Birth has been courting controversy since it was shown in Cannes earlier this year.
First of all the film was booed because of the scenes which feature Nicole Kidman and a ten-year-old boy in the bath. And then Lauren Bacall made some innocuous comment about Kidman not being a ‘legend’ which the tabloids blew up into some kind of Celebrity Diva Bitch Fight.
So what’s the film like?
Well it’s directed by Jonathan ‘Sexy Beast’ Glazer, so we should expect something ‘different’ right from the off. Plus, it co-stars Danny Huston who is Londonist’ favourite male lead right now, so we’ve got quite high hopes for this one.
In the Guardian, Peter Bradshaw seems to agree with us, despite only awarding Birth three stars.
Bradshaw praises Bacall’s performance, calling her ” terrific” and has no bad words for Kidman or Huston. However, he does seem to think that the whole film may be a little influenced by Kubrick, which gives him the opportunity to make a giant sideswipe at Kidman’s ex-husband:
“I think that on first being introduced to Nicole Kidman, the director took her by the hand and said in a teeny-tiny little voice: ‘I’m Stanley.’ – ‘Whaddaya mean you’re Stanley? Stanley’s dead!’ – ‘No, I’m Stanley, really I am. Now I’m back to remake Eyes Wide Shut, only this time you’ll be playing opposite an even tinier leading man, who is even more obviously incapable of servicing you sexually’.”
In The Times, Birth gets four stars from Wendy Ide, who also likes Bacall’s performance (“scene-stealing”), but (like Bradshaw) she feels “ultimately the film doesn’t quite satisfy”.
(We can’t really tell what the Independent think of Birth, as they’re playing about with their website this week and we can’t read the review.)
Bad Santa doesn’t look too promising: it’s Billy-Bob Thornton in a Santa suit for God’s sake…but judging by the reviews maybe you shouldn’t let that put you off.
All the broadsheet reviewers give the film an impressive four stars, with Ide calling it “the most offensive movie of the year” before admitting that she “loved every minute of it”.
So what’s so good about it? Well Bradshaw likes the fact that Santa “soils himself in front of frightened children” and “”makes a ho-ho-ho sound only when he’s throwing up”, but, in the end it’s the sheer bad-taste and (as Anthony Quinn points out in the Independent) the fact that it can be read as “a corrective to feel-good Christmas movies and a satire on American consumerism.”
Finally this week, it’s another Western remake of a Japanese horror film. Apparently, the only thing that might tempt anyone to go out and see The Grudge is the fact that Buffy The Vampire Slayer is in it, but not even that is good enough for Anthony Quinn who can only bring himself to give Takashi Shimizu’s remake of his own Ju-On one measly star.
Peter Bradshaw has similar misgivings, awarding two stars to what he calls an “ungainly crossbreed [which] is neither convincingly American nor authentically Japanese.”
Things look a little better for Gellar and her ghosts in the Times, where Wendy Ide argues that the remake is actually an improvement on the “sprawling and rather confusing” original and the Japanese setting “sets the picture apart from the Identikit suburban American or backwoods gothic locations of most modern US horror pictures” before awarding it a relatively impressive three stars.
In film news this week it’s hard to avoid the teaser trailer for Star Wars Episode 3, which is now available online.
But, much more interesting are the stories circulating about who will play the part of football cheat and cocaine fiend, Maradonna in the soon to be filmed biopic.
Another AICN snippet this week was a little more disappointing: apparently Darren Aronofksy is off the Watchmen film project. Damn shame.
Another must-see trailer doing the rounds is the one for Pixar’s next one (no, not The Incredibles the one after that). Cars is the tale of a group of sentient talking cars who get their kicks on Route 66 and looks to simply cement Pixar’s reputation as the animation kings of the universe.