Live!: Filmed by a documentary crew that are given access to a major Network’s ratings-obsessed – and frequently braless – producer as she turns a sick idea into the most successful reality TV show of all-time. Budget is the obvious constraint here and you get the feeling that the entire process, from idea to release, was all railroaded through with very little thought and even less money. Every character is stock, flawed and/or unbelievable – nobody even has a surname. The acting screams of ‘minimal effort’ at the best of times; omnihotty Eva Mendes doesn’t go beyond 1st gear, but hey, neither does anyone else – even 50 Cent (although he only has 1 line) and Javier Bardem Jeffery Dean Morgan. Despite being marred by cheapness the final 1/3 of the movie – the actual show – is pretty tense, if a little corny. The underlying messages about the public’s consumption and lust for tragedy have been around for decades, and done much better. It’s an interesting premise, but Stick to Series 7 or the Running Man.
Candy Strippers: A gherkin-looking membrane transfers and infects female hospital workers through kissing, turning them into seductive murderers… nothing to do with pole-dancers; I want my money back! Definitely bags the ‘Misleading title of the year’ award. It’s refreshing only having infected female killers for a change, but that’s where the originality ends. The last 40 minutes is just 20-somethings carelessly running around a hospital getting chopped up one by one. The last 10 ten minutes is a ludicrous needle-fest. Generally skipped through all the ‘plot building’ after the 20 minute mark. Nothing groundbreaking here: lame ‘monster’, average gore, terrible gags, unfathomably hot females, some gratuitous boobs and dumb people doing dumb things.
Volver: borderline surreal movie that tells the story of a Spanish family going through some rough times. It would be impossible to watch this film and not notice that it’s pretty much a showcase of Penelope Cruz (and her magnificent chest). Despite this her performance is stellar as she leads the cast cast, once again proving that Spanish-language films truly bring out the best in her. The film’s shot brilliantly, and the vibrant colours and great cinematography really bring another dimension – the Blu Ray would be great. There’s a lot of over-acting, almost to soap opera level, and as the story progresses it gets less believable to the point where the drama isn’t effective. Some great dialogue and black comedy moments throughout too. All-in, it’s very Spanish and unmistakably Almaldovar, which is by no means a bad thing; although it’s not quite his best. Definitely worth watching.