Sum­mer of sa­mu­rai,

It’s shap­ing up to be a pretty safe sum­mer of se­quels and re­makes – but there’s al­ways a hobo

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Cover Story -

IT’S A ner­vous time for the film in­dus­try. Thanks largely to 3D re­leases – and the con­comi­tant sur­charges – the last few years saw cin­ema tak­ings surge quite com­fort­ably. The open­ing few months of 2011, how­ever, have been wor­ry­ingly short of break­out hits. As ever, the stu­dios will look to the sum­mer for sal­va­tion. The eco­nom­ics are com­pli­cated. Whereas, dur­ing the warm months, cin­ema at­ten­dances do not rise dra­mat­i­cally in this part of the world – we like to be out in the sun – the Amer­i­can bean coun­ters re­gard the pe­riod as boom time. If you’re swel­ter­ing in Arkansas, an air-con­di­tioned cin­ema – even one show­ing Killer Rep­tile V – presents an en­tic­ing prospect.

So the big guns are out. But, my word, a lot of fa­mil­iar faces (and masks) are on dis­play. Com­plain­ing about the num­ber of se­quels and re­makes has al­ways been a pop­u­lar ac­tiv­ity among film-go­ers. With re­ces­sion still lurk­ing and new tech­nolo­gies yet again threat­en­ing tra­di­tional cin­ema ex­hi­bi­tion, the stu­dios seem to have be­come more con­ser­va­tive than ever.

If you crave a pop­corn flick that is nei­ther a se­quel, a re­make nor a comic-book adap­ta­tion, then you had best look away now. Pi­rates 4, Spy Kids 4, X-Men 4 1/12, Kung Fu Panda 2, Cars 2. Now look, here, JJ Abrams. Su­per 8, a rare orig­i­nal idea, had bet­ter be good. Robert Pat­tin­son re­joins the mor­tal world in this ro­mance set amid a trav­el­ling cir­cus dur­ing the De­pres­sion. Reese Wither­spoon and Christoph Waltz are among the carnies. Ja­panese mas­ter Takashi Mi­ike brings us a sa­mu­rai film con­cern­ing a baker’s dozen of killers. A re­make of Ei­ichi Kudo’s 1963 film of the same name. Joe Wright, who launched Saoirse Ro­nan in Atone­ment, di­rects a thriller in which the young star plays a teen as­sas­sin. Highly praised doc­u­men­tary con­cern­ing the world Ir­ish dancing cham­pi­onships. The hair is large and the chil­dren are feisty. Rachid Bouchareb of­fers a fol­low-up to the ac­claimed Days of

with this story of Al­ge­rian re­sis­tance fight­ers in post-war Paris. Con­tro­ver­sial stuff. Con­tin­u­ing his merry trawl through low­brow ma­te­rial, Paul Bet­tany stars as a more than usu­ally vi­o­lent pri­est pitched against ill-tem­pered vam­pires. Based on an ac­claimed Korean comic. Conor Hor­gan, suc­cess­ful pho­tog­ra­pher and short film-maker, de­liv­ers his fea­ture de­but with an ex­cel­lent drama set in post-apoc­a­lyp­tic Ire­land. Ma­hamat-Saleh Haroun’s Cha­dian film, run­ner-up at Cannes last year, con­cerns a for­mer swim­ming cham­pion who now works as a pool su­per­vi­sor at an up­mar­ket ho­tel. Al­le­gor­i­cal. Joe Cor­nish – of TV’s Adam and Joe – makes his fea­ture de­but with a comic hor­ror in­volv­ing alien in­va­sions in south Lon­don. Sorted! Promis­ing Aus­tralian thriller – a class of lat­ter-day Down Un­der west­ern – fol­low­ing a cop dur­ing his first day on the job. The writers of That ’70s Show stretch them­selves with an en­sem­ble com­edy set in 1988. The un­der­em­ployed To­pher Grace and the chortle­some Anna Faris savour the power bal­lads. Emilio Estevez di­rects his fa­ther, Martin Sheen, in a drama set among pil­grims on the Camino de San­ti­ago in Spain. Twinkly James Nes­bitt twin­kles as an Ir­ish writer.

Does that mean the tides are awash with peo­ple you haven’t met or that they are more pe­cu­liar than usual? Never mind. You don’t need to be told what this is. Should take squil­lions. Thriller con­cern­ing the for­ma­tion of the com­mando unit headed by Ian Flem­ing dur­ing the sec­ond World War. Not sure the old Eto­nian would ap­prove of Danny

Dyer’s pres­ence in the cast. We still await a sat­is­fac­tory adap­ta­tion of a book by first-class Ir­ish crime writer Ken Bruen. This one stars Ja­son Statham as a tough (what else?) po­lice­man on the trail of a se­rial killer. Guillermo del Toro presents (what­ever that means) a hor­ror film con­cern­ing a woman who, as blind­ness ad­vances, must in­ves­ti­gate a mys­te­ri­ous death. To be fair, Señor del Toro knows a good shocker when he sees one. Tom Mc­Carthy, di­rec­tor of The Sta­tion Agent and The Visi­tor, re­turns with a comic drama con­cern­ing a de­cent New Jer­sey lawyer fac­ing bank­ruptcy. Paul Gia­matti em­ploys his best hang­dog look. Se­quel to one of the most suc­cess­ful come­dies ever at the Ir­ish box of­fice. This time round, the dis­so­lute dudes are in Bangkok for Stu’s wed­ding. Liam Nee­son no longer has a cameo. Sec­ond film adapted from Jeff Kin­ney’s books con­cern­ing a young nerd and his largely like­able fam­ily. Harm­less fun for, well, some of the fam­ily. Mov­ing, sen­ti­men­tal drama fol­low­ing a young South African girl’s ef­forts to keep her fam­ily to­gether in a town rav­aged by Aids and pros­ti­tu­tion. Kho­motso Manyaka is stun­ning in the lead role. Good grief. Where has this been? This is the film – con­cern­ing a sol­dier de­tailed to de­liver bad news to fam­i­lies – for which Woody Har­rel­son re­ceived an Os­car nom­i­na­tion last year. Who were the X-Men be­fore they were X-Men? It seems that Pro­fes­sor Xavier was James McAvoy and Mag­neto was Michael Fass­ben­der. Sounds plau­si­ble enough.

irish­times.com/cul­ture

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