Archive for July, 2008

27 dresses – out now

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Like slipping into a pair of old shoes, 27 Dresses is the epitome of comforting predictability, following the rom-com rulebook to the letter.

Jane (Katherine Heigl) is a serial bridesmaid, with 27 gaudy hideous dresses hanging in her cupboard to prove it, who spends so much of her time caring for other people that she’s neglected to find a husband for herself. She is a wedding obsessive, subscribing to bridal magazines and cutting out wedding stories from newspapers in spite of the fact that she’s single. Jane is secretly pining after her dull boss, the obligatory romantic red-herring in the tale, who is cruelly snatched from her by her sexy younger sister. Meanwhile she remains oblivious to the attentions of Kevin, a dashing, cynical wedding reporter from the local rag, who has found himself a scoop with Jane’s story.

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The Dark Knight – in cinemas now

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Anyone expecting the standard superhero CGI-endowed spandex suit romp should take note of the title; they warned you up front that this film was going to be dark. And at nearly 3 hours long, The Dark Knight certainly feels like a long, dark night of the soul.

The film comes lumbered with the albatross of the much documented and unfortunate passing of actor Heath Ledger, who practically steals the show as the Joker – at times the film feels like Silence of the Lambs in that it is dominated by the presence of a character whether he’s on screen or not. And, like Dr. Lecter, the Joker knows how to put stationary to effective use and how to win an audience over via sheer charisma and an arsenal of wisecracks. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stranger,” he quips.

With a plot as winding and labyrinthine as the corridors of Gotham’s own Arkham Asylum, the follow up to 2005’s Batman Begins is a relentless and intelligent superhero movie that demands your attention.

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He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not – out now

Friday, July 25th, 2008

Nothing is quite what it seems in Laetitia Colombani’s creepy romantic thriller He loves me… he loves me not. The film opens with promising art student Angelique played by Audrey Tautou (Amelie, The Da Vinci Code) entering a flower shop and sweet-talking the manager into giving her a single rose to send to her loved-one, the handsome cardiologist Loic (Samuel Le Bihan). Next we see Loic sniffing the flower, evidently touched.

Loic is in fact married, with a pregnant wife, but this doesn’t seem to bother Angelique in the slightest. She confidently informs her concerned friend Héloïse (Sophie Guillemin) that Loic is sure to leave her so they can settle down together, and from what we see of their relationship, it could be true.

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Together With You – out now

Friday, July 25th, 2008

A departure from the gargantuan historical epics such as Farewell my Concubine and Temptress Moon for which director Chen Kaige made his name, Together With You is an unashamedly sentimental tale of love between father and son which faces strong, raw emotions like love and ambition head-on. Warning: invest in a large box of tissues before viewing.

The film centre on Liu Xiaochun (Tang Yun), a 13-year-old violin prodigy who lives in a provincial town with his father Liu Cheng (Liu Peiqi), a cook. Cheng is determined that his son’s talents not be wasted, and, stashing his meager savings in his red peasant hat, he travels with Xiaochun to Beijing for a competition which Cheng hopes will give the boy the big break he needs. As it happens, Xiaochun has no chance of winning, since the corrupt judges are swayed by contributions from rich parents, but, determined not to be defeated, Cheng persuades the eccentric professor Jiang (Wang Zhwen) to teach his son.

Jiang, a heartbroken recluse who lives in a hovel surrounded by stray cats and dirty laundry, teaches Xiaochun to play with his heart. Meanwhile Xiaochun teaches Jaing some self-respect and the two form a close bond. However Cheng soon feels it’s time to move his son onto a better teacher – the famous Yu Shifeng, played by director Chen Kaige himself.

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Flame-Throwing Batmobile heralds Dark Knight’s arrival in London

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

Having already made box-office history in America over the weekend, last night saw the European Premiere of The Dark Knight in London.

As hundreds of bat-fans lined the streets, many dressed as Batman and the Joker, stars of the caped comic book blockbuster Christian Bale, Sir Michael Caine and Maggie Gyllenhaal rolled in to greet the crowds in an angular, flame-throwing Batmobile, injecting some Hollywood glamour into Leicester Square. The red carpet outside is in marked contrast to the black one unveiled for the world premiere in New York.

