Julie Taymor’s star-studded, effects-laden reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s great fantasy. The cast is led by Helen Mirren playing Prospera, a female incarnation of the play’s great wizard, who makes for a fascinating twist on the drama in the mother/daughter relationship with Miranda, played by Felicity Jones. Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond, Gladiator) as Caliban and Ben Whishaw (Perfume, Bright Star) as Ariel, shine as the play’s supernatural beings, and contrast well with Alfred Molina and Russell Brand serving as the comic duo Stephano and Trinculo. Taymor’s ambition to make the film a cinematographic tour de force means plenty of sound and fury, but the cast valiantly holds its own.
Alpha and Omega
The title of this animated animal comedy, which strives to imitate the success of Pixar and Dreamworks, is taken from the pecking order of wolves, though instead of the alpha male we have Kate, an alpha female, and Humphrey, the omega male. Humphrey and Kate are in love, but for this relationship to reach fruition, many hurdles must be overcome. There is also an environmental theme of humans interfering in the natural order. (Our heroes are captured and removed from their idyllic home in the Canadian Rockies). Though the film boasts some big names, including Dennis Hopper, Danny Glover and Christina Ricci among the cast of voices, it’s all been done before and better.
The City Below (Unter dir die Stadt)
This study of an adulterous relationship against the backdrop of the German banking world is a solid piece of work by director Christoph Hochhausler, whose previous films This Very Moment and Low Profile received plaudits for their strong visual style and clear-eyed take on human relationships. Svenja Steve (Nicolette Krebitz), the jobless wife of bank worker Olli (Mark Waschke), embarks on an affair with her husband’s boss and finds some degree of empowerment in her confined and conservative world. The characters are interesting rather than deserving of sympathy, and Hochhausler cleverly explores the irrationality that exists within even the most regulated lives.
Old Master Q and Little Ocean Tiger (老夫子之小水虎傳奇)
The latest cinematic outing of a popular Chinese-language cartoon created by Alfonso Wong (王家禧) that was first published in 1962 and continues to be serialized today. Old Master Q has provided material for many features, and this animated film covers a wide field, including gags about contemporary Taiwanese politics (the comic is now owned by WangZ Inc, a company based in Taiwan) and spoofs on superhero and sci-fi movies. The film features the voices of TV host Kevin Tsai (蔡康永) of the popular variety show Here Comes Kang and Xi (康熙來了), singer Elva Hsiao (蕭亞軒), and Kuo Shu-yao (郭書瑤), aka Yao Yao (瑤瑤).
Mr and Mrs Incredible
This big-budget Hong Kong spoof is billed as The Incredibles meets Mr and Mrs Smith, and is full of variety show gags and jokes poking fun at any number of recent movies. There is also much humor of the Wayans brothers’ Scary Movie ilk. The story is about a husband and wife team of martial artists who find retirement boring and return to fight evil and bring peace to mankind, ending up in many humorous situations. The high profile cast is led by Louis Koo (古天樂) and Sandra Ng (吳君如).
Film by Singaporean director Eric Khoo (丘金海) about a single dad who gives up his drunken ways to train as a magician in a bid to recover his son’s respect and affection. The film, which is predominantly in Tamil, but with some English and Hoklo, was Singapore’s official entry for the Best Foreign Film category in the 2009 Oscars and features a strong performance from professional magician Bosco Francis as the father figure. Khoo’s second film 12 Storeys (1997) was the first Singaporean film to be invited to Cannes, and My Magic was nominated for the Golden Palm in 2008.