In Hong Kong Auteur Wong Kar-WaiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s latest film, MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS, Elizabeth, played by singer NORAH JONES, has just been dumped by her boyfriend after a five year relationship and she takes time out at a New York cafÃƒÂ© where she consumes lots of blueberry pie and meets the owner, Jeremy, (JUDE LAW).
After a while she takes off on a trip across the country. In Memphis she encounters a sad policeman, (DAVID STRATHAIRN), and his ex-wife, (RACHEL WEISZ).
And in Nevada thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s spaced-out gambler NATALIE PORTMAN.
Watching MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS, the first English-language film from Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai, you wonder if IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE would have seemed as corny as this is if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d been able to understand the language.
Seemingly inspired by Wim Wenders, with its Ry Cooder score and its road trip format, MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS is both clichÃƒÂ©d and trite.
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s beautiful in an artificial kind of way. The cinematography is by the great Darius Khondji and Wong is always adept at making the mundane look gorgeous Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and some, not all, of the songs are good, though IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not a fan of Otis ReddingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s version of Ã¢â‚¬Å“Try a Little TendernessÃ¢â‚¬Â.
The acting, too, isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t bad at all. NORAH JONES has a presence which suggests she could make the transition from singer to actor, and DAVID STRATHAIRN and RACHEL WEISZ do what they can with their dialogue. WEISZ is especially impressive in one scene.
MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS was highly anticipated when it opened the Cannes Film Festival last year, but itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s quite a disappointment.
HELLBOY 2: THE GOLDEN ARMY is a sequel which picks up the story of Hellboy, played by RON PERLMAN, where the 2004 original left off.
HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s working for the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defence under the supervision of his boss, Tom Manning Ã¢â‚¬â€œ played by HollywoodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s answer to John Clark, JEFFREY TAMBOR. His co-workers include his fiery girlfriend Liz, (SELMA BLAIR), who, unknown to him, is pregnant, and the Piscean Abe Sapien, (DOUG JONES).
They are magical creatures who are helping humanity, unlike the evil Prince Nuada, (LUKE GOSS), who wants to assemble three parts of the magical crown which will enable him to summon up the invincible Golden Army.
In between the two Hellboy films, visionary director Guillermo del Toro made PANÃ¢â‚¬â„¢S LABYRINTH which was a big success with a wide audience.
Probably the people who loved the invention and soaring imagination of that film wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be attracted to HELLBOY 2, which is a shame because Del Toro is as inventive as ever Ã¢â‚¬â€œ this film, which is often very funny, couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have been made by anyone else.
Not only are the creatures amazingly conceived, but thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a lovely sense of humour to it all as Del Toro references horror movies of the past and even the work of John Landis.
The climax is a battle on top of giant revolving cog-wheels, which is splendidly staged. ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a lot to enjoy in HELLBOY 2, which, without Del ToroÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s vision, might have been a grim experience.
Ray, (COLIN FARRELL), and Ken, (BRENDAN GLEESON), are Irish hitmen who have just carried out an assignment in London where somethingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s gone wrong. Their boss, Harry (RALPH FIENNES) orders them to hide out in the beautiful Belgian city of Bruges. Ray is not at all impressed.
Ray meets Chloe, (CLEMENCE POESY), who seems to be working on a film being shot in the city, and she allows him to take her out to dinner. They also encounter Jimmy, (JORDAN PRENTICE), a dwarf actor working on the film.
Irish playwright Martin McDonagh directs his first screenplay with IN BRUGES and the influence seems to be one part Harold Pinter, one part David Mamet and one part Quentin Tarantino.
The film has the flimsiest of plots, and for quite a deal of the time the dialogue, though always amusing and pointedly non-PC, is quite desultory.
But somehow, despite the contrived conclusion, it all works marvellously, and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s thanks to some terrific performances. COLIN FARRELL has never been better as the not-very-bright Ray. BRENDAN GLEESON exudes calm and determination as Ken, and RALPH FIENNES, who makes a belated but very engaging performance as their ruthless boss, Harry, is just great.
As the enigmatic Chloe, (CLEMENCE POESY) is splendid. Despite contrivances, the screenplay is quite cleverly put together, and though the film is pretty violent, it gets by on its witty dialogue.
As a bonus, the canal city of Bruges provides a timeless backdrop to this very contemporary yarn.
Three Hollywood veterans star in BONNEVILLE Ã¢â‚¬â€œ JESSICA LANGE, KATHY BATES and JOAN ALLEN.
LANGE plays recently widowed Arvilla who has to make the difficult choice between letting her stepdaughter, (CHRISTINE BARANKSI), bury her late husbandÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ashes beside his first wife or scattering them as he said he wanted. The price is the house she and her husband lived in.
Her friends Margene and Carol insist she hand over the ashes rather than lose the house so the three take off from Idaho in ArvillaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s husbandÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 1966 Pontiac Bonneville to deliver the urn to the memorial service in Santa Barbara.
This is very much a middle-of-the road movie. Not too many surprises, although the fact that the three are Mormons brings a slightly interesting dimension.
Tom Skerrit, who plays a truck driver they meet on the road and who ends up romancing Margene, looks embarrassed. And he should. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s an awful subplot.
The director was Christopher N Rowley making his debut from a story he developed with screenwriter Daniel D. Davis. Why do they have to put their middle initial in the credits?
These three fine performers deserve better material than this although all put on a brave face.