The event followed a phenomenal opening weekend in the US which took $155 million (£77.7m) at the box-office, beating the previous best of $151 million (£75.6m) set by Spiderman 3 last year.

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Hancock – in cinemas now

Friday, July 18th, 2008

Having been maligned by many reviewers upon its release a few weeks ago, the DVD Rental crew weren’t expecting much from Hancock, the latest Will Smith sci-fi action outing, but we left our local cinema pleasantly surprised.

Vigilante superhero crimefighter John Hancock (Smith) can fly, pick up cars, stop trains with an outstretched hand, is impervious to bullets, beatings, rocket propelled grenades, but is unloved by his public, who repeatedly refer to him as ‘asshole’, as his actions invariably cause more damage to his adopted hometown of LA than the criminals he sets out to apprehend – think the first five minutes of Team America: World Police and you’re kind of on the right lines. He is also an alcoholic smartarse.  ‘I can smell the liquor on your breath,’ snaps one irate rescuee. ‘Well, that’s ’cause I’ve been drinking, bitch.’

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There Will Be Blood – out now

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

Directed, written and produced by Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood is loosely based on Upton Sinclair’s 1927 novel Oil!. This masterful epic, spanning the first three decades of the twentieth century, centres on the loathsome and unflinching silver miner-cum-oilman Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis), a man driven entirely by greed and his hatred of people (“I look at people and I see nothing worth liking”), who will go to any measures to stifle all competition.

The film opens with a 15 minute wordless sequence in which Plainview is seen toiling as a silver-miner. On the basis of a tip-off from a visitor named Paul Sunday (Paul Dano), Plainview travels with his adoptive son to the town of Little Boston, California, where the Sunday family home is brimming with oil.

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Be Kind Rewind – out now

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

More light-hearted than French director Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Be Kind Rewind nonetheless shares its surreal assumptions. Set in retrograde Passiac, New Jersey, sweet-natured Mike (Mos Def) works in a video store run by kindly Mr Fletcher (Danny Glover), an old-timer who still exclusively rents out dusty old VHS tapes, fitting for the dreary backwater in which the store is situated. When Mr Fletcher takes a trip out of town, he leaves his store in the capable hands of Mike, giving him just one piece of advice: not to let Mike’s quirky friend Jerry (Jack Black) anywhere near the store. However, Jerry, whose body has been completely electro-magnetised after breaking into the local power plant, does visit the store and inadvertently wipes every single tape. Only one option is left to the pair: armed with a video camera, they start with a biopic of Fats Waller, going on to film their own versions of classics such as Rush Hour 2 and Ghostbusters Pretty soon the home-made films achieve cult status and the money won’t stop rolling in.

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Margot at the Wedding – out now

Friday, July 11th, 2008

Noah Baumbach is the king of dysfunctional, and in this follow up to The Squid and the Whale he gives us another bite at the cherry as he explores the way in which families can be both a blessing and a curse.

The central relationship this time round is sisterhood. Waspish short-story writer Margot (Nicole Kidman) takes her 11-year-old son Claud (Zane Pais) to Long Island where her estranged and nervy Sister Pauline is about to marry unemployed artist Malcolm (Jack Black). As well as a wish to bury the hatchet, Margot, who has recently separated from her husband, has some intentions of her own. She hopes to hook up with old flame and fellow writer Dick (Ciarán Hinds), with whom she is also jointly holding a talk.
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Evan Almighty – out now

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

Directed by Tom Shadyac (Ace Ventura, The Nutty Professor), this sequel to Bruce Almighty at $135 million dollars is purportedly the most expensive comedy ever filmed. Steve Carell plays a newscaster turned politician who has uprooted to Virginia, dragging a reluctant wife and three boys with him to support him in his ambitions. His campaign pledge to “change the world” becomes a reality when God, in the form of an avuncular Morgan Freeman, tells him to build an ark to save America from a great flood. In spite of hints at an environmental message – the flood after all followed a controversial decision to privatise a national park – Evan’s penchant for gas-guzzling 4x4s makes him an unlikely eco-warrior.

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