Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie

mrs-browns-boys-dmovie

DIR: Ben Kellett • WRI: Brendan O’Carroll • PRO: Stephen McCrum • DOP: Martin Hawkins • ED: Mark Lawrence • MUS: Andy O’Callaghan • DES: Simon Rogers • CAST: Brendan O’Carroll, Jennifer Gibney, Robert Bathurst, Sorcha Cusack

Chances are if you’re planning on going to see Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie, then – much like writer and star Brendan O’Carroll – you don’t really care what film critics have to say about it and probably won’t be reading this review. So instead of pre-loading the critique with apologetic lines like “But fans of the show will love it…”, let’s just assume that fans of the show already love it, and have this review be for everyone else, such as people going in blind to Mrs Brown phenomenon. Is there anything here for the average cinemagoer? Aside from making Dublin look pretty, the answer is a loud and solid “No.”

When a local politican (boo!) wants to pave Moore Street to put up a parking lot or whatever it is his nefarious plans involve, Mrs Brown finds her stall under threat. Doubly so when she discovers that she actually owes nearly €4 million in taxes due to a government SNAFU. So Mrs Brown’s Boys (and girls) get involved to try to save the day, and we end up with a bunch of blind ninjas and their faux-Asian leader (also O’Carroll, leaving no racist joke unturned), a lawyer with Tourette’s Syndrome and a gay man in Borat-style mankini. Hilarious…..?

It’s not that O’Carroll and co aren’t funny, more that it feels like at no point does it ever really feel like they’re trying to be. For all the fourth-wall breaking self-awareness and kept-in outtakes while the film is still happening, there’s no sense of intelligence or originality going on when it comes to the jokes.

Of course it is nice that, for once, Dublin is being shown as a lovely, warm, welcoming place filled with accepting, loveable folk, and the cinematography really does paint the capital as a layered, vibrant cosmopolitan city, but this isn’t exactly a Richard Linklater movie. This is a comedy, one now without the laugh track of the TV show to remind us where the punchlines are. Without that assistance, it’s next to impossible to figure out when we’re supposed to find any of this funny.

But fans of the show will love it…

Rory Cashin

15A (See IFCO for details)
94 mins

Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie is released on 27th June 2014

Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie– Official Website

 

 

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Cinema Review: Blended

Sandler-and-Barrymore

DIR: Frank Coraci • WRISimon Kinberg PRO: Jack Giarraputo, Mike Karz, Adam Sandler • DOP: Julio Macat • ED: Tom Costain • MUS: Rupert Gregson-Williams • CAST: Ivan Menchell, Clare Sera

“The new Adam Sandler comedy” are words that strike a Pavlovian response in most film critics around the world, to the extent that if he’s not being directed by Judd Apatow or P.T. Anderson, it’s probably a safe bet that whatever the movie is, it’s probably going to be one of the worst movies you’ll see that year. We can safely assume that it’s just going to be him and a group of his “funny mates” like Kevin James or Rob Schneider or someone else that only Adam Sandler finds humourous, set against the backdrop of what is essentially a holiday for Adam Sandler and all his mates (Just Go With It – Hawaii, Jack & Jill – Royal Caribbean Cruise, Grown Ups – Lake House).

In fact, the only redeeming factor in Sandler’s career has been Drew Barrymore, co-starring with him in what is inarguably his best film, and then re-starring with him in what has been one of the very few watchable rom-com’s Sandler has been in from the last decade. But if you take the quality dip from The Wedding Singer to 50 First Dates, and multiply that by a hundred, that’s where we are with Blended.

Sandler plays Jim, a recent widower with three daughters, who goes on a first date with Barrymore, who plays Lauren, a recent divorcee with two sons. The date doesn’t go well, but a series of fiercely unbelievable events ends up with them accidentally going on holiday together to Sun City in South Africa (there’s that holiday we mentioned earlier). Spattered about the place are bit roles filled by the likes of Terry Crews, Joel McHale, Kevin Nealon and Shaquille O’Neal (there’s those mates we mentioned earlier), but really this comes down to Sandler and Barrymore first hating each other, and then slowly coming to love each other, because… Well, there’s the problem.

Jim and Lauren are so intrinsically unlikeable, that you kind of don’t want them to get together at all. The script comes up with belaboured reasons for them to fall in love – They both drink their coffee the same way! Gasp! – but he is such a selfish ignorant douchebag and she is such an anal nagging harpy that you could care less if they find happiness. Coupled with that are their kids; both of Barrymore’s sons are horribly annoying, to the point where you hope the director makes some risky choices, turns the film into a The Ghost & The Darkness rip-off and they both get violently killed by lions, while Sandler’s daughters fair a little better, but only because they appear to have recognisable human personalities.

So between the unlikeable characters, the unfunny script, the painfully apparent product placement (you’ll have a hankering for Hooters by the time the end credits arrive) and the fact that all of this actually came from the director of The Wedding Crasher, we’re now living in a time when even a watchable Adam Sandler movie, let alone a good one, has become something of a pipe-dream. Avoid.

Rory Cashin

12A (See IFCO for details)
117 mins

Blended is released on 23rd May 2014

Blended – Official Website

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Cinema Review: Monsters Inc.

 

Pixar is seen as the once immaculate production company that has since lost its way in a sea of sequels and less-than-perfect output, but there is a slight sense of rose-tinted hindsight about them. Monsters Inc. was their fourth feature film, having directly followed sequel Toy Story 2 and the less-than-perfect A Bug’s Life, but it’s 3D re-release seems all the worse now as it’s following sequel Cars 2 and the less-than-perfect Brave as well as feeling like a money-grabbing cash-in before they release prequel Monsters University later this year.

But despite all this, it’s still impossible to have anything but love for Monsters Inc., which finds Pixar at the top of their game in terms of entertainment and originality. Two monstrous best friends – Sully (John Goodman) and Mike (Billy Crystal) – work at an energy plant, where they use magical doors to enter our world, frighten children and capture their screams. These screams are then transformed into energy back in the monster’s world, and all is going swimmingly until Sully unwittingly allows a very young child to enter their world, which kick-starts a series of events which will turn every monster’s life upside down.

Perfectly directed, fantastically scripted, beautifully animated, everything that was great about Monsters Inc. back in 2001 is still just as great today. Goodman and Crystal make for a wonderful double-act, and they’re superbly supported by the likes of Steve Buscemi, Jennifer Tilly and James Coburn. Plus, anyone who didn’t immediately fall in love with the two year old Boo has a heart of cement. As for its 3D re-release, to its benefit a lot of the scenes work fantastically with the added dimension, particularly the climactic chase through the warehouse of magical doors.

So if nothing else, Monsters Inc. remind us of how great Pixar used to be, and gives us hope that they will be that great again in the future.

Rory Cashin

Rated G (see IFCO website for details)

95 mins

Monsters Inc. is released on 17th January 2013

Monsters Inc. – Official Website

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Cinema Review: The Sweeney

DIR: Nick Love • WRI: John Hodge, Nick Love • PRO: Allan Niblo, Rupert Preston, James Richardson, Christopher Simon, Felix Vossen • DOP: Simon Dennis • ED: James Herbert • DES: Morgan Kennedy • CAST: Damian Lewis, Hayley Atwell, Ray Winstone, Allen Leech

Writer/director Nick Love (The Business, The Football Factory, Outlaw) has made his living from showing the criminal’s side of things, so much so that even on The Sweeney, his first movie told from the vantage point of the law, the good guys still act like the bad guys. Based on the ’70s British TV show, this is story of Jack Regan (Ray Winstone), George Carter (Ben Drew, aka rapper Plan B) and the rest of the Flying Squad of London’s Metropolitan police, as they use any means necessary to get the job done. And that includes, in the first five minutes alone, bribing snitches with stolen gold, beating up crooks with baseball bats, and having affairs with married women.

