Reviews – New movies Opening Jan 27th 2012

This weeks new movies reviewed by Paul Byrne including The Descendants, Like Crazy and more…

Directed by Alexander Payne. Starring George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller, Nick Krause, Patricia Hastie, Beau Bridges, Matthew Lillard, Judy Greer, Robert Forster.
THE PLOT: Clooney plays Hawaii native Matt King, suddenly having to play the attentive father to his two young girls when a waterskiing accident leaves their mother in a terminal coma. Turns out mum needed some attention too, Matt’s discovery of an affair sending the threesome – along with the stoner best friend (Nick Krause) of elder daughter Alexandra (Woodley) – on a search and confront mission. Along the way, they get to know each other a little better…
THE VERDICT: As with Sideways and Election, filmmaker Alexander Payne gets the balance of comedy and tragedy ever so sweetly right in The Descendants. Capturing the agony and the slapstick of everyday life, Payne has the ability to pause for real heartbreak to hit home amidst all the laughter here. And he’s aided and abetted in his latest mid-life crisis drama by a wonderful cast (Golden Globe winner Clooney is up for an Oscar, but Woodley as his teenage daughter deserves a nod too), some beautiful lines (Clooney’s cautious millionaire giving his daughters “enough to do something, but not enough to do nothing”), and, at its heart, a valuable life lesson – however difficult it is to say goodbye to a loving mother, it’s even tougher to say goodbye to a mum who was an asshole.

LIKE CRAZY (UK/USA/12A/89mins)
Directed by Drake Doremus. Starring Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones, Jennifer Lawrence, Charlie Bewley, Alex Kingston, Oliver Muirhead, Finola Hughes.
THE PLOT: Meeting budding furniture designer Jacob (Yelchin) whilst on holiday in Los Angeles, budding English journalist Anna (Jones) decides this is a love worth outstaying your student visa for. Only trouble is, now back in London, Anna is refused permission to travel to the US again, to be with her man, and so the couple split. The constant latenight phonecalls result in a visit to London by Jacob though, and the romance soon blossoms again. Only for the loneliness of a long-distance relationship to strike again, each finding new loves. But Anna and Jacob aren’t entirely convinced that they shouldn’t be together…
THE VERDICT: Taking von Trier’s Breaking The Waves and Alfonso Cuaron’s Y tu mama tambien as templates, director/co-writer Drake Doremus sets out to bring a little realism to cinema’s longstanding love affair with the long-distance relationship. Is it the distance itself that is fueling the romantic ideal? Or do these two lovebirds truly belong together forever and ever? Both Yelchin and Jones deliver believable, touching performances, and it’s a relief to see that their new partners (played by Jennifer Lawrence and Charlie Bewley) are not blatantly second-fiddle players. Perhaps without the unquenchable thirst of that absent, long-distance love, each would have found true happiness with their new partners? In other words, the perfect movie to take someone to if you’re planning on giving them the old heave-ho.

INTRUDERS (USA/15A/99mins)
Directed by Jua Carlos Fresnadillo. Starring Clive Owen, Daniel Bruhl, Carice van Houten, Ella Purnell, Kerry Fox.
THE PLOT: Two stories unfold, one in the past, concerning a little boy, Juan (Izan Corchero), who, through his latenight horror story scribblings, conjures up the nightmarish Hollowface, the second in the present, when 12-year old Mia (Purnell) happens upon a scrap of Juan’s original writing – and she soon has Hollowface lurking in the deepest, darkest corner of her bedroom closet, waiting patiently to steal her face. Trying to make sense of it all is her dad, construction foreman John (Owen), but the spotlight soon turns on his close-knit bond with his only child…
THE VERDICT: Full of cheap chills and jaded horror clichés, Intruders is the sort of piss-poor horror film that will only scare the stupid and the weak. The people who put up the money for this sorry mess, in other words. It’s like M. Night Shyamalan’s The Exorcist, a bogeyman romp that tries to milk a few more nightmare scares from the child-in-supernatural-peril scenario.

Reviews by Paul Byrne