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Movie Mayhem with Michael Doherty

Friday, 30 November 2007

Movie Madman Michael Doherty is back again this week with a peak with what will be in Irish Cinemas over the coming weeks.

The Golden Compass (12A)   

Opens next Wednesday 5th December

Courtesy: Entertainment Films
Starring: Dakota Blue Richards, Nicole Kidman, Eva Green, Daniel Craig
Director: Chris Weitz

Verdict: After all the hype and the expectation, The Golden Compass has finally reached our screens, but frankly, it hasn't been worth the wait. Sure it's a popular tale, and sure the cast is strong - Kidman, Craig -and sure the money is all up there in the CGI sequences, but the movie doesn't really pass muster. Whatever about being faithful to the novel, a major fantasy must be thrilling and engaging and The Golden Compass, whisper it, is boring.

The story of a young girl (Dakota Blue Richards) who journeys to the far north of a parallel universe to rescue her young friend, the film is weighed down with exposition and lacking in star power. Craig is a big noise after Bond, but I doubt if he appears on screen for more than six minutes, while Kidman sleepwalks her way through the role of nasty Mrs Coulter, a character who should have been pure Grand Guignol.

Young Richards is left to carry the movie on her slender shoulders and, in fairness, she does an impressive job (as does Sam Elliott as a futuristic cowboy). Overall, though, I won't be waiting with bated breath for a sequel.

Trivia: Ten thousand girls turned up for open auditions in Cambridge, Oxford, Exeter and Kendal for the role of Lyra Belacqua. In June 2006, twelve-year-old London schoolgirl Dakota Blue Richards won the part meeting the approval of the Philip Pullman, the author of the novel. (source imdb)

Strength and Honour (15A)  
Courtesy: Eclipse Pictures
Starring: Michael Madsen, Vinnie Jones
Director: Mark Mahon

Verdict: You can see why Mark Mahon's drama has become such a crowd-pleaser at international festivals. The story of a former boxer (Michael Madsen) who returns to the bare-knuckle arena following the death of his wife and the illness of his young son, Strength and Honour offers huge slices of hokum, but overall it's a winning tale. Though the Rat Pack of Madsen, Vinnie Jones (chewing the scenery as Smasher O'Driscoll) and Patrick Bergin grab the headlines, the acting honours are actually stolen by Gail Fitzpatrick as the Mammy of a Traveller Community, and the very impressive Michael Rawley as her noble son, Chaser.

Trivia: Screenwriter Mark Mahon makes his directorial debut with this film.
Winner - Best Film, 2007 Boston Film Festival
Winner - Michael Madsen, Best Actor, 2007 Boston Film Festival

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (15A)

Courtesy: Warner Brothers
Starring: Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck
Director: Andrew Dominik

Verdict: There have been some wonderful westerns made in recent years and this is right up there as one of the best. Brad Pitt is terrific in the main role as bandit legend Jesse James, while Casey Affleck delivers his breakthrough performance as Ford, the man obsessed with James to such an extent he eventually felt impelled to kill him. Echoes of John Lennon and Mark Chapman abound in this beautifully shot film which takes its time to unfold (some will find it to long at 160 minutes) but features many strong performers, including Pitt, Affleck, Sam Shepard and Mary Louise Parker. I smell Oscars.

Trivia: According to the director, Brad Pitt had it put in his contract that the name of the movie was not to be changed.    (source imdb)