Critics will tear this film apart. The plot is flimsy, many of the performances two dimensional and most of all it’s missing Sacha Baron Cohen’s famous real-life, candid-camera moments with unsuspecting everyday people as in Borat and Bruno… but this is still his best work yet. The Dictator holds a big, fat mirror to the ludicrous nature of dictatorships still present in the 21st century and multiplies it with a strong Cohen dose of parody. Admiral General Aladeen, beloved oppressor of Wadiya thinks it’s cute when women go to school and likens it to watching a monkey on roller skates. In another scene, he delivers a baby and says: “I have bad news, it’s a girl. Where’s the trash can?”. Things that are said and done in this film are shocking but they are based on true events and perceptions held by some even today. The speech he makes at a UN convention towards the end of the film pointing out the ironies of the American state of affairs and its show of democracy is brilliant and the SNL-like portrayal of newsreaders and their annoying habit of describing at length even the most mundane details during a live report is cringingly accurate. That’s where the good stuff ends.
You may have noticed that I haven’t actually told you what the film is about, bringing me back to my second sentence, the plot is flimsy. A dictator gets replaced by a double in a conspiracy by his advisor (Ben Kinsley) to turn Wadiya into a democracy so that the western world can exploit the oil-rich country. Cohen escapes to New York and without his beard he is unrecognisable. He must find a way to gain back his title. The Dictator is badly executed, no pun intended but I like this new turn of exaggerated Michael Moore-esque filmmaking pursuit Cohen has taken. (Released May 16)
The details behind this animation are a little mysterious. Written by director, mime and actor Jacques Tati in 1956 but never produced is now on screen as an animation. Rumour has it that he wrote it as a love letter to his estranged eldest daughter. If you are unfamiliar with Tati, know that he is Rowan Atkinson’s inspiration for Mr Bean. In his famous films Mon Oncle and Play Time, Tati plays a character called Monsieur Hulot who is awkwardly tall and intentionally funny in his ill-fitting clothes. And in all his films, there is hardly any dialogue or his voice is muffled or inaudible. In The Illusionist, he plays a magician who moves to rural Scotland and meets a little girl who is convinced he is the real deal and a beautiful father-daughter relationship blooms. The film is beautifully animated and caricatures of the people that walk into their lives are just brilliant. However, I did feel like something was missing. And I’ve come to the conclusion that Tati’s brilliance is his alone and an animation mimicking him is just that – a copy.
The Illusionist Trailer
Play Time Trailer
In cinemas July 28.
Eh… what the deuce? Hanna is like Kick-Ass meets Jason Bourne plus a paper thin plot. Teenager Saoirse Ronan (The Lovely Bones, Atonement) is brought up in the middle of nowhere (apparently the wilds of Finland) by her ex-CIA dad (Eric Bana) to like kill. She’s never been anywhere else and only knows stuff from the books Bana reads to her. When she feels she’s ready, her dad tells her she can press this red button which will send off an alarm to an evil intelligence officer (Cate Blanchett). I seriously don’t understand this plot. So everyone goes on this wild chase that looks like a series of music videos backed up by Chemical Brothers’ original score , which is pretty cool. The star of the film is a hilarious Jessica Barden who plays a spoilt teenager. She played a similar role in Tamara Drewe. I reckon, she’s someone to watch out for on the big screen. Ooh, did I just make another prediction… watch this space.
Jessica Barden in Tamara Drewe
In cinemas July 28.
I’m going to miss Lisbeth Salander. Her black eyeliner, her multiple piercings, her cigarette smoking hunch, her barely-there breasts, her steely glances and her utter unpredictability. Amidst the Carrie Bradshaws, I will miss the coolest female character to grace the big screen in a long time. And in the third and final installment of the Millennium series, we have on board an array of tough-as-nails female characters minus the unrealistic, made-for-male-fantasy garb. There is a pregnant lawyer, a policewoman and a judge – all of whom play major roles in deciding the fate of a group of corrupt cronies. The film picks up from where The Girl Who Played With Fire ends. Lisbeth is brought to a hospital, after being shot by her father, where she recovers whilst waiting trial to be charged for murder and Mikael Blomkvist works to clear her name. It all sounds familiar yet like the page-turner books, the final chapter is a captivating watch.
