THE OTHER GUYS * * *
Cert 12A, 107 mins
Mark Wahlberg makes his comedy debut in this fairly entertaining cop movie. He teams up with Will Ferrell and writer/director Adam McKay, who together brought us Anchorman, Talladega Nights and Step Brothers.
The pair play nondescript NYPD cops, with ordinary names like Terry and Allen.
They’re in the background in an office where Samuel L Jackson and Dwayne Johnson are the real stars, dramatically chasing criminals and taking the glory at press conferences.
After their amusing demise, eager Terry (Wahlberg) sees the chance to step up and be ‘the guys’.
But his partner Allen (Ferrell), who’s come from ‘forensic accounting’, is happiest sitting at his desk doing paperwork.
“If you really want to disarm this guy, take out the batteries in his calculator,” says a frustrated Terry, who adds: “I am a peacock, you gotta let me fly!” Even though peacocks can’t fly.
Then a case piques Allen’s interest. He arrests British banker Sir David Ershon (Steve Coogan), a shady Bernie Madoff-type, for scaffolding permit violations but realises there’s a much bigger financial fraud going on.
There are several running jokes, particularly one about Prius-driving Allen being inexplicably attractive to beautiful women – he’s married to gorgeous Eva Mendes.
The strong cast also includes Michael Keaton, Anne Heche and Ray Stevenson, though the British actor really shouldn’t have attempted an Australian accent. He sounds far more South African.
The silly humour is hit-and-miss, but when it works it’s very funny.
The trouble is, it doesn’t know what it wants to be, falling between the three themes of comedy, action movie and political satire. Clever graphics over the end credits, pointing out problems in the banking system, feel like they belong to another film. RL
WINTER’S BONE * * * * *
Cert 15, 100 mins
Every now and then comes a fiercely-independent film that will sustain you through the next three-score of studio also-rans, over-the-top-blockbusters and Adam Sandler comedies.
Set in the Ozark woods of America’s Midwest, Winter’s Bone is so bleak it ought to send you out looking for Prozac.
But director Debra Granik has captured a female performance of such rare, career-defining intensity that the film actually has a life-affirming effect.
Jennifer Lawrence starred with Charlize Theron in The Burning Plain which was scarcely given a UK release last year.
Winter’s Bone makes the recently-turned 20-year-old an early contender for next year’s Oscars thanks to her unforgettable role as Ree, a 17-year-old girl forced to look after two younger siblings.
Their drug-making father has jumped his bail conditions, leaving the family home at risk of repossession within a week.
With a mentally ill mother, a useless uncle like Teardrop and potentially dangerous neighbours on the scene, can Ree discover where her father is or what’s happened to him before the world collapses in on the children?
Shot in a beautifully cold way with little touches like clothes on a washing line bringing it up to date, Winter’s Bone feels like a western that’s been time warped into a post-industrial, drug-fuelled, poverty-stricken rural underbelly.
Its non-glamorous look is echoed by the supporting cast’s weathered faces, so hauntingly real and lived in you wonder why Hollywood normally runs a mile from folks like these.
Stark, tense and heartfelt, Winter’s Bone is more than just the winner of this year’s Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize.
It’s one of the films of the year, too. GY
F * * * *
Cert 18, 79 mins
Made for just £1.2 million, this might be a low budget British movie with an even smaller title but it’s guaranteed to linger long in the memory.
F is a horror movie set in a school where Robert Anderson (David Schofield) has dared to hand out a fail mark.
Soon he’ll be trapped inside his own nervous breakdown along with his increasingly-distant daughter and other characters working late on school premises.
Their assailants are silent and menacingly faceless, the unfolding horror as much in your mind as it is on screen.
In an age of meaningless straight A-grade exam results, F’s basic premise feels uncomfortably relevant. GY
NIGHT OF THE DEMONS * *
Cert 18, 92 mins
A pointless remake of a 1988 horror, this film is most notable for starring Edward Furlong, the actor who shot to fame as a teenager in Terminator 2: Judgement Day but hasn’t aged particularly well.
He’s a drug dealer here, trying to sell his wares at a Halloween party in a creepy, deserted New Orleans mansion – but the house is the scene of seven deaths 85 years before, and the demons responsible are back to kill again.
Shannon Elizabeth is among the scantily-clad would-be victims.
Expect nudity, gore and a few scares. RL