Tuesday, December 30, 2008


 W Title

  • Released Internationally on 17/10/08
  • Released in Malta by KRS on 31/12/08


As George W. Bush’s eight years in office come to a close, he is without doubt one of the most recognizable and talked about people of the century so far. With his decisions affecting millions, and his media presence frequent and worldwide, he has been the face of America for a very turbulent two terms, and has stirred emotions (mostly negative) in people across the globe. With the dust hardly having settled, and as his face on the news was being replaced by those of Obama, McCain and Hillary Clinton, Oliver Stone was cooking up his biopic just in time for the elections.

Oliver’s twist

Stone has never shied away from controversy, and made a name directing celebrated films about war (Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July), presidential controversy (JFK, Nixon) and the use of violence and the media (Natural Born Killers). His recent, weaker efforts included one of the first major films about 9/11 (World Trade Centre), although this latter film skirted controversy and focused on the humane aspect. In W., Stone combines all the above topics and views to make a film of two parts – a look at the life and rise to power of a president’s son, who defied the odds to become president himself, twice; and a controversial look at why said president chose to invade Iraq in March 2003.


The two aspects of the film run in parallel, with Stone switching comfortably back and forth between Bush’s past personal and political life, and the security council meetings in 2002/3 before the Iraq strike. We travel back to W’s high-school years and early career disappointments, which didn’t go down to well with his father (the eventual president, of course). Stone paints a picture of W as the rebel son, and Bush senior having more trust and hope for Jeb, the younger, smarter son. But after beating alcoholism and finding a good political advisor, W defied his parents’ wishes and ran for governor, an eventual victory that started him on the road to two terms at the White House, as opposed to his father’s one.


Interesting and novel as the flashbacks may be, Bush’s personal life pales in comparison to the oval office drama of the post-9/11 days, which we remember so clearly and which are obviously still affecting the world today. Weapons of mass destruction, UN inspectors, anthrax, aluminium tubes, Saddam, Powell, freedom fries – it’s all here, and it’s amazing that more than five years have already passed. The whole Iraq debate is heightened further by comparisons with Bush senior’s similar decisions in the first Iraq war. This whole Iraq part could have been made into a film of its own, and considering how long W feels, maybe it should have.

Stranger than fiction

The challenge, of course, is separating the fact from the conjecture. We can all go back and check what was said in press conferences and in UN meetings, but we can only guess what was said during high-level cabinet meetings, and when Bush senior used to scold his son. Still, Stone makes it all seem believable and plausible, with the advantage of hindsight. There’s even a healthy dose of ‘dubyaspeak’ – lovely quotes from the wordsmith himself – tossed into the dialogue, including his ‘misunderestimated’, his ‘fool me once’ gaffe, and his ‘containment doesn’t hold any water’ wisdom.

Who’s in it?

Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men) steals the show as the man in charge. Despite having a much bigger jaw, the resemblance works well enough in the film, and once the hair, swagger, voice and expressions are thrown in, there are a few scenes where you could be mistaken for thinking it was archive footage. Elizabeth Banks (Zack and Miri Make a Porno) is poised and blow-dried as his wife Laura. James Cromwell (The Queen, L.A. Confidential) is ominous and dominating (although not too lookalike) as Bush senior. Richard Dreyfuss (Jaws, Mr. Holland’s Opus) is eerie and Machiavellian as vice-president Dick Cheney, and he is depicted as one of the major forces behind the invasion (rightfully so, in retrospect). Jeffrey Wright (Casino Royale, Syriana) tries his best to prevent invasion as Secretary of State Colin Powell, but eventually is convinced, and convincing, otherwise. Thandie Newton (Crash, M:I-2) tries her best to impersonate Condoleezza Rice, but ends up making a caricature out of her. Ellen Burstyn (Requiem for a Dream) is Barbara Bush, and Toby Jones (The Painted Veil, Finding Neverland) is Karl Rove, the political mastermind who was behind W’s rise to success. Scott Glenn (The Silence of the Lambs) is secretary of defence Donald Rumsfeld (remember him?!) and Ioan Gruffudd (The Fantastic Four) makes a short and awkward cameo as Tony Blair.

In the end.

The board-room wrangles that led to the decision to invade Iraq make for fascinating viewing five years later with the war still raging, though Bush never openly admits his mistake in the film, as he has more or less done in real life. His personal past and family scenarios are watchable, but not very relevant because ultimately all that matters is that he got the top job. Plus they must be taken with a pinch of salt since they’re partly guesswork. The subject matter is definitely worthy of a film, but maybe this was made too soon, and too much was crammed in.



Tuesday, December 23, 2008


 Australia Title 

  • Released Internationally on 26/11/08
  • Released in Malta by KRS on 25/12/08

Preview (18/11/08)

In a nutshell

Set during World War II, this film is unashamedly epic in scope, and hopes to be the biggest thing ever produced down under. It’s a stirring love story between a British aristocrat who inherits a large tract of land in Australia, and one of the men who helps her move the cattle across the country to avoid the bombing of Darwin (the city) during the war.

Who’s in it?

Nicole Kidman is Lady Sarah Ashley, and with a name like that you can probably imagine what she talks and walks like, and what she likes to drink in the afternoon. The rough cattle-hand whom she meets down under is played by Hugh Jackman, who like Kidman is also an ozzie, as is the rest of the cast. David Wenham (300, Faramir in The Lord of the Rings) plays the excessively slimy Neil Fletcher, who isn’t too pleased with Ashley taking over the ranch. The film is directed by the amazingly talented Baz Luhrmann, who last graced the big screen with probably the most spectacular film of the century so far – Moulin Rouge!

Why we’re hyped

Luhrmann has a short, but stunning filmography, and besides Moulin Rouge! has also directed Romeo + Juliet and Strictly Ballroom in the 90s. Since then, he staged a successful version of La Bohème on Broadway, and set about researching Australian history to see when best to set his next epic project. He claims to have made the film as grand and moving as such classics as Gone with the Wind and Out of Africa, which might sound pretentious, but is still mouth-watering. It’s highly unlikely that this film can live up to the massive hype it has generated (also courtesy of Oprah), but anything by Luhrmann should still be, at very least, a feast for the senses.


