There are five new films in cinemas this week, and while there are a couple that don't interest me very much at all - Total Recall & Seeking A Friend For the End of the World - it is an exciting week because Leos Carax's Holy Motors is in cinemas. Joining those three are Hope Springs and Bully. I have some work to do, so expect some reviews coming over the weekend.
Total Recall - Welcome to Rekall, the company that can turn your dreams into real memories. For a factory worker named Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell), even though he's got a beautiful wife (Kate Beckinsale) who he loves, the mind-trip sounds like the perfect vacation from his frustrating life - real memories of life as a super-spy might be just what he needs. But when the procedure goes horribly wrong, Quaid becomes a hunted man. Finding himself on the run from the police - controlled by Chancellor Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston), the leader of the free world - Quaid teams up with a rebel fighter (Jessica Biel) to find the head of the underground resistance (Bill Nighy) and stop Cohaagen. I haven't seen the original...so I'm going to give it a miss.
Hope Springs - Kay (Meryl Streep) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) are a devoted couple, but decades of marriage have left Kay wanting to spice things up and reconnect with her husband. When she hears of a renowned couple's specialist (Steve Carell) in the small town of Great Hope Springs, she attempts to persuade her skeptical husband, a steadfast man of routine, to get on a plane for a week of marriage therapy. Just convincing the stubborn Arnold to go on the retreat is hard enough - the real challenge for both of them comes as they shed their bedroom hang-ups and try to re-ignite the spark that caused them to fall for each other in the first place. I imagine the success of the film rests on the performances of Streep and Jones, and it has been well-received. Could be a hit of the Marigold Hotel variety.
Bully - Directed by Sundance and Emmy-award winning filmmaker, Lee Hirsch, Bully is a beautifully cinematic, character-driven documentary. At its heart are those with huge stakes in this issue whose stories each represent a different facet of America's bullying crisis. Bully follows five kids and families over the course of a school year. Stories include two families who have lost children to suicide and a mother awaiting the fate of her 14-year-old daughter who has been incarcerated after bringing a gun on her school bus. With an intimate glimpse into homes, classrooms, cafeterias and principals' offices, the film offers insight into the often cruel world of the lives of bullied children. Was the centre of a ratings controversy, but from my understanding it is imperative viewing.
Seeking A Friend For the End of the World - Stars Golden Globe Award winner Steve Carell and Academy Award nominee Keira Knightley and is the feature directorial debut of screenwriter Lorene Scafaria. Set in a too-near future, the movie explores what people will do when humanity's last days are at hand. As the respective journeys of Dodge (Mr. Carell) and Penny (Ms. Knightley) converge, the two spark to each other and their outlooks - if not the world's - brighten. Heard to opposing reports after the MIFF screening, and it is sitting on 52% RT score, so this is divisive to say the least.
Holy Motors - From dawn to dusk, a few hours in the life of Monsieur Oscar, a shadowy character who journeys from one life to the next. He is, in turn, captain of industry, assassin, beggar, monster, family man... He seems to be playing roles, plunging headlong into each part - but where are the cameras? Monsieur Oscar is alone, accompanied only by Céline, the slender blonde woman behind the wheel of the vast engine that transports him through and around Paris. He's like a conscientious assassin moving from hit to hit. In pursuit of the beautiful gesture, the mysterious driving force, the women and the ghosts of past lives. But where is his true home, his family, his rest? My favourite film of the year. It won't be for everyone, but it is a film of striking originality, vaudeville madness and genuine intrigue.
Weekly recommendation: Holy Motors and Bernie (released last week) would be my current picks. I also think many will enjoy Hope Springs and be moved by Bully, but until I see them, I can't be sure. See Holy Motors with an open mind. You may want to thank me, or you may want to give me an earful, but you won't deny it was something you'll never forget.