The Commitments was released 25 years ago and to celebrate the cult release, a special edition DVD and Blu-ray is now being released.
Jimmy Rabbitte is a Dubliner who's always had a dream to start a band and make it big. Deciding to act on his dreams, Jimmy puts out an ad for musicians in the area looking to share in his idea. After many unsuccessful auditions, Jimmy is tired out for watching terrible wannabe musicians and decides that he's going to start a band with his friends, whilst he acts as their manager.
He recruits a number of people, Deco Cuffe who has the perfect voice to front a soul band; Outspan Foster to play guitar; Steven Clifford to play the piano; Dean Fay to play the saxophone; bassist Derek Scully, drummer Billy Mooney, and three backup singers who are all girls: Bernie McGloughlin, Natalie Murphy and Imelda Quirke. The lineup is finally complete when they meet Joey 'The Lips' Fagan who might be much older than the other guys in the band but he plays the trumpet and has a years of experience playing with some of the people Jimmy most looks up to.
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Aside from being a hugely entertaining romp, this film also works as a far above-average Irish rural comedy as well as a freaky monster movie. With a fiendishly inventive script and hilariously complex characters, it grabs hold of our attention and never lets go. It's scary, grisly, silly and hysterically funny, often all at the same time.
The story takes place on Erin Island, a sleepy community off the coast of Northern Ireland where the pristine beauty is about to be invaded by tentacled creatures that arrived in a meteor. The drunken local cop O'Shea (Coyle) and his newly arrived partner Nolan (Bradley) check out a report by the colourful Paddy (Roddy) about something that's definitely not a squid. And a local marine ecologist (Tovey) confirms that it's not even from earth. But as Erin comes under siege from these "grabbers", the islanders have to come up with a clever plan to save the world.
Where this goes is both sublimely ridiculous and very clever, as the filmmakers gleefully play with the monster movie genre (there's a storm rolling in!) while stirring in elements of comedy, romance, sci-fi and horror. But this is never played as a spoof, which makes it surprisingly engaging as we bond with sharp-witted characters who face both these terrifying beasts and quite a few red herrings. As they improvise weapons from whatever is at hand, they also find time to bicker, flirt and even develop some lasting relationships. And Coyle, Bradley and Tovey are terrific in the central roles, as are the riotously eccentric villagers.
Continue reading: Grabbers Review
In 1898, Albert (Close) works at an upscale Dublin hotel, and no one suspects that he's actually a woman. Quietly going about his work while saving to open a tobacco shop, Albert is unassuming and relentlessly polite. Then he's asked to share his room with visiting painter Hubert (McTeer), who learns his secret and reveals one of his own: he's a woman too. But Hubert has managed to have a normal married life. This inspires Albert to pursue the hotel maid Helen (Wasikowska), which is complicated by her lusty relationship with handyman Joe (Johnson).
Continue reading: Albert Nobbs Review
This lively holiday romp has a steady stream of sharp verbal and visual gags that hold our interest. Even when the plot stalls in the middle, it's difficult to stop chuckling at the filmmakers' deranged sense of humour.
At the North Pole, Santa (Broadbent) is a bit complacent after 70 years on the job, letting his heir-apparent son Steve (Laurie) convert Christmas Eve into a high-tech black-ops style mission executed with military precision. To Steve, missing one child is an insignificant statistic. But Steve's younger brother Arthur (McAvoy) disagrees, and teams up with his feisty Grandsanta (Nighy) to make sure the last gift is delivered the old fashioned way.
Yes, the film is a riot of clashes between tradition and progress, the wisdom of the years and youthful vigour. Fortunately, the serious themes are subverted, hilariously playing with our expectations and never turning into a nostalgic paean to the olden days. That said, this British production does feel eerily co-opted by Hollywood, from the use of the American "Santa Claus" (no one ever calls him "Father Christmas", which might have made sense of the film's odd title) to the somewhat feeble attempts to ramp up the action and suspense. Not to mention a massive wave of sentimentality at the end.
But even this is undermined by Baynham (Borat) and director Smith's script, which maintains a dry British sense of humour and gives the strong vocal cast plenty of snappy material to play with. While most of the characters are a bit unmemorable, Nighy gets the best lines: Grandsanta as an old coot full of surprises, including some terrific rude jokes and an amusingly animated hound-style old reindeer sidekick. Staunton also has some terrific dialog as the underestimated Mrs Santa.
