Film

A Date For Mad Mary/ Young Offenders/ Sausage Party

Kicking off the month in fine style is Irish movie A Date for Mad Mary (September 2), winner of the Audience Award at this year’s GAZE festival.

The story follows the eponymous Mary upon her completion of a six-month prison stretch for a vicious assault. Returning to her home town of sunny Drogheda, Mary sets about rekindling her friendship with soon-to-be married ex-bessie Charlene. However, Charlene has outgrown Mary, as evidenced by her increasingly distant demeanor and her refusal give Mary a plus one to the wedding.

Unable to face her friend’s rejection, and desperate to prove her worth, Mad Mary sets about find a date for the wedding. After a parade of laughable losers she encounters lovely chanteuse Jess and a ray of hope penetrates her wounded warrior ways. Prepare for the feels, viewers.

And there’s another Irish film on offer this month (yay!), Young Offenders (September 16), this one inspired by Ireland’s largest cocaine seizure off the Cork coast in 2007.

The action centres on inner-city ne’er do wells Jock and Connor, typical Garda-baiting, bum fluff-sporting rascally teens.

When a boat carrying 61 bales of cocaine capsizes off the coast, the lads, hearing that one bale – worth €7 million– is missing, head to West Cork to find the missing coke.

But things are very seldom straight-forward when there’s a massive brick of cocaine involved and soon the lads and their supporting cast (featuring Naked Camera’s PJ Gallagher and Republic of Telly’s Hilary Rose) find themselves in some deep water. The gowls! Go see it and support Irish film.

Ostensibly a parody of emotionally-manipulative Disney Pixar flicks, Seth Rogan’s Sausage Party (September 20) gets a long-awaited release this month.

Rude, crude and full of epicurean entendres, Sausage Party centres on the anthropomorphic foodstuffs (voiced by Seth Rogan, Kristen Wiig and a host of others) in a supermarket as they alternate between longing to be picked up by a shopper and carried off to the Great Beyond, and longing to have sex with each other. This is a sexually charged supermarket – sort of like the Spar on Parliament Street after pub closing time.

Anyway, after learning the truth about what really happens to them once they’re carted off (geddit) by the shoppers – peeled, sliced, roasted and consumed – outraged Frankfurter Frank (Rogan) sets off on a quest for answers. Definitely one for fans of silly stoner fare.

This piece first appeared in GCN, September 2016

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Film, History

Elvis & Nixon/ Gods of Egypt/ The Boss

At the top of the month, Melissa McCarthy struts her sassy stuff in The Boss (June 10) in which she plays a women who looks like disgraced TV chef/racist Paula Dean (disgracist?) but acts like disgraced TV chef/ white collar criminal Martha Stewart.

The story opens on successful business tycoon Michelle Darnell (McCarthy) who’s running her empire all FTSE-loose and fancy-free until she gets busted for insider trading.

After six months in the pen’ with Crazy Eyes and the gals she’s released and as she’s newly penniless, she’s forced to move in with her long-suffering PA, Claire (Kristen Bell). While living with Claire and her adorbz daughter, Michelle hits upon her best money-making venture yet: a baking company to rival the evil Girl Scouts who surely have a merit-badge for ‘greatest market stranglehold’ with their dry-ass cookies.

What sounds like part- Troop Beverly Hills, part-Down and Out in Beverly Hills is sadly, like neither of those movies. Despite McCarthy’s comic prowess, critics have given this one a thorough mauling (“There’s nothing going on in “The Boss” except Melissa McCarthy groveling for affection from the same viewers who already bought tickets to see her,” says the RogerEbert.com review.)

We’re still hopeful for Ghostbusters though, right?

Did you know that the most requested photo of all time from the American National Photo Archives is one of a bloated Elvis shaking hands with a toothy Nixon? Tired of all the requests the ANPA have no doubt decided to release a movie about the event, Elvis & Nixon (June 17) in a bid to get people to shut the hell up about it.

