CLUBBED * * * *
Cert 18 94 mins
Coventry’s Geoff Thompson used to sweep up in a factory before becoming a night-club bouncer and training in martial arts, then finding fame as a writer.
In his largely autobiographical film, the hero works in a factory by day and the clubs by night, learning how to box and committing his experiences to paper.
Danny (Mel Raido) is a lonely man, divorced from Angela (Maxine Peake) and living for “my babbies”, his two daughters.
His bleak existence hits rock bottom when he is humiliated and beaten up in front of them, and Angela stops him seeing them.
Danny’s factory work alongside a bearded and almost unrecognisable Neil Morrissey is hardly fulfilling. Determined to face his fears, he decides to fight back.
He starts reading self-help books and goes to a local gym, where Louis (Colin Salmon) teaches him to box and gets him a job working the door at the Valhalla nightclub.
While learning how to defend himself, he gets drawn into the local gang culture as fellow doorman Sparky (Scot Williams) is on the payroll of a drug dealer.
Getting involved with these violent characters sets in motion a train of predictable events with brutal consequences.
Clubbed is set in a generic Midland town whose name is never mentioned, but locals will spot it’s Birmingham. Locations include Digbeth, Bournville, Sparkbrook and Edgbaston.
It is also set in the 1980s, which means plenty of terrible outfits but a great soundtrack full of disco and soul.
The story is all true, says Geoff, although “it doesn’t happen in that order and I’ve never killed anyone, but four of my friends were murdered”.
Clubbed is surprisingly funny, tense and compelling, although the violence is hard to watch. Roz Laws
THE WRESTLER * * * *
Cert 15 109 mins
Mickey Rourke won a Golden Globe for his good, if bleak, performance in this movie.
He plays Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson, a wrestler well past his prime. While his injured contemporaries have bowed out and found proper jobs, he struggles on.
He sleeps in his truck when he cannot meet the rent. He has a bad back but is still throwing himself about the ring at the weekend.
We know he is a good guy because he befriends the neighbourhood kids, but he has neglected his own daughter Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood). Is it too late for him to make amends?
Is it possible for him to find friendship or even romance with lap dancer Cassidy (Marisa Tomei)?
It is tragic to watch The Ram put himself through such pain for others’ entertainment. He injects himself with steroids and deliberately cuts himself to add to the drama. It is no surprise he has a heart attack after one blistering bout involving a staple gun.
Predictably, he cannot give up and agrees to another fight, even though it might kill him.
Rourke put in a lot of training for the movie and his body is in pretty good shape for a 52-year-old. However his face isn’t pretty after those facelifts and the bleached, rat’s-tail hair is frightening.
The film mirrors Rourke’s own damaged life, with his career comeback offering redemption.
It has some funny and moving moments but not enough to really engage me. Then again, it’s a blokes’ movie. Roz Laws
SEVEN POUNDS *
Cert 12A 125 mins
What with I Am Legend, Hancock and now this, it seems Will Smith has developed something of a flawed Messiah complex to go with an increasingly irritating smugness.
Reunited with The Pursuit of Happyness director Gabriele Muccino, he is in full self-serious mode as Ben Thomas, an IRS tax collector who, driven by guilt over a past tragedy, sets out to help seven strangers facing spiritual, financial or medical crises.
Planning to kill himself (the opening scene shows him calling in his own suicide), he has no intention of getting personally involved. Until, that is, he meets girl-with-heart-condition artist Emily (Rosario Dawson, engaging in a thankless role) and romance blossoms.
With a meaningless title and an incomprehensible plot involving Woody Harrelson’s blind telemarketer, an overnight printing press repair job, a killer jellyfish, redemption by organ donation and a Shyamalan-like twist, it plods through a morass of earnest pretentiousness, mawkish sentimentality and rampant implausibility before the ludicrously ghoulish, unintentionally funny denouement.
Not since Ishtar has such a major Hollywood star been involved in something quite so jaw-droppingly awful. Mike Davies
BEVERLY HILLS CHIHUAHUA * * *
Cert U 91 mins
If you are determined to hear the complete works of Placido Domingo, don’t miss this Disney movie about a pampered dog called Chloe (voiced by Drew Barrymore).
Once the dog is kidnapped, Chihuahua turns into a chase thriller of sorts, with Domingo improbably voicing a dog called Monte alongside Andy Garcia’s Delgado.
There are references to westerns with trains and spaghetti for adults, but children (the younger the better) will just enjoy the high standard of lip-synching special effects which enable the animals to talk. The best reason for taking the little ’uns? If they can come out spelling Chihuahua, they can surely spell anything. Graham Young
MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D * * *
Cert 18 101 mins
What would you like to give your nearest and dearest for Valentine’s Day?
Fabulous fresh flowers, a wonderful wine, a hand-made box of the finest chocolates...or an eyeball on the end of a heavy-duty tool?
Yes, folks, this is a (bloody!) horror film which takes the notion of pick and mix to extremes on the back of reworking that old phrase: ‘Your place or mine?’.
The special-effects 3D technology works well on the digitally-projected Screen Ten at Cineworld Broad Street.
If you can see many of the plot’s stunts coming from a mile off, it is also true that many of them end up an inch from your nose. Exciting!
Ten years after a killer was rampaging around an old pit, it is clear he either did not die as suggested or that somebody else is copying him.
This remake inevitably runs out of ideas well before many of the actors are sacrificed but, while boys will stick it out for every last murder, girls will be inclined to run away even faster once they see the gratuitous demise of Betsy Rue’s Irene. Graham Young