Neil Fox on film (08.09.11)

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Friends With Benefits

Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis may be friends but there is a serious case of life imitating art in the shadowy way Kunis is following her friend’s choices.

No Strings Attached, Portman’s comedy about pals who decide to enter a physical relationship, sank without trace, and here comes another film, with exactly the same story and Kunis in the lead.

The difference is the male leads. Portman had the vacuous and one dimensional Ashton Kutcher whereas Kunis bunks up with the ever improving and more charismatic Justin Timberlake.

Backing them up is a superb cast and a decent script for a film that takes a familiar tale into rewarding places through wit, and character and chemistry. Good fun.

Jane Eyre

Another version of the classic story makes its way to the cinema screen, courtesy of enigmatic filmmaker Cary Fukunaga – but thankfully he has found some new angles and delivered it with a wonderfully cinematic sensibility.

Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland) is the young woman who falls for her employer, the legendary character Mr Rochester, played here by the electric Michael Fassbender.

Fukunaga plays melodramatic games with the style, emphasising the emotional story through design, the camera, the style and it’s refreshing to have a period film that doesn’t just sit there, but seeks to blur the lines between the visual and the literary.

You know the story, but you may not have seen it quite like this, which is exactly what cinema adaptations should be.

Troll Hunter

Catch this Norwegian film, before the inevitable Hollywood remake. It’s a fantastic romp, cleverly mixing documentary and monster movie conventions.

In this sense it marks a nice companion piece to the allegorical District 9.

This, though, takes itself less seriously, and embraces the story of students documenting strange goings on and the work of a mysterious troll hunter to great effect. Refreshing and fun.

Colombiana

Remember Luc Besson? He made great films like Leon and The Big Blue. Well, he is still around, writing and producing hackneyed schlock like this that ruins his own reputation as an excellent purveyor of kitsch, balletic crime and drama.

This is almost a sequel to his Leon and Nikita characters and stars Zoe Saldana as a girl who witnesses her parents being murdered and grows up to be a hit-woman. Sound familiar?

It’s all slick choreography and steamy photography but without an original bone in its body.

It just left me reaching for Leon, and a truly memorable take on this well-worn formula.