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The D Train Review

Excellent

A provocative drama wrapped in the skin of an adult sex comedy, this sharply written and performed movie is hugely entertaining even as it grapples with some big issues. The central themes here are notions of celebrity and sexuality, neither of which is nearly as clear-cut as the audience or characters think they are. And the script allows actors like Jack Black and James Marsden to do what they do best while undermining their usual personas with some edgy shadings.

Black plays Dan, the self-proclaimed leader of his high school class' 20-year reunion. He has always felt invisible, and is annoyed that he gets no respect from the reunion committee. Then he spots hot classmate Oliver (Marsden) in a TV advert and hatches a plan to increase his popularity by convincing Oliver to attend the reunion. He lies to his boss (Jeffrey Tambor) about needing to go to Los Angeles on business, and he gets carried away as the openly bisexual Oliver shows him the partying lifestyle, taking things far beyond where he thought his limits were. Back home, he can't admit any of this to his sharp wife (Kathryn Hahn) and begins to lose touch with his smart teen son (Russell Posner). Then when Oliver turns up, things get even more precarious.

Filmmakers Andrew Mogel and Jarrad Paul get everyone into this mess in the usual ways, with snappy dialogue, goofy antics and rather a lot of humiliating embarrassment for poor Dan. Then they do something interesting: they refuse to play it safe, taking a surprisingly complex journey through questions about everything from peer pressure and family dynamics to the illusion of fame and the unspoken spectrum of sexuality. So even though the characters aren't always likeable, and even though all of them make some questionable choices, they're unusually sympathetic because the astute script and performances make them thoroughly recognisable.

Continue reading: The D Train Review

Burke & Hare Review


OK
You can see what Landis was trying to do here: recapture the funny-scary tone of one of his biggest hits, 1981's An American Werewolf in London. But the mix of comedy and grisliness in this comical take on a true story is off the mark.

In 1828 Edinburgh, friends William Burke (Pegg) and William Hare (Serkis) realise they can make good money supplying cadavers to world-class surgeon Dr Knox (Wilkinson). But when they can't find a dead body, they kill someone instead. Hare's wife (Hynes) finds out and wants in on it, but Burke can't tell his aspiring actress girlfriend (Fisher) how he makes his living. Meanwhile, Knox is battling a rival surgeon (Curry) for the King's seal. And the local militia captain (Corbett) is closing in.

Continue reading: Burke & Hare Review

Dorian Gray Review


OK
Oscar Wilde's classic novel is turned into a schlock horror movie, totally engulfed by gloomy atmosphere and over-the-top filmmaking. It's watchably cheesy, but completely lacks Wilde's incisive wit or observation.

Dorian (Barnes) is an orphan who inherits a sprawling mansion when his tyrant grandfather dies. Young and eligible, he's quickly taken under the wing of Lord Henry (Firth), who introduces him to the licentious ways of late 19th century London. But the sex and drugs sabotage his relationship with an innocent young actress (Hurd-Wood), and Dorian pledges his soul to the devil in exchange for eternal youth. Now instead of aging, a portrait painted by his friend Basil (Chaplin) shows the scars of his depraved life.

Continue reading: Dorian Gray Review

Easy Virtue Review


Weak
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert helmer Stephan Elliott has translated Noël Coward's Easy Virtue, a breezy and witty take on the post-war British upper class, into a sort of gussied-up comedy of manners that falls somewhere between Meet the Parents and Junebug. Beholden more to Coward's stage play than Alfred Hitchcock's 1928 silent adaptation, Elliott's version highlights a burgeoning 25-year-old Coward, still apprehensive of his talents, though that isn't to say there aren't some choice bits.

The film opens on a newsreel of Larita (Jessica Biel), an American racecar driver, with "Mad about the Boy," a song Coward famously wrote, playing over it. The footage opens up and we see Larita taking the eye of young John Whittaker (Prince Caspian himself Ben Barnes). Not long after, they are married and heading towards his family home in the country to meet his parents (Kristin Scott Thomas and Colin Firth). From there it takes little time for the mother, whom Thomas plays with her uncanny icy veneer, to decide that she will wreck the marriage to the scandalous American.

Continue reading: Easy Virtue Review

Barnaby Thompson Monday 4th February 2008 St. Trinian's cast party at the Bumpkin pub London, England

Barnaby Thompson

Barnaby Thompson and Oliver Parker - Barnaby Thompson and Oliver Parker London, England - Premiere of 'St Trinian's' at Empire, Leicester Square - Arrivals Monday 10th December 2007

Barnaby Thompson and Oliver Parker
Barnaby Thompson and Oliver Parker
Barnaby Thompson and Oliver Parker

Imagine Me & You Review


Bad
A massive cinematic industry has been cultivated on the idea that people aren't exactly in control of whom they fall in love with. But movie charades of predetermination often squelch the lure of this subject matter. Such is the fate of Imagine Me & You, a sit-comish Brit romance that waffles between Four Weddings and a Funeral's fuzzy cuteness and Notting Hill's middling novelty. The clever thing here is the homosexual relationship... you'd think. But, nowadays, even the gay angle has become a titillating surrogate for originality.

