Pixar and Disney are back with another stirring tale of adventure laced with humor, this time set in a Scotland of the mythical past. The story of the feisty Princess Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald, whose charming Scottish brogue alone is worth the price of admission), who disdains the advances of various suitors and whose willfulness unleashes a terrible evil into the land. Of course, she shows her mettle by stepping up to this challenge. A strong UK cast includes Emma Thompson, Billy Connolly, Robbie Coltrane and Julie Walters, give the characters depth and appeal, and though the story itself lacks a little in originality, and the fact that the attraction of the Celtic Revival score might be limited, production values are what you can expect from the makers of Toy Story and Wall-E.
Classy sequel to the surprisingly effective Streetdance, with a largely new cast, but a story of boy meets girl, rivalry and a big competition where the underdog proves that they can stand up to the biggest and best has played out innumerable times before. The 3D is used with restraint, and proves remarkably effective in highlighting the choreography, with effect achieved through the athleticism of the dancers (many street dance professionals) rather than through fancy camera work. A vast array of dancers from around the world are brought together by protagonist Ash (Falk Hentschel) to beat a crew calling themselves Invincible. Eighty-five minute running time keeps things brisk but does not provide enough time for characters to be given much more than a rough sketch.
Cesare deve morire
Walking the difficult line between documentary and drama, this new production by veteran directors Paolo and Vittorio Taviani is a fascinating behind the scenes look at the staging of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar by inmates of the high security Rebibbia prison in Rome, home to Mafiosi, drug dealers and murderers, who are encouraged to provide their own take on the themes of loyalty and betrayal as they adapt the play, bringing in the rhythms of their native speech and highlighting aspects of their own lives. A number of the inmates turn in powerful performances on stage, though some of the supposedly casual comments seem too scripted to be taken entirely at face value. The film bubbles with ideas, which can be read has an indirect commentary about the nature of contemporary Italian politics, a meditation about the value of art and its psychological costs and much else.
Director Stephen Frears (The Queen) and screenwriter Christopher Hampton (Atonement), the duo who brought us the delights of Dangerous Liaisons are back with a Belle Epoque romp starring Michelle Pfeiffer as an arch seductress who is commissioned by a rich and gossipy matron (Kathy Bates) to teach her 19-year-old son a thing or two about women. He learns all too fast and the scandal rings around elegant Paris society. Despite the extraordinary talent that has been brought together for this production, the concept and execution is all just a little too twee, with none of the barb and bite of their previous Dangerous collaboration.
Hotaru The Movie: It’s Only A Little Light In My Life
Yet another manga-based movie from Japan featuring two well-loved characters Hotaru Amemiya (Haruka Ayase), known for her school girl looks and large cup size, and Seichi Takano (Naohito Fujiki) taking a vacation and living their own private version of the Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck classic Roman Holiday. This is a sequel to Hotaru no Hikari, in which Amemiya, a ditzy interior designer with no interest in relationships falls in love with her boss, who she marries at the end of the first film. This movie is their honeymoon, which in the nature of such productions, injects new interest into the story simply by shifting to an exotic location. Primarily for fans of Ayase and her mammary assets.