I must confess that at first I misread the title as ‘Elvis Vs Nixon’ and thought it was perhaps an addition to the Predator Vs Alien, Freddy Vs Jason ‘versus’ series of movies, but alas, it is not.

Allegedly based on true events, the movie chronicles the bizarre meeting in 1970 of Elvis (Boardwalk Empire‘s Michael Shannon) and US President Richard Milhaus (haw, haw!) Nixon (Kevin Spacey). Legend has it that Elvis showed up on the White House lawn insisting on an audience with the POTUS, and being Elvis, received one. Never one to miss a photo op Nixon agreed to the meeting. Why, you may ask, did Elvis, by then in the twilight of his career and very fond of cheeseburgers and pills, request a meeting with America’s squarest president?

It was all a elaborate plan to get a Federal Agent’s badge, which Elvis secretly believe would make it easier for him to cross international boundaires with all his guns and myriad narcotics. That scamp! Anyway, Elvis & Nixon sees both Shannon and Spacey do their best impressions: though Shannon’s face is a little too Herman Munster-ish to really portray the King, while Spacey’s performance pales in comparison to that of Frost/Nixon‘s excellent Frank Langella.

Released on the same day is already much-maligned historical white face-fest, Gods of Egypt (June 17). Gerard Butler and Game of Thrones‘ golden handed sister shagger, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.

The plot is thus: vicious, but broodingly sexy Egyptian god of darkness, Set (Gerard ‘I’ll Do Whatever Accent I Want’ Butler) bests goodie-goddie god Horus (Coster-Waldau), plucking out his eyes and seizing control of the empire. Eww.

Enter brave mortal Bek, with two turn tables and a microphone, and a plan to stop Set by enlisting Horus’ help. Cue lots of OTT CGI, lots of ancient Egyptians with bizarrely Anglacised accents and, like, zero actual Egyptians, even though there’s a couple of good ones floating around the acting-sphere (looking at you, Mr Robot‘s Rami Malek).

Given the ferocious pummeling the movie’s producers received for firstly having an all white (almost– there’s one black guy) cast and later, for having released a terrible movie, perhaps they should’ve spent more time on basics like actors and scripts instead of CGI shennanigans.

However, no plot contrived by a Hollywood script writer could ever compare to the most popular legend about Set, Horus and bit of lettuce.

The story goes that Set, eternally locked in a battle for supremecy with his precoccious nephew Horus, one night decides to Bill Cosby his relative rival, plying him full of booze and attempting to rape him. However, a sober Horus manages to place his hand between his legs and catch Set’s, er, essence.

The next morning he runs to his ma, Isis (sidenote: it’s super ironic that a group so dedicated to the destruction of antiquity share a name with an Egyptian goddess, non?) who does what any good mother would do and chops off his hand off. Then she rubs some special ‘lotion’ on Horus’ phallus, causing him to ejaculate, whereupon she snatches that shit up in a pot.

Still with me? Then she goes to Set’s garden and to find out what his favourite food is. Lettuce, the gardener tells her (possibily the maddest aspect of this whole saga: who the fuck loves lettuce? Though it was considered an aphrodisiac during this period, so maybe not surprising that sex-pest Set loved it). So, Isis prompts smears Horus’ semen all over the lettuce, ’90s gross-out comedy style, and waits for Set to get munching.

So, Horus and Set appear in front of Thoth, mediator of godly disputes, and tell their respective stories. “Horus can’t be ruler of Egypt, I jizzed all over him!” says Set. “Nuh-uh! I jizzed on you!” says Horus. “Fuck this,” says Thoth before casting a nifty incantation to ‘bring forth’ the aforemention semen. And so he does and it bursts forth, appearing as a solid golden disc floatinf above Set’s head. “Well, that’s me fucked, I suppose,” says Set, who concedes defeat and accepts Horus as Egypt’s ruler. THE END. They don’t make make stories like that any more, I think you’ll agree.

Probably for the best.

