What big eyes you have . . .

. . . All the bet­ter to read Don­ald Clarke’s pre­view of Red Rid­ing Hood and the other film high­lights of early 2011

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Front Page -

ONE COULD rea­son­ably de­cry the way Hollywood now un­leashes all its Os­car pic­tures at the end of the year in the US. Then again, this does mean that, here in the Rest of the World, we get an in­vig­o­rat­ing blast of pres­tige re­leases dur­ing the icy later months of win­ter. Such pic­tures as Black Swan, True Grit, The Fighter and The King’s Speech are all worth bat­ter­ing your way through snow­drifts for.

The gap be­tween that happy pe­riod and the be­gin­ning of block­buster sea­son has, how­ever, be­come in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult to sum­marise. One thing is ap­par­ent from this year’s spring pre­view: the stu­dios are throw­ing a great deal of prod­uct at us. The no­tion seems to be that – un­sure what makes money in the sea­son that isn’t re­ally a sea­son – the dis­trib­u­tors have de­cided to sprin­kle a bit of ev­ery­thing through the sched­ules.

Af­ter all, who would have guessed that Alice in Won­der­land, re­leased last Fe­bru­ary, would take a bil­lion dol­lars world­wide? It doesn’t look as if there’s a hit of those pro­por­tions in this year’s sched­ules. But that’s the thing about sur­prises – they sur­prise you. Hooper’s film de­tails the ef­forts of King Ge­orge VI to over­come his speech im­ped­i­ment as war looms. Nicolas Cage stars as a cru­sader cop­ing badly with life in a plague-rid­den land. It sounds a bit like The Sev­enth Seal, but it seems un­likely it will look much like that Bergman flick. Of­fer­ing the first of two re­leases in as many weeks, Michel Gondry di­rects a doc­u­men­tary con­cern­ing his sprightly aunt, a teacher from ru­ral France. Dar­ren Aronof­sky fol­lows-up The Wrestler with a de­mented tale of de­mented bal­let dancers be­ing de­mented. Natalie Port­man, quite bril­liant in the lead, is cur­rently favourite for the best ac­tress Os­car. new pic­ture is a ter­ri­fy­ing drama fol­low­ing a smart kid as he gets dragged into gang vi­o­lence. Un­com­pro­mis­ing stuff. Javier Bar­dem gives a bravura per­for­mance in Ale­jan­dro González Iñár­ritu’s drama about a dodgy char­ac­ter con­fronting his fail­ings as death looms. Gloomy and res­o­nant.

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