30 Jan

It seems that nary has a week gone by when we haven’t been treated to a combination of potential classics and absolute stinkers at the box office. This week (and very much on the plus side) Oscar hottie The Descendants washes up on our very un-Hawaiian shores, the suitably snowy Liam Neeson extravaganza The Grey crash lands and an ocean separates young lovers in Like Crazy. Shonky alternatives arrive in the form of Brit flick Mercenaries and Clive Owen horror vehicle Intruders.

With The Artist having scooped just about every award going so far this season, one could be forgiven for assuming that the Oscars are a foregone conclusion. 2011 was hardly a vintage year and with the likes of War Horse, The Help and the nonsensical Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close on the Best Picture shortlist, competition seems sparse.


However, the much vaunted Alexander Payne makes a welcome and very accomplished return after seven years away with The Descendants, and his film remains the most likely contender for the big prizes come February 26. George Clooney dazzles as a frugal lawyer and land baron who is forced to connect with his distant daughters following a tragic accident. It’s a bold, affecting, gem of a film that will have audiences in tears and stitches in equal measure and often simultaneously. Shailene Woodley announces her star quality with a supreme turn as 17 year old daughter Alex.

If heart-warming hilarity is not your bag, then perhaps Liam Neeson punching wolves in the face might just be. OK, so The Grey is so much more, but who wouldn’t want to see that? Am I right? Hollywood’s baddest ass™ Neeson stars as wolf hunter John Ottway who must use all his wits to survive in the Alaskan wilds following a plane crash. Boasting a spiritual quotient at least a high as its bitey wolf one, this is a thrilling tale of survival, horror and humanity.

Onto Like Crazy which arrives in plenty of time for Valentine’s Day. Those expecting a schmaltzy love story might be wise to learn that this is a heart-breaking tale of the difficulties of maintaining a long distance relationship. Improvisational in style and boasting an impressive and utterly believable central performance from love bird leads Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin, this is a real indie gem.

That cloying scratchy sound you can hear is Billy Zane scraping the bottom of the proverbial barrel with his latest pic, Mercenaries. Zane stars as Colonel Torida who greenlights an SAS led mercenary snatch mission in the Balkans following a coup. A wonky script and FX that would not look out of place in a school nativity play doom this one to a limited release and bargain bucket obscurity.

Finally, if it’s spooks that you’re after, look no further than Intruders. Our Clive, who really deserves better than this, stars as a dad in distress in this psychological horror pic, where nothing is as it seems or is it? Or…oh who cares? Horror, house, creepiness etc…

(originally featured at

Like Crazy

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