Download mp3! (01:06:23 minutes, 30.4 Mb)
Email us your comments or suggestions!
Gather round the fire, friends, as we sing the song of movie review and ice. Verse and chorus this time around on Shame, Margin Call, The Iron Lady, The Descendants, John Carter, The Muppets, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and The Woman In Black.
It may be one of the most critically acclaimed films of last year, but Shame leaves us a little cold. We applaud the director's sense of style and the subject matter is perhaps underserved, but for a character piece to have characters so unrelatable and difficult to empathise with is a recipe for disinterest.
Margin Call may be a difficult sell for some, a drama that humanises bankers, public opinion whipping pinatas since the crash. Looking at a thinly disguised group of Lehman Brothers analysts of varying seniority, this shows their initial discovery of what's about to kick off and their reactions to what they have to do to limit their exposures, knowing that in doing so they're pulling the trigger of a near-fatal shotgun blast to the world economy. A sharply observed script and superb performances make this a drama that deserves to be seen.
Now, opinions on Tory doyenne Baroness Margaret Thatcher may vary, but I think we can all agree that The Iron Lady is far from the film that her remarkable career deserves. Agree with her or not, this film has politics - politics of all things - take a back seat to Thatcher's relationship to her imagined, dementia-induced ghost of a husband. Ghoulish and pointless, the fact that it's competently acted and shot can't disguise the way it focuses on the least interesting aspects of her life. A missed opportunity.
The Descendants continues Alexander Payne's run of mature, intelligent dramas that credit their audience with a modicum of intelligence, and is to be lauded for that. George Clooney tries to re-connect with his daughters after their mother has a tragic boating accident, and while the early doors sedentary pacing makes for a less than completely compelling experience, it picks up towards the end and it's certainly a damn good film that's worth watching.
John Carter (of Mars) sees former soldier John Carter (of Earth) flung across space and reality from the aftermath of the U.S.A.'s civil war to a Mars home to four-limbed green tribals, warring city states and a scientist Princess to rescue. While the twittersphere puzzlingly declared a two-minute hate on the film, it's far from bad. However, it's a resolutely mediocre one. While the effects work is as strong as we've seen, the rest of the elements never really gel together and this winds up being less than the sum of its parts.
The Muppets sees Jason Siegel and his muppet brother attempt to get the band back together to save their theatre from impending destruction by an oil tycoon, although sensibly this places more emphasis on anarchy than plot. A gleeful delight, and as much pure joy as I have seen projected on a cinema screen in years. If you can't find it in your heart to love 80's Robot, you have no soul.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a wildly unbelievable tale of a young kid whose father died in the 9/11 attacks attempting to track down the intended recipient of a mysterious key found in his father's possessions. There's a couple of decent performances from Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, but the central character and performance of this weird, Woody-Allen-in-a-Nine-Year-Old's-Body kid is so uniquely unlikable as to sink the film completely, and the 9/11 references are incidental to the point of being cynically exploitative.
A decent horror film? I wouldn't have believed it, until I saw it with my own two eyes. Hammer's The Woman In Black sees Daniel Radcliffe as a widowed Victorian-ish-era do the spooky house thing, with spooky results, which is rare in horror cinema these days. It's not perfect - the story is as old as them there Victorian-ish-era hats and while Radcliffe puts in an impressive turn, he's miscast as a character that ought to be five to ten years older. That aside, it's reasonably effective at building up a creepy atmosphere and the production values are impeccable, and it's about the only time my spine has been tingled in a cinema in the past five years.
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.