Review (23/12/08)

Out of Australia

Our epic journey begins with the arrival of prim and proper Lady Ashley in rough and ruthless Australia, where the dry season is a killer and the beef trading business is not exactly well done. As she arrives with all her spotless luggage and slowly starts to realise how much adjusting she’ll need, you’d be forgiven for thinking this is a remake of Sydney Pollack’s gorgeous Out of Africa from over 20 years ago. As mentioned above, Baz Luhrmann drew some inspiration from the award-winning safari-fest, and the early similarities are remarkable. Thankfully, the plot soon veers off in a totally different direction, and the only resemblances remaining are the wonderful vistas of the titular countries, and the unconventional love story between two very different people.

The Wizard of Oz

Australia’s very own Baz Luhrmann is evidently still in top form. From the outset, he waltzes through the introductions using some of the playful editing and imagery he put to such good use in Moulin Rouge!, and once again every scene is a beautiful spectacle of colour. A simple early shot of a horse rising out of a billabong (small lake) is exquisite, and helps remind us that this is no run-of-the-mill director, but one who has fashioned some of the most striking sequences in recent memory. This attention to detail persists throughout the entire film (and it’s a long one), and looks great on the big screen. The wartime-era views of Darwin port, both before and during the bombings, sometimes focus more on aesthetics than on realism, and this helps enhance the whole fairytale aspect of the film.

Rescuers Down Under

While the love story and heroic journey make for great storytelling, there comes a point where the plot seems to have thinned and burnt out too quickly. But any doubts are quickly blown away by the oncoming war, and by the film’s secondary plot about race, equality and the ‘stolen generations’ of aboriginal children, which comes to the fore. This is personified by the attention-grabbing performance of a twelve-year old debutante, Brandon Walters. He brings such life and charm to the character of the aboriginal child Nullah, that he is as pivotal to the film as the two main stars. His relationship with the star couple forms a moving trio that lifts the love story to heights it could never have achieved on its own. He gives a memorable face and voice to the aboriginal children who suffered during the past century, and who were first in line when the Japanese bombers flew down from Asia.

Cinema Paradiso

Adventure, fate, victory, love, war, salvation, justice. These are some of the main themes that have brought movies to life over the years, and which we watch again and again in different forms and with different protagonists. Baz Luhrmann has ambitiously weaved them all into his grand fairytale, and has managed to pull it off with panache. His love for cinema, showmanship and storytelling is evident in every scene, and he has managed to give us a good-old fashioned yarn to feel great about. This is what going to the movies is all about, and it’s the perfect Christmas film for story-lovers, whatever their age and whatever their tastes. A dazzling masterpiece.



Tuesday, December 16, 2008


 Inkheart Title

  • Released Internationally on 23/01/09
  • Released in Malta by KRS on 17/12/08

Preview (18/11/08)

In a nutshell

Based on a rather successful German children’s book, this fantasy tale brings a host of colourful story-book characters to life, literally. A young girls discovers that her father has a rather unusual talent – when he reads her story books the characters spring to life. But when reading a book called Inkheart, he accidentally reads the nasty characters out into our world, and his wife into the book. No, this is not based on a true story.

Who’s in it?

Brendan Fraser (The Mummy trilogy, Bedazzled) stars as Mo, the man with the reading prowess. Sienna Guillory (Eragon, Love Actually and Malta’s own Helen of Troy) is his misplaced wife and newcomer Eliza Bennett is his rather fortunate daughter. Their quest is assisted by an eccentric aunt (Helen Mirren - The Queen) and the book’s author (Jim Broadbent - Moulin Rouge!, Bridget Jones’ Diary, the latest Indiana Jones, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe). The colourful fantasy creatures that come crawling off the pages include performances by Paul Bettany (Wimbledon, The Da Vinci Code) and creature-actor par excellence Andy Serkis (King Kong, Gollum).

Why we’re hyped

Ever since The Lord of the Rings stormed to critical, popular and box-office heights, a number of fantasy films have tried to fill the void left by its absence. The Harry Potter franchise, another phenomenon, is already reaching its cinema conclusion, and children and adults need new magical creatures and fantasy worlds to escape to. This book is the first of a trilogy, and seems to have attracted all the right kind of attention. With a stellar cast like the one listed above, I think we can be cautiously optimistic that this will be an extraordinary Christmas film for all ages.


Review (16/12/08)

Flights of Fancy

It’s not easy being a fantasy film nowadays. Despite the huge surge in interest in the genre created by the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter franchises, very few of the fantasy films that inevitably followed have been able to match their appeal and success. Even the Narnia films are struggling to keep their franchise going, despite excellent source material, whereas the recent Eragon, Stardust and The Golden Compass made only modest splashes at the box-office. So I often approach the genre with caution, for fear of having to sit through a middle-earth rip-off, or a piecemeal mess. Which is why I was very pleased to discover that Inkheart is neither.

The film about the book

The story starts off as an ode to books and reading, and its wonderful introduction makes you want to rush home and read everything on your bookshelves. The main character is a book-restorer, who scours the globe leafing through antique book-shops looking for relics to revive, but who is also on the lookout for a very particular, and rare book called Inkheart. The central theme about the wonder of books continues throughout the film, and is crucial in the grand finale, and this alone should be reason enough to take your children to see this fairytale.

Motley Crew

The large cast of major and minor characters are all very colourful and eccentric in their own way, and they’re brought to life with gusto by the all-star cast. Their odd appearance mixes well with the modern-day yet picturesque settings to create a fantasy world which has sprung from the pages of books into our own world. Along with characters from the titular book, there’s a host of well-known creatures from much-loved classics, and they all converge at the end for a spectacular reading session that tries to set everything right and send everyone to the story they came from.

Funke and Original

German author Cornelia Funke has crafted a fun, vibrant and original story, which should appeal to children of all ages, and which has translated very well onto the big screen. Despite a nemesis that looks uncannily like a Balrog, she manages to steer clear of many of the usual fantasy clichés, and I sincerely hope that the two sequels she wrote are also made into films as entertaining as this one.




Monday, December 15, 2008

Zack and Miri Make a Porno

 Zack and Miri Title2

  • Released Internationally on 31/10/08
  • Released in Malta by KRS on 10/12/08

Preview (18/11/08)

In a nutshell

Yes, you read that correctly. Yes, it’s showing at your nearest cinema. No, it’s not an adult film. Well, yes, it is for adults, but it’s a comedy.

Who’s in it?

