This week, Cineast previews the new films Land Ho!, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and A Long Way Down.
Is there a fountain of youth? We know it’s not in Florida, but has anyone ever thoroughly searched Iceland for it? Land Ho! comes to us hot from the film festival circuit, from which it received glowing reviews. It’s an elegiac film about two old buddies who embark on a road trip to Iceland to eat good food, smoke good weed, and soak in the hot springs. Somewhat echoing the recent films The Trip and The Trip to Italy, where two old friends travel around eating expensive meals and doing impersonations, Land Ho! doesn’t have a tremendous story to tell. Here, the two old guys meet up with some much younger women in Iceland—but don’t worry, there’s no incredulity-inspiring scenes of cross-generational sex or predictable jokes about Viagra. Rather, the women serve for the men as wistful reminders of their youth, long past. Mercifully, no miracle cure for old age is suggested.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the latest installment in films set amongst the future ruins of our civilization. While it’s not really fair to accuse the Planet of the Apes franchise of ripping off other films—after all, these films have been using the gimmick of future ruins since the ’60s—it’s showing its age as a ploy. How many times can we be weirded out by the sight of a decaying New York City, with crumbling concrete and destroyed bridges? This time, there’s a massive population of genetically modified apes pitted against a hugely diminished population of humans. Because of their genetic modification, the apes are somewhat capable of speech and have developed human-like family bonds, leading to conflicts among the human characters about how to deal with them. Of course, the apes have plenty of opinions about how to deal with the humans as well. Does it mean war? Oh yes, it does.
A Long Way Down
From author Nick Hornby, he of High Fidelity and About A Boy fame, comes A Long Way Down. Starting from the shaky premise that four suicidal people would all happen to try to commit suicide by jumping off the same tall building at the same time, and would thereafter sign a non-suicide pact and become a media sensation, the film seems to struggle with tone—as would any attempt to wring comedy from suicide. What seems strange is that the filmmakers have attempted a tricky comedy without casting a skilled comic actor: one can imagine a Ricky Gervais or a Steve Coogan pulling off something like this. Here we get Pierce Brosnan, Aaron Paul, Imogen Poots and Toni Collette. Likeable, maybe. Hilarious…no.