Grab some popcorn! NewsFeed’s Glen Levy brings you the movies you should check out (or avoid) this weekend.
Tagline: Twenty years. Two people…
This week’s book adaptation is of David Nicholls’ One Day, which used the device of having each chapter take place on July 15 (St. Swithin’s Day) over a 20-year spell between 1988 and 2007. You can work out for yourself in which part of the movie Tracy Chapman’s music gets played. The smash-hit best-seller recounted the unrequited love between Dexter Mayhew (Jim Sturgess) and Emma Morley (Anne Hathaway) from the end of their student days through to his elevation into C-list celebrity thanks to being a television presenter while she dreams of making it as a writer (should current and aspiring wordsmiths be concerned that she crops up as a waitress?)
Aside from the inevitable ups and downs that we experience through our protagonists, one should be wary of revealing too much about One Day, in case you’re not familiar with the source text (though if you’re reading this in the U.K., you’re probably one of the million people that have read it). And it’s to the film’s credit that the producers clearly are au fait with One Day: author Nicholls has undertaken the fairly tough task of adapting his own novel (turning 448 pages into just 106 minutes of screen time) and the Danish director Lone Scherfig seems a smart choice because she not only did an expert job with 2009’s An Education, but also captured early 1960s Britain quite beautifully.
But it’s reasonable to surmise that she might have had more to work with if Carey Mulligan (who should have won an Oscar for An Education) had taken on the role of Emma, rather than putting it in Hathaway’s hands, who clearly struggles with the accent (in fairness, Hathaway probably didn’t grow up thinking she was destined for lines such as “We spent all our summers in a caravan in Whitby”). But assistance is at hand thanks to Rafe Spall as Emma’s boyfriend, Romola Garai (currently redefining smart and sultry on BBC America’s The Hour) as Dexter’s humorless wife and Patricia Clarkson as his unwell mother. One Day, perhaps, Hathaway will be as accomplished as Clarkson. But not today.
Conan the Barbarian
Tagline: Born On The Battlefield.
Severed heads. The gouging of enemy flesh. And an ax to grind. Looks like somebody took that whole Tonight Show debacle on NBC rather badly. What do you mean, different Conan?
We jest, of course, as we’re in Conan the Barbarian territory (rather than Conan the O’Brien) in this rebooted attempt, almost thirty years after a certain Arnold Schwarzenegger took on fantasy writer Robert E. Howard’s 1932 creation from the pages of pulp magazine Weird Tales. For Arnie, enter the Hawaiian-Irish heartthrob Jason Momoa (probably best known for appearing on HBO’s Game of Thrones). And replacing 1982’s director John Milius (from an Oliver Stone screenplay, no less) is Germany’s Marcus Nispel, who knows a thing or two about trying to breathe new life into moribund franchises (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Frankenstein, Friday the 13th).
All that the young (and indeed old) Conan knows is violence, seeing as he’s been witness to scenes such as his fellow tribesmen and father being brutally bumped off. Revenge is the inevitable watchword though, strangely enough, his co-stars Stephen Lang (as bad guy Khalar Zym) and Rose McGowan (his daughter Marique) seem to mine the movies for laughs. All you need to know is, as a rather better film put it, there will be blood. And if it takes another thirty years before the next iteration of Conan is upon us, so be it.
(LIST: Top 10 Shirtless Movies)
Tagline: You Can’t Run From Evil When It Lives Next Door
No points for knowing that Conan has been made before but hands up if you knew that Fright Night is actually a remake of a 1985 movie? Or did you think it had arrived in your local multiplex as a direct result of trying to cash in on Twilight and True Blood fever?
The plot is well-worn and oft-told: Charlie Brewster (Anton Yelchin) thinks he’s made it, not just by finally running with the popular crowd at high school but he’s dating the undoubted hottie (Imogen Poots). And all the while, he wants as little to do as possible with his nerdy best friend from childhood, Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse).
What could possibly go wrong? Jerry (Colin Farrell) is what could go wrong after he moves in next door. Guess what? He seems pretty cool at first, but there’s something rotten in the state of Nevada, even if Brewster’s mom (Toni Collette) doesn’t notice. Two words people: vampire alert.
The filmmakers want to blend comedy with horror, but that’s always been a pretty tricky move to pull off. And when one review labeled Farrell’s performance as “an embarrassing career low,” it’s hard to hold out much hope as this is an actor who appeared in such shockers like Cassandra’s Dream, which director Woody Allen probably doesn’t even admit to helming. “You smell that?” Jerry asks at one point. “It’s your fear.” The audience may disagree because by all accounts, Fright Night smells of something else entirely.
NewsFeed’s Flicks Pick: On other days, One Day wouldn’t have been the pick. But it is this week.