ALSO RELEASED THRILLER THE AMERICAN (15) 104min ●●●●●
Photographer-turned film director Anton Corbijn follows his Ian Curtis biopic Control with a film that moves him onto a bigger cinematic stage (thanks to its leading man George Clooney) while simultaneously allowing him to delve into more personal thematic territory. The American confirms Corbijn as a confident and uniquely gifted filmmaker, but be warned, it is an intentionally slow- moving film, featuring Clooney’s most defiantly subdued performance to date.
The story, adapted from Martin Booth’s novel A Very Private Gentleman, involves Jack (Clooney), an ageing gunsmith forced to go into hiding when an attempt is made on his life. He holes up in Castelvecchio, a beautiful historic Italian village, and there develops tentative connections with a priest (Paolo Bonacelli) and a prostitute (Violante Placido), both of whom provoke him to consider the value of his life up to this point. Meanwhile, Jack becomes increasingly aware that his pursuers are closing in and time is running out.
The scenario will be familiar to
anyone who’s ever watched a western, but the simplicity is intentional; Corbijn is interested in the ways in which simple surfaces, including his film’s beautiful appearance, relate to deeper realities. He continually draws attention to Jack’s physical routines – constant gum-chewing; having sex – to question whether the routine is an end in itself, or if it must find meaning at a more profound level. (Paul Gallagher) ■ General release from Fri 26 Nov.
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (12A) 113min ●●●●● Palme d’Or winning fantasy drama. See feature, page 20. Filmhouse, Edinburgh, and selected release from Fri 19 Nov. Broken Sun (15) 91min ●●●●● Old fashioned but decent two hander set during World War II, in which depressed, lonely Australian outbacker Jack (Jai Koutrae) marches an escaped Japanese prisoner of war (Kuni Hashimoto) back to his camp. Along the way the men reach a mutual understanding. Selected release from Fri 19 Nov. The Scar Crow (15) 90min ●●●●● Unsurprising horror in which four men from the 21st century meet three pissed off witch sisters from 1709. Selected release from Fri 26 Nov. My Afternoons With Margueritte (La Tête en Friche) (15) 82min ●●●●● An elderly woman (Gisèle Casadesus) bonds with an illiterate man (Gérard Depardieu) over their love of pigeons. Sweet and moving French drama from veteran filmmaker Jean Becker (Conversations with My Gardener, One Deadly Summer). Selected release from Fri 26 Nov. London Boulevard (15) 90min ●●●●● A reclusive London-based actress (Keira Knightley) gives an ex con (Colin Farrell) a job as her bodyguard and ends up falling for him. Sparky comedy (pictured) directed by The Departed and Kingdom of Heaven screenwriter William Monahan. A very decent cast includes David Thewlis, Anna Friel and Ray Winstone. General release from Fri 26 Nov.
44 THE LIST 18 Nov–2 Dec 2010
FANTASY/ADVENTURE HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 1 (12A) 145min ●●●●●
The decision to split the final adaptation of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books into two episodes will pay dividends at the accounting office of Warner Brothers, but leaves this film, the seventh in the wizarding series, lacking energy and any real magic. Director David Yates returns for his third Potter film, and reaffirms his aversion to the action sequence, procrastinating over moments where Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and Hermione (Emma Watson) meander through lush landscapes, and rushing through the big set pieces at a blistering clip. A foreboding pre-credit sequence sets a dark tone for a movie that has plenty of atmosphere and hints at great evil, but ultimately leads nowhere.
Take, for example, the section where all of Potter’s best school buddies
get to become Harry doppelgangers, acting as decoys to protect their talismanic friend. The possibilities of this set-up are sidelined as Yates concentrates instead on a breakneck-speed chase sequence through London traffic, with the real Harry being pursued by Voldemort’s men. It’s a recurring problem: the attacks on Potter come thick and fast, but Yates sells those sequences short in his efforts to expand the triangular relationship of the three central characters. Even the CGI feels rushed, which in turn makes you wonder how bad the abandoned 3D conversion must have been. Small credit must be given to the filmmakers for maintaining the bleak tone throughout. This film doesn’t end on an upbeat note at the end of a school year. The action is moved away from Hogwarts as the film’s central trio head out to search and destroy horcruxes (stones containing fragments of Voldemort’s soul). The world beyond the school is harsh. No stone seems to be a friend and Ron (Rupert Grint) suffers a jealous rage of his own making. Grint turns in his best performance of the franchise with a surprising line of comic touches, while a tired looking Radcliffe gives us more of the same. This is less a movie than an appetiser before the main course next summer. (Kaleem Aftab) ■ General release from Fri 19 Nov.
HORROR DREAM HOME (18) 96min ●●●●●
Property values – that great middle class dinner party discussion topic of choice – and the slasher movie may not seem to be ideal bedfellows but prolific Hong Kong Chinese director Pang Ho-cheung (Isabella, Exodus) certainly brings a steady hand to the fusion. Allegedly based on a true story from 2007, months before the banking
collapse, Dream Home follows the gruesome trajectory of hard-working young lady Cheng (Josie Ho) as she attempts to buy her dream flat overlooking the harbour. In flashback we find out that her obsession with a sea view property goes back to her childhood and that she will stop at nothing to secure a place of her own. Inflation and seller greed inevitably conspire against her and she decides to take matters into her own hands. What Pang’s film lacks in characterisation and believable motivation it more than makes up for in mischievous abandon. The violence is brilliantly inventive and the final pay-off is a killer. Consciously or unconsciously Pang’s film may just be the first of many to question the legitimacy of a younger generation’s brutal retribution against an older generation that has wrecked their future through the catastrophic accumulation of debt. Its anarchistic spirit is refreshing, its morals repellent, its trail bloody indeed. (Paul Dale) ■ Selected release, Fri 19 Nov.