Special mention goes to the “pig” Dr. Peter Teleborian (Anders Ahlbom) who reminded me of an evil James Lipton (Inside the Actors Studio). His squirm-in-the-seat scene towards the end of the film made me want to stand up and clap like the audiences allegedly did at screenings of The King’s Speech. I’m going to miss Lisbeth Salander. Her Mohawk, her chains, her computer hacking skills and her endearing inability to express herself. If not for anything, watch this movie to see Lisbeth attempt a full smile doused with insanity. Oh Lisbeth, you totally awesome freak.
Some think about death when someone they know dies. Some think about it when they themselves face the unknown inevitability. Some refuse to think about it at all while others wake up in cold sweat in the middle of the night because it is all they can think about. Death is the one certain thing in our lives and relates intimately to each and everyone of us. So a film that promises to search the meaning of death and the possibility of an afterlife minus entertainment gimmickry à la an M. Night Shyamalan concoction, by a talented, octogenarian director is more than just appealing – it feels like compulsory viewing. Unfortunately, the great Clint Eastwood’s latest drama about three lives weaved into one script is lacking in ideas and audacity. Unlike Gran Torino, Hereafter skims rather than delves, leaving audiences unaffected by what should have been a hard-hitting philosophical film.
However, like holding a selective magnifying glass over life, Eastwood captures the little things with skillful precision. This is aptly amplified by the subtlety in his latest muse Matt Damon’s performance. Just watch the scene where he walks out from the cooking class after meeting a beautiful woman. Maybe death is on Eastwood’s mind but he seems to capture life a lot better than he does afterlife. Then, out of nowhere he’s added an extraordinary tsunami scene which has awarded him a Best Visual Effects Oscar nomination, a gong the vivid scene may just deserve but won’t win. I say “added” because in the end that’s what Hereafter feels like. An accumulation of various stories and scenes, ironically lacking soul.
Check your local DVD store.
“When you want something to be there, you’re willing to overlook anything that does not agree with that.”
– Rel Shulman (Creator and cameramaN, Catfish)
If you haven’t alreadyswitched your Facebook settings to private, I suggest you DO IT NOW! This film was absolutely compelling and captivating from start to finish. Catfish is not based on but IS a true story about an unsuspecting New Yorker who thinks he’s hit the jackpot of love. Photographer Nev’s story is filmed by his brother and friend. The story…
A young girl Abby, a fan of Nev’s photography sends him beautiful paintings of his work. They become Facebook friends and soon after Nev’s found a Facebook family in Abby’s (apparently very hot) mother, (super hot) sister, father, musician brother, cousins etc. Nev forms a friendship then a relationship with Abby’s sister Megan. She’s an actress/musician/artist. He is almost in love. She’s his perfect girl… until he discovers that the MP3 songs she posts on her profile page claiming to be hers are ripped off from YouTube performances.
From this point on, the story takes an unexpected turn, one you’ll never see coming. The promo poster for the film says, “Don’t let anyone tell you what it is”. So, I won’t.
There has been controversy over whether Catfish did actually happen or if it was all made up. To get a better sense of this, I urge you to watch the extras on the DVD where the boys talk about their experience. To be honest, it could very well staged. Doesn’t change the fact that it was a darn good movie.
Movies don’t get any better than this. Get Low is a clever little story about the very idea of storytelling. And hey, it doesn’t hurt when you have brilliant actors like Robert Duvall, Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek telling that tale. As funeral director Murray whines about going out of business, “What do you do when people just don’t die,” in walks Duvall’s Felix Bush with a wad of cash to buy a funeral, for himself.
The catch? Bush, the recluse, has been living in the woods away from civilization for 40 years. Rumours have it that the man had murdered in cold blood and even possesses special powers. So Bush’s idea of a living funeral where he wants people from all over town come tell a story they’ve heard about him seems not just morbid but ludicrous. But thanks to Murray’s “genius”, seats are sold for the funeral show like lottery tickets to win Bush’s isolated plot of land when he’s actually passed.
Get Low builds like the perfect three-course meal towards a sweet ending where Bush tells the most compelling story – the real story about his life. There is a very simple truth I took away from this film – no one’s life is ever lived without having an effect on others, even if more than half of it was in seclusion. And that’s why in 2011, we are watching a movie which is loosely based on a real-life Felix Bush who lived in Tennessee in the 1930s. Hakuna Matata people – life, death and a whole bunch of beautiful stories in between and beyond. Get Low is highly recommended.
