Nic Cage drama, Pierce Brosnan comedy and more movie highlights
The Love Punch Director: Joel Hopkins Stars: Emma Thompson, Pierce Brosnan, Timothy Spall, Tuppence Middleton 2/5
This Brit comedy has the watchability factor of a mediocre TV sitcom: naff but good-natured. Emma Thompson does one of her jolly, clever, capable women, cheated on by a man not fit to lick her sensible shoes. He’s played by Pierce Brosnan, and is her ex-husband, a lawyer who ran off with a younger woman. When his company is taken over by a French firm and stripped of its assets, the exes join forces and head to Paris to retrieve the money. Will this ludicrous caper bring them back together? What do you think?
Thompson has the funniest lines. (She tells her daughter leaving for uni: ‘Wash your jeans inside out and never put anything in your mouth that hasn’t been boiled first.’) Elsewhere, it’s all prostate gags. And you haven’t seen cringeworthy till you’ve seen a group of mature British actors in granny-beige M&S slacks doing the ‘Reservoir Dogs’ walk. Cath Clarke
Joe Director: David Gordon Green Stars: Nicolas Cage, Tye Sheridan 3/5
Adapted from Mississippi author Larry Brown’s 1991 novel, Joe is a moody, melancholic throwback to the regional dramas that first gained David Gordon Green (George Washington) attention, though it’s not an entirely successful about-face from the stoner comedies with which he’s lately occupied himself (Pineapple Express). A subdued Nicolas Cage is terrific as the title character, an ex-con who runs a semi-illegal business poisoning trees for corner-cutting corporations. That said, he’s a good boss, always paying on time and employing anyone in need. So when troubled 15-year-old Gary (Tye Sheridan) crosses his path, there’s an instant fatherly connection—something the boy could use, considering his own dad (Gary Poulter) is not a role model.
Joe and Gary’s mentor-protégé relationship is the heart of the tale, though the film frequently shuffles off the narrative path to sketch in the depressed environs. Working with his usual cinematographer Tim Orr, Green captures the bucolic beauty of the setting even as he populates it with down-and-out people (many of them not actors) who might have stepped out of a Faulkner story. The movie is best in these seemingly improvised side vignettes (there’s a memorable one in which Joe instructs a local how to properly skin a deer). Yet Green, as is his wont, too often strains for poetic effect through voiceover and tone-deaf interactions—like those between Joe and his short-term girlfriend—that undercut the genuineness. Keith Uhlich
The Wind Rises Director: Hayao Miyazaki Voices: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Krasinski, Emily Blunt 3/5
After a string of deliriously tall-tale epics (Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle), 72-year-old Japanese animation master Hayao Miyazaki shifts gears with this historical biopic about interwar aviation engineer Jiro Horikoshi (Gordon-Levitt). Saddled with eyesight too poor for piloting, he becomes a designer in the mould of Italian trailblazer Giovanni Caproni, who appears to our hero in a series of fantastical, prophetic dreams. From engineering school in the 1920s to assignments for Mitsubishi and pre-WWII military, Jiro is driven by simplicity and toward his beautiful, TB-battling bride-to-be, Naoko (Blunt).
Whenever Jiro’s brainstorming about aerodynamics and sending winged prototypes into an endless blue sky, The Wind Rises soars to life, offering hand-drawn imagery more seductive and persuasive than any motion-capture product. Yet even Miyazaki and his Studio Ghibli wizardry can’t ward off this story’s jinxes. Jiro’s genius is divine, but his personality is non-existent; time is too-briskly spanned, then ground into blow-by-blow melodrama. Still, you’d be hard-pressed to find a film, animated or otherwise, with a more honest or nuanced take on the amorality of innovation. That Jiro’s planes would become wartime killers doesn’t lessen their elegance, or simplify Miyazaki’s identification with their creator. Eric Hynes
Ninja: Shadow of a Tear Director: Isaac Florentine Stars: Scott Adkins, Kane Kosugi
Martial arts film with plenty of kickboxing action and a seemingly thin storyline. British actor Scott Adkins plays Master Casey whose happy life with pregnant Japanese wife is violently turned upside down. Seeking revenge, Casey fights his way through Bangkok, Osaka and Rangoon on a quest for truth and justice. Time Out staff
Jungle Shuffle Director: Taedong Park, Mauricio De la Orta Voices: Drake Bell, Brianne Brozey, Joey D’Auria
Expect animal animated fun in this family film. Manu and Sacha are two young coatis enjoying their lives in the Mexican rainforest. Manu is a bit of a trouble maker and he’s banished from the forest and away from his best friend. But the outcast becomes the hero as he tries to save Sacha from the clutches of the poaching humans in the forest. Bright and high colour animation for kids, with voicing from Drake Bell. Time Out staff
Crush Director: Malik Bader Stars: Sarah Bolger, Crystal Reed, Lucas Till
‘When I get a crush it’s bad’ whispers Sarah Bolger as Jules in this dramatic thriller. So things might not go too well for college sports star Scott who’s the object of Jules’ affections. A chance meeting brings the pair together, and what starts as cute high school flirtations and admiration turn into psychotic stop-at-nothing stalking with devastating effect. Time Out staff
Walk of Shame Director: Steven Brill Stars: Elizabeth Banks, James Marsden
This comedy is possibly just an excuse to see Elizabeth Banks in a skimpy yellow dress running around LA, and getting into all sorts of ridiculous scenarios. Banks plays Meghan, a news reporter whose chance to make a big break is compromised by one night of debauchery – she has eight hours, no phone, no money and no ID to make it to biggest job interview of her life. Time Out staff