Alistair Harkness reviews the pick of the week’s films out now
The Artist (PG)
A slickly put together piece of entertainment that cleverly appropriates elements of the silent film format in order to give the old A Star is Born plot a relatively fresh makeover. There is much to admire, including the film’s most audacious joke in which the fourth wall is broken by a sound effect. It’s mostly cute and goofy fun, but it lacks boldness that would make its title genuinely ring true.
The Descendants (15)
In Alexander Payne’s first feature film since 2004’s Sideways, George Clooney plays a Honolulu-based real-estate lawyer, all set to sell off a valuable piece of land and make his family rich when an accident leaves his wife in a coma. Just as he paves the way for an appreciation of the real beauty of Hawaii by kicking the film off with myth-puncturing shots of grimy streets and inclement weather patterns, Payne subtly undermines Clooney’s surface charm and handsomeness to better exploit the things that really make him an attractive actor and screen presence.
Steven Soderbergh brings an enjoyably artful approach to ass-kicking mayhem with this stripped down, tightly wound riff on the rogue agent revenge flick. Making her movie debut, mixed martial arts star Gina Carano makes a decent fist of dominating the screen and Soderbergh surrounds her with great actors (and Ewan McGregor) to do the dramatic heavy lifting and cultivate the necessary air of paranoia.
A Monster in Paris (PG)
Like Hugo and The Artist, this French-made CG-animation effort is set during the pioneering days of cinema and comes replete with retro visual nods to the period. Unfortunately its Phantom of the Opera-meets-Them!-meets-Frankenstein plot feels rather like a lab experiment gone wrong, as director Bibo Bergeron wrecks a charming central idea involving a giant mutated flea becoming a sweet-voiced cabaret star in Paris, circa 1910, by infusing it with tiresome and anachronistic buddy comedy shenanigans.
Like Crazy (15)
Transatlantic indie romance revolving around a British foreign exchange student called Anna (Felicity Jones) who falls in love with an aspiring chair designer called Jacob (Anton Yelchin) while attending college in California. If drama is life with the dull bits cut out, this film seems intent on reinstating them in a misplaced bid for authenticity.
The Sitter (15)
This crass, unofficial update of 1980s comedy Adventures in Babysitting finds Jonah Hill playing irresponsible adult to a bunch of bratty kids after his desperate-for-a-night-out mother talks him into looking after her friend’s children so they can go out together. Noah (Hill) is also at the beck and call of his sort-of-girlfriend (Ari Graynor) and when she demands he secure her some cocaine and deliver it to the party she’s attending, he’s powerless to resist. Packing the kids into their mum’s minivan, he proceeds to expose them to all sorts of inappropriate activities.
Underworld: Awakening (18)
The big news about this fourth instalment of the zombie-trashing Resident Evil franchise is that it sees the return of original star Kate Beckinsale, whose shiny PVC-clad rear sat out the previous film, but whose shampoo advert-style head-flicks were – be honest – barely missed. She slots seamlessly back into the blue-tinged CG-heavy world of this woeful, boring film as a vampire called Selena.
War Horse (12a)
Steven Spielberg’s version of Michael Morpurgo’s young adult novel and its subsequent National Theatre adaptation is a disappointing, cheaply sentimental tale that invokes a false sense of they-don’t-make-them-like-that-any-more nostalgia in an effort to disguise the silliness of the story.
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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