Wednesday 21 February 2018

Dory shines in Pixar's effervescent sequel

* Finding Dory (G, 103mins), 3 Stars
* The Commune (15A, 112mins), 3 Stars
* Author: The JT Le Roy Story (No Cert, IFI, 110mins), 4 Stars

Finding Dory
Finding Dory

Midway through Finding Dory, my three-and-a-half-year-old boy tugged me by the sleeve and asked, in a deafening stage whisper, "where's Bruce?". I didn't have the heart to tell him the jovial Great White had probably been killed by an unexploded WW2 mine halfway through 'Finding Nemo', but these are the kinds of tough questions fans are going to ask about Pixar's brave sequel.

It's brave because surely the weight of expectation for a follow-up movie has never been higher. Attachment to Pixar's sublime 2003 animation runs deep, and particularly devoted are the folk who were five or six when it came out and are now angry late teens with ready access to social media. No pressure then.

In the first film, Marlin the clownfish joined forces with a blue tang called Dory to find his missing son Nemo. It's now a year later, and Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) has settled down next door to Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence) when a flashback forces her to make a big decision.

Dory suffers from short-term memory loss, and has no idea where she came from. But when she has a sudden vision of her parents' faces, she persuades Marlin and Nemo to accompany her on a perilous voyage to track them down.

Off the California coast, they discover that Dory's story began in a marine wildlife enclosure, where she encounters both new and old friends as she closes in on her parents.

Finding Dory is full of hilarious and inventive moments, from the disembodied voice of Sigourney Weaver that lures Dory, siren-like, towards the rocks, to Hank, a misanthropic seven-legged octopus. He's the most memorable of the new characters, though the rendering of a tiny, giant-eyed baby Dory is the real star of the show.

There are great set-pieces, and Ellen DeGeneres does a great job of voicing Dory. I'm not sure this film has the emotional resonance of the original, and nothing much is done to develop the characters of Marlin and Nemo. But Finding Dory is a lot of fun, and went down a bomb with junior critics.

Thomas Vinterberg roared back to form a couple of years ago with 'The Hunt', a gripping drama about a man wrongly accused of a terrible crime. And in his new film he takes on an equally interesting theme, an experiment in communal living in 1970s Copenhagen. Downtrodden university lecturer Erik (Ulrich Thomsen) is married to a glamorous TV newsreader called Anna (Trine Dyrholm), and is pretty pleased when he inherits a huge house. At Anna's prompting, he asks various friends to move in with them. It's all very exciting for a while, until the bracing winds of sexual liberation box Anna into a corner.

Nice looking and well acted, The Commune is afflicted by melodramatic tendencies that eventually overwhelm it. But there are rich dramatic moments, and Trine Dyrholm is exceptional.

In 2001, the fickle world of New York publishing was entranced by the arrival of a new and dangerous voice. In a series of short stories and a haunting debut novel, JT LeRoy gave voice to his terrible life as the abused son of a vagrant prostitute. Critics compared him to Jack Kerouac (which in America is a good thing), brainless rock stars flocked to his cause, and JT began making nervous appearances in public.

But it was all a hoax, and befuddled celebrities rattled their sabres when JT was revealed to be Laura Albert, a 40-something Brooklyn woman with a gift for storytelling and an equally heart-breaking personal story.

It's told wonderfully well in Jeff Feuerzeig's excellent documentary Author, in which Ms Albert emerges as a quicksilver talent whose obfuscations enraged many, but harmed absolutely no one.

Irish Independent

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