Ben Stiller and Amy Adams in Night at the Museum 2 / image copyright 20th Century Fox
Our weekly round-up of film reviews
Holy crap. Do you have any idea how many films are released this week? We'll tell you: 12. Twelve. And in the same week as Cannes - what were the distributors thinking? Anyway, here we go...
Ben Stiller's ex-museum guard misses his exhibited friends, so in Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian (to give it its full title) he pops along to see them in their new home. "Much of the entertainment comes from cameo-spotting" says Empire (3 stars), as the Guardian wearily notes "a tedious parade of comedy faces - Hank Azaria, Owen Wilson, Ricky Gervais, Steve Coogan - pop by to deliver what seem like contractually obliged lines" (2 stars). The Evening Standard (4 stars), on the other hand, can't get enough: "it is brilliantly absurd, catchy, involving and irrelevant, which might make it the best Saturday night movie of the year so far".
For The Girl Cut in Two, French auteur Claude Chabrol "lays a bit of an egg with this vexingly over-extended non-thriller about a pretty weathergirl (Ludivine Sagnier) simultaneously pursued by two paramours" (Telegraph, 2 stars). "The performances drip with cliché, while the narrative is all over the place" agrees the Times (2 stars). The Independent (2 stars) suggests Chabrol may have got sidetracked with wish fulfilment for Sagnier's older lover: the "sixtysomething roué is more beguiling to director Claude Chabrol (b. 1930) than he is to us".
Low budget Brit horror flick Tormented "doesn't bother much with establishing rules for its supernatural menace or stitching together set-pieces with anything but Sellotape, but it's consistently funny in a painful way" says Empire (4 stars). The Times vehemently disagrees, spitting "the qualitative bar for execrable homegrown comedy-horror was recently set at ground level by Lesbian Vampire Killers, here is a movie so inept and ill-conceived that it manages to scrape a place for itself directly below that particular abomination" (1 star). The plot of this film, that's got them hot under the collar? A tubby, bullied kid comes back to exact revenge on the high school cool crowd that hounded him to suicide. The Telegraph probably hits the right note, calling it "trashily entertaining up to a point" (3 stars).
A new digital print of Jean-Luc Godard's Pierre le Fou has the broadsheets salivating. Take this, from the Telegraph: "this movie is a symphony in the key of red, obsessed by contemporary design and semiotics, and oddly meticulous in its deconstruction of classical filmmaking, the crime genre - even musicals" (5 stars). See? Thankfully others are less Pseud's Corner about the story of a couple on a Bonnie and Clyde style rip across France. "Engaging and beguiling - perhaps in spite of itself - and a vital part of film history" says the Guardian (4 stars); "a welcome reminder of Jean-Luc Godard's bold and baffling talent" concurs the Times (4 stars). The Evening Standard, though, dares to disagree. The film "isn't a patch on his best work... he serves up a conventional femme fatale and blows our minds with boredom".
"The romantic lives of the blind come under scrutiny in this absorbing Slovakian documentary, with touches of creative licence that suggest its origins as a feature" is how the Telegraph (4 stars) introduces Blind Loves. "Largely this is a chronicle of determination and hope" says the Guardian (3 stars), though the Times isn't impressed by the way director Juraj Lehosky's "stylised direction gives them an otherworldly air that sometimes undercuts their poignancy" (3 stars).
Based on the true story of photographer Maria Larsson, Everlasting Moments follows Maria, a young woman in Sweden at the turn of the century, through her relationship with her abusive husband and the young man who shows her how to work her camera. "Something's missing", says the Evening Standard (3 stars). "The figures in Maria's photographs are uncannily substantial. The characters in the film, by comparison, seem like fragrant ghosts". Empire (3 stars) agrees that it's "superficially interesting in many ways but this doesn't really engage on a deeper level". However, the Independent has a soft spot for the film, which "is conventional at heart, yet it's beautifully photographed, in a kind of creamy sepia... It's also very finely acted by Maria Heiskanen, who makes of her thwarted heroine something quite moving" (4 stars).
Hooliganism amongst Tranmere Rovers fans in the late 70s is the theme of Awaydays, Kevin Sampson adapting his 1988 novel that helped spawn This is England and Green Street. "He may have helped invent these cliches, but that doesn't make them a whit less tedious to watch" reckons the Evening Standard (3 stars). "Curtes Lee Mitchell's photography of the misty river and that milky Liverpool light are outstanding. But topographical accuracy is no substitute for dramatic credibility, or for actorly competence" sniffs the Independent (2 stars), while the Telegraph breaks from the crowd in giving 4 stars to a "impressively distinctive rites-of-passage story".
"The French... are increasingly world masters at thrillers, mixing complex, empathetic and deeply human characters with fabulously preposterous plotlines" says the Times in praise of Mark of an Angel (3 stars). Catherine Frot "creates a moving, assured portrayal of a damaged woman" (Guardian, 3 stars) becoming becomes obsessed with a young girl who looks uncannily familiar. This is a thriller that excels in misdirection; "just when the film seems to have boxed itself into a corner - an innocent family torn apart by the delusions of a psycho-mum - it performs an audacious volte-face that few would have seen coming" (Independent, 3 stars).
As already mentioned, there are so many films out this week that only the Guardian reviews them all. And more power to them. But because of that, we're just going to give you a quick once-over and you can read the rest yourself. Objectified (3 stars): "Gary Hustwit's film Helvetica brought the joys of typeface design out of the rarefied world of magazine designers. His followup widens the scope a little... namely, the careful thought that goes into the creation of apparently ubiquitous and everyday objects". Painters Painting (3 stars): "a concise study of a postwar period when American painting eclipsed all comers". Alice Neel (3 stars): "a biography of the American figure painter Alice Neel, generally unregarded during her life until she was being adopted by the women's movement in the 1970s". Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, the Mistress, and the Tangerine (2 stars): "Louise Bourgeois was another artist to benefit from enthusiastic promotion by the women's movement; like Neel, this public acclaim came late - but not too late".
Next week: fewer releases, including classy-actor-stuffed Fireflies in the Garden and maths thriller Fermat's Room.