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Silver Linings Playbook: after a mental breakdown and bi-polar diagnosis, Pat Solitano strikes up a relationship with an equally challenged family friend. STOP PRESS! HOLD THE PHONE! Someone somewhere managed to find a very good performance in Robert De Niro, how the hell did they do it? Both leads are also way above what’s required and expected from ‘rom-com’ standards, and both deliver solid, believable, performances as afflicted people. The story’s engaging and interesting, right up until the final act where it runs through the entire checklist for clichéd movie endings. In saying that, you don’t really grudge the ending as the laugh-count in the first two-thirds of the film was ridiculously high (again) compared to what you usually get in a rom-com. The only thing that kept pinching me was that both leads are ridiculously good-looking Hollywood A-listers, centered around an interesting, unconventional relationship – those two roles could have been brilliant breakthrough fodder for unknowns, but in a way, they still are eye-opening performances, and you wouldn’t want to change the casting of Cooper or Lawrence. Silver Linings Playbook is a surprisingly funny and enjoyable quirky rom-com.

Score: 7/10

Rust and Bone (De rouille et d’os): an unemployed wayward man falls in love with a whale trainer – but in European cinema, it’s rarely as easy as that. This feels like a mish-mash of many big European films – although to name some would probably be spoilers. There’s not much of a scope or message, and as the film jostles with so many big questions that you leave the screen wondering what it was all about – love, coping with disability, family, sex, fighting, morals, fatherly responsibility… to name but a few. It’s also pretty nihilistic, to the point where you hope one good thing happens to the characters, although there’s a few silver linings, and some brief comic relief. You can’t fault the acting much – big, powerful, deep, solemn performances – but it’s very “European social-drama” (open, blunt, provocative everyday dialogue), which matched the vagueness of the story. It’s also peppered with dozens of random arty shots, for no reason other than filler. For such a diehard ‘European’ film, the American Indie/Pop soundtrack felt really out of place, and like it was screaming for international attention. The computer effects (greening out) when required were fantastic, seamless, you would think that everything you saw was absolutely in-frame. Rust and Bone is an interesting film, and to a point it’s watchable, but the vagueness and slow-pace means that your interest dips in and out, and it’s hard to engage with. It does end up feeling like a random bunch of poignant scenes and circumstances.

Score: 4/10

Hot Tub Time Machine: 3 middle-aged guys and a nephew go on a Ski Trip, and get transported back to the 1980s via a malfunctioning hot tub; partial hilarity ensues. It’s essentially a mish-mash of several tried and tested movies: American Pie, High Fidelity, Back to the Future, The Hangover, any ‘Buddy Comedy’ you can think of and the Butterfly Effect. Additionally, the characters are all pulled from the ‘Familiar and Safe’ cupboard; the cool / normal guy, Mr under the thumb, the wildcard and nerd loser. The strangest aspect was that it’s essentially a teen movie, but starring adults… weird to watch. There’s puke, piss, shit & many a gross-out but the ratio of hot tits to saggy men’s asses was disappointingly even (note to the director, this shouldn’t even be a ‘ratio’) HTTM is funny, and by no means a bad film, but it’s exactly what you expect a film called “Hot Tub Time Machine” to be and nothing more. Inevitably suffers from trying to be to broad and tick a huge bunch of ‘safe’ boxes, stick to the Hangover.

Score: 6/10