Alistair Harkness reviews the latest cinematic releases.
ALEX CROSS (15) *
A cinematic reboot for James Patterson’s bestselling Alex Cross crime novels, this makes the baffling decision to cast Tyler Perry in the role previously inhabited – in Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider – by Morgan Freeman. His efforts to make the wise, refined psychologist-turned-detective into a badass are truly risible and he’s not helped by director Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious) adopting a horribly chaotic shooting style. Alex Cross? Alex Dross more like.
GREAT EXPECTATIONS (12A) * *
The BBC’s second major adaptation of Great Expectations in less than 12 months, Mike Newell’s cinematic version of the Charles Dickens favourite can’t help but seem like a redundant and fairly uninspired way to close out a year of celebrations marking the bicentenary of the author’s birth. Offering very little that’s new beyond the cast, it’s lushly produced but dramatically inert, with even the tantalising prospect of Helena Bonham Carter as the deranged Miss Havisham coming off like a live-action version of The Corpse Bride.
THE ORANGES (15) * *
Depressingly predictable American midlife crisis drama revolving around a married advertising executive (Hugh Laurie) who falls for the twentysomething daughter of his best friends/neighbours, this uses home-wrecking as a cue for some cutesy irrational behaviour and recriminations that have little basis in reality.
SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS (15) * * * *
In Bruges writer/director Martin McDonagh’s second feature is both an entertainingly indulgent film about filmmaking and an enjoyably loopy action comedy that gets to have its cake, eat it and go back for seconds. Set in Hollywood and revolving around a successful Irish scriptwriter called “Martin McDonagh” (Marty for short), it follows Marty’s efforts to blitz through his alcohol-induced writer’s block to pen a screenplay for a movie called Seven Psychopaths which, despite its title, won’t betray his newfound desire to write something that’s more profound than a standard action film full of “guys with guns”. Colin Farrell takes the lead as the harassed writer and generously plays straightman to a myriad of crackpots played by the likes of Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson and Tom Waits.
SIGHTSEERS (15) * * * *
Kill List director Ben Wheatley changes tack slightly with this darkly amusing road movie about a pair of caravan enthusiasts who discover a shared love of serial killing while touring low-key British heritage sites. The incongruity of the setting and the subject matter is just one of the things that makes co-writers and co-stars Steve Oram and Alice Lowe’s high concept idea such a uniquely funny proposition, but the film is also blessed with Wheatley’s mastery of tone and Oram and Lowe’s wry, dry performances as the ginger-bearded Chris and the not-as-meek-as-she-seems Tina.
TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE (12A) * *
A reactionary, geriatric riposte to last year’s Moneyball, this baseball drama peddles the creaky belief that the sport can only be understood if you feel it in your bones. That, at least, is the kind of drivel spewed by Clint Eastwood. As ageing baseball scout Gus, he spends the film bemoaning the way his beloved game is being ruined by snivelling fortysomethings who are only interested in what their spreadsheets are telling them. Fans of Clint’s recent chair-berating performance at the Republican Convention may get a kick out of him dialoguing with a gravestone, a can of Spam and his prostate, but there’s not much else to recommend it.
YOU WILL BE MY SON * * * *
Though this French effort about familial dysfunction set against the backdrop of the wine industry would appear to be just another middlebrow bourgeois family drama, proceedings have been imbued with a deliciously nasty undercurrent that corks the finished film in a way that makes it much more interesting. A Prophet veteran Niels Arestrup is on spiky form as the patriarch who refuses to give his desperate-to-please son a shot at running the business he’s built up – and watching just how nasty he turns out to be is something to savour.