Sunday, 31 July 2011
But the characters are thoroughly enjoyable - apart from a few goofy elements such as Timberlake's inability to add two numbers together. The chemistry between the two is terrific, and the supporting cast is packed with hilarious cameos and lively performances from favourite actors like Patricia Clarkson and Richard Jenkins, who unsurprisingly breathe life into people who would be yawn-worthy stereotypes in a lesser film. It's also sharply well shot and edited, and even with the obvious plot manages to win us over in the end.
Like a standard Western, the film involves a group of men (plus the improbably hot Olivia Wilde) searching for kidnapped family members and encountering bandits and marauding native Americans along the road. The one twist is that the kidnappers are from another planet, bent on stealing Earth's resources and so on. It's great fun to watch these fairly standard Wild West characters face up to this kind of threat, even if the climactic action scenes are a little too forced to be truly exhilarating. But it's nicely directed by Jon Favreau with plenty of understated charm thrown in along the way.
Thursday, 28 July 2011
Owen Wilson makes a terrific stand-in as the standard Allen character, a writer struggling with the pull of art and commerce, complicated by his personal life. As the story progresses, he's not only given a chance to indulge in his fantasy of living in 1920s Paris (complete with an almost farcical parade of iconic artists), but he is also confronted with a gentle moral conundrum in 2010 Paris. Meanwhile, the film is packed with lively characters, a terrific supporting cast and quite a few random comical asides that don't really need to be here but keep us laughing. It's the kind of movie I wouldn't mind seeing again. That doesn't happen often....
Saturday, 23 July 2011
Tuesday, 19 July 2011
Much more interesting were two grisly thrillers: Ben Wheatley's genre-busting dramatic horror film Kill List and, to a lesser extent, the Butcher Brothers' grotesque horror sci-fi romp The Violent Kind both have the ability to continually catch us off guard, which doesn't happen nearly enough to a jaded film critic. And three other smaller films show considerable talent on a micro-budget: Sundance parallel-world winner Another Earth, the London relationship/crime drama Turnout and the extremely low-key 1970s-set Chilean thriller Post Mortem. All three have style and skill to burn, including excellent casts and offbeat approaches to narrative, even if each of them feels a little pretentious.
Sunday, 17 July 2011
Tuesday, 12 July 2011
Also this past week we had the frankly astonishing umpteenth adaptation of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, one of my very favourite books, and perhaps the best ever movie of it, starring the terrific Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell and Judy Dench. I mean, honestly. There were also these: the cute but a bit dull teen coming-of-age drama The Art of Getting By, Paddy Considine's rightfully award-winning British drama Tyrannosaur, the ripping Nazi-occult horror The Devil's Rock from New Zealand, and Morgan Spurlock's outrageously entertaining product.placement doc The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.
Tuesday, 5 July 2011
Other films included the divine Kristin Scott Thomas' latest French film, the wrenching dual-strand drama Sarah's Key; the lurid mayhem of the 3D British kids' romp Horrid Henry; the fascinating Japanese comedy-drama Sawako Decides; the gruelling inner-city Chicago doc The Interrupters; and the gorgeously photographed wildlife doc One Life - finally a bit of escape from what was a surprisingly heavy week. I also managed to get to the theatre to see the internet-based murder thriller Two Boys at the English National Opera - yes, really. It's fiercely original, with astonishing staging and a clever use of music and surtitles, even if it does portray all web chatrooms as the deepest layers of hell.