Whether you like it or not, the film release everyone's talking about this week is Mr & Mrs Smith.
We don't really need to explain why do we? Unless you've been on Mars for the past month you can't have missed the Brad/Angelina gossip that's been doing the rounds, but full marks to Pete Bradshaw (again) who sums up the whole debacle rather nicely in the opening paragraph of his two star review:
They look for all the world like nice people. What with Brad Pitt in his smart-casual lounge suit and Angelina Jolie in her trad dress and brushed-back hairdo. But oh no, really they are cold-hearted killers, smirkingly focused on their cruel objective, each with a steel-tipped bullet - heading straight for Jennifer Aniston's heart. Ha! Ha! Ha!
Who knew Pete could be so bitchy (and who knew 'smirkingly' was a word).
Anyway, despite all the baggage, there is some reason to hold out some hope for this film, the main reason being that it's directed by Doug 'Swingers and Bourne Identity' Liman. Bradshaw himself calls it an "occasionally entertaining, if very overlong, action comedy" but he just can't get away from the two main leads and their respective quirks:
Brad Pitt is developing a curious sort of middle-aged spread that appears to be affecting his face; his cheekbones are getting further and further apart, as if something very heavy is pressing down on his head. Angelina Jolie looks at all times fascinatingly and authentically barking mad; her lips still have that extra-terrestrial extravagance, but she is actually reasonably human in this film, giving subliminal but perhaps illusory hints of a sense of humour.
Moving back to the film itself, PB's main gripe seems to be that the whole thing is just a little overlong ("the crash-bang action stuff could easily have come down by 15 minutes") and the same complaint comes from the Independent where the film picks up an extra star.
"The last 45 minutes or so could do with a change of pace," Reckons Rob Hanks. Although there are aspects he does like: "It's the sort of thing that will appeal to anybody who is in the mood for a little kiss-kiss, bang-bang action, unencumbered by distractions like characterisation, morality or thought."
Sounds ok to us, especially as Hanks admits he only gives the film three stars because the film is "considerably less execrable than I had presumed."
Oh well, at least he's honest.
There's not much we can give you from James Christopher's two star review in the Times because he spends most of his time giving away little plot points (which annoys the hell out of us).
He does say though that the "stunts that wouldn’t look amiss in a video arcade" and he praises Liman for expertly applying "the cold douche of unreality". Whatever that means.
And now, as they say, for something completely different: the unmistakably French Cafe Lumiere.
Robert Hanks calls it "slow" and "captivating" and explains that the film "spends long moments observing sun shining through curtains in the afternoon, trains passing, commuters bustling. That's all: with Hou's eye and his confidence, it's more than enough."
While Wendy Ide described Hou as "a film-maker who can find a meditative beauty in the mundane and something curiously affecting in the banalities of someone’s life." and claims there are "several exquisite scenes in this virtually plotless Tokyo story". She sums it up as "a delightful film".
So we're all agreed then: a good film.
Oh, wait. We forgot Bradshaw:
"With its exasperatingly aimless scenes and deeply unrewarding dullness, it's more like a homage to Hou Hsiao-hsien, bordering on malign parody."
There's always one isn't there. And in this case it's
one star, with Bradshaw calling Cafe Lumiere "a torpid and very uninteresting work," full of "exasperatingly aimless scenes and deeply unrewarding dullness."
Maybe we'll wait for it to come out on DVD then.
Well it's an eclectic week this week, so let's go right on to Inside Deep Throat, the story of the world's most lucrative porn film.
Bradshaw gives it just two stars and calls it "a lively but weirdly uncritical and incurious recreation of the life and times of the world's first mainstream porn film."
Although he's clearly not all that enamoured with the documentary Pete does say that the film "neatly skewers the pomposity and hypocrisy of Deep Throat's government censors" and leaves us with this suggestion: "After this superficial celebration, the directors may now perhaps turn to Nagisa Oshima's In the Realm of the Senses from 1976, and how it popularised auto-erotic strangling in the west."
Yes, we don’t know why no one's thought of that one before Pete.
(On a side note, Bradshaw's review is worth reading if only for the fact that it's bound to be the only time you'll see the sentence "ability to suck furlong-lengths of erect penis" in the Guardian.)
It's another two stars in the Independent where Robert Hanks says the filmmakers "never get beyond this 'Amazing but true!' tone," and feels "a decent 60-minute television piece has been inflated far beyond its capacities."
But Inside Deep Throat's best review is the three stars it gets from Wendy Ide in the Times who believes that "however incomplete, this picture is as a true record of the Deep Throat phenomenon" and that the end result is "a skilfully edited and very funny film."
And so on to the film news of the week, and before we do anything else we should tell you about Time Out's open air screenings for the summer. There are some very decent films on offer here, including Vertigo, Blow Up and Aelita: Queen of Mars, so you should think about ordering your tickets now.
It was only a matter of time before Philip Seymour Hoffman got cast as a villain, but we didn't think it would be in Mission Impossible 3 (especially as it looked like M:I3 would never get made). Here's hoping PSH brings a bit of quality to the proceedings.
Another film which has been on and off more times than a whores drawers is the Simpsons movie, but this week Nancy Cartwright confirmed the script was being written. Woohoo!
Trailer of the week is one for all you zombie junkies out there: the teaser for Romero's Land of the Dead (it's got zombies paddling and everything).