Film

Review: 500 Days Of Summer

By Gerald Aaron, September 3, 2009

“The following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Especially you, Jenny Beckman. Bitch.” This “author’s note” sets the sardonically charming tone of this wry riff on the perennial “boy-meets-girl” saga. Skittish Zooey Deschanel is Summer, Joseph Gordon-Levitt her suitor Tom. He believes in true love. She does not. Debut director Marc Webb does a fine job, eliciting charming performances.

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Review: Tricks

By Gerald Aaron, September 3, 2009

Six-year-old Damian Ul seeks the father who abandoned his working-class family years before in a Polish comedy drama set during summer in a provincial town. The film benefits strongly from Ul’s attractive natural performance and engaging characters, notably Ewelina Walendziak as his feisty sister. While Tricks is stronger on atmosphere and characterisation than on plotting it is gently entertaining nonetheless.

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Review: Inglourious Basterds

By Jonathan Foreman, August 20, 2009
Quentin Tarantino’s new film stars Brad Pitt as Lieutenant Aldo Raine, the Gentile, part-Apache leader of a commando team of Jewish-American soldiers parachuted into occupied Europe to terrify the Third Reich with guerilla attacks and acts of spectacular cruelty. The Germans call them “the Bastards”; the misspelling is some kind of Tarantino in-joke, perhaps designed to show that the film is not really a remake of Inglorious Bastards, a 1978 Italian B-movie whose Italian title meant “That Damned Armoured Train”.

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Review: A Perfect Getaway

By Jonathan Foreman, August 13, 2009

Recessions are a good time for certain film sub-genres that might almost be designed to make people feel better about having less money.

One of the more successful of the past few years is built around holidays that go horribly, violently wrong. Attractive, youngish people, usually in a group of four or five, go somewhere exotic only to be sacrificed by native Mayans, eaten by snakes, harvested for their organs or tortured for the sexual delight of Eastern European perverts. In A Perfect Getaway, a honeymoon couple on a hiking trip is stalked by a pair of serial killers.

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Review: The Taking of Pelham 123

By Gerald Aaron, July 30, 2009

After a hyper-flashy opening, director Tony Scott switches to gripping storytelling when New York subway dispatcher Walter Garber (charismatic Denzel Washington) takes on Ryder (John Travolta, entertainingly larger than life) who is holding subway passengers hostage for a $10 million ransom.

Washington and Travolta make memorable opponents, Scott creates good mounting suspense, the action sequences are exciting and James Gandolfini’s venal mayor is amusing. As remakes go (it was Walter Matthau versus Robert Shaw in 1974), it succeeds very well.

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Review: Crossing Over

By Gerald Aaron, July 30, 2009

Writer-director Wayne Kramer’s gripping film features a variety of stories interlinked by their protagonists’ involvement with the US Immigration Service.

Harrison Ford, happily playing his age after disguising it with doubles in Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, scores as immigration officer Max “Everything’s a crisis to you” Brogan, while charmless Ray Liotta is perfect as an Immigration Service executive demanding sexual favours for helping aspiring immigrant Alice Eve. A timely and thought-provoking drama.

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Review: G-Force

By Gerald Aaron, July 30, 2009

Disney delivers a splendid live-action-animation comedy thriller for children about a unit of daring guinea pigs who foil a diabolical attempt at world domination. The special effects are state of the art, the animated animals out-act the mere humans and a good, easy-to-enjoy family film is the result.

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Review: The Proposal

By Gerald Aaron, July 24, 2009

On paper, this undistinguished romcom must have seemed as lightweight as helium. On film, the predictable plot and mundane dialogue means it rarely gets off the ground.

Heartless New York publishing executive Margaret (Sandra Bullock) blackmails stressed assistant Andrew (Ryan Reynolds) into marrying her to save her from deportation to her native Canada.

The odd couple’s visit to Andrew’s family in small-town Alaska gives rise to an amiable comedy of embarrassment with an utterly unsurprising ending.

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Review: Just Another Love Story

By Gerald Aaron, July 24, 2009

Writer-director Ole Bornedal’s ironically titled crime melodrama finds happily married crime-scene photographer Jonas (Anders W Berthelsen) causing the car accident that leaves Julia (Rebecka Hemse) amnesiac and near blind, falling in love with her and posing as her fiancée — only to be plunged into danger when her presumed-dead fiancée turns up…

The compelling brew of romance, mystery and potent revelations grab and hold you right from the start.

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Review: Skin

By Gerald Aaron, July 24, 2009

A genetic throwback caused Sandra Laing to be born “black” to white parents in apartheid South Africa. While Sandra’s odyssey seems fictional, it’s a true story told with rather too much restraint by director Anthony Fabian.

Sophie Okenedo as the adult Sandra and Ella Ramangwane as the child are excellent; Sam Neill and Alice Krige do well as the parents.

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