Tag Archives: Broadsheet Movie Barometer

MovieHeader3LIFE poster

LIFE (111 minutes, 15A) Directed by Anton Corbijn. Starring Robert Pattinson, Dane DeHaan, Ben Kingsley.

The ambitious Life photographer Dennis Stock (Robert Pattinson) captures a series of iconic images of a pre-Rebel Without a Cause (1955) James Dean (Dane DeHaan) on the cusp of stardom. DeHaan leaves subtlety at the door and goes full-on caricature with an impersonation of Dean so broad that the part could easily have been filled by Jon Culshaw.
The most noteworthy aspect of this Hallmark-style biopic is that Pattinson managed to avoid laughing right in DeHaan’s face, as he turns up his collar and delivers risible dialogue such as “Wanna ride on my ‘cycle?” As a former photographer himself, the appeal of this artist and tortured subject theme is understandable for Anton Corbijn. But there’s very little dramatic tension to be gleaned from anticipating the set-up of the next iconic photograph.
Even if you can look past DeHaan’s risible performance, there’s nothing hidden underneath. Following the toothless A Most Wanted Man (2014) with this weak sauce makes the director’s compelling debut, Control (2007) appear increasingly anomalous.

MISS YOU ALREADY poster

MISS YOU ALREADY (112 minutes, 15A) Directed by Catherine Hardwicke. Starring Toni Collette, Drew Barrymore, Dominic Cooper.

If watching someone’s health slowly deteriorate over two hours sounds like your idea of a good night out, then Miss You Already has it all. From infertility to double mastectomies and brain cancer, this one is actually less fun to sit through than it sounds.
On paper, the story of two childhood friends navigating illness and hardship has the potential for emotional catharsis in the vein of Beaches (1988), but the parts of Catherine Hardwicke’s disjointed movie all work against each other. The jokes aren’t funny, and the neither of the two main characters have the charisma to turn their traumas into ours.
Toni Collette does her best with a deeply unpleasant role, but Drew Barrymore is clearly punching above her weight and Paddy Considine seems to have wandered in from a Richard Curtis movie. The choice of shooting intimate scenes with a camera more suited to carrying out an endoscopic examination does nothing to bolster the absence of emotional heft. Feel-good it’s not.

Also on release from Friday 25th: CaptiveA Girl At My DoorMia Madre, Older Than Ireland and Solace

Mark will criticise movies for food. See WhyBother.ie for a closer look at some of this week’s new releases.

MovieHeader2Everest

EVEREST (121 minutes, 12A) Directed by Baltazar Kormákur. Starring Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes.

Everest is Icelandic director Baltazar Kormákur’s dramatization of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster; the deadliest day of the mountain’s history until the recent earthquake in Nepal. If you equate disaster movies with extinction-level annihilation, then recalibrate your expectations. By the recent standards of the genre, Everest is a slow burner. Kormákur doesn’t grab you by the ears, shove your head into carnage and shake your brain loose like Roland Emmerich or Michael Bay. But the human drama is somewhat diminished by a gaping hole in the narrative where the “why” should be. The question of what motivated these individuals to shell out huge money for a holiday with a fatality rate of one in four is left unanswered. I suppose you could say the same about a peak-season trip to Corfu. The impressive ensemble cast do their best under impossible conditions, but it’s difficult to emote in a blizzard. Besides, the real star of Everest is the mountain itself. Kormákur utilises the breath-taking alien landscape to the fullest, and delivers some intensely exhilarating sequences and haunting scenarios. Everest is a grand cinematic spectacle. Put the phone away and watch it on the biggest screen you can find.

Walk in the Woods

A WALK IN THE WOODS (104 minutes, 15A) Directed by Ken Kwapis. Starring Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, Kristen Schaal.

Next to the gargantuan Everest, A Walk in the Woods is a gentle Sunday stroll. Based on Bill Bryson’s memoir, Robert Redford plays the curmudgeonly travel writer as he attempts to walk the 2000-plus mile Appalachian Trail. His wife (Emma Thompson) is understandably concerned (“Can’t you just do this in the Volvo?”) and insists that he brings a companion on this absurd, ill-fated journey. The only blast from Bryson’s past willing to entertain the notion is the wheezing, overweight Stephen Katz (Nick Nolte). Katz is a force of nature bewildered by doors, chairs and other trappings of civilisation. The great outdoors is equally perplexing to Katz, as Nolte wanders through the film like a man capable of breaking nature itself. A Walk in the Woods is too whimsical and slight to provoke any extreme reactions, but it’s impossible to dislike. Redford has nothing left to prove and delivers a subtle, understated performance. The gentle comedy never tries too hard, and the begrudging camaraderie between Bryson and Katz develops in a manner refreshingly free from sentiment. A Walk in the Woods is a pleasant, inoffensive diversion.