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Florence Foster Jenkins/ I Saw the Light/ A Hologram for the King

Florence Foster Jenkins (May 6) tells the true story, largely forgotten now, of the titular FFJ, an American socialite and enthusiatic amateur soprano, who became known for her singularly terrible performances.

It wasn’t all her fault though; doctors later blamed at least some of her atonality to her ongoing battle with syphilis, and the effects of the arsenic used to treat it. If only she had caught singphilis maybe things would’ve worked out differently for her?

Meryl Streep plays Florence, an enthusiatic but talentless New York heiress with a love for opera and a tin ear, which selectively filters out the caccophonous laughter stemming from her terrible off-key warbling. By Flo’s side is her supportive-to-a-fault spouse St Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant) a failed actor who supports his wife’s musical aspirations despite her notable lack of talent.

And he’s not the only one. Due to her fabulous wealth and lucrative connections, many of the musical scene’s leading lights played along with Florence’s delusions in order to further their own careers. This false flattery has the unintended consquence of helping cement Florence’s view that she is preturnatural talented and wasted in private performances. So, she packs up her tuning fork and syphilis medication and books the most renowned public musical venue of the day: Carnegie Hall.

Can the softed hearted, but tin-eared, Florrie handle the humiliating laughter of an audience amused by her Messiaen around? Or will her pluck and resolute refusal to acknowledge reality make it a performace too hot to Handel?

In a similarly musical vein: I Saw The Light (May 6), biopic of country singer Hank Williams starring that suave skeleton Tom ‘Keepin’ it Loki’ Hiddleston.

The story follows the brief life (he died at 29) and stratospheric career of a country icon who influenced everyone from Johnny Cash to the Dixie Chicks. Intersting trivia: Hiddleston sings pitch-perfect renditions of Hank’s hits through-out, much like Joaquin Phoenix in 2005’s Johnny Cash biopic Walk The Line.

However, unlike Walk the Line, I Saw The Light is being savaged by US critics for focusing heavily on the off-stage Hank who was a thrice-married, pill-popping, booze-swilling carrouser. Johnny Cash was also these things but WtL fleshed out his tormented genius and placed in the context of his hard-partying ways. By all accounts, Williams’ biopic paints him as a dislikeable, self-pitying drunkard and, unless this is an episode of Black Books, that’s no fun.

Next we’re off to Saudi Arabia, home of public executions and beaucoup oil, for A Hologram for the King (May 20) starring the eminently likeable Tom Hanks.

Hanks plays Alan Clay, a down-on-his-luck businessman who takes a trip to Saudi Arabia in the hopes of selling some of his holographic telecommunications systems to King Abdullah.

Being massively in debt and with his estranged daughter’s college tuition to pay, the pressure is really on Clay. This pressure is compounded by the fact that once he arrives at the not-yet-built Economic City, the king keeps him waiting for three weeks. In this time he makes friends with a goofy cab driver who explains the vagaries of Saudi life to him (yes, sand gets everywhere, no, harem pants are not popular here). He also meets a sexily veiled doctor called Zahra who treats his unsexy neck lump while forming a sort-of romantic relationship with him. But, this isn’t Sex in the City (even the second one where they’re in Saudi); unmarried women can’t be cavorting with virile specimens of masculinity like fifty-something Tom Hanks.

Will Alan sell his holographic software to the king or be stuck using it to make Tupac appear on-stage with Justin Bieber at next year’s Coachella? Pop along and find out.

This piece appears in GCN, May 2016. Read it here.

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Film

Christmas With the Coopers/ Pawn Sacrifice/ In the Heart of the Sea

First up this month: Christmas with the Coopers (Dec 8) a by-the-numbers family “holiday” film, the likes of which Hollywood spews forth in abundance at this time of year.

The plot, if you can call it that, is the same as every other formulaic Xmas schmaltz-fest: members of the Cooper family reluctantly congregate for their annual Christmas celebration but – UH-OH! – a series of hilarious and not-at-all predictable events conspire to make them realise the importance of family, consumerism, turkey etc.

