Can White House Down hold off competition to stay on top for a third week?
Time Out staff
10 The Bling Ring Director: Sofia Coppola Stars: Katie Chang, Israel Broussard, Emma Watson, Claire Julien, Taissa Farmiga, Georgia Rock, Leslie Mann, Carlos Miranda
There may be no more fitting director to dramatise ‘The Bling Ring’ – a group of real-life celebrity-obsessed teens who systematically broke into the homes of the stars they adored – than Sofia Coppola. The daughter of Godfather director Francis Ford, Coppola Junior paints the milieu of pampered California kids and A-list parties with a steady hand and knowing wink. And she’s no stranger to both lost girls (see 1999 directional debut, The Virgin Suicides), nor exploring the fractured notion of celebrity (2010’s Somewhere).
Adapting 2010 Vanity Fair feature ‘The Suspects Wore Louboutins’, Coppola’s screenplay documents how the group stalked celebrity homes with Google Earth, used gossip sites to track when Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom, Paris Hilton and many others were out of town, then zeroed in, making off with more than $3 million (Dhs11 million) worth of designer gear in a ten-month crime spree. There’s an obvious commentary on consumerism and celebrity culture that doesn’t need much exposition, but Coppola can’t help but treat us to plenty of glowing brand fetishism, fast cutting through their stolen booty with the gloss of a fashion ad. But it’s the outrageous excesses found in Hilton’s wardrobes – who put up her own home for shooting – which steal the show.
Despite the cosmetic modernisms – Coppola has a penchant for steadycam, and likes to abuse the slow-mo – it’s amazing how similar the narrative is to one of daddy’s gangster classics. Revolving around the core, innocent romance of Rebecca (Rachel Lee) and Marc (Nick Prugo), the ring start small with unlocked cars and friends’ homes, building up slowly to greater celebrity conquests, before getting cocky, over indulging recklessly, betraying one another and meeting an untimely demise as jailbirds.
In Coppola’s hands the camera feels clinically detached and non-judgemental, and as much as the film factually fascinates for 90 minutes, The Bling Ring’s biggest problem is that the subjects at its core are as weightless and vacuous as the celebrities they fawn over. So perhaps it’s fitting that the closing scenes hint at the real-life aftermath where, like all good movie criminals, the ring become celebrities themselves, ironically obtaining the lifestyle they sought so hard to imitate. Rob Garratt
Weekly box office: Dhs64,868 Weekly admissions: 1,872 Total box office: Dhs392,231 Total admissions: 11,156
9 Hammer of the G's Director: Farren Blackburn Stars: Charlie Bewley, Clive Standen, James Cosmo, Elliot Cowan, Glynis Barber, Ivan Kaye, Michael Jibson, Theo Barklem-Biggs, Alexandra Dowling
The first feature from longterm TV director Farren Blackburn – Luther, Silent Witness and, er, Holby City – this 871 AD-set action epic charts how a young man becomes a brutal warrier as his people rely on him to restore order to the their kingdom. Early reports suggest this is a bit of a turkey, but fantasy fans may be in for a treat. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs70,725 Weekly admissions: 1,924 Total box office: Dhs701,826 Total admissions: 19,313
8 Wish You Were Here Director: Kieran Darcy-Smith Stars: Felicity Price, Joel Edgerton, Teresa Palmer, Antony Starr, Nicholas Cassim, Otto Page, Isabelle Austin-Boyd, Tina Bursill
Wish You Were Here, which opened the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, begins with an unexplained disappearance. Four young Australians have taken a holiday to Cambodia, but only three return. ‘It’s ostensibly a mystery thriller,’ explains first-time director Kieran Darcy-Smith. ‘But what [the audience is] connecting with, what they’re invested in, what they ultimately care about, is the relationship.’
