Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Releases (24/11)

I made an error last week declaring that Columbiana was released. It's not in any cinema, which makes me think it might have been classified a straight-to-DVD release. But, opening on Thursday 24th are a heap of releases, though I imagine some of them - namely Another Earth and X - will not be released in Sydney. Scheduled for this week are The Ides of March, Immortals, The Inbetweeners, Arthur Christmas, Another Earth, X, The Ages of Love and Toomelah.

The Ides of March - George Clooney's latest film takes place during the frantic last days before a heavily contested Ohio presidential primary, when an up-and-coming campaign press secretary (Ryan Gosling) finds himself involved in a political scandal that threatens to upend his candidate's shot at the presidency. With an all-star cast also including Clooney, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti and Evan Rachel Wood, this compelling political drama isn't really revelatory, but is suffocating in its tension, extremely polished in it's execution and brilliantly acted by the ensemble. Gosling is a superb as a young man who faces the heat on all sides - learning how to play dirty against experienced and ruthless colleagues, and eager press.

Immortals - The brutal and bloodthirsty King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) and his murderous Heraklion army are rampaging across Greece in search of the long lost Bow of Epirus. With the invincible Bow, the King will be able to overthrow the Gods of Olympus and become the undisputed master of his world. As village after village is obliterated, a stonemason named Theseus (Henry Cavill) vows yo avenge the death of his mother in one of Hyperion's raids. When Theseus meets the Sybelline Oracle, Phaedra (Freida Pinto), her disturbing visions of the young man's future convince her that he is the key to  stopping the destruction. Theseus assembles a small band of followers and embraces his destiny in a final desperate battle for the future of humanity. This plot does sound dreadful, but with Tarsem Singh (The Fall) at the helm, you can  expect it to at least look good.

The Inbetweeners - A film version of the popular British television show. While I have never experienced the show properly (watching the best episodes from various seasons) I can't say I didn't enjoy it. While I can't declare myself a fan, this idea doesn't have much going for it. I expect it to be a lengthy single episode that will likely wear out it's welcome after a while. Here, the four socially troubled 18 year-olds from the South of England go on holiday in Malia, where I assume they come across all sorts of mischief - resulting in humiliations and general embarrassment.

Arthur Christmas - The 3D, CG-animated family comedy, an Aardman production for Sony Pictures Animation, at last reveals the incredible, never-before seen answer to every child's question: 'How does Santa deliver all of those presents in one night?" The answer: Santa's exhilarating, ultra-high-tech operation hidden beneath the North Pole. But at the heart of the film is a story with the ingredients of a Christmas classic - a family in a state of comic dysfunction and an unlikely hero, Arthur, with an urgent mission that must be completed before Christmas morning dawns. The voice cast, led by James McAvoy, is great and despite some immense praise coming for this film, I have heard some pretty bad responses.

Another Earth - Rhoda Williams (played by an impressive Brit Marling), a bright young woman accepted into MIT's astrophysics program, aspires to explore the cosmos. A brilliant composer, John Burroughs (William Mapother), has just reached the pinnacle of his profession and is about to have a second child with his loving wife. On the eve of the discovery of a duplicate Earth, tragedy strikes and the lives of these strangers become irrevocably intertwined. Estranged from the world and the selves they once knew, the two outsiders begin an unlikely love affair and reawaken to life. But when one is presented with the chance of a lifetime opportunity to travel to the other Earth and embrace an alternative reality, which new life will they choose? I saw this at MIFF, and I was disappointed. A really great premise abandons the sci-fi elements and focuses on the romance, which didn't appeal to me personally. Brit Marling (who also co-wrote the screenplay) is a talent, but dodgy camerawork and budget constraints result in it failing to meet it's potential.

X - Holly Rowe's retiring, kissing her callgirl life goodbye. She just has to get through her last night on the job. Shay Ryan's a teenage runaway, broke and alone. She just has to get through her first night as a hooker. Then fate throws them together on a job that goes horribly wrong and they're trapped on an out-of-control roller coaster ride, through the twilight zone of sex-for-sale.

Toomelah - Australian film written and directed by Ivan Sen. It played in competition at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and was considered In Competition at the 2011 Sydney Film Festival. Daniel is a ten year-old boy living at the Toomelah Aboriginal Mission. He wants to be a gangster and helps out Linden, the local drug dealer. Bruce - one of Linden's rivals - is released from prison and a turf war erupts. Meanwhile, Daniel's aunt returns to the mission years after being removed as a child, as one of the Stolen Generations. 

Weekly Recommendation: The Ides of March is the one to see this week. Immortals is for people who like to see great looking awful films (like 300), The Inbetweeners is for people willing to watch a 75 minute single episode of the show and The Ages of Love is for people who have an interest in seeing Robert De Niro and Monica Bellucci get it on. Though I will probably see Immortals, I am none of these people. The only one I can wholeheartedly recommend this week is The Ides of March. It's a compelling, brilliantly acted political drama.


  1. Did you like the musical saw scene in 'Another Earth'? You can hear music from it on the composer's website

  2. I will probably wait for Immortals to come to DVD, but I think I want to see Arthur Christmas- it looks funny!

  3. @ Michelle - I did like that scene. Thanks for the link!

    @ Aziza - I'm going to see both I think. I don't think I would have any interest in seeing IMMORTALS on DVD. Though the story will be awful, I imagine the visuals will be worth a look in 3D.

  4. Indeed, The Ides Of March is definitely the one to see out of this selection. I thought Gosling was perfect, and PSH and Giamatti are great too.

  5. Definitely. Gosling's best performance of the year - and the rest of the cast were in top form. I'm looking forward to seeing it again this week. I think I will enjoy it even more on second viewing.