Reviews – New movies opening November 28th 2014

We review this week’s new cinema releases, including HORRIBLE BOSSES 2 and PADDINGTON…

Directed by Sean Anders. Starring Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz.
THE PLOT: Dale, Kurt and Nick, in the wake of their ill-fated attempt to kill their horrible bosses, decide to become their own bosses, and crate their own product. Almost as soon as they do, they run into trouble from investor Bert (Waltz), who is determined to take them down for the sake of a profit. Not content to take this lying down, the lads come up with a plan to get their money back…
THE VERDICT: HORRIBLE BOSSES was a fun adventure, mainly due to the over the top antics from the bosses – Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell and Jennifer Aniston. This time out, the bosses are horrible, but much more understated, so the schtick from the central trio takes central stage. The trouble with this is that the novelty soon wears off, and becomes irritating. As well as this, Sudeikis, Bateman and Day have made their careers from playing the same character over and over again, and at this stage the audience finds themselves wanting more from the actors. 
Jennifer Aniston resumes her role as man-eater Julia, and obviously relishes the sexually twisted lines she gets to deliver. Sadly, she is one of the best things about the film, and is not in it nearly enough.
The story is rather predictable, and frustrating in some ways; these characters know what happens when they don’t think things through, yet are happy to jump into another ridiculous situation. It seems none of them have learned anything from their previous brush with crime. As well as this, many of the jokes rely on toilet or sexual humour, which soon runs out of steam.
In all, HORRIBLE BOSSES 2 suffers from a lack of an over the top and truly evil boss; the cameos from the previous bosses are often more entertaining than the thin material Christoph Waltz is given. There are a couple of laughs to be had here, but if you have seen HORRIBLE BOSSES, then you have seen HORRIBLE BOSSES 2. Sadly, this is a film with a great cast that proves, through a predictable script and lazy jokes, that lightning doesn’t strike twice.
Review by Brogen Hayes 

PADDINGTON (UK/France/G/95mins)
Directed by Paul King. Starring Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Ben Whishaw, Jim Broadbent, Nicole Kidman, Peter Capaldi, Matt Lucas, Simon Farnaby, Matt King, Michael Gambon, Imelda Staunton.
THE PLOT: Opening on some Pathe-esque news footage, we meet explorer Montgomery Clyde (Tim Downie) as he heads to Peru, only to discover a bear who is quick to pick up the English language. Leaving behind his red cap as a memento, Clyde returns to England, the fine art of talking bears left behind being passed down to the next generation. When young Paddington (voiced by Whishaw) heads to the mythical land Clyde spoke of, the London he lands in is initially a very strange, and unfriendly, place indeed. Even for a talking bear. It’s only when he’s taken home by the Brown family – including a skinnydipping dreamer mum (Hawkins) and a disgruntled and wary risk analyst (and former dreamer) dad (Bonneville) – for just one night that Paddington begins to suspect that London might really be as magical as he had always dreamed. Not that he’s entirely welcome in the Brown household, and with a nosey and nasty neighbour (Capaldi) happy to get rid of any foreign elements on his street, and a manic taxidermist (Kidman) on his case, the unwitting Paddington may find the welcome mat being pulled out from underneath him…
THE VERDICT: When David Heyman – the brains behind the HARRY POTTER blockbuster franchise – bought the movie rights to Michael Bond’s 1958 creation, he was determined to get this latest screen adaptation of the loveable 56-year-old bear just right. And so, he waited. For seven years, as it turns out, carefully choosing the right director, the right cast and the right script. The man behind the camera, Paul King – known largely for THE MIGHTY BOOSH and his 2009 big-screen debut BUNNY & THE BULL – offered up three scripts before Heyman saw what he liked. As King has pointed out, his producer had the power to wait as long as he liked.
Still, a $50m budget isn’t something to be sniffed at, being the biggest ever production for French co-financers StudioCanal. It’s all up there on the screen though, of course, the initial reservations about a CGI Paddington soon abating when you realise just how much TLC also went into this film. And maybe even a little LSD too, this particular cuckoo-in-the-nest kids film being akin to STUART LITTLE as directed by Terry Gilliam. It’s the humour that hits the hardest, making the underlying story of an outsider looking for a home all the more affecting.
London is given the full Richard Curtis snog, coming across as kooky and quaint, whilst the cast – Bonneville, Hawkins, Broadbent and Walters all aided and abetted by such wonderful supports as Simon Farnaby and Peter Capaldi – appear to be having a ball throughout. Ben Whishaw – who stepped in at the 11th hour when Colin Firth felt his voice just wasn’t right – gives Paddington a huggable, tuggable voice too. Which is handy, given that the bear is the beating heart of the piece.
Watch out for a cameo at Paddington station, as 86-year-old creator Michael Bond raises a glass through a cafe window. If Bond had put a tag on his creation, asking everyone involved in this film, ‘Please Look After This Bear. Thank You’, he certainly got his wish.
Review by Paul Byrne

