Neil Fox on film (26.10.11)

The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of the Unicorn

Ah Steven. Mr Spielberg. Sir. He hasn’t been around for a bit, but returns with this, then War Horse in January – his Oscar teaser – and then with Daniel Day Lewis as Abraham Lincoln next year. As always, three very different films, but of all, this is the most interesting.

The long-gestating adaptation of the classic Herge character has been created by a stellar team. Spielberg directs, Peter Jackson produces and is at the tech helm and the script is by three rising British stars – Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish and Stephen Moffat.

The result is an animated film – that weird Polar Expressy kind of animation – that is enthralling and engaging and classically Spielbergian. All the expected characters are there in a plot that sees Tintin, Snowy and Captain Haddock searching for a sunken treasure ship, but as you’d expect, they aren’t the only ones. Smart, stylish fun.

The Ides of March

If Tintin will keep all ages entertained, the latest directorial outing for George Clooney will keep the adults both entertained and enthralled.

It’s a political thriller with an amazing cast that is inspired by, but not in thrall to, the 1970s heyday of American political thrillers.

Clooney himself is a presidential candidate who, through his bid to become the most powerful man in the world, shows an idealistic young man (Ryan Gosling) the truth behind the veil of politics.

It’s a familiar tale told with amazing assurance and great tension and rounding out the cast are the heavyweight likes of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti and Jeffrey Wright.

The Help

This was a good old-fashioned ‘sleeper’ hit in the US and it’s not hard to see why.

Despite being very broadly rendered it’s a timely film, given the volatile, powder keg society we currently inhabit.

It tells the story of a young, aspiring journalist who sparks fury when she writes a book based on the experiences of black female housekeepers in white households.

Set in the 1960s, it has resonance now in its detailing of the cultural, class divides that can damage our world. It’s well performed, with some nice moments, even if it does too often slide into schmaltz.


Any semblance of a great story and a political period thriller has been hammered out of this script by the never-gentle Roland ‘Independence Day’ Emmerich.

It’s the familiar urban legend that Shakespeare didn’t write the masterpieces he is known for. A great conspiracy theory and one that doesn’t need the caffeine- addled delivery of Emmerich, who delivers it all with a straight face and an almost sneering level of pretension.

It’s as if he is trying to convince us he is the first person to think of this. Not a complete disaster, though, as it’s well cast and Rhys Ifans shows another sterling side of his underappreciated oeuvre.