Ruby Sparks

 

Rudy Sparks is the new long awaited film from the directors of Little Miss Sunshine. Written and starring Zoe Kazan who plays the title character, the plot centres around Calvin (Paul Dano), a young novelist who is struggling to match the success of his previous work. When he has a dream of a girl called Ruby (Kazan), he is inspired to write about her, only for the girl of his dreams to appear in his kitchen the next day in the real world. With a strong supporting cast featuring Elliott Gould as a therapist, Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas, Alia Shawkat and Steve Coogan as a sleazy fellow novelist. Chris Messina is particularly good as Calvin’s brother, adding humorous disbelief to proceedings.

This is a joy to watch with bags of charm to spare. Taken inspiration from Woody Alllen, although not as self indulgent, Ruby Sparks does not fall under the trap of being too schmaltzy or quirky for its own good. Even if it is a tad predictable, this is a film filled with likeable performances  and a big heart at the centre.

 

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Frankenweenie

Frankenweenie is the new stop motion animated film from Tim Burton. Based on the live action short from 1984 witch got him fired from Disney, is a welcome return to form to the Burton we know and love. After the uneven mess that was Dark Shadows, this is a more heartfelt project that harks back to the likes Edward Scissorhands and the old horror films of the 1930’s. Set in the fictional town of  New Holland, the film tells the story of Victor, a school boy gifted in science and his beloved dog Sparky. One fateful day, Sparky gets run over  living young Victor heartbroken. So with the new found knowledge taught by the his new Vincent Price lookalike teacher, Mr. Rzykruski (Martin Landau), he sets off to bring Sparky back from the dead for his science project.

Made in black and white, it features many references to Frankenstein, Dracula and the Mummy. In the same way that ParaNorman worked as a kids film but with it’s roots firmly placed in 80’s horror, Frankenweenie on parallel  with its inspiration from the horror movies of old. It is full of charm accompanied by a voice cast of Martian Short and Catherine O’Hara, this is the gothic and comedic Tim Burton witch reminds us why we love him..

Looper

 

Directed by Rain Johnson, Looper is an off beat time travel adventure that is a joy to watch. Teaming up with (the star of his first feature Brick) Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays a killer working for the mob, who disposes people  sent from the future. When one of them turns out to be his future self (Bruce Willis), he lets himself get away. Looper is one of those films where it is better to go in, knowing as little as possible. One of the many joys  of the film, is not being completely uncertain as to where the film is going. That and Levitt under havey make up, doing a brilant Bruce Willis impression.

With great supporting cast with the likes of Jeff Daniels, Paul Dano and Emily Blunt, the films twists and turns into many different ways. Just when you know where you are with it, Looper turns into something else leaving with an excited feeling in your stomach that rarely comes in films these days. It is not a perfect film. The ramifications time travel leaves you scratching your head and by the end, do not make much sense. Evan so, it plays with ideas and has the re-watch factor written all over it..

Taken 2

 

Lets face facts, Taken was never a great film, but it was great late night entertainment as Liam Neeson displayed is special set of skills. So what became what would be straight to DVD fair, became an unexpected hit at the box office. A sequel was of course was green lit making exceptions high for what is a guilty pleasure. Written by  Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen and directed by Oliver Megaton, it’s a premise has no legs. Neeson’s Bryan Mills gets a surprise visit from his daughter (Maggie Grace) and wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) while in Istanbul. In a effort to rebuild there failed marriage, Kim lets her parents go out in the city while staying inside the hotel, while  Murad Krasniqi (Rade Šerbedžija , or Boris the sneaky Russian) father of one of the disposable goons from the previous film, set out to avenge his sons death, by kidnapping Bryan and Lenore. It’s now up to Neesons set of skills to guide Kim out of harms way and save all three them.

Given that the first instalment provied cheap thrills, Taken 2 is very stale and unenaging. Neeson is great as all ways but the acton is by the numbers and has no bite. Clearly filmed with a higher certificate rating in mind, the film has been cut down to a 12a, taking out all the edge and enjoyment. Even worse, it leaves you questioning wether someone died and how, which for fans of action films, is a very unsatisfying experience.

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