This week - Kate Winslet falls in love with Jack Black - ludicrous, ludicrous! (The Holiday) and a documentary about the US governments attempts to deport John Lennon, (The US vs. John Lennon).
In short, this film is gash. The rule goes - the worse the film, the more entertaining the reviews. This film is no exception. Bradshaw gives it 1/5. He begins with,
"I'm a book editor from London - you're a trailer-maker from LA. We're worlds apart!" In this new romantic comedy about Americans and Brits falling in love, Jude Law actually has to say that line. He has to open his mouth and say it. To Cameron Diaz - whose character makes film trailers, by the way, not caravans. Poor Jude Law has to say this line, without wincing or crying or being turned into a column of soot by an angry Old Testament God.
Bradshaw curtly sums up what is wrong with this film - the characters and the acting. First up, Cameron Diaz, "her beaming, hyperactive face almost entirely devoid of ordinary human emotion"
What about Kate Winslet and Jack Black?
If you get a chance, take a look at the poster for this film, on which the paired photos of Winslet and Black are smiling blandly, blankly in each other's general direction. It's entirely representative of what's not happening on the screen. They could be two waxworks together. Forget chemistry - were they even on set the same day when their scenes were filmed? It's a kind of bluescreen acting. Black had more of a relationship with King Kong. And Black just does not work as a romantic lead: his face is hardwired for wacky comedy. When he smiles in what is clearly supposed to be a winning way, it just looks creepy, or as if he is having some sort of intestinal spasm.
He has a point about the poster
Last up, Jude Law - "for real creepiness, for real oh-my-God-I-think-he-might-be-a-serial-killer creepiness, Jude Law's character wins hands down."
These films really do bring out the best in Bradshaw,
This glutinous film is coated in a kind of buttery stuff, a soft golden glow of ersatz romance. It's as if they have taken the brown gooey contents of a million Mars bars and used it to develop the film - with the leftovers being poured down our throats.
Quinn at the Independent gives it 1/5,
The warning lights went on as soon as I saw it was a Nancy Meyers film, this being the writer-director responsible for What Women Want - that's the one in which Mel Gibson suffers an electrical accident in his bathtub, but instead of dying (alas) ends up being able to hear the innermost thoughts of womankind. The Holiday isn't quite as terrible as that, but comparing them is like trying to decide whether a cesspool is better than an open sewer.
Ok, so it's bad. But harmless right?
Much harder to swallow is the film's cynical reduction of the romantic heroine to the level of whimpering, self-pitying, neurotic imbecile. It seems that Meyers has made it her personal mission to put the cause of feminism back about 50 years.
Well at least James Christopher at the Times doesn't despise this film entirely. He gives it a mammoth 2/5 and writes that it is "like falling into a tub of warm syrup", something which we think could be quite fun.
Surprisingly, for Quinn, Jude Law "is a silky and charming surprise in his first out-and-out romantic role."
So which is it? Is Law the serial killer creepy weirdo of Bradshaw's review or the silky lothario of Quinn's? Who cares, no one is going to see this film anyway. It's gash!
Next up, The US vs. John Lennon
The reviews for this one are strange. None of them do a good job of reviewing the actual film, they rather expound their own thoughts on John Lennon. Bradshaw, who gives the film 3/5 and writes that Lennon "was a genuine English radical."
Like Lennon or loathe him, he had a kind of genius and passion that is nowhere apparent now. We have Live Aid, and Live8, and perhaps these are the projects that, by aspiring to change merely part of the world, will achieve more than those huge gestures from the 1960s and 70s which aspired to change all of it. But the sleek superstars of pop are now very chary of Lennon-ist gestures, or serious dissentient positions, perhaps aware of the treatment meted out to the Dixie Chicks after their anti-Bush statements.
Ok Peter, but what about the film?
Anthony Quinn at the Independent gives the film 1/5 . This seems to be because he didn't like Lennon much,
Even as a lifelong devotee of John Lennon's music, I would have to concede that the man himself really did talk the most prodigious amount of balls.
For him, the documentary is a "remorseless hagiography" (look it up) and seeks to "lionise him as peace activist and spokesman for a generation" but "has the effect of making him look a pious, publicity-crazed bore".
Quinn, it seems, is a bigger Dylan fan,
Indeed, the cumulative impression you would glean here is that, before Lennon, nobody had ever picked up a guitar in protest. Dylan, a hero to Lennon and his fellow Beatles, is conspicuously ignored throughout.
James Christopher manages to leave most of his prejudices at the door for his 3/5 review of a film that he calls a "lopsided account" as the "desire of the film to paint Lennon as a saint is a miscue". However, "The archive footage is extraordinary. So are the retrospective confessions of various government spooks who had orders from the top to “neutralise” Lennon."
Other films out this week - The Nativity Story (A retelling of the story, focusing on Mary and Joseph's arduous journey to Bethlehem to register for a census, leading to the birth of Jesus.), The Heart Of The Game (A portrait of a Seattle high-school girls' basketball team, their unorthodox coach and their star player's fight to play.), The Covenant (Four students, descended from families that signed a pact of silence in 1692, discover they have supernatural powers.), strong>Happy Feet (A misfit tap-dancing penguin sets out to find the true cause of the lean fisheries afflicting his colony in Antarctica.), Frostbite (After a doctor and her daughter move to a small town in Lapland, it emerges that something is hunting people in the winter night.)
Trailer of the week - Balls of Fury