From SXSW 2009: At the start of Ride, Rise, Roar, as a white-suited David Byrne launches into an exuberant rendition of "Once in a Lifetime" backed by a perfectly attuned ensemble of similarly clad dancers, vocalists and musicians, it's clear: This ain't no party, this ain't no disco, this ain't no humdrum concert documentary. You can read my Variety review here.
But wait, there's more: A shaggy-dog story based on stranger-than-fiction fact, Bernard Rose's Mr. Nice is casually cheeky and frankly celebratory as it charts the improbable rise and inevitable fall of Howard Marks, an amiable bloke from the valleys of South Wales who controlled a sizable portion of the world's hashish trade in the 1970s and '80s. Based on Marks' bestselling autobiography, this mildly amusing but overly discursive biopic likely will play best in those international markets where its subject -- freed from U.S. incarceration in 1995 -- remains enough of a celebrity to command large audiences with a one-man stage show. Here is the complete Variety review.
Just in case you missed my earlier posts: Ingeniously constructed and propulsively paced, Brotherhood achieves the sweaty-palmed intensity of classic film noir while demonstrating just how speedily a very bad situation can metastasize into a worst-case scenario after a college fraternity hazing takes a deadly serious turn. First-time feature helmer Will Canon drives his actors on a virtually nonstop full-court press from first scene to final fade-out, only occasionally pausing for a dab of backstory or a burst of black comedy to give the players -- and the audience -- a fleeting breather. Canny marketing could drive this well-crafted indie beyond the fest circuit and into megaplexes. This full review is here.
And of course: Kick-Ass most certainly does. Equal parts audacious dark comedy, wish-fulfillment fantasy and over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek action-adventure, Matthew Vaughn's bloody funny adaptation of a cult-fave comicbook series manages to be sufficiently faithful to its source material to please fervent fanboys while remaining easily accessible for ticketbuyers unfamiliar with the superhero storytelling conventions Vaughn (Layer Cake) and co-scripter Jane Goldman satirize as well as celebrate. Scenes of hilariously overstated violence perpetrated by an 11-year-old girl doubtless will discomfort many and incense quite a few. But this deservedly R-rated Lionsgate release should nonetheless score a knockout in theatrical and homevid venues. The rest is here.