Previews: Vacation Trailer, Ant-Man Poster and more

This week’s preview of coming attractions features the Vacation trailer, a Jurassic World featurette, plus Absolutely Anything and Ricki and the Flash…

Vacation Trailer

Above is the red band Vacation trailer. The film is part of the National Lampoon’s Vacation series of films, with Ed Helms taking the role of Rusty Griswold. Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo reprise their roles from the original series, whilst Christina Applegate, Leslie Mann and Chris Hemsworth join the cast. Vacation is set for release on 21st August 2015.

Absolutely Anything Trailer

This trailer had me at talking dog. Absolutely Anything is a British comedy about teacher who is given the power to do anything he wishes. Starring Simon Pegg, Kate Beckinsale, and the voice of the late Robin Williams, Absolutely Anything will be released in UK cinemas on 14th August 2015.

Ant-Man Poster

Ant-Man Poster

Here is the latest poster for upcoming superhero movie Ant-Man, which reveals the main cast. Last week it was announced that the character will make his first appearance with the Avengers in Captain America: Civil War, which is due for release next year. Marvel fans get to see the first appearance of the character when Ant-Man is released in cinemas on 17th July 2015.

Ricki and the Flash Trailer

Ricki and the Flash has considerable talent both in front and behind the screen. Meryl Streep stars as rock star returning home to see her grown up children. Also starring Kevin Kline and Streep’s real-life daughter Mamie Gummer, the film is directed by Jonathan Demme and is written by Diablo Cody. Ricki and the Flash is due for release this Summer.

Spy Clip

Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law, and Jason Statham, action comedy Spy is about a desk bound agent who volunteers to go uncover on a dangerous mission. The film is directed by Paul Feig, who will be helming the new Ghostbusters movie; it will be interesting to see if he can get action and comedy to work in his latest film. Spy is released in UK cinemas on 5th June 2015.

Jurassic World Featurette

In this nostalgia-filled featurette for Jurassic World, cast and crew of the new movie discuss their memories of seeing Jurassic Park. Expectations are high for the upcoming sequel, in which a dinosaur theme park actually opens. Starring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, Jurassic World hits the big screen on 11th June 2015.

Film Review: My Old Lady

My Old Lady

Writer-director Israel Horovitz’s My Old Lady is a suitably decent comedy drama that offers strong performances from its three leads.

American Mathius is eager to see the Parisian apartment he has inherited. When he arrives in Paris, however, he learns that his inheritance comes with a complicated extra…

Isreal Horovitz’s feature debut is an entertaining watch. My Old Lady boasts good writing from Horovitz. This is particularly true of the development of Mathius. The character is depicted in a way which renders him believeable. Moreover, the progression of his character during the film’s duration is convincing.

My Old Lady combines comedy and drama in a way that is complementary. The humour does turn to drama, as is necessary for a film of this nature. Some of the scenes are quite dark, but this does not feel out of step with the overall film. My Old Lady moves at a good pace, allowing for both characters and relationships to develop in a natural manner.

A significant driver in My Old Lady is the fallout from an event in the past. The film exhibits the detrimental effects of this, on all the characters involved. The ending of the film is a little predictable, but it plays out well nevertheless.

There are some emotional moments in My Old Lady. Although these are in keeping with the overall mood of the film, viewers may not fully invest in these moments. Despite good writing, sometimes the impetus is not there in Horovitz’s film.

Kevin Kline delivers a strong performance as Mathias. He is solid in both humorous and darker moments. It is also good to see Maggie Smith showing off her talents in a different type of role. Kristin Scott Thomas is also convincing.

My Old Lady will have a definite appeal to those who enjoy mature dramas tinged with comedy. The performances from its leads make the film a worthwhile watch.

Film Review: The Conspirator

Robert Redford’s period courtroom drama is a bit of a slow burner. The Conspirator is sufficiently engaging, but lacks a strong sense of tension when it is really needed.