That relationship is the one back home between married couple Dave (Joel Edgerton) and Alice (Felicity Price). They’re left to confront the issues raised by the mysterious absence of Jeremy (Antony Starr), the boyfriend of Steph (Teresa Palmer), Alice’s sister. As an actor himself – Darcy-Smith has appeared in films The Reef and September, as well as Home and Away – it’s perhaps no surprise that the director put authentic performances high on the list when making the movie. He cites contemporary Danish filmmakers Susanne Bier and Anders Thomas Jensen as inspirations in terms of creating “grounded characters”. But it is a little more surprising as to how Darcy-Smith strives for truth aesthetically as well: ‘I like it to feel incredibly real, but also [look] really beautiful. I’m as finicky and fussy with locations as I am with the cast, or crewing the movie. It’s all about light, about angles, about depth.’
He’s also keenly aware of pacing. ‘I have a very short attention span. I’ve always needed a keep-the-ball-in-the-air, keep-the-pace-churning quality in a story.’ Likening himself to a hyperactive child, Darcy-Smith says that being on set is the cure to his restlessness. While filming in Cambodia, he says he was ‘so adrenalised’ by the pressure that he felt forced to be ‘hyper-aware, hyper-calm and hyper-effective’.
Darcy-Smith had been working on the script for what will be his second film, Memorial Day (which won an Inside Film Award for its screenplay and will be filmed in the US later this year), when his wife, Felicity Price, came up with the idea behind Wish You Were Here. Knowing it would be difficult as a first-time filmmaker to generate the support he needed to produce Memorial Day, they decided to write the new screenplay together.
‘We were living and breathing it for nearly four years. You’re changing nappies, having a shower, cooking dinner and you’re constantly talking about it. Our story is about a couple with two little kids, and we have two little kids. We always approached it from the point of view of how would we respond in this situation.’
Although confident in his skills as a writer and director, Darcy-Smith wasn’t comfortable asking the guy who was best man at his wedding to be in his ‘small independent film’. He and Edgerton (Warrior, The Thing), both founding members of the Australian filmmaking collective Blue Tongue Films, went to the same drama school and have been friends since they were 17. He laughs, ‘I didn’t want to put him in a position whereby he was going to say no… I didn’t want him to think that I was going to call on him straight away – or at all – just to finance my movie.’ Happily, Edgerton volunteered. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs107,538 Weekly admissions: 2,844 Total box office: Dhs107,538 Total admissions: 2,844
7 Siberian Education Director: Gabriele Salvatores Stars: Eleanor Tomlinson, John Malkovich, Peter Stormare, Vilius Tumalavicius, Andrius Paulavicius, Mindaugas Papinigis, Arnas Fedaravicius
Directed by Academy Award winner Gabrielle Salvatores, Siberian Education is an adaptation of an autobiography of the same name written by Nicolai Lilin. It offers an insight into the moral codes of the ‘honest criminals’ in the small town of Transnistria in isolated Communist Siberia. The community is governed by strict rules of conduct that are passed down from a patriarch. The film follows the protagonists as they steal from the members of the Russian army, who transported them to Transnistria after they were exiled by Stalin. Khalook Al Yassin
Weekly box office: Dhs166,098 Weekly admissions: 4,680 Total box office: Dhs166,098 Total admissions: 4,680
6 Man of Steel Director: Zack Snyder Stars: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Russell Crowe, Antje Traue, Harry Lennix, Richard Schiff
It’s a cliché followed by a yawn when the makers of comic-book movies boast about how ‘real’ and ‘psychological’ their stories are. Yes, we know, Spider-Man and Batman were just troubled sons with daddy issues. But it’s harder to make those claims for a Superman tale, even when the producer is Batman regenerator Christopher Nolan – a man with more backstories than an osteopath. Just how ‘real’ can the story of a genetically-modified baby launched to Earth from a planet called Krypton ever feel?
And so it’s no surprise that Man of Steel feels both modern and traditional – a halfway house between the broodier Nolan way of shaking things up and the louder, bone-crunching style that director Zack Snyder established with films such as 300 and Sucker Punch. Man of Steel is punchy, engaging and fun, even if it slips into a final 45 minutes of explosions and fights during which reason starts to vanish and the science gets muddy.
It opens with a lengthy preamble explaining how Jor-El (Russell Crowe) launched his son Kal to Earth just as his planet was falling apart, and how failed coup leader General Zod (Michael Shannon, a muted villain) was banished at the same time. It’s here, and at the end, that Snyder is at his most baroque: first, he indulges the weird science of Krypton, and later he enjoys giving America a vicious pounding when Zod tracks down Superman.
