Friday 23 June 2017

Film review - Fifty Shades Darker: Sexier auditing reports exist than this absurd film

Cert: 18: Now showing

Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson in Fifty Shades Darker
Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson in Fifty Shades Darker
Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson in Fifty Shades Darker
Fifty Shades Darker - Jamie Dornan
Jamie Dornan, left, and Dakota Johnson arrive at the Los Angeles premiere of 'Fifty Shades Darker' at The Theatre at Ace Hotel. Photo: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
Cast member Jamie Dornan poses at the premiere of the film "Fifty Shades Darker" in Los Angeles, California, February 2, 2017. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

Maybe there is method in the madness of Fifty Shades Darker.

As we giggle at the idiotic lines and clunky reactions of the dull on-screen couple, you wonder if this 'mummy porn with a side of comedy' is a ploy by zillionaire author and co-producer EL James and scriptwriter husband Niall Leonard. 

You can only hope. At the preview screening for this second spankfest, there were wild hoots of laughter in junctures where no laughter was invited. The same was reported of the $570m-grossing first instalment of the franchise.

No one seemed to mind that time and it is unlikely anyone will with this follow-up that sees Sam Taylor-Johnson replaced by James Foley, a director who in 1992 gave the world the magnificent David Mamet adaptation, Glengarry Glen Ross.

How things can change. And yet, in other ways, how they stay the same.

As Christian Grey, the saga's dark lord of slap-and-tickle, Jamie Dornan is still ill at ease with a role that demands he wear a predatory frown and little else. Still mumbling and moping away alongside her vampiric beau in penthouse opulence is Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson). He swoops back into her life promising it'll all be different this time.

She sets out her conditions whilst rummaging through the walk-in closet he has bought her, before being buckled into some manner of medieval shackle. Sexier auditing reports exist.

We can discuss the soapy narrative, stiff dialogue, absent chemistry, absurd plot devices and vulgar wealth-porn all we like; the fact is you either already plan on seeing this or you don't.

Hilary A White

★★★★

The Lego Batman Movie

Cert: G; Now showing

The Lego Movie was one of the funniest films of 2014 - but this is not so much a sequel as a spin off, centering on one of the side stars of the movie Batman/Bruce Wayne.

Will Arnett once again voices the fantastically self-involved, in denial, emotionally-stunted superhero in a frenetically-paced, super clever, funny and slightly drawn- out animated juggernaut.

The film opens to Batman/Bruce Wayne facing complaints from the Joker (Zack Galifianakis) for not hating him enough, the villain vowing to do something to finally engage his nemesis's emotions.

The new police chief of Gotham, Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) is keen to end Batman's lone wolf vigilante days and encourages him to work with her. But Batman is unconvinced and returns home to reheat his lobster thermidor alone.

In a bid to bury further into denial he heads out as Bruce Wayne, socialite and eligible bachelor and accidentally adopts an orphan called Dick (Michael Cera). Bruce/Batman regrets the adoption but isn't allowed to back out by his faithful butler Alfred (Ralph Fiennes). Then a whole load of baddies get busted out of jail and everyone gets busy.

As a frenetic piece of fun it works well. Chris McKay directs the work of five men who worked hard to out funny each other. The relentless one liners and references will sail over most kids' heads but they will still enjoy it.

It's a little too long, there is only so much Batman deconstruction anyone can take, but it's star-studded, smart and funny.

★★★★

Aine O'Connor

Prevenge

Cert: 16: Selected cinemas Now showing

Ben Wheatley's 2012 comedy Sightseers corralled together a naff Middle-Englander sensibility with bludgeoning violence. That a similar comedy tone is mined in this blood-stained jewel of a debut is unsurprising given that writer-director-star Alice Lowe was a driving force of Wheatley's film both sides of the lense too.

Here, she plays pregnant Ruth, whose foetus is ordering her to go on a killing spree to avenge its father's death. His rope, you see, had to be cut during a rock-climbing accident in order to save the other participants. One-by-one, Ruth slashes her way through them in macabre style.

Lowe portrays a character based on Tina in Sightseers (frumpy, awkward, a bit rubbish). Unlike Tina, she elicits not only horror, but also pity and compassion as well.

As a director, she shows much flair and cunning. Prevenge throbs off the screen thanks to her talent for mischief and bemusement. She herds around a fine comedic cast and maintains vigour between scenes with Toydrum's pummelling soundtrack. A real find.

★★★★

Hilary A White

Meetings With Ivor

Cert: 12A; Now showing

In under 90 minutes Alan Gilsenan's documentary covers a lot of ground about one of the most prominent and occasionally controversial figures in Irish mental health.

It outlines Prof Ivor Browne's basic biography, his childhood in Sandymount, his marriage and children and relationship with June Levine but also gives good insight into his beliefs, on both mental health and life in general, and gives a great sense of the man himself.

The meetings - conversations between Ivor Browne and various well known Irish faces, including Mary Coughlan, Sebastian Barry and Tommy Tiernan - are interspersed with vignettes from Browne's daily life, reveal glimpses of his methods, results and fanbase. It's a great insight into a fascinating man.

★★★★★

Aine O'Connor

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