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Jeremy Irvine and Dakota Fanning in Now Is Good

Now Is Good

In Love Story, the 1970 weepie in which boy meets girl and girl dies – sorry, that’s it – it is, let me reiterate, the girl who dies. It always is, sickness being part of the female condition, in mainstream Hollywood of the era anyway. Different decade same idea in Now Is Good, a boy-meets-girl-and-girl-dies weepie with Dakota Fanning as the pale, interesting girl, Jeremy Irvine as the boy she falls for and leaves behind. To go into further plot detail is pointless – the publicity material points out that Tessa (Fanning) has a bucket list and that losing her virginity is at the top of it. But that’s little more than a … Read more
ted 1

26 November 2012-11-26

Out in the UK this week Ted (Universal, cert 15, Blu-ray/DVD) Descending occasionally into Family Guy droning, Seth MacFarlane’s comedy about a guy (Mark Wahlberg) and his walking, talking, living teddy bear otherwise riffs rude and hilarious on popular culture – hookers and hookahs to Diff’rent Strokes and Ming the Merciless. Ted – at Amazon Magic Mike (Lionsgate, cert 15, Blu-ray/DVD) Channing Tatum takes his clothes off. Recommendation enough, maybe, but Steven Soderbergh’s Boogie Nights-lite drama about male strippers also faintly deals with the objectification of the male body. And Matthew McConaughey takes his clothes off too. Magic Mike – at Amazon The Amazing Spider-Man (Sony, cert 12, Blu-ray/DVD) The special effects aren’t … Read more
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3 December 2012-12-03

Out in the UK this week The Dark Knight Rises (Warner, cert 12, Blu-ray/DVD/Download) The series has been overpumped but Christopher Nolan’s third Batman film is definitely the best of the bunch, a luxuriously long, character-packed comicbook adventure all the better for featuring Christian Bale’s caped crusader very little. The Dark Knight Rises – at Amazon The Bourne Legacy (Universal, cert 12, Blu-ray/DVD/Download) It’s the Bourne Leftovers, with Jeremy Renner taking over from Matt Damon, the taciturn amnesiac superspy now having a memory, a loose tongue and little raison d’etre. S’OK. Just. The Bourne Legacy – at Amazon New Year’s Eve (Warner, cert 12, Blu-ray/DVD/Download) A Love, Actually idea – a parade of … Read more
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10 December 2012-12-10

Out in the UK this week The Expendables 2 (Lionsgate, cert 15, Blu-ray/DVD) Jason Statham helps action OAPs Sly, Arnie, Dolph, Bruce, Jean-Claude and even, god love him, Chuck Norris into their combat gear in a second tranche of lobotomised ass-kicking so ridiculous the franchise might run for ever. The Expendables 2 – at Amazon Ping Pong (Britdoc, cert PG, DVD) Play veteran table tennis and stay limber, sharp and connected to the world – the message of this riveting documentary that works because it focuses on the game and its very elderly players (one a feisty 100), rather than self-empowerment blah. Ping Pong – at Amazon Life Just Is (Independent, cert 15, … Read more
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17 December 2012-12-17

Out in the UK this week The Snows of Kilimanjaro (Cinefile, cert 15, DVD) Tonally similar to his Marius et Jeannette from 1997, Robert Guédiguian’s latest drama, about a Marseilles union official questioning his principles after he’s violently burgled by a comrade, is warm-hearted and delightful, Ken Loach in French and with added sunshine. The Snows of Kilimanjaro – at Amazon When the Lights Went Out (Revolver, cert 15, Blu-ray/DVD) A poltergeist monsters a 1970s council-house – avocado bathroom suite, twin-bar electric fire and all – in this British genre horror done with polish, style and gut-puckering sound design. When the Lights Went Out – at Amazon The Killing Series 3 (Arrow, cert … Read more
Matthew McConaughey and Juno Temple in Killer Joe

9 November 2012-11-09

Out in the UK This Week Killer Joe (Entertainment One, cert 18, Blu-ray/DVD) French Connection/Exorcist director William Friedkin returns to form and hands a decent role to Matthew McConaughey, who plays a dead-eyed contract killer menacing a family who thought they’d hired him to kill the materfamilias for insurance gain. As with The Exorcist, Friedkin gives us an awful lot of set-up before he gets the nasty stuff out, by which time we’re emotionally invested and feeling every jab. Juno Temple stands out as the braless jailbait who catches McC’s eye, but it’s very hard to get really involved in this family as they’re so scarily dim. Unless the whole thing is meant … Read more
Jeremy Irons in Margin Call

