlake and Kunis headline a movie pitching intercourse without intimacy – the idea that smart, hip and independent kids can have their cake and smear it all over one another’s perfect skin, and still be just friends in the morning. A knowing Carry On for the gross-out generation, naturally, as with No Strings Attached, there’s a great big dollop of Oprah by the closing credits. The moral of every Hollywood romance being, you have to have morals when it comes to getting jiggy with someone. Otherwise, whether you’re a man or a woman, you’ll end up looking like Peter Stringfellow. Often hilarious in those early heaving, heathen stages (thanks to Timberlake and Kunis’ undeniable chemistry but also a crack supporting team), by the closing credits, Friends With Benefits has resorted to being just the kind of likeable, cliched date movie that it set out to send-up. RATING: 3/5 

JANE EYRE (USA/12A/120mins)

Directed by Cary Fukunaga. Starring Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell, Judi Dench, Sally Hawkins, Jayne Wisener, Simon McBurney.

THE PLOT: The elfin Aussie actress Mia Wasikowska (Alice In Wonderland) takes on Charlotte Bronte’s “poor, obscure, plain and little” heroine, suffering a cruel Victorian orphanhood that merely sets the scene for a life of hardship that inevitably hardens the heart. From her brutal aunt (Hawkins) to a self-righteous headmaster (McBurney), through to her job as governess for the mysterious, tormented Mr. Rochester (Fassbender), Jane Eyre becomes a fiercely independent young woman who knows the true value of love…

THE VERDICT: Given that this is the 1,746th screen adaptation of Bronte’s 1847 novel, it’s admirable to see director Fukunaga (who came to notice with his Mexican immigrant tale Sin Nombre in 2009) take such a stark and near-silent approach to such a wordy and worthy classic. He’s aided and abetted enormously in his task, of course, by a taut script from Moira Buffini (Tamara Drewe, Neil Jordan’s upcoming Byzantium), but, most importantly, by two exciting and enticing leads. Fassbender, in particular, is darkly seductive as Rochester, the Irish actor proving to be one of cinema’s greatest finds of recent years (thanks not only to the likes of Hunger, Fish Tank and Inglorious Basterds but also current festival hits A Dangerous Mind and Shame). RATING: 3/5

MOVIES.IE’S ONE TO WATCH!

TROLL HUNTER (Norway/15A/103mins)

Directed by Andre Ovredal. Starring Otto Jespersen, Robert Stoltenberg, Glenn Erland Tosterud, Johanna Morck, Tomas Alf Larsen, Kut Naerum, Urmila Berg-Domasas, Hans Morten Hansen.

THE PLOT: A bountiful 283 hours of footage is found, and the Norwegian government’s attempt to cover-up their country’s growing Troll infestation is blown wide open. And it all began – as found footage often does – with a bunch of geeks on a simple mission. In this case, to expose some unlicensed bear hunting. Pretty soon, Thomas (Tosterud), Johanna (Morck) and Kalle (Larsen) wish it was only bears that they were dealing with as they stumble upon some not-so-jolly blue giants, of various shapes and sizes. And flatulence problems. It’s enough to make gruff poacher Hans (Jespersen) take the trio on board, believing in safety in numbers. And having bait to throw…

THE VERDICT: An interesting contrast to last week’s dismal Apollo 18, this fine and funny faux-documentary outing actually remembers to bring the spills and thrills, and a sense of humour, along with the shaky Hi-D camera. Director Overdal knows how to deliver a good monster mash, keeping his star players largely hidden as the tension – and, so effective in horror, the laughs – build to a showdown that’s part Peckinpah, part Python. Sweet. RATING: 4/5

COLOMBIANA (USA/16/107mins)

Directed by Olivert Megaton. Starring Zoe Saldana, Michael Vartan, Lennie James, Callum Blue, Jordi Molla, Cliff Curtis.

THE PLOT: Having witnessed her parents’ murder as a child growing up in Bogota, Cataleya (Saldana) is trained by her uncle (Curtis) in the fine art of killing people for a living. But there’s really only one person Cataleya is aiming for, and that’s the doomed Marco (Molla), the scumbag who was responsible for her parents’ death. But hey, it ain’t going to be easy tracking him down. But it will be violent. And super-sexy.

