Movie Reviews: Amour and A Good Day to Die Hard

Bruce Willis reprises role as John McClane in A Good Day to Die Hard

Amour, the end-of-life love story is playing at The Odeon.

Twilight Of The Action Gods

Literally within weeks of each other we’ve seen the release of non-ironic action flicks starring aging gods of the blowed-up-real-good genre, beginning with Arnold Schwarzenegger and continuing with Sylvester Stallone (still impressively ripped). And now, limping into distant third place comes Bruce Willis in A Good Day To Die Hard, once again reprising his role as John McClane, cop and quipster and bane of all terrorists.

In this fifth outing for the increasingly tired series, McClane travels to Russia to help out his estranged son. Unbeknownst to dear old dad, Jack is now working for the CIA and this dynamic duo soon find themselves battling Russian mobsters with plans to hijack weapons-grade uranium. The resulting plot is a formulaic jumble of gunfights, car chases, and explosions, interspersed with bickering between father and son that is presumably supposed to be cute but is merely grating.

As well as looking a bit grimy, the movie is cheerless and dull. Back in the day, John McClane was resourceful, vulnerable, brave . . . and funny. Now, he’s just a bitter bald guy with the near-invulnerability of a superhero. And don’t even ask if the plot makes sense. In short, this Good Day represents a very bad day at the movies.

 

A Good Day to Die Hard

Directed by John Moore

Starring Bruce Willis, Patrick Stewart

R – 100 minutes • Continues at The Odeon,

SilverCity, Uni 4 and WestShore

 

 

End-Of-Life Love Story

Any film lover who want a broken heart is advised to see Amour, the latest drama from celebrated Austrian writer-director Michael Haneke (The White Ribbon, Cache). Nominated for five Oscars and the recipient of numerous other awards, Amour tells the story of Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) and Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant), retired music teachers in their 80s whose quiet and genteel life is reflected in an apartment filled with music, books and art. With no warning, Anne has a mini-stroke. Later, a second and much more severe attack leaves her paralyzed on one side. Confined to a wheelchair and entirely dependent on her husband, Anne makes him promise that he will never take her back to the hospital.

In a scene where Georges helps his wife off the toilet, their embrace looks like a clumsy dance. And when Anne upgrades to an electric wheelchair and begins to master it, her spinning around in circles provokes a rare moment of laughter for the couple. But her condition continues to worsen, and eventually he’s changing her diapers and feeding her like a baby, while her tormented speech is mostly babble. There are a few moments when civility slips, but Georges accepts his burden with stoic grace. He hires a nurse to come by thrice weekly, but mostly shuts out their worried daughter (Isabelle Huppert) from this final chapter of a long and loving marriage. “Your concern is of no use to me,” he tells her with bleak logic.

Understated, unsparing, and ultimately emotionally devastating, Amour is a superbly intimate drama. And, being a film by Haneke, there are some shocking moments that will challenge most viewers. Marvelously acted and powerfully humane, this film captures the raw reality of a death in the family. M

 

Amour ★★★★

Directed by Michael Haneke

Starring Jean-Louis Trintignant, William Shimell

PG13 – 127 minutes

Continues at The Odeon

 

 

Film Listings:

Opening

 

SNITCH -() Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stars as a dad who goes undercover for the DEA in order to help out his innocent son, who went to prison after being made the fall guy for a drug deal. With Susan Sarandon and Barry Pepper. Starts Fri.

DARK SKIES -() In this paranormal shocker, members of an unsuspecting suburban family gradually realize that a terrifying and deadly force is out to get them. Starts Fri.

 

Continuing

★ A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD -(Odeon/Westshore/SilverCity/Uni 4)In this tedious turd of a would-be thriller,  Bruce Willis once again reprises his role as supercop John McClane, this time mixing it up with Russian mobsters who have nasty nuclear ambitions. See review.

★★★★ AMOUR -(Odeon) Nominated for five Academy Awards, the latest drama from Michael Haneke features a French couple in their 80s. After the wife has a stroke and begins a sharp decline, the husband takes on the immense burden of caring for her at home. This is an emotionally powerful and devastating film. See review.

★★★½ ARGO -(Capitol) Despite some liberties taken with the facts, this account of a CIA agent who managed to smuggle six Americans to safety from Iran during the notorious 1979-’80 hostage crisis is surprisingly even-handed, very suspenseful and truly entertaining. Directed by and starring Ben Affleck.