On 14th April 1865, president Abraham Lincoln is assassinated. In the wake of this shocking event, seven men and one woman are arrested and charged with conspiring to murder the president, vice-president and the secretary of state. Frederick Aitken, a Union war veteran and rookie lawyer is appointed to represent Mary Surratt, who faces the death penalty if found guilty…

The beginning of The Conspirator works incredibly well to set up the rest of the film. Particularly for viewers not familiar with all the details of the Lincoln assassination, this section conveys the chaos of the incident, as well as situating protagonist Aitken in the centre of the action.

James Solomon’s screenplay exhibits the unfolding drama from the viewpoint of Aitken. Giving some distance between the accused and her condemners, Aitken appears level-headed and a lonely voice of reason. Moreover, considering he was a Union soldier, Aitken is perfectly placed to initially hold contempt for Mary Surratt. Aitken’s struggle to uphold the oath he took to defend his client is palpable. As much as the film is about the case, it is also about Aitken’s beliefs and personal journey.

What makes The Conspirator interesting is the lack of exploration into Mary’s alleged crimes. Although these are documented in the court scenes, the film never sways too far in suggesting her level of guilt. The concentration is placed on the legal proceedings instead. Whilst the film comments on this, it leaves open questions about the extent of Mary’s involvement. This exhibits a maturity missing from many historical or courtroom dramas. Given that the facts of her situation will never truly be known, the film takes the wise option of not implying whether she is guilty or not.

Parallels between the events of the film and recent post 9/11 incidents are unmistakable. The hooded prisoners are just one of the visual indicators of this. Elsewhere, there is resonance in the words of Edwin Stanton, when discussing the aftermath of Lincoln’s death. There is also a reference to the Inquisition, with The Conspirator suggesting that these ‘witch trials’ replicate through history.

James McAvoy offers a decent performance as Aitken overall, although he sometimes fails to convey the gravity of the situation. Robin Wright is controlled as Mary Surratt, while Kevin Kline’s Edwin Stanton is unmoving in his determination. Tom Wilkinson is great as Reverdy Johnson, providing reasoned opposition to others in power.

The Conspirator deals with the facts in a balanced manner for the most part, and is an interesting watch because of this. It is just a shame that the film fails to provide the requisite tension in pivotal scenes.

Film Review: No Strings Attached

No Strings Attached is a trite romantic comedy with few redeeming features. In promoting its normative relationship between a white, middle class heterosexual couple, Ivan Reitman’s film does nothing original or illuminating.

Having had brief meetings as kids and as college students, when Emma and Adam reconnect as adults there is a definite attraction. Deciding to embark on a purely physical relationship, the pair decides to end things if either of them develop feelings for the other. Although the arrangement starts off well, things become complicated later…

No Strings Attached begins with a caption that reads “15 years ago”. This gives the audience hope that there will at least be some kitsch references to the mid-1990s to entertain. Sadly this is just a momentary flashback, and No Strings Attached does not even have these little amusements to rely upon. As it stands, the humour is rather lame; there are very few genuinely funny moments.

No Strings Attached features the usual romantic comedy jokes and narrative devices. Towards the end, it appears for a moment that writers Mike Samonek and Elizabeth Meriwether have decided to do something slightly interesting with the conclusion. Unfortunately for viewers, the very predictable outcome is plumped for.

Perhaps what most leaves a sour taste is the all too predictable ‘happily ever after’ conclusion that ties up loose ends for the couple alone. While the main characters and their heterosexual white best friends end up in traditional relationships, the same cannot be said for the friends who do not fit this mould. Thus Adam’s black friend is not paired off with a woman, while Adam and his white friend both are. Similarly, Emma and her white flat mate find love by the end of No Strings Attached, their Asian female friend and their white gay male friend do not. Instead, these characters are left to share the male cast off by the lead female protagonist. Thus, secondary characters do not get the necessary happy ending unless they fall under the same demographic as the lead characters.

Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher share good chemistry as Emma and Adam. While this film is typical of Kutcher’s choices, it is a bit more surprising to see Portman in such a light movie. Kevin Kline brings humour and heart as Adam’s father Alvin. The rest of the support cast is fine, but none of them really stand out.

From the heady heights of Ghost Busters via the weak My Super Ex-Girlfriend and now No Strings Attached, Ivan Reitman’s directing career seems to be on a slow downward spiral. This is probably the worst thing that this film represents.