12 November 2012-11-12

Out in the UK This Week Margin Call (Paramount, cert 15, Blu-ray/DVD) JC Chandor’s debut, and what a film, is about a Lehman Brothers’ (ish) bank hitting the skids. It’s the definitive Hollywood entertainment about the financial crash, a cool, glossy, edge-of-seat procedural about a night in the company of two low-level bank employees (Zachary Quinto, Penn Badgley) who are on duty at the point when a gigantic accounting error comes to light. Whereupon the problem is batted further and further up the heirarchy, until it reaches the top (a particularly dry and corrupt Jeremy Irons). The performances are in the ionosphere – Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Simon Baker, Demi Moore, Stanley Tucci … Read more
Santi Ahumada plays Lucía in Thursday till Sunday

Thursday Till Sunday aka De Jueves a Domingo

Dominga Sotomayor’s remarkable debut feature is a sotto voce drama about a family on a road trip. Proceeding by suggestion rather than assertion, it is in some respects similar to Pablo Trapero’s early, soapy drama Familia Rodante. There are faint hints of the work of Carlos Reygadas in there too, as well as more than a touch of Claire Denis. This is not bad company to be mixing in. If the long opening locked-camera shot through a bedroom window into a courtyard, where a family is loading a car with baggage and sleeping children, recalls Reygadas’s amazing up-comes-the-dawn opening to Silent Light, then the Claire Denis element is supplied by what follows, as … Read more
Claude and Esther

In the House

If you’ve seen 5X2, you’ll already know that François Ozon makes immensely clever and highly entertaining films, and that there’s a point to the cleverness; he’s not just showing off. In the House, aka Dans La Maison, is Ozon to the bone, another very clever piece of work. This time, however, the point he’s making is far less immediately obvious. 5X2 was a love story played out backwards, the point being that, “forearmed” as we were with the knowledge that the relationship would crumble, we saw the couple in question’s first stirrings of love, courtship, marriage, honeymoon and so on through entirely different eyes. Here Ozon plays a similar trick, taking a Cuckoo … Read more
Pilou Asbaek as Mikkel

A Hijacking

Stories of Somali pirates hijacking ships and holding people hostage for months regularly make the news bulletins but rarely seem to make it to the big screen. Which is odd considering that foreigners waving guns about in front of frightened innocents’ faces is a staple of cinema. Enter A Hijacking (original title: Kapringen), a Danish offering that welds a cast familiar to viewers of Danish TV sensation Borgen to a twin-track plot – one half takes place on the high seas, the other back at base where negotiations for the hostages’ release are taking place. The result is a drama so involving that, though I’d dragged myself to the cinema with a heavy … Read more
Willem Dafoe in The Hunter

29 October 2012-10-29

Out in the UK This Week   The Hunter (Artificial Eye, cert 15, Blu-ray/DVD) There’s a totally immersive sense of place in this engrossing thriller starring Willem Dafoe as the titular hunter in kill-or-be-killed Australia. He’s some sort of badass eco-transgressor working for a rapacious global megacorp and he’s after the mythical and possibly mystical Tasmanian Tiger. Or is that a metaphor? Or is he actually not the hunter at all but instead the hunted? No spoilers. I will just say it’s a thriller and it’s structured like Apocalypse Now – one man, a quest, lots of delicious jeopardy. The Hunter – at Amazon Your Sister’s Sister (StudioCanal, cert 15, Blu-ray/DVD) Grown-up mumblecore, a … Read more
Fathers Julián and Nicolás patrol the shanty

White Elephant

London Film Festival, 2012-10-21 At a certain point in the career of a successful film-maker who isn’t working in the English language, you expect him or her to make a “breakout” film, the one that gets them noticed in the global multiplexes, the one that makes them some money. At this point in the career of Pablo Trapero, the Argentinean who gave us Familia Rodante, Lion’s Den and Carancho – all critical hits – you’s expect White Elephant to be that film. It isn’t. But that doesn’t mean it’s a disappointment. Quite the contrary. Instead of taking the money and selling out, Trapero has taken what budget his status as a film-maker now entitles him … Read more

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