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Monday, April 15, 2013

New Release Roundup for the Weekend of 12/04/2013

So, as a way to bring this blog back onto something approaching a regular schedule, I've decided to go back to doing quickie reviews but, aside for the a large roundup of the last few weeks coming soon, I am going to do my best to ensure that one of these will come out around each weekend. I will still be doing full reviews, especially those I do Channel 24, but these roundups should hopefully ensure that I have covered most of the new cinema releases for each week. Also, these roundups will now be a lot looser than they used to be and may even include other recommendations, if I happen to find the week in cinema to be rather lacking. These roundups may be short or they may be long, but I will do my best to keep them coming with a bit more regularity.

And what better way to start off this new/old feature than with a weekend where I haven't seen two of the week's major releases. Sorry about that, but this will happen from time to time with my being both a film critic and a relatively observant Jew. As both The Host and Won't Back Down were screened to the press over Passover, I never got a chance to see them in advance and, though I may well pay to see them at some point, neither of them look particularly promising.

The Host is another film based on a Stephenie Meyer novel but instead of sparkly vampires, we get Invasion of the Body Snatchers for the Millennial generation but with just as much drippy romance. Apparently. Again, I haven't seen it but between the middling to poor reviews, the naff concept and the Twilight-effect, only the involvement of the terrific Saoirse Ronan in the lead role comes even remotely close to peaking my interest.

Won't Back Down does look better, I admit, but again the reviews have been mediocre and its promise of an "inspiring true story" all too often results in a film that is neither particularly inspiring or even remotely true.

Of the films I have seen, we have a very mixed bunch. You can check out my full Olympus Has Fallen review in the post just under this but it's a pretty run of the mill thriller that is above average in some spots and decidedly below average in others. Admittedly, I do appreciate that the film gave me the chance to interview Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart who were here promoting the film,not just because they came across very well but also because it's nice to get a chance to stretch my journalistic skills in my role as a Channel 24 contributor. I covered quite a bit more in my interviews with them but here is a short news story that I wrote on the event. 

Mediocre as Olympus may have ultimately been, it's certainly a lot better than this week's comedy offering. 21 and Over (4/10) is just about watchable but for a dumb college comedy it needed to be a whole lot funnier to get away with just how derivative it is. Admittedly, it's nowhere near as bad as the Project X-like poster suggests but this is the third film by the writers of the Hangover to have pretty much exactly the same plot. Sure, this time they're trying to help their wasted buddy find his apartment, rather than having to find their wasted buddy himself, but it's still basically the same. It also owes a lot to the far, far superior first Harold and Kumar film and is done no favours by constant comparisons to a film that was demonstrably funnier, fresher and more likeable.  
Fortunately, this week is saved by Martin McDonagh's bonkers crime comedy, Seven Psychopaths (8/10), which may pale in comparison to his last film, the truly awesome In Bruges, but it's still an uproariously entertaining piece of work. It may be completely insubstantial and have little of the heart of In Bruges but it still has a terrific mix of pitch-black comedy, colourful characters played by a phenomenal cast and plenty of style and is bolstered further by having an awareness of its own lunacy. 

It's not a great week for new cinema releases then, but do give Seven Psychopaths if you like your cinema a bit twisted. If that's not your cup of tea, there are a number of new DVDs available that are well worth a look in. Big Oscar favourites Argo and Life of Pi have just been released and they're excellent, of course, but I'm going to champion an under-seen little gem instead. Pitch Perfect (8/10) may not scream "masterpiece" as it undoubtedly fluffy and silly but it's a massively enjoyable, sweet, funny and warm-hearted take on the weird and, well, weird world of acapella competitions. Effectively a mix of a John Hughes college comedy with Christopher Guest's Best In Show, Pitch Perfect easily lives up to its name. I've actually seen it again since reviewing it a few months ago and I liked it even more the second time.

And honestly, if you're going to chose one college comedy in which Skylar Astin is the male lead, only a demented lunatic would choose 21 and Over over Pitch Perfect.

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