Ruminants run amok thanks to some hinky ag-scientists and a rapacious corporate farmer in the limp splatter-comedy Black Sheep. Not only are the sheep of Oldfield Farm turning on the humans — once bitten the humans are turning into sheep. There are some funny moments but there is too much space around them and the plot peters out well before the end.
Black Sheep is a million dollar idea given a disappointing execution by writer-director Jonathan King, who may have served it better by selling to someone who could really make some gravy with it.
Melbourne, with the help of a few familiar Antipodean tv faces, stands in for Houston in the laughable comic book fluff, Ghost Rider. Academy Award winner (remember Leaving Las Vegas?) Nicolas Cage’s stuntman slips on a bright green balaclava so that a digital flaming skull can be carefully placed atop his leather-clad shoulders. Ghost Rider is most interesting when Cage is having fun as stuntman Johnny Blaze (jelly bean cocktails, The Carpenters?) and fizzles when the by-the-numbers CGI action starts. The great Sam Elliott plays his usual wise old cowboy and Peter Fonda lacks charisma (or confidence) as The Devil.
Serious movie of the week is The Road to Guantanamo which gave me anger-cramps for days afterwards. A dramatised documentary co-directed by the gifted and prolific Michael Winterbottom (Tristram Shandy, In This World), Guantanamo tells the story of the Tipton 3 — three Birmingham lads who in September 2001 go to Pakistan for a wedding. A mix of naïveté, youthful high-spirits and a vague sense of religious fellowship prompts them to cross the border to Afghanistan where they discover all hell breaking loose.
Things get even worse when they are picked up as suspected Taliban and sent to Camps X‑Ray and Delta and held for more than two years in appalling conditions. I thoroughly resent the fact that as a citizen of the free world all this was done in my name.
Finally, a look ahead to the World Cinema Showcase at the Paramount (opening tomorrow). To help me out the Festival Management plucked three preview DVD’s at random from their box of goodies and I really enjoyed two out of three which bodes well for the rest of the fortnight.
Dans Paris is a jaunty, typically French, affair about a family of men: Louis Garrell (from The Dreamers) tries to cheer his depressed brother Romain Duris (The Beat My Heart Skipped), all the while distracted by the beautiful women of Paris.
Emily Barclay, from In My Father’s Den, kick-starts her OE with an award-winning turn as teen-psycho-bitch Katrina Skinner in mean-spirited comedy Suburban Mayhem. She’s OK (miscast perhaps) but the rest of the line-up disappoints.
Far more satisfying is Habana Blues about Ruy and Tito, a pair of musicians struggling to make it in present day Cuba. A visiting Spanish record producer gives them hope of a way out, while Ruy’s estranged wife is about to risk her life (and their kids) on a raft bound for Miami. Boisterous, good natured but realistic. Do see it, because when Castro dies a lot about Cuba is going to change — both good and bad.
Not previewed, but eagerly anticipated, are crossword-documentary Wordplay; Aussie thriller Like Minds; crazy-ass Black Snake Moan and The Dixie Chicks suggesting George Bush find alternative employment in Shut Up & Sing.
Printed in Wellington’s Capital Times on Wednesday 28 March, 2007.
Nature of conflict: Black Sheep is a New Zealand film (a Wellington film more specifically) and its the nature of the beast that I’ll know people involved. In this case, Danielle Mason (Experience) is a mate of mine and any problems with the film can’t be pinned on her in any way.