The triumphant return of the Weekend Movie Guide comes courtesy of Ryan Gosling appearing in every film out this week. Including Jurassic Park. He played 'Buff Raptor #2'
The Big Release
What's the story? A cautious and solitary stuntman - and sometime getaway driver - befriends his neighbour and her son while her husband is in prison. Upon his release, the ex-con's return sparks a chain reaction that sees the wheelman abandon his self-made rules to protect the mother and child at all cost.
Cast: Ryan Gosling (Lars and the Real Girl, The Notebook), Carey Mulligan (Never Let Me Go, An Education), Albert Brooks (Taxi Driver, The Simpsons Movie). Director: Nicolas Refn (Bronson, Pusher).
Plus points: Part romance, part horror, part superhero film, everything gels. Beautifully packaged by Bronson director Nicolas Refn and featuring great work by scriptwriter Hossein Amini - putting in an incredibly tight script that manages to walk the line between camp and class - movies like Drive come along far too rarely. As for Gosling, we'll save the masturbatory remarks for Crazy Stupid Love below.
Let downs: A fair bit of derision has been levelled at the marketing bods for misrepresenting the movie as some pacy, action flick. But he's not in it and neither is Dawson. Boom! A Dawson's Creek joke for you all there. Enjoy that.
Critics said: "It'll get under your skin and stay there for weeks to come" (Film4), Drive is "slickly compelling, beautifully crafted and so damn shiny" (TimeOut). 92% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Verdict: Trying to define something as 'cool' is about as challenging as explaining the teachings of Gandhi to a Georgian prison official but quite frankly Drive is the epitome of cool. It isn't just as cool as fuck. It's cooler. That's right: “Drive Is Cooler Than Fuck”. Damn I wish I could have got that on a poster.
Crazy Stupid Love
What's the story? Unceremoniously dumped by his wife of 15 years Cal finds himself lost, alone and frequenting the same bar night after night. One night at the bar, Cal is taken under the wing of the resident lothario Jacob, who teaches him all he knows about attracting the opposite sex. Until Jacob meets a special someone himself.
Cast: Steve Carrell (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Get Smart) Ryan Gosling (Half Nelson, Blue Valentine), Emma Stone (Easy A, Superbad). Director: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa (I Love You Phillip Morris).
Plus points: It was said of James Bond that men want to be him, women want to fuck him. When it comes to Ryan Gosling everyone wants to be him. And fuck him. And be him fucking themselves. Preferably in front of a mirror. If it was based purely on Gosling we'd recommend the film, thankfully you also got Carrell and Stone on top form too.
Let downs: But...not content with having dual storylines following Gosling and Carrell the makers have decided to throw in a little youth love too. Cue the most irritating child since Annie Skywalker. Not only is the kid nauseatingly annoying but he's given such ridiculous preternaturally mature dialogue that every single character stops and comments on how amazingly preternaturally mature the kid is. He isn't. He's a dick.
Critics said: "Remarkably sane and reasonably smart" (New York Times), it's "way better than Eat Pray Love" (Total Film). 76% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Verdict: That darn kid. Without him - and a painfully clichéd moment inspired by him – Crazy Stupid Love could have been a 'better than decent' film. With him, it's dragged into the realms of the reasonable. Nothing to get crazy about.
What's the story? Two brothers, estranged for years thanks to the legacy of an abusive parent, find their lives intertwining in the highly competitive, and questionably barbaric, world of Mixed Martial Arts.
Cast: Tom Hardy (Inception, Bronson) Joel Edgerton (Animal Kingdom, Star Wars:Revenge of the Sith) Nick Nolte (48 Hours, Hotel Rwanda). Director: Gavin O'Connor (Pride and Glory, Tumbleweeds).
Plus points: While Nolte is practically a lock for a Best Supporting Actor nomination (the Academy love a redemption role by a redemption seeker), the film belongs to Hardy. People of that build are supposed to put in Arnie performances, not Brando ones.
Let downs: Despite constant reminders that “anyone can win” in MMA, as the matches progress you'll start to doubt that maxim more and more. Look out for the quickest 180 outside of a pub darts team in the wife's reaction to her husband fighting. She goes from 'I can't watch you fight' drama queen to 'ringside blood-bayer' in the blink of a stitched up eye.
Critics said: "Flawed but fiercely moving" (RollingStone) Warrior is "blistering and well-observed emotional drama" (SkyMovies). 83% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Verdict: Hardy and Edgerton deliver their end of the deal so it's a shame that everyone around them, including a director far too fixated with the fights themselves, drops the speedball.
Jurassic Park (re-release)
What's the story? I don't really have to explain this one to you, do I? Dinosaurs brought back to life. Put in theme park. Shit happens. Y'know, kind of like Billy and the Clone-A-Saurus.
Cast: Sam Neil (Event Horizon, Jurassic Park 3), Laura Dern (Inland Empire, Blue Velvet) Jeff Goldblum (The Fly, Independence Day). Director: Steven Spielberg (E.T., Schindler's List).
Plus points: Finally a prequel to the classic movie The Lost World hits our screens!!! Of course not, it's the original and still the best. Including all your favourite moments: A mighty faux-Scottish welcome. Jaw dropping Diplodocus. Not saying the magic word. Turning the light off. Getting Jurassic Park back on line. Clever girls. And boys. To quote Mr. Partridge: Jurassic Park!
Let downs: Okay I realise that inflation has changed a lot but $63m budget?!?!. How in the Holy Christ did Spielberg make this groundbreaking movie so cheaply? This isn't a 'let down' at all I'm just flabbergasted that he managed to get this made for, what with inflation, would be $10m less than The Smurfs.
Critics said: "Quite simply one of the greatest blockbusters of all time", (Empire) Jurassic Park "delivers where it counts, in excitement, suspense and the stupendous realization of giant prehistoric reptiles" (Variety). 88% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Verdict: As above. One of the all time greats. Absolutely relentless once it hits the mid-way point, Jurassic Park mirrors its theme park setting perfectly. Fun, scary and more than just a little silly, within the opening bars of John Williams score you'll be that little kid queuing up around the side of the cinema, stomach in mouth, waiting to be blown away for the first time.
The Best Film Still Showing
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Accusations of cold-heartedness from Tomas Alfredson's follow up film to Let The Right One In couldn't be further from the truth. There is passion behind the eyes and suits of the "circus", it's just a passion for a country and a cause that has slowly ebbed away through time, until no-one, bar George Smiley - in a perhaps career best performance from the incredible Gary Oldman - really knows what they're fighting for. It won't be for EVERYONE!!!! but if you have patience and, perhaps even, the time for a second viewing, seek it out.