At the Cinema: August 2010

The Leopard (1963)

Magisterial, langorous historical epic set in 1860s Sicily as a single Italian state is being created by Garibaldi and his army. Burt Lancaster is excellent as the patriarch of an aristocratic family who realises the old world is passing in to history, and he must work with the new order to ensure his family’s survival. Exquisitely shot, this is up there with Gone with the Wind in terms of masterful melodrama – though where Scarlett O’Hara was all fiery determination, Lancaster’s Prince is more weary acceptance. It might be long, but the final ball sequence is more than worth the wait. 5/5

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

Edgar Wright strikes again with this warm, witty ode to young love and Nineties computer console games. Scott (Cera) is a young 20-something aspiring rock star who had his heart broken by a former girlfirend, started dating a high schooler, and then falls head over heels with the ethereal Ramona (Winstead). But he must defeat her seven evil exes in order to start properly dating her. Imagine Spaced blended with manga and Sonic the Hedgehog, and you might get an idea of how this odd-yet-endearing romantic action comedy plays out. It might run out of steam a little towards the end, yet there’s no doubting Wright’s imaginative directorial style.  4/5

The Illusionist (2010)

Beautifully evocative, gently melancholic animated fable about the passing of the music hall era at the end of the fifties. Moving from Paris to the remote Scottish Highlands, and then to Edinburgh, a stage magician goes in search of an ever-dwindling audience in an era that is turning its back on the entertainments of old in favour of television and rock ‘n’ roll. On his travels he meets a young girl who is fascinated by his acts of magic and tags along for the ride. Poignant yet delightful.  4/5

Piranha (2010)

Extremely silly, extremely gory remake of the semi-classic 70s Jaws rip-off. Lots of blood and boobs, delivered with tongue gently in cheek, which makes it a hoot to watch with an audience that are in on the joke. Special mentions must go to Richard Dreyfuss and Christopher Lloyd who bring their years of experience to bear in small but pivotal roles. Shame about the rubbish 3D, though.  3/5

Salt (2010)

Above average action thriller starring Angelina Jolie as a spy who is implicated as a Russian sleeper agent and is forced to go on the run. Lots of fun action in the Bourne mold, with some nice twists along the way.  3/5

The Last Airbender (2010)

Utterly terrible fantasy adventure from M. Night Shyamalan, adapted from the popular cartoon series. Badly scripted and badly directed, with uninvolving action and so-so performances. Avoid. 1/5

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