The mediocrity begins with florist Luce (Lena Headey) meeting Rachel (Piper Perabo) at her wedding to lifelong friend-become-lover Heck (Mathew Goode channeling Hugh Grant). They become smitten girlfriends since Rachel remains sexually confused. And, though Luce tells Heck she's gay -- and he tells womanizer buddy "Coop" (Darren Boyd) -- Heck remains blind to her and his wife's mutual attraction.

Continue reading: Imagine Me & You Review

Imagine Me & You Review


Bad
A massive cinematic industry has been cultivated on the idea that people aren't exactly in control of whom they fall in love with. But movie charades of predetermination often squelch the lure of this subject matter. Such is the fate of Imagine Me & You, a sit-comish Brit romance that waffles between Four Weddings and a Funeral's fuzzy cuteness and Notting Hill's middling novelty. The clever thing here is the homosexual relationship... you'd think. But, nowadays, even the gay angle has become a titillating surrogate for originality.

The mediocrity begins with florist Luce (Lena Headey) meeting Rachel (Piper Perabo) at her wedding to lifelong friend-become-lover Heck (Mathew Goode channeling Hugh Grant). They become smitten girlfriends since Rachel remains sexually confused. And, though Luce tells Heck she's gay -- and he tells womanizer buddy "Coop" (Darren Boyd) -- Heck remains blind to her and his wife's mutual attraction.

Continue reading: Imagine Me & You Review

Hope Springs Review


Weak
Not to be confused with Hope Floats, the Hope in Hope Springs is a small town, and the springs in question is a noun.

Hope Springs brings us the direct-to-video story of a U.K. artist (Colin Firth), who recently has been dumped by stuffy fiancee Minnie Driver. He jets to the U.S. to seek solace in the town of Hope, promptly finding the much different, free-spirited Heather Graham as his new muse. It's only a matter of time before Minnie's back in the picture... who will he end up with?

Continue reading: Hope Springs Review

An Ideal Husband Review


OK
Get ready from Romance... British style.

The Victorians were well known for keeping a stiff upper lip about everything, and their romance was absolutely no exception. Their entire world was constructed around subtlety, and, in tune with that, the one word that can be used to describe An Ideal Husband is subtle.

Continue reading: An Ideal Husband Review

The Importance Of Being Earnest (2002) Review


Excellent
The Importance of Being Earnest is a sharp, humorous look at the duality of romance and the fear of commitment, served up on a delicate and witty plate in this summer season of comic book heroism and galactic space battles.

The story revolves around two dashing English gentlemen in the 1890s - John "Jack" Worthing (Colin Firth) and Algy Moncrieff (Rupert Everett) - and their trials and tribulations in the games of love and marriage under the moniker of Ernest. Jack spends his days watching over his bookish charge Cecily Cardew (Reese Witherspoon) - the granddaughter of his adopted father - at his country estate. When his restless spirit calls for adventure, he travels to London and visits his wayward city brother "Ernest." In London, Jack becomes "Ernest" and partakes in decadence with his affluent but reckless best friend Algy and ends up madly in love with Algy's sophisticated society cousin Gwendolen Fairfax (Frances O'Connor) - who has a strange love for the name of "Ernest."

Continue reading: The Importance Of Being Earnest (2002) Review

Lucky Break Review


Good
Prison flick meets musical comedy in this oddball conflagration of genres, a British feel-good flick that just so happens to be the follow-up film director Peter Cattaneo made after The Full Monty. Four years went by, Cattaneo's name became all but forgotten, and films like this became Cattaneo's legacy. (Four years after Lucky Break, Cattaneo is finally shooting his next film.) The lovely Olivia Williams shoulders a lot of love here as the object of one prisoner's sights -- at least when he isn't doing double duty as a showman in the warden's play and planning his big escape. Lively enough to keep you paying attention through to the end, even if the whole affair is a bit absurdly silly.
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Barnaby Thompson Movies

The D Train Movie Review

The D Train Movie Review

A provocative drama wrapped in the skin of an adult sex comedy, this sharply written...

Burke & Hare Movie Review

Burke & Hare Movie Review

You can see what Landis was trying to do here: recapture the funny-scary tone of...

Dorian Gray Movie Review

Dorian Gray Movie Review

Oscar Wilde's classic novel is turned into a schlock horror movie, totally engulfed by gloomy...

Imagine Me & You Movie Review

Imagine Me & You Movie Review

A massive cinematic industry has been cultivated on the idea that people aren't exactly in...

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Imagine Me & You Movie Review

Imagine Me & You Movie Review

A massive cinematic industry has been cultivated on the idea that people aren't exactly in...

Hope Springs Movie Review

Hope Springs Movie Review

Not to be confused with Hope Floats, the Hope in Hope Springs is a small...

An Ideal Husband Movie Review

An Ideal Husband Movie Review

Get ready from Romance... British style.The Victorians were well known for keeping a stiff upper...

The Importance of Being Earnest (2002) Movie Review

The Importance of Being Earnest (2002) Movie Review

The Importance of Being Earnest is a sharp, humorous look at the duality of romance...

High Heels and Low Lifes Movie Review

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