wed 17/04/2024

Film Reviews

Love & Other Drugs

Veronica Lee

It’s difficult to know how to categorise Love & Other Drugs; is it a rom-com, a biopic, a melodrama, a satire or a hard-hitting attack on the influence that mega pharmaceutical companies have on America’s healthcare system? The film’s makers, meanwhile, tell us in their press notes that it’s an “emotional comedy”. Nope, me neither.

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Year Out/Year In: Films to Remember and Forget

theartsdesk

Avatar or The Hurt Locker? Although the Academy Awards are by no means the only barometer of cinematic trends, at this year’s Oscars the two centrifugal strains in contemporary movie-making went head to head. For Best Picture and Director, James Cameron’s digitally created sci-fi-scape locked horns with Kathryn Bigelow’s visceral visit to Iraq. One demonstrated Hollywood’s ever-increasing capacity to wish away actuality as we know it.

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The Way Back

Matt Wolf

Whatever else one thinks of Hollywood, one can hardly accuse Tinseltown of overdosing audiences on good cheer this holiday season. Filmgoers States-side can at the moment choose between James Franco hacking at his flesh, Mark Wahlberg landing a blood-spattering punch or two, and a seriously grizzled Jeff Bridges going none too gently into the good night.

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Chatroom

Emma Simmonds

With its finger-on-the-pulse tagline, “Welcome to the anti-social network” and respectable credentials, Chatroom is an intriguing prospect. It’s based on an acclaimed stage play, directed by the visionary Hideo Nakata (Ringu, Dark Water), with a script by Enda Walsh (Hunger) and populated by a cast of bright young things including Aaron Johnson and Imogen Poots. However, this cyber-thriller offers precious few thrills and is hampered cringingly by an...

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Little Fockers

Veronica Lee

The third instalment of the Meet the Parents franchise, which began in 2000 and was followed by Meet the Fockers in 2004, moves the story on a few years. In Little Fockers Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) and Pam Byrnes (Teri Polo) are now married and have twins, Sam and Henry.

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Burlesque

alexandra Coghlan

“Show a little more, show a little less. Add a little smoke – welcome to burlesque.” The coy, wittier sister of stripping, and first cousin to musical theatre, the 19th-century art of burlesque is currently enjoying a revival. With comely champions in Dita von Teese and our own gloriously named Immodesty Blaize, the art has shaken off its cruder associations and shimmied into the diamante-studded mainstream.

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Film: Catfish

Adam Sweeting The 'Catfish' boys hit the road. Left to right: Ariel Schulman, Henry Joost, Nev Schulman

Ever since Catfish appeared in the States earlier in the year, debate has been raging about its bona fides. On the face of it an ingenious documentary playing smartly with the potential and pitfalls of social networking and the nature of personal identity in the cyber age, the film has triggered cries of “foul” from a number of critics and viewers. Morgan Spurlock, who made the junk-food odyssey ...

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Loose Cannons

Jasper Rees

There is a climactic moment in Loose Cannons when one of the characters has rather more dolci than is good for her. For anyone without a sweet cinematic tooth, the two hours’ traffic of this soft-centred Italian melodrama may induce a similar kind of diabetic shutdown. For everyone else, it’s a dessert trolley to feast the palate. But there is one intriguing discrepancy between this and other entertainments blown up from the bottom of Europe on warming southerly thermals....

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In Our Name

Veronica Lee

Suzy, a private in the British army, has just returned from a tour of Iraq, back to the loving embrace of her close family in Middlesbrough. There are a couple of flies in the ointment, though; her nine-year-old daughter is distraught at her absence and refuses to speak to her, and her husband, Mark, a squaddie in the same regiment who has not been on the same tour, wants his loving embrace immediately and frequently.

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The Tourist

Neil Smith

One would like to think a great deal of thought goes into which leading man pairs up with which leading lady in a big-budget Hollywood product. Yet the practicalities of Hollywood movie-making – scheduling, financing, availability and so on – mean it’s far more likely you cast whoever you can get, and afford, and hope for the best.

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Enemies of the People

Emma Simmonds

Two members of Thet Sambath’s immediate family were murdered during the Khmer Rouge’s time in power in Cambodia. His father was killed when he objected to the organisation's seizure of his property, while his mother was then forced into marriage with a Khmer Rouge militia. She died soon after following complications in childbirth. His older brother, who had witnessed the brutal murder of his father, was also later executed. Enemies of the People, a documentary made with Rob Lemkin,...

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Somewhere

Tom Birchenough

Sofia Coppola proved, with Lost in Translation from seven years ago, that there’s hardly a better location for showing the nuances of emotional dysfunction than the anonymity of an international hotel.

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Secretariat

Graham Fuller

Americans apparently revere their great racehorses, especially if they carry their weight in socio-political resonance - or its absence. Thus, the $58 million-grossing Secretariat, about the powerful red chestnut with the inordinately huge heart whose bid to win the 1973 US Triple Crown supposedly diverted attention from Watergate and Vietnam, arrived comparatively quickly after Seabiscuit, the 2003 Best Picture Oscar nominee and second film about the undersized knobbly-...

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John Waters, Shoreditch House Literary Salon

joe Muggs

I've been to a fair few spoken-word events in my time, and as a rule the more upmarket they are, the worse they tend to get. The bigger the celebrity or cult cachet of an author, the more likely they are to attract a crowd that turn up mainly to be seen basking in their reflected literary glory – pulling theatrical "concentration faces" during the reading then shooting to the bar to network wildly as if the writer were mere sideshow.

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Easier With Practice

alexandra Coghlan

Easier with Practice is a film about phone sex based on a short story that appeared in GQ magazine. It’s enough to make any right-thinking filmgoer not in the Will Ferrell/Chuck Palahniuk/American Pie core demographic head for another screen – any other screen.

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Lemmy

Adam Sweeting

As Ozzy Osbourne puts it, “He’s just Lemmy. You just take him or you fucking don’t, and he doesn’t give a flying shit whether you do or not.” It’s this irreducible Lemmyness of Lemmy which lies at the core of the gnarled heavy metaller’s mystique. Beyond fashion, as ageless as a rock’n’roll Flying Dutchman and with a constitution seemingly forged from buffalo hide and wrought iron, Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister is surrounded by his own private myth-bubble wherever he goes.

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