www.list.co.uk/film HORROR OUTCAST (18) 97min ●●●●●
DRAMA AN ORDINARY EXECUTION (UN EXECUTION ORDINAIRE) (12A) 105min ●●●●●
Adapted from his own novel by French writer/director Marc Dugain, An Ordinary Execution unfolds in Moscow in the winter of 1952, where it imagines a series of encounters between an ailing Joseph Stalin (André Dussollier) and a young married doctor Anna (Marina Hands). Having carried out a purge of Jewish physicians, the dictator summons Anna, who is reputed to have special healing powers, to his private quarters in the Kremlin. Although she is able to alleviate some of his physical suffering, he’s paranoid about her true loyalties and orders that her scientist husband Vassily (Edouard Baer), to whom she is devoted, be arrested and tortured. The strength of this claustrophobic chamber drama is that it immerses the
viewer in the fear gripping a whole society under the Stalinist terror. The sparse hospital where Anna works becomes a metaphor for the wider totalitarian system, in which personal feelings and emotions have to be ruthlessly suppressed. The staff toils under the constant threat of being denounced to the authorities, and her odious superior, who accuses her of ‘individualism’, sexually harasses Anna herself. Shot by cinematographer Yves Angelo mostly in interior settings and favouring a gloomy palette of greys, browns and beiges, this is a deliberately stifling work, with only occasional moments of relief from the suffocating atmosphere (one example is Stalin shown laughing during a private screening of a Hollywood comedy). Thanks though to the credible performances of the two leads, the face-to-face meetings between the rambling Stalin and the terrified Anna are gripping. The closing credits include an apt quote often attributed to the Russian dictator: ‘One man’s death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.’ (Tom Dawson) ■ Cameo, Edinburgh, Fri 10–Thu 16 Dec (matinees only); Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Fri 17–Thu 23 Dec.
This Scottish/Irish co-production shot in Edinburgh and Galway boasts an intriguing premise and a great cast, but its grim supernatural subject matter comes across as, at best, tedious, at worst, laughable. That’s a real shame given there’s plenty of potential in the story of Irish witch Mary (Kate Dickie) who’s on the run with her teenage son (Niall Bruton) and pursued relentlessly by her one-time lover Cathal (James Nesbitt), a nasty piece of work who’s been granted the powers of a warlock and given a sidekick (Ciarán Menamin) by the coven who want the boy back/dead. The game of cat and mouse, or warlock and witch, plays out in an Edinburgh housing estate, where local Scots-Romany girl Petronella (Hanna Stanbridge) befriends Mary’s son, who hides a supernatural secret of his own, and in a derelict factory where Cathal practices his gruesome magic.
Writer-director team Colm and Tom McCarthy clearly have a vision, but their dreadful script and cack-handed direction renders the finished film unintelligible as either thriller or chiller. Not even the presence of James Cosmo’s reliable old chops nor Dr Who’s current assistant Karen Gillan can save it. (Miles Fielder) ■ Selected release from Fri 10 Dec.
ANIMATION/ACTION/COMEDY MEGAMIND (PG) 95min ●●●●●
Peeping Tom (15) 101min ●●●●● Michael Powell’s magnificent 1960 slasher flick gets a 50th birthday anniversary revival. See profile, index and read essay at www.list.co.uk Cameo, Edinburgh, Fri 3–Thu 9 Dec (matinees only); Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Tue 4–Thu 6 Jan. The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawntreader (PG) 112min Lucy (Georgie Henley) and Edmund (Skandar Keynes) Pevensie return to Narnia with their cousin Eustace (Will Poulter) where they meet up with Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) for a trip across the sea aboard the royal ship The Dawn Treader. Unable to review at time of going to press. General release from Thu 9 Dec.
The Warrior’s Way (15) 100min ●●●●● East meets West martial arts adventure in which the world’s greatest swordsman abandons his clan to start a new life in America. It’s all a bit heavy on the old mythical overtones but excellent action scenes and decent performances from Korean superstar Jang Dong Gun, Kate Bosworth, Danny Huston and Geoffrey Rush really help. General release from Fri 3 Dec. The Tourist (15) tbcmin The Lives of Others writer/director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s pan-European caper starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. Unable to review at time of going to press. General release from Fri 10 Dec.
The Thorn in My Heart (L’Epine dans la coeur) (tbc) tbcmin ●●●●● Challenging and eccentric documentary by Michel Gondry (Be Kind Rewind, The Science of Sleep, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) in which old secrets are uncovered as Gondry travels with his ageing aunt. More therapy than filmmaking, it is still worth catching. Cameo, Edinburgh from Fri 10 Dec.
Following on from this year’s other super-villain cartoon Despicable Me, DreamWorks’ Megamind does at least boast an original premise: what would happen if Lex Luthor actually succeeded in killing off Superman? Or rather, what if the crowd-pleasing superhero Metro Man (voiced by Brad Pitt) was vanquished by the Mekon-headed Megamind (Will Ferrell)? The answer is that even the most evil genius would experience something of a
loss of career direction, with poor Megamind quickly bored by being ruler of Metro City, yet still desperate to win the heart of foxy TV reporter Roxanne (Tina Fey). Realising that there’s no show without Punch, Megamind endows Roxie’s frat-boy cameraman (Jonah Hill) with super-powers. Director Tom McGrath’s work on the two Madagascar films promises Tex
Avery-style humour, but Megamind comes up surprisingly short on laughs, apart from a delicious turn by Justin Theroux, spoofing Marlon Brando’s lisping performance in Superman. Where Despicable Me placed its nefarious hero within the context of a familial sitcom, Megamind is more of a rom-com at heart, as the alien discovers a sense of civic duty while he attempts to woo Roxie. Sporting parent-pleasing rock tunes including ‘Highway to Hell’ and ‘Welcome
to the Jungle’, Megamind is still enjoyable enough. (Eddie Harrison) ■ General release from Fri 3 Dec.
2–16 Dec 2010 THE LIST 47