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Riding the Bullet
Horror, thriller/US/English (Japanese subtitles)/98mins
Starring: Jonathan Jackson, David Arquette, Adam Battrick
Director: Mick Garris
Freestyle Releasing

This is the third collaboration between director Mick Garris and Stephen King. The aim of their ongoing project is to bring faithful versions of King’s stories to the screen. This time around it is King’s 30-page e-novel Riding the Bullet. It is 1969 and Allan Parker (Jonathan Jackson) is an unremarkable college kid with an overactive brain. When he gets a call to say that his mother has had a heart attack he decides to hitchhike the 100 miles home to see her. The journey turns out to be somewhat eventful as is the way of things in the world of King.


Herbie Fully Loaded
Children, fantasy/US/English (Japanese subtitles)/101mins
Starring: Lindsay Lohan, Michael Keaton, Matt Dillon
Director: Angela Robinson
Walt Disney Pictures

Returning from the cinematic graveyard, we find Herbie in a pile of junk. He is rescued refurbished, rebuilt and gets back into his animated groove. Maggie (Lindsay Lohan) is the daughter of race car driver Ray (Michael Keaton) which provides the excuse to see Herbie zooming around the track taking on the bad guy of the story, Trip (Matt Dillon). Will Herbie beat the baddies and win the big race? Very stock stuff that doesn’t even try to build on the now-ancient original films, but very small kids will love it.


I Heart Huckabees (aka Huckabees)
Non-genre/US/English (Japanese subtitles)/105mins
Starring: Jason Schwartzman, Dustin Hoffman, Isabelle Huppert
Director: David O Russell
Fox Searchlight

Oddball effort from the maker of Three Kings and Flirting with Disaster that falls into that zone inhabited by Being John Malkevitch and The Life Aquatic. Albert (Jason Schwartzman) is an environmentalist who wants a big corporate sponsor, Huckabees departmant store, to underwrite his eco-group. Huckabees don’t really care about the environment but want to be seen to care. Next thing you know, people are hiring teams of existential investigators who believe in the fundamental interconnectedness of everything on the quantum level, which is holism not existentialism, but perhaps that is one of the jokes.

Kinsey
Biography, drama/US/English (Japanese subtitles)/118mins
Starring: Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Chris O’Donnell
Director: Bill Condon
Fox Searchlight

Was Alfred Kinsey a fearless and pioneering scientist or just a dirty old man? Or was he an obsessive workaholic who did too many barbiturates? Director Bill Condon and Liam Neeson, who plays Kinsey, give us a fascinating portrait of the man and his times. The film has no moralising or preaching, and is conducted with an almost scientific objectivity of its own. Kinsey, of course, is the scientist whose research into human sexuality in the straight-laced 1940s shocked, scandalised and thrilled the world. Endearingly, he never seemed to be aware that he was shocking people.

Coach Carter
Drama/US/English (Japanese subtitles)/137mins
Starring: Samuel L Jackson, Ashanti, Rick Gonzales
Director: Thomas Carter

Argh! Another film about sports coaches! Relax: this one has Samuel L Jackson and is based on a true story. Coach Carter (Jackson) is given the task of coaching a high school basketball team in his old, poor neighbourhood. It is the kind of place where young kids see their only hope in life in the NBA and the alternative prison. Carter’s thing is to put school grades ahead of sports results. He has made a moderate success of his own life in business and knows that the NBA dream is a dangerous chimera.

Tarnation
Documentary/US/English (Japanese subtitles)/88mins
Director: Jonathan Caouette
Wellspring

If Jonathon Caouette didn’t exist, someone would have to invent him. This is documentary about his mother’s mental illness and the way it nearly destroyed him. His mother had an accident as a child that resulted in clinical depression. She was treated with long-term shock therapy, which Caouette blames for her eventual disintigration. When Caouette was six his father skipped home. He was abused by foster parents and saw his mother raped. He constructed this remarkable and accomplished film out of bits of home movie, answer phone messages, old pictures and edited it in iMovie on his Mac.

Madagascar
Animation/US/English (Japanese subtitles)/80mins
Voices: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer
Director: Eric Darnell
Dreamworks

Cute animation in which some animals from Central Park zoo find themselves displaced to Madagascar. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) loves the zoo life. He dines on steaks and puts on his own slightly-off-Broadway shows. Marty the zebra longs for the wild life. Melman the giraffe claims the wild life is to be found in Connecticut and Marty breaks out of the zoo to get a train up there. Alex and Melman pursue him, and then next thing, they have all been caught and are on their way to an animal sanctuary in Africa. Things go wrong again and they end up on Madagascar in the really wild wilds.

Downfall
Biography, drama/Germany/German (Japanese subtitles)/155mins
Starring: Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lada
Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel
Newmarket Films

This film was nominated for an Oscar and has stirred up a lot of confused reactions. It is depiction of the last days of Hitler and his inner circle in their Berlin bunker. The description is based on first hand accounts in the books Inside Hitler’s Bunker by Joachim Fest and Bis zur letzten Stunde by Traudi Junge and Melissa Muller. Traudi Junge was, of course, Hitler’s personal secretary, and was with him to the end. Hitler is played by Bruno Ganz, almost unrecognisable here, such is the contrast with his role in Wings of Desire.

Review by Chris Page

 
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