Kevin Smith, the man behind the Clerks phenomenon and a handful of equally hilarious and respected comedies, wrote, directed and edited this subtlely titled comedy. Seth Rogen (Knocked Up, Pineapple Express) and Elizabeth Banks (the Spider-man franchise, Laura Bush in the upcoming W.) star as the title characters – two long-time friends who’s relationship never went that extra mile, and who share a flat but are having trouble finding rent money. When they reach rock bottom and their landlord turns off their water and electricity, they come up with a plan that’s so crazy it just might work. Thus begins the pre-production on the low-budget adult space-flick, Star Whores. The new Superman, Brandon Routh, and Justin Long co-star as friends who already seem to be in the business. Craig Robinson (The Office, Pineapple Express) is their colleague who ends up as the film’s producer, a role he relishes, and frequent Kevin Smith collaborators Jason Mewes and Jeff Anderson (both from Clerks) help out on and off screen. Real-life porn star Traci Lords adds some sleaze to the cast as an actress loosely based on herself.

Why we’re hyped

Over the past two decades Kevin Smith has given us six unique and enjoyable comedies set within his ‘View Askew’ universe – using repeat characters and a roughly continuous story. He also penned and directed the underrated fatherhood drama Jersey Girl, and this time around seems to have managed to mix the uninhibited humour of the former with the sentimental touch of the latter. He’s also taken his love of Star Wars to a whole new level. This is one filmmaker who loves what he does, and so far it’s showed very clearly in everything he’s done.


Review (15/12/08)

Necessity is the mother of invention

When we meet the instantly likeable title duo, things aren’t looking rosy, and the dire straits described above lead them to seriously consider the unthinkable. This is where Kevin Smith registers his first feat – he actually makes it seem believable. After a few establishing scenes, a minor incident with a mobile phone camera, and a healthy dose of desperation, the two characters progress from platonic flatmates to budding porn stars in what seem like natural steps. It helps that they’ve got no family to be embarrassed in front of, but otherwise the plot manages to unfurl much less ludicrously than I expected.

Sleaze and filth

However, once the camcorder starts rolling, things get nasty, and we’re soon reminded that this isn’t your average romantic comedy, and the film’s second act doesn’t hide much when it comes to chronicling the making of an amateur porno. Craig Robinson is especially hilarious as the casting director and producer, and Jason Mewes seems to have no inhibitions at all when it comes to doing what Kevin Smith’s films require. So despite being an ultimately sentimental story about two very good friends, it’s not something you’d show at a baptism party.


When the film reaches its crux, and the two main characters have to decide whether making an adult flick together is going to ruin their seemingly perfect friendship, the films owes a lot to Elizabeth Banks, whose warm acting and wonderful smile lift her character way above the rest, and give the plot something to aim for. Seth Rogen plays his usual self, which works fine considering that the role was written with him in mind.

Porn Stars have feelings too

The third act slows down a little, and at a point leaves us wondering what on earth happened to the coveted epic they’re making, but it soon picks up and manages to wrap things up nicely, convincingly, and without too much sugar coating. Kevin Smith has written and delivered yet another smart comedy, which can stand proudly alongside his previous gems.




Sunday, December 14, 2008


 Changeling Title

  • Released Internationally on 31/10/08
  • Released in Malta by KRS on 03/12/08

Preview (18/11/08)

In a nutshell

Based on a true case that occurred in the US in the 1928, this emotional drama is about a mother’s struggle to find justice when she realises that the son who is returned to her after a kidnapping isn’t in fact her own.

Who’s in it?

Angelina Jolie dominates the poster, promotional material and screen-time as Christine Collins, the mother on a mission, and her performance has received heaps of praise since the film screened at the Cannes film festival. The ever-entertaining John Malkovich portrays a local minister who embraces Collins’ cause and helps her fight her way to the truth. Amy Ryans, who was very impressive as another distraught mother in Gone Baby Gone plays a convicted prostitute who befriends Collins and helps her through the darkest part of her ordeal.

Why we’re hyped

Ron Howard was originally approached to direct, but he eventually declined, and Clint Eastwood took over. The man-with-no-name himself has peaked in his old age, and has directed some of the best films of the past decade, including the wonderful Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, and Letters from Iwo Jima. These character dramas seem to be his forte, and they suit his subtle and unhurried style. He also wrote the soft but effective musical score, as he has done on many of his recent films. With him behind the camera, and Angelina Jolie in front, this Oscar-bait of a movie has class written all over it.

Review (16/12/08)

Mum on a mission

The film opens with a few scenes showing the relationship between Collins and her only son, before quickly arriving at the day in question when he disappeared. A brief mention of the father establishes that she is an only mum, and as the drama unfolds it becomes more and more evident how this son was her reason for living. Like every mum should, she tries everything to get him back as soon as possible, but unfortunately for her she is living in Los Angeles in the 20s, when apparently the police force was as clean as a Zimbabwe election.

The city’s finest

Eastwood’s film is as much about the distraught mum as it is about the corrupt LAPD. The focus on the laughable police department is essential as it proves to be the reason for most of Collins’ trouble, and the delay and eventual error in returning her son. Determined to improve their tarnished public image, the boys in blue will stop at nothing to get some good press, even if it means shushing up a single woman with a serious complaint, and forcing her to smile for the cameras as if the police have reunited her with her son. The embodiment of the conscienceless police force is wonderfully done by Jeffrey Donovan as the police captain, and it’s him and his army of goons that the audience should find it easy to hate.

Tales of mystery and terror

The hatred soon shifts target though, as Collins is placed in a rather unorthodox psychiatric hospital, where the staff leave much to be desired. Although psychiatric hospitals are easy targets for filmmakers who want to stage a few terrifying scenes, the archaic practices displayed here are possibly excused by the period setting, and in fact the film clearly explains that the procedure of mental health referral was changed by cases such as these. Later, the truth starts emerging about the boy’s whereabouts, and we suddenly realise that there are much worse things than being a corrupt cop or a psycho psychiatrist.

Tres Jolie

The plot takes a number of turns, and keeps us interested by providing a mini-climax every half-hour or so, rather than slowly building to one huge one. And tying everything together is the magnificent performance by Angelina Jolie, who holds steadfast throughout and never looks like giving up. She looks great in this period setting, and it’s gripping to watch her battle on and finally earn a few moments of joy in her life. It seems her real-life experience raising around 76 children with Brad Pitt has paid off, because she clearly shows us how Collins was a mum we would all be proud of.




Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Body of Lies

 Body of Lies Title

  • Released Internationally on 10/10/08
  • Released in Malta by KRS on 19/11/08

Preview (01/11/08)

In a nutshell

Based on the novel by the same name, this political thriller follows a CIA agent as he travels to Jordan to track down a high-ranking terrorist suspect.

Who’s in it?

Leonardo DiCaprio is agent Roger Ferris, the CIA guy who gets most of the action. His boss and eventual partner is Edwin Hoffman, played by Russell Crowe, who looks like he just walked off the set of The Insider because he had to put on weight and grey his hair for the part. Directorial duties fall to the inconsistently brilliant Ridley Scott.

Why we’re hyped

As mentioned above, Ridley Scott is undoubtedly talented, but some of his efforts just seem to miss the mark, and fail to live up to his other amazing work. Let’s hope this will go on the shelf with Gladiator, Blade Runner and Matchstick Men rather than on the shelf with G.I.Jane, Kingdom of Heaven and A Good Year. One thing he can’t complain about here is the cast – because DiCaprio and Crowe have proved to be two of the most bankable and applauded leading men of the past decade.

Review (17/11/08)

I heard the news today

From the opening sequence, this film manages to root itself in today's reality: a tense Middle-Eastern situation and a western world trying, and often failing, to track down the terrorists who are blowing up innocent victims in big cities, and giving the Arab world a bad name. As we have sadly seen on the news numerous times in the past decade, the film starts with a deadly blast which leaves a major city shaken, and all fingers point east, but to nobody in particular. Ridley Scott goes behind the news items to show us what happens before and after the footage we see from the comfort of our homes.

Off the grid

Despite increasing use of sophisticated technology, the big shots in the US are often unable to locate the terrorist leaders due to their hermit-like existence, and their ability to get their message out without using phones, internet and other traceable devices. As Hoffman (Crowe) explains, if only their major suspects would use a mobile phone even once, his job would be much easier. This is where agent Ferris (DiCaprio) comes in - he's the street-wise, hardened agent who's fluency in Arabic and variety of facial hair help him to blend in with the locals, and slowly track down possible leads or suspects. It's a dangerous job, but he's good at it, and doesn't have much to go home to anyway. Where technology reaches its limits, he's the man to call.

Strong Performance

Both Crowe and DiCaprio are on top form here, with the former fashioning an easily dislikeable character, who at times seems to be the most knowledgeable guy in the business, but who might not be as smart as he thinks. DiCaprio continues his string of excellent acting roles with an admirable, believable agent, who is everything that his boss is not. Once his character has been firmly established, Scott introduces the love-interest sub-plot, which provides a key angle to the story. Making his second good impression this year is supporting actor Mark Strong, who stood out from the ensemble cast in Guy Ritchie's RockNRolla. He portrays the head of Jordanian Intelligence, Hani Salaam, and seems to be the only level-headed constant in the whole middle-east.

Great Scott

The film unravels wonderfully and then binds together for a powerful finale, and is a joy to watch. The sense of realism is present throughout, both in the form of recognizable footage and scenarios as mentioned above, but also due to meticulous attention to details in every scene, such as the progression of DiCaprio's facial injuries during the course of the film. We might never know whether this is an accurate picture of what's going on over in the desert, but it's definitely believable and convincing.



Friday, November 14, 2008

Quantum of Solace

Quantum Title

  • Released Internationally on 31/10/08
  • Released in Malta by KRS on 14/11/08

Preview (01/11/08)

In a nutshell

Cinema’s most successful and long-standing franchise is back for its 22nd outing, fresh from the reboot it received in 2006’s Casino Royale, where Daniel Craig debuted to great acclaim as the man in the tux.

Who’s in it?

Craig returns as Bond, which is no surprise considering the new life he breathed into the character two years ago. All concerns about his blonde hair and looks were swept aside by his performance, and the film was a huge critical and box-office success. Olga Kurylenko is the new Bond girl, Camille. This Ukrainian model and actress was seen in last year’s Hitman, but this is her first big role. Let’s hope her acting is even half as good as her looks. Gemma Arteron, the young British actress who had a small role in the recent RockNRolla, plays a feisty M16 agent, and Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright and Giancarlo Giannini reprise their roles from the last film as Bond’s boss M, Felix Leiter from the CIA and René Mathis the French agent, respectively. Last but definitely not least, the French actor Mathieu Amalric makes his entry into the 007 archives as the latest Bond baddie. Last seen as the star of last year’s wonderful The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, he also had smaller parts in Munich and Marie Antoinette, apart from his extensive work in French cinema. It was decided that he wouldn’t need any grotesque physical oddities in order to appear menacing, as opposed to many of his predecessors.

Behind the camera, Marc Forster sits in the director’s chair, in his first Bond outing. His impressive body of work includes the brilliant Finding Neverland, Stranger than Fiction, Monster’s Ball and The Kite Runner, so let’s hope he keeps to that run of form. The story is an original one, and numerous writers contributed, as often happens with Bond films. The most notable contribution comes from Paul Haggis, who is famous for having penned or adapted Crash, Million Dollar Baby, Flags of our Fathers, Letters from Iwo Jima and Casino Royale. David Arnold, who has been composing Bond’s characteristic music ever since Tomorrow Never Dies, is still on board, and this time the all-important Bond song is written and performed by Jack White (from The White Stripes) and Alicia Keys. The duet, a first for the franchise, is called Another Way To Die. I guess they couldn’t find many lyrics that rhyme with Quantum of Solace.

Why we’re hyped

Even at its worst, this franchise has always managed to provide wonderful entertainment, and people of all ages flock to the cinema knowing exactly what they’re going to get – espionage, explosions, femme fatales and vile villains. But in the last outing, the franchise turned out to be in top form, with less self-indulgent frills and a grittier, more emotional Bond. This film picks up moments after the last one ended, with Bond still aching from the loss of Vesper. So we can hope for more of the same, but with a Bond who’s growing into the role and gaining confidence.

Review (14/11/08)

So where were we?

Not needing any introductions, and having had a whole film of back-story, this film starts out at break-neck pace, with a stunning (and for Alfa Romeo lovers, painful to watch) car chase through the outskirts of Siena, Italy. Famous for its Palio, or annual bareback horserace, this city adds class to the film’s first act, and Bond just happens to arrive in town as the Palio is about to begin. Cue the opening credits.

