SHORT­CUTS

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODMOVIES -

NEW RE­LEASES

Em­peror: Wrap­ping a his­tory les­son in a ro­man­tic melo­drama can make for a lively movie, but only if the love story is juicier than the ed­u­ca­tional nar­ra­tive. That’s not the case with this film, which is well made, but will ap­peal pri­mar­ily to those with an in­ter­est in the dev­as­tated set­ting (1945 Tokyo) and the enig­matic ti­tle char­ac­ter (Em­peror Hiro­hito). The ac­tion cen­tres on a gen­uine but fic­tion­alised fig­ure, US Gen­eral Bon­ner Fellers (Matthew Fox) who has been given 10 days to do the im­pos­si­ble: de­ter­mine which Ja­panese lead­ers should be tried and ex­e­cuted as war crim­i­nals and which should be re­ha­bil­i­tated to help the Yanks re­build the coun­try. ★★★ Walk­ing with Di­nosaurs 3D: As well as shar­ing its name with the 1999 BBC doc­u­men­tary se­ries, this episodic and te­dious dig­i­tally an­i­mated tale about the com­ing-of-age of a young pachyrhi­nosaurus has a thin ve­neer of re­spectable ed­u­ca­tional va­lid­ity. But the younger viewer is still li­able to come away from it with the im­pres­sion that di­nosaurs told poop jokes and spoke in the col­lo­qui­alisms of an­noy­ing US teenagers. ★★ 47 Ronin: Keanu Reeves stars in in this mar­tial-arts ad­ven­ture about a band of samurai seek­ing re­venge for the death

of their mas­ter. Not re­viewed

ON CIR­CUIT

Frozen: This an­i­mated com­e­dyad­ven­ture, in­spired by The Snow Queen by Hans Chris­tian An­der­sen – al­though it bears lit­tle re­sem­blance to the fairy tale – has a sweet and very mod­ern mes­sage, plus strong char­ac­ters. More im­por­tant, the movie blends the mu­sic-minded men­tal­ity of yore with the more re­cent am­bi­tion (thank you, Pixar) of truly ap­peal­ing to all ages. ★★★★ In a World: A low-bud­get fem­i­nist com­edy set in the male-dom­i­nated world of Hol­ly­wood movie trailer voice-overs, In a World is an un­ex­pected de­light. Writ­ten, pro­duced, di­rected by and star­ring the hith­erto lit­tle-known Lake Bell, the film is smart, funny and af­fect­ing. ★★★★ Blue Jas­mine: This film may not be a come­back in any aes­thetic or pro­fes­sional sense, but it nev­er­the­less feels like di­rec­tor Woody Allen has come back: to the psy­chic space and col­lec­tive anx­i­eties of the coun­try of his birth and a real world that he seemed to have left be­hind. ★★★★ The Coun­sel­lor: Isn’t Cor­mac McCarthy – au­thor of No Coun­try for Old Men and The Road – sup­posed to be the mas­ter of ma­cho tough­ness and spare stylis­tic con­trol? You wouldn’t know it from this self­con­sciously nasty piece of bor­der­land noir, in which his fa­mil­iar tropes by now look hack­neyed and pa­thetic. It treats view­ers to at least two baro­quely staged be­head­ings and count­less courtly dis­qui­si­tions on mo­ral­ity, mor­tal­ity, re­gret and heaven knows what else. It’s an ac­tor’s par­adise, all this po­etic, run-on mus­ing, but it re­sults in a movie that, de­spite its stren­u­ous ef­forts to ap­pear hard­ened and sexy and sleek, is un­for­giv­ably phony, talky and dull. ★★ Last Ve­gas: Kevin Kline, Mor­gan Free­man, Robert De Niro and Michael Dou­glas demon­strate the easy chem­istry and ex­citable en­ergy of old friends re­con­ven­ing af­ter years apart. Al­though it’s pre­dictable in places, the movie aims to do lit­tle more than serve up laugh­ter. Even the sen­ti­men­tal mo­ments are couched with punch lines. All in all, Last Ve­gas is a brisk and goofy ad­ven­ture. ★★★ The Hob­bit: The Deso­la­tion of Smaug: Be­hold the sec­ond in­stal­ment of Peter Jack­son’s tril­ogy. This time, Bilbo (Martin Free­man), with Gan­dalf (Ian McKellen) and the dwarves, sol­diers on, avoid­ing the dan­gers of wood elves and big spiders be­fore ar­riv­ing at Lonely Moun­tain, home of the dragon Smaug. ★★★★★ Es­cape Plan: Sylvester Stal­lone and Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger can still carry an ac­tion flick, al­beit one as flimsy as this. Yet there is mod­est plea­sure to be had watch­ing the Ital­ian Stal­lion, at 67, and the 66-year-old Aus­trian Oak de­liv­er­ing jus­tice to those who would dis­rupt their re­tire­ment. ★★★ The Fifth Es­tate: As a piece of filmed en­ter­tain­ment, this shows why things like au­tho­rial point of view and vis­ual sen­si­bil­ity are es­sen­tial in bring­ing such sto­ries to life. Un­like its pre­de­ces­sor, The So­cial Net­work, this film doesn’t have much of ei­ther. ★★★ En­der’s Game: There’s a moral heft that lends bal­last to this sci­ence-fic­tion ad­ven­ture. ★★★★ Young and Beau­ti­ful: The mys­ter­ies of ado­les­cence, and in par­tic­u­lar the sense of con­trol and power that can ac­com­pany an at­trac­tive girl’s dis­cov­ery of her sex­u­al­ity, are ex­plored with hyp­notic fo­cus. ★★★★

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