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Movies with Michael Doherty

Friday, 17 October 2008

'A Film with ME in it'
Directors: Ian Fitzgibbon
Starring: Mark Doherty, Amy Huberman, Dylan Moran
Running Time: 87' min
Classification: 15A

Verdict: Entertaining, blue-black comedy from the Paths to Freedom director with Mark Doherty (who also penned the script) taking the lead as a struggling actor having the bad day to end all bad days. Featuring a strong supporting cast, notably Dylan Moran, Amy Huberman and Neil Jordan (in a knowing cameo), Fitzgibbon's film has echoes of Scorsese's After Hours (no bad thing), though Griffin Dunne's travails in that film are chicken-feed compared to the disasters that befall Mark Doherty. Recommended.

Burn After Reading
Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
Starring: Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand
Running Time: 95' 40"

Verdict: Burn after Reading is another cracking screwball comedy from the Coens marking the third occasion in which they've extracted a fantastically quirky performance from George Clooney. And this time around, his old mucker, Brad Pitt, is along for the ride. The Pittster plays a knuckleheaded gym jockey who finds a disc of CIA material in a dressing room and, egged on by colleague Frances McDormand (who wants the money for plastic surgery) attempts to blackmail CIA operative John Malkovich. Naturally, it all goes horribly wrong as, typically for the Coens, the plot becomes more labyrinthine by the minute (Malkovich is married to Swinton who is having an affair with Clooney who is also seeing McDormand who works with Pitt. You get the picture.)
At a time when so many directors are resorting to formula, the Coens are a breath of fresh air. It's clear that their cast (notably Malkovich, who chews every bit of scenery in sight) is having great fun making this movie. And the audience is sure to follow suit.

Eagle Eye
D.J. Caruso
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Michelle Monaghan, Billy Bob Thornton
Running Time: 117' 00"
Rating: 12A
Classification: 12A

Verdict: Having tapped into Hitchcock territory last year with the fine thriller, Disturbia, Caruso and his leading man, Shia Lebeouf, are again evoking The Master in this fast-paced thriller, but this time to much less effect. LaBeouf plays an college drop-out whose life turns upside down when he returns home and finds his house filled with bomb-making and a stranger barking out mysterious commands on his mobile phone. He hooks up with single mom Michelle Monaghan who has been receiving the same calls and their lives become one frenetic race against time. Ostensibly a feature about the dangers of Big Brother, Eagle Eye is neither smart enough or well paced enough to live up to the promise of its trailer.

The Rocker
Directors: Peter Cattaneo
Starring: Rainn Wilson, Christina Applegate, Rainn Wilson
Running Time: 101' 54"
Classification: 12A

Verdict: Spinal Tap meets School of Rock as Rainn Wilson, fresh from his success in the US version of The Office, gets his stab at big-screen glory. Wilson plays the former drummer of a metal band from the 1980s (Vesuvius!) who has been living the low life ever since but gets another shot at glory when he teams up with a High School rock band. Though it's not a patch on either of the aforementioned comedy films, The Rocker is watchable thanks to the performance of the excellent Wilson. Move over, Jack Black.

Michael Doherty