The Darkest Hour
The device of using invisible aliens to attack the world’s cities could either simply be a cheap way of making a horror sci-fi movie or a way of building up some serious paranoia among earthlings. Director Chris Gorak, moving up from the low-budget but effective horror-thriller Right at Your Door, seems to have been overwhelmed by this larger production. The story, such as it is, revolves round five young people holidaying in Moscow as aliens arrive to suck up the world’s power supply. Although some of the film was shot against iconic locations in Moscow, the effect of the camera work is to make everything look like a cheap imitation of the real thing. Gorak quickly dispenses with subtle atmospherics of apocalyptic dread, and goes straight for lets-save-humanity heroics. Leads Emile Hirsch and Olivia Thirlby do their best, but the material resists their efforts. They display that particularly American can-do spirit in combating the twirls of light from outer space, but it’s hard to be heroic against an enemy that looks like a lava lamp on steroids.
With Love ... From the Age of Reason (L’age de raison)
Feel-good dramedy with Sophie Marceau as a high-powered executive who discovers, after being handed a bunch of letters she wrote as a naive and idealistic 7-year-old, that her life is not all it’s cracked up to be. Although director and writer Yann Samuell goes straight for the heartstrings, yanking on them mercilessly through the last half hour, the film benefits from a top-notch performance by Marceau with solid assistance from a highly professional supporting cast. High-class chick-flick with a surplus of beautiful people and some cute Amelie-style effects.
Misplaced by Heaven: A Clockwork Angeloid
Fantasy anime populated by schoolgirls with super-sized breasts, super minis, bondage gear and large ravish-me eyes, Misplaced by Heaven: A Clockwork Angeloid is not a film targeted at young children. The story centers on a young man, Tomoki Sakurai, whose efforts to lead a peaceful life are endlessly disrupted when he becomes the unwilling chosen companion of a fallen angel called Ikaros. A combination of a personal slave and avenging angel, Ikaros has to battle her own enemies, and anyone who endangers Tomoki. Fortunately for the otakus in the audience, Ikaros also has a host of other angelic friends who help her in a conflict with the Master of Synapse, who has a passion for torturing angels. There are some serious bondage and fetish angles, but Internet chat suggests that there are people who are very excited about this film.
Love and religious extremism meet in Matthew Chapman’s The Ledge, which many critics have praised for being an intelligent thriller in conception, but which almost all agree has been badly let down by its formulaic and melodramatic execution. There is a lot of talk about faith and sin and so forth in this film. Charlie Hunnam spends time standing on the ledge of a high building preparing to jump. If he doesn’t, somebody else is going to die. The fact that the script seems to come right out of Screenwriting 101 undermines all the high aspirations of The Ledge to be something more than just another thriller.
In His Chart (Kamisama no karute)
Medical drama based on a best-selling novel from Japan. Dealing with the domestic issues faced by an idealistic doctor and his wife, In His Chart is closer to television drama than to cinema. Well-intentioned and good-hearted, the film, directed by Yoshihiro Fukagawa, is too straightforward in its presentation and its story to generate much interest except for fans of the book.