MARKING the English language debut of the supremely gifted Italian director Paolo Sorrentino, This Must Be the Place couldn’t be more different from Sorrentino’s previous film, the virtuoso political drama Il Divo.
This Must Be the Place
Trinity Films, £17.99
Revolving around an ageing, retired goth rock star who embarks on a road trip across America to hunt down his Jewish father’s Nazi tormentor, it features an incongruously whimsical turn from Sean Penn as the film’s Robert Smith-inspired hero, Chayenne.
Just watching Penn shuffling through tax haven Dublin, oblivious to the stares he attracts, or mooching around his mansion, distractedly watching Jamie Oliver on TV, is a lovely and bizarre sight to behold.
But, as ever, Penn plays the character with utter conviction, refusing to treat Chayenne, or the pleasingly oddball premise, as a joke. This also helps prevent the Holocaust aspect from erring on the side of bad taste, with Chayenne’s unlikely quest underscoring how surface appearances can, for good or ill, mask our true capabilities.
It’s certainly one of the most endearing and original films of the year – aided by an amusingly strange cameo from Talking Heads frontman David Byrne, who delivers a quite magnificent live performance of the Talking Heads classic that provides the film with its cryptic title.
“Endearing” and “original” are not words that could be applied to Battleship, one of the pre-summer season’s biggest mega-budget flops. Based on the strategic board game, it takes the game’s basic premise and adds planet-destroying aliens, ridiculous amounts of back story and stock characters whose motivations could more easily be discerned from the squareness of their jaws.
Here, Taylor Kitsch, who fronted the year’s other megaflop, John Carter, plays another reluctant hero whose dalliances with extra-terrestrials force him to become a leader of men. A momentum-killing preamble casts him as a screw-up who joins the navy to win the heart of an admiral’s daughter (the admiral is played with cheque-cashing boredom by Liam Neeson).
It then piles on one generic action sequence after another. By the time the inevitable flag-waving victory rolls around (at well past the two-hour mark), it’s more a case of bored games than board games.
• To order these DVDs, call The Scotsman on 01634 832789
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