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Saturday, 17 January 2015

Reviews: Night Moves, Lucy, Goodbye to Language


Night Moves
Director: Kelly Reichardt
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, Peter Sarsgaard
Running time: 112mins
Three radical environmentalists blow up a hydroelectric dam and then must deal with the unintended consequences of their actions in Reichardt’s low-key thriller. It’s a great premise exploring the fine line between protest and criminality, and the film looks immaculate (courtesy of cinematographer Christopher Blauvelt). Somehow, though, it doesn’t work. In fact, I found a lot of Night Moves terribly clichéd, especially the characters. Fanning’s Dena is an archetypal rich-girl radical, Eisenberg’s Josh is “deep” and taciturn, while Sarsgaard is Harmon, a cynical, burnt-out marine. These are caricatures not characters, and I almost clicked the “off” switch the moment one of the other protesters started offering to “read people’s auras”. Satire is one thing but this just felt lazy. That said, I’m a stickler for strong endings and at least Night Moves delivers in that respect. Bit too late though.
Rating: W

Night Moves is available now on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD



Lucy
Director: Luc Besson
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Min-sik Choi
Running time: 89mins
For a film about unlocking the vast potential of the human mind, Lucy is spectacularly dumb. Built upon the apocryphal notion that we can only access 10 per cent of our brain’s potential, Besson sets about showing us what might happen when that is boosted tenfold. If we’re Johansson’s Lucy, it turns out we’d transform into vengeful, superhuman killers, despatching an army of malicious foreigners as we blaze a trail of destruction back to the door of the drug overlord who wronged us. Having played the Black Window with distinction for a few years now, Johansson could do this stuff in her sleep but still manages to impress; bruised vulnerability early on, giving way to a kind of post-human glacial calm in the film’s latter stages. It’s probably the final 15 minutes that is the most rewarding here as Lucy’s brain power gets closer and closer to the magic 100 per cent and things take a turn for the weird. Yes, like a lot of Besson’s films, it’s loud, flashy and utterly silly but if Lucy 2 opened tomorrow I’d almost certainly buy a ticket.
Rating: WW

Lucy is available now on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD



Goodbye to Language
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Starring: Héloïse Godet, Kamel Abdeli, Richard Chevallier
Running time: 70mins
Godard is arguably the most famous and celebrated French filmmaker in history. He pioneered the country’s Nouvelle Vague (New Wave) movement in the 1960s and is responsible for films widely regarded as classics on both sides of the Atlantic, such as Breathless and Alphaville. At the age of 84 he’s still going strong and Goodbye to Language – a baffling but beguiling visual poem about communication and relationships, starring his dog Roxy(!) – was recently named film of the year by the influential and prestigious US National Society of Film Critics, just pipping Boyhood. But there’s a problem. The film was shot in 3D and, to understand and appreciate it properly, really needs to be seen in that format, something that has proved tricky in the UK. Unlike blockbuster 3D movies, it only had a very limited cinema release and, although a 3D Blu-ray is available, I can’t imagine many Godard fans actually owning a compatible machine to play it on. So, what we have instead is this 2D version and you quickly get the impression you’re missing something. Goodbye to Language is not an easy watch – ideas, images and scenes flit in and out like insects; it’s all a bit inscrutable and unknowable, and surely made more so by not being able to see it as the director intended. It’s frustrating – like watching a football match from behind a concrete pillar – and sadly typical of the way foreign language cinema is treated in this country. If you live out in the sticks, like I do, you have about as much chance of seeing a subtitled picture at your local Odeon as you do of flying to the moon. The arrival of View on Demand (VOD) has alleviated the situation in recent years but even that is of limited use in this case.
Rating: WW

Goodbye to Language is available now on DVD, Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray and Amazon Prime




Ratings

WWWW = Wonderful
WWW = Worthy
WW = Watchable
W = Woeful


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