Love does a good job of picking influences for his movie, knicking bits and bobs from Christopher Nolan (the Inception-esque score, as well as a plot section lifted straight out of The Dark Knight Rises) and Michael Mann (London is seen here as a beautiful city of endless skyscrapers of glass and metal, as well as a massive post-bank robbery shoot-out lifted straight out of Heat), and between the cinematography, editing and some well-paced action scenes, he’s made leaps and bounds in terms of filmmaking.

But when it comes to story-telling, he’s still got a lot of work to do. The very messy plot – a seemingly pointless murder at a robbery that may or may not involve a world class thief – never gets too involving, and the other story elements – Regan’s affair, his partnership with Carter, his bosses (including a wasted Damian Lewis) trying to shut down his department – are too by-the-numbers to be entertaining. Add into that some truly awful dialogue, as well as a staggeringly dead-eyed performance from Ben Drew, and what you end up with is 112 minutes that feels twice that long. Next time, stick to the directing end of things, Love. Leave the story writing to someone else.

Rory Cashin

Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
112 mins

The Sweeney is released on 12th September 2012

 

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Cinema Review: Lawless

DIR: John Hillcoat • WRI: Nick Cave  • PRO: Michael Benaroya, Megan Ellison, Lucy Fisher, Douglas Wick • DOP: Benoît Delhomme • ED: Dylan Tichenor • DES: Chris Kennedy • CAST: Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, Guy Pearce, Gary Oldman

Writer Nick Cave and director John Hillcoat, who previously worked together on the impressively oppressive The Proposition, reunite for this very cinematic, highly entertaining, but quite uneven truth-based tale of Prohibition-era Robin Hoods, the Bondurant Brothers. Set in 1920s Virginia, youngest brother Jack (Shia LaBeouf), eldest brother Howard (Jason Clarke) and leader of the pack Forrest (Tom Hardy) have a nice, quiet life bootlegging apple brandy when, almost on the same day, Jack falls in love with the daughter (Mia Waskiowska) of a local Amish priest, Howard becomes a raging alcoholic, Forrest falls in love with a new lady in town (Jessica Chastain), and last but not least, Special Detective Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce) has been sent in from the big city to shut down their operation.

While all these stories chug along, there are no great surprises in terms what happens, but more how it happens, as Hillcoat’s penchant for powerful scenes of violence are still as present as ever, as is his odd levels of sexism – every bad thing that happens in this movie is due to or spurned on by one of the female characters, which, after the negative representation of women in Hillcoat’s The Proposition and The Road, can’t be an accident.

There are some other issues too, including Guy Pearce’s over-the-top, moustache twirling villain, or a shockingly wasted Gary Oldman, who shows up for two minutes as a big bad mobster, and then promptly disappears for the rest of the movie. But aside from this, there is still a lot to enjoy in Lawless. The 1920s  is gorgeously recreated, and the Virginia landscapes are beautifully shot. LaBeouf shows us for the first time since A Guide To Recognising Your Saints that he can do more than just react to CGI in hollow blockbusters, and Hardy’s hulking, grunting, but soulful brute is yet another proud entry on his already enviable CV. All of this combines to something that looks great, packs a wallop, but will probably leave a bad taste in your mouth afterwards, not unlike that bootlegged apple brandy…

Rory Cashin

Rated 16 (see IFCO website for details)
115 mins

Lawless is released on 7th September 2012

Lawless – Official Website

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We Love… 25 Years of Irish Film – The Guard

Illustration: Adeline Pericart

So Film Ireland magazine is 25 years old. Over those years Ireland has produced some great films which have been successful both here and abroad – not to mention nabbing a few Oscars® along the way. And so over the next couple of weeks Film Ireland‘s army of cinema dwellers look back over the last 25 years and recall their favourite Irish films in the latest installment of…


We Love…

25 Years of Irish Film

 

The Guard

(John Michael McDonagh, 2011)

‘… the movie correctly wraps itself around Gleeson, whose deadpan delivery of his subversive, and often shocking, sense of humour powers the film along…’

Rory Cashin

It is just me, or were most Irish movies completely devoid of fun? That’s not to say they were bad, but they weren’t exactly a joy to watch, since they were usually awash with the Troubles or dealing with some kind of abuse. We were the frontrunners when it came to making depression porn. But then the McDonagh brothers came along with their one-two punch of In Bruges (which, despite all the Irish-ness involved, can’t really be labelled an Irish film) and The Guard (which, thankfully, can).

Also delivering a killer one-two was Brendan Gleeson, who helped ground In Bruges, but is primarily the main reason The Guard soars so highly, with ‘high’ being the operative word, as we’re first introduced to his Sergeant Gerry Boyle taking acid which he has taken from the pocket of a very recently deceased car-crash victim. His racist, alcoholic, drug-taking, prostitute-loving, IRA-dealing character is so all consuming that it takes a repeat viewing to be reminded that the movie also features such usual heavyweights such as Don Cheadle, Liam Cunningham and Mark Strong.

Now then, what have we here…

While the international cocaine smuggling ring plot seems like a take-it-or-leave-it afterthought, the movie correctly wraps itself around Gleeson, whose deadpan delivery of his subversive, and often shocking, sense of humour powers the film along, as his unwanted FBI partner Cheadle interrogates the locals, who respond with an Irish interpretation of what we think America thinks of Ireland, all impenetrable accents, unending rainfall and unquenchable thirsts for alcohol.

While it’s not all played for laughs (Boyle’s interactions with his dying mother are quietly heart-breaking), the film knows not to stay too serious for too long, and at 96 minutes, it’s not around long enough to outstay its welcome. Which is another nice change of pace for Irish film, or as the Sergeant would put it, ‘They take too long getting to the fecking point.’

Rory Cashin

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRsMLuCP8a0

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Cinema Review: The Imposter

DIR: Bart Layton • PRO: Dimitri Doganis • DOP: Lynda Hall, Erik Wilson • ED: Andrew Hulme • DES: Marcia Calosio,  Mariona Julbe • CAST: Adam O’Brian, Frederic Bourdin

Texas, June, 1994. Thirteen year old Nicholas Barclay is last seen playing with his friends, and somewhere along the short walk back to his house, disappears. Spain, June, 1997. Nicholas Barclay has been found alive and well by local police, who contact his family who have believed him to be dead. They bring him home, and the family are finally whole again. But this isn’t sixteen year old Nicholas Barclay; this is a 23-year-old French man by the name of Frédéric Bourdin, impersonating their son. And this isn’t devised in the mind of a Hollywood screenwriter; this is a documentary and one of the best movies of the year so far.

If the above paragraph seemed a bit spoilery, it isn’t. All the cards are laid on the table in the first five minutes of the movie, and the remainder of the time is spent watching the Barclay family and Bourdin slowly reach a head-on collision as its revealed who’s who. Outside of the talking-head interviews with everyone involved, the ‘dramatic recreations’, editing and score give the documentary a psychological thriller vibe, one that only hammers home the chilling fact that this is all based on fact.

Like any psychological thriller worth its salt, not everything is as it seems, and even though we’re presented with all the information from the get-go, and how it ends is evident from the beginning, the movie still has a few jaw-dropping tricks up its sleeve, and watching the net close in around Bourdin is hugely entertaining to watch. But unlike any psychological thriller of recent times, The Imposter will linger in your mind for days afterwards. Highly recommended.

Rory Cashin

Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
102 mins

The Imposter is released on 24th August 2012

The Imposter – Official Website


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Cinema Review: Step Up 4: Miami Heat

DIR: Scott Speer • WRI: Amanda Brody • PRO: Erik Feig, Jennifer Gibgot, Adam Shankman, Patrick Wachsberger . • DOP: Karsten Gopinath • ED: Matt FriedmanAvi Youabian • DES: Carlos Menéndez • CAST: Kathryn McCormick, Ryan Guzman, Cleopatra Coleman

Right at the opening credits of this movie, panic set in as a revelation washed over me; I hadn’t seen Step Up 3. My mind collapsed at the thought of not being able to keep up with the story that was about to take place. But thankfully, much like The Fast & The Furious series, the Step Up franchise is not really about breaking new ground, just re-treading old material with new cars/dance moves. Which is odd, considering the mantra of this entry is all about breaking the rules and trying new things, and the lead actress is berated by her dance instructor for having ‘no originality’. It’d almost be meta if it wasn’t so stupid.

