Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (Cinema Review)

12A – 137mins – 2017 – 3D


 

TEMPORAL SPACE AGENT

Based on Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières’ pulp comic book series Valérian and Laureline which lasted a monumental 44 years from 1966-2010, it is clear that acclaimed director Luc Besson sees this epic science fiction adaptation as his grandiose Avatar moment. Intricately designed and packed full of more CGI than all three Star Wars prequels combined, sadly this is less a return to his The Fifth Element success and more a John Carter-sized flop.

… Keep Scuttling!

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Dunkirk (Cinema Review)

12A – 109mins – 2017


 

ALLIED COURAGE

May, 1940. Allied troops are trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk. They require air, ground and sea cover from British and French forces – both naval and civilian – to see them safely evacuated as Germany advances into France.

… Keep Scuttling!

The Brand New Testament (DVD Review)

15 – 110mins – 2015 – French with English Subtitles


 

GETTING EVEN WITH DAD

“God exists. He lives in Brussels.”

Accompanied by an eclectic soundtrack which aptly oscillates between grandiose ecclesiastic classical suites and absurdist circus music, this Golden Globe-nominated French language satire is as brilliantly brave and barmy as it is scathingly blasphemous.

… Keep Scuttling!

Things to Come (DVD Review)

Image result for things to come film

12 – 98mins – 2016


LØVE AND FRIENDSHIP

“I thought you’d love me forever. I’m a goddamn idiot.”

Released in its native France as L’Avenir, this naturalistic drama from young director Mia Hansen-Løve drew rave reviews and award success for its wry humanity and Isabelle Huppert’s performance as Nathalie Chazeaux, a philosophy teacher who amidst juggling her career, home live and looking after her depressed and ailing mother (Édith Scob), is left by her husband (André Marcon) for another woman.

… Keep Scuttling!

Beauty and the Beast (Cinema Review)

PG – 129mins – 2017 – 3D


A READY-FURNISHED CLASSIC

Disney continue their recent trend of mining past animated hits for future live action gold (as I write it is currently the highest grossing film of 2017) with this fifth conversion – following Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent, Cinderella and The Jungle Book (which I reviewed HERE) – of one of their greatest ‘toons as old as time into 3 living, breathing, singing and dancing dimensions.

… Keep Scuttling!

Under the Cherry Moon (DVD Review)

12 – 96mins – 1986 – B&W


 

BUSINESS (OR) PLEASURE

“With love there is no death.”

Being a lifelong Michael Jackson fan I’ve always been aware of Prince, but my true fandom didn’t kick-in until I belatedly purchased Warner Bros. electrifying 2001 Best Of in the lead up to the Purple One’s commercial resurgence with Musicology (2004). Over the subsequent twelve years I have devoured every major new release (be it download only, newspaper-mounted or conventionally available) whilst also dipping into the prolific artist’s vast back catalogue.

Unsurprisingly, I’m still playing catch-up, and while I’ve watched his big screen bow in Purple Rain (1984) multiple times, his unconnected follow-up two years later had never made its way into my DVD player – despite sitting on my shelf since 2008! It’s tragic that it has taken his premature passing for me to pull my finger out and finally break the seal on Under the Cherry Moon.

As well as taking the lead as goofy hustler Christopher Tracey, Prince also contributed the soundtrack (in the form of the Parade album, with backing band The Revolution) and stepped behind the camera to direct! The confident auteur’s framing and choice of shots belays his inexperience, however the first time director overindulges horribly in intense stares and extravagant campery from his cast.

“Mirror, mirror, seventeen-fold, who’s the sexiest dressed in gold?”

Shot in B&W to add a touch of class to this often tongue-in-cheek satire of the sheltered circus of the over-privileged upper class, Christopher Tracey and “business partner” Tricky (Jerome Benton of The Time) are American musicians playing bars – and wealthy women – on the French Riviera. But when the pair set out to swindle a 21-year-old heiress (Kristin Scott Thomas in her feature debut) out of her trust fund, Tracey doesn’t count on falling for his mark…

“It’s dishonest work, but it’s a living.”

Full of silly faces, catty quips (“Give her that Bela Lugosi look,”) and childish silliness (“Cabbage head!”), the tone is a bizarre and uneven choice. Tracey and Tricky are frequently being called out for being “punks,” “peasants” and “gigolos,” but seem to revel in their underhanded roguishness with unlikable bravado. Tracey is a dick, at one point out-and-out bullying KST’s Mary Sharon, but Prince’s playful charisma overpowers the uncouthness, retaining his music video exuberance for 90 minutes.

“Girls and Boys” is the only musical number integrated into the narrative, while “Kiss” is perfectly placed at a crucial point and the “Mountains” music video plays underneath the end credits. Even as the drama ramps up with Mary’s disapproving father (Steven Berkoff) setting out to end the mismatched romance once and for all, the inappropriate histrionics continue uncaged, leading to an overwrought conclusion. It is narratively unearned but now hauntingly pertinent…

“He ain’t ready, Lord… Not him, not now!”

CR@B Verdict: 2 stars