Hello one and all!
Welcome to this week's fix of cinematic hokum! Are you ready to roll?
Transformers: Age Of Extinction (3D) (12A)
A Transformers movie with the word extinction in the same title. A few might argue that the latter is prophetic or rather just out of hope. Yet, as it is, the franchise continues to garner huge box office despite its many detractors. Humanity continues to endure, along with the cinema audience, and the Autobots led by Optimus Prime set off an another mission to save the Earth. Robot fetishists, particularly those who like them fighting each other, can pay attention again.
This film goes to show Michael Bay's foothold on the franchise continues unabated. His style of direction is about no-nonsense, no-nuance, no subtle bang for your buck, and it really doesn't matter what critics say. If you are fans of the other three you will possibly find some enjoyment whilst others need not bother.
Begin Again (15)
So what's it all about? Well, it's about as far away from robots fighting each other. It's a musical drama from John Carney, the director who brought us Once quite a few years ago. So Knightly plays Gretta and her long-time boyfriend Dave (played by Adam Levine) are college sweethearts and songwriting partners who decamp for New York when he lands a deal with a major label. Dave's new found fame causes him to stray, and Gretta is left on her own and meets up with Dan, played by Ruffalo, a disgraced record-label exec. He stumbles upon her performing on an East Village stage and is immediately captivated by her raw talent and so an unlikely partnership is born.
The film has a strong cast on paper, and no doubt, if you liked Once, this sounds like having distinct comparisons. Your enjoyment will also depend on how much you buy into the New York fairytale (enchantment rather than contrivance) and how taken you are by the leads.
Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, Richard Linklater's latest film is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (played by Ellar Coltrane), who grows up on screen before our eyes.
With Linklater regular Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason's parents, Boyhood deals with childhood like no other film has before. Snapshots of adolescence from road trips and family dinners to birthdays and graduations and all the moments in between become transcendent, set to a soundtrack spanning the years. The film serves as an ode to the recent past, to growing up and parenting.
Richard Linklater is a master of subtle observation through the camera lens. I have always considered the Before Sunrise, Sunset and Midnight trilogy with Hawke and Julie Delpy to be Linklater's defining statement on cinema. So it is with such promise and excitement that Boyhood is lapping up the plaudits everywhere, and is seen as another defining moment.
It currently has a 100% uniform rating on Rotten Tomatoes and that is the only time I can ever remember this.
Building on the momentum of the excellent original, Dreamworks Animation delivers another giant slice of dragons and Vikings and it sounds like it is a very welcome return. The original followed the exploits of a Viking chief's son, who must capture a dragon in order to mark his passage into manhood and prove his worthiness to the tribe.
Increasingly, with every high budget animated Pixar or Dreamworks venture, the filmmakers really understand how to make a film by going for a more mature audience first. They do that with full understanding that the younger cinema goers will still laugh and be enthralled, but judging by the critics, this sequel has an altogether darker and more soulful underbelly.
It also goes to show that the animated filmmakers are prepared to take more risks and stick the principles of storytelling, which lies in stark contrast to where their live action counterparts often don't (i.e. not mentioning any other releases this week!).
Chinese Puzzle (15)
This week's world cinema offering at the mac is the third in what has been dubbed the trilogy of Xavier from director Cedric Klapisch following L'Auberge Espagnole (The Spanish Apartment) (from 2002) and Russian Dolls (in 2005).
Audrey Tautou, Romain Duris and Cecile De France return for the third film in the trilogy Chinese Puzzle. In a week where Richard Linklater's Boyhood comes to the big screen, it is apt this film follows an approach similar to Before Midnight, following the same characters as they reach their forties.
Xavier, played by Duris, is now a 40-year-old father of two, and finds life very complicated. When the mother of his children (played by Kelly Reilly) moves to New York, he can't bear them growing up far away from him and so he decides to move there as well and trouble soon erupts.
Ok, that's it from me this week. Any queries or quibbles, as always, I'm available @timmy666 on twitter.