Plot-wise, handsome guy from the poor side of the tracks falls for beautiful girl from the rich side, dancing ensues. That’s about it, with every dance movie trope present and correct; Dancing for a prize-money competition? Check. A big bad guy going to ruin their community by demolishing it to build a fancy hotel? Check. Use their dancing to try to save their community? Check. The only original thing about the movie are the dance scenes, and while they are impressive, they do get quite repetitive very quickly, and the only thing that makes the ultimate dance scene stand out is that it’s the only one to properly utilize the fact that the movie is in 3D.

Aside from that, the film flits from kinda boring to out-and-out jarring, and is filled with tiny moments and events that end up grating on your brain. During one dance scene, the broke street-dancers let loose thousands and thousands of dollars like confetti, because, ye know, it looks cool. ‘People like me are invisible in this city’, says the stupidly handsome lead guy, who wouldn’t know what it felt like to be invisible if it came up and smacked him in his stupidly toned abs.

But there is hope. Do you remember how bad Fast & Furious 4 was? And how much fun Fast & Furious 5 turned out be? Just sayin’!

Rory Cashin 

Rated PG (see IFCO website for details)
99 mins
Step Up 4: Miami Heat is released on 10th August 2012

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnWhI0Sw40A

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Cinema Review: Brave

DIR: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman • WRI: Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, Brenda Chapman, Irene Mecchi • PRO: Katherine Sarafian • ED: Nicholas C. Smith • CAST: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters

Once the epitome of originality and peerless brilliance, Pixar seems to be suffering from a lack of new ideas of late; their two previous releases were Toy Story 3 and Cars 2, and on their upcoming slate they have the 3D re-releases of Monsters Inc and Finding Nemo, with the former then getting a prequel and the latter rumoured to be getting a sequel. And now we have Brave, which from the trailers has it look like a princess-in-peril movie that would be more at home as a B-List entry from mid-80’s Disney, rather than from the people who gave us the immaculate Wall-E.

But as we know, trailers can be deceiving, with 90 amazing seconds causing us to part with our cash, only to end up watching 120 craptacular minutes. But with Brave the opposite is the case, since the trailers are dull and almost devoid of plot details, but the movie itself is full of emotion, action and visual wonder. And since Pixar decided not to reveal the major plot points of their movie, this review shall follow suit, but let’s just say that there is a lot more to this movie than initially meets the eye.

Merida (perfectly voiced by Kelly McDonald) is the daughter of King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), who are in the midst of organising her arranged marriage. But Merida has other ideas, so she runs away from home and into a witch (Julie Walters), who grants her one wish to help her change her fate. But this wish comes with disastrous repercussions, and its then up to Merida to right the wrongs she herself has caused.

As per usual, the visuals Pixar provide are astonishing, from the lush vistas of Scotland to the lush scarlet vibrancy of Merida’s hair, the film is never less than beautiful. At times the film is genuinely hilarious, properly scary and truly relatable, and while the story might a seem a tad basic next to the outlandishness of Up or The Incredibles, it has the feel of a company finding its footing again after the misstep of the Cars series. Here’s hoping that their next original outing puts them right back on top.

Rory Cashin

Rated PG (see IFCO website for details)
100 mins

Brave is released on 3rd August 2012

Brave– Official Website

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Cinema Review: Magic Mike

cheeky

 

DIR: Steven Soderbergh • WRI: Reid Carolin • PRO: Reid Carolin, Gregory Jacobs, Channing Tatum, Nick Wechsler • DOP: Steven Soderbergh • ED: Steven Soderbergh •  Cast: Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Olivia Munn

By day, Mike (Channing Tatum) is busy at one of his many jobs; construction worker, auto-parts dealer, furniture designer. But by night, he transforms into Magic Mike, the star of Dallas’ (Matthew McConaughey) all-male stripper show in Tampa Bay, where he performs alongside a bevy of muscular studs (Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Kevin Nash and Adam Rodriguez) to a throng of screaming, dollar-throwing females of all ages. One day Mike bumps into The Kid (Alex Pettyfer) and through a string of coincidences, ends up shoving him on stage when one of their crew falls ill, and wouldn’t you know it, The Kid looks good in his underwear.

And so begins an Obi-Wan/Luke relationship, with Mike taking The Kid under his wing to show him the highs (and inevitable lows) of the world of male stripping. Straight off the bat, this is not a male version of Showgirls. Directed by Oscar-winner Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Ocean’s Eleven) and based in part on Tatum’s own experiences as a stripper, there are two ways to enjoy this movie; (1) As an excuse to enjoy all of the well-toned flesh on stage. There is A LOT of it, and it has to be sad that the dance sequences are pretty impressive. Or (2) An argument could be made that this film is an essay in modern-day male bonding, or in the relatively recent invention of ‘Bromance’, or the reacquisition of male sexuality, or whatever reasons uptight straight males have to give in order to go see a fun movie that just happens to have guys shaking their butts in ass-less chaps.

Tatum brings his usual puppy-dog charm and carries the film well, Pettyfer continues to have one of the most punchable faces in modern cinema, but that serves him well for this particular role, and the rest of the supporting cast are fine, with a standout being McConaughey, who brings the same sleazy sexuality and inherent threat level he presented in Killer Joe, but dialled way down to a less homicidal, but more entertaining level here.

If there are any faults, it’s that considering the movie’s primary fan base will be women, the women in the movie are very poorly represented. There are only two worthy of note; one (Olivia Munn) being a bisexual wingman for Mike, and the other (Cody Horn) is supposed to be Mike’s romantic interest/soul salvation, but is such a constantly moaning harpy that it’s hard to ever warm to her. Also, as inevitable and supposedly necessary as the ‘If you have too much sex, alcohol and drugs, there’s going to be a downside’ arc is, the fallout scenes with hollow sex with strangers, hangovers and overdoses are still a total bummer and drag down the whole fun, frivolous vibe the film had going until that point.

But aside from these gripes, Magic Mike is still an easy to enjoy movie, with Soderbergh bringing some of his distinctive camera work and editing to make what could have been a trashy night out into a visually interesting, well told story about oiled up guys who don’t like wearing clothes.

Rory Cashin

Rated 16 (see IFCO website for details)
110m 10s

Magic Mike is released on 13th July 2012

Magic Mike – Official Website

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Cinema Review: Killer Joe

Hey Joe

 

DIR: William Friedkin • WRI: Tracy Letts • PRO: Nicolas Chartier, Scott Einbinder • DOP: Caleb Deschanel • ED: Darrin Navarro • DES: Franco-Giacomo Carbone • Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Juno Temple

Director William Friedkin delivered two of the best movies of the 70s, if not of all time, with The French Connection and The Exorcist. Since then he’s never hit the same dizzy heights, with his most recent big outing being the 2003 flop The Hunted. Now, after almost a decade of semi-retirement, he’s returned guns-blazing with a shocking and twisted adaption of Tracy Lett’s award-winning play.

Chris Smith (Emile Hirsch) has found himself in trouble with some local drug dealers/debt collectors, and so sets up a plan with his father (Thomas Haden Church) and step-mother (Gina Gershon) to off his birth mother, and cash in on her life insurance. For this, they hire Joe (Matthew McConaughey), a local policeman/hitman, but since they don’t have the money to pay him up front, Joe takes Chris’s innocent little sister Dottie (Juno Temple) as a retainer until the deed is done.

