Dir: Lars Von Trier - Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainbourg, Kiefer Sutherland
OK, so lots of people won’t like this film. But if you’re looking for something a little different and are prepared to spend a little time, then there are rich rewards to be had. After first seeing Melancholia at the cinema I found it sticking in my mind for weeks afterwards, and seeing it again on blu-ray only reinforced that.
The story is simplicity itself. Justine (Dunst) and her fiancé (True Blood’s Alex Skarsgard) head to her sister’s posh country estate for the wedding party. It is a fractious affair that all ends in tears. That’s the first half. Then they hang out at the estate, coping in their different ways as the world comes to an end. You see there’s a huge planet – Melancholia – that might (or might not) be about to hit the earth.
So, this works on several levels. Justine suffers from depression, a depression that seems to lighten with the imminent planetary collision. The planet itself (given its name) is clearly partly symbolic. Odd stuff happens, and seemingly trivial stuff. It’s beautifully shot and acted (add in John Hurt, Charlotte Rampling and others to the cast).
Made partly in response to Von Trier’s own battles with depression, this will divide people into those who find it pointless and pretentious and those who, er, don’t . Like me. I liked it a lot.
It’s been a while since we had a new Ben Stiller comedy. Long enough to almost forgive him for Little Fockers. Tower Heist is an action comedy caper movie which has assembled a great cast (Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Casey Affleck, Alan Alda, Matthew Broderick, Tea Leoni) but somehow manages to miss out on bringing the funny. The serviceable plot sees Stiller and other hotel workers ripped off by crooked financier Alda and plotting to steal the $20 mil he’s hidden in his apartment. Director Brett Ratner has done this sort of stuff before (Rush Hour) but the resultant film is surprisingly flat.
The Adventures of Tintin is almost fantastic. For a start it looks brilliant, even without 3D. That Steven Spielberg really knows how to make a film, the action sequences here as thrilling as you could ever hope for. And the story is fine, a combination of a few Tintin books but neither too complicated nor simplistic. And the cast are OK, Daniel Craig menacing as required and Andy Serkis delightful as Captain Haddock. But then there’s Tintin himself. Sadly the Belgian boy detective is a wash-out, not simply unsympathetic but actively irritating. It almost sinks an otherwise fine endeavour.
I was initially quite excited about Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. Produced by fantasy maestro Guillermo del Torro and starring Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce, it looked like a fun haunted house sort of horror. In it young Sally is sent to live with her father and girlfriend in a new house, only to find mysterious little creatures lurking under the stairs. The creatures themselves are average CGI fare, the acting all round is surprisingly hammy and many will lose patience well before the end. At least there’s no twist where it turns out they were dead all along.
Alex Cox made the seminal Repo Man in 1984. It was a raw blast of wildly imaginative punk anger that holds up today. I still frequently recommend it to people. Repo Chick, a very belated sequel, was made in 2009. That it sat on a shelf for three years seems a mystery, until you watch it. Firstly, there’s bugger all to connect it to Repo Man. Secondly Cox seems to have had his 10 year old daughter direct this exasperating tale of a Paris Hilton-like heiress who joins the Repo business, and then given her a budget of about $10. Wild cartoon silliness, bafflingly incompetent.