Our weekly roundup of film reviews returns, courtesy of James Bryan...
So along comes Mamma Mia, the ghastly looking film version of the apparently much loved West End Musical. If you didn’t run screaming when you saw the trailer featuring Meryl Streep and her ridiculous dungarees prancing around some Greek island then maybe, just maybe, you can handle this. For the rest of us, please listen to Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian who gives the film one solitary star.
The beginning of an Abba song triggered in me a Pavlovian stab of pleasure, cancelled after a millionth of a second by a backwash of rage that this soulless panto has done nothing to earn or even understand the good feeling.
The verdict isn’t much better anywhere else. The Times (2-stars) calls is a “ghastly wooden farce. This is Hollywood karaoke, complete with picture-postcard sunsets, wind machines and swirling helicopter shots of Pierce Brosnan singing out of tune.” At the Independent (2-stars) the film is eloquently described as “absolute cack” and that’s really all you need to know.
Journey To The Center of The Earth is, as the Guardian puts it, “a very silly, very action-packed, and perfectly serviceable adventure” (3-stars). Based on the Jules Verne book and starring Brendan Fraser the Independent (3-stars) says it is “credibly modern, and commendably faithful to the source material – and it is terrific source material, with a vast underground world of prehistoric beasts, floating magnetic rocks and monster-infested seas.” Some cinemas are showing this in 3D and the Times (4-stars) has it as “swift, unashamedly old-fashioned adventure film has a lot of enjoyable 3-D gimmicks.”
Savage Grace stars the ever-brilliant Julianne Moore as a wealthy dysfunctional socialite in a true-life tale of sex, class and murder. The reviews are mixed, ranging from The Independent (2-stars) thinking that it is just “drooling over the idea of rich people screwing each other.” The Times (3-stars) confesses that it’s “probably too episodic and distasteful for most, but it does pack a real punch.” However the Guardian (4-stars) finds it to be a “gripping, coldly brilliant and tremendously acted movie.”
As ever, the best reviewed film of the week is a re-release – in this case, Billy Wilder’s tremendous The Apartment from 1960 starring Jack Lemmon as an office drone who lends out his apartment key to various bigwigs for their extra-marital liaisons. As the Times says (4-stars), this was “once sold as a zany office comedy from the creators of Some Like it Hot, Wilder’s The Apartment is an unforgiving portrait of urban alienation with a few gags added.” The Guardian (5-stars) says, “Seen again, what is striking about the movie isn't the romance, or even the comedy, but the shabbiness, pettiness and nastiness of the office politics.”
The next couple of weeks are shaping up nicely. Possibly Pixar’s best film yet (and that’s some accolade) Wall-E opens in a week and in two weeks The Dark Knight is with us. Early reviews are phenomenal so do it right and book your ticket at the BFI Imax now.
By James Bryan