WHAT’S ON THISWEEK

PAN­TOS Christ­mas shows across the coun­try ROCK/CLUBS Any ex­cuse to get out of the house CHIL­DREN Keep them amused with our guide to fes­tive fun

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - REVIEWS -

THE COVENANT ★ Di­rected by Renny Har­lin. Star­ring Steven Strait, Se­bas­tian Stan, Toby Hem­ing­way Bland male witches seek to deal with the wor­ry­ing en­croach­ments of a ri­val ju­nior war­lock at their posh private school. The ac­tors all look ex­actly the same, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to tell ex­actly who any­body is or why they are do­ing what it is they do. But, in­so­far as we can judge, the giddy plot of­fers few re­wards for view­ers as­sid­u­ous enough to dis­en­tan­gle its thread­bare strands. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 97 min DC DECK THE HALLS ★ Di­rected by John White­sell. Star­ring Danny DeVito, Matthew Brod­er­ick, Kristin Davis, Kristin Chenoweth, Alia Shawkat, Anal Matthew Brod­er­ick be­comes up­set when coarse Danny DeVito moves in across the street and sets out to dec­o­rate his house with suf­fi­ciently pow­er­ful lights to make it vis­i­ble from space. An­gry hu­mour en­sues. Sad to re­late, this form­less, poorly made Christ­mas pud­ding of a film is even less amus­ing than it sounds. At any other time of year it would have been served to the un­for­tu­nate dog. PG cert, gen re­lease, 95 min DC DÉJÀ VU ★★ Di­rected by Tony Scott. Star­ring Den­zel Wash­ing­ton, Paula Pat­ton, Val Kilmer, Jim Caviezel, Adam Gold­berg, Bruce Green­wood De­tec­tive Wash­ing­ton, in­ves­ti­gat­ing the det­o­na­tion of a bomb on a ferry, is sur­prised to dis­cover that his col­leagues have dis­cov­ered a way of look­ing into the past. The first half of Scott’s char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally sleek en­ter­tain­ment is nippy and fun. When, how­ever, Den­zel ac­tu­ally de­cides to travel back­wards in time it be­comes too silly for words. 12A cert, gen re­lease, 125 min DC ERAGON ★★ Di­rected by Ste­fen Fang­meier. Star­ring Ed­ward Speleers, Si­enna Guil­lory, Gar­rett Hed­lund, Dji­mon Houn­sou, Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Robert Car­lyle, Gary Lewis, Joss Stone Eragon is, ap­par­ently, based on a best­selling novel by some youth from Mon­tana con­cern­ing the ef­forts of a farmer’s son to re­store the an­cient prac­tice of dragon-rid­ing and, thus trans­ported, end a reign of ter­ror by some ar­che­typal bald lu­natic. Fox’s film ver­sion – that stu­dio’s at­tempt to launch a Lord of the Rings- style fran­chise – is ex­actly as you would ex­pect it to be: silly, turgid, in­dif­fer­ently acted and over­bur­dened with dig­i­tal ef­fects. PG cert, gen re­lease, 104 min DC NEW RE­LEASE FLAGS OF OUR FA­THERS ★★★★★ 15A cert, gen re­lease, 132 min See re­view, page 6 FLUSHED AWAY ★★★ Di­rected by David Bow­ers and Sam Fell. Voices of Kate Winslet, Hugh Jack­man, Ian McKellen, Jean Reno, Andy Serkis, Bill Nighy, Shane Richie A posh mouse gets flushed down the loo into an un­der­ground king­dom ter­rorised by an evil toad in Aard­man An­i­ma­tion’s first com­puter-gen­er­ated fea­ture. The quaint Eng­land of Wal­lace and Gromit has been re­placed with a Lon­don mod­elled on Richard Cur­tis films and the hu­mour has got that bit less sub­tle. But this is still a lov­ingly made film in which one is never more than a minute away from a crack­ing joke. G cert, gen re­lease, 84 min DC NEW RE­LEASE GABRIELLE ★★★ Club, IFI, Dublin, 90 min See re­view, page 7 GROUNDED ★ Di­rected by Paul Feig. Star­ring Lewis Black, Wilmer Valder­rama, Tyler James Wil­liams, Dyl­lan Christo­pher, Brett Kelly, Gina Man­tegna, Teri Garr A bunch of sin­gle-ad­jec­tive kids – smart, posh, fat and so forth – find them­selves trapped at an air­port on Christ­mas Eve. Bad news for them. Worse news for any un­for­tu­nate par­ents mis­guided enough to ac­com­pany their off­spring to this cheap, wit­less, in­dif­fer­ently acted bore. You won’t need to be told that the Scrooge stand-in learns to love Christ­mas. Good luck to him. PG cert, gen re­lease, 90 min DC HAPPY FEET ★★★ Di­rected by Ge­orge Miller. Voices of Robin Wil­liams, Hugh Jack­man, Eli­jah Wood, Ni­cole Kid­man, Brit­tany Mur­phy, Hugo Weav­ing, Steve Ir­win The story