About RTÉ Television
The Afternoon Show
The Afternoon ShowRTÉ One, Weekdays, 4.00pm

Movies With Michael Doherty

Friday, 21 November 2008

Michael will be reviewing:

. Body of Lies
. Kisses
. Blindness
. My Best Friend's Girl

Body of Lies
Director: Ridley Scott
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe
Running Time: 127' 54"
Rating: ***
Classification: 15A
Courtesy: Warner Bros.

Plot: Roger Ferris (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a covert CIA operative working in Jordan searching for terrorists who have been bombing civilian targets. Ferris uncovers information on the Islamist mastermind Al-Saleem (Alon Aboutboul). He devises a plan to infiltrate Al-Saleem's terrorist network with the help of his boss back in Langley, Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe).

Michael's Verdict: Though billed as the fourth collaboration between Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott, this intelligent thriller is actually all about Leonardo DiCaprio. Crowe piled on three stone to play the CIA operative at base pulling the strings of a covert operation in the Middle East, but it's Leo who gets his hands dirty as the guy on the ground who has to distinguish between friend and foe and keep track of the bad guys. As a director, Scott has always been well able to handle action sequences (particularly those involving helicopters) and once again he doesn't disappoint. It's the dramatic element of the film that lets things down. The movie zips along at a cracking pace for about half an hour opening hour before losing its way in half-baked sub-plots.

Other verdict: Although its Mideast trappings have become terribly familiar in any number of recent movies from Syriana to The Kingdom to director Ridley Scott's own Black Hawk Down, William Monaghan's (The Departed) tight script still has pertinent things to say about the lies and deceptions inherent in our covert operations in the region. Cloaked in a cat and mouse thriller format, the story centers on Roger Ferris (DiCaprio)--a top CIA operative, fluent in the Arab language-- who roams from country to country trying to penetrate top secret terrorist cells and uncover plans for mayhem. In trying to smoke out a shadowy terrorist who has been directing a series of key bombings against civilian targets in Europe, Ferris comes up with the ingenious idea to create a phony rival group that appears to be taking credit for the "real" Al Qaeda-type organization's business. Complicating matters for Ferris is his boss, Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe), back at CIA headquarters, who sees the world in black and white and believes there is no such thing as going too far to achieve goals in the best interest of the U.S. Both must also deal with the head of Jordanian Intelligence, Hani Salaam (Mark Strong), who recognizes that each is useful for his own counter-terrorism efforts.
Review by

Kisses (Best Film Award at the Galway Film Fleadh)
Directors: Lance Daly
Starring: Kelly O' Neill, Shane Curry, Paul Roe
Running Time: 74' 49"
Rating: ****
Classification: 15A
Courtesy: Element Pictures

Plot: Two kids, Dylan and Kylie, run away from home at Christmas and spend a night of magic and terror on the streets of inner-city Dublin

Verdict: Yet another terrific, no-budget drama from Dubliner Daly, Kisses is a simple story about two working class Dublin kids who temporarily escape their drab domestic lives and head into the city centre on a barge. Beautifully shot, impressively unsentimental and featuring knockout performances from its two young leads, Kelly O'Neill from Stoneybatter and Crumlin's Shane Curry.

Other Verdict: Growing up next door to each other on a rough estate, 13-year-old Dylan (Curry) and 11-year-old Kylie (O'Neill) have always been close, bonding over the harsh treatment dished out by their respective families. After narrowly escaping his father's (Roe) fists one day, Dylan and Kylie hop on a canal barge and sail into the city centre, swearing that they'll never return home again. Wandering about the city, the kids encounter various thrills and dangers as they attempt to survive just one night on the cruel Dublin streets. While it's impossible to escape the Adam and Paul similarities, Kisses is its own animal too. Writer-director Lance Daly (Last Days In Dublin, The Halo Effect) takes a massive gamble with two young debutants in the lead roles but it pays off, big time. The chemistry between the two leads is undeniable, as sharp, finely tuned dialogue zips back and forth - Mark O'Halloran's monopoly on the best air for Irish dialogue is in danger after this one. Daly is proving himself to be a good writer and will only get better: one short sequence turns from comedy to romance to out-and-out bleakness, while never making either feel out of place. That's tough to pull off. A modern day romantic fairytale amidst a pitiless city backdrop, Kisses heralds the coming of the next generation in Irish filmmakers in Daly. I can't wait to see what else he's got up his sleeve.
Review by Gavin Burke for

Directors: Fernando Meirelles
Starring: Don McKellar, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Danny Glover
Running Time: 121' 00"
Rating: ***
Classification: 15A

Plot: The first victims of an epidemic of blindness are penned up in a ramshackle facility. As a cynic (Bernal) with a gun takes control of the food supply, outside the facility society breaks down completely.

Verdict: This thought-provoking apocalyptic fable finds an entire population affected by a plague of blindness and the newly blind victims quarantined in a local asylum. The always reliable Julianne Moore toplines as a sighted woman feigning blindness in order to stick close to her husband, Mark Ruffalo.

Directors: Clark Gregg
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Kelly McDonald, Angelica Huston
Running Time: 91' 57"
Classification: 16
Courtesy: 20th Century Fox

Plot: A con-man pays for his mother's hospital bills by playing on the sympathies of those who rescue him from choking to death.

Other Verdict: Now here's a film that will polarise viewers and prompt heated discussions as you exit the cinema. Choke is based on the novel by Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk, whose distinctive writing style is this time filtered through the lens of writer/director Clark Gregg (also appearing in a supporting role). Sam Rockwell is Victor, a con-artist, sex addict and colonial theme park worker who pays his mothers hospital bills by pretending to choke in restaurants, having his life saved by wealthy patrons who then send him money when he tells them he needs further operations. Victor has serious mommy issues; years of substance abuse now has her suffering from dementia, which makes it difficult for him to find out who his father is, as his mother rarely recognises him. Having never read the book, I had no preconceived notions watching this - yet somehow, I still managed to love it. This is a grubby, explicit, often distasteful film, that will either crack you up and engage you fully, or leave you scratching your head wondering what the point was. Like Fight Club, a narration is prominent throughout, as Victor explains (often through flashbacks), just how messed-up his childhood was, which gives us an insight into his current emotionally-stunted predicament. He can't share intimacy with any woman he has feelings for, which poses a problem when he meets the lovely Paige Marshall (Kelly McDonald). Everything, even deep-rooted psychological issues, are dealt with offbeat humour superbly by Gregg, who disregards the obvious frantic execution for a more subtle, engrossing style that better suits his cast. He's not David Fincher, nor does he try to be; this is an altogether different production, smaller in scale and richer in character than Fincher's subversive classics. But Palahniuk's touch is evident throughout, from the beautifully messed-up characters prone to moments of supreme clarity, to the surreal, yet somehow authentic situations they find themselves in. Sam Rockwell has been on the cusp of superstardom for some time, and here, he gives a charismatic, wonderfully balanced turn. If there was any justice in the world, he'd be top of every director's casting list. McDonald, too, adds another fine performance to her increasingly impressive CV. There'll certainly be no sitting on the fence with this one - but for most, this will surely amuse, shock and entertain in equal measure.
Review by Mike Sheridan for

Michael Doherty