Naomi Watts and Clive Owen in The International / image courtesy of Sony Pictures
The weekly round-up of film reviews continues...
A film where the baddie is a big bank? How very zeitgeist. Clive Owen is rumpled and dour, accompanied by Naomi Watts in The International. The Times notes that this bank has done far worse than invest in bad mortgages though - its crimes include "stockpiling small arms to sell to the highest, dodgiest bidder, supporting a military coup in an unnamed African state and (probably) torturing kittens", (3 stars) "but it’s telling just how comfortably a financial institution fits into the role of action movie baddie". The Guardian is pleased by "an unexpectedly well-made thriller with brainpower as well as firepower" (3 stars) but the Evening Standard bemoans "its flailing action set-pieces and dialogue" (3 stars). The Telegraph is impressed by "an elaborate and ridiculously entertaining shoot-out in New York's Guggenheim Museum - alone worth the price of admission" but finds the rest a bit disappointing. The consensus is that director Tom Tykwer has lost his Run, Lola, Run sparkle.
The Guardian (5 stars) raves about Palme d'Or winning The Class. Based on an autobiographical novel by François Bégaudeau (who also plays himself), it is set in a classroom in the tough Paris suburbs. "It should be the dullest movie cliche imaginable", says The Guardian "yet French director Laurent Cantet does something miraculous with it". The film is made "as though it were a fly-on-the-wall documentary, but it is infinitely more subtle" says The Times (4 stars). Empire calls it "a troubling but gripping exposé of the cultural and racial divisions crippling Europe" (4 stars) and the Evening Standard declares it "blessed with a gathering strength and power of expression" (4 stars). This week's clear favourite.
"Franklyn is almost impossible to follow, thus wasting the talents of the good cast" decides the Evening Standard (2 stars). The cast are in fact Ryan Phillippe, Eva Green and Sam Riley, who straddle time and parallel universes. The Guardian (2 stars) tires of a "fantasy world [that] looks derivative and geeky, and once its relationship with ordinary reality is finally explained, there is a sense of having sat through a rather tiring puzzle". Empire finds it "admirably non-formulaic" (3 stars) but The Times reckons it's "convoluted... but you can’t fault its ambition and imagination" (3 stars).
Renée Zellweger plays a ditzy (shocker) career girl in New in Town, a "moderate girly flick that adheres with almost religious fanaticism to the feelgood romcom handbook" (The Guardian, 2 stars). She's destined, of course, to find love and down-home values when she's sent from Miami to a freezing Minnesota town where they love, uh, tapioca. "New in Town is rather like tapioca itself, soggy and virtually tasteless" says the Evening Standard (1 star) while The Independent merely begs you to "spare yourself" (1 star).
Casey (Odette Yustman) strangled her unborn twin brother with her umbilical cord and absorbed him in the womb. Haven't we all? Now he's The Unborn - a demonic presence - a plot device that "breaks down in a tasteless swamp of Nazi experiments on twins, dogs with inverted heads and an exorcism led by rabbi Gary Oldman" (Independent, 2 stars). The Guardian's not a fan: "so fantastically stupid and crass it made my skull contract and my sinuses harden to the consistency of pipe-cleaners" (1 star) and The Times (2 stars) says Yustman gives a performance "so wooden it could be made into clogs".
Re-release Gun Crazy is "a small but perfectly formed black-and-white masterpiece of flash and trash, unwholesome obsession and criminal daring" says The Guardian (5 stars). John Dall and Peggy Cummins play a pair with a lust for guns and embark on a robbery spree across America. "The script is vintage corn" admits The Times (4 stars), "but visually Gun Crazy is a rude, startling and suggestive pleasure".
Next week, Emily Blunt is not amused as Young Victoria, and Watchmen fans everywhere start hyperventilating.