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Cinemas - Still showing - 7/1/10

THE ROAD (15)

THE ROAD (15)

The future isn’t bright in John Hillcoat’s Oscar-tipped, post-apocalyptic thriller, adapted by Joe Penhall from the novel by Cormac McCarthy, who also wrote No Country For Old Men.

Hillcoat shoots everything through a grimy, colour-bleached lens and when misery is poured upon the characters’ heads, the consequences are chilling and often gruesome.

The emotional weight of the film rests almost entirely on the shoulders of a gruff and heavily bearded Viggo Mortensen and Australian child star Kodi Smit-McPhee.

Cast as father and son in a desolate landscape, the two actors create a believable on-screen dynamic – sometimes warm and nurturing, sometimes strained and argumentative – that holds our attention.

Hillcoat opens with a flashback, introducing an unnamed husband (Mortensen) and wife (Charlize Theron), two survivors of a terrible disaster. She is pregnant with their son.

Having given birth to their child, the mother eventually abandons her husband, walking into the darkness to her grim fate.

The man and his 10-year-old boy try to stay out of sight, wary of the survivors who now band together and hunt down stragglers as food.

The father’s only means of protection is a gun containing two bullets: one for himself and one for his boy.

The Road is unremittingly downbeat, bolstered by terrific performances from Mortensen and Smit-McPhee.

Aside from the flashbacks, there are brief interludes with a gang member (Garret Dillahunt) and an old man (Robert Duvall), whose plight drives a wedge between father and son.

STAR RATING: ****

Writer-director Nancy Meyers has forged a reputation with smart, insightful and semi-autobiographical comedies that reveal myriad potholes in the road to true love.

In her latest film, Meyers skips through the emotional minefield of post-divorce relationships as seen through the eyes of a mother, who embarks on a tempestuous affair... with her ex-husband.

The simple, linear narrative follows the characters’ machinations to a logical conclusion – but the chemistry between the three leads adds polish to the familiar material.

STAR RATING: ***

ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS 2: THE SQUEAKQUEL (U)

GIRL power is alive and well in the Chipmunks sequel as Alvin, Simon and Theodore meet their match in three feisty females (voiced by Christina Applegate, Amy Poehler and Anna Faris), who challenge them for battle-of-the-band honours at their new high school.

STAR RATING: **

AVATAR (12A)

FOUR years after his underwater IMAX documentary Aliens Of The Deep, director James Cameron (Titanic) unleashes his latest special effects-laden blockbuster, which is rumoured to push the boundaries of big-screen technology. When warmonger Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang), decides to attack an alien race, his methods change the face of warfare and the fate of a planet.

STAR RATING: ***

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (PG)

ROBERT Zemeckis’s technologically groundbreaking adaptation of Charles Dickens’s festive novella is delightful.

STAR RATING: ***

CREATION (12A)

JON Amiel directs this account of Charles Darwin’s early years. Darwin is on the brink of writing his great work but is struggling with the anguish he feels in reconciling faith and reason as he ponders the death of his young daughter and his wife’s devout Christian faith. Showing at Clwyd Theatr Cymru in Mold from Friday-Monday.

STAR RATING: ***

DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE MORGANS? (PG)

HUGH Grant, again in bumbling Brit mode, reunites with Sarah Jessica Parker for the first time since the misfiring 1996 thriller Extreme Measures. They play a troubled couple who have the chance to repair their marriage thanks to a witness relocation scheme.

STAR RATING: **

NINE (12A)

OSCAR-winning Chicago director, Rob Marshall, returns to what he knows best after the poor fit of his follow-up Memoirs Of A Geisha. Daniel Day-Lewis’s female co-stars (Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Sophia Loren, Judi Dench) deliver show-stopping performances.

STAR RATING: ****

NOWHERE BOY (15)

CELEBRATED conceptual artist Sam Taylor-Wood makes her directorial debut with this handsomely-crafted valentine to John Lennon’s formative years, based on the memoirs of the assassinated former Beatle’s half-sister. Aaron Johnson stars as the pre-Fab Four Liverpudlian torn between his emotionally-repressed aunt and guardian (Kristin Scott Thomas) and unstable, biological mother (Anne-Marie Duff).

STAR RATING: ****

PLANET 51 (U)

COMPUTER-animated comedy where little green men, women and child live in domestic bliss. But the crash-landing of a dim-witted American astronaut (voiced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) causes chaos.

STAR RATING: **

THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE (12A)

MEET the true life inspiration for The Devil Wears Prada, the famously icy Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of American Vogue, in RJ Cutler’s documentary following the autumn issue of the iconic magazine and exploring Wintour’s fascination relationship with her creative designer Grace Coddington. Showing at Clwyd Theatr Cymru in Mold on Thursday only.

STAR RATING: ***

SHERLOCK HOLMES (12A)

GUY Ritchie’s reinvention of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary sleuth should have been a dream new beginning for the director following a series of lacklustre offerings. However, his biggest budget to date, and first film since divorcing Madonna, has produced an entertaining triumph of style over substance as Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law track a killer who comes back from the dead.

STAR RATING: ***

TRICKS (12A)

CHARMING bittersweet comedy about childhood, directed by Andrzej Jakimowski and telling the tale of 10-year-old Stefek who is convinced the man boarding a train every day is the father he has never met. Showing at Clwyd Theatr Cymru in Mold on Tuesday and Wednesday.

STAR RATING: ***

THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON (12A)

THE eagerly anticipated rendering of the second installment of the four-book Twilight saga is thoroughly entertaining and more polished than its predecessor.

STAR RATING: ***

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE (PG)

SPIKE Jonze’s heartbreaking, visually-stunning adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s beloved children’s story is not a sentimental coming-of-age story viewed through rose-tinted spectacles.

STAR RATING: ***

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