Skip to main content

Review: The Losers, Every Jack Has a Jill and A Single Man

By December 30, 2010No Comments

This week’s review comes to you from sunny/rainy Auckland where your cor­res­pond­ent is catch­ing up with old friends and enjoy­ing the Auckland cinema scene. The first thing to report is that audi­ence beha­viour in the 09 is as selfish and imma­ture as it is at home. Texting and talk­ing is as pre­val­ent at com­mer­cial films like The Losers (screen­ing at the oth­er­wise well-appointed Sky City St Lukes) as in Wellington.

The Losers posterThe Losers itself would be an easy film to avoid if it wasn’t the only not­able Hollywood release of the week. A crack com­mando squad are hung out to dry by mys­ter­i­ous forces back in Washington. Somehow they have to get back stateside, clear their names and take their revenge on the shad­owy mas­ter­mind who tries to des­troy them. Sound famil­i­ar? Yes, it’s The A‑Team and a remake of that comes out in a week or two so you can safely bypass this low-rent ver­sion fea­tur­ing some B‑list stars like Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen ), Chris Evans (Fantastic 4) and the bland­est super vil­lain in his­tory, Jason Patric (Speed 2).

Patric plays Max, work­ing semi-officially for the US gov­ern­ment: try­ing to blow up Los Angeles; blame it on the ter­ror­ists; thus rein­force the military-industrial com­plex and restore American hege­mony.  And of course he doesn’t care who gets thrown under the bus in the pro­cess. I only remem­ber this because I took some notes but as for Patric him­self? Instantly forgettable.

I’d like to come up with some­thing a little more ori­gin­al to describe The Losers but see­ing that the film­makers didn’t both­er, I don’t see why I should.

Every Jack Has a Jill posterThe woe­ful run of French com­mer­cial hits released to unsus­pect­ing Wellington audi­ences con­tin­ues des­pite my efforts to sab­ot­age it. The latest entry is Every Jack has a Jill, an unprom­ising debut by Jennifer Devoldere. Melanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds) plays mou­sey but beau­ti­ful Chloe, a journ­al­ist with a shy­ness so para­lys­ing that a col­league has to make her phone calls for her. A con­trived air­port mix-up sees her swap bags with lonely American tour­ist Justin Bartha (The Hangover). She opens his bag and falls in love with him after rum­ma­ging through the con­tents and then she starts stalk­ing him – as you do. Meanwhile Bartha is trapped in a Paris hotel pop­u­lated by “char­ac­ters” who are slowly driv­ing him mad.

There’s not a single recog­nis­able human char­ac­ter, situ­ation or emo­tion on offer here. The jokes are flat, the drama tame and every single per­son is pro­foundly irrit­at­ing – not least hob­bit, Billy Boyd as Bartha’s best friend. The indie-rock soundtrack is, how­ever, really good.

A Single Man posterA belated shout out to Tom Ford’s A Single Man which premiered at the World Cinema Showcase earli­er this year and is still going strong at loc­al art­houses. Based on Christopher Isherwood’s defin­it­ive study of Los Angeles loneli­ness, Ford has made some­thing quite beau­ti­ful to look at, expertly con­trolled, and a fine debut. Colin Firth plays a buttoned down semi-closeted English English pro­fess­or in LA, griev­ing over a lost love and con­tem­plat­ing end­ing it all.

I found it to be a little too cold for my taste but entirely admirable.

Printed in Wellington’s Capital Times on Wednesday 26 May, 2010.