Busy old week on the film front. Managed to get through 8 films this week:-
It s 1937 and China is on the brink of collapse. Nanking is under siege from the Japanese Imperial Army, the streets awash with violence, the civilians desperate. The protective walls of a western church provide the only haven from the vicious battles outside. Here, an American John Miller (Christian Bale) caught in the midst of the chaos, joins a small group trying escape the violence wrought by the Japanese army. Through one act of heroism, this group of disparate refugees fight back, risking their lives for the sake of others and the nation. Inspired by true events, THE FLOWERS OF WAR tells the incredible story of an unlikely group standing up against an unimaginable and overwhelming evil.
Verdict: This has glimpses of Zhang Yimou’s mesmeric visuals but it pales in significance to his earlier work. 7/10
** FILM OF THE WEEK **
Ed Harris directed, produced and stars in this drama about the American abstract artist Jackson Pollock who became the first internationally famous artist in the 1940s. His lover-turned-wife, artist Lee Krasner (Marcia Gay Harden) gave up her career to help his, recognising the importance of his work, but with the fame and fortune came Pollock’s self-doubt and ultimate destruction.
Verdict: Directed and performed passionately by Ed Harris with great support from Marcia Gay Harden, Pollock unfortunately lacks depth in conveying the artist’s work. 7/10
Cult director Ryuhei Kitamura directs this computer-graphic enhanced big-screen adaptation of Yu Koyama’s samurai manga. Aya Ueto stars as Azumi, a beautiful young femme fatale who, along with nine other orphans, has been trained as an assassin by martial arts master Gessai (Yoshio Harada). To test the fearlessness of his trainees, Gessai orders them to pair off and fight until death – a mission that provokes Azumi to start questioning her role. But, caught in Gessai’s lethal trap, and under orders to kill the evil warlords that are tearing the country apart, she must forge ahead despite the immorality and bloodshed.
Verdict: Azumi offers two hours of bloody battles which are often eye-catching but the characters lack substance, while the story is pretty average. 6/10
Top sports manager Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) is fired when he suggests to his employers SMI that they concentrate on caring more for fewer clients. He starts up his own company, with only two clients – one of whom double-crosses him by returning to SMI. However, Jerry still has American football player Ron Tidwell (an Oscar-winning Cuba Gooding Jr), plus the unlikely support of fellow former SMI employee Dorothy Boyd (Renee Zellweger), a single mother who Jerry begins dating.
Verdict: Well-acted and scripted, Cameron Crowe’s sport comedy/drama is let down only by being too long, while one or two cheesy moments creep in. 7/10
Based on actress Carrie Fisher’s semi-autobiographical novel, this darkly comic drama focuses on the strained relationship between showbiz mother and daughter, Doris Mann (Shirley Maclaine) and Suzanne Vale (Meryl Streep). Tensions between the two are brought to a head when Suzanne, fresh out of drug rehabilitation and struggling to revive her flagging career, is forced to stay with her brassy ex-movie star mother during production of a new film.
Verdict: Streep and MacLaine both dazzle in this comedy drama based on Carrie Fisher’s book that explores addiction and the uncompromising acting world in Hollywood. 7/10
Something ghastly haunts Golgotha Cemetery – an entity of unspeakable evil…and insatiable hunger. It is the summer of 1984, a time that should be full of lazy, carefree days for 12-year-old Timmy (Modern Family’s Nolan Gould) and his two best friends, Doug and Barry. But when a teenaged couple goes missing among the gravestones of the local cemetery, the bloodcurdling legend of a horrific ghoul begins to seem more like reality than myth. As the body count rises, Timmy and his friends are forced to confront their worst fears when they unearth long-buried secrets and unleash not only their personal demons…but also the one lurking underground! Based on the novel by Brian Keene comes GHOUL, a tale of terror about the convergence of monstrous inhumanity and a ravenous, inhuman monster.
Verdict: A blend of childhood drama and horror that doesn’t quite reach its potential. 4/10
Toxic heavy water from a university’s nuclear reactor leaks into its nearby nature reserve marsh changing the local fish. Luscious Lola Dent, mature journalism student gets her teeth into this meaty story to make her president’s honor list.
Verdict: A strong contender for worst film of the year and given that I’ve also seen Suburban Sasquatch, Swamp Zombies and Piranhaconda, that takes some doing! 1/10
The Choice is Theirs…
Every choice has a consequence. But what if the flip of a coin could trigger two separate but parallel destinies? Joseph Gordon-Levitt (500 DAYS OF SUMMER) and Lynn Collins (WOLVERINE) star as Bobby and Kate, a young New York couple at a crossroads whose lives are about to take very different heads/tails directions: A visit to Brooklyn leads them to gentle discoveries about family, loss and each other, while a day in Manhattan plunges them into an urban nightmare of pursuit, suspense and murder. Olivia Thirlby (JUNO) co-stars in this uniquely powerful thriller written, produced and directed by Scott McGehee and David Siegel, the award-winning filmmakers behind SUTURE, BEE SEASON and THE DEEP END.
Verdict: A modern version of Sliding Doors which begins okay but quickly loses its way with only one of the two stories being interesting. 4/10
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