Fly Me to the Moon (Un plan parfait)
In a week dominated by minor releases in non-mainstream languages, the French-Belgian co-production offers a capable and often amusing outing for those who enjoy high-concept French romantic comedy. The story follows Isabelle (Diane Kruger) as she trots around the globe trying to convince self obsessed travel writer Jean-Yves (Dany Boon) to wed and subsequently divorce her so she can safely marry her actual dreamboat. This move is prompted by an effort to break a family curse of failed first marriages and predictably goes terribly wrong. It takes the couple to various spots where they do their rom-com thing against various lavish backgrounds, including a lovely stint in Kenya. Nice to look at, workmanlike direction, but largely forgettable entertainment.
Director Karzan Kader draws on his own experience of escaping Iraq in this charming road movie that is overflowing with innocent delights, a veneer over a harsh reality of the Iraqi war against the Kurds. This is a story about two homeless brothers who live on the edge of subsistence. They chance to catch a glimpse of a Superman movie at a village cinema. They decide that finding Superman is the only cure for their own and their country’s ills and set off on a journey to find America. Along the way they get into all sorts of scrapes, but manage to survive through street smarts. The director opens the lens to his two young, non-professional stars, and their innocence and spontaneity energize the film and provide a sense of unforced uplift without airbrushing away a brutal reality. Shot in Kurdistan, the film also provides a tantalizing look at a corner of the world not often seen at the movies.
Another above-average shocker released under the imprimatur of Guillermo del Toro, this one directed by first time director Andres Muschietti, who shows considerable promise in orchestrating a mood of anxiety and fear. The story, about two little girls who are adopted by a young couple after being abandoned and gone feral in a old house in the woods, effectively plays off a number of tried and tested horror devices, but the technical skill of the director and the solid script keeps the movie humming along, creepy as hell, then occasionally giving you a well judged jolt to make you jump. A Spanish-Canadian co-production, the dialogue is in English, and features a number of good performances, not least by Jessica Chastain of Zero Dark Thirty, showcasing a very different aspect of her talent.
Until the Break of Dawn
A Japanese melodrama based on a novel by Mizuki Tsujimura that is aimed squarely at those looking for mystical uplift and bogus philosophising about life, death, loss and regret. The film posits a type of person called a messenger who is able to grant the living an opportunity to meet with a dead relative for a short time to sort out unresolved issues. The concept is ripe for the trashiest type of sentimental cliches, and makes little effort to do other than the expected.
Based on a real-life story of Airi Pengin and her husband, a mixed Japanese-Chinese couple who moved to Ishigaki and set up a business in this exotic location. Airi (played by Eiko Koike in the film) hails from Tokyo and Gyoko (played by Taiwanese TV actor Wang Kingone, 王傳一 ) is from China, and the film is set against the background of Okinawan life. The film is not without its promotional aspect, as it was heavily invested by the Okinawa Prefectural Office and makes a point of highlighting the scenic and culinary delights of the area.