Set in a sweltering Texas, Friedkin shoots the southern state as if it was post-apocalyptic, all tattered trailer parks, shut down pool halls and abandoned amusement parks. All of the actors bring their A-Game (except for sore thumb Hirsch), and every scene, every sentence and every silence is filled with the threat of sex or violence, and usually both at once. This movie is absolutely not for everybody, with both the sex and the violence taken up to levels not usually seen in a mainstream movie. But despite all this heaviness, Killer Joe is best described as a very, VERY dark comedy, and there is a lot of subversive glee to be had watching these disgusting people getting their comeuppance.

A fantastic return to form for Friedkin, and also a warning shot from McConaughey, who between his brilliant turn in this, and upcoming titles like the Palme d’Or nominated Mud and The Paperboy, as well as Magic Mike, is marking 2012 as HIS year.

Rory Cashin

Rated 18 (see IFCO website for details)
102m 13s

Killer Joe is released on 29th June 2012

Killer Joe – Official Website

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Cinema Review: The Five-Year Engagement

 

DIR: Nicholas Stoller • WRI: Nicholas Stoller, Jason Segel • PRO: Judd Apatow, Rodney Rothman. Nicholas Stoller • DOP: Javier Aguirresarobe • ED: William Kerr Peck Prior • DES: Julie Berghoff • Cast: Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt, Alison Brie

Tom (Jason Segel) meets Violet (Emily Blunt), and they fall madly in love. One year later, Tom proposes to Violet, and she says ‘Yes’, and they live happily ever after… Except…

Picking up on the much smaller problems that couples today face rather than the sit-com’y, over the top stuff that most rom-coms dish out, The Five-Year Engagement will be painfully familiar to anyone who has ever been in a relationship. Tom and Violet are perfect for each other, and instead of the usual petty jealousies or ‘humorous misunderstandings’, the couple here are dealing with the very real problems of employment woes and family ills.

But just because it brings the realness, doesn’t mean it’s forgotten to bring the funny. Less laugh-out-loud funny than the likes of The 40-Year Old Virgin, The Five-Year Engagement is closer to being our generation’s version of When Harry Met Sally, with the humour originating from character rather than, say, farts. Jason Segel continues his reign as Hollywood’s Cuddliest Man, and Emily Blunt remains as adorable as ever, and as always there’s the ‘kookie’ supporting cast, with faces familiar to anyone who’s ever watched and episode of 30 Rock, Parks & Rec, The US Office or Community.

In short, pretty much the perfect date movie, and will have you smiling like a goon on your way out of the cinema. Unless, of course, you’re single… In which case this movie will inspire hope that one day you too will find your Segel or Blunt.

Rory Cashin

Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
The Five-Year Engagement is released on 22nd June 2012

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kuDpU1vzekE

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Cinema Review: Chernobyl Diaries

 

DIR: Bradley Parker • WRI: Oren Peli, Carey Van Dyke, Shane Van Dyke • PRO: Oren Peli, Brian Witten • DOP: Terri Taylor • DES: Aleksandar Denic Matthew Sullivan • Cast: Jesse McCartney, Jonathan Sadowski, Olivia Dudley, Nathan Phillips

This movie did not originally come from great stock. Written by a guy who’s previous credits include Titanic 2 and Transmorphers 2 (no, I didn’t spell that wrong), and directed by a guy who’s biggest CV entry to date was working on the special effects in xXx. Add to that a pretty much completely unknown cast, and what you should have is a direct-to-DVD waste of time. Luckily, current horror maestro Oren Peli (the Paranormal Activity series, Insidious) tinkered with the script, and instead what we have is a fitfully entertaining, sometimes-quite-scary horror flick.

A group of attractive 20-somethings are holidaying their way across Europe and are heading towards Moscow when they meet an ‘Extreme Tourism’ travel agent who talks them into taking a day trip to Chernobyl. After taking a nice stroll around the abandoned radioactive town, the group return to their van and discover something (or someone?) has torn out the engine. And as night begins to fall, they discover that the town is not as abandoned as they’d been led to believe…

A mix of I Am Legend and The Hills Have Eyes, if you can ignore the generally bad acting by the generally annoying cast, Chernobyl Diaries wins out thanks to its fundamentally creepy setting and panicky camerawork which turns the viewer into a member of the group without becoming a member of the tired ‘found-footage’ genre. While it won’t win any awards for originality, it does have enough scares to make it an fun way to spend 85 minutes.

Rory Cashin

Rated 16 (see IFCO website for details)
Chernobyl Diaries is released on 22nd June 2012

Chernobyl Diaries – Official Website

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLRL5rjmqS8

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Cinema Review: Red Lights

 

DIR: Rodrigo Cortés • WRI: Andrew Steele • PRO: Rodrigo Cortés, Adrián Guerra • DOP: Xavi Giménez • ED: Rodrigo Cortés • DES: Antón Laguna • Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro, Cillian Murphy

In 2010, director Rodrigo Cortes burst into our radar with Buried, an insanely tense and unique thriller which put him firmly on our ‘One To Watch’ list. For his follow up, he’s gathered quite an impressive cast (Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro, Elizabeth Olsen, Toby Jones), as well as doing scripting duties himself, conjuring up an interesting premise.

Weaver is a university lecturer, with Murphy as her assistant. They teach classes about the world of parapsychology, and in their spare time they drive around, demystifying all manner of psychics and haunted houses. De Niro is a world famous psychic who is coming out of a 30-year hiatus, after his most avid disbeliever died of a heart-attack at his last show. Murphy decides De Niro should be next to debunk, but Weaver warns him off, claiming him to be too dangerous a target. And pretty soon some weird and scary things start to happen, things that cannot be explained by science…

This interesting set-up, along with some pretty good performances from all of the leads (including, thankfully, De Niro) makes for a solid first 30 minutes. However, once some of the more outlandish plot pieces begin to fall into the place, the film slowly starts to fall apart. Huge sections of the story are just left dangling in the wind, along with Elizabeth Olsen as Murphy’s girlfriend and Toby Jones as Weaver’s rival lecturer, two excellent actors both completely wasted.

Being touted as this year’s equivalent of The Sixth Sense, this too comes with a ‘twist ending’ which isn’t so much a surprise as it is 100% completely unguessable, as well as destroying pretty much destroying the entire story that had gone before. A significant disappointment.

Rory Cashin

Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)

Red Lights is released on 22nd June 2012


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Cinema Review: A Fantastic Fear of Everything

DIR: Crispian Mills Chris Hopewell • WRI: Crispian Mills • PRO: Crispian Mills, Geraldine Patten • DOP: Simon Chaudoir • ED: Dan Roberts • DES: Chris Hopewell • Cast:Simon Pegg, Paul Freeman, Amara Karan, Clare Higgins

Jack (Simon Pegg) is a children’s books author who has decided to try his hand at writing a book for adults. His first foray into the grown-up world finds him getting in-too-deep with his research into Victorian England serial killers, and pretty soon Jack’s mind has become so warped by the stories and images that he has subjected himself to that he has become a paranoid recluse, never leaving his filthy apartment, and constantly aware of the (imaginary?) threat of a serial killer lurking in the shadows. However, Jack’s agent has told him that someone is interested in buying the rights to his new novel, and has arranged a meeting for them. So now Jack must face leaving his apartment, the possibility of being murdered, and his life-long fear of laundrettes…

Simon Pegg ramps up his jittery energetic presence to 11, fully realizing Jack’s mania, but since most of the movie is spent with Jack talking to himself, it begins to feel more like a one-man stage play than a proper movie. And once Jack does leave his apartment and is forced to interact with strangers, Pegg dials down the crazy, and the comedy is left to fend for itself in a series of increasingly unlikely and unfunny scenarios.

Written and co-directed by Crispian Mills, the former front-man of ’90s rock band Kula Shaker, the film is not left wanting for ideas, with Jack finding the potential for death in the guise of Christmas Carollers, dirty socks and, yes, laundrettes. Unfortunately the film never fully coalesces into a whole, with some interesting and well-acted moments sandwiched between some dull, toneless or scattershot scenes.

