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Neil Fox on film: Ruby Sparks, Hotel Translyvania

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Ruby Sparks

This is either the ultimate paean to creative anxiety and morality, or it’s a pretentious chick flick that is a woe is me schmaltz fest.

Thankfully, thanks to some great performances and some neat writing the audience is left to make up their own mind entirely, which suits.

Paul Dano plays a successful, but lonely and blocked writer who imagines the perfect girl only to find her come perfectly to life.

The girl is played by the film’s writer Zoe Kazan and the chemistry is superb, and both actors, lovers in real life, don’t flinch from the dark results of messing with nature.

It’s the first film from directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris since their smash, Little Miss Sunshine and it’s another superb piece of Indiewood drama. Maybe.

Hotel Transylvania

You will be pleased to know that Adam Sandler has more to offer in animated form than he has in live action releases of late, but that’s not saying much.

This is decent enough kids fare about a hotel resort, where the owner is Dracula and he has to deal with his daughter falling for a stray boy tourist.

Harmless hokum but worth seeing for the majestic Steve Buscemi’s turn as the wolf henchman.

Private Peaceful

Adapted from Michael ‘War Horse’ Morpurgo’s novel, Private Peaceful, directed by Pat O’Connor, is trying, despite its protests, to be Britain’s answer to Speilberg’s War Horse adaptation. Unfortunately, much like our weather, America defeats us in this battle, but only just, writes guest reviewer Alison Devlin.

Opening the film in a small cell, prisoner Tommo Peaceful (George McKay) recounts his early life leading us to the reason for his imprisonment and the resulting execution.

Beginning as a young boy, the audience joins Tommo in his adventures through brotherhood, love, tragedy and the events in a First World War trench.

Starring alongside McKay is a recognisable cast including Harry Potter’s Richard Griffiths as the malevolent Colonel, Skins’ Jack O’Connell as Tommo’s charismatic brother Charlie Peaceful and The Iron Lady’s Alexandra Roach as the mischievous and flirtatious love interest Mollie.

What could be a great story is let down by poor pace and weak rendering of the narrative. Failing to focus and communicate the senselessness of war and ineptitude of commanding officers, fluttering between illegitimate pregnancy and a broken heart, the film fails to make an impact leaving the audience disappointed.

Despite the slowness of the film, it’s hard to follow all the different storylines that are thrown into the mix and you’re left wondering: “Was that resolved in the end?”. It’s not a life-changing film, nor even a day-changing film, it’s just an attempt at cashing in on the cash cow that is War Horse.

If you’re looking for a bit more creativity, see the play, a one-man show that brings over half a dozen of the main characters to vivid life that returns to the West End this autumn.

 

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