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The Afternoon ShowRTÉ One, Weekdays, 4.00pm

Movies With Michael Doherty

Friday, 30 January 2009

Michael will be reviewing:

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (Michael Cera, Kat Dennings)

DVD's of the week:

Hunger (Michael Fassbender, Liam Cunningham)
Tropic Thunder (Jack Black, Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr.)

Also Michael Doherty talks through 3 upcoming blockbusters in 2009

. Tintin
. Harry Potter
. Terminator 4

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

Director: Peter Sollett
Starring: Michael Cera, Kat Dennings
Running Time: 90 mins
Classification: 15A
Courtesy: Sony

Other Verdict: Michael Cera once again proves that he's got a good sense of quality control when it comes to choosing his roles with this charming romantic dramedy. Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist is set over one event-filled night, as he (Nick) and his pals attempt to see their favourite band play a secret gig in Manhattan. Along the way, he meets the lovely Norah (Kat Dennings), who has been listening to the heartrending mix CDs he has been sending his cheating ex-girlfriend and falling for him as a result, although she's never met him. An initially awkward meeting soon ascends into the pair trouncing around Manhattan searching for imaginatively titled band Fluffy Bunny as well as a drunken friend, whilst simultaneously cleaning out their emotional closets. With a soundtrack that almost acts like a third main character, this is a lovely film that exudes genuine warmth and effortless laughs. Cera and Dennings are not only an extremely believable couple, but also likeable without banging of the inherent smugness that you'd expect from members of the "trendy" music scene.

Cera isn't exactly stretching himself, but there are genuine sparks between him and Dennings, and teen angst is explored with typical characteristic mockery by both stars. Cera's socially apprehensive demeanour somehow comes off as cool, while Dennings's best work is the moments when her character has nothing to say: Norah's pensive glances at Nick, her hesitancy on how to broach the idea of an amorous liaison. They are similar characters, beset simply by being members of the opposite sex - a common conundrum. That said, it's really how Sollet sells his film that makes it most worthwhile. He drenches each scene in impressive tunes, but never allows the music to take over the characters or undermine his fine cast. Needless to say, this isn't a million miles from Cameron Crowe territory, who could easily have made a film like this twenty years ago. The supporting players offer fine back-up - Graynor in particular standing out as the sluttly drunken friend who you somehow still like - while Jay Baruchel plays 'sleazy' to startlingly sordid effect. It's the two stars and the director who shine brightest, though, in this hugely entertaining and warm little movie.

DVDs of the week:


*Nominated for 2 BAFTAs for Best British Film and
Most Promising Newcomer for Steve McQueen*

*Nominated for 9 IFTA awards*

Director: Steve McQueen
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Liam Cunningham
Running Time: 96 mins
Rating: ****
Classification: 15A
Courtesy: Pathe Distribution

Other verdict: Turner Prize-winning artist McQueen has taken a mammoth subject for his debut feature, the 1981 hunger strike by the IRA in the H-Blocks, and has delivered a truly remarkable and visceral piece of cinema. Shot in three acts, the first one chronicles the early days of the dirty protest in Long Kesh, when IRA prisoners sought political status and refused to wear prison garb. The second act is a marvellous two-handed set-piece, shot in one continuous take, involving Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender) and a local priest (Liam Cunningham), during which Sands reveals his intentions to go on hunger strike to the death and the two men discuss the moral implications of such an action. The final act (shot by McQueen on a closed set), sees Sands wasting away before our eyes. It's a massive canvas but McQueen succeeds by turning the prison cells and corridors into something akin to an art installation (notably in one sequence where a lone prison warder is meticulously disinfecting the prison corridors).

Brilliantly written by Enda Walsh and directed with a remarkable attention to detail by McQueen, Hunger is a triumph for all concerned, notably for Fassbender, who fasted under medical supervision (600 calories a day) to play the Republican leader during his final days. It's a memorable performance from a young Irish actor destined for great things.

Tropic Thunder
*Nominated for Oscar - Robert Downey Jr., Best Supporting Actor*
*Was nominated for 2 Golden Globes - Tom Cruise AND Robert Downey Jr., Best Supporting Actor

Directors: Ben Stiller
Starring: Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black
Running Time: 107 mins
Classification: 16
Courtesy: Paramount

Other verdict:
"Tropic Thunder is my Catcher in the Rye!" Somewhere in Vietnam, action hero Tugg Speedman (Stiller), method actor Kirk Lazarus (Downey Jr.) and comedian Jeff Portnoy's (Black) new film Tropic Thunder is in trouble: egos are raging war on set, the director Cockburn (Steve Coogan) can't handle the pressure and tough producer Les Grossman is coming down hard. So when war vet Four Leaf Tayback (Nick Nolte), whose book the film is based on, suggests taking the cast deeper into the jungle to capture the reality of war, Cockburn gets excited about the guerrilla filmmaking. However, when the cast and crew run into real drug traffickers, the actors still think it's a movie...

