If you missed out on the arrival of this year’s Oscar nominated films (American Sniper and Birdman) to our cinemas last week, fear not because they’re still playing. (For last week’s review click here.) This week, we seem to be taking a break from the hype but that doesn’t mean you should forgo the popcorn and big screen experience. Our in-house movie expert, Howard Elias, is here to tell us what’s worth seeing and what’s not.
Maybe Mortdecai is supposed to be an homage to Peter Sellers and The Pink Panther franchise but, if it is, it’s a poor imitation. Johnny Depp stars as the title character, a debonair art dealer and a bit of a rogue who is hired by MI-5 to recover a stolen Goya painting that is rumoured to contain the code to a lost bank account filled with Nazi gold. When it’s good, this film is mildly bad. When it’s bad though, it’s gawd awful. You’ve been warned!
Jake Gyllenhall (Brokeback Mountain) plays creepy loner, Lou Bloom, who bullies his way into the fast-paced and gritty world of freelance crime journalism, commonly known in the biz as “nightcrawling”. Part thriller, part social commentary, Nightcrawler comes across as an Alfred Hitchcock version of Network. Although Gyllenhall’s performance is great, the story runs out of steam well before the closing credits start to roll. This could have been a really good film about really slimy people. Instead, all we have is a disappointingly mediocre film.
We’ve seen this story before – curmudgeonly guy befriends an adorable little boy (or girl) and the two of them get changed for the better in the process. The only difference this time around is that the curmudgeon is played by the hugely underrated Bill Murray (Lost In Translation) while the boy is played by first-timer Jaeden Lieberher, who is not only too cute for words but he’s a pretty good actor as well. This is not a film that’s going to change the way you view the world but it is good entertainment. Murray does what he does best here and we’re all the richer for it.
Showing at the AMC, Broadway, Grand and UA cinemas.
Howard Elias is a Hong Kong-based film critic and film event organiser. You can hear his reviews every Thursday morning at about 8:40 am on RTHK Radio 4, and read his reviews anytime on his website at howardforfilm.com.