Now in Cinemas: Reviews for September 27, 2007

Now in Cinemas: Reviews for September 27, 2007

Reviews by Jason Pirodsky
for Expats.cz

A sprawling comic-fantasy adventure, Matthew Vaughn´s Stardust entertains due to the multitude of left-field elements Neil Gaiman throws into his story, even though the basic plot is disappointingly obvious from the get-go. Still, things are reasonably well-handled by director Vaughn (Layer Cake), who brings together a number of characters and dangling plot threads into a reasonably coherent 2 hours. The story, from Gaiman´s graphic novel, borrows elements from all over the fantasy and sci-fi genres, but the light-hearted nature of the film, which often delves into full-fledged comedy, most noticeably brings to mind Rob Reiner´s The Princess Bride. Fantasy fans should be pleased.

Stardust
Rating:
Directed by Matthew Vaughn. Starring Charlie Cox, Claire Danes, Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sienna Miller, Peter O’Toole, Mark Strong, Jason Flemyng, Rupert Evertt, Ricky Gervais, narrated by Ian McKellen. Written by Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn, from the graphic novel by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess.
Showtimes
IMDb link



Witches, ghosts, princes, and a fallen star traverse a multitude of dimensions as our story begins with young Tristan (Charlie Cox), who sets out to win the heart of unsympathetic Victoria. His plan? To track down a fallen star and bring it back to her. Little does he realize that the fallen star is actually a woman, Yvaine (Claire Danes), and she possesses two things that a variety of other characters are searching for: her heart will bring eternal youth to a trio of witches headed by Michelle Pfeiffer, and the ruby around her neck will grant the kingdom of dying emperor Peter O´Toole to one of his heirs, who seem to be killing each other off with alarming ease. Might Tristan realize Victoria´s true nature and fall in love with Yvaine? Could he actually be a prince and future king? You´ll know after a curiously straightforward prologue which leaves little to the imagination and little mystery to the remainder of the film. The supporting cast helps significantly: Pfeiffer makes for a terrific witch, and Robert de Niro is a lot of fun in an all-too-brief turn as a transvestite (?) sky pirate (even if the role seems intended for Robin Williams). O´Toole lends some gravitas to his dying king, and Ricky Gervais steals a couple scenes with his usual shtick. The leads, however, leave something to be desired; Cox is just OK, lacking the charisma of a true swashbuckling hero, and Danes, with her over-the-top facial contortions, is pretty awful as the fallen star, in stark contrast with her recent compelling turn in Evening. Flick is never really all that great, but a diverting and fun experience nonetheless.

Note:
film is screening in a Czech-dubbed version on most Prague screens, but it´s playing in English (with Czech subtitles) at Palace Cinemas Slovanský dům and Villages Cinemas Anděl.

***

Grindhouse
Rating:
Written & directed by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. Starring Freddy Rodríguez, Rose McGowan, Marley Shelton, Josh Brolin, Michael Biehn, Naveen Andrews, Michael Parks, Jerili Romeo, Tom Savini, Rebel Rodriguez, Carlos Gallardo, Electra Avellan, Elise Avellan, Jeff Fahey, Quentin Tarantino, Bruce Willis, Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson, Vanessa Ferlito, Jordan Ladd, Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Tracie Thoms, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Zoe Bell.
Showtimes
IMDb link

At long last, after being separated into 2 movies for its initial release, cinema-goers in the Czech Republic can finally see the Tarantino-Rodriguez double-feature Grindhouse the way it was originally intended to be seen: a single 3+ hour experience. An ode to the drive-in exploitation days, film presents Robert Rodriguez´ longish-but-fun splatterhouse zombie flick Planet Terror first, followed by Tarantino´s dead-on authentic grindhouse send-up, Death Proof. Interspersed between the films are hilarious, note-perfect fake movie trailers from Rob Zombie, Edgar Wright, and Eli Roth; my favorite: Roth´s unbearably funny Thanksgiving. While the artistic merits of the film(s) can be debated, the double-feature experience unquestionably delivers the goods, and perfectly achieves what it set out to do: faithfully re-create that old Grindhouse feeling.

Check out my reviews for the individual features here:
Planet Terror
Death Proof

Note: film is ONLY screening at Palace Cinemas Slovanský dům, and only once per day, at that.

***

Also opening: Gympl (showtimes | IMDb), the latest film from director Tomáš Vorel (Skřítek). Pic focuses on the conflict between old and young generations, following a group of high school students & graffiti artists. Screening with English subtitles at Villages Cinemas Anděl. Please see my full review HERE.


Jason Pirodsky

Hailing from Syracuse, New York, Jason Pirodsky made his way to Prague via Miami and has stuck around, for better and worse, since 2004. A member of the Online Film Critics Society (www.ofcs.org), some of his favorite movies include O Lucky Man!, El Topo, Berlin Alexanderplatz, and Hellzapoppin'. Follow him on Twitter for some (slightly) more concise reviews.

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