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film by Keiron Self
BURN AFTER READING **** GHOST TOWN ***
Dir: Ethan & Joel Coen (15, 120mins) Dir: David Koepp (12A, 102mins)
The Coen Brothers, flushed with Oscar success for the dark thriller No Country Ricky Gervais takes his first lead in an American film – it had to come after the
For Old Men exercise their funny bones, with occasional violence, in this highly Stateside success of The Office and Extras, and inevitably it’s slightly disap-
entertaining caper. Their last foray into comedy was the underwhelming remake pointing. Coming over like a grumpy Sixth Sense, Ghost Town has Gervias as a
of The Ladykillers and the fluff of Intolerable Cruelty. This however is far more misanthropic dentist who, after dying for seven minutes during a routine colo-
satisfying. John Malkovich plays Osborne Cox, a disgruntled CIA man, ousted noscopy, sees dead people, and they all want something from him. Greg Kinnear
from the company who decides to write his whistleblowing memoirs. The CD plays a dead husband trying to stop his living wife, Tea Leoni, from re-marrying,
containing all the information gets left behind at Hardbodies Gym run by Chad and Ricky has to help or he won’t leave him alone. Thus the grumpy man learns
Feldheimer, a brilliantly stupid Brad Pitt, and cosmetic surgery-obsessed Linda how to appreciate life and be more social. Thankfully the saccharine is soured
Litzke, the always excellent Frances McDormand. Malkovich’s wife, Tilda Swinton, somewhat by Gervais, but this is still a rather gentle old fashioned film with a
is meanwhile having an affair with federal marshall Harry Pfarrer, a bearded and smattering of good lines and good support from Kinnear and Leoni. Co-writer
amusing George Clooney. Things are about to get very complicated as Cox tries to and director David Koepp lets Gervais off the leash now and again with some
tack down his CD, uncovers his wife’s infidelities and enrages the CIA. Infectiously obviously adlibbed gags but Gervais plays it straight, hardly stretches himself but
funny, Burn After Reading is full of mischief, especially from it’s talented cast. proves very likeable in a rather formulaic studio movie. Opens October 24
The Coens’ script deftly plays out all the characters’ machinations with skewed
believability and some mighty fine dialogue, as events twist and turn amidst some
dark and some very silly comic moments. Light relief after the nailgun-touting
Javier Bardem, but classy film-making nevertheless. Opens October 17
HUNGER **** THE HOUSE BUNNY ** GOOD DICK ****
Dir: Steve McQueen (15, 90 mins) Dir: Fred Wolf (12A, 98mins) Dir: Marianna Palka (15, 86mins)
A visceral and unsettling account of IRA hunger striker Aren’t Playboy playmates funny? Well, they are if they’re Girlfriend into porn? Not as much as Marianna Palka,
Bobby Sands with a superb, raw performance from Anna Faris – the best thing in this insipid morally dubi- the star, writer and director of this moving dark comedy
Michael Fassbender, and unflinching direction from artist ous comedy. Faris plays a Barbie doll-like bunny kicked drama of sexual dysfunction and acceptance of the past.
Steve McQueen; controversy shall follow in its wake. Set out of octogenarian pervert Hugh Hefner’s mansion for Palka plays a shy secretive woman addicted to porn,
in the notorious Maze Prison in 1981 this follows Sands’ being too old at 27. She has to find a job and ends up renting adult movies from a down-on-his-luck video store
fatal 66-day hunger strike, made to get better conditions being the house mother of a ‘campus sorority’ – it’s all worker played by Jason Ritter. She’s not looking for a
for IRA prisoners. McQueen shows the horrific condi- very American – you don’t get this at Birmingham Uni. relationship, indeed refuses to let anyone in, but Ritter
tions endured by the political prisoners, lingering on Her group of students are all outsiders; emos who wear persists, even drawing up his own personal porn playlist
excrement smeared on walls, a brutal wash and haircut: braces, etc and hey! Faris teaches them how to be sexy, to watch with her. Eventually their relationship reaches
very uncomfortable in the light of Guantanamo Bay, but mostly by taking off their glasses/braces/doing their hair crisis point but not in an expected way, and the ghosts of
also shows the brutality of the IRA, as prison officers differently. They meanwhile teach her life lessons and her past come to the fore, heading towards a genuinely
are gunned down in front of their children. A 22-minute try and add to her intellect so she scores with clever moving climax. Left of centre but with its heart in the
single shot debate on the nature of hunger striking Sands bland boy Colin Hanks. The borderline insulting script is right place, Good Dick is much more than its bawdy title
has with a priest (Liam Cunningham) is mesmerising leavened by Faris’ ditzy performance, but this is an 80s suggests. An adult film about seriously complicated adult
and thought-provoking. Director McQueen has fashioned throwback in a Revenge Of The Nerds kind of way. Opens issues that engrosses due to the strength of the writing
a startling, uncomfortable treatise on crime and punish- October 10 and performances, Palka is a talent to watch. Opens
ment and the human spirit. Intelligent, gruelling cinema. October 3
Opens October 31
ALSO RELEASED: 88 MINUTES (15) Al Pacino in real time-ish thriller with run-of-the-mill results. THE FALL (12A) Visually sumptuous fable from the director of the visually sumptuous but vacuous The
Cell. A bit indulgent but ravishing. IGOR (PG) It’s Halloween half-term time, get the kids a CGI monster caper now and have John Cusack and Steve Buscemi do voices! HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 3 (PG)
They did it. They really did it. More sickly sweet tunes from inoffensive racial and sexual stereotypes in this Grease-lite slice of Disney wholesomeness. A sea of tweens await.
OCTOBER2008.indd 32 25/9/08 3:21:43 pm
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