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Movie Madness with Michael Doherty

Friday, 4 April 2008

It wouldn't be Friday without movie supremo Michael Doherty on the sofa with all the latest flicks to hit the Irish movie screens this weekend and we get a sneak preview of one of this summers block busters.

Funny Games (16)          

Courtesy: Eclipse Pictures
Starring: Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, Brady Corbet, Devon Gearhart, Michael Pitt
Director: Michael Haneke

Verdict: Ten years after delivering one of the most talked-about thrillers in European cinema, Michael Haneke has directed a shot-for shot remake for Hollywood audiences. Normally such remakes are a no-go area (Gus Van Sant's Psycho anyone?) but there is method in Haneke's madness. The original Funny Games, after all, was a chilling, psychological thriller that deliberately asked uncomfortable questions of cinema audiences. Unfortunately, not enough people saw his 1997 version of Funny Games to make the point valid so Haneke has revisited the same script and utilised the same camera set-ups but this time with a starry cast (and in English).

Naomi Watts and Tim Roth play the wealthy couple whose idyllic lives are shattered by the arrival of their doorstep of two clean-cut young men (Michael Pitt, Brady Corbet) who quickly turn psychopathic. Though most of the violence takes place off-camera, Funny Games is a hugely uncomfortable experience and the film works its way into your head as Haneke asks questions about the acceptability of violence amongst today's cinema audiences.

On the acting front, Watts and Pitt are the stand-outs; she as the brutalised housewife; he as the well-mannered but merciless chief tormentor. Like its predecessor, Funny Games is an uncomfortable viewing experience but it's not a movie you're likely to forget in a hurry.

Son Of Rambow (12A)         
Courtesy: Element Pictures
Starring: Neil Dudgeon, Jessica Stevenson
Director: Garth Jennings

Verdict: Low on budget but high on charm, this British movie is a wonderful, rites-of-passage drama about two young boys who use a home movie recorder to act out their favourite film fantasies, notably Rambo. This one will evoke a response in kids of all ages.


Awake (15A)    
Courtesy: Eclipse Pictures
Starring: Hayden Christensen, Jessica Alba, Terrence Howard
Director: Joby Harold

Verdict: Routine thriller featuring Hayden Christensen as a rich young man with a heart problem who is among the 700 people every year who wakes up during major surgery. This one doesn't pull up any trees, but Christensen and Terrence Howard deliver strong performances while babe du jour Jessica Alba will sell many tickets just by her presence.

Teaser Trailer

Iron Man                             
Courtesy: Paramount Pictures
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges
Director: Jon Favreau

Synopsis: Tony Stark is a billionaire industrialist and genius inventor who is kidnapped and forced to build a devastating weapon. Instead, using his intelligence and ingenuity, Tony builds a high-tech suit of armor and escapes captivity. When he uncovers a nefarious plot with global implications, he dons his powerful armor and vows to protect the world as Iron Man.