Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison are In The Loop / image courtesy of Optimum Releasing
Our weekly round up of film reviews
In The Loop is Armando Iannucci's big screen version / follow-up to his BAFTA-winning small screen The Thick of It. Peter Capaldi reprises his role as spin doctor Malcolm Tucker and Chris Addison also returns, but with a slightly different character, and the setting is once more the seedy underbelly of politics. The plot is "a satirical, cynical nightmare on the subject of the run-up, or blunder-up, to the war in Iraq, complete with the nastiest of PR attack dogs and the dodgiest of dossiers" (Guardian, 5 stars) and the Brits get to tussle with their American counterparts. The Telegraph adores the dialogue, "a fusillade of one-liners and expletive-laden epigrams more vivid and quotable than any British film since Withnail & I" (3 stars) while the Evening Standard makes comparisons with a "Marx Brothers movie in that no sooner is one round of colourful invective blurted out than another three follow in rat-tat succession" (4 stars). But this is Capaldi's film: "he's the master of the rapid-fire, scatological character assassination, boiling through the sterile corridors of power like molten lava. Egos shrivel impotently under his scalding disapproval, seasoned political players scurry out of his path, eyes lowered" (The Times, 4 stars). Released at a point when spin is high on the news agenda, even fate is smiling on this film.
Paul Rudd (a favourite of ours, ever since Clueless) is a sweet, sensitive guy looking for a guy pal to give the speech at his wedding in I Love You, Man. "Rudd is comedy’s bridesmaid, but never the bride," thinks Empire (3 stars), "it’s always good to see him play the lead, attractively and with expert timing." A series of man-dates leads him to Sydney (Jason Segel) and the guys' bromance starts to interfere with the forthcoming nuptials. "After the initial setup, things flag and all I felt like confessing was my feelings of manly indifference to the pair of them" says The Guardian (2 stars) but the Telegraph (4 stars) finds "much that's winning and funny up this film's sleeve". Ultimately, the consensus seems to be that "the attempt to explore men’s problems with something akin to intimacy founders on the sad fact that neither character is the least bit intriguing" (Evening Standard, 2 stars).
Good wants you to think: "what would you do... if a questionable dictator admired your work and sent an emissary to persuade you with much subtle praise, and a threat or two, to join his cause?" (Evening Standard, 2 stars). Viggo Mortensen plays John Halder, a German intellectual who, "thanks to his liberal theorising on euthanasia, and pressure to join the Nazi party for the advancement of his career, [is] up to his neck in Third Reich ideology before he even knows it" (Telegraph, 2 stars). Good started off in the theatre and "however the play might have worked, Vicente Amorim's film never shakes its stagey origins, or its self-importance", believes The Independent (1 star). The Times, though, reserves most of its bile for Mortensen, "a performer who tends to get exponentially more awkward on screen the more acting he is required to do" (2 stars).
In Search of Beethoven is about Ludwig Van, rather than the St Bernard dog. "British documentarist Phil Grabsky puts together an elegant if unchallenging chronicle of the composer's life" (Independent, 3 stars), though "if the interminable length [138 mins]... doesn’t put people off this repetitive documentary about “the world’s greatest composer”, then the lack of real insight into the man rather than the myth surely will" (Times, 2 stars). The Evening Standard liked it, mind: "Grabsky examines Beethoven’s illness-stricken and quite desperate life with fresh eyes, unencumbered by gushing nonsense about genius" (4 stars).
Director "Jacques Nolot's glimpse into the world of ageing gay Parisians" in Before I Forget "alternates tenderness with scenes of a candidly sexual nature" (Independent, 2 stars). Getting old is "a subject not readily broached in our society today... [and] it's paid even less attention in gay culture where a premium is placed on body-conscious partying and high jinks" notes the Telegraph (3 stars) but the film "turns out to be pretty watchable, if sobering, with a fine eye for the absurdities its situations generate" (Guardian, 3 stars). The Times ultimately finds it "tortuously slow but unexpectedly charming" (3 stars).
"A faith-based drama about the sanctity of the marriage vow, Not Easily Broken muses on the emasculation of modern man by his selfish, ball-busting, career-driven wife" (Times, 1 star). What fun! The Guardian (1 star) can't get away fast enough: "mawkish and manipulative, this film contrives to be heartless and yet underhandedly promotes a preachy moral line".
Crank 2, starring Jason Statham, wasn't reviewed by the broadsheets: make of that what you want. Empire saw it though, and says "'morally bankrupt' doesn’t come close. This is a film that replaces plot with gratuitous violence, character with gratuitous sex / nudity, and theme with a stripper getting her implants punctured in a gunfight...Thank god it’s also endlessly entertaining and one of the funniest films of the year" (3 stars). thelondonpaper (3 stars) gets in on the act too: "setting their stall out early by having Statham insert a shotgun up an assailant’s rectum... this is as loopy, lurid and violent as action movies get". Um. OK. Can we stop reading about this now?
Next week is less violent as the US version of State of Play gets released and Seth Rogen has to Observe and Report.