Jan 072015
 

Coming to cinemas across Australia on Thursday January 8 are: Into the Woods, Dumb and Dumber Too, Tak3n, Life Itself and Keep on Keepin’ On.

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You can find a preview of the films after the jump:

Into the Woods – The story is set around four well-known Grimm Fairytale stories – Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk and Cinderella – with the characters from those stories colliding with a baker and his wife (Emily Blunt and James Corden), a childless couple seeking to end a curse placed upon them by a vengeful witch (Meryl Streep). They must procure four items, one from each of the tales. This is Rob Marshall’s (Chicago, Nine) adaptation of James Lupine and Stephen Sondheim’s beloved Tony Award-winning Broadway musical. I am not the person to ask about whether or not this version of Into the Woods is a success or not, as I am not familiar with the Broadway show, but I can’t recommend it. Thankfully Emily Blunt is there to keep it bearable.

Dumb and Dumber To – Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels reprise their signature roles as Lloyd and Harry in the sequel to the 1994 smash hit. The original film’s directors, Peter and Bobby Farrelly, take Lloyd and Harry on a road trip to find a child Harry never knew he had and the responsibility neither should ever, ever be given. I enjoyed the first film. Who didn’t? But, this looks banal and misjudged.

Tak3n – Liam Neeson returns as ex-covert operative Bryan Mills, whose reconciliation with his ex-wife is tragically cut short when she is brutally murdered. Consumed with rage, and framed for the crime, he goes on the run to evade the relentless pursuit of the CIA, FBI and the police. For one last time, Mills must use his “particular set of skills,” to track down the real killers, exact his unique brand of justice, and protect the only thing that matters to him now – his daughter. I can’t believe there is a third one in this pummeling franchise. The first one was so awful.

Life ItselfAcclaimed director Steve James (Hoop Dreams) and executive producers Martin Scorsese (The Departed) and Steven Zaillian (Moneyball) present a documentary that recounts the inspiring and entertaining life of world-renowned film critic and social commentator Roger Ebert. It is a story that is by turns personal, funny, painful, and transcendent. Based on his bestselling memoir of the same name, Life Itself explores the legacy of Roger Ebert’s life, from his Pulitzer Prize-winning film criticism at the Chicago Sun-Times to becoming one of the most influential cultural voices in America. This is essential viewing for any film buff and appreciator of the role that criticism has in our culture. It is also an emotional journey through the distinguished life and career of a man with an inspiring sense of passion. I can’t claim it to be an extraordinary documentary, but the affecting scenes of Ebert in his final years will remain in the hearts of many many people.

Keep on Keepin’ On Shot over the course of five years by first time filmmaker Al Hicks, depicts the remarkable story of 93-year-old jazz legend Clark Terry. A living monument to the Golden Era of Jazz, Terry – a mentor to Miles Davis – is among the few performers ever to have played in both Count Basie’s and Duke Ellington’s bands. In the 1960’s, he broke the color barrier as the first African-American staff musician at NBC – on “The Tonight Show”. Today, after a life spent working with and teaching the most totemic figures in jazz history, Terry continues to attract and cultivate budding talents. Keep on Keepin’ On highlights his friendship with the preternaturally gifted Justin Kauflin, a blind, 23-year-old piano prodigy who suffers from debilitating stage fright. Paula DuPre’ Pesmen (The Cove and Chasing Ice) produced the film with seven time Academy Award nominee Quincy Jones, who also counts Terry as his mentor. Jones came on board as producer after literally walking into the film as one of its subjects, discovering Justin’s talent purely by chance during a visit at Clark’s home. Just like Life Itself, this film is also shortlisted for Best Documentary. It sounds incredible.

Weekly Recommendation: You may have to search for the two documentaries – they are screening at The Chauvel here in Sydney – but they are certainly the most worthwhile options this week.

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