Jim Schembri’s new release movie reviews, January 29
NEW RELEASE MOVIE REVIEWS – 29 Jan
DIRTY GRANDPA *** (101 minutes) MA
Lovers of low-brow humour will find a cascade of dirty delights here as a freshly widowed old man (Robert De Niro in high-key comedy mode) drags his straight-laced grandson (Zac Efron) on a road trip so he can honour his wife’s final wish by indulging in as much sex as he can.
Crass, often gross and easy to dismiss as R-rated rubbish – the film has been critically reviled – Dirty Grandpa nonetheless reveals how De Niro’s latter-life love of comedy seems largely devoted to piecing together a multi-movie portrait of what it is like to be old.
Along with Efron’s square-to-party boy transformation, the film is spiced by the over-the-top presence of Zoey Deutch (Vampire Academy) playing a hot, over-sexed young woman with a fetish for old men. The scenes of her and De Niro talking dirty to each other have a straight-faced conviction that suggests either or both were enjoying that day on the set.
Pursuing priests: the crusading cast from the period drama Spotlight.
SPOTLIGHT *** (129 minutes) M
This earnest, well-made, factually-based period film harks back to a time in the early 21st century when newspapers were held in much higher regard and weilded more influence and power over the public agenda than they do today.
Set in 2001 it tells of the belated efforts of the investigative team at the Boston Globe to uncover the widespread abuse of children by Catholic priests.
The energetic ensemble cast including Micheal Keaton (who played a news editor in the 1992 Ron Howard film The Paper), Mark Ruffulo, John Slattery (Mad Men), Rachel McAdams and Liev Schreiber (excellent as the new broom looking to make cuts) lend a moral urgency to the story, though writer/director Tom McCarthy (Win-Win; The Visitor) is savvy enough to temper the heroism of their journalistic crusade with the revelation that they were approached years earlier with the same information and did nothing.
Predictably, Spotlight is getting a far better run in the media than the superb, superior Cate Blanchett/Robert Redford film Truth, which was far more critical of how the media operates and largely ignored.
Light moment: The Abominable Snowman checks the lights in the fabulous fantasy romp Goosebumps.
GOOSEBUMPS ***1/2 (103 minutes) PG
Fabulously entertaining and funny action fantasy with monsters running amok as they escape from the locked Goosebumps manuscripts of author R.L Stine (Jack Black). Fast-paced and sporting some magnificent creatures, there are some similarities with the 1995 Robin Williams film Jumanji as a small town is over-run by a giant praying mantis, an abominable snowman, a werewolf, evil gnomes and a malevolent ventriloquist’s doll. Huge fun.
Family matters: Richard Roxburgh, Radha Mitchell and Odessa Young work through issues in Looking for Grace.
LOOKING FOR GRACE ** (100 minutes) M
Teenage girl Grace (Odessa Young) steals a wad of cash from her parents (Richard Roxburgh; Radha Mitchell) and heads off to the outback with her friend to go see a rock concert. Distraught, her mum and dad give chase with the aid of an aging detective (Terry Norris).
Told in a fractured, non-linear style, with overlapping narratives retelling the story from different perspectives, the parts can be tantilising but the whole doesn’t come together the way it should, the payoff being more of a whimper than a bang.
Written and directed by Sue Brooks (Japanense Story; Road to Nhill), the film annoyingly skips between comedy, drama and mystery without deciding which road to take, or whether to blend all three. The film looks and sounds great, but the ‘where are we now’ structure promotes the idea of audiences having to ‘work’ to ‘get’ a film, a notion Australian cinema is supposed to be well beyond by now.
Border crossing: Alicia Vikander and Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl.
THE DANISH GIRL *** (120 minutes) M
Fresh from his Oscar-triumph playing Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything fresh-faced British actor Eddie Reymayne here provides another sterling example of just how deeply he can immerse himself into a role.
Set in 1920s Copenhagen Redmayne plays successful Danish painter Einar Wegener whose less successful artist wife Gerda (Alicia Vikander) gets him to dress in women’s clothes so she can finish her paintings without needing to call back her model.
Einar slowly feels his sense of self shifting while doing this, especially when in full masquerade as ‘Lili’ and attracting the serious attention of men.
Director Tom Hooper (Les Miserables; The King’s Speech) elicits a touching turn from Redmayne that sustains the film for at least half its length.
Once talk of sex change surgery begins the film’s tone downshifts into a more conventional mode, though that central performance is no less mesmeric.