Visually the film is brightly colourful, amusingly designed with small sight gags and continual Christmas imagery. While the characters look a little plasticky, the settings are gorgeously rendered, and the flying sleigh sequences almost make it worth seeing in 3D. The problem is that the film feels stretched out by random antics and underdeveloped plot-threads along the way that add nothing to the overall story. So we get tired of the bumbling chaos, mainly because we know exactly where it's got to end up.
Arthur Christmas is the clumsy youngest son of the famous Santa Claus. Together with his family, including his father, his cool older brother Steve, Santa's father Grandsanta and Santa's wife, Mrs. Santa, they run a top secret, highly state of the art operation beneath the North Pole, which helps Santa deliver every single Christmas present in one night around the globe and which cannot be seen by anyone else. It is a lengthy process, which sees Santa's team of elves - including a 'Gift Wrapping Battalion' who carry scissors and tape guns - training in the isolated Arctic during the summer by performing drills and practising their wrapping skills on unsuspecting polar bears. There is also a 'mission control' in which Santa and his team can see exactly how many days there are until Christmas and how many presents have been wrapped.
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Bestselling author Nicholas (Allam) and his efficient wife Beth (Greig) use their Dorset farm as a writer's retreat, while the goings on in the nearby village provide plenty of inspiration. Especially when notorious journalist Tamara (Arterton) returns to town. Her childhood boyfriend (Evans) is stunned when she falls for posing rocker Ben (Cooper), who's the object of obsession for two local 15-year-old girls (Barden and Christie). Meanwhile, Beth's patience with Nicholas' straying eye is being sorely tested just as a visiting writer (Camp) starts paying her some attention.
Continue reading: Tamara Drewe Review
Tamara Drewe might originally be from the countryside but it's been years since she's visited the place of her youth. Much has changed in the small village from her childhood, but so has she! (with the help from a little cosmetic surgery).
Tamara returns the the village with her city ways to see a few of the other people have also adopted the city lifestyle. There's the rockstar (who's just after one thing..), the city workers who return to the village every weekend and there's the old citizens, the ones who've been around for ever. The beauty (and her hotpants) make a huge impact in the little village and all the men seem to adore her, but when it comes to finding the man who would be best for her, she might just surprise herself with her choice.
Running time: 107 minutes
Starring: Gemma Arterton, Roger Allam, Dominic Cooper, Luke Evans, Tamsin Greig, Bronagh Gallagher, Pippa Haywood
Alice is a young woman (Grace) running from a couple of thugs when she's hit by a cab driven by Whitey (Dyer). She can't remember who she is, so he takes her along to meet the gangster Gonzo (King). Then Whitey learns that her wealthy dad (Hagon) is offering a $10 million reward for her return. And as Alice travels around London following clues to her identity, she meets a variety of eccentric characters. Ultimately, Whitey and Alice converge on a nightclub run by the mob boss Harry (Parker).
Continue reading: Malice In Wonderland Review
Raucous, rough energy infuses this film from start to finish, carrying us along even when the slightly over-egged script starts to feel somewhat slender. And it's the terrific chemistry between Downey and Law that makes the film worth seeing.
In Victorian London, private investigator Sherlock Holmes (Downey) is about to lose his partner John Watson (Law), who's moving out to marry his fiancee (Reilly). But the case they've just finished, involving a series of secret-society murders carried out by Lord Blackwood (Strong), just won't end.
Now Holmes' ex Irene (McAdams) is on the scene as well, and things are getting increasingly freaky with more murders and a conspiracy that could lead to a takeover of the whole government. But Holmes' fierce powers of observation are on the case.
The producers blast new life into fusty cinematic stalwarts with their canny choice of director and stars. In many ways this feels more faithful to Arthur Conan Doyle's stories than the dry, cerebral films we're used to. Downey perfectly combines the character's edgy physicality, brainy powers of deduction and sardonic wit. And he and Law are like an hilarious bickering married couple that has lived together just a little too long.
No one else in the cast quite registers. McAdams and Reilly at least play strong-minded women, while Strong glowers satanically from the shadows and Marsan (as the chief inspector) tuts amusingly. The script is mostly smoke and mirrors, weaving in all manner of Holmes' lore, from the original story details to playful references to previous film incarnations (although Holmes never says "elementary", and he never wears a deerstalker).
And if the script isn't nearly as smart as it thinks it is, at least it contains a few nifty twists, including one of the more enjoyable resolutions in recent blockbuster memory. But what we're here for are the fireworks between Downey and Law, a couple of feisty-sexy women and Ritchie-isms like nasty slo-mo fight sequences, witty editing and suggestive lighting. He also offers plenty of refreshingly abrasive vigour to go with the cool effects and a zingy Hans Zimmer score. Bring on the next case.
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