The King is Dead - Movie Poster

The King is Dead

2.5 Anne Murphy

Open inspection in a leafy neighbourhood. Max and Therese decide that here is the house for them.

"The King is Dead!" provides an interesting take on a neighbours-from-hell saga that is not quite interesting enough to really delight. It is a clash of cultures when a cosy middle-class couple move next door to simpler drug dealing folk. There are a few laughs to be had as the plot dawdles and drags, but expect stereotypes drawn with a heavy hand, and disappointingly, we watch caricatures rather than characters. Still, you can't help wondering what you might do in this situation. Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours…


The Book of Eli - Movie Poster

The Book of Eli

2.5 Andrew O'Dea

A post-apocalyptic tale, in which a lone man fights his way across America in order to protect a sacred book that holds the secrets to saving humankind.

"The Book of Eli" is a very well made movie, but only from a visual standpoint. Unfortunately, stylish sepia tones and occasional moments of choreographed brilliance are outweighed by a gaping storyline. Even though it manages to raise some intriguing spiritual conundrums, the nonsensical plot fails to lend these questions of morality any real substance. This shortfall is only made worse by an abursd plot twist that fails to be anywhere near as as reverent as it aspires to be. Amen.


Zero Focus - Movie Poster

Zero Focus

2.5 Anne Murphy

Spurred by the disappearance of a newly-wed husband, three women in post-war Japan are drawn into a murder mystery.

"Zero Focus" is a mystery thriller set in post-war Japan. The plot is complicated and bodies pile up as the murders out-number the suspects. The movie is moody and melodramatic, evoking the classical work of directors from a past era. Despite the cultural setting there is familiarity to the style and unusual camera angles. The lengthy drama is eventually brought to a lengthy conclusion, but no thread is left unexplained as final scene follows final scene, leaving focus diminished.


Coco avant Chanel - Movie Poster

Coco avant Chanel

2.5 Anne Murphy

The story of Coco Chanel's rise from obscure beginnings to the heights of the fashion world.

"Coco avant Chanel" is an elaborate, elegant production with stylish backdrops and sweeping scenes of the French countryside. The trouble is the movie doesn't have depth beyond the pleasing visual ambiance. In fact it is a little unforgivable that this bio-pic is uninteresting enough to bore in parts, given the allure and achievements of the central character. Lacking 'oh-la-la' this coco is served unfashionably lukewarm.


Hereafter - Movie Poster

Hereafter

2.5 Tom Jones

A drama centered on three people who are touched by death in different ways.

For a film with such promise; the director and cast are of the highest caliber, this movie really falls short on all levels. With the exception of a couple of scenes (the opening is on another level of film direction), the story, characters, and climax are all rather lame. A film on this material should force audiences to question their faith in the afterlife or the ability to communicate with the dead. Instead, it looks uninspiringly at the experiences of three individuals with no agenda on the subject presented. "Hereafter" - underwhelming in life and death.


Like Crazy - Movie Poster

Like Crazy

2.5 Anthony Macali

A British student falls for an American, only to be separated from him after overstaying her visa.

"Like Crazy" is a hazy memory of a distant relationship. A couple separated by an ocean, and thanks to their foolishness, a visa. They walk, they laugh, they fall in love, and it quickly turns saccharine. If you don't sympathise with the plight of the two, the story becomes quite tedious. Captured are some beautifully observed and genuine moments, but they are lost in the introduction of new characters of affection. The experience is like watching two people kissing in a park. You tend to stare, before quickly wishing they would find a room, and not a film.


I Am Legend - Movie Poster

I Am Legend

2.5 Anthony Macali

Years after a plague kills most of humanity and transforms the rest into monsters, the sole survivor in New York City struggles valiantly to find a cure.

This post-apocalyptic thriller is all too familiar, with too much focus on a barren New York that becomes dull quickly after the excessive panning. More tameness comes in the form of the terrible infected, tanned a bland grey and lacking physicality. A group of computer generated embodiments are simply not as menacing as real people dressed in pale makeup and blood. Often tense but far from legendary.


Anonymous - Movie Poster

Anonymous

2.5 Anne Murphy

A political thriller advancing the theory that it was in fact Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford who penned Shakespeare's plays.

The identity of one of our greatest writers is scrutinised in "Anonymous", a tawdry tale of fiction staged as lusty historical drama. The audience is kept busy trying to work out who's who as the time-frame jumps into the past and back again, causing confusion when we try to match the older and younger actors of the same character. Sordid conspiracies abound, and it's all a bit fanciful, convoluted and overly long. As they say in the classics, "It's not Shakespeare".


Mademoiselle Chambon - Movie Poster

Mademoiselle Chambon

2.5 Anne Murphy

Jean, his loving wife and son live a simple, happy life.