Another way to die

The title sequence is of course as much a Bond trademark as the martinis and the gadgets, and over the years the franchise has presented us with some stunning combinations of visuals and title songs. This time around the theme is sand dunes, but the display seems uninspired, and backed by a disjointed theme song it manages to seem overlong despite clocking in at around four minutes. Pity, because Casino Royale’s titles were amongst the series’ best.

Location, location, location

Bond’s passport gets stamped a number of times this year, starting off in Italy as mentioned above, and rushing through Haiti, Austria, Bolivia and Russia. The scenery is great, especially before Bond has wrecked everything in his path. Some of the sequences suffer from awkward directing however, with Forster choosing to intersperse many action scenes with largely irrelevant scenes happening elsewhere. It works at times, such as the stylish and effective opera sequence, but at other times it’s distracting.

The Bond essentials

With Casino Royale, agent 007 was stripped back to his basics, and presented as a tough, no-nonsense agent still earning his wings. There were no fancy gadgets, no cheesy quips, and overall less gloss, but it worked, as Bond was praised as being closer to Ian Fleming’s literary character. This sequel follows that trend, but I have to admit, I’m already starting to miss some of the old Bondisms. He’s even starting to slack when it comes to female conquests, though I guess that could be excused since he’s still fuming over the death of Vesper (in the previous film).

Perla De Las Dunas

For the final fireworks, Bond finds himself in the middle of the Bolivian desert, where the setting for the big bombastic finale is an environmentally-friendly luxury hotel surrounded by sand dunes. Despite plenty of flames and fist-fights, the climax is a bit disappointing, although the later epilogue in Russia offers the film a better ending. Ultimately, this is a hard-hitting action film which should appeal to nearly everyone, but as a Bond film it left me disappointed.



http://www.apple.com/trailers/sony_pictures/quantumofsolace/ (High-res QuickTime)

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

Boy in the Striped Pygamas Title2

  • Released Internationally on 14/11/08
  • Released in Malta by KRS on 19/11/08


In a nutshell

Based on the 2006 novel, this moving and original WW2 drama allows us to stumble upon a concentration camp as seen through the eyes of an 8-year-old German boy, and is a wonderful piece of storytelling with a hard-hitting message.

Vot is ze plot?

This British film introduces us to a well-groomed young boy named Bruno, whom we soon is found out is the son of a prominent Nazi officer. The director has decided to do away with any German accents, and instead all the characters in the film have pristine British accents. This makes the dialogue flow better and enhances the acting, although it takes a few scenes to get used to, and see past. There is no doubt which side of the fence our main protagonists are on, however, as Bruno's father hosts the Berlin elite at his house for a party to celebrate his promotion, and he proudly descends the main staircase to the sound of the German national anthem. We later discover that he has been promoted to commander of a concentration camp, and he is obliged to move his wife and two children to a villa close to the camp. This is where Bruno's adventure begins.

Who's in it?

Vera Farmiga, whom you might recognise as the love interest from Scorcese's The Departed, is Bruno's mum, whilst David Thewlis (The Big Lebowski, Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter franchise) is his newly-promoted father. Bruno himself is played by relative newcomer Asa Butterfield, who quite easily steals the show from all the adults around him. Another relative newcomer, Briton Mark Herman, sat in the director's chair.

Ignorance is bliss

Like most 8-year olds, Bruno thinks the world of his father, and has little interest in politics or what is going on outside the confines of his little world. But the stiffling limits of their countryside villa can only hold him for so long, and he soon finds a way out into the surrounding grounds, and inevitably reaches what he initialy thinks is a farm, but which we all know is something far worse. Despite his mother's best efforts to shelter her two children from the atrocities happening just miles from their home, it inevitably starts to dawn on her that what her husband is doing goes far beyond patriotism, and is not an environment she should be raising her children in.

Life is beautiful

It's been around a decade since Benigni's seminal film showed us how a father managed to protect his son from the terrors of war by pretending that it was all a game, and wrapping it all in fantasy. Here we see the other side of the coin - the young boy who starts off with a childhood fantasy but is slowly and painfully exposed to the truth. The innocent, childlike and stepwise way in which Bruno is slowly exposed to the horrors of the concentration camp help remind us just how horrifying and sad they are. Any comparison to Benigni's masterpiece has to be a good thing, and this flm definitely deserves it.

In the end

The build-up is wonderfully done, and the slow breakdown of Bruno's family relationship, exemplified by his mother being torn between her husband and her children, is well-written and acted. As the film rushes to its jaw-dropping climax, the pace quickens, and I was left silent and stunned as the end credits rolled. Simple, effective, and important - this is one film you shouldn't miss.





Wednesday, November 05, 2008

City of Ember

City of Ember Title

  • Released Internationally on 10/10/08
  • Released in Malta by KRS on 05/11/08

In a nutshell

Based on the 2003 novel, this film mixes fantasy and science-fiction to take us deep underground to a refuge for humans in what could be the future, and follows the adventures of two enterprising teenagers who take it upon themselves to salvage a dying race in a fading city.

A cunning plan

The film starts off in science-fiction territory, with a council of elders meeting up in shiny rooms, wearing colourful robes, to ponder the fate of their race. In a council meeting that could have been lifted straight from The Matrix Reloaded, we hear about a plan to build an underground city to protect the human race from an unspecified disaster, with careful instructions being passed on from generation to generation on how to escape back to the surface of the earth after 200 years. By the time the prologue is over, this set of timed instructions has been misplaced and forgotten, and we move forward to the underground city that has long passed its sell-by date.

When the lights go out

Light and darkness play a prominent part in this fantasy tale, with a whole self-sufficient underground city being dependant on its one big generator to give light, and life. With 200 years having elapsed, and the city’s wear and tear starting to show, the inhabitants are plunged into frequent blackouts, and the tension starts to mount. Much like Asimov’s landmark cautionary science-fiction tale Nightfall, we start to understand how this society would descend into chaos if the light went out, and never came back on.

Young heroes

In a city of dispirited elders, it takes two headfast teenagers to take it upon themselves to find a way out of the city once they sense the impending doom. Lina Mayfleet, the heroine of the story, finds what remains of the age-old instructions, and together with her friend Doon Harrow she sets out into the unknown darkness beyond the city boundaries to find a way out for their families.

Young audience

The novel was aimed at the teen market, and as a result so is the film. The adventure aspect and the prominence given to the young stars should make this thrilling viewing for younger viewers, but on the whole the film falls a bit flat when it comes to adrenaline and plot. What starts off as an intriguing premise eventually becomes a simple A to B journey, and the end result is never in doubt. With regards to originality, the dirty, beaten-up appearance of the underground city seems to have been lifted straight from the Matrix sequels, albeit with less fancy technology.

