Lesbian Vampire Killers / image courtesy of Momentum Pictures
Our weekly round-up of film reviews...
It's fashionable to kick James Corden and Matthew Horne in the wake of their roundly derided sketch show, and Lesbian Vampire Killers isn't doing them any favours. Empire (2 stars) loves the "splendidly tacky" title and wonders if it heralds "a snarky horror parody? Kitschy B movie? As it turns out, it’s not even smart enough for that". Horne and Corden go on a Welsh walking holiday just as an ancient vampire queen rises again, turning the Swedish hotties they've bumped into all sapphic. But "the horror is palpably absurd and the comedy reliant on a screenplay of which the starry pair ought to be ashamed" says the Evening Standard (1 star). Others don't mince their words: "profoundly awful" (The Times, 1 star) and "woeful and unimaginably boring" (Independent, 1 star). The Guardian, meanwhile, reminds us that Corden has worked with Mike Leigh and Nicholas Hytner; but Lesbian Vampire Killers is still "mostly pretty awful, [with] one or two crass laughs" (2 stars).
Pete Postlethwaite lives in a post-apocalyptic 2055 in sci-fi concept documentary Age of Stupid; the world has experienced the worst possible climate scenario (London is under water, Sydney is in flames) and he reviews 'archive' footage from our own era and asks, how could we have missed the signs? The Times is terrified: "it gives dates and deadlines. It explores options and ideas. It names culprits... the conclusion is probably spot-on: we are inches away from being the first species on the planet to knowingly kill itself off" (4 stars). It "is more passionate, more emotionally charged than the Al Gore-fronted An Inconvenient Truth" (Telegraph, 4 stars) but the Evening Standard thinks "when all is said and done we get the feeling that we’ve seen it all before... An Inconvenient Truth also lectured us but, by virtue of being the first such film, had more shock value" (3 stars).
Julia Roberts and Clive Owen are ex-spies in Duplicity, now earning a living as corporate counter intelligent officials. A romantic caper in the Cary Grant mould, there's "a smattering of the repartee that we so enjoy in a Thirties romantic comedy" (Evening Standard, 3 stars) but "Clive Owen is no Cary Grant... you can’t help wondering if [writer-director Tony] Gilroy wrote this with George Clooney in mind" (Empire, 3 stars). "The problem" says the Guardian, "is that though everything looks slick, the film gets pretty dull halfway through and Owen and Roberts don't for a moment look as if they are really in love or even fancy each other all that much" (2 stars) and the faltering romance isn't enough to survive "the most irritating and obtuse plot in motion picture history" (Times, 3 stars).
"No more imaginatively shot and directed film has reached us from Italy in recent years than Paolo Sorrentino’s extraordinary summation of the career of Giulio Andreotti... the country's most persistently successful politician" is the Evening Standard's 4 star opinion of Il Divo. Charges of corruption and Mafia involvement were flung at him but none stuck; "he makes our own lily-livered political players look like a bunch of Pollyannas" says The Times (4 stars). It's "a deeply strange and utterly hypnotic film... a macabre masterpiece" according to the Guardian (4 stars) but the Telegraph confesses "the entire thing defeated me" (2 stars).
Paul Blart: Mall Cop comes from Adam Sandler's production company, which "should let you know roughly what to expect, and it isn’t subtlety" (Evening Standard, 2 stars). Kevin James plays the titular lardy security guard, tasked with saving the day when his mall is overrun by a gang of skate-rats. Empire urges us to "stick with it through the over-long set-up — not too taxing given the rapid-fire gag rate — and a movie with a surprising amount of heart emerges" (3 stars) and the Independent agrees that "James is quite winning as the tubby have-a-go hero. But let's not go nuts over it, otherwise they'll insist on a sequel" (2 stars).
Alan Rickman and Bill Pullman star in Bottle Shock, the tale of 70s California wine growers who pull the rug from under the snooty French. "Sweet, frothy and laced with cheap sentiment... amiable enough" is the view of the Guardian (3 stars), but the Independent finds it's "it's musty on the nose and dead in the bottle" (1 star). "Fans of Sideways will recognise the Californian backdrop, but none of the intelligence and wit" says The Times (2 stars).
Little guy Greg Kinnear takes on the mighty automobile corporations in Flash of Genius, but The Times finds "it’s hard to get excited about the invention at the centre of the fight, some sort of windscreen wiper" (2 stars). Based on a New Yorker article, it's "a quirky true-life biopic" (Guardian, 3 stars) with "superb performances from the leads and charming period detail" (Empire, 3 stars).
Diminished Capacity "is a depressingly perky film about the creeping onset of Alzheimer’s" (Times, 2 stars). Matthew Broderick tries to persuade his dementia-suffering uncle, played by Alan Alda, to go into a home. The Guardian feels that director Terry Kinney "appears to flinch from exploring the darkness of the movie's premise; there is no real pain and so no real comic gain, either" (2 stars). "For all its hokeyness, however, the performances of Broderick and Virginia Madsen lend it a certain wistful charm" (Independent, 2 stars).
Next week: Michael Sheen takes on yet another real-life role in The Damned United and catch Joaquin Phoenix before we went, um, strange in Two Lovers.