Showing posts from April 14, 2013

Review: Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll

Biopic of punk rocker and polio sufferer Ian Dury (played as an adult by Andy Serkis), forced by his tough love dad (Ray Winstone) to stand on his own two feet, and harassed as a child at school by a strict disciplinarian (Toby Jones). We see how this seriously harsh upbringing has made him into the adult seen in the bulk of the film, living a life of excess, switching between his wife (Olivia Williams), and a young lover (Naomie Harris), and also dealing with his relationship with his own impressionable son (Bill Milner), who is exposed to some of the less savoury elements of Dury’s world. He’s also still cursed with the effects of polio, as he only has one working leg. Meanwhile, his career goes through many highs and lows (the lows often being due to his own self-destructive nature, and drug use), as he sees himself passed by in favour of the punk acts who thrived on the foundation set by the likes of Dury, while he himself faded somewhat.   Directed by Mat Whitecross (co

Review: The Son of No One

Mostly set soon after America was rocked by the events of 9/11, Channing Tatum plays a cop who has recently relocated to the Queensbridge projects in Queens, where he grew up. It wasn’t a good upbringing, with Tatum still feeling the effects of a troubled past, despite having moved on to become a married man to Katie Holmes and father to their ill little girl. Tatum is forced to confront his past, however, when the police are informed that a nosy reporter (Juliette Binoche) has started to receive letters hinting of a double murder, police corruption, and a cover-up from 1986. We venture back to 86 so we know that Tatum (or his child counterpart, played by Jake Cherry) was somehow involved in this unsolved crime from long ago (Truth be told, we know exactly how he was involved too). Also aware is Tatum’s troubled childhood friend, played as a boy by Brian Gilbert, and Tracy Morgan as an adult. Is he the one threatening to expose Tatum’s secret? Or someone else? And who is making thr

Review: Happy Endings

A quirky comedy/drama in which various characters lives intersect; Lisa Kudrow works in an abortion clinic, and has a masseuse boyfriend (Bobby Cannavale). Into her life comes wannabe filmmaker Jesse Bradford, promising to give her the whereabouts of the son she gave up for adoption if she’ll just let him document the reunion on film. Steve Coogan is Kudrow’s gay stepbrother who along with his partner are friends with a lesbian couple (Laura Dern, Sarah Clarke). The couple have a baby from a supposed anonymous donor, but Coogan is suspicious. Maggie Gyllenhaal plays an amazingly charismatic and charming gold-digger who gets her hooks into confused gay man Jason Ritter, but might actually be more interested in his nerdy dad (Tom Arnold). But could there be more going on? This 2005 comedy from writer-director Don Roos (the OK Christina Ricci flick “The Opposite of Sex” ) is quite liked in most quarters of the critical community, but I found it a teeth-gratingly annoying, aimles

Review: Battle Royale

Based on a novel by Koshun Takami, this film is set in a near future Japan where school truancy and juvenile delinquency are at an all-time high. As a result, the Battle Royale Millennium Act has been introduced, and a busload of high school kids are about to find out exactly what that means. Knocked unconscious, they awaken on a remote island and greeted by the stoic Kitano (Takeshi Kitano, AKA Beat Takeshi), a former teacher who informs them that they are now participants in a Battle Royale. They will be forced to compete in a death sport, killing each other with assigned weapons (of varying usefulness) until one winner is left standing. If anyone doesn’t compete, a collar containing a bomb fitted around their necks, and remotely controlled, will explode. Every few hours, Kitano makes a radio broadcast informing the participant of the latest kills, usually accompanied by something sarcastic or derisive. And remember, it’s the government behind all of this.   Forget “The Hun

Review: Return of the Musketeers

It’s 20 years since The Four Musketeers were last seen (well, these particular ones at any rate), but some things have not changed. Constantly duped Queen Anne (Geraldine Chaplin) is once again in trouble, with the duplicitous Cardinal Mazarin (Philippe Noiret) plotting against her, with the help of the nasty lady swordsman Kim Cattrall, the vengeful daughter of Milady De Winter. So, D’Artagnan (Michael York) and the other musketeers (Oliver Reed’s Athos, Frank Finlay’s Porthos, and Richard Chamberlain, whose reluctant Aramis now has a cushy gig as Abbe and dares not leave his post for swordplay and derring-do).   Meanwhile, former Richelieu ‘living blade’ Rochefort (a wasted Christopher Lee) is also back, and forced to bide his time playing second fiddle to his daughter Cattrall. C. Thomas Howell plays the uber-naive, studious adopted son of Reed’s Athos.   Tired, uninteresting 1989 Richard Lester ( “The Three Musketeers” , “The Four Musketeers” , “Help!” ) sequel set

Review: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Set in Victorian Era England, Fredric March plays the practically saintly Dr. Jekyll (pronounced correctly here as Gee-kyl) who is working on a formula that allows for the ‘animal’ side of a human being to be freed from the rest of his personality. Not surprisingly this results in disaster, with this dual personality called Hyde (also played by March) running amok and terrorising a hooker (Miriam Hopkins) as he roams the seedy side of town. Meanwhile, Dr. Jekyll is frustrated in having to wait eight months to marry sweetheart Rose Hobart, at the request of her father (Halliwell Hobbes).   Directed by Rouben Mamoulian ( “The Mark of Zorro” , “Silk Stockings” ), this 1931 adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson ( “Treasure Island” ) classic has aged surprisingly well, with one exception. In fact, it’s really quite daring and mature for a film from the 1930s. There’s no way on Earth the material would’ve flown a decade later, you’d think. The Hays Code, for instance, did no

Review: The Amazing Spider Man

Abandoned by his parents into the care of his Aunt (Sally Field) and Uncle (Martin Sheen) at an early age, Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) has developed into an awkward and unpopular teen (Partly because the actor playing him is 28? Just putting it out there...). Peter learns of his father’s work alongside Dr. Connors (Rhys Ifans) before the former’s disappearance, and uses a field trip to Oscorp (where the good doctor is employed in cross-species genetics research) as an excuse to poke around. Unfortunately, Peter manages to get himself bitten by a lab spider, and soon after begins to notice some significant changes in himself. He’s super-agile, super-strong, and super um...Spidey. When tragedy hits close to home, Peter dons a costume to become Spider Man. Meanwhile, Peter starts to gain the attention of pretty fellow student Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), daughter of the local police captain (Denis Leary). Campbell Scott and Embeth Davidtz have cameos as Peter’s parents.   Maybe I