Thursday, December 22, 2011

Welcome to the Christmas Bumper - our 772nd, 773rd and 774th weekly editions covering films releasing from December 22, 2011 to January 5, 2012.

Best films of 2011 - Andrew & Louise list their favourites.

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Films releasing December 22-26:
THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN: THE SECRET OF THE UNICORN
Dir: Steven Spielberg. Stars Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig. "The film is breathtaking, with nicely developed and accessible characters, an inventive script enabling a never-ending stream of innovative ideas that are executed with sophistication," says Louise. "Astonishing is the only word for the motion capture-delivered world of Tintin, a splendid adventure that has all the classic elements," says Andrew.

Latest:
NEWS:
Gossip-free zone;
BOX OFFICE:
Twice weekly reports & charts;

Movie reviews:
TOWER HEIST
Dir: Brett Ratner. Stars Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Alan Alda, Broderick Crawford, Tea Leoni. "..a thoroughly entertaining heist movie with enough ballast to make it real, and also enough comedy to make it a great entertainment," says Andrew. "Brilliantly executed with hilarious ideas and a first-class cast, Tower Heist is a sparkling and original caper," says Louise.

Movie reviews:
WAR HORSE
Dir: Steven Spielberg. Stars Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, Peter Mullan. "Take a tissue and be prepared for a huge emotional wallop in Steven Spielberg's wonderful film about an extraordinary horse," says Louise. "War Horse is a soppy, schmaltzy film about the great love between a teenage boy and a young horse, but it's quality schmaltz," says Andrew.

Movie reviews:
HAPPY FEET TWO 3D
Dir: George Miller. Voices of Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon. " .. youngsters and their families will be captivated by the show and the superb techno-whizzery never ceases to amaze," says Louise. "More feet, more songs, more music, more characters . more everything really, but less of story than the original. The heart of the film is scattered about, but it fails to connect as satisfactorily as before," says Andrew.
INTERVIEW: Andrew L. Urban talks to George Miller and Robin Williams.

Movie reviews:
THE IRON LADY
Dir: Phyllida Law. Stars Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Richard E. Grant. "All eyes are on Meryl Streep in what must be the most extraordinary performance of the year - her eerily authentic portrayal of Maggie Thatcher," says Louise. "The film ends on a melancholy note, emphasising the film's focus on an old Thatcher absent from the fray, a woman we don't know nor relate to," says Andrew.

Movie reviews:
THE SKIN I LIVE IN
Dir: Pedro Almodovar. Stars Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya, Marisa Paredes. "Bizarre, shocking, sexy and dark, this is Almodóvar at his brilliant melodramatic best," says Louise. "Almodóvar plugs us into a whirlpool of emotional constructs which turbo charge the story," says Andrew.
INTERVIEW: She had to play a survivor like never before, Elena Anaya tells Andrew L. Urban.

Movie reviews:
ALBERT NOBBS
Dir: Rodrigo Garcia. Stars Glenn Close, Mia Wasikowska, Aaron Johnson, Janet McTeer. "The extraordinary and haunting presence of Glenn Close is what remains with us in this poignant drama," says Louise. "For all its strengths, Albert Nobbs has its weaknesses; director Rodrigo Garcia often allows the film to seem stilted and the story doesn't fully satisfy," says Andrew.

Movie reviews:
WE BOUGHT A ZOO
Dir: Cameron Crowe. Stars Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church. "It's a shame the motley zoo-staff are written as caricatures, as is the potential villain, the zoo inspector . but this endearing story about a family buying a private zoo offers more drama than the images of its photogenic animals might suggest," says Louise.

Movie reviews:
THE SALT OF LIFE
Dir: Gianni Di Gregorio. Stars Gianni Di Gregorio, Valeria De Franciscis, Aflonso Santagata. "Di Gregorio makes his observations with disarming ease, involving us in Giovanni's life - both real and imagined. Performances are vibrantly naturalistic," says Louise.

Movie reviews:
THE FLYING SWORDS OF DRAGON GATE 3D
Dir: Hark Tsui. Stars Jet Li, Siu-Wong Fan, Xun Zhou. "Touted as the first 'wuxia' movie in 3D, Flying Swords makes the most of the third dimension by taking us to some of the most spectacular landscapes in China, from desert to clifftops with vertigo views.
Hark Tsui has created an epic movie based on themes of identity and betrayal," says Andrew.

