DRAMA STORM (15) 110min ●●●●●
Last time out director Hans-Christian Schmid directed the psychological horror Requiem based on the true story of Anneliese Michel, a young Catholic epileptic sufferer who believed that she was possessed by demons. Schmid has a long record of making fictional films loosely based on real life events and the German’s latest has remarkable echoes to the trial of Serb Radovan Karadzic, currently taking place at the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague. Karadzic is not named in this courtroom drama, but there is not much
done to hide who this film is really about as a Serb commander Gorna Duric (Drazen Kuhn) is charged with authorising genocide against Bosnian Muslims. But this is not a film that tries to hang Kardzic, instead Schmid aims his ire at the judicial process and how it can be manipulated. It’s about lawyers, business and politics rather than crimes. Kerry Fox seems to want to channel Cherie Blair (unsuccessfully) as the
prosecutor Hannah Maynard who has been handed the case by her former colleague and new boss Keith Haywood. The guilt of the Serbian commander is presumed. This fact only adds to Maynard’s fury as her case starts falling apart when her chief witness (Kresimer Mikic) commits suicide when it’s discovered that his testimony is a sham. Strangely it’s when Maynard heads to Bosnia to build a new case that the films starts loosing focus and goes off the boil. At the funeral Maynard meets the dead man’s sister, Mira (Anamaria Marinca, the star of Cannes winner 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) and it soon becomes clear that Mira should be put on the stand. The witness with persuasive evidence is the cliché of American court room dramas so it’s a good ruse by Schmid to turn this on it’s head, making the witness feel like it’s her that’s being put on trial. Yet to get to the point that this may just be a show trial, there is too much exposition and Maynard’s idealism never sits well with the depiction of her as a weary cynical mid-career lawyer. (Kaleem Aftab) ■ Cameo, Edinburgh and selected release from Fri 26 Mar.
ALSO RELEASED My Last Five Girlfriends (12A) 87min ●●●●● Frothy, above average British romcom based on a novel by philosopher Alain de Botton. Brendan Patricks, Naomie Harris and Michael Sheen star. General release from Fri 19 Mar. The Spy Next Door (PG) 94min ●●●●● Chan fans will enjoy the first five minutes of uber-hack Brian Levant’s patronising comedy-thriller, which opens with a montage of stunts from Chan’s earlier films. Thereafter, Chan struggles with a glib scenario in which, as secret agent Bob Ho, he attempts to win the affections of pretty neighbour Gillian (Amber Valetta) and her smart-mouthed brood of tykes. An oil based world-in-peril subplot interrupts any emotional involvement, leaving Chan with little to offer but a set of arthritic, clearly wire-work assisted stunts. General release from Fri 19 Mar. Nanny McPhee & The Big Bang (U) 109min ●●●●● Sequel to popular 2005 family film. This time Maggie Gyllenhaal is single mum Isabel Green (hubbie Ewan McGregor is off to fight the Hun in WW2) with three out of control nippers to contend with and two insufferably posh evacuee cousins about to arrive on their farm. Also in the cast are Rhys Ifans as Isabel’s spivvish brother-in-law, Maggie Smith plays a docile shop owner and Ralph Fiennes is a stiff-upper lipped War Office commander. See profile, in listings. General release from Fri 26 Mar. How to Train Your Dragon (PG) 97min ●●●●● Commendable new DreamWorks animation set in the mythical world of Vikings and dragons, and based on the book by Cressida Cowell. Hiccup, a Viking teenager befriends a dragon. Voice work by Gerard Butler, America Ferrara and Craig Ferguson. General release from Wed 31 Mar.
DRAMA/SPORT THE BLIND SIDE (12A) 128min ●●●●●
If movies could be made out of human foreskins, Kentucky Fried Chicken buckets and American Football sponsorship deals, The Blind Side is the film the Republican Party would make to fund their next attempt to hang some chads.
Based on the true story of Michael Oher, a traumatised teenager from the Memphis projects who is adopted by devout WASPs the Tuohys, presided over by the energetic Leigh Ann (Sandra Bullock). Michael is no normal child being fostered in the burbs. For one he’s black, about seven foot tall and possessed of a titanic strength. He’s noticed by college coaches, but there’s a problem with his grades and some issues about exploitation to get over before Michael can bring home some trophies.
It’s not hard to see why The Blind
Side has been a huge success Stateside. It hails from a broad, mildly offensive, but clearly reassuring line of white condescendence in American sports films; it is blandly but effectively directed by John Lee Hancock (whose previous form with the sports weepie includes 2002 baseball drama The Rookie) and Bullock certainly goes beyond the call of duty delivering some of the worst dialogue ever uttered south of the Dixie line. The trouble here is Hancock’s script. Wordy, deliberate, pat and plain jaw dropping (were you ever rated on ‘protective instinct’ in school?), the experience of watching The Blind Side is something akin to pulling a turd out of a clambake and crying as it burns your hands. (Paul Dale) ■ General release from Fri 26 Mar.
COMEDY/ADVENTURE OLD DOGS (PG) 88min ●●●●●
Having earned his rubbish comedy spurs on Walt Becker’s biker comedy Wild Hogs, John Travolta returns on a fool’s errand to partner Robin Williams in the same director’s follow-up Old Dogs. Via a series of arch plot contrivances that take 20 minutes to set up, it’s
painfully established that Charlie (Travolta) and Dan (Williams) are friends and business partners. But the old dogs have to learn a few new tricks when, at a critical moment for their company’s development, divorcee Dan unexpectedly has to take care of twins he didn’t know he had. The stage is then set for the stars to take the kids to camp, dress up as boy scouts, accidentally take each other’s medication with spasmodic results, have their crotches nibbled by penguins and other demeaning activities.
It would seem almost impossible to dumb-down the already asinine anal dribble antics featured in Wild Hogs, but Old Dogs somehow manages it, throwing in a racist sub-plot about Japanese businessmen accompanied by a regrettable scene in which Williams gets accidentally trapped in a spray-tanning salon, and finds himself in black face and befriended by a number of passing Asians. For what’s supposedly a children’s movie, the crude humour of Old Dogs hardly seems appropriate for little shits of any age. (Eddie Harrison) ■ General release from Fri 19 Mar.
18 Mar–1 Apr 2010 THE LIST 45