27 August 2014

LUCY- Review

Scarlett Johansson is having an interesting year. Only within 12 months of appearing in Jonathan Glazer's headfuck Under The Skin and (not) appearing in Spike Jonze's unorthodox romance Her could her latest role, Luc Besson's Lucy, look like a relatively mainstream proposition and yet here we are.

At the start of the film, Lucy is a fun-loving American living in Taiwan, recovering from a typically massive hangover, when her shifty boyfriend embroils her in a drug-trafficking racket. When she's beaten in custody by the criminals, a deposit of a synthetic growth hormone bursts inside her stomach and changes her physiology. While it's said that humans only use 10% of their brain's potential, the substance allows Lucy to access up to 100% of that capacity, and over the course of 24 hours, she has to put that power to good use.

26 August 2014

TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT- Review

Summer has never been a season to leave you short changed if you like films with a "two" in the title. 22 Jump Street, How To Train Your Dragon 2 and The Inbetweeners 2 have all been and gone in the last few months, but it's time for a change of pace. Two Days, One Night is the latest film from Palme d'Or-winning filmmakers, the Dardenne brothers, and it's a bit marvellous.

Marion Cotillard plays Sandra, a working mother who has recently taken leave from her job due to depression. She's ready to return to work when she hears that her colleagues have voted for her to be let go so that each of them can have their annual bonus. In the face of an immediate relapse, Sandra is spurred by her loving husband to spend the weekend appealing to her colleagues' better nature ahead of a second vote on Monday morning, in the hope that enough of them will renounce their bonuses and let her keep her job.

25 August 2014

THE CONGRESS- Review

There are still a lot of people in favour of Andy Serkis and Toby Kebbell receiving award nominations for their performance capture roles in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. From the outset, at least, Ari Folman's The Congress views the ape-ifying technology as something a bit more sinister, with emphasis on the "capture". Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like the film is hugely interested in following through on that.

Robin Wright of The Princess Bride and, latterly, House of Cards fame, plays a version of herself in a version of near-future Hollywood. The roles have apparently stopped coming and she has a daughter and a disabled son to support. Her agent passes on a proposal from studio conglomerate Miramount Pictures, whereby they offer to create a lifelike CG-duplicate of her that they can use in their movies any which way they please, in return for a lump sum and the promise that she'll never act in person again.

20 August 2014

GOD'S POCKET- Review

This is a film that wasn't meant to bear the sudden and shocking realisation that we have fewer Philip Seymour Hoffman performances in front of us than we have behind us. As the first major release to star the late, great actor since his untimely death in February, it's a weight that God's Pocket must carry all the same, but as a film that's indubitably an actors' film, it does find him in his element.

Hoffman plays Mickey, a van driver who lives in the one-van town of God's Pocket, Philadelphia, home to a bunch of fiercely parochial locals who aren't averse to a little criminality on the side. When Mickey's obnoxious stepson Leon dies while working at a construction site, the other builders on the site close ranks around the truth about what really happened. Mickey's distraught wife Jeanie is convinced there's more to it and she ropes in alcoholic local columnist Richard Shellburn to find the truth, but Mickey is more concerned about how he's going to pay for the imminent funeral.

19 August 2014

WHAT IF- Review

Daniel Radcliffe still has a bit of hard work ahead shaking off his Harry Potter rep, just by dint of having so comprehensively tied himself to Harry Potter over the course of a decade of his life. Happily, he does seem to be putting the work in. The Woman In Black, with its candlelit roaming of corridors after nightfall, might not have been the best vehicle for that, but perhaps hip new romantic comedy What If is better.

In the film, he plays Wallace, a young romantic who puts on the impression of embittered, cynical singledom after being repeatedly wounded by long-term girlfriends past. Moping around at a house party, he bumps into graphic designer Chantry, with whom he markedly does not hit it off. After a couple more chance encounters, they become not-so-fast friends, even if Wallace feels disingenuous about hiding his feelings when Chantry has a long-term engagement with her diplomat boyfriend Ben. That's right folks, it's another film asking if men and women can be best friends, or if the possibility of sex just gets in the way.