"Mademoiselle Chambon" is an emotional drama laden with unexpressed feeling that hovers between sensitive and stagnant. While subtlety must have been the director's intention, the effect is slack and stifled. The story has a very long fuse, as restraint is favoured over illicit passion. Unfortunately, the wick is so slow burning that by the final scene interest in the characters has been extinguished. With barely any action and sparse dialogue, the movie fails to ignite (which could be the point), and for many this film will seem pointless.


In a Better World - Movie Poster

In a Better World

2.5 Stefan Bugryn

The lives of two danish families take a turn for the worst as their children form an unhealthy friendship.

This art house film doesn't really go past the point of 'enjoyable'. The so-so storyline is redeemed somewhat by decent acting and rich visuals, but it won't really glue you to the screen the whole time. Don't be mistaken; there are some very hard hitting scenes - the problem is that they're emotionally weak, despite the fact it delves into some pretty heavy themes. It almost feels like an extended version of a Danish soap opera. In a better world, this would have been a better movie.


Caesar Must Die - Movie Poster

Caesar Must Die

2.5 Stefan Bugryn

Inmates of an Italian prison rehearse a performance of Shakespeare's 'Julius Caesar'.

The line between reality and fiction are blurred here, where prisoners are acting in a script within a script, and follow the play in and out of real life. The whole film is a novel concept, but it doesn't work perfectly. It has its moments, but the fact that you aren't invited to care about any of the characters doesn't help its cause. Like the prisoners themselves, it tries hard to be quite important, but it's nothing too special. Watch this only if you want to experience something different.


Notorious - Movie Poster

Notorious

2.5 Anthony Macali

The life and death story of Notorious B.I.G. (a.k.a. Christopher Wallace), who came straight out of Brooklyn to take the world of rap music by storm.

Notorious is a biopic of one the greatest, Biggie Smalls, who curiously narrates himself in this film of his life, from hustling on the streets to becoming the king of East-Coast hip-hop. Despite his many indiscretions, Big Poppa is portrayed favourably, because as you know, "Mo Money = Mo Problems". However, such empathy only detracts from the portrait of an already dubious character, even though his music is obviously tight.


The Rite - Movie Poster

The Rite

2.5 Wendy Slevison

A young American seminary student travels to Italy to take an exorcism course.

This is the most recent addition to a select collection of films that deal with the subject of exorcism. Despite eventually falling short of its early potential, squandering both pace and tension, the movie is admittedly somewhat unsettling at times, and leaves you in a rather philosophical frame of mind as you leave the cinema. The senior star plays his part with controlled enthusiasm, and together with the magnificent Roman backdrop, lifts and gives some credibility to an otherwise rather average film. "The Rite" is just alright.


Whip It - Movie Poster

Whip It

2.5 Anthony Macali

In Bodeen, Texas, an indie-rock loving misfit finds a way of dealing with her small-town misery after she discovers a roller derby league in nearby Austin.

"Whip It" is a movie about girls on skates, who find strength and delight in bumping one another on the circuit. It's unfortunate the story doesn't race as fast as our heroine Bliss, as she competes with a mother beaming with morals and a predictable plot. The familiar formula will best serve an audience of younger girls, who may gather some inspiration from this flick. Despite a team of superstar actresses, the moments of boredom outscore moments of fun.


Coriolanus - Movie Poster

Coriolanus

2.5 Andrew O'Dea

A banished hero of Rome allies with a sworn enemy to take his revenge on the city.

Plaudits are due to this film for the sheer ambitiousness and difficulty of task in adapting and portraying such a complicated Shakespearean work. There's no doubting the coherency and effective structure as it doesn't tamper in the slightest with Coriolanus' immortalised lines. Unfortunately, it's just that in contrast to the contemporary setting, this particular movie simply doesn't work. There's something entirely foreign about an elite army unit storming a barracks quoting Shakespeare while under fire from semi-automatic rifles and rocket launchers. Not to be...


Restless City - Movie Poster

Restless City

2.5 Anne Murphy

Tells the story of an African immigrant surviving on the fringes of New York City where music is his passion, life is a hustle and falling in love is his greatest risk.

Senegalese immigrants who survive on the fringe of US city life are the subject of this uneven movie. Perhaps the reason for the rough on-screen presentation and crooked camera angles is to present images as the characters experience them, but it is a bumpy ride for audiences. "Restless City" can also be appreciated as bold and innovative film making, one that will divide opinion but is interesting nonetheless. Restless spirits.


Margin Call - Movie Poster

Margin Call

2.5 Andrew O'Dea

Follows key people at a bank, over a 24-hour period, during the early stages of the financial crisis.

Greed and opportunism are rife in this ensemble drama that paints a very loose snap-shot of the foundations of capitalist society, bottled into one investment firm on the eve of a financial crisis. The story is dialogue-driven, and although it deftly ponders the volatile issue of money versus morality, it fails to really delve past the numbers, lacking the visceral punch or emotional drive to grab our attention. Some will find this film serviceable enough as financial thriller, but for those wanting a little more emotional involvement, "Margin Call" is not a wise investment.


