Friday, December 11, 2009

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Some older people shy away from the cinema because it seems that the big film studios are intent on targeting young male audiences with wham-bam action thrillers. Susan Daly previews a few upcoming gems that will appeal to a more mature audience

When animation studio Pixar released a feature called Up last month, it might have been one to bring the grandchildren to see. An old man, tired of his dreary lot, ties helium-filled balloons to his house and floats away on the adventure of a lifetime. However, this was no piece of childish whimsy. The film captivated older viewers who could relate to the poignancy of ageing but also to the joy of fulfilling long-held dreams.

The wonderful news is that while Up might have departed most cinemas (but will soon be available on DVD), there are plenty of movies on the way that are worth the ticket price. Anyone with an interest in the intriguing Orson Welles, director of classics such as Citizen Kane and The Lady from Shanghai, should see the newly released Me and Orson Welles. The mannerisms, voice and charisma of the young Welles in his early career as a theatre mogul are brilliantly captured by actor Christian McKay.

Others to watch out for
Where The Wild Things Are (in cinemas from December 11), like Up, has cross-generational appeal. This semi-animated feature is based on the 1960s children’s book of the same name. It centres on a troubled boy called Max as he escapes home to enter a world of fantasy. Wise, older eyes will recognise it as a charming rite-of-passage tale.

The Beatles are still a favourite with authors, film-makers and music lovers almost 40 years after they split up. Nowhere Boy (from December 26) focuses on the teenage years of John Lennon as he struggles with his complex relationships with a largely absent mother and the aunt who raised him.

Holmes aficionados can compare their favourite TV and film Sherlock (Basil Rathborne or perhaps Jeremy Brett?) to Robert Downey Jr’s version in Sherlock Holmes (from December 26). The inimitable Dr John H Watson is played by Jude Law.

The film trailer for The Road (from January 8) has been somewhat misleading in depicting the movie as a post-apocalyptic action thriller. Those sequences are in fact a very small part of the film, which is based on the stunning Cormac McCarthy novel. The rest is a profound contemplation on what makes us human and it asks questions about mortality and spirituality that few of us dare to face.

Light of heart
If you would prefer to start the New Year in a more light-hearted mood, try It’s Complicated (from January 8), which stars the luminous Meryl Streep. She plays a divorcee whose ex (played by Alex Baldwin) decides he wants her back just as she begins to fall for nice-but-shy Steve Martin. It’s directed by Nancy Meyers who brought Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton together in 2003’s Something’s Gotta Give.

There are Oscar bells ringing all over Precious (from January 29), an Oprah-backed tale of a teenage girl who strives to overcome abuse, neglect and illiteracy. It has been recommended warmly as “inspiring and funny” by the Reel Geezers, a dynamic octogenarian film critic couple called Marcia and Lorenzo who record their movie reviews for the internet. They are an excellent port of call for down-to-earth recommendations on new releases.

Two other films to look out for at the start of next year are Everybody’s Fine and Invictus. Everybody’s Fine, due out on February 26, is a sweet, moving story that sees Robert deNiro as a widower who tries to reconnect with his adult children after his wife’s death.

The release date for Invictus has yet to be announced but this Clint Eastwood-directed biopic of Nelson Mandela is highly anticipated. Morgan Freeman plays Mandela at the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa, an event that went some way to heal the nation after the fall of apartheid.

Looking for a classic?
For those who insist that the oldies are the goldies, it’s worth noting that the Wild Strawberries club at the Irish Film Institute (IFI) in Dublin returns with two screenings of festive favourite White Christmas on December 16 and 18. Join the IFI and your ticket is €4 including tea and coffee. Now there’s a winter warmer!

Useful Websites
The Irish Film Institute and the Wild Strawberries film club:
Film reviews from Marcia and Lorenzo, aka The Reel Geezers:
For film listings for the whole country, click on the ‘Cinema’ tag at

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