Monday, October 21, 2013

New Releases (24/10/13)

In cinemas this week we have Captain Phillips, Machete Kills, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, Renoir and Blancanieves.

Captain Phillips - A multi-layered examination of the 2009 hijacking of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama by a crew of Somali pirates. It is - through director Paul Greengrass's distinctive lens - simultaneously a pulse-pounding thriller, and a complex portrait of the myriad effects of globalization. The film focuses on the relationship between the Alabama's commanding officer, Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks), and the Somali pirate captain, Muse (Barkhad Abdi), who takes him hostage. Phillips and Muse are set on an unstoppable collision course when Muse and his crew target Phillips' unarmed ship; in the ensuing standoff, 145 miles off the Somali coast, both men will find themselves at the mercy of forces beyond their control. 

Machete Kills - Danny Trejo returns as ex-Federale agent Machete, who is recruited by the President of the United States for a mission which would be impossible for any mortal man - he must take down a madman revolutionary and an eccentric billionaire arms dealer who has hatched a plan to spread war and anarchy across the planet.

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa - When famous DJ Alan Partridge's (Steve Coogan) radio station is taken over by a new media conglomerate, it sets in motion a chain of events which see Alan having to work with the police to defuse a potentially violent siege.

Blancanieves - Once upon a time there was a little girl who had never known her mother. She learned the art of her father, a famous bullfighter, but was hated by her evil stepmother. One day she ran away with a troupe of dwarves, and became a legend. Set in southern Spain in 1920s, Blancanieves is a tribute to silent films.

Renoir - Set on the French Riviera in the summer of 1915, Gilles Bourdos' lushly atmospheric drama tells the story of celebrated Impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir, in declining health at age 74, and his middle son Jean, who returns home to convalesce after being wounded in World War I. The elder Renoir is filled with a new, wholly unexpected energy when a young girl miraculously enters his world. Blazing with life, radiantly beautiful, Andrée will become his last model, and the wellspring of a remarkable rejuvenation. At the same time, Jean also falls under the spell of the free-spirited young Andrée. Their beautiful home and majestic countryside grounds reverberate with familial intrigue, as both Renoirs, père et fils, become smitten with the enchanting and headstrong young muse.

Weekly Recommendations: Captain Phillips is a brilliant film. Hanks gives an incredible performance, and this amazing story has been given a fitting dramatisation – albeit one of nerve-shredding authenticity – by the gifted Paul Greengrass (United 93). He weaves a tale documenting not just that of one man’s survival under extreme pressure, but a clash of first and third world economic values and two very different, but equally desperate men who have a job to do and work for other people, yet put their lives on the line to see it done. Blancanieves was charming - a Spanish silent/black and white re-working of the Snow White story. It understands the balance of fairy tale magic and harsh realities and features a great performance from Maribel Verdu. It is worth a look, though I didn't love it as much as others. Machete Kills was abysmal - the double-barrel plot is overlong, stupefying and tedious, the experience becoming little more than checklisting the amusing cameos. There is the expected shlock gore and trashy aesthetic, but this one simply fails as entertainment. And did if I didn't reiterate the 'overlong' status, it is very very long. I have been hearing great things about Alan Partridge - 'the year's funniest film' from a trusted source - so I'll definitely be checking it out this week.

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