City IslandAnne Murphy
Meet the Rizzos, a family that might get along a lot better if only they could tell each other the truth.
The Manhattan skyline can be seen across the water in this marvellous little film. The setting, the accents, the personalities, the attitudes, and the situations are pure boisterous New York. The central family are all ensnared in complex relationships that ring true, as drama is stirred through with good hearted comedy. "City Island" is marred by an ending that ties up the threads a little too neatly, finishing on an unnecessarily schmaltzy note - even so, this is an island in the sun.
Letters to JulietAnthony Macali
A girl on holiday in Italy finds an unanswered letter to Juliet and tries to find the lovers mentioned in the letter.
The ingredients of "Letters to Juliet" contain more romance than comedy and are less than fresh. Some will find it easy to be swept away by the beautiful landscapes of Verona, and their hearts will be warmed. The more cynical types will be less than entertained, as their patience and minds are tested along with the casts', with very little to do. This film may deliver to its intended audience, but will serve as nothing less than a picturesque postcard for any other travellers.
I Love You TooAnne Murphy
All that is standing between them is four little words.
This movie plays as a series of barely funny comedy sketches staged atop an underdeveloped script. Situations set up to amuse fail to elicit a even a guffaw. "I Love You Too" struggles to establish credibility in the characters, painting them as shallow stereotypical caricatures. Without on-screen chemistry between the romantic leads, any rom com is a labour of love to endure; add sexism, age-ism, a fat joke and itâ€™s all a bit icky. It's hard to imagine an audience unsophisticated enough to appreciate the crass tone, many will not love this.
The ConcertAnne Murphy
Thirty years ago, Andrei Simoniovich Filipov, the renowned conductor of the Bolshoi orchestra, was fired for hiring Jewish musicians.
"The Concert" is a wonderful, formulaic, crowd-pleaser. Of course, formulaic can be wonderful if you can forgive the sense of knowing what's going to happen before it unfolds. As the story builds, the many farcical sequences notwithstanding, there's a sense that something other than the music is being orchestrated. By the time the final concerto is played there is not a dry eye in the house. The magnificent crescendo plays shamelessly to our sentimentality yet it's still uplifting. Bravo.
Kebab ConnectionAnne Murphy
In Hamburg, Ibrahim "Ibo" Secmez wants to direct the first German kung-fu movie.
The story line is captivating and the comedy a little slapstick, but the combination creates enjoyable watching. "Kebab Connection" is a feel good teenage romance to sit back and enjoy, as it makes no demands. The main characters are from a migrant community, the actors are not Hollywood-styled and so credible they could be from your very own neighbourhood. Social tensions are threaded throughout the plot, and prejudices are aired in a comedic way with take-away food emphasising cultural themes. Don't go hungry, connect with this kebab.
An unnoticed high school student with no powers or training decides to become a super-hero.
"Kick-Ass" weaves teen melodrama with some of the coarsest language and most gratuitous and glorious violence ever seen on screen. Every action sequence is amazingly original, bolstered by inventive choreography and superb production values. Although the storyline is flimsy in parts, the uneven pacing may be considered deliberate, as our expectations are frequently and often shockingly shattered at any given moment. The director is to be applauded for this completely unrestrained film, free from industry conformity. Genuinely messed up, but totally kicks ass.
Whisky with VodkaAnne Murphy
A renowned actor named Otto is the epitome of the problematic but beloved ladies man.
Movies about producing movies are always interesting, and "Whisky with Vodka" doesn't disappoint on that front. With lots of takes and re-takes as the talent misbehaves, this film within a film starts to take shape. Themes of aging are explored without connecting directly to the emotions involved, and the script plays more for gags than for soul searching. It suffers from not being more tightly edited, but perhaps there were too many anecdotes drawn from real life to squeeze into the plot. Amiable and spirited without a lasting hangover, it will be dissipated by the morning after.
Accidents HappenAnne Murphy
Billy Conway has become the de facto glue between his bitter mum, distant brother, and stoic dad.
Stories of tragedy that are constructed with humour, albeit dark or black humour, reflect life a little as we tend to live it, when hanging on and trying to cope. "Accidents Happen" shows how strong the bonds of family can be, how tough and at the same time how vulnerable family members are. The film is carefully crafted to evoke an earlier era and the audience is transported to a typical suburb somewhere where mishaps are the norm. Be warned, as the emotional punch packed by this movie happens to be no accident.
Date NightWendy Slevison
In New York City, a case of mistaken identity turns a bored married couple's attempt at a glamorous and romantic evening into something more thrilling and dangerous.
