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Review: Angels & Demons, Knowing, Night at the Museum, Lesbian Vampire Killers, A Film With Me In It and I’ve Loved You So Long

By June 25, 2009December 31st, 2013No Comments

Angels & Demons posterRon Howard’s Angels & Demons, sequel to the block­buster Da Vinci Code from 2006, is what you might call an equal oppor­tun­ity annoy­ance – hap­pily mis­rep­res­ent­ing theo­logy and science.

Tom Hanks returns as Harvard schol­ar Robert Langdon, this time summoned to Rome by mys­ter­i­ous Vatican secur­ity to invest­ig­ate the kid­nap­ping of four Cardinals on the eve of the elec­tion of a new Pope. A clue (help­fully read­ing “illu­minati”) leads him to believe that a the secret soci­ety of sci­ent­ists and truth-tellers have come to take revenge for their 17th cen­tury pur­ging. The Large Hadron Collider (actu­ally work­ing in this piece of fic­tion) cre­ates a macguffin that could change the shape of Rome as we know it – if not the world.

Hanks, usu­ally so watch­able in any kind of rub­bish, is slug­gish here and Howard’s dir­ec­tion tries hero­ic­ally to keep flag­ging interest alive – he really does have great com­mand of pace and tone – but this will not go down in his­tory as his best work.

Knowing posterNicolas Cage’s recent run of dis­mal fail­ures is some­what broken by Knowing (a hok­um thrill­er about the end of the world) yet he still seems mis­cast as a wid­ower astro­phys­i­cist who stumbles on a sheet of paper that seems to pre­dict dis­asters (air crashes, 9/11, etc) before they hap­pen. This badly writ­ten rub­bish is made mem­or­able by a couple of thrill­ing effects set-pieces but they’re not really worth sit­ting through the rest of it.

Night at the Museum 2 posterAfter watch­ing New York get­ting des­troyed (again) it was some­thing of a sur­prise to see, 15 minutes later, the city look­ing perky and cheer­ful in the open­ing scenes of Night at the Museum 2. Ben Stiller is now a suc­cess­ful invent­or and infomer­cial sales­per­son and he’s lost touch with his friends at the Museum of Natural History. You remem­ber? The ones who come to life at night thanks to an ancient magic tab­let. Those ones. But when they are retired and packed off to Washington for stor­age, he has to go and res­cue them from the the many threats awakened at the Smithsonian – includ­ing a Colossal Squid which I could’ve sworn was at Te Papa.

Rushed into pro­duc­tion before the writers’ strike last year, Night at the Museum seems under­done and repet­it­ive and the kids in the screen­ing with me were boun­cing off the walls with boredom.

Lesbian Vampire Killers posterJames Corden is a por­cine com­ic act­or who has achieved inex­plic­able star­dom in the UK thanks to his sit­com “Gavin & Stacey” (in which he plays neither Gavin nor Stacey) and his “com­ic” part­ner­ship with Mathew Horne is being exploited as fast as humanly pos­sible – before their 15 minutes is up. At the same time as they were writ­ing an appear­ing in a sketch com­edy series (“Horne & Corden”) they were shoot­ing a ter­rible trav­esty of a hor­ror spoof called Lesbian Vampire Killers which, due to the vagar­ies of the inter­na­tion­al dis­tri­bu­tion sys­tem, has actu­ally been released in New Zealand.

Horne and Corden are dim-bulb mates who get lost in the woods on a hik­ing trip and stumble across a vil­lage in which all the women are magic­ally trans­formed into les­bi­an vam­pires the moment they turn 18. Even worse than it sounds, if that’s pos­sible, the les­bi­an vam­pires aren’t even that hot which means it fails even on its own lim­ited terms.

A Film With Me In It posterMuch more inter­est­ing is the Irish indie A Film With Me In It which boasts the enter­tain­ing (and too rarely seen) comedi­an Dylan Moran as best mate to a strug­gling act­or whose run of bad luck is about to get even worse. This is a very black com­edy with plenty of sur­prises which I abso­lutely can­not spoil.

I've Loved You So Long posterFinally to France: I’ve Loved You So Long is a drama fea­tur­ing Kristin Scott Thomas as a middle-aged woman recon­cil­ing with her young­er sis­ter after 15 years in pris­on for mur­der­ing her own son. Ostensibly about recon­cili­ation, for­give­ness and redemp­tion it sells itself out at the end and (des­pite a self-effacing per­form­ance from Scott Thomas) I didn’t believe a word of it. Not a word.

Roman de Gare posterEqually unbe­liev­able (but for­giv­ably so this time) is the lit­er­ary thrill­er Roman de Gare dir­ec­ted by vet­er­an Claude Lelouch (his most fam­ous film A Man and a Woman was made in 1966). A twisty little story about lives inter­sect­ing through fate and people not being what they seem, Roman de Gare is enter­tain­ing fare and gives a lead­ing role to the great Dominique Piñón, a lugubri­ous act­or who has added col­our to plenty of great films (Diva, Betty Blue, Delicatessen) without much spot­light for himself.

Printed in Wellington’s Capital Times on Wednesday 27 May, 2009.

Nature of con­flict: Roman de Gare is dis­trib­uted in New Zealand by Arkles Entertainment who I do a little work for now and then (when they’re not com­plain­ing about my reviews).

Notes on screen­ing con­di­tions: I’ve Loved You So Long and A Film With Me In It were screen­er DVDs. Angels & Demons, Knowing, Night at the Museum were all at the Empire in Island Bay one week­end and Lesbian Vampire Killers was a rowdy pub­lic screen­ing at Readings.