THE VERDICT: Casting hot chicks as cold killers doesn’t always work, as the four or five people who went to see Keira Knightley in the Tony Scott-directed Domino will testify, so it was brave of the fetching Zoe Saldana to not only take the lead here but produce also. The fact that Luc Besson is also on producing duties gives you some idea of the slick, sexy soufflé on offer here. And sexy is really the name of the game here, as Saldana disposes of baddies whilst wearing the short shorts and miniscule tops. When she’s not sucking lollipops as she does a little maintenance on her weapons. Fans of Besson’s soft porn bullets-and-bras oeuvre will find much to enjoy here, Colombiana is all hotness and little heart. RATING: 2/5

A LONELY PLACE TO DIE (UK/15A/99mins)

Directed by Julian Gilbey. Starring Melissa George, Ed Speleers, Eamonn Walker, Sean Harris, Alec Newman, Karel Roden.

THE PLOT: A group of climbers are tackling one of Scotland’s highest mountains when they stumble upon a pipe sticking up out of the ground. And, after hearing her cries, a young girl buried underneath. Soon, the climbers are under fire as they attempt to rescue the kidnapped girl, her two captors (one played by the great Sean Harris, so effective in Harry Brown and Red Riding) determined that their payday doesn’t get away…

THE VERDICT: The wilderness chase movie may not be anything new at this stage, but, as with all genre pieces, when it’s done with enough energy, inventiveness and style, it can make for an enjoyable thrill ride. And A Lonely Place To Die, after a slow set-up, just about manages that, the strong villain as always matched by a strong target – Aussie actress Melissa George (30 Days Of Night, the 2005 remake of The Amityville Horror) knows her way around trouble, and, as stated earlier, Harris was born for scaring the crap out of men, women and children. RATING: 3/5

POST MORTEM (France/IFI/98mins)

Directed by Pablo Larrain. Starring Alfred Castro, Antonia Zegers, Amparo Noguera, Jaime Vadell, Marcelo Alonso, Ernesto Malbran, Steve Nave.

THE PLOT: Chile, 1973, and morgue autopsy reporter Mario (Castro) develops a sudden crush on his anorexic neighbour, Nancy (Zegers), the latter having just been fired from her job as an exotic dancer for being too thin. And, it would seem, being constantly spaced out of her head. Outside on the streets, protesters are out in force, defending President Salvador Allende and his socialist reforms. Allende won’t survive the riots…

THE VERDICT: Winner of the top prize at the Cartagena Film Festival earlier this year, director Pablo Larrain taking a step into the political terrain after the disco-driven psycho thriller Tony Manero. On the surface, this is a story about two not-so-beautiful losers, the political upheaval in Chile at that time the backdrop to their oddball love story. Which leaves the viewer free to see the bigger picture without proceedings descending into an Oliver Stone extravaganza. RATING: 3/5

FREE AS A BIRD

Ken Loach’s much-loved 1969 outing Kes (UK/IFI/110mins) gets a welcome re-release at the IFI this week, complete with a new print.

Loach’s debut feature is set in a northern English mining community in the late ‘60s, young Billy (David Bradley) being distracted from his humdrum and pit-bound life when he nurses a stricken falcon back to health. It’s Billy Elliot, with wings.

RADAR LOVE

This Sunday at 10am, UCI Blanchardstown will play host to a special screening of the critically acclaimed Isle Of Man motorcycle race documentary TT3D: Closer To The Edge (UK/15A/103mins), in aid of The Irish Cancer Society. Tickets are €10, and can be reserved by emailing frank.clarke55@gmail.com, phoning 086 2779699, or through the My Charity link, www.mycharity.ie/event/tt3d_closer_to_the_edge_fundraiser.

COME OUT TO PLAY!
All you midnight cowboys will want to get yourselves down to the Block T gallery in Smithfield this coming Saturday night, September 10th, for Hollywood Babylon’s double-bill of The Warriors and The Wanderers.
Kick-off is 10pm, and kick-out is 2.30am, and you can either hit Hollywood Babylon’s Facebook page or the Block T website. Both are a little too cool to give you any direct info, but, hey, it’s worth the effort to get into these midnight shindigs…