Catholic schools. Priests. Sexual abuse allegations. Does this equal a film we’d want to see? Probably not. At best, it would be dull, at worst quite disturbing. Nevertheless, given the Oscar hype surrounding this adaptation of John Patrick Shanley’s play last year, we decided it couldn’t be that bad. In fact, this 1960’s-set drama centring around a nun’s mission to prove a progressive priest guilty of sexual abuse of a student turned out to be quite a unique and thought-provoking film experience.
Gran Torino is vintage Clint Eastwood at his best. From Dirty Harry to Million Dollar Baby, he’s made his signature character into an art form, a hypnotising, hardened beast of a human that you can’t take your eyes off, and yet one that’s never without redeeming qualities either. In this self-directed tale of a bigoted retiree coming to terms with his Asian neighbours in middle America, Eastwood gives us enough bad-ass attitude, along with poignant drama to stand Gran Torino alongside his earlier Oscar-winning efforts.
Bill Bailey goes all-out musical in this new DVD, recruiting the entire Albert Hall symphony orchestra to assist him in his mad, amusing rambles. Taking a tour of the entire orchestra, Bailey drags in everything from the sound of trombones, jellyfish, the Doctor Who theme tune, Bach and Motzart. It’s a huge show – easily Bailey’s biggest – and while his trademark wit and surrealism still sparkle, the massive repetition of material sadly bogs down this release.
The British talent for satire is brilliantly displayed in In the Loop. This film spin-off from the BBC series The Thick of It chronicles the life and times of several US and UK government figureheads in the days before the invasion of Iraq. The cracking script and brilliant cast keep the laughs coming hard and fast, while director Armando Iannucci’s hand-held camera techniques create an almost uncomfortably close-to-the-bone sense of realism. If you missed this film at the cinema, it’s well worth grabbing on DVD for the best laughs you’ve had in ages and one-liners you’ll be repeating for weeks.
Blur was responsible for our generation’s initiation into British rock music. That’s why many nostalgic Gen X’s and Y’s will go to see this new documentary that chronicles the band’s rise and fall and their temporary reunion for a series of tour dates in 2009. It’s a little hero-worshippy, but charmingly filled with ’90s Britpop nostalgia and the concert scenes are brilliantly shot. A worthy tribute to the band that began our musical education.
King of the American historical epic Ron Howard returns to form with Frost/Nixon. Based on Peter Morgan’s Tony-award winning Broadway play, the film chronicles ex-US President Richard Nixon’s infamous admission of wrongdoing in David Frost’s interview series in 1977. Howard’s intimate dual narrative draws you expertly into the lives of both the interviewer and his subject, while Michael Sheen and Frank Langella inhabit their characters with studied perfection. Despite its somewhat dry subject matter, you’ll find yourself fascinated by this battle-of-wits tale by the time the credits come up.
A million balloons, a flying house and a talking dog. Disney and Pixar team up once again to bring us yet another graphically and visually dazzling animation. Showing both in 2D and 3D, it’s the cocktail of action, adventure and comedy with an added shot of good morals we can normally expect from this prosperous pairing.
Take a romatically challenged, cynical workaholic and cross her with a victim of heartbreak who thinks with what’s in his pants. What do you get? True love apparently. Boy meets girl. Girl hates boy. Boy wins girl over. It’s nothing we’ve never seen before – The Ugly Truth is your typical boring battle of the sexes ‘romantic comedy’. Yet another sickly film to leave us with a floating outlook on relationships. And that’s the ugly truth.
It’s sad when your realise something you used to find endless entertainment in as a child is no longer appealing to you. Much like discovering we would rather play drinking games than jump rope, it seems the time has come where we may have outgrown the Chipmunks. Either that or this modern-day retelling of the rodents’ rise to fame in the music industry was, well, crap.