New Year movie treats
Arts : The holiday season brings a host of cinematic delights, including the latest Mission Impossible, a new instalment of The Twilight Saga and New York film New Year’s Eve. If all 2012 releases are this good, film-goers are in for a cracking year.
New Year’s Eve
Cinema-goers could be forgiven for thinking that New York’s tourist board decided to fight declining tourist numbers by launching an all-star film about New Yorkers discovering love, truth and beauty one New Year’s Eve.
The time ball-drop scene with Mayor Michael Bloomberg – each year a crystal ball is dropped from the iconic Times Square building as the clock strikes midnight – only adds to the sense of watching a beautifully-shot commercial.
The film starts with a predictable series of clichés, some cheap lines and familiar scenery. Soon after, however, you can see how much the director has worked with all his stars to develop particular characters to match their storylines.
A single mother keeping a sweet secret will try to prevent her daughter being kissed for the first time on New Year’s Eve. A handsome young heir to a family fortune will discover the value of the heart while being rescued from suburbia in a mobile home driven by a priest. Ashton Kutcher will hit on a girl wearing pyjamas in a lift and Jon Bon Jovi will try to persuade Katherine Heigl to forgive him for walking out on her. Sounds horrible but, believe me, it isn’t.
With New Year’s Eve you have the very best American actors making the New York they love shine. Hiring New York actors to play New Yorkers on a New Year’s Eve made what could have been an average, sentimental film into a genuinely warm and touching movie full of funny moments. I can easily picture New York audiences sobbing through half of the film.
Mission Impossible: The Ghost Protocol
After James Bond, Austin Powers and Johnny English, Ethan Hawk (Tom Cruise) offers another take on saving the world. With a cast of relatively unknown actors and boasting great action scenes, this is easily the best film of the series.
Cruise, who also produced the film, invested money in scriptwriting and special effects rather than paying tens of millions for a star-studded cast. It paid off. The opening Kremlin bombing scene is incredibly believable, while the gadgets look less gadgety and more like something that could actually exist before man lands on Mars.
The star of the film, however, is Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. Here, again, the technical department gave it their best with some breathtaking shots.
The special effect guys and the director of photography deserve yet more credit. There is a man and car chase scene during a sandstorm in Dubai. The use of natural light and filters worked miracles. This is, no doubt, the best portrayal of a sandstorm in an urban area I have seen on film.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1
Thinking that a series of bad films guarantees bad sequels was a mistake on my part. Having seen the third Twilight last year, I was comfortable believing the saga would end the way it started – with poor films.
However, with director Bill Condon stepping in for David Slade, we have a much better portrayal of the world of two lovers; the human Bella and the vampire Edward.
Just as in the last film, one thing that stands out is the breathtaking portrayal of north-west America by director of photography Guillermo Navarro. Many of the stills could easily be included in a contemporary photography exhibition.
The relationship between the lead characters is complex and, despite the frequently childish dialogue and the ridiculous, albeit mercifully few, special effect-laden scenes of werewolves and vampires fighting, the audience is rapidly engrossed in their story early in the film.
In between expressions of teenage affection, you have beautiful shots of nature to gaze upon. Another plus is that the makeup department decided not to dip Edward in the flour bag this time, opting instead to give him a more human appearance.
Other celluloid treats in store for the coming year include the new Sherlock Holmes film with Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law fighting the villains and The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo - the Swedish version is called Men Who Hate Women - based on the Stieg Larsson bestseller. Daniel Craig and Christopher Plummer star.