★★½ BEAUTIFUL CREATURES -(SilverCity/Westshore) Viola Davis, Emma Thompson, and Jeremy Irons star in an atmospheric Southern Gothic tale of star-crossed teen love. Despite being moody outsiders, the real angst is that one of them is a witch in training. Oh, and the God-fearin’ townsfolk are just about ready to break out the pitch forks.

★★★ DJANGO UNCHAINED -(Odeon/SilverCity/Caprice) Quentin Tarantino’s latest is a gory tale about a freed slave-turned-bounty-hunter (Jamie Foxx) tracking down the brutal plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio) who has bought his wife. This mash-up of spaghetti western and blaxploitation flick is clever, but many people will find the idea of Tarantino riffing on a holocaust for his own movie-making amusement rather offensive.

ESCAPE FROM PLANET EARTH -(SilverCity/Westshore) This animated adventure tale features a brave astronaut in peril because of inter-galactic bad guys. With the vocal talents of Brendan Fraser, Jessica Sarah Parker, and Jessica Alba.

★★ GANGSTER SQUAD -(Caprice) A great cast gets to overact while playing with guns in a luridly fictionalized and very brutal crime thriller about the struggle of the LAPD in 1949 to  run mobster Mickey Cohen and all his goons out of town. With Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, and Emma Stone.

★½ HANSEL AND GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS -(Capitol/SilverCity/Westshore) Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton star as witch-whacking bounty hunters, in a horror-thriller that is witless, charmless, and shockingly dull-witted. The Brothers Grimm are owed an apology.

★★★ THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY -(Westshore) This long-expected Lord of the Rings prequel has a young Bilbo Baggins head off with a posse of dwarves to reclaim some treasure stolen by a mean old dragon named Smaug. Hobbit fans will love it, people with less of a passion for those with hairy feet should merely be entertained. With Ian McKellen, Ian Holm, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee, and Andy Serkis as the perfidious Gollum.

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA -(Caprice) A hotel where vampires and sundry other monsters hide out from humans gets a big scare when a backpacking dude shows up looking for a room. This animated comedy features the voices of Adam Sandler, Kevin James, and Andy Samberg.

★½ IDENTITY THIEF -(Odeon/SilverCity/Uni 4/Westshore) The considerable talents of Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) are wasted in this witless and often mean-spirited would-be comedy about a mild-mannered businessman who makes the grave mistake of tracking down the seemingly gentle woman who has stolen his identity.

★★★½ LIFE OF PI -(SilverCity/Caprice) Oscar winning director Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain) helms this visually gorgeous adaptation of Yann Martel’s magical and spiritual novel about a young man’s epic adventures while lost at sea — most of which are shared with a terrifying Bengal tiger.

★★★★ LINCOLN -(Uni 4) Stephen Spielberg directs award-winning playwright Tony (Angels in America) Kushner’s account of Abraham Lincoln’s darkest days as he fights the Civil War and also fights political battles in his cabinet over plans to free America’s black slaves. The superb cast includes Daniel Day-Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones and Sally Field.

★★★½ LES MISERABLES -(SilverCity/Caprice) Victor Hugo’s sweeping tale of love, poverty and an obsessed policeman stalking a reformed criminal in 19th century France inspired the best of the mega-musicals, and now makes a stylish migration to the silver screen. This elegant, emotionally powerful film manages to be both epic and intimate. Starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, and Anne Hathaway

★★ PARENTAL GUIDANCE -(Caprice) Billy Crystal and Bette Midler play grandparents who agree to look after their grandkids, only to get into trouble when their old-style parenting approach comes into conflict with that of their progressive kids. Lame but harmless, and occasionally good for a giggle.

★★★ QUARTET -(Odeon/Uni 4) Dustin Hoffman turns in his directorial debut with this droll and heartfelt comedy about a retirement home for classical musicians where the annual concert to celebrate Verdi’s birthday is disrupted by the arrival of a diva’s diva (Maggie Smith). The great cast includes Billy Connolly, Michael Gambon, Tom Courtenay, and Pauline Collins.

SAFE HAVEN -(Odeon/Westshore/SilverCity) Just in time for Valentine’s comes this romance/drama/mystery about a young woman with a secret past who is forced to confront some dark personal baggage after falling for a sexy widower.

★★★½ SIDE EFFECTS -(Capitol/SilverCity) What is allegedly Steven Soderbergh’s last film is an edgy psychological thriller about a woman whose life unravels when she’s prescribed a fancy new anti-depressant. Starring Rooney Mara, Jude Law, and Channing Tatum. Slickly directed, with Hitchockian style and a twisty plot. See review.

