Graham Young and Roz Laws review the latest films.
Trust * * * *
Cert 15, 106 mins
This week’s movies are arriving like a bald-tyred Hillman Imp that’s about to be crushed between two juggernauts.
Faced with the mighty onslaught of last week’s Transformers 3 and next week’s Harry Potter 7 (part 2), none of these smaller films stand a chance of making an impact at the box office.
Especially as the boy wizard will even eliminate Transformers at Birmingham’s giant IMAX screen from Thursday July 14.
But at least they are getting a minor release for cinephiles prepared to clock up the miles between Quinton, Rubery and Wednesfield.
Over at Reel Quinton (formerly the Quinton Odeon), Coventry-born Clive Owen stars in the story of a father struggling to cope after his daughter is targeted by a paedophile she has ‘met’ on line.
Anyone who bridles at the usual product placement of Apple computers will certainly find an opening sequence interesting here when Will Cameron (Owen) gives 14-year-old daughter Annie (Liana Liberato) a shiny new Macbook Pro and rattles off its spec like a true geek.
The deeper inference is that he’s just given her a souped-up GTi equivalent before she’s even passed her driving test.
And leaving Annie alone in to navigate the web in her Chicago bedroom means her parents don’t know she’s innocently exploring a world of older men in California.
Any parent of a teenage child, but especially those fully aware of how technology is opening doors to strange places like never before, will find Trust a deeply disturbing watch.
Some of the images are brutal and explicit and, at the back of your mind, is the thought that this will descend into a fully-fledged, Michael Winner-style eye-for-an-eye movie as Cameron grows ever more determined to find the predator himself.
Back at work, the distraught father is struggling to concentrate on his job to help mastermind the growth of the ‘tweenage’ market with provocative fashion shots which, it could be argued, are part of the modern problem of sexualising children.
Trust is former Friends’ star David Schwimmer’s second attempt at directing after Simon Pegg’s Run Fatboy Run.
Even though this is anything but a comedy, it’s interesting that he’s again turned to a British star for the lead and Owen’s performance is as good as anything that he’s done on the silver screen before.
Such is Schwimmer’s desire not to go for a crowd-pleasing ending, Trust was pulled from release in the US where it grossed just $120,000 in a mere 28 screens after costing $4 million to make.
Like Ben Affleck’s Gone Baby Gone, the 2007 release of which was hit by the Madeleine McCann case, it has deserved a wider audience on both sides of the pond than it will get.
The subject matter of parental and individual responsibility is an important one, but Schwimmer misses a trick by not exploring Will Cameron’s work activities in greater depth.
And while Catherine Keener, who plays Will’s wife Lynn, is never anything other than a wonderful screen actress, her role as the mother in this story is underwritten.
For the purposes of helping victims in real life, the role of counsellor Gail might have been expanded too, especially as she is played with tremendous compassion by Doubt’s Oscar nominee, Viola Davis.
Trust is a debate-raising, disturbing exploration of a difficult subject matter that multiplexes aren’t comfortable with.
It’s not as good a drama as the Kate Winset/Patrick Wilson offering Little Children, about a family in a community with a sex offender lurking. Nor, as a potential thriller, is it as brave with its plot direction as another film starring Wilson.
In Hard Candy, he played a 32-year-old photographer visited by a pre-Juno Ellen Page, who gave a sensational performance as a 14-year-old girl who ‘meets’ him online and then visits his home in a bid to expose what she thinks he’s up to. GY.
Super * *
Cert 18, 96 mins
Talking of Ellen Page, here she is in Hollywood’s latest spin on the way that ordinary people want to be superheroes to solve their stupid problems.
This sub-genre is beginning to wear gossamer thin and Super certainly doesn’t live up to the in-built optimism of its own title.
A year ago, Page was in the global smash hit Inception with Leonardo DiCaprio,
Showing only at Rubery's Empire Great Park by comparison, Super is a major disappointment for the Nova Scotia actress.
Now fully mature at 24 but still capable of playing much younger, the Oscar nominee from Juno has a clarity of diction which most stars would die for and a quicksilver tongue to match.
These are useful qualities for a superhero sidekick to have, but as Libby/Boltie she faces two insurmountable problems.
The first is that Kick-Ass got here first 16 months ago.
And, whatever your view of that boundary-pushing film in terms of its adult content in a lenient 15 certificate, the much younger actress Chloe Moretz pretty much defined the role of a prepubescent female assistant in a man’s world.
In Super, Page also has to work with her fellow Juno star Rainn Wilson, who is more of a lugubrious Dan Aykroyd than an off-the-wall head case like Kick-Ass star Nicolas Cage.
Frustrated with humdrum life as Frank D’Arbo, Wilson becomes The Crimson Bolt when his wife Sarah (Liv Tyler) is taken by drug dealer Jacques (Kevin Bacon).
Trouble is we don’t sympathise with Frank in the slightest, so watching him invent his own tools is like having Rambo without Stallone; going shopping for guns is like Supermarket Sweep minus, er, Dale Winton.
Having penned the second Scooby Doo movie, nobody should be surprised that Super’s little known writer-director James Gunn should resort to lowest common denominator tactics far too often and miss any potential comedic targets by a mile.
Bacon is a fine character actor who is commendably always searching for something different, but he goes AWOL for a vast part of the movie.
Throw in some ‘one man against the world’ Taxi Driver-style sensibilities and all hope is lost that this will ever turn itself into either an entertaining, or meaningful, project. GY.
Holy Rollers * *
Cert 15, 88 mins
Bringing up the rear of this week’s small releases and limping into cinemas – or actually, one cinema – is this indie film, showing at Wolverhampton Cineworld in Wednesfield. I can’t recommend making the trip.
It’s based on true events from the late 1990s, when a group of Hasidic Jews was responsible for smuggling in millions of Ecstasy pills.
Oscar-nominated Jesse Eisenberg plays Sam Gold, a 20-year-old Orthodox Jew – complete with the hat and long, curly bits of hair – living in Brooklyn and studying to be a rabbi. He works with his father selling fabric and is about to marry a girl he barely knows until the arrangement falls through.
Sensing Sam wants more out of life, he is easy prey for his neighbour Yosef (Justin Bartha), who introduces him to drug dealer Jackie Solomon (Danny A. Abeckaser).
Sam is recruited to transport ‘medicine’ from Europe into America, but is bright enough to realise the pills aren’t ones doctors would prescribe, though Jackie tries to persuade him that Ecstasy is therapeutic and not dangerous.
Jackie tells him that to get through customs he should ‘act Jewish’, and it works. Soon Sam is recruiting more Jews to join the smuggling gang and getting paid $1,500 a trip. He starts out naive but quickly adapts himself to the world of dodgy business.
The main problem is that Sam is such a whiney, disloyal and unlikeable character that I couldn’t root for him.
The film is slow, sometimes confusing and not very involving. And it’s so relentlessly Jewish, from the language to the synagogue scenes to their wardrobe, that the characters seem caricatures. RL.