GI Joe: Retaliation
A sequel to the rather mediocre G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, G.I. Joe: Retaliation follows pretty much the same formula with predictable results. Lots of money has been spent on futuristic military hardware and big set-piece action sequences, and to its credit, those who like this sort of stuff do get their money’s worth. Directed by Jon Chu (朱浩偉), the story continues to follow an elite military unit in its battle with Cobra, but as a sequel, a predictable new ingredient has been added: “threats from within that threaten the unit’s existence.” Chu, whose directorial track record includes two films in the Step Up dance movie franchise, is also clearly plugged into the video game sensibility, and the 110-minute running passes reasonably quickly.
Hotel Deluxe (百星酒店)
Hotels are a great setting for films, as they provide a display case for people from all levels of society and from all walks of life, not least the hotel industry itself, which can also be a rich source of humor. Hotel Deluxe takes this setting and uses it as a stage for some of Hong Kong’s top comedic talent, who take the role of celebrity guests, bitchy hotel managers, clueless staff and so on, with each pretty much doing their own comic shtick with little attempt at a coherent story. The film was written and directed by Vincent Kok (谷德昭), a veteran of the Hong Kong comedy scene, who also performs, together with a bunch of his good friends including Ronald Cheng (鄭中基), Chapman To (杜汶澤), Sandrang Wu (吳君如) and Mo Teresa (毛舜筠), who all have a great time together.
Night Train to Lisbon
Adaptations of complex and intricately woven novels onto the silver screen are always difficult, and many of the usual problems emerge in director Bille August’s film of a novel of the same name by Pascal Mercier. Fortunately there is a good cast featuring the likes of Jeremy Irons and Charlotte Rampling, whose presence screams European art house. Nevertheless, these are veterans of this genre and manage to make the portentous situations and sometimes rather ponderous dialogue come alive to some extent. Irons is Raimund Gregorius, a buttoned-down Swiss Professor who stumbles upon a mesmerizing book by a Portuguese author that takes him on a journey of discovery. German production with English dialogue.
French romantic comedy set in the 1950s, which provides plenty of opportunities for retro fashion. For the most part, it is the story of Rose (Deborah Francois), who is a terrible secretary but a demon typist. Her handsome boss resolves to turn her into the fastest girl in the world. There is, predictably, a thick vein of sexual humor, as the relationship between Rose and her boss changes in response to the stresses and strains of a typing competition. The acting and direction are adequate, but it is the set designer and costumer who are the real stars of this show.
What Love May Bring
Confusingly, this film has also been released under the title What War May Bring. This confusion is reflected in the film, which seems uncertain whether it is about war or love. Probably the latter given the rather lame battle sequences. The majority of the film is devoted to the story of Ilva Lemoine (Audrey Dana), a woman on trial for killing her husband, the wealthy Jim (Gilles Lemaire). Ilva has had a turbulent life, her hopes of happiness torn apart by two world wars. Her tale of numerous failed romances is woven together with that of her attorney, Simon (Laurent Couson), who has survived the horrors of the holocaust, and for reasons best known to director Claude Lelouch, believes that telling his life story to the court will be beneficial to his client’s case.