Another near-miss in the hunt for a Young Adult fantasy franchise, post-Twilight; this time it’s witches in South Carolina, closely adapted from the YA book by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, in which star-crossed teenage lovers have to battle ancient curses and the in-laws from hell.
Beautiful Creatures is fortunate to have two, er, beautiful creatures in Alice Englert and Alden Ehrenreich to carry the leads. Which is just as well; their scenes together make for a delightfully tense and sparky rom-com; but step beyond and we’re into hocus-pocus, camp theatricality and hum-drum CGI. Continue Reading
Stephanie Meyer (Twilight) moves on to a different kind of ‘vampire’: an alien invasion of body-snatching luminous jelly-fish with a penchant for white suits, silver sports cars and a passive, peaceful, perfect utopia.
Of course, there’s a small resistance force fighting extinction and for everything human; including the right to be hormonally over-excited teenagers, even while the alien police Searchers hunt them down.
If not for director Andrew Niccol and Saoirse Ronan (Hanna, City of Ember) in the lead as dual role Melanie/Wanda, this would all be so much teen fodder. Continue Reading
Life is for living: a hokey, magical-realism, ghostly romance is saved from Ghost Whisperer ignominy by the star quality of Zac Efron.
A supernatural drama based on the best-selling book by author Ben Sherwood, Charlie St. Cloud (Efron: High School Musical, Me and Orson Welles) is a home-town golden boy who wins a sailing scholarship to an Ivy League college; but in the summer after high school, a car-wreck kills his younger brother Sam and Charlie is clinically dead until revived by paramedic Ray Liotta (Goodfellas).
Charlie was driving, and, weighed down by guilt, puts his life on hold to work in the cemetary where he plays catch daily with Sam’s ghost. Then Charlie’s former high-school classmate and sailing rival Tess (Amanda Crew) returns to town. Continue Reading
As a syrupy ‘prequel’ to The Queen, Princess Diana’s alleged love of her life is retold in an embarrassing TV-movie aberration that would fit right into the Hallmark Entertainment stable. Just one question Naomi – you’re an Oscar winner, why this?
Being kind, Oliver Hirschbiegel’s (Downfall) well-intentioned, reverential and sentimental biopic is an excruciating, drawn out gossip-magazine fantasy of tabloid dialogue. Perhaps the switch to saint Diana from sinner Hitler and a change of language got the better of this project?
Apparently Naomi Watts ‘couldn’t say no’ to the role; why not? Surely she read the script first? Continue Reading
In tribute to director and comic Mel Smith who died this week.
Ex-pat American Dexter King (Jurassic Park and The Fly‘s Jeff Goldblum) spends five years in London as ‘the tall guy’ playing straight man to obnoxious comedian Ron Anderson (Blackadder, Mr Bean and Johnny English: Rowan Atkinson).
Coinciding with his mid-life crisis as a 40-year old second-rate side kick and a love-life in tatters, Dexter meets nurse Kate Lemon (Emma Thompson of Sense and Sensibility) and, after getting fired, an audition for the new RSC musical about the Elephan Man: Elephant!
Goldblum’s laconic American charm and sardonic delivery is put to excellent use fronting Richard Curtis’ (Love Actually, Four Weddings’ and, of course, Blackadder) first movie script. With Mel Smith’s intelligent direction, this is an alternative and very British take on a Woody Allen rom-com.
With Goldblum as the central character, we follow this Camden Town Boy (the working title) through a modern, fish-out-of-water comedy of manners, full of slapstick, and surreal, fantasy, interior monologue. Continue Reading
Vincent Minelli’s technicolour musical inspired by the single piece of Gershwin music opened out into a full score.
Dance legend Gene Kelly plays his patented Irish-American lunk and Pal Joey character, grumpy painter Jerry Mulligan. Discovered by wealthy Milo Roberts (Nina Foch), who becomes Jerry’s patroness in more ways than one, drifter Jerry romances French waif Lise Bouvier (18-year old Leslie Caron) the fiancé of friend Henri (Georges Guetary), a popular nightclub performer.
Kelly’s succession of blue-collar Joes was always at odds with Kelly the dance artist pushing the boundaries in popular musicals. Quite unlike the earlier era of Fred Astaire, Kelly mixed energetic tap routines, progressive modern dance and fantasy sequences of pure ballet with the stock elements of fifties musicals. Continue Reading
Joaquin Phoenix and Claire Danes shine in this intriguing but overloaded noire-thriller romance.
Depending on your view of director Thomas Vinterberg’s work (of the original Dogme 95 movement, Festen, The Hunt), It’s all About Love will be a profound and moving exploration of the human condition set against global catastrophe, or the biggest load of pretentious, art-house twaddle in years.
And it’s not all about love, either. Continue Reading