★★★ SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK -(Odeon/Uni 4/Caprice) A bi-polar man (Bradley Cooper, The Hangover) is trying to put his life — and his marriage — back together when he meets a fascinating woman (Jennifer Lawrence, The Hunger Games) with problems of her own. This quirky (and over-rated) romantic comedy is directed by David O. Russell (Three Kings, The Fighter)

SINGH VS. KAUR -(Capitol) Hindi film fans should enjoy this romantic comedy about an ambitious young lad who gets trapped by his own lies and finds himself in a very awkward situation.

★★★ WARM BODIES -(SilverCity/Westshore) Zombie love is the subject of this charming, clever, and highly unusual romcom, as a zombie with a heart saves a human girl . . . and sets strange events in motion. Ahhhh.

★★★ WRECK­–IT RALPH -(Caprice) John C. Reilly provides the voice for a video-game villain who tires of being a bad guy and sets out on a quest that throws an entire video arcade into chaos. This occasionally-inspired animation lark includes the voices of Sarah Silverman and Jane Lynch.

 

 

IMAX

★★★★ EVEREST -(2 pm & 9 pm, Sun.-Thurs.)

FIRES OF KUWAIT -(1 pm & 7 pm, Sun.-Thurs.)

JANE GOODALL’S WILD CHIMPANZEES -(10 am & 4 pm)

★★★½ MYSTERIES OF THE GREAT LAKES -(11 am & 5 pm)

SHARKS -(3 pm & 8 pm, Sun.-Thurs.)

★★★★ SKYFALL -(7 pm, Fri.-Sat. only)

super speedway -(noon, 6 pm)

 

 

SCREENINGS

 

MOVIE MONDAY – Is re-screening May I Be Frank, the engaging and life-affirming portrait of a morbidly-obese drug addict whose love of life compels him to undertake a radical transformation. 6:30/8:30pm MONDAY in the 1900-block Fort. By donation. 595-FLIC. moviemonday.ca.

SOCIAL JUSTICE FILM NIGHT -presents Freedom Sailors with guest speaker Dr. Bill Dienst, co-author of the book about the first successful voyage to break the Israeli government’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. These 2008 events as well as the current state of affairs in Gaza will be discussed. THURSDAY, 7 pm, 2994 Douglas St. (BCGEU Hall).

 

 

Cinecenta

 

Cinecenta at UVic screens its films in the Student Union Building. Info: 721-8365. cinecenta.com.

★★★ SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN -(Wed., Feb. 20: 7:30 only) Lasse Hallstrom (Chocolat) directs Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt in a whimsical tale, part satire and part romantic comedy —  about a fisheries expert who becomes a consultant to a sheik who wants to bring the sport of fly fishing to the desert. NOTE: This is a private fundraiser for the Mount St. Mary Hospital. Tickets are $20, either at the door or in advance: 250-480-3140 or pgreene@msmfoundation.ca.

★★½ MIDNIGHT’S CHILDREN -(Thurs., Feb. 21: 6:45, 9:30) Deepa Mehta (Water) directs a competent but less-than-engaging adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s award-winning novel, a sprawling and epic account of 60 years of recent East Indian history.

★★★★ SKYFALL -(Fri.-Sat., Feb. 22-23: 3:00, 7:00, 9:40) The latest James Bond spy thriller features cool gadgets, exotic locales . . . and a villain with a vendetta against poor old M. Easily one of the best Bonds ever, this has all the expected thrills but also an elegiacal tone and some unexpected drama that will leave the audience shaken and stirred. Starring Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, and Ralph Fiennes.

★★★ RISE OF THE GUARDIANS -(Sat.-Sun., Feb. 23-24: 1:00 matinee) Jack Frost, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and other mythical characters come together to save childhood innocence after a very evil spirit named Pitch starts making trouble. This animated lark is voiced by Hugh Jackman and Alec Baldwin.

CHASING ICE -(Sun., Feb. 24: 3:00, 7:15, 9:00 & Mon.-Tues., Feb. 25-26: 7:15, 9:00) Back by popular demand, this documentary profiles a National Geographic photographer to use time-lapse photography to portray glaciers melting and hence the climate change that that represents.

FOR THE BENEFIT OF ALL BEINGS -(Wed., Feb. 27: 7:00, 9:00) This special, non-Cinecenta screening is a celebrated portrait of revered Tibetan monk Garchen Rinpoche. All seats $7.

 

 

 

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