Although he doesn't exactly steal comedy back from Judd Apatow et al, Ben Stiller's Tropic Thunder is a lot funnier than recent Apatow outings. A parody of Vietnam movies (in particular sacred cows like Platoon and Apocalypse Now) that actually loves the movies its parodying, Tropic Thunder is every bit the blockbuster it sends up, and still takes time to poke fun at a vicious Hollywood with the balding, fat producer and Mathew McConaughey's zealous agent a delight. It's Downey Jr.'s method actor ("I don't drop character until the DVD commentary.") who gets all the laughs, however. So committed to the role, his Kirk Lazarus underwent a pigment alteration procedure, dips his voice, takes on the role of a Southern black man, and every time he opens his mouth it's funny. The only downside is Black's drug-addled comic; maybe he doesn't have the lines or a character to play around with, but he just isn't funny. Only Jack Black fans will laugh at his antics for no other reason than it's Jack Black.

Don't miss the start, as we're treated to three mock trailers encompassing the stars' previous hits, which are arguably the highlight. There are still a few months to go in 2008, but this could be the comedy of the year.

Upcoming Blockbusters:

The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn (2011)

Filming of the first Tintin movie has begun (Feb '09) and Tintin has been cast. It has been confirmed that the first Tintin movie will be based on The Secret of the Unicorn but it is not clear if it also covers Red Rackham's Treasure.
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Stephen Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish
Tintin: Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot, Hallam Foe, Defiance)
Captain Haddock: Andy Serkis
Red Rackham: Andy Serkis
Thompson Twins: Simon Pegg & Nick Frost
Other Cast: Eric Stoltz (not confirmed), Mackenzie Crook (Pirates of the Carribean), Toby Jones (the Harry Potter films), Gad Elmaleh (Moroccan actor / performer)

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Usual cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint.
Harry Potter's sixth year at Hogwarts turns out to be quite the exciting year. First off is the arrival of a new teacher at Hogwarts, Horace Slughorn, who is a bit more useful to Harry than he realizes. Next, Harry obtains a Potions book which used to be belong to the very mysterious Half-Blood Prince. Harry finds that the Half-Blood Prince's ancient scribbles are written along the margins of almost every page, giving Harry advice on how to improve greatly on his Potions work, and also teaching him a few helpful (and dangerous) spells along the way.

Amidst this, Harry is starting private lessons with Professor Dumbledore, during which Harry learns the dark secrets of Voldemort's past, hoping that they could use these secrets to find a way to defeat him.

Harry's year gets even more stressful with the suspicious actions of Draco Malfoy, who has been sneaking around the school doing, so Harry assumes, Voldemort's bidding. Harry quickly becomes determined, and slightly obsessed, to find out exactly what Malfoy has been up to and putting and end to it.

Yet, during this time, Harry and his friends go through daily life, busy with school work, Quidditch, (in which Harry has been made captain of the team) and of course, romance. Ron has found a new girlfriend, Lavender Brown, a perky (if not obnoxious) Gryffindor student, and Hermione is not happy about it. Ron and Hermione's friendship takes a toll throughout the school year and Harry, as usual, is stuck in the middle. Harry, meanwhile, is facing a romantic dilemma of his own: he realizes he is falling for his best friend's sister, Ginny Weasley, who is unfortunately dating Harry's classmate, Dean Thomas. Harry's pining for Ginny and Ron's hilarious relationship with Lavender give this story a large dose of reality.

Throughout all the school drama, however, the obvious darkness of Voldemort's impending rise to power is always apparent. The incredible action-packed climax is sure to leave the audience stunned and, inevitably, prove that you shouldn't trust everybody who you think is good and also prove that not everyone can manage to survive.

Terminator 4- Salvation
Set in post-apocalyptic 2018, John Connor is the man fated to lead the human resistance against Skynet and its army of Terminators. But the future Connor was raised to believe in is altered in part by the appearance of Marcus Wright, a stranger whose last memory is of being on death row. Connor must decide whether Marcus has been sent from the future, or rescued from the past. As Skynet prepares its final onslaught, Connor and Marcus both embark on an odyssey that takes them into the heart of Skynet's operations, where they uncover the terrible secret behind the possible annihilation of mankind.