is very thin and the film tries to tackle too many big themes, but Miller’s glo­ri­ous look­ing an­i­ma­tion de­tail­ing life among the em­peror pen­guin com­mu­nity re­mains en­ter­tain­ing and thought-pro­vok­ing through­out. Few sane par­ents will ob­ject to the much talked about de­ci­sion to ad­dress global warm­ing, though some may won­der at Miller’s lu­natic de­ci­sion to al­low Robin Wil­liams to voice two whole parts. PG cert, gen re­lease, 108 min DC THE HOL­I­DAY ★ Di­rected by Nancy Mey­ers Star­ring Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Jack Black, Eli Wal­lach, Ru­fus Sewell, Ed­ward Burns Diaz, a movie-trailer di­rec­tor from LA, swaps houses with Winslet, a jour­nal­ist from the most twee town in Sur­rey, just as Christ­mas lum­bers into view. Cue all the sig­na­ture Richard Cur­tis tropes. This truly ap­palling film – as dra­mat­i­cally in­ert as it is thun­der­ously pre­dictable – man­ages the not in­con­sid­er­able feat of fur­ther de­bas­ing an al­ready shamed genre. Come back, Love Ac­tu­ally, all is for­given. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 138 min DC NEW RE­LEASE IT’S A BOY GIRL THING ★★ 15A cert, gen re­lease, 95 min See re­view, page 6 JACK­ASS NUM­BER TWO ★ Di­rected by Jeff Tre­maine. Star­ring Johnny Knoxville In the be­lief that noth­ing suc­ceeds like ex­cess, the se­quel strings to­gether an­other suc­ces­sion of dis­gust­ing, wit­less short sketches with no link­ing nar­ra­tive as the team en­gage in co­pi­ous ex­hi­bi­tion­ism, gross stunts and reck­less en­dan­ger­ment. 16 cert, gen re­lease, 95 min MD NEW RE­LEASE NIGHT AT THE MU­SEUM ★ PG cert, gen re­lease, 108 min See re­view, page 6 OPEN SEA­SON ★★ Di­rected by Jill Cul­ton and Roger Allers. Voices of Martin Lawrence, Ash­ton Kutcher A bear and a deer are trans­ported to an in­hos­pitable moun­tain re­gion where they seek to avoid the at­ten­tion of hunters. The an­i­ma­tion is fair but not spec­tac­u­lar. The vo­cal tal­ent ad­e­quate though not ex­cep­tional. PG cert, gen re­lease, 99 min DC PAN’S LABYRINTH ★★★★ Di­rected by Guillermo del Toro. Star­ring Sergi López, Ari­adna Gil Del Toro blends magic re­al­ism, fairy­tale trap­pings and ex­traor­di­nar­ily strik­ing spe­cial ef­fects for an in­ge­nious fu­sion of fan­tasy and vi­o­lent drama set at the end of the Span­ish Civil War. Lopez oozes malev­o­lence as an army cap­tain, the step­fa­ther to a girl who meets a fan­tas­ti­cal crea­ture. 16 cert, Lim­ited re­lease 119 min MD NEW RE­LEASE PER­FUME: THE STORY OF A MUR­DERER ★★★ 15A cert, gen re­lease, 147 min See re­view, page 7 THE NA­TIV­ITY STORY ★★ Di­rected by Catherine Hard­wicke. Star­ring Keisha Cas­tle-Hughes, Os­car Isaac, Hiam Ab­bass, Ciarán Hinds, Shohreh Agh­dashloo, Stan­ley Townsend The di­rec­tor of Thir­teen, that sear­ing tale of teenage break­down, con­tem­plates the Na­tiv­ity and, sadly, finds lit­tle new to say about it. Cas­tle-Hughes, star of Whale Rider, is surly and un­charis­matic as Mary. The at­tempt to have the Magi pro­vide comic re­lief fails badly. Still, the film works well enough as a devo­tional tool or an an­i­mated Christ­mas card. Just don’t ex­pect any great rev­e­la­tions. PG cert, gen re­lease, 101 min DC THE PRES­TIGE ★★★★ Di­rected by Christo­pher Nolan. Star­ring Chris­tian Bale, Hugh Jack­man, Michael Caine, Scar­lett Jo­hans­son, David Bowie Bale and Jack­man play ma­gi­cians whose ini­tial re­la­tion­ship as friends and col­leagues de­scends into bit­ter ri­valry when they sabotage each other’s acts and try to steal se­crets. Set in late 19th-cen­tury Lon­don, Nolan’s clever, en­ter­tain­ing film plays its own de­vi­ous tricks on the au­di­ence. 12A cert, gen re­lease, 130 min MD RE­QUIEM ★★★★ Di­rected by Hans-Chris­tian Sch­mid. Star­ring San­dra Hüller, Burghart Klaußner The true events that in­spired The Ex­or­cism of Emily Rose are re­counted with con­sid­er­ably greater so­bri­ety in this chill­ing, un­com­fort­ably well-acted film from a promis­ing young di­rec­tor. Telling the story of a psy­cho­log­i­cally trou­bled Ger­man girl who died fol­low­ing an at­tempted ex­or­cism in the 1970s, the film prof­its from som­bre art di­rec­tion, un­re­strained di­rec­tion and, most of all, a stun­ning cen­tral per­for­mance from Hüller. Kino, Cork, 89 min DC