To be fair, Christmas with the Coopers does have a cast of solid pros in its favour (who themselves must have ungrateful extended families to subsidise thus necessitating their partaking in this tiresome schlock-fest): a relatively svelte John Goodman and Diane Keaton are Ma and Pa of the dynasty, with Alan Arkin, Marisa Tomei, Ed Helms, Olivia Wilde and taking the roles of their cheerfully dysfunctional relatives.

It’s not a terrible movie by Christmas movie standards (though it’s no Gremlins, which for some reason is considered a Christmas movie nowadays?) In fact, it’s sort of the cine-equivalent of eating an enormous bowl of buttery mashed potatoes; bland, familiar and comforting while you’re eating it but afterwards you realise you’ve wasted 90-odd minutes eating mashed potatoes.

Next up this month is Pawn Sacrifice (December 11), a biographical thriller about a real-life chess rivalry – stay with me – that captivated the whole of American during the Cold War (it was a simpler, internet-less time). The movie tells the true story of grandmaster Bobby Fischer (played with ethereal aplomb by Toby Maguire) and the events leading up to his much-publicised 1972 chess battle with fellow grandmaster Boris Spassky (Liev Schriber).

Fischer’s early life – poverty, his unpredictable Communist mother, his discovery as a prodigious, precocious chess talent, etc – is all covered, but the bulk of the action surrounds his chess battle with cocky Communist Spassky and his tragic, A Beautiful Mind-esque slide into insanity. At no point is the viewer allowed to forget the political significance of the meeting: a poor kid from Brooklyn against the whole of the Soviet Union! It’s a little like Rocky V, where Stallone’s titular pugilist travels to Siberia to avenge the death of his friend while single-handedly ending the friction between the nations, except Fischer just wants to beat Spassky and embark on lots of paranoid, anti-Semitic rants (despite being Jewish himself).

Yes, it is dull and rather clichéd in parts (rollicking ’60s soundtrack, I’m looking at you) but Maguire and Schriber do their best to sustain the tension in their scenes. Sadly though, it’s not so much a checkmate as a cheque, please.

Finally this month is In the Heart of the Sea (December 26), which, according to the filmmakers, is based on the tale that inspired Moby Dick. Well, technically it’s based on the book of the same name by Nathaniel Philbrick upon which the events in Moby Dick are based; the sinking of the whaler Essex in 1820.

So, the story is thus: the Essex, under the command of Captain Pollard (Benjamin Walker) and first mate Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth) set off on a two-and-a-half year voyage to South America on a whaling mission. Suddenly the Essex is “stove” by an enormous whale, shattering the ship and leaving the survivors shipwrecked at sea with no food or water.  Oh, ship.

Though some elements of the original story have been changed, the most harrowing elements remain (rhymes with Hannibalism) and the story told is truly fascinating. Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy and newly-cast Spiderman Tom Holland all put in solid performances, but certainly more could’ve been made of Nathaniel Philbrick’s excellent material. Those wishing to learn more should, rig the stun’sls aloft and alow and set a course for your local bookshop sharpish!

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The Hallow/ The Lady in the Van/ Steve Jobs/ Carol

Unfathomably released right after Halloween is Irish horror flick, The Hallow (November 13).

Conservationist couple, Adam and Clare, plus their newborn Finn, decide to relocate to a remote rural area to study bog bacteria or something. No sooner have they picked a gaff, when scary local, Colm (Game of Thrones‘s Michael McElhatton) warns them about the resident evil spirits who are utterly opposed to gentrification and small children.

Adam and Clare aren’t so easily dissuaded, however, and set about investigating a mysterious black goo that appears around their farm. When they discover the truth behind the goo, the couple’s fortunes and Adam’s mental health spiral down towards a thrilling and chilling finale.

Will the black goo undo the two? There’s only one way to find out!

Also this month is The Lady in the Van (November 13), written by Alan Bennett (The History Boys) and starring the incomparable Maggie Smith.

