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Monday, May 27, 2013

New Cinema Release Roundup for the Weekend of 24/05/2013

This past weekend saw the release of only three films but, though none of them are exactly perfect, they all have at least something to offer different cinema goers.

First off, we have this week's big release, Fast and Furious 6, which is mainly notable for the fact that this seemingly limited premise still hasn't quite run out of steam yet. Indeed, I can certainly arguments for it being the best one yet. Its mixture of fast cars, buff blokes and beautiful babes somehow hasn't gotten stale yet and fans of the series will undoubtedly eat it up.

Speaking for myself though, I remain pretty underwhelmed by the whole series. Undoubtedly, part of it has to do with my simply not being enough of an alpha male to enjoy such ridiculous levels of testosterone but, perhaps paradoxically, every time these films pull back from their utterly insane action set pieces and focus on the series' main characters and whatever plot they have going on, my mind starts to wonder pretty quick. 

Sorry, but I still don't get how they managed to build a series around such uncharismatic leads as Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, but then none of the humans exactly have a lot to do here except spout creaky dialogue about, uh, family or something. Oh, like you were concentrating. Even Gina Carano who made such an auspicious debut with her ass kicking turn in the underrated Haywire has much chance to shine here as she is given nothing to really work with and her overly edited fight scenes have none of the impact of the bone-crunching rumbles of Haywire. Ah well, at least they give their women as much of a chance to kick ass as they do their men - and that, in itself at least, is no small thing.
As for the film's main draw, while I enjoy the complete madness of these set pieces (a race against a tank on a crowded highway - civilians be damned! - and a race against an airplane on what must be the longest runway in the history of aviation), their over-reliance on quick edits rob the scenes of any visceral impact. This is obviously less of a problem for the film's car chases but any time it gets to hand to hand combat, it really comes undone.

Still, for fans of the franchise, this is still a must see, for the rest of us, it's a watchable but instantly forgettable ...(6/10).

More interesting, but oddly less satisfying, is 360, an anthology-type film that focuses on several very loosely connected stories, spanning across the globe and told in a number of languages but to no real effect. Don't get me wrong, the acting is strong throughout and the filmmaking proficient, in the best sense of the word, but  however good the individual stories are, the whole film feels like significantly less than the sum of its parts. 

The film would probably have worked significantly better if it followed the lead of something like Paris J' Taime, instead of going for a serious take on Love Actually. Technically, it does actually tie together its disparate stories of lust, love and loss pretty well, but the ultimate message the film tries to draw at its conclusion is underdeveloped to the point of being negligible.  

It's an enjoyable little flick for the arthouse crowds but it's never as good as its various threads would suggest. (6/10)

Best of all this weekend though, is the immensely charming musical comedy/ drama, The Sapphires, which tells the "inspired by true events" tale of three aboriginal sisters and their "pale on the outside" cousin who, at the height of the swinging '60s and under the management of Dave, a down-on-his-luck talent scout, form an all-girl soul group who set off to Vietnam to entertain the American troops stationed there.

It's a fairly generic film with no real surprises on offer but between its heartfelt take on Australian race-relations, its easily earned sentimentality and its seemingly effortless ability to outstrip many a comedy in the laughs department, it's a real winner. Chris O'Dowd steals the show but the rest of the mostly relatively amateur cast holds their own fine and the girls themselves easily convince as a really great sixties soul band. 

It is clearly rough around the edges and its ending is a bit on the abrupt side but with its excellent classic soul soundtrack and its generous amount of heart, charm and laughs, it's something of a delight and is easily my pick for film of the week. (7/10)     
As for this week's DVD's, my pick is easily Django Unchained, a film that may lose its way in its final act but is still easily one of Tarantino's most effective and weirdly affecting films y.

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