Rory Cashin

Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
A Fantastic Fear of Everything is released on 8th June 2012


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Cinema Review: Prometheus

DIR: Ridley Scott • WRI: Jon Spaihts, Damon Lindelof • PRO: David Gilel, Walter Hill, Ridley Scott, Tony Scott • DOP: Dariusz Wolski • ED: Pietro Scalia • DES: Arthur Max • Cast: Noomi Rapace, Logan Marshall-Green, Michael Fassbender

For his first foray into sci-fi in 30 years, Sir Ridley Scott decided to return to the franchise he helped to create. Except not really, as leading up to its release, he’s tried to distance his latest creation from Alien, and have it serve as a stand-alone movie. To that end, this review shall be (hopefully) spoiler-free and (mostly) lacking in comparison to the Alien franchise.

Starting off with the creation of life no less, we jump forward several million years to scientists Noomi Rapace and her partner Logan Marshall-Green discovering ancient drawings with maps to the stars. After getting a trillion dollars’ worth of funding from kindly old Guy Pearce, they’re away to said stars with Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Michael Fassbender and a crew of vaguely recognisables who might as well have ‘cannon fodder’ tattooed on to their foreheads. And once the good ship Prometheus lands on the planet they’re looking for, the crew make a discovery, but not the one they were looking for…

Scott takes his time setting up and, as with Alien, it’s the guts of an hour before the crew come across anything nasty. But, unlike Alien, it’s very unlikely you’ll care if any of these make it out alive. Rapace is fine as a Ripley-lite, Elba does a nice line in gruff and charming, but even though the rest of the cast are more than adequate, especially the scene-stealing Fassbender, they’re all so painfully unlikable that you start hoping for face-huggers galore.

To be fair to Scott, the film looks fantastic. The polar opposite of the lived-in gritty look of his previous sci-fi outings, the pristine and polished veneer of Prometheus is something to be constantly marvelled at, and throughout the course of the movie there are two scenes of genuine horror, including one that, while not quite up there with the giddy heights of the original chest-buster scene, gives it a good run for its money in terms of gore and tension. Unfortunately, Scott’s visuals are encumbered by one of the most horrendous scores in recent memory, and the small number of good horror scenes are surrounded by some truly dreadful dialogue.

Good sci-fi should always have the audience asking questions, and while Prometheus bursts out of the gate with potentially the biggest one of all: Why Are We Here?, it quickly drops its lofty ideals of intellectualism in favour of big men in spacesuits throwing other men in spacesuits around the place, and soon the only questions we’re left asking are about the gaping plot holes. What started out as potentially Alien with some brains ended up being Contact with some blood. And that is not a compliment.

Rory Cashin

Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
Prometheus is released on 1st June 2012

Prometheus – Official Website

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Cinema Review: What to Expect When You’re Expecting


DIR: Kirk Jones • WRI: Shauna Cross, Heather Hach, • PRO: Mike Medavoy, Arnold Messer, David Thwaites • DOP: Xavier Pérez Grobet • ED: Michael Berenbaum • DES: Andrew Laws • Cast: Cameron Diaz, Matthew Morrison, Dennis Quaid, Rodrigo Santoro

First things first, the tagline for this movie: ‘It’s Too Late To Pull Out Now; while it would’ve been funny and suitable for Knocked Up 2, is far and away the most risqué thing about What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Following on from the ‘hit’ adaptation of self-help book He’s Just Not That Into You, comes this big screen version of a book aimed at the pregnant every-woman. But even these two criteria, ‘pregnant’ and ‘every-woman’, aren’t met by this sub-par rom-com, with one couple adopting a baby from Africa, another couple dealing with the aftermath of NOT having a child together, and as for the ‘every-woman’ part…

Jennifer Lopez is a marine photographer, Cameron Diaz is a fitness show host, Brooklyn Decker is the trophy wife of a race-car driving champion, Elizabeth Banks is a baby-book author/baby-store owner and Anna Kendrick is embroiled in a fast-food van turf war. Every one of these women are superstar beautiful, each paired with a perfect husband/boyfriend (Rodrigo Santoro, Matthew Morrison, Dennis Quaid, Ben Falcone and Chace Crawford, all uniformly underwritten), with not a single single-mother to be found, and not a single cliché about new-fathers left untapped.

But this movie really was always going to be about and for the women, and that would be fine too, if they hadn’t left the movie almost devoid of laughs. There are one or two good lines from Chris Rock and co. as the Father’s Club (‘It’s like Fight Club, but with strollers.’ That wasn’t one of the good lines), and Elizabeth Banks has some fun with her character’s bi-polar mania, although after playing pretty much the exact same role in Scrubs and 30 Rock, she should check she’s not being pregnant pigeonholed.

If you want a funny film about pregnancy, go watch Knocked Up again, whereas WTEWYE is bland, safe and completely inoffensive. And who in this world thinks pregnancy is any of those things?

Rory Cashin

Rated 12A (see IFCO website for details)
What to Expect When You’re Expecting is released on 25th May 2012

What to Expect When You’re Expecting – Official Website

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQTetUGvKWk

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Cinema Review: Piranha 3DD

a file of fish

DIR: John Gulager • WRI: Marcus Dunstan, Patrick Melton • PRO: Mark Canton, Joel Soisson, Marc Toberoff • DOP: Alexandre Lehmann • ED:
Martin Bernfeld, Devin C. Lussier • DES: Ermanno Di Febo-Orsini • Cast: Danielle Panabaker, Ving Rhames, David Hasselhoff, Katrina Bowden

Originally set to go straight-to-DVD, this sequel to the 2010 sorta-hit sees the long-dormant, now super-hungry piranha set loose in a water-park filled with stripper lifeguards. As you do.

Returning cast members Ving Rhames (now with shotgun wielding titanium legs) and Christopher Lloyd (still overacting a storm as the mad, but totally correct, scientist) join new meat David Koechner as the evil water-park owner, Gary Busey as the first to re-discover the piranha, and David Hasselhoff as David Hasselhoff, who must surely be in the running for the record for the actor who has played themselves most times on screen. Add into the mix some attractive but vacant hotties, and you’ve got yourself a slasher-movie cast, complete with awful acting and terrible script.

While nothing in the sequel comes close to the original’s gloriously trashy five-minute underwater lesbian sex scene or Jerry O’Connell’s disembodied penis floating towards you in 3D, there are some pretty gory and wincing death scenes to be found. And boobs. Lots and lots of boobs. But then with a title like that, they were to be expected.

By no means a great film, or even a good one. But a damn enjoyable one, provided you’re there with friends and you’re all merrily intoxicated.

Rory Cashin

Rated 18 (see IFCO website for details)
Piranha 3DD is released on 11th May 2012

Piranha 3DD – Official Website

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Cinema Review: Dark Shadows

 

DIR: Tim Burton  WRI: Seth Grahame-Smith  PRO: Tim Burton, Johnny Depp•  DOP: Bruno Delbonnel • ED: Chris Lebenzon  • DES: Rick Heinrichs  Cast: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green, Helena Bonham Carter

After his version of Alice In Wonderland netted more than $1 billion in the worldwide box office, Tim Burton was pretty much given carte blanche to do whatever he liked next. And in typically atypical Burton fashion, he decided to adapt a little-known and, truth be told, god-awful cult ’70s tv show.

When Barnabus Collins (Johnny Depp) breaks a witch (Eva Green)’s heart, her reaction could be considered over-the-top; she kills his parents, makes his new girlfriend commit suicide, turns him into a vampire and then has him buried alive for 200 years. He is dug up in 1972 to find his family name and business has been tarnished, so Collins takes it upon himself to bring together his distant relations and rebuild his fish-cannery business, which has suffered greatly due to the establishing of a rival cannery, owned and run by that still-smarting witch.

