FANTASY/ADVENTURE HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE (PG) 153min ●●●●●
The sixth instalment in the Harry Potter franchise suffers from as many growing pains as its young wizards. While Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince does venture into darker, more adult areas than its predecessors it also injects more humour and character development than previous encounters, which doesn’t always make for a satisfying concoction. David Yates’ second outing as director picks up in the aftermath of a spectacular attack on London by Death Eaters and builds towards the death of a key character that will pre-empt the final confrontation between Harry and Lord Voldemort in two-part finale, The Deathly Hallows.
En route, it becomes a little bogged down with hormonal interludes, as
Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) get to grips with their burgeoning sexuality and feelings for each other. It’s during these petty fumblings that The Half-Blood Prince feels overlong and indulgent, even though the humour is welcome. But once it gets back to the more serious stuff the film kicks into gear.
As Voldemort’s return inches closer, Professor Dumbledore (Michael
Gambon) is forced to resort to more dangerous methods to lure the forces of darkness out and, with Harry’s assistance, entice former colleague Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) to return to Hogwarts to gain crucial revelations about Voldemort’s intentions. The device allows for some genuinely moving interplay between Gambon,
Broadbent and Radcliffe, all of whom rise to the occasion. It also ensures that the film packs a heftier emotional punch as, for once, the death of a character is given the gravitas it deserves. What’s more, the set pieces really do thrill, even if the Death Eater attack
owes more to Roland Emmerich than JK Rowling. Hopefully, the momentum can now be maintained over the final two films. (Rob Carnevale) ■ Out now on general release.
ALSO RELEASED The Blues Brothers (15) 148min ●●●●● John Landis’ enjoyable 1980 musical comedy re-released on digital print in original US edit. Selected release from Fri 24 Jul. G-Force (PG) 90min ●●●●● Comedy adventure about a covertly trained group of guinea pig special agents who are charged with saving the world from disaster. Jerry Bruckheimer- produced 3D adventure with voice work by Sam Rockwell, Nicolas Cage, Penelope Cruz and Tracy Morgan. General release from Fri 31 Jul. Land Of The Lost (12A) 101min ●●●●● Dr Rick Marshall (Will Ferrell) is sucked into a vortex and sent back through time to an alternative universe full of crazy prehistoric creatures. Now all he has to do is survive and get out of there. Unfunny, inconsistent and very sketchy comedy based on a classic television series. General release from Fri 31 Jul. Cloud 9 (15) 98min ●●●●● Brave, raw and intimate portrait of romance and sex amongst the over 60s. German filmmaker Andreas Dresen’s remarkable, powerful and darkly humorous film bears comparison to the work of Mike Leigh at his very best. Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Fri 31 Jul–Mon 3 Aug. Kisses (15) 75min ●●●●● On a suburban Dublin housing scheme two young people Kylie (Kelly O’Neill) and Dylan (Shane Curry) live overcrowded and blighted lives. After a violent altercation with his father, Dylan runs away from home and Kylie runs with him. Together they make their way to the magical lights of inner city Dublin, to search for Dylan’s brother in the hope of finding the possibility of a new life. Sweet and warm-hearted portrait of desperate youth. Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Fri 31 Jul–Sun 2 Aug.
DRAMA SHIRIN (PG) 90min ●●●●●
Revered Iranian filmmaker, Abbas Kiarostami’s latest work stages a dramatic re-telling of the 12th century legend of Shirin and Khosrow. It’s a tragic and brutal tale of female self- sacrifice, but here’s the rub: the central attraction is missing. Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Kiarostami, the increasingly experimental master of the long take and still shot, chooses to focus on the (solely female) faces of the audience watching the film, rather than the story itself. Indeed, the women’s sympathetic and emotionally contorted faces relate the high drama of the legend effectively enough.
However, while this is certainly a fascinating conceit for a film, it is perhaps too conceptual to be anything other than a cerebral experience for the viewer. Essentially, this would have worked very well on a continuous loop in an art gallery, but in feature film format it feels by turns dull, studied, oddly cold and false. Kiarostami chooses to capture, in close-up, some very famous faces (Juliette Binoche features alongside an ‘all-star’ Iranian cast), but this merely prevents the film from being a true study of empathy. One cannot help but be aware that what we are watching here is acting of a very high calibre and not a ‘real’ audience eliciting personal emotion, while the persistent use of close and tight framing renders the whole thing slightly dispassionate and detached. Shirin plays out like some highbrow ‘Kuleshov’ experiment and is best approached with a large dose of patience and tolerance. (Anna Rogers) ■ Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Tue 4–Thu 6 Aug.
HORROR/DRAMA ANTICHRIST (18) 108min ●●●●●
Danish Dogme pack leader Lars Von Trier conjures up a slice of unbridled and unpleasant pantheistic horror that’s underlined by themes of grief and guilt. When middle class couple Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe’s son dies in a freak accident they retreat to their woodland cabin to heal. But soon guilt, confusion and some undefined eschatological force puts them in a very different place.
In fusing together Colin Eggleston’s remarkable 1978 mystery film The Long Weekend with Nic Roeg’s long-feted parental grief horror Don’t Look Now (both thematically and enigmatically related to AntiChrist), Von Trier has created a derivative but affective horror film.
Dafoe’s annoying and controlling Jungian therapist pushes his more pagan
minded wife to the point of madness and beyond, while nature (the possible real antichrist visits these two like several figures from The Book of Revelation: the dragon, beast, false prophet and whore of Babylon here becoming a talking fox, a deer, faceless children and Gainsbourg in full frenzy).
Beautifully shot by Anthony Dod Mantle (Dogville, Slumdog Millionaire) and courageously performed by the leads, Antichrist is undoubtedly a work of mischief and grotesque horror. The misogyny he has been accused of may not be the issue here but more a desire to give the theo-babble semantics of The Exorcist and The Omen a Calvinist twist. A fascinating oddity. (Paul Dale) ■ Selected release from Fri 24 Jul. See feature, page 26.
23 Jul–6 Aug 2009 THE LIST 51