It’s a slow start to the New Year with only three new releases this week, all of which are… meh. Means less work for me though! But, with Awards Season around the corner, things should start picking up again from next week. In the meantime, here’s what we have to look forward to.
JOY is the wild story of a family across four generations centered on the girl who becomes the woman who founds a business dynasty and becomes a matriarch in her own right. Betrayal, treachery, the loss of innocence and the scars of love, pave the road in this intense emotional and human comedy about becoming a true boss of family and enterprise facing a world of unforgiving commerce. Allies become adversaries and adversaries become allies, both inside and outside the family, as Joy’s inner life and fierce imagination carry her through the storm she faces. Jennifer Lawrence stars, with Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Edgar Ramirez, Isabella Rossellini, Diane Ladd, and Virginia Madsen. Like David O. Russell’s previous films, Joy defies genre to tell a story of family, loyalty, and love.
A fascinating story doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get a fascinating film, and David O. Russel’s latest film Joy is the perfect example of that. Even though it’s a compelling tale that’s anchored by a great performance by Jennifer Lawrence, Joy turns out to lack that oomph that you’d expect from the title. Competent at best and sloppy at worst, Joy gets a decidedly lacklustre 60% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Secret in Their Eyes
A tight-knit team of rising investigators – Ray (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Jess (Julia Roberts), along with their supervisor Claire (Nicole Kidman) – is suddenly torn apart when they discover that Jess’s teenage daughter has been brutally and inexplicably murdered. Now, thirteen years later, after obsessively searching every day for the elusive killer, Ray finally uncovers a new lead that he’s certain can permanently resolve the case, nail the vicious murderer, and bring long-desired closure to his team. No one is prepared, however, for the shocking, unspeakable secret that will reveal the enduring, destructive effects of personal vengeance on the human soul.
Based on the 2009 Argentinian thriller El Secreto de sus Ojos (which in turn was based on a 2005 novel by the same name), critics are once again decrying Hollywood for taking a foreign language film and stripping away everything that made it great. The Secret in Their Eyes flounders despite its A List cast, and fails to improve – or even match – the original. Ultimately forgettable, The Secret in Their Eyes scores a low 41% on Rotten Tomatoes
‘n Paw Paw vir my Darling
Pawpaw Vir My Darling is a story filled with humor, pathos and razor-sharp social commentary on the life of a white (sic) Afrikaans family and their mongrel dog in a down-at-heel suburb. The central theme deals with their desperate, sometimes clumsy and strange attempts to adapt and survive the “post 1994” era. Included is the individual family members’ struggle to come to terms with themselves and their circumstances and maintain peace amongst each other, their neighbours and the authorities. Through the eyes of the Beeslaer family’s dog Tsjaka, one follows the struggle to adapt and accept the ever present hope of a better life. One gains intimate insight into characters and situations and experiences the ‘sweet and the sour’, the brief moments of hope, excitement and pleasure. Also, one accesses the constant desperation and hopelessness of dog and human, caught in an economic and socially challenging environment.
Eh, I don’t get it. And by that, I mean Afrikaans humour in general, and not just ‘n Paw Paw vir my Darling. But looking at this specific instance, well, every character is a badly realised caricature, the jokes are cringe-worthy, and some of the throwaway lines were a little bit racist in my opinion. There’s a very specific subset of people that will enjoy this film, and I am well aware that I am not one of them.
Last Updated: January 8, 2016