Friday 19 July 2019

Film of the Week: The Queen's Corgi

Cert: PG; Now showing

The Queen's Corgi? We were not amused
The Queen's Corgi? We were not amused
Jordanne Jones
Buzz Aldrin on the moon. Photo: Neil Armstrong

The best family films are the ones that touch all ages, the ones that create a universal feeling for the entire audience to share. That's why something like Up becomes a classic. A combination of factors have come together to mean that over the last decade or so children's films have upped the ante regarding making the accompanying adults laugh too. It's not a bad thing and usually just means more grown up references in with the fart noises.

However, the need to amuse the accompanying adult has occasionally made films too knowing when they stray too far from Cinderella and too close to Family Guy. And The Queen's Corgi is very much a case in point.

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Rob Sprackling's script has set pieces designed to amuse children but the bigger gags are aimed at adults and tonally it is odd.

The joke about the airport sniffer dog who was retired because he got too fond of sniffing comes close enough to a line, so to speak, but an entire Fight Club motif in a kids' film?

It is just peculiar.

The film, directed by Ben Stassen, starts well. In a largely silent and nicely animated scenario we see The Queen (voiced by Julie Walters) dote on her beloved corgis, while Prince Philip (Tom Courtenay) is mostly irritated by them. Rex (Jack Whitehall) is chosen as her favourite, the golden collar making him an insufferable little git.

When President Trump and his wife Melania come to visit, their rendition is full scale lampoon, Rex is chosen to mate with their dog Mitzy. But he is horrified, misbehaves, in disgrace and decides to run away with his best friend Charlie (Matt Lucas).

In short order Rex ends up in a dog pound where he meets an assortment of hounds, discovers the fight club run by bully Tyson (Ray Winstone) and falls in love with Wanda (Sheridan Smith).

There are predictable lessons about bullying, friendship and redemption but few of the characters have appeal and at the kid-filled screening I attended, there were few laughs.

★★ Aine O'Connor

 

Also showing

Yesterday

Cert: 12A; Now showing

Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) is a crumby strummer rocking the world of no-one but loyal manager Ellie (Lily James)... until one night an electrical storm causes a huge blackout, and Jack comes to in a world where The Beatles never existed.

He gets his literal act together and starts peddling the songs of the Fab Four as his own, quickly catching the ears of everyone from Kate McKinnon's heartless US manager to Ed Sheeran himself. As Jack ascends meteorically, he struggles to maintain his bond with Ellie as well as his backbone.

Seriously? Are we that low on film ideas? Did screenwriter Richard Curtis (Four Weddings…, Notting Hill) and creator Jack Barth concoct this flimsy premise on the back of a beermat and hand it to director Danny Boyle? Why didn't they go the whole hog and get Jack to reap the credit for Happy Birthday?

Aside from the fact the plot wouldn't make it past a secondary school essay writing exam, the idea for the entire thing to be scaffolding for a potential romance between Jack and Ellie is a dud because no one packed the chemistry. The only thing Yesterday has going for it is the music, and it doesn't get to take credit for that.

★★ Hilary A White

 

Metal Heart

Cert: 15A; Now showing 

Hugh O'Conor's feature directorial debut sees him take Paul Murray's screenplay and bring sibling rivalry in a Dublin suburb to the big screen. It's sweet and enjoyable with lots of familiar concepts, characters and places.

Emma (Jordanne Jones) and Chantal (Leah McNamara) are twins whose non-identicalness goes beyond the genetic. Emma's only friend is fellow Goth Gary (Sean Doyle) while Chantal is Ms Popular whose noisy sex with Alan (Aaron Heffernan) enrages new neighbour Dan (Moe Dunford). It's the summer after the Leaving Cert, their parents are away and circumstances see the sisters forced to renegotiate their known history.

The characters are good but the problems they face too generic, a safety that keeps the film from going beyond the ordinary. So, while not a remarkable debut, it is a promising one.

★★★ Aine O'Connor

 

In Fabric

Cert: 18; Now showing 

Peter Strickland's previous films have established him as a brave and knowledgeable filmmaker.His latest offering sees him dip back into Italian cinema in a homage to giallo films, stylised sometimes narratively obtuse thriller horrors from the 1970s.

If you can submit to the slow pace there is an enormous amount to enjoy in this often funny, always gorgeous film.

Sometime in the 1980s, recently separated Sheila (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) begins dating. At home Sheila has issues with her son and his boundary-free girlfriend (played by Jaygann Ayeh and Gwendoline Christie), at work she has issues with her passive aggressive bosses (Julian Barratt and Steve Oram).

In need of a lift, she treats herself to a new dress, a beautiful red number she is talked into by exotic shop assistant Miss Luckmoore (Fatma Mohamed). However soon Sheila will have issues with the dress too.

The film's second, slightly superfluous, section sees a similar story with different characters (Leo Bill and Hayley Squires) and a continued message about consumerism and dress sizing.

It's strange and funny and beautiful.

★★★★ Aine O'Connor

 

Apollo 11/Prisoners of the Moon

Cert: G/ 12A; Now showing 

Two films mark next month's 50th anniversary of the Moon landing. Apollo 11 is one for space tech fans. A compilation of excellent quality footage from the time, it features no talking heads or analysis, just Walter Cronkite's news reports and recordings of NASA communications. It is a little emotionless but it captures a time, especially the kind of public access that you'd never see now.

Johnny Gogan's film Prisoners of the Moon offers an entirely different perspective, using transcripts and dramatisation to tell the story of Arthur Rudolph, the former Nazi engineer who had become a top NASA scientist, and then later was stripped of his American citizenship.

Where one film celebrates the hope that led to the Apollo mission, the other looks at the dark side of the Moon landing.

★★ Aine O'Connor

Sunday Independent

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