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HeyUGuys Cinema Release Round-up: 3rd August

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The Dark Knight Rises stays atop of the box office mountain this week taking in over three times more than its nearest rival in the process. It’s difficult to see anything displacing it for a few weeks yet, perhaps even until the new Bourne movie hits screens in a few weeks’ time. The Lorax meanwhile went in at the number 2 spot but it did so only by a narrow margin over its animated rival, Ice Age 4, which has now of course already been out for 5 weeks. Universal may have hoped for a slightly stronger opening weekend but with the school holidays in full swing they may still have a good few weeks ahead as parents are looking for that family friendly option.

Searching for Sugar Man had a solid opening weekend too coming in at 7th place despite only showing at around 28 cinemas nationwide. StudioCanal definitely picked a good week to put this picture out as the presence of The Dark Knight Rises dissuaded the major studios from releasing much of anything, thus leaving space for a smaller art house movie to claim a decent share of the market.

Seth MacFarlane first big screen outing Ted is this week’s big release and it should prove pretty popular thanks to its excellent trailers and a distinct lack of rival adult comedies out at the moment. Family Guy fans know what to expect from MacFarlane and having seen the film myself the other night, I can assure you, if you like FG and American Dad et al., you can’t go far wrong here.

Also out this week, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, American Football documentary Undefeated, and Chinese historical drama The Flowers of War.

If you want to check to see if any of these films are playing near you, you can visit Find Any Film and they’ll be able to help.

 

Ted *pick of the week*

Family Guy head honcho Seth MacFarlane turns his hand to the movies with the often hilarious and frequently outrageous Ted. It’s the story of a guy called John (Mark Wahlberg) and his childhood pal Ted (voiced by Seth himself), a cuddly toy brought to life after a friendless young John made a special wish one Christmas night. Now both grown ups and fond of watching Flash Gordon and getting high, their bromance begins to threaten John’s relationship with girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis). Lori is desperate for John to leave behind his adolescent slacker ways and finally begin to act like a man and she isn’t sure if that can happen while Ted is around.

Having seen the movie just this week, my brief review of the film would be as follows, if you like Family Guy and ‘get’ MacFarlane’s sense of humour, you will really enjoy Ted. It’s funny, offensive and rude and has some genuine laugh out loud moments, quality lines and great cameos. In the screening I went to though, not everybody seemed to be as onboard and a few jokes fell rather flat. This would also appear to be replicated in the various reviews that have emerged in the UK press with some critics loving it and some being pretty darn scathing.

Far from being just another frat-pack style comedy which aims to shock its audience rather than genuinely make it laugh, Ted is constantly funny throughout and even manages to make a timely point with regards to letting go of your childish past and growing up. That and it has a pot-smoking, sweary Teddy bear. What’s not to like!?

You can read Adam Lowes’ review here.

 

 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog days

The previous two Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies have proven to be pretty succesful at the box office and so it’s no surprise to see that a third movie has been made from the American book series. Aimed at the often under-represented young-teen demographic that is perhaps too old for generic animated fair and not yet old enough for the more adult section of the teen movie market, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days could prove pretty succesful over the summer holidays, though it has been met with fairly average reviews thus far. The story sees Greg Haffley (Zachary Gordon) all geared up for a summer of fun only to have his plans dashed a by his father who wants him to work an internship at his workplace. Greg hatches an elaborate scheme involving pretending he already has a job at the local country club in order to get out of working with his dad with the expected hilarious consequences.

Reviews have been fairly average but many critics have praised the child actors and emphasised that it is a cut above the typical family friendly ‘comedy’. The target audience will have a lot of fun though and while it doesn’t break any new ground it’s another solid instalment in the ongoing franchise.

You can read Adam Lowes’ review here

Undefeated

Another week and another really intriguing looking documentary. Undefeated won the 2011 Oscar for best documentary feature and has received countless plaudits since its release Stateside. It follows the story of the Manassas Tigers, a High School Football team from Memphis who are gunning for a successful season after years of being the whipping boys. Underfunded and underprivileged, the team has always struggled compared to its more affluent rivals. That all changes under coach Bill Courtney however who turns their fortunes around and seeks to improve the team both athletically and academically. The film’s strength appears to lie in its decision to focus on the lives of the players both on and off the field which ensures the film is accessible even to those with an aversion to American Football. Emotional, uplifting, heart-breaking and powerful are a few of the words used fairly regularly in the reviews I read which is high praise indeed for any documentary.