It tells the (mostly) true story of a curmudegeonly transient, known as Miss Shepherd, who lived in a parked van in Bennett’s driveway between 1974-1989, despite only being only supposed to stay three weeks.

When Bennett and his Camden neighbours become concerned about the noisome nomad hopping from parking space to parking space on their upscale street, liberal guilt and Bennett’s acknowledged fondness for eccentric old ladies prompts him to offer her the temporary use of his off-street parking spot, located in his garden. She stays for 15 years.

All in all, the arrangement didn’t turn out too badly for Bennett: there have been books, radio plays and stage shows, and now a movie of the van lady story, so it was probably worth the decade and a half of someone shitting in your garden cantankerous shenanigans.

Also this month: Steve Jobs (November 13), another film about the world famous polo-neck enthusiast, but this time starring a good actor, instead of a merely handsome one.

Loosely based on Walter Isaacson’s biography, the movie explores the essence of the arrogant perfectionist who revolutionised the computer industry.

Structured in three acts and are framed against the backdrop of three significant product releases (1984’s first-ever Mac, 1988 non-Apple NeXT and the first iMac), Steve Jobs is about as comprehensive a look at Jobs’ legacy as one could hope for. Michael Fassbender does a good Jobs (ha!) as the combative, obsessive Apple titan and the rest of the cast (which includes Kate Winslet and, eh, Seth Rogan) put in capable performances.

Finally this month we have the eagerly-awaited, Carol (November 27), adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 novel, The Price of Salt.

Set in the 1950s, the story follows upper class socialite Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett) as she embarks on a tentative (not to mention taboo) relationship with photographer/ shop girl Therese (Rooney Mara).

After a flirtatious exchange with Therese while Christmas shopping, Carol “accidentally” leaves her gloves behind, and so must return to the shop to retrieve them/ begin an affair with Therese, by way of lunch and excessive consumption of dry martinis.

Lauded as a companion piece to director Todd Haynes’ Far From Heaven, Carol is a smoky, sensuous, beautifully-crafted addition to Blanchett’s and Haynes’ body of work. Truly, the stuff awards (and early episodes of Mad Men) are made of.

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The Intern / The Walk/ Suffragette

At the top of the month, The Intern (October 2), starring Anne Hathaway and Robert DeNiro as comically mismatched buds and – thankfully – not creepily mismatched lovers. Phew.

The story has a distinct real-life resonance about it: seventy year-old retired writer Jack (De Niro) decides he doesn’t like being retired and decides to get back in the game any way he can. With no humiliation too great (Little Fockers), no premise too pointless (Last Vegas) to be considered, he ends up as a “senior” intern working for Wintour-ish fashion maven Jules Ostin (Hathaway).

Beyond the terrifying idea that, since the retirement age keeps being raised, we all might end up as septuagenarian interns one day, the movie is a safe effort from some capable pros.

Next up, vertigo-inducing terror in the form of The Walk (October 9), based on the real-life adventures of French high-wire artist Philippe Petit.

Well, specifically one adventure: his 1974 “walk” on a tightrope spanning the World Trade Centre towers. The event has already thoroughly documented, thanks to Petit’s 2002 book ‘To Reach The Clouds’ and the acclaimed 2008 documentary (Man on Wire) based upon it.

So the story is thus: ambitious French tightrope walker Petit (Joseph Gordon Levitt) who sets his mind to a fantastically dangerous task and – zut alors! – he means to achieves it, or plummet to his death trying. If every heist movie ever made has taught us anything, it’s that arranging an illegal stunt requires a crew of talented, yet eccentric misfits. And so Petit, the misfits, his girlfriend and mentor (Ben Kingsley) set about making his beau rêve a beau réalité.

Almost as terrifying as the gravity-defying action, is Levitt’s nation-defying French accent. To be fair, it is a note-perfect imitation of Petit’s own accent, but it’s so French, it’s a little too Pepe La Pew (or Petit Le Pew).