Who’s in it?

Saoirse Ronan, who despite her young age has already turned a few heads and earned an Oscar nomination for her memorable turn as young Briony in last year’s Atonement, portrays the spirited Lina. Newcomer Harry Treadaway plays Doon, and Tim Robbins is his inventive father Loris. A bored-looking Bill Murray shuffles through his paces as the city mayor, and Mackenzie Crook (whom you’ll probably recognize from Pirates of the Caribbean or from The Office) is the eccentric Looper. As a treat for older viewers, veteran character actor Martin Landau has a wonderful extended cameo as the narcoleptic engineer Sul.




Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Righteous Kill

Righteous Kill Title

  • Released Internationally on 12/09/08
  • Released in Malta by KRS on 05/11/08

Preview (01/11/08)

In a nutshell

Two NYPD detectives, who have been partners for over 30 years, start investigating what appears to be the case of a serial killer. The amount of inside information leads them to believe that the guy their after is in fact a member of their own department.

Why we’re hyped

See ‘who’s in it?’

Who’s in it?

Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro, two of the most recognizable and respected actors of our generation, team up again as the two detectives on the case. They were both in The Godfather Part II, although they didn’t share any scenes, and then we finally saw them together in Michael Mann’s explosive and brilliant Heat in 1995. Let’s hope this pairing up is in the same league. Filling out the minor roles are Brian Dennehy, John Leguizamo, Carla Gugino and Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson.

Review (04/11/08)

Star Power

With two surnames like Pacino and DeNiro on your movie poster, your chances of making big business are quite good. Which is why the marketing campaign of this cop movie naturally focused heavily on the starring duo, who need no introduction. And from scene one, this film is all about them. Forget the above-mentioned films they shared - they were never, or hardly ever on screen together. This time they're partners, long-time buddies, and they spend most of the film's running time in the same rooms, situations and conversations. It's great to see these two pillars of modern film feeding off each other, and despite their very distinct and recognizable personas, they make a convincing pair and complement each other nicely.

Good Cop, Bad Cop

Italian surnames aside, this film is essentially an above-average police thriller. Partners, stakeouts, raids, surveillance... the works. This vast and often underrated film genre has produced some of the most memorable plots and interesting characters of the past couple of decades, and this time around we get a bit of both. The plot has enough twists and developments to remain interesting throughout, and the supporting cast listed above provide an array of interesting minor characters which add life to the police department in question. Carla Gugino is particularly notable as the crime scene investigator who likes to let her job overflow into her personal life.

In the end

Ultimately, this film could have been a documentary about knitting, and Pacino and DeNiro would have still managed to draw crowds and make it interesting. But although director Jon Avnet milks the star factor for every penny it's worth, we're still treated to an enjoyable, if not particularly ground-breaking thriller.



Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Appaloosa Title

  • Released Internationally on 19/09/08
  • Released in Malta by KRS on 29/10/08

Preview (01/10/08)

In a nutshell

Set in the late 19th century, this is a western about two friends who help defend a small town from a threatening rancher, but whose friendship is itself threatened when an attractive widow arrives in town.

Who’s in it?

Ed Harris, who also directed and co-wrote the screenplay, plays Virgin Cole, the older of the two lawmen, while Viggo Mortensen plays his sidekick. Jeremy Irons is the bad guy, and Renée Zellweger is the lass who stirs things up.

Why we’re hyped

Although there’s no doubting his credentials as an actor, this is only Harris’ second outing as a director. He passed the test with flying colours on his first film – the acclaimed artist biopic Pollock, in which he also starred as the troubled painter. Viggo Mortensen is quickly becoming one of the most reliable leading men around, and he was easily one of last year’s most interesting characters when he transformed himself into a Russian mobster for Eastern Promises. The quality of westerns has varied greatly over the past twenty years, but last year saw a mini-revival with two beautiful old-fashioned westerns – 3:10 to Yuma and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Let’s hope this one follows that trend.

Review (28/10/08)

Wild Wild West

Ed Harris has crafted a memorable western which delivers all the ingredients westerns are famous for. Within minutes of the opening credits, it's clearly evident who the bad guy is - Jeremy Irons need only use his grim stare and his rumbling rich voice to leave us no doubt as to which side he's on. Him and his henchman are immediately up to no good, and before long the good guys come riding into town to save the day. Over the next two hours we have lawmen, saloons, horses, fist-fights, shootouts, and loads of wonderful scenery, and it's all a joy to watch.

Just a Western?

I'm not fond of those who define films simply by their genre. Westerns very often get pigeon-holed as if they're all variations on the same theme, when really the setting is just providing a back-drop for a story, just like a science-fiction film or a romantic comedy. And like any genre, a western with a limp story often ends up as a drag, whilst westerns with a great plot at their core often work wonderfully as a film. This one falls into the latter category. What starts off as a simple good vs. bad challenge soon rides off at a tangent as a feisty love interest strolls into town. Things get complicated, and before long we're being led on a chase across the Mexican desert.

Very Viggo

Despite great turnouts from Harris, Irons and Zellweger, Viggo Mortensen is the one who steals the show. Once again, he inhabits an oddball character with a distinct appearance - this time he has complex facial hair to go with his outfit - and says volumes with just a few words. In last year's Eastern Promises, he was the quiet man in the corner who turned out to be the most reliable man around, and here again he is happy to live in the shadow of his mentor, Cole, but it turns out he could be the only one we can truly depend on. His acting is superb, and his collection of wonderful characters here gets another worthy addition.

Cowboys have feelings too

At points the plot does slow down, as our two peace-keepers discuss the intricacies of the human heart and how to handle the new love interest, but this gives them an added dimension, rather than weaken their tough-guy appearance. They may be confused about women, but they're still the best shots for miles around. The scenes between Mortensen and Harris range from average to wonderful, and the chemistry between them as a partnership provides the only enduring relationship of the film.

In the end

Despite a slightly protracted ending, the film builds to its satisfying conclusion and leaves no frayed ends. Irrespective of the genre, this is a good story which is worth watching, and the characters add substance to an wonderfully-directed film. Even if westerns don't usually float your boat, you should give this one a try.