Burton has amassed an impressive supporting cast as the Collins clan; from the still-stunningly beautiful Michelle Pfeffier, to the slimy Jonny Lee Miller, as well as the embodiment of the ’70s Chloe Moretz, and the instantly lovable Gulliver McGrath. That’s not to mention sterling turns from Jackie Earle Haley as the Collins’ housekeeper and Bella Heathcote as the object of Barnabus’ affections. And that’s not to mention Depp, while adding yet another be-make-up’d freak to his CV, manages to turn this serial killer (Barnabus murders around twenty innocent people over the course of the movie) into someone quite relatable. What isn’t as relatable is the fact that the main problem of the movie is that Johnny Depp doesn’t want to have sex with Eva Green, who almost swipes the movie out from under Depp’s nose with her Grade-A bitch villain.

The 70s setting is properly realised and all the usual jokes are present and correct, with Depp’s fish out of water reacting to everything from electricity to lava lamps with an arched eyebrow of mistrust. Which, unfortunately, seems to be the point of the movie; Johnny Depp reacting to the ’70s. While there is some semblance of a plot, the movie itself doesn’t really seem to be about anything, with twenty minutes of set-up, over an hour of what felt like Johnny Depp-reacts-to-the-70’s montages, and then twenty minutes of climax. There are also some weird plot devices that never get fully explained, like if Barnabus was an only child, how is he related to these people? And what’s the story with Barnabus’ 1770s girlfriend and 1970s girlfriend being played by the same actress? And that’s not even getting to the biggest question of all, which is how did a film which is primarily four people talking to each other in an old house cost over $100 million to make??

Somebody needs to take Tim Burton’s budgets away from him. And while you’re at it, take away Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, too. Maybe if we take away all of Burton’s toys his imagination will return.

Rory Cashin

Rated 12A (see IFCO website) for details)
Dark Shadows is released on 11th May 2012

Dark Shadows  – Official Website

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isjg9O7ifwM

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We Love… Trash – Showgirls

Illustration: Adeline Pericart

There are nights when you look through your DVD collection and none of your favourite films float your boat  – what you need is some serious Trash –  the black sheep of your collection; something so bad that makes you feel good. Warning: to appreciate these films booze is recommended. And so over the next couple of weeks the Film Ireland collection of filmaholics shed their dignity, hide their shame and open their bins to reveal their trashiest films in the latest installment of…

We Love…

Trash

Showgirls

(Paul Verhoven)

‘… some of the worst written and delivered dialogue ever committed

to celluloid …’

Rory Cashin

Paul Verhoven is not a man who does things by half. His movies are not exactly what you might call ‘average’ or ‘forgettable’, and for a while there, he was on a winning streak that borders on the unbelievable; RoboCop, Total Recall, Basic Instinct, Starship Troopers… but somewhere in the middle of all that he released the first big-budget ‘adult’ movie since the 70s, and it turned out to be one of the biggest critical flops of all time, going on to win 7 Razzies, including Worst Picture Of The Decade. That movie is Showgirls.

Basically a modern-day retelling of All About Eve, this is the story of Nomi Malone (Elizabeth Berkley) who arrives in Las Vegas with no money and less back-story, with the dreams of headlining ‘Goddess’ topless show at the Stardust Casino. Her roommate, whom she meets and agrees to move in with within 45 seconds of arriving in Vegas, happens to work as the costume designer for the show, and introduces her to the current headliner Crystal Connors (Gina Gershon), and thus begins a quasi-sexual love/hate relationship as Nomi allows the sparkle and glamour of the bright lights of Vegas dirty up her soul…

Verhoven has always had a knack for instilling a certain amount of subtext to his films, be it the OTT ’80s Reagan-commercialism of RoboCop (not to mention the Christ allegory), or America’s obsession with military seen in Starship Troopers (not to mention America’s inability to cast teenagers as teenagers in movies or TV show), so it would be easy to defend ShowGirls as having a subtext of our need for more graphic sex, having had our hunger for graphic violence sated, probably by another of Verhoven’s movies.

Sometimes you just gotta grin and bare it

But any defence you might have for the subliminal intelligence of the movie is quickly destroyed by some of the worst written and delivered dialogue ever committed to celluloid and there’s no defending it, nor the fact that each line is delivered like the actresses were pumped full of Xanax and told to seduce something one hundred feet away. But it’s these awful moments that make the movie so ridiculously great. The acting is so monumentally awful, the ‘sexiness’ is so fantastically misjudged, and everything is so gargantuanly over-the-top, that you can’t help but have yourself a good time.

Rory Cashin

 

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Cinema Review: Silent House

shut up house

DIR: Chris Kentis, Laura Lau • WRI: Laura Lau • PRO: Laura Lau, Agnès Mentre • DOP: Igor Martinovic • ED: Scott Gray • DES: Roshelle Berliner • Cast: Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese, Eric Sheffer Stevens, Julia Taylor Ross

Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen), her dad John (Adam Trese) and her uncle Peter (Eric Stevens) are renovating their old, run-down country house before selling it on. As with all situations where characters find themselves in the middle of nowhere, there are no nearby neighbours, there is no phone signal, and pretty soon Sarah starts hearing noises within the house…

A remake of the 2010 Uruguayan film of the same name, the film is presented as a single take, one continuous 85-minute shot. While initially it does seem like a good way to build tension, whenever a scary scene is about to take place the camera flips out, panning and zooming all over the place, replacing fear with confusion. There are some good moments of fear scattered throughout, but they all play out exactly the same way, with Olsen holding her hand over her mouth to stifle her laboured breathing, and then when she thinks the threat is gone, she goes to leave her hiding place only to discover the threat is still there and she runs off screaming. After this happens the third or fourth time, it stops being scary and almost becomes laughable.

Olsen is still really good in the lead role, and Trese and Stevens are both perfectly fine in their underwritten, barely-there parts. The plot seems to be both meandering and almost non-existent, and the ending is a poorly handled version of a ‘twist’ you’ve seen in countless other, better horror movies. In the end, this was an interesting cinematic exercise tacked on to a Xeroxed script. Disappointing.

Rory Cashin

Rated 16 (see IFCO website for details)
Silent House is released on 30th March 2012

Silent House – Official Website

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Cinema Review: Battleship

You did what to my Battleship...?

DIR: Peter Berg • WRI: Erich Hoeber, Jon Hoeber • PRO: Sarah Aubrey, Peter Berg, Brian Goldner, Duncan Henderson, Bennett Schneir, Scott Stuber • DOP: Tobias A. Schliessler • ED: Colby Parker Jr., Billy Rich, Paul Rubell • DES: Neil Spisak • Cast: Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Chris Hemsworth, Jesse Williams

Peter Berg’s directorial career has been… erratic. From the little-seen gems Very Bad Things and Friday Night Lights (the movie the very popular TV show is based on), to the underappreciated The Rundown and The Kingdom, Berg hit the blockbuster big-time with Hancock, then disappeared for four years, and returned with this Michael Bay-esque mash-up of Pearl Harbour and Transformers. Anticipation was already set pretty low since this was based on a Hasbro board-game (who also double as the producers of the movie), but now with added aliens, and it features the big-screen debut of Rihanna.

The ‘plot’ consists of two brothers, one who is a total mess (Taylor Kitsch, now 0 for 2 this year after John Carter) and one who is not a total mess (Alexander Skarsgard). They are both in the navy, both under the command of Admiral Liam Neeson, the daughter of whom Kitsch wants to marry. During some routine naval games, some spaceships land nearby, set up an impenetrable energy fence, and everyone starts shooting at each other. That’s about it.

If you like explosions, there’s a good chance you will like this movie. The weaponry on display is fetishized to pornographic levels, and boy howdy, do they sure blow up stuff good. The action sequences are well handled, the SFX are great, and there is some fun to be had in the mindless destruction as the massive metal ships get very loudly torn to shreds.

The acting isn’t awful, ranging from the fine-but-forgettable Kitsch, to the cash-chequeing-in Neeson, to the not-as-bad-as-it-could-have-been Rihanna, but unfortunately they are done in by one of the single worst screenplays ever committed to screen. For a $200 million production, you would think they’d have forked out a couple to a decent writer to at least make the dialogue palatable. But no, every line is clunky and laboured, every plot development is devoured by HUGE plot holes, and the idea of minorities (Nerds! The differently abled! Old people! Women!) coming together to save the day ends up being accidentally hilarious.