Finally this month, Suffragette (October 30), single-handedly redressing Hollywood’s gender casting imbalance by stocking the cast with some of the best acting talent around (including Helena Bonham Carter, the ever-excellent Anne Marie Duff and even a Meryl Streep cameo).

The story covers the fraught battle to secure votes for women, by means of domestic, civil and political disobedience, seen through the experiences of Maud (Carey Mulligan). ‘Maud’ as a name neatly encapsulates the misery of a late 19th/ early 20th century existence, aptly conjuring visions of poverty, inequity and tuberculosis.

For many viewers this will be their first brush with the suffragette story since the mother in Mary Poppins marched out of the front door sporting a ‘votes for women’ sash after leaving the kids with a magical stranger. And though Suffragette is less colourful, it is almost certainly more accurate and has the bonus feature of containing 100% less Dick Van Dyke.

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Me, Earl and the Dying Girl/ Ricki and The Flash/ The D Train

Kicking things off this month is Me and Earl and The Dying Girl (September 4), based on the best-selling novel by Jesse Andrews.

The film starts when emotionally-crippled teen Greg (the ‘Me’ of the title) is forced by his mother to hang out with a classmate, Rachel (Olivia Cooke), who has been recently diagnosed with cancer. When he appears at Rachel’s house she unsurprisingly tells him to scram. Then, for the purposes of plot furtherance, she relents and they become friends.

Soon, Greg and his friend Earl (whom he refers to as “my co-worker”) – who spend all of their free time filming low-budget, pun-based remakes of classic movies (A Sockwork Orange, etc.) – decide to make Rachel’s cancer all about them by using it as an excuse to do another crappy movie, under the guise of a ‘tribute’. Yay! What better way to spend your remaining time on this planet than as the inspiration for the creative journey of some slacker stranger you met 5 minutes ago?

On a side note, why are there so many books about teenagers with cancer? And why are there so many movies based on books about teens who have cancer? Is cancer-lit a genre now?

Next up, Ricki and the Flash (September 18), starring Meryl Streep, directed by Silence of the Lambs’ Jonathon Demme and written by Diablo Cody of Juno fame. With such an impeccable pedigree how could it go wrong, right?

The story is thus: Ricki (Streep) ditches her family to become a rock star (spoiler alert: she doesn’t make it). Fast-forward a couple of decades and Ricki is working a Telecaster by night and a supermarket checkout by day. When she gets a call saying her daughter, Julie (played by Streep’s real life daughter, the unfortunately named Mamie Gummer) is suicidal following the break-up of her marriage, she drops everything and heads home do to a bit of parenting (finally).

There are no yellow ribbons flapping in the breeze upon her return though, and her estranged offspring are furiously resentful after years of neglect. However, her eccentric ways and cavalier attitude towards child-rearing eventually wins Julie over enough for her to be fine with having a failed marriage under her belt.

Ricki and the Flash is predictable in parts, sure, but less clichéd than many of its contemporaries. Also, it stars Meryl Streep! “Meryl Streep could play Batman and be the right choice,” says Eric Stonestreet’s character Cameron in an episode of Modern Family. And in this case, he’s totally right. She’d make a better Batman than Beige Affleck any day.

Finally this month, The D Train (September 18), starring the ever-tenacious Jack Black, and that little elven prince, James Marsden.

The story is thus: Dumpy dork Dan (Black) is attempting to organise a 20-year High School reunion but is unable to secure any RSVPs owning to his aforementioned ‘dork’ status. When he spots former classmate and school heartthrob Oliver Lawless (Marsden) in a TV ad one night, Dan realises that Oliver’s handsome visage would be the biggest enticement possible for the planned reunion, and designs a convoluted plan to get him to attend. But – spoiler alert – all is not as it seems.

Can Dan persuade Liz Lemon’s Elf Prince his popular fellow alum to attend the reunion? There’s only one way to find out!

