All this week's cinema releases reviewed

Yahoo UK Movies Features11 May 2012

Dark Shadows – 1.5/5

In short:

In 1752 the Collins family founded the small fishing town of Collinsport and built their swanky home: Collindale. Their son Barnabas (Johnny Depp) grew into a shrewd and handsome man, beloved by the whole town, but especially by servant girl Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green). Barnabas allowed himself to be tempted by Angelique, but his heart belonged to Josette DuPres (Bella Heathcote). Unfortunately his spurned lover is a witch and, after dealing with Josette, Angelique curses the Collins family, dooming Barnabas to live forever as a vampire and burying him alive. Fast forward to 1972 and the Collins family have fallen on hard times, but when local building works dig up Barnabas he resolves to help his family revive their fortunes.

[Related video: Exclusive 'Dark Shadows' clip]

What we think:
'The Addams Family' without the fun, 'Dark Shadows' is unbearably long and lacking in laughs. Even the talents of Depp can't save this one.

The word out there:
The Guardian: The Gothy, jokey "darkness" of Burton's style is now beginning to look very familiar... it is smarter and more distinctive than a lot of what is on offer at the multiplex, but there are no surprises.
The Telegraph: Dark Shadows looks as beguiling as a deserted mansion on a lonely hill, but it’s every bit as empty, and permeated by an unmistakably musty niff.
Den of Geek: Hopeful fans would point to the unhinged Beetlejuice or the madcap mess of Mars Attacks as positive precedents, but Burton, as is becoming sadly apparent with the passing of time, never fails to disappoint.
Empire: A word of warning: This is not the knockabout comedy the trailer suggests. Instead, it cleaves closer to what you expect from Burton: Darkness, quirk and Johnny Depp on great form.

Release date: 11 May
Runtime: 113 mins
Rating: 12A

Watch the trailer for Dark Shadows

How I Spent my Summer Vacation – 4/5

In short:
An unnamed Driver (Mel Gibson) is on the run from the cops. He's dressed as a clown, with a bagful of cash and a fatally injured passenger in the back seat as he races to the Mexican border.
After crash landing on the other side of the fence, the Driver is taken in by Mexican enforcement agents, relieved of his stolen booty and dumped in a vast prison. Now he must use his wits to survive, escape and recover his cash. Joining forces with a 10-year-old boy, Driver hatches a plan to take down his enemies and start a new life for himself. It's an elaborate scheme, but if it comes off he will be a free man with nothing to worry about ever again.

What we think:

Mel Gibson is at his charming best, firing off one-liners and pistols with effortless cool.

The word out there:
The Express: The jail setting is eye-opening, Gibson is on good form and a tight narrative grips until events become too farcical towards the end.
Total Film: Melding Mel, Mexico and mariachi, Grunberg’s debut is a watchable action-comedy, if a little throwaway. Good Friday-night fun.
TimeOut: Superbly constructed, pithily scripted and absurdly entertaining
Digital Spy
: Essentially, this is an exercise in style over substance with Grunberg and Gibson... tipping their hats to crime flicks and westerns of a bygone era. That's not to say it isn't fun.

Release date: 11 May
Runtime: 96 mins
Rating: 15

Watch the trailer for 'How I Spent My Summer Vacation'

Jeff, Who Lives At Home – 4/5

In short:

Jeff (Jason Segel) lives at home with his mother Sharon (Susan Sarandon). Having recently watched the Mel Gibson film 'Signs', Jeff is convinced that the universe is sending him messages to turn his life around. On the other side of town, Jeff's brother Pat (Ed Helms) is trying to calm his wife (Judy Greer) after he has splashed out on a sports car. It's a rash purchase that could cost him his marriage. Their mother has problems of her own. A secret admirer at work is desperate to talk to her, but she is wary and is taking things slowly. As a series of seemingly random encounters begin to engulf the family, could Jeff be on the verge of finding what he is desperately looking for?

What we think:

A sharp and witty comedy drama that boasts the best that American indie cinema has to offer.

The word out there:
Empire: There’s undoubtedly comedy mileage... Despite the calibre of the cast, the Duplass brothers mostly fail to find it.
Little White Lies: Odd, sweet and languid, but little to get your teeth into.
Sky Movies: Dyed-in-the-wool mumblecore fans will accuse the brothers of selling out...but for the rest of us it's sweet and - ultimately - rather moving.
On The Box: The deliberately sketchy plot, much like its protagonist, wanders without any particular focus and so we’re often left with engaging characters that feel like they have very little to do.

Release date: 11 May
Runtime: 83 mins
Rating: 15

Watch the trailer for 'Jeff Who Lives at Home'

Café de Flore – 4/5

In short:

In modern day Montreal, DJ Antoine Godin (Kevin Parent) is living the good life with his beautiful girlfriend Rose (Evelyne Brochu) and two daughters. But his daughters are by his ex-wife Carole (Hélène Florent), the woman he thought was the love of his life, and things are complicated. Playing out simultaneously is another drama. Back in 1960s Paris, young mother Jacqueline (Vanessa Paradis) has just given birth to a boy with Down Syndrome and her husband has scarpered. Nonetheless, Jacqueline determines to raise young Laurent (Marin Gerrier) and confound science by making sure he lives to a ripe old age. They forge an immeasurably strong bond, but when he shares an instant connection with a young girl at school Jacqueline's monopoly on his happiness is questioned.

What we think:
A stunning investigation of love, spirituality and all the things that connect us, delivered in a powerful way that everyone can relate to.

The word out there:
Total Film: Beneath the surface panache lies an overlong, emotionally shallow study of so-called ‘twin flames’, possible reincarnation and learning to let go of love.
TimeOut: Whatever its flaws, in the moment this is one to set the film-lover’s pulse racing.
WhatCulture: Drama so perfectly wrought is hard to come by. Vallée and his stellar cast have carved out a challenging, emotionally rich film which is not shaken easily.
ViewLondon: ‘Café de Flore’ is an engaging and thought-provoking drama that packs a powerful emotional punch, provided you can handle that plot revelation which could prove a little difficult to swallow.

Release date: 11 May
Runtime: 115 mins
Rating: 15

All In Good Time – 1/5

In short:
Atul (Reece Ritchie) and Vina (Amara Karan) have just married each other in the romantic locale of a scout hut in Bolton. But they don't care about the environs, or whether Atul's parents Lopa (Meera Syal) and Eeshwar (Harish Patel) Dutt can afford better, because they are young and in love. But when their honeymoon plans fall through and they are forced to move in with Atul's parents, tensions rise and begin to affect certain marital rites. As their relationship begins to suffer, some family secrets are about to surface too.

What we think:
A depressingly dull misfire of a film that fails to harness any of Nigel Cole's talent for charming or Ayub Khan-Din's searing dramedy, instead labouring old stereotypes and an eventless story for some sort of emotional spark.

The word out there:

Empire: The drama just escalates too fast. The comedy, conversely, stays at a very gentle setting throughout.
Little White Lies: About sexual tension yet without sexual tension. Someone dropped the ball.
Sky Movies: It's... eye-rollingly predictable, from the Anglo-Asian stereotypes to the reason Eeshwar's best friend mysteriously decided to get out of his life all those years ago.
The Fan Carpet: Certainly unpretentious and in parts charming and endearing, provoking the occasional chuckle - but unfortunately for Cole, such moments feel too few and far between.

Release date: 11 May
Runtime: 93 mins
Rating: 12A

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