Films releasing January 1:
ALVIN & THE CHIPMUNKS: CHIP-WRECKED
Dir: Mike Mitchell. Jason Lee, David Cross; voices of Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler, Anna Faris, Alyssa Milano, Christina Applegate. "Cheerful, not too scary, easily digestible (albeit some of the dialogue is indecipherable for us non-Chipmunks) and relentlessly energetic, Chip-Wrecked stays afloat delightfully," says Andrew.

Films releasing January 5:
SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS
Dir: Guy Ritchie. Stars Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, Jared Harris. Is Guy Ritchie killing Sherlock Holmes - again?

Golden Globes 2012 - Nominations:
STEVEN AND MARTY FACE OFF
Steven Spielberg's Christmas present has arrived: both his holiday films, War Horse and The Adventures of Tintin, have been nominated for Golden Globes, the former in the Best Drama category, the latter for Best Animation, while George Clooney and Woody Allen are also multiple nominees; but it's a relatively small (but superbly made) black and white film, The Artist, that is creating hot buzz, with not only the most GG noms but also heavy with Screen Actors Guild noms. Andrew L. Urban reports.

UPCOMING FILMS
[Coming soon, The Muppets, stars Amy Adams, Jason Segel, Chris Cooper. "I smiled throughout this madcap joyous adventure in which the Muppets are funny, silly, colourful and totally endearing in what must be the happiest film of the New Year," says Louise. "The Muppets is .. are .. soooo fun," says Andrew.]
Calendar of films releasing.

At a glance:
TOP 20
Short and sweet (or not) opinions on the most popular current releases. An easy reference for choosing which movie to see tonight . or tomorrow . or right now! (Occasionally we also slip in a few of the editors' favourites if they don't make the top 20...)

NEW TRAILERS
Preview trailers of the latest films on your own screen:
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, stars Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Robin Wright
War Horse, stars Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, David Thewlis;
The Iron Lady, stars Meryl Streep;
Shame, stars Michael Fassbender
Arrietty, from Studio Ghibli;
A Few Best Men, stars Rebel Wilson, Xavier Samuel, Olivia Newton-John;
The Adventures of Tintin, stars Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig;

DVD REVIEWS
THE GUARD
Stars Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle. "..never in doubt that it's a comedy, but there are some fairly serious matters and a surprising amount of dramatic action," says Andrew.

HORRIBLE BOSSES
Stars Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis. " .. dares to go for broke and is deliciously bold, over-the-top and vulgar," says Louise.

BIG MAMMA'S BOY
Stars Frank Lotito, Holly Valance, Carmelina Di Guglielmo, George Kapiniaris, Maria Venuti. " .. the script is badly underdeveloped, resulting in a story where nothing is believable," says Louise.

MORE DVD REVIEWS:
DAMNED BY DAWN
Stars Renee Willner, Bridget Neval, Dawn Klingberg. "..all bloody hell begins to break loose when the Banshee screams for the dead to awaken," says Andrew.

POM WONDERFUL
Documentary with Morgan Spurlock. "Logical, thought-provoking and disarmingly funny, the ubiquitous, smooth-talking, brash Spurlock explores the topic of product placement, visibility, fame and credibility." says Louise.

PRIEST
Stars Paul Bettany, Cam Gigandet, Maggie Q, Karl Urban. " .. an often surprisingly compelling B-movie with some superior elements.," says Louise.

ONE DAY
Stars Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess. " .. there's a gimmicky feeling about the concept of skipping through the years on the very same day," says Louise.

Competition winners:
THE IRON LADY
We asked: Who among family and friends would you call an Iron Lady / or Iron Man, and why? Kevin Harris (NSW) says: I would have said my ex-wife - heartless; tough as nails (and just as pointy and dangerous); and totally rusting away - but technically she's no longer family. But Maggie`s no longer 'iron' either.

AUSTRALIAN FILMS
Every Australian film we have ever reviewed (film / DVD / video release), or have reported from the set, or featured in any way, is listed here, going back to films made even before the launch of Urban Cinefile, such as The Piano, Romper Stomper, Muriel's Wedding, The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert and dozens more. About 500 films.

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