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This podcast thing is almost becoming a regular feature. Who'd have thought it? This time round, we line up Alice in Wonderland, The Shinjuku Incident, Chloe and Case 39 and question them most rigorously indeed.
The Tim Burton / Johnny Depp connection returns to our screens again, this time segueing from making a song and dance about demon hairdressers to reimagineering and three-deeing Alice In Wonderland for us. Placing itself as an extension of sorts, Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is prompted by an unexpected and unwanted proposal of marriage to return down the rabbit-hole and into Wonderland. It's not quite the same Wonderland, however. The Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) has seized power and exiled her sister, the White Queen (Anne Hathaway), and generally making life unpleasant for everyone else. I liked this film well enough, but it's almost in spite of itself. For the most part it bombs along pacily enough, but the sections of Alice's soul searching drag the film to a halt and smack more of attempting to bend what should be a completely unconventional story into a typical filmic structure. Meh.
Whether it's advancing years or increasing insurance premiums that's prompted the move I don't know, but Jackie Chan is now taking a more serious dramatic role in The Shinjuku Incident, albeit not one that's far removed from violence. Sprawling over years in the 90's Tokyo Yakuza-filed criminal underground, Chan's Chinese immigrant Steelhead finds himself thrust into the middle of a power struggle. The plot relies a little too heavily on convenient coincidence for its own good, and it perhaps doesn't execute any one element better than a shade above average, but on the whole it's a diverting way to spend a couple of hours. Of course, the big draw here is Chan's dramatic rather than chop-sockey performance, and he proves to have the chops for it. Ho ho.
A remake of 2003's Nathalie..., Chloe sees the action transplanted to Canada. Liam Neeson plays David, a middle aged professor married to Julianne Moore's Catherine, a middle aged doctor. Catherine fears that David may be cheating on her, so clearly, the best way to approach this mid-life crisis is to hire a local woman of negotiable affection to attempt to seduce Dave-o and report back on the results. Somewhat unusually, after finding out the answer to this is yes Catherine decides to carry on the charade, continuing to hire Chloe, the titular escort, seeming to take pleasure in her graphic reports of the goings on. Before long the entropy of this situation rather gets the better of everyone involved. The strong point here is the acting, as you'd probably expect from Neeson and Moore. The rest of it is almost completely divorced from reality. As it stands, it's a mishmash of somewhat un-involving eroticism, not particularly believable characters and a particularly unbelievable plot. It's mainly to the credit of Julianne Moore that this isn't completely unwatchable, as she's not given an awful lot of quality to work with but winds up making the film halfway acceptable.
In Case 39, social worker Renee Zellwegger saves a young girl, Jodelle Ferland's Lillith Sullivan from parents about to kill her. She adopts her, and soon weird shit starts a' happenin', like Vanilla Ice tryin' to rap again. Turns out Lilly's the devil in disguise, who'dathunkit, etc. I'll give it this, it's polished, the acting's a few notches above what you might perhaps expect from this sort of thing and the effects work is pretty decent. However, it's not even remotely scary and no fun whatsoever. If you like extreme boredom, give it a bash, otherwise leave well alone.
That is all for now. We'll be back sometime soon, so until then keep your nose clean and if you can't be good, be lucky.