You can read Joe Cunningham’s review here.

 

Eames: The Architect and the Painter

A documentary looking at the legacy of legendary husband-and-wife design team Charles and Bernice ‘Ray’ Eames. The duo are two of America’s most influential designers and the much admired Eames Office pioneered innovative new designs in the fields of interior design, architecture, photography and film. Using archive footage and stills  as well as new interviews with friends and family, the movie seeks to examine the couple’s own personal relationship as well as their considerable cultural impact.It’s a fascinating subject and one which I wager a great deal of us, myself included, know very little about. The majority of critics seem very impressed with the end product, though a small number have suggested it is a little thin on content. Nevertheless, despite Eames not having a great deal of mass appeal, coupled with Undefeated it would appear to be  yet another strong week for documentaries!

 

A Simple Life

An award-winning Chinese drama directed by Ann Hui which looks at the relationship between Ah Tao, a servant who has worked for the Leung family for some 60 years. The last remaining resident of the Leung family home, Roger, comes back from work one day to find that Ah Tao has had a stroke. After rushing her to hospital, Ah Tao decides she must now quit her job and move into a nursing home. Roger duly obliges and finds her a place in a home run by a friend. Ah Tao soon starts mixing with her newfound friends at the home, an eccentric collection fo characters to say the least. Roger begins to realise how much Ah Tao means to him and how much he longs to look after her in her old age.

It won’t be to everybody’s tastes but the movie received plenty of plaudits at the Venice Film Festival, with actress Deanie Ip winning the festival’s Best Actress Award. Critics have been full of praise in general with the consensus being that it’s a poignant and moving drama which casts a tender eye over the issue of growing old in Chinese society.

 

Sound of my Voice

An intriguing American indie thriller here courtesy of director and co-writer Zal Batmanglij. Sound of my Voice sees Peter and Lorna, a documentary filmmaking team, setting out to investigate a mysterious cult ran by the enigmatic Maggie. The duo are set on exposing her as a liar and a fraud and want to free her followers from her grip, yet as they become more involved in the cult, they begin to question their own motives for doing so. The critics have been full of praise and it looks to be a well acted and tense little mystery thriller. Well worth seeking out if it’s showing near you.

 

The Flowers of War

Christian Bale stars in this Chinese historical drama looking at the horrors of the second  Sino-Japanese war. Set in China’s capital during what came to be known as ‘the rape of Nanjing’, the movie sees a group of Chinese schoolgirls as well as some local prostitutes seeking solace from the onslaught of the invading Japanese army in a local Western cathedral. Bale plays a mortician who is in the Cathedral helping the priest prepare for a burial when the attack happens and he becomes the reluctant lone adult in charge of this rag-tag bunch of civilians. As they struggle to survive the persecution and horror of the war the group soon face tough decisions and are forced into making some major sacrifices. It’s had some mixed reviews so far with some finding it a bit too melodramatic for its own good, but there’s been a fair bit of praise for Bale’s performance and as one might expect from the director of Hero and House of Flying Daggers, visually the film, is pretty stunning. Do be warned though, given the subject matter, it will be a tough watch in places.

The Reverend

A shlocky Brit horror starring Rutger Hauer. Going merely off  first impressions, I’d say it’s ether going to be deliriously brilliant or just plain awful. According to the official blurb:

Fresh from seminary school, a new Reverend embarks on his first parish: A small, low-maintenance chapel based in the idyllic setting of a quiet country village. While on the surface the village seems to be a peaceful parish, with perfect residents, soon it becomes apparent that something more sinister lurks beneath the façade of a local businessman. On a wet, cold night, a mysterious girl visits the Reverend at the chapel. She is welcomed in warmly, but soon it becomes apparent that her visit is not for sanctuary but to deliver a message, a message in the form of a deep, bloody bite… Awoken with an unknown, uncontrollable thirst, the confused Reverend can’t find any evidence of the girl from the night before. With nothing but his thirst and memory of the bite, the Reverend embarks on a mandate to clean up the village and the neighboring estate…by preaching or feasting.