Directed by Michel Gondry. Starring Seth Rogen, Cameron Diaz, Jay Chou, Christoph Waltz, Tom Wilkinson.
THE PLOT: With a stern, newspaper mogul father (Wilkinson) always barking in his ear, “Trying doesn’t matter if you always fail”, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Britt Reid (Rogen) has grown up to be a clueless party boy. When his father dies, Reid has to man-up though – and so he calls on his late father’s loyal servant Kato (Chou) for help. Their bond grows deep as Kato reveals his many hi-tech creations and Britt decides to stop being a useless arse.
THE VERDICT: Over the last 13 years, there have been 20 drafts and a slew of stars (including Stephen Chow, Nicolas Cage and Kevin Smith) attached to this big-screen, big-budget adaptation of the now-75-year-old superhero (co-created by Fran Striker, the man behind The Lone Ranger). Finally, it came back to director Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind), and the quirky French filmmaker makes a surprisingly transition to balls-out, tongue-in-cheek action here, aided and abetted by a tight, funny script by Rogen and regular writing partner Evan Goldberg, and a cast who are clearly enjoying the ride tremendously. Close in attitude and altitude to the firstIron Man outing, this is smart, funny and generally kick-ass. RATING: 4/5
Directed by Derek Cianfrance. Starring Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, Faith Wladyka, John Doman, Mike Vogel.
THE PLOT: This dark tale cuts between love blossoming and love breaking down, as we join young Brooklyn parents Dean (Gosling) and Cindy (Williams) both drifting apart and, in flashbacks, falling deeply in love. Dean seems happy to be where he’s at, looking after their young daughter, Frankie (Wladyka); Cindy is convinced that life is passing them by.
THE VERDICT: Ever since its debut at Sundance last January, this stark romantic drama has been garnering Oscar buzz. And deservedly so. More concerned with the devolution of devotion rather than aiming for the tear ducts, Gosling and Williams – who spent a month playing happy families with Wladyka before shooting – are incredible. It’s love back to front, and no sides. And no frills. RATING: 4/5
Directed by Tony Goldwyn. Starring Hilary Swank, Sam Rockwell, Minnie Driver, Melissa Leo, Peter Gallagher.
THE PLOT: Massachusetts woman Betty Anne Waters (Swank) isn’t someone who gives up easily, especially on a wrongly-convicted brother (Rockwell). It would take our plucky heroine 18 years to clear her brother’s name, and this is her battle for justice, looking after her two kids and bartending when she’s not studying for that all-important law degree that will hopefully help her overturn her brother’s conviction.
THE VERDICT: If not quite Nicole Kidman, fellow winsome Academy Award winner Hilary Swank has a habit of turning everything she touches into box-office poison. To be fair, the movies themselves – Amelia, The Reaping, The Black Dahlia, The Affair Of The Necklace – tend to be piss, so, the two-time Oscar winner (got to get that in there; TWO TIMES!?) isn’t entirely to blame. Then again, she picks ‘em. And she makes them that little bit more crap than they would have been otherwise. Like this mediocre true-life offering. The producers put Minnie Driver in there too, just in case Swank couldn’t bring the crapness all by herself. RATING: 2/5
Directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez. Starring Brian Geraghty, Kel O’Neill, Marguerite Moreau, Jeanette Brox, Jenna Gavigan.
THE PLOT: They had been hoping for some Kerouac, but a book tour road trip for two brothers – sensitive short story writer Davy (Geraghty) and horndog Sean (O’Neill) – falls far short of any deep, life-changing experience. Besides, Davy is soon distracted by the sexy voice on the other end of the phone, Nicole seemingly cold-calling for some hot phone sex that soon becomes the virginal and awkward young writer’s obsession.
THE VERDICT: Too coy, and slight, a concept to sustain 107 minutes, the idea that a young, smart man – even a nervous, virginal, young, smart man – would trap himself in a phone-sex relationship wherein he’s not even allowed his highly elusive girlfriend’s phone number feels labored here. As with the protagonists in the Catfish documentary, you have to wonder – have these guys never heard of Skype? More significantly, the production values here, and the acting, are achingly indie. Easier With Practice plays as though everyone is a stand-in. RATING: 2/5
This Sunday afternoon at the IFI you can catch In Sunshine Or In Shadow, Andrew Gallimore’s documentary charting the epic world featherweight title match that took place between Barry ‘The Clones Cyclone’ McGuigan and Eusebio Pedroza on one hot summer night in 1985.
Pedroza didn’t feel safe about going to Belfast, so, 12,000 Irish fans travelled to London for the bout.
Organised as part of the Ireland On Sunday monthly series, In Sunshine Or In Shadow screens at 1pm, with Gallimore and producer Morgan Bushe participating in a post-screening discussion. Full details on ifi.ie.
As a lead-up to the Oscars, Dublin’s Screen Cinema on D’Olier Street are returning some past winners to big-screen glory over the coming weeks.
Launching on January 13th at 6.20pm with a screening of the Coens’ No Country For Old Men, the towering Gone With The Wind follows on Sunday, Jan 16th at 4.30pm. Other screenings include On The Waterfront, A Streetcar Named Desire, Rocky, Network and the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. Full details on omniplex.ie. FATALE ATTRACTION
A new bi-monthly film event that promise to transport ‘the audience back to the golden age of cinema’, Film Fatale gets off to a promising start with Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot, complete with a themed after-party featuring a live performance from singer Sugar Kane, and DJs celebrating sounds from the movie and the era.
Audience members are encouraged to dress to impress, with the best Sugar Kanes, Daphnes and Josephines having their own specially created cocktails awaiting them on the night.
Taking place at the Sugar Club on February 5th at 8pm, with an admission price of €13.50, full details can be found on Film Fatale’s Facebook page, or on tickets.ie.