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Grace of Monaco/ 22 Jump Street/ Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie

Prepare for stylish shenanigans in Grace of Monaco (June 6) or ‘How the Princess Diana movie would have looked, if directed by Chanel’.

The story: once upon a time, there was a beautiful and talented actress called Grace Kelly who became the envy of women the world over when she retired at the age of 26 . Just kidding! Though she did retire from acting, it was to begin life as a Princess (Consort) of Monaco.

The movie follows Grace (played by Botox enthusiast Nicole Kidman) as she embarks on life as the wife of Prince Rainier (neé Charming) of Monaco during a period of mucho Monacon turmoil. Quelle Domagé!

However, the on-screen theatrics pale in comparison with the off-screen drama: Grace of Monaco was postponed not once but twice, and legal wrangling by distributers coupled with strenuous objections from the royal family in Monaco, almost saw the movie indefinitely shelved.

Next up this month, 22 Jump Street (June 6). “We going back to high school?” asks one of the far-too-old-for-school cops. “No, your ass looks 50, so we’re sending you to college” replies Ice Cube.

And so off to college Funny (Jonah Hill) and the Face (Channing Tatum) go (or should it be Amusing and the Abs?), this time to take down a collegial drug ring. It’s safe to say, if you liked the first movie, or the sight of Tatum’s blank face and meaty torso, then this is right up your (Jump) street.


Finally this month: Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie (June 27), the big screen adaptation of Brendan O’Carroll’s unfathomably popular sitcom. The story is thus: Mrs Brown and her cacophonous crowd are threatened by D’Corpo and its enforcers, the Russian mafia, who attempt to muscle her out of her stall on Moore Street. No bleedin’ way, as Mrs B might say. Wigs, catchphrases and exaggerated accents: the trifecta of LCD comedy!

Watching Mrs Brown’s Boys is a bit like having syphilis or voting Sinn Fein; people seldom own up to it but (since Mrs B regularly receives viewing figures in the millions and Gerry Adams still has a job), do it anyway. Dis Movie is definitely one solely for all doz closeted Mrs Brown fans out dere.

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The Water Diviner/ Hot Tub Time Machine 2/ Glassland

Oscar-winning curmudgeon Russell Crowe’s directorial debut, The Water Diviner (April 3) hits the multiplexes this month.

The history-heavy plot follows Aussie farmer Joshua Connor (Crowe) whose 3 sons leave the farm to fight in the Great War. Alas, they are all killed during the disastrous Battle of Gallipoli in 1919 and are eventually followed by their mother who dies of grief, leaving Joshua all alone with his memories.

Joshua decides to put his water divining (which is when one searches for water with nothing but a forked stick and some psychic skill) skills to use, packs up and heads for Turkey, determined to get some closure. After an arduous journey, he arrives in Turkey and immediately begins battling military bureaucracy for the right to see his sons’ graves. His fatherly grief and determination to find his boys wins over the officers, both Turkish and Australian, who are scarred by the conflict themselves. Soon Joshua discovers that one of his sons may actually still be alive in a POW camp and with hope renewed, sets off to find him.

Though it won’t be to everyone’s taste, The Water Diviner is a plucky, proudly Australia epic commemorating the country’s losses during WWI.

Next up, some comparatively light-hearted, empty-headed fare in the form of Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (April 10). John Cusack is missing this time but don’t worry, it’s still terrible even without him.

The plot, if you can call it that, follows on from the last HTTM: obnoxious Lou (Rob Corddry) is a millionaire mogul (having invented the Lou-gle search engine) whose empire is crumbling, Nick (The Office’s Craig Robinson) is a successful musician passing off other people’s songs as his own (like Lisa Loeb’s Stay). Lou’s son Jacob (also from The Office) still hates him for being an asshole. Such an ashole that no-one is surprised when he gets shot in the penis(!), but since the movie has to last at least 90 minutes, Jacob and Nick decide to prolong Lou’s life and the film, by shoving him into the Hot Tub Time Machine. So, back in time they hurtle to save Lou from getting shot in the cock so they can continue on making HTTM sequels forever. Yay!

