Friday, 11 January 2008
Charlie Wilson's War (15A)
Courtesy: Universal Pictures
Starring: Julia Roberts, Tom Hanks, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Director: Mike Nichols
Verdict: When you've been away from the screen for over three years, it's always a good idea to return with a bang. So it goes with Julia Roberts. Having spent most of that time sharing baby talk with her young twins, the Queen of Hollywood now has ace West Wing writer Aaron Sorkin's words to play with, in a fine satirical drama directed by the legendary Nichols and co-starring the equally garlanded Hanks.
A true story about covert American interest in 1980s Afghanistan, the movie features La Roberts as a right wing socialite who encourages larger-than-life liberal Democrat Wilson to support the Afghan rebels in their fight against their Russian masters. This sort of stuff is meat and drink to Nichols and Sorkin as they highlight the back-handing, glad-handling and schmoozing that makes up so much of political life while always keeping one eye on the modern parallels.
Though the return of Roberts will make much of the headlines, the acting honours actually lie elsewhere. You wouldn't imagine Hollywood's favourite Everyman, Tom Hanks, being convincing as a hard-drinking ''man of many character flaws'' who is apt to share hot tubs with Vegas starlets but he is terrific in the main role. Whether dealing with statesmen, donors or sycophants, Hanks always manages to strike just the right note.
Elsewhere, Amy Adams continues her relentless drive up the A-list with another strong performance as the politician's competent Gal Friday, while Philip Seymour Hoffman is (typically) superb as the CIA operative who cares not a jot for reputations or protocol.
Beautifully played, well paced and sharply written, Charlie Wilson's War is the first great film of 2008.
Trivia: "Charlie Wilson's War," is the second-most nominated film at this years Golden Globes with five nods, including best comedy or musical. Hanks was nominated as best comic actor for his role, while co-stars Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman earned bids for their supporting parts. Aaron Sorkin was nominated for his screenplay. (source reuters)
Dan In Real Life (PG)
Courtesy: Eclipse Pictures
Starring: Steve Carrell, Juliette Binoche
Director: Peter Hedges
Verdict: Thanks to his performance in The 40-Year-Old-Virgin and the US TV version of The Office, Steve Carrell has established himself as one of America's most appealing funnymen.
The role of a widowed advice columnist who falls in love with his brother's girlfriend (Juliette Binoche) is thus a perfect fit for his Everyman skills and he delivers.
Well-written and directed by the man (Peter Hedges) responsible for such offbeat, charming movies as Pieces of April and What's Eating Gilbert Grape, this is a rom-com that stands well above the norm.
In Bruges (opens March 7th 2008)
Courtesy: Universal Pictures
Starring: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes
Director: Martin McDonagh
Synopsis: In Bruges is the darkly comedic tale of the fates of hit men Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson). After a difficult job in London, the team is ordered by their boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes) to cool their heels in Bruges. Very much out of their comfort zones, the men find themselves drawn into increasingly dangerous entanglements with locals, tourists, and a film shoot. Soon, their perspectives on life and death are violently skewed.
Martin McDonagh is making his highly anticipated feature directorial debut on In Bruges, from his original screenplay. He previously wrote and directed the Film4-backed Six Shooter, which earned him last year's Academy Award for Best Live-Action Short Film, and which also starred Brendan Gleeson.
The filmmaker is a two-time Olivier Award winner and a four-time Tony Award nominee. His plays include The Beauty Queen of Leenane, The Cripple of Inishmaan, The Lonesome West, The Pillowman, and The Lieutenant of Inishmore.