When I took this gig I knew there would come a time when I would be asked to review a film for which I was completely unqualified. What I didn’t realise was that the moment would come so soon. The Devil may well wear Prada but this reviewer wears Hallensteins and names like Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik could be shoe designers for all I know.
Idealistic young journalism graduate Andy Sachs (irritatingly squeaky-voiced Anne Hathaway) gets a job as 2nd Assistant to Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), editor-in-chief of Runway magazine hoping to parlay the position into a job as a crusading social issues reporter at the New Yorker. She soon finds out that fetching scarves from Hermés and slop from Starbucks is not actually journalism though it does approximate it in prestige. The Devil Wears Prada floats comfortably above mediocrity thanks to the exceedingly witty script, nice observations and a performance out of the very top drawer from Streep. It’s worth seeing for her alone.
Gridiron Gang is the true story of an innovative programme in the California youth penal system in the early 90’s where young gang-bangers were given the opportunity to learn teamwork and respect for each other by taking part the local high school football competition. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is appealing as the visionary young prison officer and coach who turns the kids around and there’s some salt mixed in with all the saccharine to make the film an effective, if predictable, inspire-athon.
In The Guardian, a big wet tongue kiss to the US Coast Guard, Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher battle it out for the title of Captain Smug with Kutcher winning by a length: he really does that have that rare quality that makes you want to give him a slap whenever he appears. It’s not un-entertaining, and the opening and closing set-pieces have a thrill or two about them, but I can’t help believing I left a little piece of my soul behind there in Readings Cinema 5 last Saturday afternoon.
Renaissance is a one of those new-fangled motion-captured animation things, part-financed from cinema powerhouse Luxembourg, set in Paris in 2054 where a mysterious corporate entity is trying to steal the secret of eternal life. The high-contrast black and white cinematography is stylish and bold but lights up the white walls of the Brooks cinema at The Paramount like a dental surgery and new-Bond Daniel Craig was surely taking the piss when he cashed the cheque for his somnambulant English voice-work.
A satisfying antidote to all that tosh can be found in the Canadian coming-of-age drama C.R.A.Z.Y. which tells the story of a working-class Quebec family, specifically the, er, sensitive middle son Zach. It’s episodic and goes off in some odd directions but in the end is quite lovely.
I can also recommend Who Killed The Electric Car?, a high-quality new entry in the fashionable eco-doc genre, even though I am a loyal “Top Gear” viewer who drives his 3 litre European car from Newtown to Courtenay Place if it even looks like rain. I don’t know how I sleep at night, I really don’t.
Printed in Wellington’s Capital Times on Wednesday 25 October, 2006.