ALISTAIR Harkness casts his eye over the rest of this week’s cinema releases
Ice Age: Continental Drift (U)
Directed by: Steve Martino, Mike Thurmeier
Voices: Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, Peter Dinklage, Jennifer Lopez
PRACTICALLY a licence to print money these days, the Ice Age franchise trundles on with this dreary fourth instalment, serving up more banal adventures for its makeshift band of moribund mammals to pound us with easy-to-grasp family values messages.
Picking up a few years after the previous film, the uninspired story again revolves around the parental anxieties of overcautious mammoth Manny (Ray Romano), whose minor travails with his mildly rebellious teenage daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer) are brought into sharp relief when an earthquake separates him from his family.
Teamed up again with eternally optimistic Sid the Sloth (John Leguizamo) and moody sabre-tooth tiger Diego (Denis Leary), Manny and Co must take on a band of marauding pirates led by a deranged orangutan called Captain Gutt if he’s to have any hope of seeing his wife and daughter again. In case this last sentence – or the fact that Gutt is voiced by Games of Thrones’ reigning deviant Peter Dinklage – makes the film sound in anyway entertaining or subversive, please be aware that Jennifer Lopez is also on hand to drain the film of any life as a white tiger who captures Diego’s heart.
Marina Ambramovic: The Artist is Present (15)
Directed by: Matthew Akers
DOCUMENTING veteran performance artist Marina Ambramovic’s 2010 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Artist is Present serves up a fascinating insight into what it took to not only mount the eponymous show, but also the effect it seemed to have on those who saw it. With the three-month exhibition’s centrepiece revolving around the oddball daily spectacle of Ambramovic sitting in a chair in the gallery staring at whichever museum patron is lucky enough to sit opposite her (some even queue up overnight outside to try and guarantee themselves a time slot), the film gives us a sense of how gruelling and thoughtful this potentially meaningless and narcissistic display actually is. But why is it art?
That’s a question Ambramovic says she misses being asked in relation to her work, so it’s a little disappointing the film doesn’t provide any credible sceptics to counter the assemblage of notable critics, collectors and curators willing to testify to its importance.
The Hunter (15)
Directed by: Daniel Nettheim
Starring: Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill, FrancEs O’Connor
IN The Hunter, Willem Dafoe plays a mercenary hired by a biotech firm to track down the last Tasmanian Tiger, kill it for its genetic material, and destroy the evidence to prevent others from harnessing the paralysing properties of its DNA. As set-ups go, it’s like something out of a Michael Crichton novel, so it’s a surprise when the ensuing film proceeds along more meditative lines.
Alas, that’s not necessarily a good thing. Essentially another of those slightly underpowered, coolly existential thrillers in which a rigorous professional finds his focus slightly off after engaging in some meaningful human contact, the film sets Dafoe’s lone gunman down this path after meeting the wife (Frances O’Connor) and children of a local environmental researcher who vanished in the forests several months earlier.
Any potential conspiracy surrounding this disappearance is left undeveloped, though, as the film throws several more perfunctory plot points at Dafoe’s marksman without any of them really sticking. It’s only when Dafoe gets out into the wilderness alone that The Hunter really comes to life, with director Daniel Nettheim clearly more comfortable shooting his rugged star against Tasmania’s atmospheric landscapes than having him chew over the film’s rather creaky dialogue.
Women on the 6th Floor (12A)
Directed by: Philippe Le Guay
Starring: Fabriche Luchini, Sandrine Kiberlain, Natalia Verbeke
ALMOST shamelessly slick and wilfully unsubstantial, this look at bourgeois sensibilities in early 1960s Paris at least succeeds on its own terms. As it lays out the story of uptight, middle-aged stockbroker Jean Louis (Fabriche Luchini), whose rigid outlook on life is softened by spending time with the salt-of-the-Earth Spanish maids who live in his family’s building, the film provides some frothy laughs without striving too hard to rise above the standard upstairs/downstairs clichés.
Mercifully, the ensemble cast are charming enough to make this work to its advantage, even if Sandrine Kiberlain is underserved as John Luis’s socialite wife by one-note characterisation that seems intent on demonising her as a frigid, shrew-like snob who practically drives her passive-but-likeable husband into the arms of their new cleaner, the young and beautiful Maria (Natalia Verbeke). Director Philippe Le Guay clearly isn’t especially interested in anything resembling real life here. Instead, he pitches his actors’ performances several notches above farce to generate enough energy and goodwill to bring this female-dominated male redemption fantasy to a close without too many awkward questions being raised.
God Bless America (18)
Directed by: Bobcat Goldthwait
Starring: Joel Murray, Tara Lynne Barr, Mackenzie BrookE SMITH, Aris Alvarado
WITH God Bless America, stand-up comedian turned black-hearted filmmaker Bobcat Goldthwait unloads both barrels on contemporary American pop culture, gleefully shotgunning targets with the sort of reckless abandon that fatally undermines any points his scattershot polemic happens to make. An uneasy cross between Curb Your Enthusiasm, Falling Down and Natural Born Killers, its hero is a divorced, middle-aged, migraine-afflicted office drone called Frank (played by Joel “brother of Bill” Murray), whose despair at the lack of civility in modern-day life generates a bodycount after he acquires a disillusioned teen sidekick called Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr) who is all too eager support and encourage his nothing-to-lose mission to cleanse America of rude, idiotic scum.
Reality television, talent shows that belittle their contestants, and fearmongering news anchors are among the film’s many legitimate satirical targets, but Goldthwait’s attempts to fight fire with fire with shock tactics (like the shotgunned baby that opens the film) and unfocused ranting (like Roxy’s abuse of Young Adult screenwriter Diablo Cody) reduce the film to little more than a bitter tirade.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 3 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: West