Yes, it’s terrible but so is everything, so why not?

Finally this month an Irish movie, Glassland (April 17). Bleak kitchen-sink drama following John (award-winner Jack Reynor), a young taxi-driver working his wheels off to look after his mess of an alcoholic mother, Jean (Toni Collette).

The camera follows John as he ferries depressed and depressing characters around the city and then comes home to vomit-covered mother who needs immediate medical attention. The doctor tells her she needs to give up the Lidl vodka, get herself into rehab and find herself a new kidney.

The task of the funding Muriel’s stint in rehab – which costs €8k – falls to John, as does the responsibility for everything else. Sad scenes explaining his mother’s slide into alcoholism – she couldn’t handle having a child with Downs Syndrome, husband left her, etc – are interspersed with quiet scenes of John ferrying the dregs of society, as well as his best friend Shane, (played by the excellent Will Poulter) to the various destinations in their weary lives. Oppressive, but well-acted stuff.

When the film debuted at Sundance critics were underwhelmed by the ambiguous, somewhat confusing ending. But will Irish audience feel differently? There’s only one way to find out!

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Still Alice/ Good People/ White Bird in a Blizzard

Finally, a month without a Channing Tatum movie!

First up this month is the sombre Still Alice (March 6), the story of a successful, highly-regarded college professor (Julianne Moore) and the fall-out of her diagnosis with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Moore has rightfully garnered widespread praise – and more than a few awards – for her powerful performance of a woman defined by her intelligence prematurely losing control of her mind.

The story follows Alice and her family – husband Alec Baldwin and their adult children, played by Kristen Stewart and Kate Bosworth – as they come to terms with Alice’s diagnosis and contemplate the knock-on effect it will have on their lives. As Alice’s independence declines and her needs increase, she decides to record a video message on her phone instructing her to kill herself when she eventually finds herself unable to complete her daily memory test. 

A poignant tear-jerker, featuring some excellent performances (even from the usually Pinochio-like Kristen Stewart). Bring tissues.

Next up: The Good People (March 13), a thriller starring Kate Hudson and James Franco. The plot – which is basically the same 1994’s Shallow Grave but with a better looking cast – is thus: Tom (Franco) and Anna (Hudson) are a London–based couple who, like most London-based couples, are in severe debt due to housing renovations. Just when they are about to give up on their dual dreams of finishing the house and popping out a mewling little Petunia or Maximillian, they stumble upon a cache of cash stashed in their recently-deceased tenant’s flat.

At first, they wisely decide to only use the money for essentials, like getting them out of debt and purchasing a chic chaise longue with decent back-support. This restraint lasts about 5 seconds, and soon they’re spending money like Elton John at a SpecSavers’ Champagne ‘n’ Spectacles Sale. It’s not long before their super spending draws the attention of the scary gangsters who stole the loot in the first place and so begins a wearily predictable “chase” to avoid getting murdered by gangsters/ pick out appropriate home furnishings.

Avoid, like James Franco has apparently avoided acting lessons all these years.

Finally this month, White Bird in a Blizzard (March 16), starring Shailene Woodley, who at this point is probably more know for her fondness for eating clay than her acting portfolio. Mud sucking aside, White Bird follows 20 year-old Katrina ‘Kat’ Connors (Woodley) whose starts by telling the audience that when she was 17, her mother mysteriously vanished.

At first Kat is rather nonplussed at her capricious mother’s disappearance and gets busy exploring her blossoming sexuality with the Himbo next door (Shiloh Fernandez). After a while though Kat becomes suspicious, and when a detective working on her mother’s case tells her that her father, Brock, (Christopher Meloni) could be responsible for missing mom, it leads her straight to the mysterious locked freezer that her dad keeps in the basement. 

Has Brock turned his wife into Maternal Macaroni? Or is there another explanation for Mrs Connors’ mysterious disappearance? There’s only one way to find out.

 
 

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