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This week's Film Reviews (Feb 15, 2013)

14 Feb 2013

More movies open today than are reviewed owing to the fact that this reviewer was en vacances.

Film Reviews:-

A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD (USA 2013) **

Directed by John Moore

In the 5th Instalment of the Die Hard series, John McClane (Bruce Willis) travels to Russia to make up with his son, Jack (Spartacus’ Jai Courtney), just out of prison.

Despite all the animosity between father and son, it turns out that Jack is in reality working with the CIA on retrieving a file containing incriminating evidence on certain high ranking Russian officials during the Chernobyl disaster.  So it turns out to be family against the baddies.

One must admit that it is a tough deal trying to keep the 5th movie fresh.  The script by Skip Woods (The A-Team) unfortunately contains a wafer thin plot with only a slight twist towards the end.  There is hardly any emotional connection between father and son, and this is not aided by Willis’s and Courtney’s poker faces.

Even the one liners uttered by Willis appear to have taken their toll.  His Yippee-Ki-Yay fails to arouse any excitement nor does the unfunny running joke about McClane’s vacation in Russia being the pits.  Even the arguably film’s best line ‘The things fathers do for their sons’ falls on deaf ears.

The only things going for this movie are the special effects and super charged action scenes.  The car, van armoured truck chase on the busy Moscow downtown roads are as exciting as the climatic helicopter crashes in the buildings.  One can also forgive the lack of continuity of the car chase.  This is also the first DIE HARD film to use Dolby Atmos Surround mixing and the first to be released in IMAX theatres.

German actor Sebastian Koch plays the Russian villain.  But it is a weak villain, no blame on this actor but on Wood’s script.  There should be more interesting characters written into the script examples being Willis’ asshole superior or the boyfriend of his ex in the first DIE HARD movie.

Irish director John Moore’s ONE MORE DAY TO DIE HARD will likely do the same as the last 4 films he made for 20th Century Fox.  MAX PAYNE, THE OMEN (2006), FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX and BEHIND ENEMY LINES were films that critics generally ignored but did well at the box-office.  This 5th DIE HARD instalment is the most forgettable but will like likely do Yippee-Ki-Yay box-office dollars.

A GLIMPSE INSIDE THE MIND OF CHARLES SWAN III (USA 2012) **

Directed by Roman Coppola

Roman, brother of Sophie and son for Francis Ford made a decent 70’s style film called CQ in 2001.  In GLIMPSE, a film (that looks like a period piece) about a 70’s style ad man called Charlie Swan III (Charlie Sheen) who designs posters, he takes on irrelevance, just as the film’s ad says: “an irrelevant look at the irrelevant life of an ad man.

It should be noted that the film is basically about Swan’s break up with the woman of his life Ivana (Katheryn Winnick).  Every incident that occurs is related to the fact.  The result is that Coppola runs out of material very fast, though he does come out with genuine odd bits.

The best of these include two fantasy sequences.  The first is one in which Swan gets the ‘best bulls**t’ award from some academy of sexy women, that eventually conclude after his acceptance speech that he should have received the a**hole award.  This is so much like the real Charlie Sheen character in real life, that one cannot help but laugh about it.  Sheen knows this and mocks his real life role in the film as well.  The other sequence is an irrelevant western style sequence in which Bill Murray (looking oddly like John Wayne in first appearance).

But apart from these odd bits and Coppola’s occasional stand-out style, the film falters.  The old adage that a film needs a good solid plot applies here.  Whether Swan eventually gets back together with Ivana is supposed (my guess) to be the highlight of the film, but no one really cares.  The Swan character is engrossed with his self-esteem and self analysis which grow tiring.

Performances-wise, Sheen plays himself.  Murray, Jason Schwartzman and Patrician Arquette are all good, but they cannot save a movie that meanders all over the place.

Like the job that Swan does, the film is all style and looks but has no substance.  Pity, as Roman Coppola’s CQ showed promise and was both entertaining and stylish.

SHADOWS OF LIBERTY (USA 2012) ***

Directed by Jean-Philippe Trembley

SHADOWS OF LIBERTY belongs to the category of angry documentary in which the maker takes his subject under scrutiny and collects evidence to prove his case.  In the process, he brings down the culprits, which in most cases are government bodies or large corporations.  The movie often lacks a solution or happy ending so it would be a call for the public to do their part by doing their part in the big fight.

The premise of director Jean-Philippe Trembley’s researched documentary is the fact that 90% of the media in the USA are controlled by five big for-profit-conglomerates.  The media monopoly created is not the problem but the freedom of information that is at risk.  The film traces the work and frustration whistleblowers who discover ‘sensitive’ news that their companies wish hushed up.  Trembley tells his story through a few major incidents like the suspected missile hit on a commercial TWA jet in which dozens of passengers were killed and  the government corruption involving the sale of state secrets.  His film ends appropriately with discussion of the so-called last resource of free information – the Internet and how President Obama is compromising it.

Quite the impressive list of interviewees has been selected to have a say in the film.  These include actors and media experts such as Danny Glover, Julian Assange, Dan Rather and Roberta Baskin.

If the film is to be dedicated to the journalists, heroes of our time, who give their lives and freedoms for our information, SHADOWS OF LIBERTY offers these people to present their voices to reveal the dark truth behind the controllers of information.

PICKS OF THE WEEK:

Best Film Opening: Shadows of Liberty

est Film Playing: Django Unchained

Best Comedy: This is 40

Best Family: The Hobbit

Best Foreign: A Roy al Affair

Best Documentary: Shadows of Liberty

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