As a sworn non-Trekkie who generally detests science fiction, I was awaiting Star Trek with some trepidation. Could I take a story seriously which claimed that the evolution of languages on other planets had so exactly matched our own that their inhabitants spoke a perfect North American vernacular? Could a film about non-existent creatures with squashed-up faces who seem bent on destruction for destruction’s sake really hold my attention for a whole two hours and seven minutes?
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I first heard about Gran Torino in a New York Times review, in which it was billed as “a sleek, muscle car of a movie made in the U.S.A.” which presented life in the “industrial graveyard” of real America – run-down shells of once grander houses in suburbs ruled by the same vicious gangs you would expect to find in tough, inner-city ghettos. This is a far cry from the aspirational, model-village setting of American Beauty or Desperate Housewives. But while the film’s premise is a promising one, a starchy script and wooden acting fail to deliver.
Clint Eastwood plays Walt Kowalski, an embittered Korean War veteran who spends his days sitting out on his front porch, rifle by his side, gulping back beer and snarling at his troubled neighbourhood which has gradually slid down the monopoly board and is now largely inhabited by impoverished immigrants.
As expected, British film Slumdog Millionaire triumphed at the Oscars this morning winning eight Academy Awards. The rags-to-riches tale set in Mumbai about an orphan who goes on to win the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director for Danny Boyle, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Mixing, Best Film Editing, Best Score and Best Song.
Director Danny Boyle jumped up and down in delight when he collected his award. He explained that he’d made a pledge to his children that, should he win an Oscar he would “receive it in the spirit of Tigger from Winnie the Pooh”.
Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, which cleared up at the recent Golden Globe and Critics Choice Awards, is a winning ‘rags to Raja’ drama set in contemporary Mumbai.
Slumdog tells the story of Jamal Malik, chiefly played by Dev Patel (aka Anwar from Skins); an 18-year-old Muslim ‘chai wallah’ (tea boy) for a mobile phone call centre who is just one correct answer away from 20 million rupees on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? which apparently features exactly the same format, graphics, studio set up and theme tune as the good old British version.
During a pause in filming, Jamal is arrested and whisked away to a police cell on suspicion of cheating. How could a lowly chai wallah who came up from the slums of Mumbai possibly know all the answers?
Today sees the release of the fully CGI animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars in UK cinemas, which we have to say is pretty good, despite initial misgivings, largely based on our opinion of the last film (Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith) particularly Hayden Christensen’s namby pamby depiction of the galaxy’s biggest badass, Darth Vader.
The Clone Wars is sort of like Star Wars Episode 2.5 in that its set in between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, and shows the beginning of events of the eponymous wars that were briefly mentioned by Obi-Wan Kenobi in the first ever Star Wars film waaaaay back in 1977.
The plot follows Anakin Skywalker (voiced by Matt Lanter, who played the drunk college jock Brody in the first series of Heroes) who has reluctantly been lumped with his overeager new disciple – sorry, Padawan – Ahsoka (Ashley Eckstein) who looks like Christina Aguilera in an Egyptian head dress and too much fake tan, as they attempt to rescue Jabba the Hutt’s son from a mysterious band of bounty hunters. Old favourites Obi-Wan and Yoda appear alongside Christopher Lee who reprises his role as Count Dooku the main villain of the piece, and Anthony Daniels, who once again camps it up as stuffy protocol droid C-3PO.
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.
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.’
With hotly anticipated follow-up Adulthood now showing at UK cinemas, there’s never better time to get reacquainted with the cast of 2006′s Kidulthood, a rough and ready tale of bored British suburban youths, which catapulted Noel Clarke to stardom for his direction and his portrayal of bullying bad guy Sam in the film, became something of a word of mouth phenomenon, and a success story for independent homegrown film-making talent.
Labelled by some as a poster movie for happy slapping, Kidulthood principally revolves around three teenagers and their associates, who are given the day off school after the suicide of a fellow student; what follows is a relentless run through a hyperreal 24 hours covering sex, violence, drink, drugs, theft, betrayal, knifing, gun toting, pregnancy…
Perhaps the ultimate Girl’s Night In movie has arrived on cinema screens, following Monday night’s premiere at the Odeon West End in Leicester Square here in London – of course we’re flattered that Carrie and the girls chose to unveil their first big screen performance here in the UK, but we can’t help feeling that perhaps their native New York would have been a more fitting choice.
At the end of the day, this isn’t a movie about geography, it’s about the two ‘L’s – Labels and Love. The girls are back with a bang four years on since the series wrapped and it doesn’t seem that much has changed. Sarah Jessica Parker has once again stepped into the Manalos of Carrie Bradshaw, Noo Yoik writer on a quest for true love – “real love… ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can’t-live-without-each-other love…” – armed with a passion for fashion, Cosmopolitans and internal monologue. Maneater Samantha has relocated to the west coast, having shacked up with aspiring movie star Smith in LA, Miranda is having problems juggling her professional, domestic and social life, whilst Charlotte, seems to be the only one enjoying marital bliss.