Movie reviews – Oct 11 to Oct 25

James Douglas
October 11, 2012

TED

Odeon: Oct 11

 

Seth MacFarlanes' teddy bear comedy is not as cute and cuddly as it may seem. Ted comes to life for his owner John Bennett and a certain amount of outrageous chaos ensues. ‘A fabulous first live-action effort, combining R-rated hilarity with skilled storytelling as it slips some real heart into the stuffing of a toy bear' (Total Film). ‘This is no-holds-barred humor of the finest, grossest kind, centered around the theme of arrested development' (Time). ‘A predictably irreverent satire that's sweeter and, sadly, less funny than you might expect' (Variety). ‘Eventually MacFarlane's formula-consisting of filthy, ethnically offensive jokes, scatological humor, tacky pop culture references and random cameos-begins to wear thin' (Washington Post).

 

BLADE RUNNER

Odeon: Oct 16, 8:30pm, free

 

Ridley Scott's 1982 masterpiece remains one of contemporary cinema's greatest works and firmly holds its place in the sci-fi canon. Loosely adapted from Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Scott's bladerunner is Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) in pursuit of replicants returned to earth from the off-world colonies. A brilliant blend of dystopian futurism, retro-design noir detective fiction and existential enquiry in a gloomy rain-soaked L.A. a few years from now. ‘This is perhaps the only science-fiction film that can be called transcendental' (Entertainment Weekly). ‘Blade Runner impresses with its inquiry into the nature of memory, identity, and what it means to be human ... fully and richly deserves its reputation. It is simply one of the most extraordinary films ever made' (BBC).

 

HOPE SPRINGS

Odeon: Oct 18-19, 21-24

 

Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones are Kay and Arnold, married 30 years and in need of counselling in David Frankel's comedy drama. ‘Hope Springs dares viewers to look closely at the remarkable sight of naked adult intimacy and its discontents' (Entertainment Weekly). ‘A genuinely sweet, perfectly acted, remarkably brave little movie that should make audiences swoon for something they thought was gone-a smart dramedy for grown-ups' (New York Daily News). ‘The movie is an awkward cross between a domestic comedy and a marital tragedy that's laced with laughs, soggy with tears and burdened by a booming, blunt soundtrack that amplifies every narrative beat' (New York Times).

 

TOTAL RECALL

Fulgor: Oct 11-17

 

Len Wiseman's remake of the 1990 Paul Verhoeven version of Philip K. Dick's story is probably unnecessary, although, as reviewers have pointed out, at least there's an actor in the title role. The dumb testosterone of the Schwarzenegger original is given a credible gloss by Colin Farrell, but Dick's philosophical musings escape the filmmakers in their quest for box office success through as much gratuitous explosive action as can possible be crammed into two hours. ‘The remake has no grace notes, or grace, no nuance, no humanity, no character quirks, no surprises in the dialogue and no humor' (Wall Street Journal). ‘Since the new Recall is totally witless, don't expect laughs. Originality and coherence are also notably MIA' (Rolling Stone).

For showtimes, see the events listing.

 

KILLING THEM SOFTLY

Fulgor: Oct 18-24

New Zealander Andrew Dominik's follow-up to his brilliant 2007 The Assassination of Jesse James again stars Brad Pitt but in a crime thriller of a completely different sort. In the New Orleans underworld, Jackie Cogan is the enforcer investigating a heist. ‘The film is terribly smart in every respect, with ne'er-a-false note performances and superb craft work from top to bottom' (Hollywood Reporter). ‘This is an unrepentantly cynical take on the hope-and-change promised to the US in 2008; this year's election race makes it look even bleaker, an icily confident black comedy of continued disillusion' (The Guardian). ‘Tough, stylish, violent and studded with stars-but like so many of its American gangsters, Killing Them Softly doesn't quite get the job done' (Total Film).

 

SAVAGE MESSIAH

The British Institute: Wed, Oct 17, 8pm

 

‘I want to take the ‘mystique' away from art and show that success is usually 5 percent inspiration and 95 percent perspiration and hard slog' (Ken Russell). Russell's film of the life of the Vorticist sculptor Henri Gaudier, ended at the age of 24 on the Western Front, captures the energy and passion of engagements both artistic and sexual (or platonic, in the case of Gaudier's muse Sophie Brzeska.) ‘Derek Jarman's sets (whether for grotty ateliers or Helen Mirren's naughty suffragette cabaret act) underline an important factor that cultic Russell auteurists might note: the production teams who made his mad orchestrations pop, including then-wife Shirley, costume designer.' (Village Voice) ‘Henri's interesting relationship with the ageing authoress Sophie Brzeska is lost in the director's overriding credo that both art and films are a matter of how much energy you exert' (Time Out).

 

MAHLER

The British Institute: Wed, Oct 24, 8pm

 

The life and work of the tortured Austrian composer Gustav Mahler is given the full Ken Russell treatment: the genius of the music visualised with kaleidoscopic frenzy and passionate intensity. ‘This musical biography, Russell-style, comes over like a cross between a comic strip and Life with the Mahlers (or the trials of bringing up and living with a genius). All the usual brashness and obsessions are there, which may well offend the purists, especially as the film is very much a reply to Visconti's Death in Venice. What he gives us is in fact one of the more successful excursions into the cinema of pantheism, a series of tableaux interpreting Mahler's music. Powell is suitably impressive as the composer' (Time Out). ‘When Mr. Russell isn't playing campy games his jangling work gives a real sense of the tight-nerved consciousness of a composer to whom all the world was a minefield of noises he had to tread through to pick out a perilous line of music' (New York Times).

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