HOCKNEY (UK/Light House/112mins)
Directed by Randall Wright. Starring
Tracing the life of the celebrated English painter David Hockney from his humble Bradford beginnings to his current status as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, from those early years, pushing an easel around in a pram whilst sporting a bowler hat, we know we’re in good company. We hear from friends and colleagues and rummage through archive footage and Polaroids provided by the artist himself as we chart Hockney’s rise through the 1960s Pop Art movement, and beyond. As that early success settles, Hockney turns to other art forms – sketches, set designs for opera, photographic collage; iPhone art – before finally returning to the large-scale paintings that sparked his breakthrough (only this time, it’s Bradford and not Beverly Hills, that is celebrated). We also get to chart some relationship shenanigans, but this is ultimately about Hockney’s approach to art, and his “ways of seeing”…
It’s always a little dangerous when the subject of a documentary is also one of the producers – as witnessed by the recent Woody Allen documentaries that have largely skated around the dark days of the child abuse claims. Here, thankfully, Hockney’s hand doesn’t paint an altogether loving picture, director Randall Wright free to shine a light on both the good and the bad.
Not that Hockney had any dark secrets to expose; it’s just that, like any artist, he wasn’t always right, and he wasn’t always great. Not that you get to see much of that failure here, Wright happy to celebrate rather than critique. And with Hockney himself a more than gracious host, it’s hard not to get swept up in the majesty and magic of it all. Still, you do get the impression the younger Hockney wouldn’t entirely approve of the love-in on offer here.
Review by Paul Byrne

CONCERNING VIOLENCE (Sweden/Finland/Denmark/USA/IFI/78mins)
Directed by Goran Hugo Olsson. Starring Lauryn Hill (narrator), Kati Outinen, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak.
Inspired by the eponymous first chapter of Martinican psychiatrist and anti-colonial thinker Frantz Fanon’s 1961 book The Wretched Of The Earth, Concerning Violence opens on academic and philosopher Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak delivering a short preface from behind her desk. What follows are nine segments of archival footage, all from Swedish television, charting liberation struggles in such African countries as Tanzania, Liberia, Mozambique and Angolia. Over these TV clips, former Fugees frontwoman Lauryn Hill reads extracts from Fanon’s first chapter, the words often flashing up on the screen.
By the end, you feel punch drunk from all the history, hysteria and horror. Which is how it should be…
Given its unrelentingly grim and gruesome delivery, you’re left with a strong sense early on in this harrowing documentary about the white man’s long history of sticking flags in the backs of black men that Lauryn Hill and co are largely preaching to the converted. It’s unlikely that anyone watching Concerning Violence won’t already suspect, if not already know, many of the depressing facts and figures offered up here about man’s inhumanity to man when it comes to the colonization of Africa.
Not that Goran Hugo Olsson’s documentary doesn’t have the power to shock. Footage of happy beheadings jolt, even amidst all the madness, true spikes in this grotesque slide show of Who We Killed On Our Holidays. Along with the Nike t-shirts and the religion, the white man brought violence to Africa on an industrial scale, determined to turn glorious, untouched nature into a hillbilly paradise. When these white saviours rolled into town, the church tended to be built long before the hospitals or schools.
It’s all a little unrelenting, as I say, and those facts and mutilated, mangled figures come thick and fast, leaving you with the weight of the white man’s guilt on your shoulders. Not the perfect date movie then, but an important film that packs more punch than Ali’s Rumble In The Jungle.
RATING: 4/5 
Review by Paul Byrne 

