EIFF: Take 4

Day 4

Fred **

Director Richard Ledes/ 74 mins 

An extremely slow story of family life with an excellent performance by the one and only Elliott Gould.

 

Fred (Elliot Gould), an elderly man who has lived in his house for over fifty years with his wife, Susan (Judith Roberts) who suffers from Alzheimer’s.  His grown-up children (Fred Melamed and Stephanie Roth Haberle) try to convince him to move to a care home with Susan, but he is determined that he is not ready to leave yet.  

 

A simple tale that has some beautiful cinematography, great acting by the main leads, but the script is just not engaging enough even if the characters are sympathetic. The actual plot is nothing more than children going to see their parents over a couple of days. Even the Alzheimer’s angle is glossed over in favour of focussing on a stubborn old man. Writer/director Ledes does not know when scenes drag on to long, especially in one scene where the family are singing along to different songs that Susan likes which lasts for ten minutes with no progression of the character’s situations.

 

Gould may be perfectly cast in the role, but the film sadly is as exciting as a cardigan.

 


Dr Seuss’ The Lorax ***

Director Chris Renaud & Kyle Balda / 86 mins 

Another adaptation of a classic Dr Seuss story which is colourful, but seems to be lacking something for all the family.

 

The film tells the story of  a young boy Ted (Zac Efron), who in order to impress a girl (Ms. Swift) sets out to find an actual living tree. He goes to find a mysterious character called the Once-ler (Ed Helms) who knows about Thneedville’s missing trees. The hermit tells the tale of his own encounter with the cranky orange guardian of the forest the Lorax (Danny DeVito).

 

The animation looks great as anyone would expect from the studio who brought us Despicable Me. The songs are fun and very catchy. While the characters and the voice cast including the Granny (Betty White) and the villain (Rob Riggle) are all memorable, the film feels a bit flat even in 3D.

 

This could be that like the other adaptations, the filmmakers have tried to make a short story longer in order to make it feature length. But the story tends to drag as it goes along and several plot holes appear to show. They have also decided to add some additional characters which may annoy fans of the book. But the overall problem is unlike Pixar or even Dreamworks films, it does not appeal to adults as well as children with humour being more catered for a preschool audience.

 

There is nothing wrong with this, but it is disappointing that The Lorax could not be as enjoyable as The Grinch Who Stole Christmas or Horton Hears A Who.

 

Brake **

Director Gabe Torres / 91 mins 

Audiences will have dispense with disbelief and memories of a certain other film about a man trapped in an enclosed space in order to enjoy this average thriller.

 

Federal Agent Jeremy Reins (Stephen Dorff) is about to have a very bad day. He wakes up in total darkness, confused and disoriented. The only light comes from the blood-red digital numbers ticking away above his head. It’s hard to breath. He can barely move and no one answers his cries for help. The sound of an engine can be heard, Jeremy discovers that he is trapped in the trunk of a moving car trapped in a glass box.

 

First of all the fact that someone can be put into a box and then a trunk is just ridiculous, especially since it would be impossible to fit that object into the back of a car . Even if we gloss over this fact, it is hard not to forget the movie Buried which had a normal civilian being trapped in a coffin. The character in that film was more sympathetic and was intensely claustrophobic.

 

Screenwriter Richard Mannion packs enough intriguing predicaments for the character, but the ending is not only predictable but is a complete letdown of all the work that has gone on before that moment. Doriff gives a great powerful performance and it is also nice to see Tom Berenger still seems to be getting work.

 

If the film had come out before the magnificent Rodrigo Cortés film, then Brake would thrill rather than stall at the cinema.

 

Reviews by Paul Logan

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