The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Will the first installment of a new fantasy tale based on JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit prove to be the ultimate nerdgasm, following on from years of intense expectation? Or will director Peter Jackson playing around with new high-definition media ruin it for everyone? Early Internet comment and reviews suggest that Jackson has surpassed himself, making clever use of his huge directorial discretion and budget, and the full effects of the new technology will not be seen except by audiences at a very few selected cinemas with the appropriate technology. The dark mood of the Lord of the Rings trilogy has permeated the generally light-hearted tale, which has also been expanded to include some quite intense battle sequences, that might not be suitable for young or timid children. There is plenty of humor, along with the foreboding of evil, and the cast is never less than superb.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting
Incompetent, irresponsible men in charge of young children. It’s been done before, and it doubtless will be done again simply because kids doing wacky things, dads freaking out, not to mention the changes in sexual dynamics and the potential to get gynecological, provide far too much material for cheap humor. On the male side there are Chris Rock, Dennis Quaid and others, but they are utterly overwhelmed by the women, who include Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks and Anna Kendrick. With star power to spare, the filmmakers have not seen much need for refinement or skill in the screenwriting, the content following a well-trodden path, making predictable, brainless entertainment that will still sell tickets over the holiday season.
An over-the-top concoction of a movie that is likely to leave some audiences bewildered, but is unlikely to leave many bored. Leos Carax, the director who created the stunning The Lovers on New Bridge in 1991, is back with his leading actor Denis Lavant, in this extravagant tale of Monsieur Oscar, a shadowy character who morphs from one life to another, taking on the roles of captain of industry, assassin, beggar, monster and family man. Carax leads with an assured hand and has had critics falling over themselves to praise this magnificently cinematic work that sees the director bring ravishing modern style and intense emotions and combining them flawlessly.
Following on from his iconic accomplishments in films Moloch, Taurus and The Sun, which all deal with the uses of power, Russian director Alexander Sokurov plunges into the ultimate legend of the evils of power with his own take on the legend of Faust. Familiarity with the legend through the works of Marlowe, Goethe, or Gounod is more likely to impede than assist understanding of Sokurov’s film, which resolutely ignores the established interpretations and follows its own path. You can expect stunning visuals, a torrent of dense subtitles, and a degree of obscurity about what is actually going on that is likely to leave all but lifelong fans of the director’s work struggling.
Ayushmann Khurrana and Yami Gautam, newcomers to the Hindi film industry, are the stars of Vicky Donor, a slick romantic comedy about a professional sperm donor. Khurrana is Vicky, a 25-year-old slacker who lives with his mother and grandmother above his mom’s beauty salon. He makes good money donating sperm to Dr Chaddha (Annu Kapoor), and then falls in love with Ashima (Gautam), a beautiful banker. Unfortunately, his occupation is a bit of an embarrassment now that he is getting serious about love. Good acting, a strong script with plenty of humor, both sperm-related and otherwise, and an emotional investment in the characters make this potentially grossout comic material into a clever, enjoyable piece of entertainment.