Thursday, October 23, 2008

High School Musical 3: Senior Year

HSM3 Title

  • Released Internationally on 22/10/08
  • Released in Malta by KRS on 24/10/08


In a nutshell

Judging from the title, you might think that this film is simply a musical, set in a high-school, and that there were two other similar films that came before it. And you'd be right.

What about 1 and 2?

Even the most avid-cinema goer can be excused for missing out on this film's predecessors, because the first two installments of this explosive franchise were made for TV, and then went straight to DVD. Back in 2006 Disney launched the first High School Musical film on their Disney Channel, and it was an instant success on both sides of the Atlantic. The tale of young love amidst high-school feuds spawned massive DVD, soundtrack, game, book and even theatre sales, and like most succesful things nowadays, a sequel soon followed. Needless to say, the sequel was even more successful, and the teenage stars were thrust into the spotlight. As testimony to the exponential success of the franchise, Disney opted to give this third film a theatrical launch, rather than a TV run, and we can expect to be seeing HSM merchandise everywhere very soon.

But what about plot?

Don't worry if you've missed the previous two - this sort of film doesn't need a Usual Suspects-type plot, and you're guaranteed to know exactly what's going on even if you're meeting these young stars for the first time. As expected, there's lots of pubescent romance in the air, and this being their senior year, the students are also plagued with the tough decision about which university to go to, if they're accepted. This might be an alien concept for us Maltese, but we've watched enough American Pie and Saved by the Bell to know how the system works.

Is Grease still the word?

Inevitably, this franchise will be compared to the numerous classic college musicals that came before it, but to be fair the filmmakers don't seem keen on trying to do anything too new - they're just repackaging a winning formula for today's teenagers. And it evidently works. We might all know the lyrics to the Grease songs, but I doubt too many of today's teenagers have seen the actual film. So maybe this will be a good introduction to the world of musicals, and they can then go dig up the old VHSs in their parents' cupboards.

The low

The songs are proving to be one of the film's main selling points, but to my ears they don't have the memorable class of other respected musicals, and I could only hum one or two of the tunes once the credits finished rolling. And the pop beats often sound a bit out of place when characters are bursting into song on rooftops and in treehouses. Many of the characters come acorss as two-dimensional stereotypes, but I guess that can be forgiven since what we're being offered here is a fun showcase of song and dance, with little else.

The high

As a show, the film excels. From the first to the last number, one can clearly see that the focus is on making each musical number a wonderfully choreographed tableau of colour and movement. The actors are wonderful, and one can only wonder what an exhaustive selection process Disney must have been through to find this bunch of fresh-faced singers and dancers. The rooftop sequence and the junkyard number stand out for their style and inventiveness respectively, and there are also a number of large-scale Bob Fosse-style numbers for cabaret lovers. Whether they're dancing with basketballs or paying homage to films they're only just old enough to see, these entertainers make sure the colour and fun runs throughout the film's entire duration. With regards to what Disney is presenting to it's viewers, one can't help but commend the good clean fun this film represents. Parents can rest assured that these dance-crazy students don't smoke, don't drink, don't swear, don't go beyond kissing, and yet they have a great time. So maybe we've reached a point where we need more films like these to show our children.

Who's in it?

Kenny Ortega, the hugely experienced and talented choreographer who oversaw the first two films, returns as director and choreographer for the third. With films like Dirty Dancing, and shows for artists like Michael Jackson and Madonna under his belt, this showman is largely responsible for Disney's recent domination of the teen market, also due to his recent Hannah Montana tour. The two main actors are Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron (who looks uncannily like our very own Fabrizio Faniello), and they're accompanied by a host of other talented youngsters, including the show-stealing Lucas Grabeel.

In the end

I can fully understand how children and teenagers would gobble this franchise up, and these young stars are destined to be plastered on bedroom walls for years to come. As a film, the plot and characters are simple, but as a visual feast the musical numbers are extremely well done. I doubt anyone will be singing these songs in 20 years time, but I for one had a reasonably fun time watching them.




Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Eagle Eye

Eagle Eye Title

  • Released Internationally on 25/09/08
  • Released in Malta by KRS on 22/10/08


In a nutshell

This technology-laden thriller combines government surveillance paranoia with modern-day omnipresent technology, and just might make you pause the next time you’re about to switch on your mobile phone.

Who’s in it?

Rising star Shia LaBeouf, who in a short span of time has gone from teenage nobody to Indiana Jones’ sidekick, takes on his first adult role as a college dropout whose life is turned upside down when a woman’s voice at the other end of a phone call starts ordering him around and displaying unnerving power over, and knowledge about, his surroundings. He’s soon thrust into an adventure with another unwilling participant – a single mother who has received similar phone calls and instructions, portrayed by Michelle Monaghan. Before they know it, they’re being framed as terrorists and have too much to risk if they don’t play along and follow orders. Rosario Dawson is one of the government agents trying to track down who is who, and Billy Bob Thornton gives a solid supporting role as the FBI agent who’s determined to find out who’s on which side. The uncredited but all-so important uncanny female voice which runs the show belongs to Julianne Moore. The film was conceived and executively produced by none other than Mr. Spielberg, and is directed by relative newcomer D.J. Caruso (Disturbia, Taking Lives, The Salton Sea).

In theory

Spielberg apparently hatched this idea a number of years back, and wanted to make a film about today’s technology that would make audiences feel insecure about the devices around them which they have begun to take for granted. In that respect, the concept sets out reasonably well. Like a number of films we’ve seen in past years, this one reminds us how things we do every day, like use a credit card, walk past a CCTV camera, or use a mobile phone, could potentially be giving away loads of information about us, for whoever is interested (and equipped enough) to see and store.

In practice

Where the film fails, however, is managing to present the above concept credibly. Apparently set in the present, and using what appears to be today’s technology, the plot stars off being believable but eventually veers remarkably off-track. When random phones on sleeping train-passengers start flashing out orders to the main protagonists, you realise it’s time to suspend belief, in a big way. Which is a pity, because the laughable coincidences and exaggerations detract from the real-life paranoia this film could have induced.

In the end

Having said that, this doesn’t mean the film cannot be enjoyed as a pure slice of thrilling fun. The pace is very quick and never slacks, and we’re taken along for a breathless ride. A large number of twists, turns and action sequences help keep the film interesting, as the two main characters are steered to what appears to be an impossible resolution. The acting is solid throughout, and the effects do their job nicely. There’s no denying that this is a fun ride, but what starts out trying to be realistic soon runs off into far-fetched fiction. So you can sit back and enjoy an above-average thriller, but don’t worry about leaving your mobile phone on.





