Song-and-dance film with the two big names on the marquee likely to make up for its many failings. One doesn’t expect great innovation in a movie like Burlesque, where the action exists to frame a couple of big set piece routines, but the lack of cinematic ambition is a disappointment in a film featuring such A-list celebs. Starring Cher and Christina Aguilera, and with the family friendly PG rating (viewing not permitted for children under 12), Burlesque is ripe for the teen market. Aguilera puts in a solid performance, especially in the early scenes, as a small-town girl trying to make it in the big city, while Cher stays very much behind the facade that has become her onstage persona. The rest of the cast includes many familiar faces including Stanley Tucci, as well as the likes of Peter Gallagher and Kristen Bell, who attempt to flesh out Burlesque with something akin to a story.
This movie, starring Jack Black, has only the most tenuous connection with Jonathan Swift’s novel, telling the story of travel writer Lemuel Gulliver, who finds himself in Lilliput after getting caught in a storm while en route to the Bermuda Triangle. Black’s comedic talents are not to everybody’s taste, but even fans complain that Gulliver’s Travels lacks the actor’s manic humor from School of Rock. Instead, what we have is an old-fashioned, light romantic comedy with a touch of medieval costume drama thrown in. (Lilliput is a very Camelot sort of place.) The cast includes Emily Blunt and veteran comic Billy Connolly, who are always enjoyable to watch, but with its sometimes cheap-looking special effects and mildly scatological humor, Gulliver’s Travels is more likely to appeal to children than adults.
Diary of a Sex Addict (Diario de una Ninfomana)
Also released as Diary of a Nymphomaniac, this Spanish movie, which premiered in 2008, is based on the best-selling novel Insatiable — The Erotic Adventures of a French Girl in Spain by Valerie Tasso. While the book, published in 2005, was something of a sensation in erotic fiction, this semi-autobiographical work about a middle-class French girl who dabbles in prostitution has not transferred so well to film. Though the commonplace cinematic trope of romantic fulfilment blunts the hard edge of Tasso’s psychosexual experiments, the acting is well above average — but that’s not sufficient to raise Diary of a Sex Addict above the crowd of sexy European art house movies that flood the DVD market.
Space Battleship Yamato
A live-action movie adapted from the classic 1970s television anime series. While the original series was remarkable for being able to cross the cultural divide and was released in Western markets under the title of Star Blazers, the series does not seem to have managed the transition to the big screen quite as successfully, with fans on the Internet expressing considerable disappointment with many aspects of the film, particularly the main characters’ shallowness. In terms of effects, Space Battleship Yamato is extremely ambitious, but in trying to cram a 26-episode TV series into 150 minutes, the film’s makers have bitten off far more than they can chew. While fans may be disappointed, newcomers to the series could find it an excellent introduction to a story that has achieved iconic status in Japan.