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Monday, September 5, 2011

Roundup of New Films Released 2 September 2011

Very small and very underwhelming week this time around where I have all of two films to talk about. There is also How To Steal Two Million, whose screening I somehow never got an invitation for but it's a South African crime film - I know, right - that seems to be adequate at best. Also there's a Hungarian film called Chameleon that I know very little about and am reasonably sure was never press screened. It's apparently quite good so I might check it out and I'll be sure to post my thoughts about it if I do. Who knows, it may well be the best film of the week.

Bad Teacher has gotten some very rotten reviews overseas and, though, it's no where near as good as the similarly female-centric comedy stylings of Bridesmaids, it's a diverting enough bit of fluff. Yes, the fantastically sweary misanthropy of Cameron Diaz's character does get old some time before the end of the film but, for a while at least, it's easily the best comic performance from Ms Diaz to come along in a long long time. I also like that her character doesn't learn any lessons as the film goes along and that the film actually bothers to stick to its convictions. There are also a brace of very enjoyable supporting turns from Jason Segal, Justin Timberlake and Lucy Punch - all three of which hold the film up long after Diaz's schtick starts to wear out its welcome. It's not great, ultimately, but I can only assume that the critics who have so thoroughly savaged Bad Teacher have somehow missed out on the truly execrable comedies to have come our way this year and with at least one still to come. It ain't Bridesmaids but it sure as hell ain't Zookeeper either. (6/10)

Much more troubling actually is London Boulevard. It's not so much that there is nothing to recommend about it, as much as it is that the whole adds up to far, far less than the sum of its parts. It is stylishly directed and is at times admirably brutal - this is a crime drama, after all - in both its acerbic, pointed dialogue and messy, ugly violence but it does have a tender side as well. And then there are the performances that are without fail excellent - be it Keira Knightly's fragile movie star, Ray Winstone's genuinely scary crime boss, David Thewliss' don't-give-a-toss artiste or, most especially, Colin Farrell as our main protagonist - an ex-con trying desperately to go straight. It gets so much right and yet none of it really added up to much. Its biggest failing is that the storytelling is incoherent to the point that it quickly becomes impossible to care about anything that happens on screen. The basic plot is virtually impenetrable and, though there is some interest in the characters themselves, the film spends far too long jumping between characters, plot points and entire genres that they only get lost in the guff. As such, I didn't believe in the romance, I didn't care about the crime drama and I kept of thinking of better films that did similar things better - most crucially the truly brilliant In Bruges, the criminally under-seen Colin Farrell crime drama/ black comedy from a couple of years back that has all of London Boulevard's many strengths and absolutely none of its fatal shortcomings. (4/10)      

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