I AM ALI (UK | USA/TBC/111mins)
Directed by Clare Lewins. Starring Muhammad Ali, Tom Jones, Hana Ali.
Filmmaker Clare Lewins deconstructs the myth of Muhammad Ali; legendary boxer, father, civil rights supporter and friend.
THE VERDICT: There is little doubt that Muhammad Ali has inspired people around the world, and that he, at the peak of his fame and strength, was a force to be reckoned with. I AM ALI, however, is a film that tries to show a different side of Ali, but in trying to show too many sides, becomes a little lost.
Director Clare Lewins was given unprecedented access to Ali’s friend, family and mentors while making this film, as well as audio journals that the fighter kept throughout his life. The trouble is that Ali is a man who has been profiled and portrayed so may times before, and is someone who the world is aware of on many different levels that, even with all of this audio – some of which borders on the tiresome – I AM ALI does not do much to tell the audience anything new.
I AM ALI is a film that is not really going to tell audiences anything they did not already know, other than the man liked to keep audio diaries for the sake of his children, and struggles with the amount of people and information it tries to cram into its running time. The film allows Ali’s brother, mentor, children, former partners, fans, friends and enemies to speak about their experience of him, and this is interspersed with archive footage of him as a fighter. This is all well and good, but in trying to get a rounded picture of Ali as an athlete, supporter of civil rights and a conscientious objector, as well as a family man and friend, we are really only left with the impression that Ali was a man who liked people, and had a kind heart. Anything deeper than that is lost.
In all, I AM ALI is a film that tries to be something new, different and exciting, but tells the audience little that they do not already know. For new fans of Ali, however, there are plenty of jumping off points here, to learn more about the man who inspired so many. I AM ALIi is a film that has an incredibly strong inspiration, but ends up feeling weak.
Review by Brogen Hayes 

KAJAKI (UK/16/108mins)
Directed by Paul Katis. Starring Mark Stanley, David Elliot, Malachi Kirby, Paul Luebke.
Based on a true story, KAJAKI recounts the events at the Kajaki Dam in Afghanistan where, in 2006, a group of British soldiers found themselves in an unmarked minefield. When one of their number is injured, the soldiers call for help, but the help that comes is almost more dangerous than the minefield.
THE VERDICT: There is little doubt that the story of KAJAKI is a harrowing one, and pains have obviously been taken to tell the story on screen in as arealistic a way as possible. The cast work well together, and keep the emotion and heart of the film afloat, even when the pacing of the film drags its heels. The film feels as though it takes forever to get going, so the cameraderie and banter between the soldiers is what keeps the audience invested. That said, there are times when the dialogue and performances are slightly on the wooden side, but both improve as the film goes on.
Knowing that this is a true story makes the relationships between the characters that much more poignant, and moments stand out – such as a soldier, waiting to be rescued, describing his worst birthday and concluding that this day may well be worse. The assembled then sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to him, both out of genuine affection, and as a way to keep the wounded conscious and keep them fighting.
In all, KAJAKI is a film that tells a worthy tale. While it takes a while to get going, it is the relationships that develop on screen that keep the story moving.
KAJAKI was partially funded through crowdfunding, and a portion of the profit will be awarded to military charities.
Review by Brogen Hayes