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Sunday, May 29, 2011

New Movies Release Roundup 27 May 2011

With The Hangover Part II taking up most of the attention, the other films this week are smaller, more interesting fare. I haven't seen Animals United but I can't say I've heard the best things about it and I have no earthly idea what High Kick Girl is about. We are left with two quite different releases that are both far more worth your time than the lazy Hangover II. 

Like Dandelion Dust may be a thoroughly unassuming, even forgettable family drama but is a very affecting one. It might take a slightly complicated route to get there but what we have here is a story about a well-adjusted, comfortably well-off family whose lives are ripped apart when the troubled, biological parents of their adopted son try to nullify the adoption and reclaim their son. What ensues is a heated and bitter battle between the two couples with a young boy caught in the middle. The film is bolstered by some very fine performances from a cast whose biggest star is Mira Sorvino but its true coup de grace is how well measured the drama is. The film is genuinely heart-rending and emotionally involving without ever tipping over into trite melodrama or TV-movie-of-the-week sentimentality. It is let down somewhat by the fact that the film comes down pretty clearly on which of the two couples are in the right, despite the opportunity for greater moral ambiguity. The biological parents are well-drawn but they nonetheless come across as being incredibly self-centred, sparing barely a second thought for the family they are about to destroy. Still, it's a very fine, if flawed effort. (7/10)

Hanna, on the other hand, is less about quiet, human emotion and more about a teenage girl kicking ass and taking names. Picking up where Buffy and Hit Girl left off, Hanna is a young girl who spent her formative years in an arctic forest being trained by her father to become a lethal assassin with a simple mission: to kill the woman who killed her mother. More than anything though, Hanna is the film that allows director Joe Wright, whose previous films include stately Brit-dramas like Pride and Prejudice and Atonement to cut loose with a full-on genre film. There is certainly intelligence to the script and Hanna's simple mission is filled with plenty of twists and turns as well as some solid emotion and self-discovery but, more than anything else, Hanna is a propulsive, engrossing action-thriller by a director whose time on the art circuit has only served to cultivate his ability to stage action set pieces and chase scenes with a kinetic, visual flair that most full-time action directors would kill for. Add to that some well-placed humour, a throbbing sountrack by the Chemical Brothers, colourful baddies and an absolutely electrifying performance from Saoirse Ronan in the title role and you have a top-notch genre film that happens to have made it onto the Cinema Nouveau art circuits here in South Africa. It has some problems - not least of which are the very suspect accents employed by certain actors in the film - and you may be disappointed if you expect it to hew closer to Wright's other films but Hanna is not only the best film of the week but it is head and shoulders above most of what's clogging up cinemas right now. (9/10)

Best film of the week: Hanna. Which is, incidentally, quite a bit better the second time round. Seriously, my original score for the film was going to be a much more modest 7/10 but, after appreciating it more after watching it again, I simply had to knock it up a couple of points.

Worst film of the week: There are a couple of films I haven't seen but I doubt anything is going to beat The Hangover Part II for sheer creative laziness. 

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