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Archive for March 9th, 2010

Invictus: Looking for a way to unite a divided country recently elected South African president Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) decides the Springboks need to win the rugby world cup. The only problem, they aren’t very good. Along the way he inspires team captain Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon). In many ways it is actually Clint Eastwood’s weakest movie since Blood Work (2002), but even an average Eastwood movie is worth watching. Matt Damon is brilliant as Pienaar really holding the film together. Freeman’s Mandela is nearly perfect, his accent slips from time to time but his movements and mannerisms are spot on. The rugby scenes are really well handled offering a view of the game that works for both rugby fans and none fans. But like all Eastwood movies this is a movie about people, personalities and relationships, this is what makes him such a great actors director.

Morgan Freeman also acts as producer having purchase the rights to Playing The Enemy: Nelson Mandela And The Game That Changed a Nation by John Carlin. Along with producing partner Lori McCreary he had been interested in making a Nelson Mandela movie for many years, the autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom” was originally considered but was considered to difficult to translate into a movie. Don’t expect anything groundbreaking or original, this is a run of the mill sports story, it just happens to be a supremely well made sports movie, that is why you don’t need to worry about the 133 minutes runtime, it feels surprisingly short and you should come out of the cinema feeling a little happier than you went in.

Three Stars out of Five

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Youth In Revolt: For reasons far too contrived to go into geeky Frank Sinatra loving teenager Nick Twisp (Michael Cera) finds himself on holiday in a trailer park with his mother (Jean Smart) and her strange lover (Zach Galifianakis). He quickly falls for Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday) who gives him mixed messages as to her interest and intensions. When Nick has to go home as suddenly as he arrived the couple are separated, in an attempt win her back he quickly invents an alter-ego, François Dillinger (also played by Cera with help of white trousers, Aviator sunglasses and ridicules moustache). Representing the bad boy side of his personality François often takes over Tyler Durden style. As his catalogue of crimes don’t have the exact effect he hoped for Nick goes increasingly extreme measures.

The film is disposable but fun, it doesn’t give Cera the dream role that it should have been as the film fails to live up to his best movies; Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Juno. Trying to cram so many scenarios into 89 minutes the movie is rushed and episodic. Some of the scenes work better than others, this often depends on the supporting cast, with Ari Graynor and Jonathan B. Wright it at times looks like a Nick and Norah reunion. For all the youth talent on display some of the best moments are provided by Ray Liotta, Justin Long, Jean Smart and the ever reliable Steve Buscemi as well as the veteran M. Emmet Walsh. Far from the masterpiece that some are declaring it but good fun all the same.

Three Stars out of Five

 

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Valentines Day: A romantic comedy involving a group of intertwined stories is bound to draw comparisons with Love Actually. Whilst it isn’t as funny as Love Actually (that was far from a masterpiece in itself) it does have some funny moments. The quality of the segments vary from actually quite funny to cringingly bad. Most of them you can see exactly where they are going from the start, one did surprise me. The end to the Shirley MacLaine, Hector Elizondo story is one of the most cringe worthy but is also quite cleverly done. Two things that I have suspected for some time that the film confirms is Anne Hathaway is utterly brilliant and Ashton Kutcher complete lack of acting ability.

For a film that unashamedly cashes in on the sentimentality and commercialism of Valentines Day it isn’t as bad as I expected it to be. It does however suffer the most damming indictment a comedy can have; the outtakes shown at the end are by far the funniest thing about the Film.  If you are in the mood for a romantic comedy set over a single day you would be better of renting the DVD of the little known new years eve set indie movie In Search of a Midnight Kiss (2007) or Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2008).

Two Stars out of Five

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From Paris with Love: Director by Pierre Morel’s previous movie Taken (2008) was a nasty xenophobic little movie that became a surprise hit. His other film, District 13(2004) despite being thin on plot is a underrated gem. Both these movies and his latest From Paris with Love (2010) were produced by Luc Besson whom I have been a fan of ever since seeing Nikita nearly twenty years ago. From Paris With Love is nasty xenophobic little movie, that sounds familiar. In contrast with Taken this movie has no pretence, it knows it is utter rubbish and as thus is actually fun at times. You know a film has no pretence of being any good when it has a bad tagline and “Two agents. One city. No merci” is a really bad tagline. Of all Besson’s work the one it probably shares the most DNA with is the Transporter movies

James Reece (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) is the assistant to the US ambassador to France. He speaks multiple languages and is organised and efficient to a fault. As the saying goes “be careful what you wish for”, his organised lifestyle goes out the window when he is sent on an assignment with his new partner Charlie Wax (John Travolta). The plot (what there is of it) is largely irrelevant and completely transparent, it basically consists of Travolta having fun beating up and or shooting anyone that moves. There is absolutely nothing original and the film has no morality but it is as I said at the top fun at times and clocking in at just 92 minutes it doesn’t outstay its welcome.

Two Stars out of Five

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