99 Homes leads the new cinema releases & trailers – w/e September 25th 2015

99-homesThis weekend there are a massive nine new films out for you to choose from: drama in 99 Homes, James Dean revisited in Life, mawkishness aplenty in Miss You Already, a David Oyelowo-starring thriller in Captive, romantic leanings in Lessons In Love, Kevin Costner’s career going down the pan in McFarland, Anthony Hopkins facing off against Colin Farrell in Solace, ‘seeing dead people’ in The Messenger, and horse-racing documentary in Palio.

99 Homes stars former Spider-Man Andrew Garfield as Dennis Nash, a father who struggles to get back the home that his family was evicted from by working for the greedy real estate broker who is the source of his frustration.

The film also stars Laura Dern, Tim Guinee, JD Evermore, plus Michael Shannon as nasty, snarling estate broker Rick Carver and looks an absolute corker from the trailer.

Hit or Miss? Verdict: Hit!

Life stars Robert Pattinson as Dennis Stock, a photographer for Life Magazine, who is assigned to shoot pictures of James Dean (Dane DeHaan Chronicle, The Amazing Spider-Man 2).

Watching this trailer, DeHaan looks to be damn good in this role and a dead ringer for Dean. I’d only quibble that, despite the link to the name of the magazine, the title is rather generic and weak and should’ve been changed to something that stands out more. Maybe in the US it’s well-known, but in the UK, not so much.

Then again, if it gets a bucketload of publicity, will that really matter?

Also starring Joel Edgerton, Kristen Hager and Ben Kingsley, and directed by Anton Corbijn (A Most Wanted Man), I am certainly looking forward to this.

Hit or Miss? Verdict: Hit!

Miss You Already is described as a film where the friendship between two life-long girlfriends is put to the test when one starts a family (Jess – Drew Barrymore) and the other falls ill (Milly – Toni Collette).

With Milly contracting breast cancer, this movie, directed by Catherine Hardwicke, and written by Morwenna Banks – so I’m suprised how dull and twee this looks, since it comes across as very so-so comedy/drama, pulling all the usual cliches and appears to be not a patch on the real-life-based recent Sheridan Smith BBC production The C Word. In fact, it looks like Hollywood has taken that powerful drama, chewed it up and spat it out, and Miss You Already is the end result.

Perhaps it’s time Hollywood employed Sheridan Smith!

Milly and Jess have been best friends forever. They’ve shared everything since they were kids – secrets, clothes, laughs, substances, boyfriends… now they are trying to be grown-ups. Milly has a high-flying job and lives in a beautiful townhouse with husband Kit and their two kids. Jess is a town planner and she and her boyfriend Jago live on a bohemian houseboat on a London canal. Their friendship is as rock solid as ever. That is until Jess struggles to have a much longed-for baby and Milly finds out she has breast cancer. How do you share that?

The film also stars Dominic Cooper, Charlotte Hope, Jacqueline Bisset, Honor Kneafsey, Tyson Ritter, Paddy Considine and Noah Huntley, and I’m not missing a minute watching this dross.

Hit or Miss? Verdict: Miss!

Captive is a fact-based thriller with Kate Mara as Ashley Smith, a single mother struggling with drug addiction, who is randomly taken hostage in her own apartment by Brian Nichols (David Oyelowo), a man on the run from the law for breaking out of jail and murdering the judge assigned to his case.

Also starring Michael Kenneth Williams, Mimi Rogers, Leonor Varela, directed by Jerry Jameson, and written by Brian Bird and Reinhard Denke from a novel by Ashley Smith, and while Oyelowo is a superb actor, this looks like one of the most bog-standard, run of the mill thrillers I’ve ever clapped eyes on. The trailer even hints at a snorer of an ending, too, so it won’t ‘captive-ate’ (see what I did there?) your imagination.

Hit or Miss? Verdict: Miss!

Lessons In Love is also known in some countries as Some Kind Of Beautiful or How to Make Love Like an Englishman, but quite frankly, it doesn’t matter which way you cut this particular cake, you’ll get sloppy rubbish falling out at every attempt.

The billing simply states that it’s a drama about a Cambridge poetry professor who begins to re-evaluate his life of Byronic excess, but in more detail, he ends up having sex with Jessica Alba, as Kate, first and then later on, her sister Olivia (Salma Hayek). Alba then Hayek? Jammy bastard!

Also getting in on this is Malcolm McDowell (everything from A Clockwork Orange to Silent Hill Revelation 3D), Duncan Joiner and Ben McKenzie (Gotham, The OC, Southland)

Hit or Miss? Verdict: Miss!

McFarland (aka McFarland USA) looks like a typical ‘underdog’ film, where Kevin Costner plays a cross country coach in a small California town, who transforms a team of athletes into championship contenders.

Yes, you can smell every last minute of this tripe from here, can’t you?

Also caught up in this mess are Maria Bello, Morgan Saylor and Elsie Fisher, plus director Niki Caro and screenwriters Christopher Cleveland, Bettina Gilois and Grant Thompson.

Hit or Miss? Verdict: Miss!

Solace stars Anthony Hopkins as psychic John Clancy, working with FBI agents Agent Joe Merriweather (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Agent Katherine Cowles (Abbie Cornish), in order to hunt down a so-far nameless serial killer played by Colin Farrell.

With Farrell always staying one step ahead of the cops, it’s a well-worn premise but one which looks, here, it could turn into a pretty decent thriller, given its style.

Hit or Miss? Verdict: Hit!

The Messenger stars Joely Richardson, in a film where, according to the billing, we all want to believe in life after death and imagine loved ones looking over us, feel their presence in a draft of air, or the faint essence of a familiar smell. It’s what we crave, knowing they wait for us. But Jack isn’t waiting – they won’t leave him alone. Some might call Jack a troubled soul, at odds with the world, unable to conform. If you saw him in the pub – disheveled and drunk, talking to himself – you’d stay well away, think he was disturbed somehow, crazy. But Jack has a sharp mind and a razor wit. It’s not that he doesn’t want to live a normal life, he can’t. They won’t let him.

Also starring Robert Sheehan, Lily Cole, Tamzin Merchant, David O’Hara and Andrew Tiernan, since Sheehan’s character “sees dead people” and I could only think of The Sixth Sense. And this new film didn’t really grab me from the trailer.

Hit or Miss? Verdict: Miss!

Palio is the oldest horse race in the world, held twice a year the Italian city of Siena. Not your average race: strategy, bribery and corruption play as much a part as the skill of the riders. Horses are allocated by lot four days prior to the race. This is when the madness truly begins.

In the eye of the storm stand the jockeys. Loved and loathed by the districts they represent, they forge alliances and make deals promising large cash sums to try and get the best start. Legendary rider Gigi Bruschelli has won 13 Palios in 16 years and is accused by his critics of monopolizing the race. He works the system, paying off younger jockeys and fixing the race with average horses. Two races away from beating the world record, Bruschelli will do anything to win. But one jockey stands in his way, his former trainee, a handsome young Sardinian, Giovanni Atzeni, who is quietly determined to challenge his old mentor. Less interested in bribes and collusion, he rides for the love of the race.

Palio is the thrilling story of a young ‘outsider’ keen to break in to the dangerous but lucrative race and the corrupt ‘insider’ who has manipulated the city of Siena for a decade. Their passionate and dramatic battle is an epic and cinematic tale of Italian life in microcosm.

It may be your bag, but this wasn’t for me.

Hit or Miss? Verdict: Miss!