The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones - Movie Poster

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

2.5 Anthony Macali

When her mother disappears, Clary learns that she descends from a line of shadow hunters.

This story of a fantastical world hidden among ours, a long-standing mythology of good vs evil, and a pair of star-crossed creatures finding love in the unlikeliest of places is starting to feel all too familiar. "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones" makes up the rules along the way, providing answers to all the supernatural wonders and armaments for our drab protagonists. The continuous hocus-pocus soon transforms into boredom, and the inevitable romance hinted throughout is cringe-worthy, out of place in a film otherwise dark in tone. Full of the mundane.


The Grandmaster - Movie Poster

The Grandmaster

2.5 Andrew O'Dea

The story of martial-arts master Ip Man, the man who trained Bruce Lee.

"The Grandmaster" is a stylish Kung Fu epic, resplendent in its lush visuals and attention to period detail. Unfortunately the narrative is downright confusing, burdened by disjointed storytelling and a muddled timeline. It disappoints as a biography of its subject, flippantly passing over the opportunity for meaty characterisation in exchange for overly dramatised, prolonged cut sequences. Thankfully, the stunning and explosive fight sequences that redeem this movie, undeniably gorgeous in their choreography and artistic flair. A grand film, but hardly mastered.


Lincoln - Movie Poster

Lincoln

2.5 Anthony Macali

As the Civil War continues to rage, America's president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield and as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves.

Without a preceding interest in the subject matter, "Lincoln" may struggle to win your vote. The historic period is recounted in splendid detail. Fine visuals don't aid the understanding of this important, turgid story that features a lot of bearded men arguing in dark rooms. Despite a remarkable and benevolent performance from the President, interest wanes as the long running-time draws out. Unlikely to please the majority.


The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 - Movie Poster

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1

2.5 Anthony Macali

The Quileute close in on expecting parents Edward and Bella, whose unborn child poses different threats to the wolf pack and vampire coven.

First there was the brooding, then the moping, followed by a lot kissing... and now the consummation everybody has been waiting for. In "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1" nothing else happens. It feels like the most disconnected chapter of the series, with little reference to the past and no conflict to sink our teeth into. They simply transformed the book into a film, a process that could only be satisfying to its readers. Breaks your heart.


I Love You Phillip Morris - Movie Poster

I Love You Phillip Morris

2.5 Anne Murphy

Steven Russell is happily married to Debbie, a member of the local police force, when a car accident provokes a dramatic reassessment of his life.

"I Love You Phillip Morris" contains some squirmingly uncomfortable stereotyping of various characters, and a flawed portrayal of gay men played for laughs by straight men. It's as unfunny as it is shallow, particularly disappointing is that the central romance is underdeveloped. The story, with its furious pace, covers a lot of events, mostly prison escapes, and unfortunately that's at the expense of real insight or depth. You might love Phillip Morris but probably not Steven Russell.


Fair Game - Movie Poster

Fair Game

2.5 Tom Jones

A CIA agent's identity is revealed by the White House to discredit her husband after he writes a piece saying that the Bush administration had manipulated intelligence about weapons of mass destruction.

"Fair Game" is a dummies take on the 'he said/she said' enquiries which led to President Bush declaring that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. Although this political drama is easy-to-follow, you kind of wish there were more thrills, shocks or unforeseen twists in the script, which at times lacks impact. The inclusion of real footage enhances the film; as it goes from being less conspiracy based to looking more like a historical account. Neither right nor wrong, just fair.


Mood Indigo - Movie Poster

Mood Indigo

2.5 Anthony Macali

A woman suffers from an unusual illness caused by a flower growing in her lungs.

"Mood Indigo" is out-there. Riding a fine line between wild creativity and self-indulgence, there are numerous moments of tedious viewing. While the setting appears to be the real world, most of the objects and people we're normally familiar with interact in very peculiar ways. The dreamlike blend of reality and quirkiness is weird, alienating the audience from the characters and their struggles. Despite the subject matter, it's a difficult story to treat seriously. You've got to be in the right mood for this perplexing mess.


The Lovely Bones - Movie Poster

The Lovely Bones

2.5 Anthony Macali

Centers on a young girl who has been murdered and watches over her family and killer from heaven.

This movie fields some grim subject matter, only to raise the question: why make it? It's an honest display of a family in disarray, broken and unable to heal. However, apart from this genuine touch, it only manages to wander through a gallery of postcard landscapes in an attempt to inspire hope beyond death. Or perhaps the director just wanted to borrow the climatic scenes of suspense and unease from the book? Like its heroine, "The Lovely Bones" lives in a world of limbo, stuck somewhere in between a good and a bad film.