D Train

THE D TRAIN (101 Minutes, 15A) Directed by Jarrad Paul & Andrew Mogul. Starring Jack Black, James Marsden, Kathryn Hahn.

Unpopular loser Dan (Jack Black) tries to gain the approval of people he hasn’t seen in over 20 years by convincing the most popular guy from high school (James Marsden) to attend an upcoming reunion. For some inexplicable reason, this involves the heterosexual family man engaging in some consensual afternoon delight with said popular guy. It’s probably best not to overthink this one – heaven knows that neither of the two writer/directors did. That guff such as this is being produced by Ealing Studios is positively inconceivable. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Sad, desperate and pathetic, The D Train is best avoided altogether. Just like a real school reunion.

Also on release from tomorrow : Tangerines, Horse Money.

Mark Ryall will criticise movies for food. See WhyBother.ie for a closer look at some of this week’s new releases.

MovieHeader2Legend

Scorchio: Legend (111 minutes, 18) Directed by Brian Helgeland. Starring Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, Colin Morgan.

September is traditionally a fallow period on the movie calendar. The summer blockbusters have been and gone, but it’s still too early for the studios to release their contenders for awards season. So in all honesty, calling Legend the best movie of the week says more about the other new releases than it does about Brian Helgeland’s generic gangster flick. It’s only lifted from mediocrity through a phenomenal twin turn from Tom Hardy, playing both of the notorious Kray twins. As an actor with form playing unhinged criminals, Hardy is utterly mesmerising, but the rest of this by-the-numbers biopic lacks any of the surreal stylistic idiosyncrasies that made Bronson (2008) so compelling. In spite of the title, Legend doesn’t romanticise the Krays or excuse their psychotic behaviour, but it offers nothing that we haven’t seen before. You slag.

The Visit

Indian Summer: The Visit (94 minutes, 15A) Directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Starring Kathryn Hahn, Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould.

M. Night Shyamalan finally allows us to laugh with him instead of at him, as he takes his bruised ego on the road to Damascus after a string of critical and commercial flops. A trip to their grandparents’ remote farm gets progressively weirder for Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and (no kidding) rappin’ T-Diamond Stylus (Ed Oxenbould) when granny starts projectile vomiting and wandering around in the buff with a kitchen knife. Old people – what would you do with them? Most of the scares are well signposted, and the found-footage device is an entirely unnecessary handicap. The two young leads are so annoying that you might find yourself willing Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie) to just hurry up and eat the little blighters. Shyamalan can’t resist one of his trademark twists, but the payoff is more campfire urban myth than masterstroke. Nevertheless, The Visit is a modest, satisfying low-budget horror that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Irrational Man

Cloudy with a chance of rain: Irrational Man (95 minutes, 15A) Directed by Woody Allen. Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone, Parker Posey

Late period Woody Allen is like a family-sized box of Roses the day after Christmas. The purple ones are long gone and only the coffee cremes are left. Often the only way of distinguishing one of Allen’s films from the next is by the calibre of actors at his disposal. For this riff on Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train (1951), Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone are proficient enough to pass off the director’s self-conscious dialogue as their own. Just about. Irrational Man is a safe rehashing of well-worn ideas. It’s one of the filmmaker’s annual placeholders and nothing more. But don’t worry; there’ll be another one along soon enough.

Scorch Trials

Storm warning: Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (131 minutes, 15A) Directed by Wes Ball. Starring Dylan O’Brien, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ki Hong Lee.

The rudimentary plot of this sub-John Carpenter sci-fi sequel is easy to follow even if you sat the first one out. Whether you will want to is another matter entirely. Set in dystopian future (is there any other kind?), a bunch of kids are chased down by hordes of zombies and a sinister corporation with the same name as a popular alcopop. Some of the action sequences are impressive, but the problems start when the running stops. The young cast are largely interchangeable; as one character disappears, a new one pops up to take their place. Aidan Gillen turns up as a villain who can’t decide if he’s Irish or American. Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is a competent teen-lit adaption, but it’s overlong and instantly forgettable.

Mark will criticise movies for food. See WhyBother.ie for a closer look at some of this week’s new releases.