Bunny and the Bull / image courtesy of Optimum Releasing
Our weekly round-up of film reviews
Point to note: Bunny and the Bull is not a Mighty Boosh film. Yes, it's directed by Paul King, the visual maestro responsible for the Boosh look, and has cameos from Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding, but the main characters here are played by Edward Hogg and Simon Farnaby. And some cartoons and claymation. Most of the action takes place in Hogg's head as he replays a recent European road trip that left him so traumatised he can barely leave his manky flat. Empire (4 stars) finds it reminiscent of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but "Eternal Sunshine, however, didn't have a scene where a sinister tramp milks a dog, or a central character so lascivious he carries a condom-dispenser clipped onto his belt", and the Times lauds it as "an object lesson in big-screen innovation and a bracing look at creativity unfettered by normative film-making rules" (4 stars). Other critics are uniformly grizzling about the script. "Compared with any episode of The Mighty Boosh, say, or Peep Show, it really is pretty feeble" says the Guardian (2 stars) and the Telegraph agrees that while "there are moments to relish... the see-sawing wit and ingenuity of King and his cast can't keep the desultory story afloat" (2 stars). The Independent (2 stars) delivers one final kick to the kidneys, calling it "emotionally uninvolving, and directed towards a thoroughly dreary conclusion". Deservingly so? We suspect you'll know the answer to that based on your telly viewing habits alone.
Paranormal Activity is the kind of low-budget, word-of-mouth hit that gets compared to The Blair Witch Project; perhaps more appropriate here than most, because the film is made up of 'found' footage. Katie and Micah are a young couple who've just moved into a new house. Katie is convinced there's something weird going on, so Micah rigs up a video camera to see if he can capture anything. "It's a conceptually tight and very efficient updating of the classic haunted-house genre. It won’t be giving most people nightmares. But it will jolt, mildly disturb and hang around in the imagination like a bad smell" says the Telegraph (3 stars). As the pair's relationship starts to disintegrate, the Guardian (4 stars) wonders if the film "can be read as a parable of marriage, and the impossibility of knowing another person - the ghost of their past will always return". The Standard also deviates from the usual horror story review, finding it "witty, thought-provoking and - in a woozy, stark sort of way - beautiful" (3 stars).
Reviews of Nativity! are split between those who find it "funny, sweet and family-friendly" (Empire, 3 stars) and those who cringe at the memory of such "toe-curling and predictable" stuff (Times, 2 stars). Martin Freeman plays an actor-turned-teacher pitting his kids against the local posho school, with the added frisson (or not) of Hollywood agents possibly turning up. The Standard (2 stars) thinks "there's something sweet about Debbie Isitt's mostly improvised comedy... until we get treated to the show itself, which makes Minipops look tasteful", but the Independent reckons "the plot wouldn't pass muster as an episode of a CBBC drama" (1 star). Even if you're in the pro camp, sounds like it might be one to watch when it comes on TV.
A film set in London? Surely we'd be plugging this further up the page! Usually that would be the case, but when reviews for a film are as thoroughly awful as they are for Mr Right, it seems almost cruel. "A perkily performed Soho soap that somehow also manages to be mesmerically depressing" (Guardian, 2 stars), the film revolves around a group of gay friends as they "swap partners and bitch about one another... much of the time it feels as though Mr Right is setting out deliberately to confirm every nasty stereotype about gay men (bitchy, vain, faithless), and throwing in a new one (they can't act)" (Independent, 1 star). The Telegraph (1 star) really wants to applaud the attempt to portray modern gay living, "but everything about this angtsy farrago - not least the terminally shallow himbo acting - feels so, so wrong".
Gerard Butler plays the Law Abiding Citizen we're supposed to root for when, ten years after his wife and daughter are brutally killed and one of the murderers strikes a plea bargain, he goes totally crazy and embarks on a revenge spree. It's "a strangely belated attempt to rehash and cash in on the kinds of torture porn that made Saw and Hostel so popular" says the Telegraph (1 star) but this time "we are invited to sympathise, more than a bit, with the torturer" (Guardian, 1 star). The Times (1 star) thinks that "what really rankles is the fact that the film is so inept and predictable", which leaves the Standard out on its own, saying that the film "might be nuts but it is excellent nuts... mainly due to the performance of Butler... mak[ing] a character likeable even when they were doing bad things" (4 stars). We leave you to make your judgements about that disparity.
Séraphine Louis was a French artist who originally made her living as a maid; 'discovered' and successful, divorced from her stabilising routines, she lost her grip on reality and spent her final years in an institution. This biopic is "a measured, soulful and tactile work; a film with gouache beneath its fingernails" (Guardian, 4 stars) and the Times (3 stars) raves about "Yolande Moreau's instinctive performance in the central role... She imbues the humble Louis with an earthy charisma and a precarious mental fragility". The Standard (3 stars) concludes that "art house films about art tend to be tasteful and slow. Séraphine doesn't mess with the formula but the script allows plenty of awkward details to remain".
Next week: Me and Orson Welles stars Zac Efron - wait! Come back! He's supposed to be really good in it! - and Eva Green at British boarding school in Cracks.