Once is a unique film about a singer-songerwriter in Dubln who works at his dad’s vacuum repair shop and spends the rest of his time busking on a street corner with his guitar. He eventually meets a girl and tries to make more of his music, and that’s pretty much the whole story. The film has been described as a musical because whenever the guy sings a song, we hear the whole thing. If you like the music, the full songs will work for you. I’m not going to go out and buy the soundtrack, but I still got into everything about this movie because it looks and feels like a documentary with characters who seem like real people. The plot (if you want to call it that) doesn’t feel contrived. You meet these people, you like them and you want find out what happens to them. It’s a simple equation that works on a nice, quiet, genuine level. It’s not a visually spectacular movie, but it doesn’t need to be. Once — once it gets noticed — is likely to become a favourite of independent singer-songwriters everywhere.
Iron Man — I enjoyed Iron Man more than any super hero movie that has come out in recent years. It’s well-acted and it tells a good story that doesn’t exist just to show off special effects. Had the producers gone heavy on the CGI, it could have easily slipped into mind-numbing territory like Transformers. Instead, it’s in a league of its own, presenting us with real characters and a compelling origin story that doesn’t feel childish or cartoonish but is still entertaining and full of really cool stuff. (May 4/08)
28 Weeks Later — The sequel to the apocalyptic zombie thriller 28 Days Later. That movie, which fell a little short of being great, scared the crap out of me and is worth watching because it presents such a convincing last-man-on-earth scenario. 28 Weeks Later gives us all-new characters and then brings on “the infected” (or the zombies) in full force. It effectively re-creates the run-for-life elements of the original movie. The ending is stupid, but it’s passable, creepy entertainment. (May 2/08)
Alien vs. Predator: Requiem — Even with some occasionally impressive cinematography, AVPR is unwatchable for anyone with an IQ over zero. It’s not even passable as a B-movie. Thank gods for the fast-forward button. (May 1/08)