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Movies, Movies, Movies!

Friday, 9 November 2007

It's Friday, so its time for Michael to drop the popcorn, and give us the inside track on the latest movie releases!

LIONS FOR LAMBS (12A)   

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox
Starring: Meryl Streep, Tom Cruise, Robert Redford
Director: Robert Redford

Verdict
In recent months, Hollywood has pitched itself into the debate on Iraq with a series of high profile films such as Rendition, The Kingdom, In the Valley of Elah and Redacted. The box-office response has been poor with commentators linking the no-show with the US public's lack of appetite for the subject matter. It was this national apathy that impelled Robert Redford to get behind the camera for the first time in seven years and deliver Lions for Lambs, a polemic that employs three overlapping stories to tackle the subject of America's involvement in Iraq.

In one, Redford himself plays a university professor who has to come to terms with the decision of two of his young charges to fight for Uncle Sam. A second story finds these two former classmates stranded behind enemy lines, while the third sees probing journalist Meryl Streep discuss the pertinent issues with hot-shot Congressman Tom Cruise.

While this is all very laudable, it's not exactly the stuff of drama. Indeed, most of the film takes place on three sets and involves a series of talking heads.

One commentator moaned that the project would have been better served on an off-Broadway stage. In fact, Lions for Lambs would work perfectly well as a radio play. The heavyweight cast will ensure the movie receives plenty of headlines, but it'll be surprising if that translates into bums on seats.

Trivia
In an interview to the Variety magazine, Tom Cruise said he had made the film out of deep respect for Robert Redford's body of work, which he said had inspired him since Ordinary People (1980). (Source imdb.com)

INTO THE WILD (15A)                

Courtesy: Paramount Pictures
Starring: Emile Hirsch, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt
Director: Sean Penn

Verdict
A longstanding labour of love for director Penn, this is the true story of a young college grad who gave up on the American dream and headed off to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Beautifully shot and featuring a starmaking turn from Hirsch. Penn was initially hoping that Leo DiCaprio would take on the lead role but he actually struck gold with Hirsch. Beautifully shot, the movie is both affectionate and poignant and features a strong ensemble cast - Hurt, Catherine Keener, Hal Holbrook, Marcia Gay Harden.

Trivia
Emile Hirsch lost 40 pounds to play his role. (Source imdb.com)

PLANET TERROR (16)
 
Courtesy: Momentum Pictures
Starring: Josh Brolin, Rose McGowan
Director: Robert Rodriguez

Verdict
The other half of the Grindhouse double bill that never was, Rodriguez's film has all the retro cool stuff that popped up in Tarantino's offering, Death Proof, but it also boasts cannibals, mutants and a heroine in the form of a one-legged pole dancer whose prosthetic limb has been converted into a machine gun. Only in Hollywood.

HOW ABOUT YOU (15A)          (Opens Friday the 16th Nov)
 
Courtesy:Ferndale Films 
Starring: Brenda Fricker, Orla Brady, Vanessa Redgrave, Joan O'Hara
Director: Anthony Byrne

Verdict
Adapted from a Maeve Binchy short story, this poignant tale of life in a residential home boasts a remarkable ensemble cast, ranging from Oscar-winners Fricker and Redgrave to newcomer Hayley Atwell, not to mention scene-stealers such as Imelda Staunton and Joss Ackland. Well shot by young Anthony Byrne, here making his second feature, the film manages to avoid following the maudlin route of similar offerings thanks to the sharpness of the script and the honesty of the performances. Ackland, in particular, has never been better. Watch out for the late Joan O'Hara, who delivers a beautiful swan-song.

 

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