The US vs John Len­non? Well, the gov­ern­ment did tap the for­mer Bea­tle’s phone line and made a slightly pa­thetic at­tempt to have him de­ported. But this in­ter­est­ing if un­sur­pris­ing doc­u­men­tary is mostly con­cerned with John Len­non vs the US – his friend­ship with Ab­bie Hoff­man, his op­po­si­tion to the Viet­nam War. No mat­ter. De­spite its disin­gen­u­ous ti­tle, it re­mains an en­ter­tain­ing, slickly pro­duced com­pi­la­tion of talk­ing heads. Gore Vi­dal is pre­dictably acer­bic. G Gor­don Liddy pre­dictable in­sane. Nice to have them back in cine­mas. PG cert, Screen, Dublin, 96 min DC THE SANTA CLAUSE 3: THE ES­CAPE CLAUSE ★ Di­rected by Michael Lem­beck. Star­ring Tim Allen, Martin Short, El­iz­a­beth Mitchell, Judge Rein­hold, Wendy Crew­son, Ann-Margret, Alan Arkin Jack Frost, played by the never par­tic­u­larly wel­come Short, at­tempts to re­place Allen’s Santa as the fig­ure­head of Christ­mas in this truly wretched third episode of an al­ready unlovely fran­chise. The film’s low­est point comes when we are asked to feel dis­gust as an as­cen­dant Jack turns the North Pole into a com­mer­cially driven theme park. I’m sorry? This in a film from Walt Dis­ney? “This junk is not what Christ­mas is all about,” Allen fumes. Hear, hear! G cert, gen re­lease, 98 min DC TENA­CIOUS D IN THE PICK OF DES­TINY ★★ Di­rected by Liam Lynch. Star­ring Jack Black, Kyle Gass Tena­cious D, the comic rock band com­pris­ing Jack Black and that other guy, set out to re­trieve a pos­sessed gui­tar pick in their first, only fit­fully amus­ing big-screen es­capade. The guys are quite pleas­ant to be around, but their comic shtick is stretched per­ilously thin over the film’s rel­a­tively mod­est length. There are, sadly, only so many jokes that can be had at the ex­pense of an art form al­ready so self-par­o­dic as heavy metal. 16 cert, gen re­lease, 93 min DC STRANGER THAN FICTION ★★★★ Di­rected by Marc Forster. Star­ring Will Fer­rell, Mag­gie Gyl­len­haal, Dustin Hoff­man, Emma Thompson, Queen Latifah Fer­rell plays a lonely US gov­ern­ment tax au­di­tor whose pre­cisely or­dered world is turned up­side down when he dis­cov­ers he is a char­ac­ter in a novel – and that the au­thor (Thompson) plans to kill him off in the last chap­ter. The cast is im­pec­ca­ble in this smart, en­ter­tain­ing post­mod­ern se­ri­ous com­edy. 12A cert, gen re­lease, 113 min MD THE US VS JOHN LEN­NON ★★★ Di­rected by David Leaf and John Sche­in­feld Cin­ema re­views by Don­ald Clarke and Michael Dwyer

Ben Stiller in Night at the Mu­seum

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