Sunday, October 05, 2008

How To Lose Friends & Alienate People

How To Lose Friends and Alienate People Title2

  • Released Internationally on 03/10/08
  • Released in Malta by KRS on 08/10/08


In a nutshell

Based on the true-life account of a British journalist trying to make it in New York when he’s offered a job by a high-profile celebrity magazine, this film follows him as he strives to stick to his journalist ethics without ticking off all the stars and colleagues he meets.

Simon Pegg

The name might not ring any bells, but this guy has ‘rising star’ written all over him. He burst into public consciousness back in 2004 when he co-wrote and starred in the truly brilliant ‘Shaun of the Dead’ comedy, which he recently followed up successfully with ‘Hot Fuzz’ (also great) and ‘Run, Fat boy, Run’. This is probably his highest-profile assignment to date, and his face will soon be plastered everywhere when he plays Scotty in the upcoming Star Trek revamp. He benefits from average-Joe looks, which allow him to take on roles which the audience can easily relate to, and he does physical and verbal comedy wonderfully – all traits that are put to very good use here. When we first meet him, his character Sidney Young is running a tiny and frustrating magazine back in the UK, but he soon gets noticed and is flown out to New York to work for the very sort of corporation he used to ridicule. Needless to say, he takes some time to fit in.

Megan Fox

Another new name. Another rapidly rising star. This stunning young actress gave the Transformers a run for their money in terms of eye-candy, and here she slips very easily into the role of a fictional starlet who’s just hit the big-time and is suddenly grabbing all the limelight with a big movie role and some crafty paparazzi stunts. She proves to be the one thing that can tear Sidney down from his ethical high-horse, and get him to accept that he needs to rub a few celebrity backs if his career is going to head anywhere. Throughout the film, he slowly but surely gets drawn into the celebrity game, but as he gains favour with the A-list crowd, he loses favour with those closest to him, and with us in the cinema seats.

Kirsten Dunst

Providing most of the emotional backbone to the story, the reliable and likeable Kirsten Dunst plays Alison Olsen, who is one of the first people Sidney clashes with on arriving in New York, but who eventually shows that deep down she resents the celebrity culture and is made of stronger stuff. She plays second fiddle to Megan Fox in the glamour and glitz departments, but Sidney eventually realises the importance of friendship over fluff.

Jeff Bridges

The Dude himself, the versatile and criminally underrated Jeff Bridges, recovers from his clash with Iron Man earlier this year to play Clayton Harding, the powerful and influential editor of the fictional ‘Sharps’ magazine (the memoir had Sidney working for Vanity Fair, but all names have been fictionalised here). Despite having risen to the top thanks to a symbiotic relationship with the stars, Harding still harbours a bit of nostalgia for the times when he used to tear the celebrities down, which is why he hired Sidney, and why on occasion he gives him free rein to try new ideas for the magazine. This provides most of the food for thought this film serves up – in this age of celebrity blogs and endless paparazzi stories, and where stardom can be obtained thanks to a few well-planned stunts, without any particular need for talent, we’re given some insight into the power of the media, and how they often decide the fates of those they cover. Amongst the many comedy gems throughout the film, we get a couple of references to Bridges’ cult role in The Big Lebowski, with Sidney mistaking the name of his landlady, and one of Harding’s executives having White Russians as his drink of choice.

In the end

Much like The Devil Wears Prada, this film offers us humble mortals an amusing glimpse into the offices of high-flying magazine headquarters, and manages to make us doubt what we read off the news rack. And much like Tropic Thunder, it manages to remove some of the shine that the media has encased Hollywood celebrities with over the years. A good mix of British humour and Hollywood glamour, with Simon Pegg delivering another good performance as he saves us from the inflated egos of stardom.





Tuesday, September 23, 2008


RockNRolla Title

  • Released Internationally on 05/09/08
  • Released in Malta by KRS on 01/10/08

In a nutshell
Guy Ritchie returns to what he does best – giving us a wild and witty look at the London criminal underworld.
Who’s in it?
Gerald Butler (previously in angry mode as the Phantom of the Opera and the king of Sparta), is One-Two, a small-time criminal who gets an opportunity to cash in on a large estate deal. Tom Wilkinson, one of the most talented and consistent actors around, is Lenny Cole, the leader of most of London’s underworld. Thandie Newton is sultry yet sophisticated as the best accountant in the business, and the one who has everyone’s head turning. However, it’s the relatively-unknown Mark Strong who gives what is probably the most impressive performance, as Cole’s right hand man. His stern looks are a cross between Andy Garcia and Dimitar Berbatov, and not for one second do you doubt that he means business. Plus a host of other new and not-so-new faces playing colourful minor characters.
“Keep the receipts , cos this ain’t the Mafia
All the elements that made Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch such respected hits are back in force here. The script, penned by Ritchie, is smart, funny and races forward, never letting our interest wane. The editing is also fast-paced, but not annoyingly so, and a number of action sequences are brilliantly done, as Ritchie intersperses the action with later or concurrent scenes, making for great viewing. Standouts include a golf-course summit intertwined with a piano-playing lecture on cigarette packaging, a carjack sequence and a nightclub fracas. The myriad of plot lines and connections between characters all come together again and again, leaving a few casualties on the way.
The characters
This is another area where Ritchie excels. He sprinkles his dark underworld with scores of fascinating characters, who thanks to their looks, quirks or actions manage to make an impression even during the briefest of screen-times. There’s two hilarious but scary Russian thugs who sport an impressive array of scars, and who have a rather high pain threshold. They work for a Russian billionaire who’s setting up shop in London, and who both in looks and in sporting interest seems to be a rather unflattering reference to real-life magnate Roman Abramovich. Tank, a hefty criminal who knows everything about the streets of London, has an extensive knowledge of art, and a soft-spot for British period dramas, which he watches in his SUV. And so on and so forth.
The real Rock N Rolla
The title refers to a type of junkie who wants to have everything in life – drugs, sex, glamour and fame. Which is why the film starts and ends with Johnny Quid, a drugged-up, rather pungent rocker who fears no one and also happens to be Lenny Cole’s step son. His whereabouts provide one of the many plotlines of this caper, and he ends the film with the promise of a sequel. Based on what I’ve seen here, I for one will be hoping it gets made.
Guy Ritchie is back. If you like your crime films stylish and snappy, with generous helpings of black humour, then you’ll love this.