I’m keeping it short and sweet this week because there’s nothing new out that I couldn’t reduce to a paragraph and besides, I’m way more excited about Avengers Assemble coming out next Monday on Blu-ray.
A spooky thriller with a fair few laughs and cool stop-motion stylings, this distinctive animation tells the spine-tingling tale of a young social outcast who sees dead people. Ghosts, though, he likes. It’s the living who give Norman a hard time as a witch’s curse brings the Autumnal town of Blithe Hollow to the brink of zombified oblivion, with only freaks and geeks to save the day. From the studio that gave us Coraline comes a more eccentrically-minded family fright-fest with pleasingly peculiar visuals, in-jokes for horror nerds, gross stuff for the kids and an offbeat sense of humour that’s bang-up-to-date. Although I didn’t love it quite as much as I expected to, it’s well worth a watch or two and destined to become a Halloween staple.
Speed on a bike is what this movie offers, that and charismatic leading man Joseph Gordon-Levitt popping wheelies in Manhattan. A messenger with an envelope to deliver, one that catches the attention of dirty cop Michael Shannon, Jo-Go does his utmost to keep the action fast and fun, thwarted solely by the movie’s relentless compulsion to add layer upon layer of extraneous plot. Simplified, this thriller might have only lasted an hour, making it a third shorter but a good deal sweeter. Still, it remains relatively decent, something to look out for on Blu-ray in a few months time.
To Rome With Love (12A)
As variable as Woody Allen’s movies are, from blessed events to wretched bores, I dared hope the best for this all-star ensemble comedy set in the Eternal City. Sad to say it’s as broad as the worst of his British films, unforgivably light on jokes and lacking inspiration at every turn. Regardless of the movie’s Italian trappings, it could just as easily have been set anywhere else in the world. Beneath the surface style and variety of stories told, it’s both bland and generic without a scrap of joy in its silliness and nothing new or interesting to say. This is sub-standard Allen with a tiresome Eurotrashy soundtrack and a tragic waste of a great cast, Alec Baldwin, Penelope Cruz and Woody himself included.
Can’t say I was ever a big fan of seminal Seventies show The Sweeney, but this baffling British movie adaptation is guaranteed to horrify all those who were. I dare say, if series creator Ian Kennedy Martin were not still alive, he’d be spinning in his grave. Ray Winstone takes the lead as salty, cynical copper Regan, dragging Plan B’s Carter round his manor, kicking bottom and taking names as if the movie had a plot, and anyone actually cared, which it doesn’t, and they can’t.
Though marketed as a romcom, this is more a drama with a sense of humour, a likeable film from The Devil Wears Prada David Frankel that stars a scene-stealing Tommy Lee Jones and the always wonderful Meryl Streep as a couple in crisis who turn to therapist Steve Carell for help. A sweetly funny, heartfelt and finely acted film for audiences of a certain age.