Review of the week
Film: Hands of Stone
Cast: Robert De Niro, Edgar Ramirez, Ana de Armas, Usher Raymond IV, Ruben Blades
Director: Jonathan Jakubowicz)
Classification: 16 L N S V
(Spanish with English sub-titles)
Reviewer: Peter Feldman
‘Hands of Stone’ is an engrossing bio-pic about one of the world’s great boxers, the Panamanian slugger Roberto Durán who cut a swath through boxing circles during his heyday in the 1980s.
Jonathan Jakubowicz’s production is light on its feet, throws a lot of good punches and though not quite delivering that knock-out punch, is wholly entertaining.
I remember watching Roberto Duran fight on TV and the destructive power of his fists in the ring were legendary. He also had a temper and an attitude, aspects forcefully brought home in this film.
What makes ‘Hands of Stone’ most interesting is the casting of Robert De Niro as Durán’s renowned trainer Ray Arcel. De Niro, who once played boxer Jake La Motta in ‘Raging Bull’ to great acclaim, steps back into the ring (so to speak) and gives a formidable performance. It’s a role that’s meaty and demanding, and one that is not too showy, but rather quietly powerful and deeply affecting.
He portrays a cerebral individual who is a master of the art and science of boxing, a facet not normally explored in boxing films.
It takes the audience deep into ring psychology and strategy as Arcel teaches Durán the intricacies of the physical aspects (punching and footwork) and the psychological dimensions. This includes the importance of combing his fighter’s hair during bouts as a tactic to psyche out an opponent. The trainer’s experience of the sport comes with a passion and confidence born of decades of working with scores of fighters.
As Durán, the handsome Edgar Ramirez is a charismatic presence, capturing his character’s volatility, toughness and, above all, anger.
Writer-director Jonathan Jakubowicz, a Venezuelan filmmaker who is making a strikingly assured Hollywood feature debut, constructs a tale that combines geopolitics with fisticuffs as he traces Durán’s rise from the streets of his native Panama.
He deals in depth with his tempestuous relationship with the gorgeous, blonde schoolgirl (Ana de Armas), who later became his wife, and their moments of intense love making is vividly depicted.
Durán embodies the resentment of Panamanians to the U.S. control of the Panama Canal, which ended with a treaty-mandated handover by the U.S. to Panama during his boxing career.
The fight sequences against Sugar Ray Leonard (elegantly portrayed by singer Usher) is powerfully reproduced. Durán’s famous “no mas” moment, in which, out of shape and unwilling to compete, he quit in the middle of a round, is gripping cinema.
But if there is criticism, it is that some of the pieces don’t quite fit together and swing back and forth between well-crafted dramatic scenes and shabby, cliché-ridden sequences.
Other Releases (Synopsis)
FILM: TYLER PERRY’S BOO! A MADEA HALLOWEEN
CAST: Tyler Perry, Cassi Davis, Patrice Lovely, Yousef Erakat, Lexy Panterra, Andre Hall, Brock O’Hurn, Liza Koshy
DIRECTOR: Tyler Perry
‘Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween’ heralds a fresh turn in the Tyler Perry/Madea franchise: a movie that blends Perry’s distinctive humour with elements of horror.
As the film begins, divorced dad Brian (played by Perry) must leave his rebellious teen daughter Tiffany home alone on Halloween. He enlists his aunt Madea, Uncle Joe (both also played by Perry), and friends Hattie and Aunt Bam to keep an eye on her.
Determined to meet her girlfriends at a nearby frat party, Tiffany tricks her four gullible chaperones with a frighteningly realistic ghost story that convinces them to stay in their rooms so she can sneak out.
All hell and hilarity break loose when Madea, Hattie and Aunt Bam crash the party to bring their baby girl home.
And when the women call the cops to break up the Halloween rager, the brothers of Beta Psi Alpha dress as ghosts and ghouls to terrorize them. But of course, the boys soon learn that they are messing with the wrong woman.
“This is a whole new side of Madea because audiences don’t think of her as someone who gets scared,” says Perry. “Watching Madea running from ghosts had everyone on set cracking up.
They chase her right into a church — a place she swore she’d never go unless they had a smoking section.”
As always, Madea makes herself the centre of the action with her outrageously outspoken attitude and unconventional take on family values.
Since her big-screen introduction in Tyler Perry’s 2005 debut feature, ‘Tyler Perry’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman’, unstoppable matriarch Mabel “Madea” Simmons has sparked a multimillion-dollar film franchise and established Perry as the founder of an entertainment empire that also extends to television, publishing and live theatre.
With a fervent following that began with her appearances in a series of Perry’s stage plays, Madea has gone to jail, survived a family reunion, celebrated Christmas and more in a wildly popular series of movies.
While Perry has showcased his most popular creation in more than a dozen raucous stage and screen comedies, he never intended to cast her in a Halloween film.
“Ghosts and goblins — that’s just not my thing,” says the director, producer, writer and star of the blockbuster franchise. “Then Lionsgate called me and said, ‘In his film ‘Top Five’, Chris Rock made a joke about a movie called ‘Boo! A Madea Halloween’. Have you ever thought about doing a Halloween movie?’”
Before committing to the concept, Perry knew he had to create a story that worked for him as a filmmaker, and for Madea as a character.
“So I came up with an idea I thought would be hysterical and wouldn’t take Madea too far out of her lane,” he says.
“This is not your typical Halloween movie — there are so many pee-your-pants moments.
Anyone who sees this movie should bring Depends.”
FILM: JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK
CAST: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Robert Knepper
DIRECTOR: Edward Zwick
Four years on, Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) returns to the headquarters of his old military unit where he served as a Major in the United States Army Military Police Corps. Instead of a salute, he’s shrouded in suspicion after being accused of a 16-year-old homicide, opening old wounds and leading him on the trail of a much bigger and darker conspiracy.