It’s in the middle section, post-Krypton, pre-showdown, that the film hits its stride. Clark Kent (Henry Cavill, a good choice for Superman: solid, sturdy, fairly anonymous) is a twenty-something wanderer uneasy with his powers. Rather than leading us through his whole life so far, Snyder tells the tale of Kent reconnecting with his past, finding the super-suit (unshiny, like the movie) and testing his powers, while often flashing back to his childhood. Soon, journalist Lois Lane (Amy Adams) knows what’s up. Adams’s character is different to the Margot Kidder version: she’s a tough-cookie investigator and not the sort to be hoodwinked by a pair of thick-rimmed glasses and a comb-over.
Mostly, this Superman is more action than angst. But those daddy issues are still in play. Crowe – never an actor to show his ticklish side – plays Jor-El like he’s Hamlet’s father. Kevin Costner is Superman’s Earth dad in pastoral scenes full of cornfields, clothes on the line and snapshots of an easier time which look like they were conceived soon after a screening of Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life.
At times, you wish for a quick dash into a phone box and a cat that needs rescuing from a tree. Snyder is no party pooper, though. He might not resurrect Superman’s old theme tune, nor does he allow the word ‘Superman’ to be spoken (it’s all Clark and Kal). But by the end, he’s teased in some of the more amusing elements of the old story we thought were missing, leaving the way open for a sequel that will surely be more Earthbound. Dave Calhoun
Weekly box office: Dhs300,683 Weekly admissions: 6,126 Total box office: Dhs15,390,129 Total admissions: 333,420
5 Now You See Me Director: Louis Leterrier Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Mélanie Laurent, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine
Movies about magic rarely work – a good trick requires the gasp of a live audience – and the unsubtle hands behind this abracadabra heist film aren’t the ones to prove otherwise. Right from the get-go, we doubt the skills (heavily buttressed by CGI) of our heroic quartet: Daniel (Eisenberg) seduces with card tricks; wild-eyed Merritt (Woody Harrelson) can hypnotise strangers at a touch; Henley (Isla Fisher) mysteriously escapes a glass box swarming with piranhas; and Jack (Dave Franco, James’ clonelike younger brother) boosts wallets on the ferry. Drawn together by a mysterious invitation, they become the Four Horsemen, raining millions of dollar bills on thrilled Vegas crowds and perhaps committing crimes in the process.
Nothing about their antics is remotely believable or, worse, charming in the slightest; the camera leaps across the stage, slinging our eyeballs around as the lights swivel. It’s not like we’ve ever turned to Louis Leterrier (the French hack-for-hire behind 2010’s Clash of the Titans) for psychological realism. But shouldn’t someone have warned him that his hyperventilating technique might kill the mood? When Mark Ruffalo shows up as a crumpled detective, you expect a dose of reality, yet on his heels come twin hams Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, whose solemn presences (as Christopher Nolan knows well) prove wonderful distractions from silliness. Joshua Rothkopf
Weekly box office: Dhs226,994 Weekly admissions: 6,343 Total box office: Dhs7,779,609 Total admissions: 208,125
4 The Heat Director: Katie Dippold Stars: Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Demián Bichir, Marlon Wayans, Michael Rapaport, Jane Curtin, Spoken Reasons, Dan Bakkedahl
There are high hopes for this cop comedy, which reunites two key elements from the Bridesmaids dream team: director Paul Feig and actress Melissa McCarthy. She is officially Hollywood’s new favourite funny lady after bagging an Oscar nomination for her hilarious turn in that movie. Here she’s a tough, profanity-spewing, scenery-chewing FBI agent. Sandra Bullock plays an officer so uptight that her minions mutiny. So yes, you guessed it, they get buddied up to take down a crime baron. The plot might sound as old as the hills, but the trailer is promising, with McCarthy freestyling her brand of hyper-weirdness and the Missy Ellliott remix of M.I.A.’s Bad Girls on the soundtrack. The studio behind the film, Fox, is clearly impressed: they’ve snapped up Feig to produce and direct his own comedy movies, in a deal not a million miles away from former collaborator Judd Apatow’s arrangement with Universal. Time Out Dubai staff
Weekly box office: Dhs419,139 Weekly admissions: 10,131 Total box office: Dhs3,239,316 Total admissions: 78,864