Release Date: 26 May
Don’t mean to brag but remember when I said, right here in this blog, that Kristen Wiig was meant for great things. (Click here for proof) Well this is it! Everyone will truly experience the Wiig humour… and it is bloody wicked. Bridesmaids is not a lame chick flick where women in their 40s pretend to be in their 20s. These are real besties with real wrinkles who talk and joke like actual girlfriends who’ve known each other their whole lives.
I am so happy Saturday Night Life ladies Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig finally made a movie. Bridemaids is a little bit like the female Hangover (and the boys will love this too, I promise). I’ve seen these girls on SNL and they are hilarious and this movie has finally done them justice. They are paving the way for really cool chick flicks with awesome laughs unlike the terrible ones we were inundated with last year (Bride War, 27 Dresses, Confessions of a Shopaholic etc).
There are some surprising cameos by Matt Lucas and Aussie actress Rebel Wilson. TV series The IT Crowd‘s Chris O’Dowd plays Wiig’s love interest and he is charming – not in an icky over-tanned Gerard Butler way, thank god! (The Bounty Hunter). Plus an unexpectedly funny Jon Hamm (Mad Man’s Don Draper) who was also on SNL (video below).
Last but not least – I am SO HAPPY Jennifer Aniston will no longer rule the chick flick genre.
BOYS AND GIRLS – I DEMAND YOU TO WATCH THIS FILM!
This trailer does not do the film justice.
Release Date: 16 Jun
Would you drink your tap water if it catches on fire? This is a real life Erin Brockovich (well, yes that film was based on a true story about the life of a real woman) tale shot by an unassuming theatre director. He gets a little curious after he’s sent a letter by a gas company offering him $10,000 for permission to drill for natural gas on his land. And what follows is a series of unsettling truths told by innocent citizens with a sense of humour only the truly helpless can pull off. Gasland won Best Documentary Feature at the Academy Awards earlier this year.
You’ll either love this or hate it, and I loved it. For those of you familiar with Sophia Coppola’s earlier film Lost in Translation will probably be better prepared with what to expect. This film is about a hugely successful actor (Stephen Dorff) going through the motions until his 11-year-old daughter (Elle Fanning) comes to stay with him. The first scene in this film is just brilliant and sets the tone for the film oh so perfectly. Somewhere is slow-moving, sometimes claustrophobic and lingering. Coppola’s made emptiness poetic. This is Entourage minus the entourage and you’ll get what I mean when you’ve seen the film.
P.S. Elle Fanning has an ethereal beauty about her that takes this film to another level. That underground pool scene is just perfect.
I’d like to think I have the power to predict the stars of tomorrow. Seriously. Case #1 Jennifer Love Hewitt when she was a wee little girl in Party of Five with big… erm talent. Case #2: Jessica Biel as a tomboy in Seventh Heaven. I knew they’d be big. Call me, Ari Gold. This time, I’ve got my money on Kristen Wiig. I’m a huge fan of hers from Saturday Night Live. This girl is hilarious. And she’s been trying to make the transition to the big screen where her full potential has never and probably will never be realised. Case in point – I Love You Man, where she played a small, forgettable role as the protagonist’s girlfriend, the kind of roles she’d been stuck with if not for Paul. She plays a staunch Christian who becomes a Darwin believer thanks to Paul (voiced by Seth Rogan) the alien.
Simon Pegg & Nick Frost above, Kristen Wigg below as Bjork on SNL
Along for the ride are the usual suspects, best friends in real life Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead & Hot Fuzz). Two British guys go to America for the Comic-Con convention and then take a road trip see all important extraterrestrial sites. They run into Paul who is running away from the government to get back “home”. I am so happy to say that this movie unlike so many others, has a trailer that does not do it justice – probably because Wiig is not in it. There are plenty of sci-fi movie references to keep event the nerdiest entertained. This is no Superbad (this film is directed by the same guy, Greg Mottola) in big, aching laughs but it is consistent, satisfying and predictable in a good way. Also, you don’t want to miss Sigourney Weaver getting punched in the face by Blythe Danner and Simon Pegg!
In cinemas Apr 14.