Director: Jonathan Levine; Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen,
It could have been agonisingly mawkish: The story of a young man with everything ahead of him who learns he has a rare form of spinal cancer, one that he only has a 50 per cent chance of surviving. Instead, 50/50 is consistently, uproariously funny, written with humanity and insight and directed with just the right tone every time. Comedy writer Will Reiser crafted the script based on his own cancer diagnosis when he was in his early 20s. His words are filled with dark humour and a wry recognition of the gravity of this situation, but also with real tenderness. And director Jonathan Levine pulls us into this intimate world through an abiding naturalism. He’s made a film about cancer that’s effortlessly affecting. It helps that he has Joseph Gordon-Levitt, an actor of great range and subtlety, in the starring role as Adam. He goes through all the requisite stages of denial, frustration, fear and eventually acceptance, but he does so with such believable imperfection,a he never feels like a saint or a martyr. Adam has an ideal balance in his lifelong best friend and co-worker, played by Seth Rogen in the kind of garrulous and lovably crass role Rogen has built a career on. But Gordon-Levitt’s most moving scenes are with the delightful Anna Kendrick as Adam’s young, eager-beaver therapist. R for language throughout, sexual content and some drug use. 100 minutes. — AP
DVD reviews: New releases and classics in stores
The Lorax (2012) (PG)
Ted (Efron) will do anything to win Audrey (Swift)’s heart — even it means going beyond his world in search of a Tree. And what a world it is, indeed. The residents of Thneed-Ville are perfectly content to live their artificial lives. No, really. Theirs is a place where nothing natural grows anymore, not even trees. Ted’s search takes him beyond the great city walls, past the bodyguards of the greedy, bottled air-selling Mr O’Hare, to the grumpy Once-ler, who tells him the sorry story of how the wastelands came to be, of the Lorax, guardian of the trees, and finally, gives Ted the last seed to realise his — and all of their — dreams.
Duration: 86 minutes
Genre: Animation/ Family
What’s good: Great for wholesome family entertainment — or rather, edutainment
What’s bad: Hollywood production takes away from the original message of the boaok by Dr Seuss
Voices: Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Danny DeVito
Black Gold (2011) (Unrated)
Two rival emirs call a truce to stop shedding blood over the barren land called Yellow Belt and declare it no man’s land. As a guarantee of the treaty, the forward-thinking Emir Nesib (Banderas) demands the conservative Sultan Amar (Strong)’s two sons with a promise to raise them like his own. But when poverty forces the Emir to allow Western parties into the Yellow Belt to extract oil from it, war erupts between the two tribes again, and the younger lad must decide if his allegiance lies with the father who raised him as a child — or the one who gave him life.
Duration: 130 minutes
What’s good: Not a clichéd plot; Riz Ahmed uses sarcasm to considerable comic effect in the movie
What’s bad: Considering the Arabian setting, the cast could’ve done more to perfect their accents; Banderas, for instance, often slips into Spanish tones in between
Cast: Antonio Banderas, Mark Strong, Freida Pinto