As expected, despite a whole host of lukewarm reviews, Dark Shadows has done pretty well at the Box Office in its first week. It only went in at number 3 however, behind both The Avengers and American pie: The Reunion, which will perhaps be a little disappointing for the studio who may have hoped for a bit more of a smash hit.
This week’s big release is Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest outing The Dictator which thanks in part to some surprisingly warm reviews from critics after preview screenings, should do some pretty big business over the weekend. Cohen’s hit pay-dirt before with the likes of Borat, and even the slightly lacklustre Bruno cleaned up at the Box Office. With The Dictator however, expectation seems to have been fairly low until now, the combined result perhaps of Bruno’s poor reception and a slightly misleading marketing campaign which painted the movie as just being more of the same from Cohen. As people have seen the movie though and reported back that it is a much funnier film than expected, there may be a noticeable increase in folks going to see what all the fuss is about.
Also out this week is eccentric family comedy 2 Days in New York, breakneck martial arts action in The Raid and Powell and Pressburger’s classic The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp.
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.
The Raid: Redemption *Pick of the Week*
There’s been plenty of hype surrounding this Indonesian martial arts flick and after catching a preview a few weeks back, I can assure you it’s very much justified. Welsh director Gareth Evans delivers an incredibly brutal and visceral movie which keeps up a frenetic pace from start to finish. Lead actor Iko Uwais and head henchman Yayan Ruhian have some breathtaking fight scenes which are as innovative as they are impressive. The story sees an elite squad of Indonesian cops storm an apartment building run by a vicious gangland boss. The building has long been a no-go area for cops and it soon becomes apparent why. The cops are soon ambushed and grossly outnumbered and are forced to fight their way out to safety.
Dave Sztypuljak says:
Heard about this movie over a year ago and since then have wanted to find out more as I’ve seen more and more 5* reviews appear including Jamie’s.
You can read Jamie Neish’s review here.
Sacha Baron Cohen returns to a more conventional scripted style of comedy after the mockumentary stylings of Borat and Bruno. Last time he dabbled in writing this type of movie was the critically panned Ali G In Da House, but the British actor has come a long way in the decade since that was released and is now a bona fide megastar on both sides of the Atlantic. The plot sees despotic tyrant Admiral General Aladeen of the Republic of Wadiya forced to travel to New York where he is set to address the UN. When an assassination attempt orchestrated by his scheming Uncle goes wrong, he is replaced by a decoy and forced to live as a regular Joe while he plots his comeback.
I saw The Dictator myself this week and actually was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It’s benefited from relatively low expectations in the build up to release and the positive reviews that it has received are entirely justified. It’s nothing groundbreaking and does have its faults, but for me there are more hits than misses and it’s a suitably entertaining goofy comedy.
Jon Lyus doesn’t agree however:
Too much Gross-out, not enough comedy. Does feature the best solo sex scene in recent years though. Other than that it cross the line way too often and strangles any satirical impact it might have had. Avoid.
You can read Ben Mortimer’s review here.
2 Days in New York
French-American actress Julie Delpy made her directorial debut with the well received 2 Days in Paris back in 2007. The extremely talented Delpy returns behind the camera again with this sequel which relocates her character Marion to New York. Now split up from Jack, she has a new boyfriend Mingus (The Mercilus……*chortle*) played by no other than Chris Rock.
When her eccentric family come to visit it leads to various cultural misunderstandings and farcial japes abound. Delpy also wrote both of the 2 Days movies and is pretty adept at writing smart and humorus dialogue and if justifiably often comapred to the master of the neuroses-laden whimsical comedy Woody Allen. It’s received fairly postive reviews and would appear to traverse that fine line between broad rom-com appeal and clever indie comedy quite well.
You can read Adam Lowes’ review here.
Even The Rain
This is a Spanish made drama starring Gael Garcia Benal which focuses on the Bolivian indigenous population and their ongoing struggle with the government over control of their water supply. The film operates as a film-within-a-film as Benal stars as a young filmmaker who ropes in the Bolivian Indians to star as generic South American Indians at the time of the Conquistadors invasion many centuries before.
His film is intending to show the explotiation and mistreatment of the Indians hundreds of years ago but as the modern day Indians themselves face a fight for survial against a government looking to exploit them, the parallels are made painfully clear. I was able to catch this movie during the Viva Spanish and Latin American film festival up in Manchester and I was quite impressed. It’s an inspiring story of defiance and one of those films you that will cause you to go away and read up on the subject for yourself afterwards.
You can watch a clip from the movie here.
A powerful Swedish drama which won the top competition prize at the Gothenburg Film Festival but has received fairly mixed reviews since its release. The film revolves around a psychological and physical power struggle between two girls with each one trying to out do the other in order to gain the upper hand.
According to the official blurb:
Emma is a girl who likes to control. When she tries out for the local voltige (horseback acrobatics) team she meets Cassandra, a strong, attractive and vivacious girl. As they get to know each other they share a sense of wicked fun and quickly become best friends. But rapid-fire confusion sets in. Feelings of jealousy, competitiveness and sexual attraction have them pushing each other to their limits. As Emma spends more and more time away from home with Cassandra, her little sister Sara begins to discover her own sexual identity, all the while pining for affection from a reluctant babysitter.
Lisa Aschan’s taboo-busting She Monkeys lifts the lid on a group of girls for whom gender is both weapon and toy, pushing the boundaries of political correctness to breaking point.
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
A true British classic courtesy of the legendary Powell and Pressburger. Rightly now regarded as a masterpiece, its an audacious look at one man’s life through the lens of his service in three very different wars. Major General Clive Wynne-Candy is first shown to us as a stuffy leader of a Home Guard outfit during the Second World War. When he is ‘captured’ during a training exercise by a precocious young officer who breaks with the established conventions of war to which Candy clings in vein, the Major General begins to lament the changing face of conflict.
The film then flashes back to Candy’s distinguished military career starting in 1902 in the Boer War where he is a young and up-and-coming officer and then on to the horrors of the First World War and trench warfare. Also focusing on his romantic relations with several women and the life-long friendship with a German officer, it is a journey through Candy’s life and loves and seeks to explain how his outdated belief in a code of honour has slowly lost its place amidst total war. the film was notoriously hated by Winston Churchill who tried to get it banned upon release. This was presumably because of not only the sympathetic portrayal of a German officer but also it’s satire of the leadership of the British Army and it’s suggestion that old military values will not be enough to beat the Nazi’s.
It’s a dazzling, warm-hearted and ever so British movie which was shot in glorious Technicolor. Catch it on the big screen while you can!
If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle.
This was Romania’s submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars and won the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. The story centers around a teenage prisoner awaiting his impending release who receives word that his wayward mother has returned to town and plans to move his younger brother to Italy. The prisoner has a strained relationship with his mother who he blames for deserting his siblings when they were young. He also stars a budding romance with Ana, a sociology student working as an intern at the prison. As he becomes more desperate to stop his mother taking his brother away, he becomes increasingly dangerous and appears to be slipping back into using violence. By all accounts this looks to be pretty hard going and perhaps only one for ardent fans of European cinema!