Sunday, 1 November 2009

Catching up with the New Stuff

In between Festival screenings and believe it or not a couple of other cinema visits (which I'll skip for the time being -- interesting as they were), I have been using my downtime to catch up on the latest premiere showings on satellite TV. Leaving aside some primitive animations and those films that I had already seen elsewhere, the following "new" (to me) movies all from 2008 have begun to fuse into a gigantic mess of 'thank goodness, that's now gone from the backlog'. Still a few choice words on each of them might be in order, if only to refresh my own fading memory:

Ghost Town: Ricky Gervais may have cracked the U.S. market, although I gather his most recent outing has been something of a box office disaster, but he has never cracked it with me. Still, his first film in a lead role here created a few small smiles with its story of a dentist who nearly died on the operating table and who can now see dead people (as it were), all of whom want him to perform some post mortem favours for them. Cute concept, but possibly better with a different actor.

High School Musical 3: Being the completist that I am, I had seen the first two made for Disney Channel outings on the box and recall writing about the first of these inexplicable phenomena some time ago. The third one made for cinema release did massive business, but despite having slightly better production values, was actually more of the same. Enough already! But I fear we can now look forward to "College Musical" to keep milking the same old cow.

Nights in Rodanthe: By my calculation this is the third pairing of Diane Lane and Richard Gere, and although both of them are getting on, they still make a handsome couple. This romance of two 'lost' souls finding brief happiness together and then tragically losing it was, in the end, something of a downer. I prefer my viewing to leave me feeling good about there!

Taken: This film did quite well at the box office I believe and it was certainly a departure for Liam Neeson to play quite such an in-your-face action hero. Here he is a retired special-ops agent, trying to re-connect with his 17-year old daughter, who lives with her remarried mother and her very rich new husband. When she is abducted in Paris by a gang of white-slavers, Neeson springs into action and seemingly kills most of the local thugs and destroys acres of property in his attempts to rescue her. I didn't keep track of the body count before the requisite happy ending, but it was staggering.

City of Ember: I barely managed to keep my eyes open during this futuristic film set in an underground city to which the population has been committed for 200 years in the attempt to save them from the impending perils above ground and how a few brave youngsters manage to find the daylight again. With roles for Bill Murray, Toby Jones, and Tim Robbins amongst a largely British cast, this was possibly a better movie than it seemed at the time. That's the trouble with 'just resting my eyes'.

Get Smart: I had a similar problem with this movie and I shall avoid the obvious review of 'get smart and watch something else'. It seemed a heck of a lot more watchable than the silly TV series on which it was based and Anne Hathaway makes a fetching secret agent. I can't quite say the same about Steve Carell, but I could suggest far worse casting. (Like maybe Ricky Gervais, ha-ha).

The Express: This was one of those uplifting sports biopics of a 1950's-1960's black footballer who brought glory to his team at Syracuse University and to his coach, Dennis Quaid, while generally helping the cause of his race -- and who then tragically died young of leukaemia. Bummer! However, it was reasonably engaging and well put together, but overly stretched out for its two-hour plus slot.

Can I go back to sleep now?
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