FAMILY COMEDY PUSS IN BOOTS (U) 90min ●●●●●
Given that the quality of the Shrek franchise dropped off dramatically with parts three and four, it’s something of a surprise that Puss In Boots, a spin- off featuring the big-eyed cat voiced by Antonio Banderas, should turn out to be one of the year’s best animated family films. Artfully teaming up Puss with Humpty Dumpty (The Hangover’s Zach Galifianakis), Shrek director Chris Miller’s cartoon romp is essentially a heist job in which the duo attempt to steal magic beans from Jack and Jill (Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris). Romantic interest for Puss is
provided by Selma Hayek as feline accomplice Kitty Softpaws, and once the beans are liberated from the top of the beanstalk, a spectacular conclusion offers the naughty Puss redemption from his errant ways as a gigantic goose threatens his hometown.
Without ever referencing Shrek or the other familiar fairy-tale characters, Puss In Boots is a diverting pantomime romp, laden with cat puns, imaginative 3D sequences and knowing pop culture gags, including a well- choreographed dance-off and a cuter-than-cute flashback sequence to Puss’ childhood. While it might lack any surprises, Puss In Boots offers more fun than any fifth entry in a moribund franchise could be expected to offer. (Eddie Harrison) ■ General release from Fri 9 Dec.
DRAMA OSLO, AUGUST 31ST (15) 95min ●●●●● SPORTS DRAMA MONEYBALL (12A) 133min ●●●●●
DRAMA LAS ACACIAS (12A) 86 mins ●●●●●
Films set over a single 24-hour period are seldom as affecting as this poignant drama from Norwegian filmmaker Joachim Trier. Less intensely stylish than his 2006 debut Reprise, this is a slow-paced film, full of melancholy and humanity. The story follows Anders (Anders Danielsen Lie), a 34-year-old nearing the end of a period in rehab, as he spends an away- day meeting with friends and relatives, going to a job interview and attempting to reconnect with the world. But as the day wears on, Anders struggles to remain hopeful and resist temptation. Using Pierre Drieu La Rochelle’s 1931 novel La Feu
Follet as a foundation, Trier and co-writer Eskil Vogt take this specific scenario and, through excellent, insightful writing, explore universal concerns: how time affects friendships, how getting older changes everything and how sometimes, being a grown-up is no fun at all. It’s a film that is at times painfully honest about the cost of one’s life choices, but the inherent sadness is tempered by the film’s visual beauty (shot by Jakob Ihre) and Trier’s ability to create authentically intimate moments between his characters. (Paul Gallagher) ■ GFT, Glasgow, Fri 18–Thu 24 Nov.
Moneyball aims for universal appeal by casting Brad Pitt as a maverick manager, having climactic scenes built around a strained father/daughter relationship, and in its strongest moments, being about the behind-the-scenes shenanigans of a baseball team. Based on the true story of how, in 2002, the
Oakland Athletics changed baseball by using stats rather than scouts’ hunches to pick players, this is the second fiction film from Capote director Bennett Miller. Despite a strong opening featuring some sharp dialogue from scriptwriters Steven Zaillian (Gangs of New York) and Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network), the action soon finds itself mired a series of sports movies clichés. Chief amongst them are the ‘coach that doesn’t believe in modern methods’ (a one-dimensional Philip Seymour Hoffman), and the team’s 20-game winning streak, boiled down to a lame montage. There are also several scenes that don’t stand up: Pitt’s Billy Beane waltzing into the office of the unknown statistician Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) and offering him a job is incredulous. Where the film does hit home, weirdly, is in making the trading of players exciting. (Kaleem Aftab) ■ General release from Fri 25 Nov.
In the renaissance of South American cinema during the last 15 years, the road movie has been key: think Walter Salles’ Central Station, The Motorcycle Diaries and the forthcoming On the Road; Alfonso Cuaron’s Y Tu Mama Tambien; Pablo Trapero’s Familia Rodante; and Carlos Sorin’s Bombon: El Perro.
The debut fiction feature of Argentine Pablo
Giorgelli, Las Acacias is a slow-burning, minimalist twist on the genre. A taciturn, middle-aged trucker, Ruben (German de Silva), reluctantly gives a lift to younger woman Jacinata (Hebe Duarte) and her 5- month-old daughter Anahi (Nayra Calle Mamani). Shot in long takes and almost exclusively from
within the confines of Ruben’s lorry, the low-key Las Acacias is sparing in terms of dialogue, dramatic action and music. At various truck stops we’re made aware of the social and economic realities and injustices that shape these individuals’ lives. Thanks however to the beautifully naturalistic performances and Giorgelli’s sensitive direction, there’s something quietly moving about the bond that gradually develops between the characters. (Tom Dawson) ■ Selected release from Fri 2 Dec.
17 Nov–15 Dec 2011 THE LIST 71