Oh, and for one last kick to the critical groin, at no point does anyone say, ‘You’ve sunk my Battleship.’ For shame, Peter Berg. For shame…

Rory Cashin

Rated 12A (see IFCO website for details)
Battleship is released on 13th April 2012
Battleship – Official Website

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDMXkPfxjOc

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Cinema Review: Tiny Furniture

Inside Tom Cruise's house

DIR/WRI: Lena Dunham • PRO: Kyle Martin, Alicia Van Couvering • DOP: Jody Lee Lipes • ED: Lance Edmands  • Cast: Lena Dunham, Laurie Simmons, Grace Dunham, Jemima Kirke

An award winner at the SXSW Film Festival over two years ago, this tiny movie ($50,000 budget) arrives on these shores at an almost perfect time, considering it’s about a recent college graduate who finds herself unemployable once graduation comes round…

Writer/director Lena Dunham plays Aura, a recently dumped film student who is forced to move in with her photographer mother (Laurie Simmons, Dunham’s real-life mother) and overachieving younger sister (Grace Dunham, real-life sister), and as she haunts their (real-life) Tribeca loft trying to decide what to do with her life, the film follows her run-ins with others who are also just as lost, but are either in complete denial (Alex Karpovsky’s pass-remarkable moocher Jed), acceptance (David Call’s seductive, elusive chef Keith) or apathy (Jemima Kirke’s faux-British, scene stealing Charlotte).

Despite the movie revolving around a lead character that has no job, no partner, no money, no place of her own to live and no idea what she’s doing with her life, the film plays it all with a remarkably light comedic touch. While never laugh-out-loud funny, it does manage to constantly find mirth in even the most depressing aspects of everyday life, and Dunham plays it all with an almost absolute lack of vanity, displaying her character at its best and worst, both inside and out.

While the film’s message is never quite clear, and its conclusion is frustratingly, if honestly, open-ended, the film itself is a message that with perseverance you will achieve your goals. Since then Dunham has got a TV show picked up in the States, and will appear in Judd Apatow’s next flick This Is 40. See, there’s hope for us all yet…

Rory Cashin

Rated 16 (see IFCO website for details)
Tiny Furniture is released on 30th March 2012

Tiny Furniture – Official Website

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWnLjMHBOG0

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Cinema Review: A Dangerous Method

A Freudian slip is when you say one thing but mean your mother.

DIR: David Cronenberg • WRI: Christopher Hampton • PRO: Jeremy Thomas • DOP: Peter Suschitzky • ED: Ronald Sanders • DES: James McAteer • Cast: Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen

Director David Cronenberg is renowned for his movies pushing the boundaries on psychosexual topics (The Fly, Videodrome, eXistenZ, Crash), and while lately his movies have been moving into more grounded realms (A History Of Violence, Eastern Promises), he hadn’t lost his knack for fantastic storytelling. So when it came to adapting the novel about the two most famous psychotherapists in history, it would seem there was nobody better suited to the job. Unfortantely, the movie has turned out to be oddly dull.

Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) is in the middle of curing his patient Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) when the two start an illicit affair. Soon Spielrein is studying to become a psychotherapist herself, but things take a turn for the worst when Jung tries to end the affair. He turns to his mentor Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) for help, and soon the young woman is caught between these two former friends and soon-to-be rivals.

So the stage is set for a threeway confrontation of sex, psychology and jealousy, but the majority of the fighting in the movie happens when Jung and Freud send each other some well-worded letters of disappointment. Everything is played out with civility and an over-riding sense of suppression, and even the sex scenes (usually a forte of Cronenbergs) leave a lot to be desired.

Whilst the acting from Fassbender and especially Mortensen is excellent, Knightley seems miscast as the unhinged Russian, especially since she seems to act via her teeth for most of the movie. But the entire story itself seems unfitting for the movie, for while it’s understandable that it be restrained by the original book and indeed history itself, never has a movie screamed out louder to be allowed to take a few more liberties in storytelling for the sake of entertainment.

Rory Cashin

Rated 16 (see IFCO website for details)
A Dangerous Method is released on 10th February 2012

A Dangerous Method  – Official Website

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=664eq7BXQcM

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Cinema Review: The Muppets – Film of the Week

Moi's hair has natural curls. So does my tail.

DIR: James Bobin • WRI: Jason Segel, Nicholas Stoller • PRO: David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman • DOP: Don Burgess • ED: James M. Thomas • DES: Steve Saklad • Cast: Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Beaker, Swedish Chef, Animal

It’s been twelve years since The Muppets last had a cinematic release (the not terrible, but still a flop Muppets From Space), and in the interim the world has just kind of forgotten about them. Which is exactly where this movie picks up, with Mary (Amy Adams) and Gary (Jason Segel) and Gary’s muppet brother Walter heading to LA for a holiday, and discovering the old Muppets Studio is now in disrepair, and about to torn down so Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) can dig for oil. The only way to save the studio is if they can convince Kermit & Co to perform a reunion show, and as far as plot’s go, that’s your lot.

From the amount of cameos from famous folk (Neil Patrick Harris, Jack Black, Emily Blunt, John Krazinski, Zack Galifianakis, Sarah Silverman, Ken Jeong and Whoopi Goldberg to name just a fraction), there is still a lot of love for these mop slash puppets. And that love is well deserved, for as soon as Kermit, Gonzo, Animal, Beaker and the irrepressible Miss Piggy show up on screen, a giant grin will be plastered to your face, and will remain there for hours after the film has finished.

The script, co-written by Segel and Forgetting Sarah Marshall director Nicholas Stoller, as well as being directed and the original songs written by the creators of Flight Of The Conchords, makes for a  film that is is both incredibly smart and witty (plenty of meta moments to be found). On top of this the film’s use of lowest common denominator funny without being stupid (a chorus of Muppet chickens singing Cee-Lo Green’s most famous song, or ‘Cluck You’, if you will), means that everyone in the audience, regardless of age, is catered for. There hasn’t been a film this wilfully fun and funny since Disney made fun of their own formula with Enchanted, and as well as being an early frontrunner for Funniest Film Of 2012, it’s also a great reunion and reintroduction to one of the all-time greatest groups of entertainers.

Rory Cashin

Rated G (see IFCO website for details)
The Muppets is released on 10th February 2012

The Muppets  – Official Website

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4YhbpuGdwQ

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Cinema Review: Chronicle

spoons will be bent

DIR: Josh Trank • WRI: Max Landis • PRO: John Davis • DOP: Matthew Jensen • ED: Elliot Greenberg • DES: Stephen Altman • Cast: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan

The ‘found footage’ movies seems like they should have run its course by now. Having been brought into the limelight by The Blair Witch Project, it has presented some enjoyable films, with the Paranormal Activity series, the [REC] series, as well as Troll Hunter and The Last Exorcism all working well within the perimeters of the genre. And now we have the superhero/found footage hybrid of Chronicle, pumping in some much needed new blood.

Three friends Andrew (Dane DeHaan), Matt (Alex Russell) and Steve (Michael B Jordan) discover a whole in a field, and when they go down to investigate, they discover something (it’s revealed what it actually is, that’ll probably save that for the inevitable sequel), and the guys discover they now have the power of telekinesis. Starting off as a prolonged montage as they test and push the boundaries of their new abilities, it quickly becomes clear that Andrew’s dark home life has left altered him, and with this new power, it won’t be long before he starts exacting revenge on whoever might have wronged him.