3 Monsters University Director: Dan Scanlon Stars: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren, Peter Sohn, Joel Murray, Sean Hayes, Dave Foley
More than a decade after Monsters, Inc. comes this prequel detailing the university days of Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) – a time when they weren’t quite so chummy. Eventually Mike’s fierce rivalry with natural-born scarer Sulley gets them both kicked out of Monster University’s elite Scare Program. Steve Buscemi will reprise his role as Randall Boggs while new voice cast members include Dave Foley, Julia Sweeney, Joel Murray and Peter Sohn. Also coming back for more is Jennifer Tilly as Celia. Dan Scanlon (Tracy) directs. Time Out Dubai staff
Weekly box office: Dhs446,196 Weekly admissions: 11,101 Total box office: Dhs9,973,531 Total admissions: 241,211
2 World War Z Director: Marc Forster Stars: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale, Daniella Kertesz, Ludi Boeken, Matthew Fox, Fana Mokoena, David Morse
So here it is: Brad Pitt vs zombies. The traditionally low-budget zombie genre has been treated to a blowout Dhs700 million blockbuster makeover. The result looks less like a horror flick and more like a thinking man’s action-thriller. The film is adapted from Max Brooks’s novel, and Pitt stars as a UN investigator on a global mission to find patient zero in a zombie epidemic. That eye-popping budget buys some mindblowing scenes. The best are skin-crawlingly nightmarish shots of a swarm of zombies over-running a city like truckloads of ants in a garden. But that kind of cash should have stretched to a third act, set in a laboratory in Wales, that doesn’t look like a cheap TV drama.
It begins with some sharp thrills and jolts. Director Marc Foster (Quantum of Solace) doesn’t hang about. One minute Pitt (who’s just quit the UN to be the hottest dad on the school run) is driving the family into the city. Then bam. The first wave of zombies hits. These scenes inspire a cold sweat. Obviously science leans against the likelihood of a zombie epidemic wiping out a chunk of humanity – but, watching the anarchy here, you can well believe that if something bad does happen, we’ll retreat to the Dark Ages in 15 minutes.
There are shades of real-world thrillers such as Contagion or Children of Men as Pitt is recalled to the UN and packed off with a viral expert to find the source of the outbreak. First stop is South Korea, where we get a sense of how governments are responding. North Korea has the genius idea of pulling out people’s teeth (think about it). One nation took the threat seriously early on and put itself into quarantine. Pitt suspects they might be to blame, but the truth is subtler. All this unfolds between explosions and the splatting of undead brains. Wearing an Arab scarf, Pitt is convincing as a veteran of conflicts in Liberia and the Balkans, half bleeding heart liberal, half tough guy.
What’s missing is a sense of loss. The horror and grief that should be etched on the faces of the living. As for that third act, you’ll be breaking into Shaun of the Dead giggles at the sight of middle-aged men in labcoats chasing Brad Pitt around the set of a hospital drama. Cath Clarke
Weekly box office: Dhs626,837 Weekly admissions: 13,601 Total box office: Dhs12,516,132 Total admissions: 285,849
1 White House Down Director: Roland Emmerich Stars: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, Richard Jenkins, Joey King, James Woods
We’re expecting this back-to basics action caper to mark a return to form for director Roland Emmerich. A man who has previously threatened to annihilate mankind in Independence Day, Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow and 2012, this time it’s just the fate of the USA which is at stake. In a delightfully dumbed-down, one-man-against-the-world premise which takes its cues from the Die Hard franchise, beat cop John Cale (a beefed-up Channing Tatum) has just been denied his dream job with the Secret Service of protecting President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx). Not wanting to let down his little girl with the news, he takes her on a tour of the White House, when the complex is overtaken by a heavily armed paramilitary group. So, with the nation’s government falling into chaos and time running out, it’s up to Cale to save the president, his daughter and the country. Cue dramatic music. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs647,543 Weekly admissions: 15,723 Total box office: Dhs7,371,103 Total admissions: 179,035