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This Is 40, I Give It A Year, Stoker


March 2013

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Gael Garcia Bernal, Alfredo Castro, Antonia Zegers
If you’ve heard anything about Gael Garcia Bernal’s new film, it’s that it’s likely to be the Chilean version of Mad Men. That’s not strictly true, although our favourite Latin American star does have a touch of Don Draper about him as a glib advertising genius swept up in history when dictator Augusto Pinochet schedules a 1988 referendum, asking his citizens to grant him another eight-year term. But then Don Draper was never threatened with torture by government security agents. Recruited by the anti-Pinochet ‘NO!’ brigade, Bernal’s whiz-kid dreams up a witty campaign that avoids reminding Chileans of sad realities in favour of hopeful taglines (‘Happiness is coming!’) and catchy jingles (‘I get sick of seeing him every day!/I’m bothered by his cold smile!’). Astonishingly, it ended up driving the desperate despot from power. Up for Best Foreign- Language Film at the Oscars, this is the history lesson we’d recommend this month over Spielberg’s crusty take on Lincoln.

This Is 40
Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Chris O’Dowd
Hollywood’s reigning comedy king Judd Apatow directs this quasi-sequel to Knocked Up, zooming in on the not-entirely-blissful domestic life of long-time marrieds Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann). Like all Apatow’s films, it’s saggy and indulgent but also packed with memorably funny sequences and astute observations about long-term relationships. Best of all it features Bridesmaids’ Melissa McCarthy, who’s up to her wicked scene-stealing tricks. Stay for the end credits, too, for her popcorn-choking outtakes.

I Give It A Year
Rafe Spall, Rose Byrne, Stephen Merchant
Newbie director Dan Mazer, a member of Sacha Baron Cohen’s inner coterie as co-writer of Borat and Bruno, brings his fine-tuned comic sensibilities to the rom-com. Katherine Heigl fans might be horrified by his gristly, anti-saccharine approach, but the rest of us won’t. Spall and Byrne are engaging as newlyweds who say ‘I do’ too quickly, Merchant is hilariously inappropriate as Spall’s best friend and Simon Baker (The Mentalist) and Anna Faris act as marital distractions.

Nicole Kidman, Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode
We love the talent combo: two of our favourite Aussie actresses and the why-isn’t-he-a-bigger-star Goode in a blood-spattered slice of gothic nastiness from Park Chan-wook, the Korean director who made the exceptional thriller Oldboy. Wasikowska and Kidman lap up their roles as a demented teen and her mania-suffering mother. But wanting to be the new Black Swan is one thing; achieving it with any degree of aplomb is another, and far beyond the capacity of this turgid shocker.
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