15 May 2015

Review: CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA

Maria Enders is an actress who’s fed up with Hollywood and wants to go back to the stage, where she made her name. Having escaped a comic book franchise contract, she holds high hopes for a mooted sequel to Maloja Snake, the play in which she broke through 25 years earlier, playing a young and vivacious girl who seduces an older, embittered woman and eventually drives her to suicide.

When the playwright, Wilhelm Melchior, passes away unexpectedly, a new director instead pitches the idea of redoing the play with Maria now playing the older woman and Jo-Ann Ellis taking on Maria’s part. In Jo-Ann, Maria sees an uncanny reflection of herself, which only makes it more difficult for her to accept the opposite role.

13 May 2015

Review: TOP FIVE

Your mileage may vary on inside-track Hollywood comedies. Among the greats, there are biting satires like The Player or Swimming With Sharks and broader, sillier works like Tropic Thunder or Bowfinger, but the kind of rarefied air in which they largely unfold can sometimes be suffocating. Thankfully, that's not the case with Top Five, Chris Rock's first project as a writer-director since 2007's I Think I Love My Wife, and inarguably his best so far. 

Andre Allen is a stand-up comedian turned movie star. To promote his latest film Uprize, a widely maligned film in which Allen plays Haitian revolutionary Dutty Boukman, Andre agrees to be interviewed by New York Times reporter Chelsea Brown, despite having endured the slings and arrows of her newspaper's film critic for years. As Chelsea gently probes for something she can build into a more substantial profile, Andre has to come to terms with himself and his public image.

12 May 2015

Review: THE AGE OF ADALINE

There's something beguiling about The Age Of Adaline, a film that sits comfortably on the fence in the wake of a couple of similar romances with magical realism at their heart. It has neither the formal whimsy of The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, nor the incoherent weirdness of A New York Winter's Tale, but it makes a strong pitch right down the centre between those forerunners.

During an unseasonal snowstorm in 1937, Adaline Bowman is a 29 year old widow who is reborn after a car accident, leaving her immune to the ravages of time, because magic. By the year 2014, Adaline has fallen into a routine of changing her identity every decade to avoid detection (and, indeed, dissection by government types) and only keeping contact with her now-elderly daughter Flemming and her beloved spaniel, but when she meets a persistent young suitor, Ellis, that might all change. Then again, as we discover through flashbacks, it's not the first time she's tried to get close to someone.