Equal parts Spiderman and Cloverfield, and for the final act, venturing into Akira territory, Chronicle is two thirds wish fulfilment fantasy, and one third jaw-on-the-floor action film. At times the reasons why they give for the guys still filming themselves becomes far to strained to be believable, but that’s one small nit-pick in a movie that is way more fun that it should be. And it a brisk 83 minutes, it’s one of the few movies that knows when not to outstay it’s a welcome. In a year that has Batman, Spiderman and The Avengers all clambering for superiority, who would’ve thought this no-budget found footage superhero movie would be the one they have to get the better of.

Rory Cashin

Rated 12A (see IFCO website for details)
 Chronicle is released on 3rd February 2012

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Cinema Review: Jack and Jill

ha ha ha

DIR: Dennis Dugan • WRI: Steve Koren, Adam Sandler • PRO: Todd Garner, Jack Giarraputo • DOP: Dean Cundey • ED: Tom Costain • DES: Perry Andelin Blake • Cast: Adam Sandler, Katie Holmes

It’s not exactly the worst job in the world, being a film reviewer. But sometimes it can feel a little bit like torture. There’s different types of bad movies; there’s the kind of movie you knew nothing about beforehand so you had no idea how bad it was going to be, then there’s the kind of movie you had high expectations for and they disappoint, and then there’s the kind of movie that you know already is going to be awful and you can see it coming at you like a car in the night and there’s nothing you can do to avoid it and no matter how bad you think it’s going to be it still somehow manages to be even worse than that. Jack & Jill is that kind of movie.

Jack (Adam Sandler) is happily married Erin (Katie Holmes) and he has lovely kids and he has a great job and everything in his life is perfect. Except that every Thanksgiving his twin sister Jill (also Adam Sandler) comes to visit, and this year she’s planning on staying for quite a bit longer than usual… Also, one of Jack’s potential clients, Al Pacino (playing a version of himself that would him to be in a cross-dressing Adam Sandler movie) takes a shining to Jill and…

You know what? No. Just no. Don’t see this movie. It’s beyond reviewing. Every once great comedian seems to ruin himself with family comedies (Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy have done it before him), and the nadir is usually the cross-dressing/fat-suit movie, and then hopefully the actor will see the errors of his way and try to pick better projects to be in. Sandler has shown he can act before in Punch Drunk Love, and more recently seemed to send up his own career in Funny People, so there was hope that he was on the road to recovery. But a quick look at his upcoming projects show that he’s currently working on Grown Ups 2 and a movie version of the boardgame CandyLand. There is no hope for Sandler. Let’s just rewatch Happy Gilmore and The Wedding Singer and remember him fondly the way he used to be.

Rory Cashin

Rated PG (see IFCO website for details)
Jack and Jill is released on 3rd February 2012

Jack and Jill – Official Website

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Cinema Review: The Descendants

would you walk with this man on a beach at sunrise...?

DIR: Alexander Payne • WRI: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash • PRO: Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor • DOP: Phedon Papamichael • ED: Kevin Tent • DES: Jane Ann Stewart • Cast: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller

Having recently carted away Best Film and Best Actor from this year’s Golden Globes, The Descendants should seem like an early shoo-in for entry on the Best Of 2012 Lists. However, come December, you’ll be hard pressed to remember anything from this movie other than its beautiful locales.

George Clooney is Matt King, a rich Hawaiian lawyer whose family happens to own a large portion of one of the islands. Right in the middle of negotiations about who the family should sell it to, Matt’s wife has an accident and slips into a coma. Matt is now left to look after his two estranged daughters; Alexandra (Shailene Woodley, beautiful but troubled) and Scottie (Amara Miller, cute but lonely). Matt also discovers that his wife has been having an affair and was planning on divorcing him soon. With her still in a coma, Matt has no-one to unleash this anger out on, and so the film shows his life falling apart and his attempts to reshape it into something worth living.

This is by far director Alexander Payne’s least funny movie, as the comedy to tragedy ratio in Election, About Schmidt and Sideways was better balanced, but here the movie is mostly stuck in glumsville. Clooney is excellent as the suddenly put upon father, and the daughters are great, as well as the supporting cast of Robert Forster, Matthew Lillard, Judy Greer and Beau Bridges. But this movie suffers from the same problem as The Artist, in that it’s a very average story told very, very well. So while at the time it’ll seem great, from a distance it won’t be clear why.

Rory Cashin

Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
The Descendants is released on 27th January 2012

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWHNXJ1K4yA

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Cinema Review: The Grey

Super Action Hero Bullies Wolves

DIR: Joe Carnahan • WRI: Joe Carnahan, Ian Mackenzie Jeffers• PRO: Joe Carnahan, Mickey Liddell, Ridley Scott, Tony Scott • DOP: Masanobu Takayanagi • ED: Roger Barton, Jason Hellmann, Joseph Jett Sally • DES: John Willett • Cast: Liam Neeson, Dermot Mulroney

We have a lot to thank Luc Besson for. Before casting Liam Neeson in Taken, the actor was well known for his Oscar®-worthy performances, but afterwards he was seen as a legitimate ass-kicker. Unlike certain other tanned and ab’d ‘action stars’ of late, Neeson’s raw edge makes you absolutely believe he could beat the living daylights out of anybody.

And here we have The Grey, with Neeson reuniting with his A-Team director Joe Carnahan. But The Grey does not have any of the over the top antics from their last pairing, and nor does it have the giddy approach to violence that made Taken fun. No, The Grey is not fun. It is brutal and it is punishing and it will chill you to the bone.

Neeson is Ottway, a man hired by an Alaskan oil drilling company to keep their men safe by shooting any wolves that may wander on to their site. On a flight back home with the crew, an insanely tense and scarily real plane crash finds the few survivors facing off against the weather, hunger and the wolves. The movie has been primarily promoted as ‘Liam Neeson Punches Wolves’, but the film goes deeper than that, touching on some very primal fears of the modern man, and director Carnahan brings some of the same art-house touches that made his debut feature Narc stand out from the crowd.

Aside from Neeson, the only other vaguely recognisable face is Dermot Mulroney, with the rest of the cast all good in their annoyingly clichéd roles. But this is Neeson’s movie; he owns and commands every scene, even when he’s just in the background observing other people’s conversations, your eye is drawn to him. Had it been released a few months earlier, it’s not ridiculous to think he might’ve been in with an Oscar® shot. That’s how good he is in this movie, and it is him that elevates this from ‘That Wolf Punching Movie’ to something so much more.

Rory Cashin

Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)

The Grey is released on 27th January 2012

The Grey – Official Website

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqP2o62sZMs

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Cinema Review: Intruders

oh no, I'm losing a friend...

DIR: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo • WRI: Nicolás Casariego, Jaime Marques• PRO: Belén Atienza, Mercedes Gamero, Enrique López Lavigne • DOP: Enrique Chediak • Cast: Clive Owen, Daniel Brühl, Carice van Houten

A young Spanish boy (Izan Corchero) is about to finish writing a horror story for his homework, when he and his mother (Carice van Houten) are tormented by a cloaked demon at night, while seemingly simultaneously, a young English girl (Ella Purnell) is also writing the same horror story for her homework, and she and her father (Clive Owen) get attacked by the very same monster. The monster, whom the kids have named ‘Hollowface’, wants to steal kids’ faces so it can revel in their parents love.

Quite a twisted little set-up, and from the opening sequence, director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (Intacto, 28 Weeks Later…) peppers the film with some very tense and scary scenes. However, during the day the film falls apart, primarily due to the abundance of ideas floating about; everything from religion to family history to psychology to the nature of creating a myth is thrown into the mix, and it all adds up to much less than the sum of its parts.

Acting wise is mostly good, with Owen and Van Houten on fine form, young Corchero a revelation and a somewhat wasted Daniel Brühl (Inglorious Basterds) as the Spanish family’s local priest. However, Purnell as the English girl is shockingly bad. Not only does it seem she can not act, but every line is delivered like it’s her first time trying out a Posh English Accent. When half way through the film she is rendered mute by the monster, you may actually find yourself siding with the villain.

Rory Cashin

Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
Intruders is released on 27th January 2012

Intruders– Official Website

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