With its highly talented stars and strong supporting cast, this movie should have been a sure thing. What a disappointment that it's barely funny, and even worse, actually quite boring. The staging and script are clumsy, trying way too hard to garner laughs. Somehow nothing seems to click, and you just end up feeling uncomfortable watching so much effort for so little return. Like a bad date, "Date Night" makes you wish you'd opted for a quiet night in.
She's Out of My LeagueAnthony Macali
An average Joe meets the perfect woman, but his lack of confidence and the influence of his friends and family begin to pick away at the relationship.
"She's Out of My League" is a formulaic film about formulas. The amusing calculations rank partners and simply highlight the fact that the annoying Kirk really is undeserving of his 'Hard 10' crush. It's only fair to rate the movie itself accordingly. Moments of awkwardness +1, clichÃ© after clichÃ© -1, two-dimensional characters -2. With such an emphasis on character, it's a shame the cast share very few redeeming qualities. A story of questionable truth and out of its depth.
A man and his friends come up with an original plan to destroy two big weapons manufacturers.
The campaign against some big bad guys that's mounted by a group of comical misfits is as inventive as it is enchanting, largely due to the truly marvellous production design. "Micmacs" is a visual feast, and the resourceful inventions created from recycled junk are captivating, all of which covers for a plot that's a little thin. Part fairy-tale, part comic book, this movie is zany, whimsical and totally engaging. Ponder the underlying social comment about arms use later and enjoy the quirky on-screen antics today.
The ReboundAnthony Macali
In New York City, a single mom captivates her new neighbour, a much younger man.
"The Rebound" is a perfectly serviceable romantic comedy that ticks all the right boxes. There is great chemistry between the two leads, even though the children steal the show with their questionable preciousness and jocularity. The movie's worst quality would be the title, partly derived by Sandy's unique profession in sport statistics, making her even more appealing to the boys. As predictable as it may be, it's nicely wrapped up in a series of extended montages, preventing any forays into the over-soppy. The aim is true, as this film scores a winner in all the right categories.
Eating Out: All You Can EatAnne Murphy
Tiffani and her friend Casey try to lure the gorgeous Zack with a phony online profile using the image of Tiffani's buff ex, Ryan... which works fine until the real Ryan shows up.
"Eating Out 3" is the latest installment in a trilogy following the romps of a group of characters through some raunchy situations and hook-ups. The style is almost cartoonish, with beefcake leads who spend little time with their shirts on, and their daffy female friends. This movie looks like it was made on a shoestring budget without extravagant sets or staging. If you like trashy, with some decent one-liners, try dining here.
Hollywood je t'aimeAnne Murphy
A gay Parisian shows up in Hollywood at Christmas time, ready for his close-up.
A not so classic take on the Hollywood experience where every actor is a waiter and vice-versa. While the central Frenchman starts out as a "Dorothy" type of tourist transported to a strange land, he soon links up with a colourful band of supporters. Los Angeles is shown as unglamorous and seedy, yet in this movie the city is loved only for the diversity of the big-hearted characters encountered while trekking its yellow brick road. Je t'aime adventures in Hollywood, where prudes will need to stay home.
A drama centred around three high school seniors - an aspiring actress, her misfit best friend, and a loner - who become engaged in an intimate and complicated relationship.
This coming of age movie covers all the social awkwardness of teenagers discovering themselves as friends and lovers. Dollops of naivety and maturity are stirred in to create realistic and likable characters that are topped up with a measure of angst and balanced out with charm. The storyline of "Dare" takes its characters through new experiences and interesting predicaments. It's a little bent yet nonetheless could cross over to a mainstream audience. Dare to be different.
Cop OutAnthony Macali
A comedy about a veteran NYPD cop whose rare baseball card is stolen. Since it's his only hope to pay for his daughter's upcoming wedding, he recruits his partner to track down the thief.
"Cop Out" is a deliberate homage to the budding action-comedy films of the eighties, and does them a great injustice. There are some jokes, but they mainly consist of characters behaving badly to themes of terribly distorted music that insult the subject of its imitations. Admittedly, there is fun pondering over the motivations of the cast and if they realised they were a partner to such a flop. This film should be suspended without release.
Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's AssistantCourtney Slevison
A teenage boy unknowingly breaks a 200-year-old truce between two warring factions of vampires.
