Nacho Libre

In a Mexican monastery, Nacho (Jack Black) faithfully cooks for the local orphans. Receiving constant complaints about his cooking skills, he tries to come up with a plan to buy better food. Stumbling across a wrestling match in the city, Nacho hatches an idea to become a masked wrestler, thereby earning the money needed. With the help of petty thief The Skeleton (Hector Jimenez), Nacho finds that the bells of the wrestling ring is much different to the holy bells of the monastery.
Nacho Libre is an ode to the Mexican wrestling phenomenon that has gripped the country for decades. Wrestlers are treated like stars, providing escapism and showmanship, with some of them starring in successful films using their wrestling personas. Hulk Hogan, Rowdy Roddy Piper, etc would all owe their fame to a similar wrestling formula. In a way, the film resembles a warped superhero movie, with Nacho being the masked avenger willing to save his orphans from starvation. As ridiculous as this premise sounds, the film is based on fact, with the real ‘Nacho’ making a cameo.
‘Napoleon Dynamite’ director Jared Hess infuses the script with many quirky touches that make the film stand out. Hess is ably assisted by Jack Black’s manic energy the keeps the story going at a rapid pace. Black has that rare ‘everyman’ quality that hints at a darkness hidden underneath. Black’s partnership with Hector Jimenez is wonderful, often resembling an old Laurel & Hardy short. The scenes between these two utilises their flair for inventive slapstick, and they prove to be quite adept in the wrestling scenes.
The screenplay is a slight confection that perhaps may have been more memorable had it not been restricted by its PG rating. This restraint seems to limit what Black is allowed to get away with, and the plot treading a familiar path to its conclusion. What is on display is still very amusing, but more spark was needed. The movie is set in the 1970s, and Hess shoots in a slightly grainy close-up look, matching films of that era. The costuming and soundtrack are great, upping the enjoyment factor considerably.
This isn’t one of Black’s best comedies, but his energetic reading of the material keeps things above the dross. The subject matter of the wrestling craze is an interesting one, that makes the most of the comedic possibilities on offer. A breezy load of silliness that has its fair share of bizarre craziness that Jack Black fans should enjoy.
Rating out of 10: 6
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Silent Hill

Rose (Radha Mitchell) becomes concerned when her daughter starts sleepwalking and uttering the words ‘Silent Hill’ for no reason.  In search for answers, she drives her there.  The car crashes near the township, she awakens to discover her daughter missing.  Entering the eerie ghost town, Rose finds a hellish pit of demons and witch hunters obstructing her way. Each obstacle increases her determination to reach her goal.
Silent Hill is based on a popular video game and aims to increase the success ratio of  game/movie crossovers.  Very few game adaptations have succeeded, because although the gaming visuals are spectacular, the general storyline is never strong enough to support a feature film.  ‘Super Mario Brothers’, ‘Streetfighter’, et al, have passed into infamy for being incredibly bad films, with acting that made their game counterparts seem like masterpieces.  This film has elements that puts it above those mediocre titles, but doesn’t draw the audience into its world as it should.
Director Christophe Gans shows off the requisite visual flair, with an eye for gothic dreamscapes.  The storyline tends to meander in too many directions however, deflecting the focus needed for full audience involvement.  Whenever the plot adheres to the rules of the game it works, as the audience follows the characters and puts together the clues.  The involvement of witches and the subplot featuring a wasted Sean Bean as Rose’s husband never gels as it should and only lengthens proceedings.
Radha Mitchell is quite effective as the desperate mother willing to do anything to get her daughter back.  Mitchell has made her a strong character that gains audience sympathy as she walks the foggy ash strewn streets.  Laurie Holden’s role as a feisty cop makes for good viewing, and it’s interesting watching the different dynamics of the two women.  Thankfully the characters on display are more than the one dimensions usually found with their game counterparts.
This is a reasonably scary film that wisely doesn’t dwell too much on the gore, and instead serves up heavy doses of mood.  The booming music score adds to the overall effect, with the sinister sound of the township alarm siren lingering long in the memory.  Copious editing and more scenes between Rose and her husband would have made this film less alienating.  The film does at least try to do a few different things within the usual horror conventions, and never forgets to shock the pants of an eager audience.
Rating out of 10:  6