This film has all the right ingredients but never quite lives up to its initial promise. There is great potential in the colourful and quirky characters, but due to a slow and drawn-out plot, they never really get fleshed out. Lying somewhere between comedy and pre-teen horror, there just aren't enough laughs or scares to succeed in either genre. As the title clearly suggests, this film is designed to be the first of a franchise, but for a film about vampires and circus freaks, it just doesn't have enough bite to keep you hooked.
You'll Miss MeAnne Murphy
The lives of six people converge briefly at an airport, where arrivals and departures are the norm.
"You'll Miss Me" is composed of a delightful series of vignettes that deftly intersect and overlap, exploring loves lost and found. The movie delves into the emotions of people with vastly different lives, the laughs laced with feelings. The production has a warm hearted feel, perhaps only possible because it's French - it's certainly not as theatrical as the English ensemble pieces it is so reminiscent of. Try not to miss this one.
The Men Who Stare at GoatsAnne Murphy
A reporter in Iraq might just have the story of a lifetime when he meets a former member of the U.S. Army's New Earth Army, a unit that employs paranormal powers in their missions.
"The Men Who Stare at Goats" is goofy and amicably humoured, yet it's disappointing and insufficiently acerbic considering the military parody it aspires to be. The good natured cast are excellent although it's a shame one of them isn't a goatherd as this movie is a little free range. The story is funny enough, but the plot wanders pointlessly, leaving the audience glassy eyed and staring.
Valentine's DayCourtney Slevison
Couples and singles break-up and make-up based on the expectations of Valentine's Day.
"Valentine's Day" is cute, undemanding fluff, offering nothing original or unique to the rom-com genre. Boasting an impressive ensemble cast of Hollywood stars, the film feels a bit crowded with everyone scrambling for screen time, ultimately leaving you with only an unsatisfying snippet of each storyline. Like the sickly sweet candy shared on the day of love, the initial cheap thrill wears off, leaving you wanting something a bit more substantial. However a few funny moments and the odd 'warm fuzzy' make this an enjoyable enough date movie.
Tooth FairyLuke Bartter
A bad deed on the part of a tough minor-league hockey player results in an unusual sentence: He must serve one week as a real-life tooth fairy.
Despite relying on the visual of a grown man dressed as a fairy to hook you in, this family comedy provides plenty of enjoyment, mainly due to the charisma of its leads. Several of the story-lines run parallel to create a feel similar to a series of sketches, and while there are no surprises to be found, "Tooth Fairy" is never boring and occasionally quite funny. Far more likeable and charming than expected, it's recommended for children, inner and actual.
In the LoopAnne Murphy
The US President and UK Prime Minister fancy a war. But not everyone agrees war is a good thing.
Incisive political satire at its best, filmed with a sense of authenticity. The realism is almost mock-umentary in style from a fly-on-the-wall perspective. The story is horrifyingly familiar, being inspired by recent political machinations. The characters are variously bumbling, vain, despicable, and witty as they form convenient alliances in the corridors and bathrooms of power. Depictions of the political forces of darkness are cynical, inspired, outrageous and hilarious. Loop the loop and laugh.
It's ComplicatedWendy Slevison
During their son's graduation, Jane hooks up with her ex-husband, Jake, who's now remarried. As well as becoming her ex's mistress, Jane also finds herself drawn to Adam, a smitten architect.
This movie, a quirky variation on the typical love triangle premise, is extremely funny. On many occasions throughout, the entire cinema was laughing uproariously, a somewhat rare experience. The delightful stars work fabulously together, and appear to be having an absolute ball. The feeling is contagious. It's really not complicated at all â€“ for a good laugh and a bit of fun, see this film!
Bran Nue DaeAnne Murphy
In the summer of 1965 a young man is filled with the life of the idyllic old pearling port Broome - fishing, hanging out with his mates and his girl.
It's a pleasure to watch a colourful Australian film that doesn't skirt around serious indigenous issues. Even with its underlying messages "Bran Nue Dae" is far from sombre; humour and music are the vehicles used to stir the collective conscience of the audience. This is a funny, high-spirited and rollicking road trip with an outstanding ensemble cast. If only every day dawned so brightly...
Up in the AirAnne Murphy
With a job that has him traveling around the country firing people, Ryan Bingham leads an empty life out of a suitcase, until his company does the unexpected: ground him.
A movie for the times, "Up in the Air" is topical and astutely observed. Social satire doesn't get delivered more incisively than this perfectly balanced movie. Just when a character approaches caricature the comedic effect is turned back and some of life's big questions are plausibly presented. We respond with a collective sigh, not to mention the odd tear. Let "Up in the Air" bring you back to earth.