Police, Adjective is the latest in what we Brits would call “Romanian New Wave Cinema”. However, director Corneliu Porumboiu would dismiss us in true Eastern European fashion, perhaps by waving a shawl in our face and spitting “ptooey” at the phrase, which he calls “problematic”. Regardless of genre, Police, Adjective (winner of the Jury Prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival) is the antithesis of a cop film, replacing running about with batons with endless trudging round Eastern Europe in the same old jumper.
You know the Cravendale adverts? You know, the stop-motion animation where a cow, a pirate and a cyclist all live together, living off milk and competing in musical statue for the last glass? Well, picture a feature length film in that style, in French and with more imagination then you could use to power the whole of Whoville and you’ve got the gloriously absurd and playful A Town Called Panic.
Imagine that all that was once gold has turned to rusty iron. Yeah, it’s bad, but most of us have too many responsibilities and not enough in the bank, to just go swanning off for a year. But say if you were an unhappy, attractive American woman with money to spare who longs to “marvel at something”, then you probably wouldn’t find yourself laying about in your pjs, picking fluff out of your bellybutton. Most likely you would go galavanting off into the sunset. Puh-lease. Come back to the real world, Julia Roberts.
It’s a sorry state of affairs when you realise you’re worth more dead than you are alive. It’s even worse when your own brother acts as your spokesperson, selling you down the river without giving you so much as a bodyboard to keep youself afloat. And who was it who said that blood was thicker than water? Peepli [Live], a comic satire, explores the notion of “farmer suicides” and how the media can expose a serious issue and turn it into a speculative event until everyone’s talking about it.
Taking up direction duty for first time since his impressive debut, Gone Baby Gone, Ben Affleck makes his second contribution to the ever expanding sub-genre of Boston crime films. Giving a romantic charm to a story of master criminal versus determined cop that Michael Mann would be proud of, it follows the plight of bank-robber Doug MacRay. Desperate to get out, but hopelessly locked in, will Doug get the girl like Will Hunting, or bite the dust like John Dillinger? Most importantly, will he ever get to leave The Town?
Even as a hardened horror fan, I sat down to watch The Human Centipede with a therapist on speed dial. I need not have worried. Yes, the film is disturbing, but ultimately The Human Centipede is a pretty lifeless creature, that neither makes you think, fear or even laugh enough for it to gain the cult status it so clearly craves.
One expects this film’s curious title to be a weak pun on the surnames of the lead characters. One would be wrong. The name, ‘Knight,’ is tenuously linked to Cruise’s character but other than that there is no explanation for it. This lazy and incomprehensible title becomes rather apt for a film which does not require you to leave your brains at the door but rather put them in a lead lined box from which there is no escape.
Released in 2005, the original Nanny McPhee was a strong successor to Mary Poppins in every way. Adapted from the Nurse Matilda books by Christianna Brand, the film pitted seven mischievous tykes against an ugly woman with a snaggle tooth, warts and an oversized nose, who had a few tricks up her sleeve when it came to childcare. Susanna White’s colourful sequel casts an even more bewitching spell, introducing the mysterious nanny to a family in crisis in wartime Britain.
Vincenzo Natali’s Splice, much like the genetically manipulated subject of the film, is a hybrid. Living up to its title, the film splices modern fears about genetics with the traditional monster movie, mixing in elements of a psychological drama and dark comedy for good measure. It is a Frankenstein’s monster of a movie that sometimes lumbers around awkwardly under the strain of all its parts, but ultimately remains a fascinating, original and horrifying beast.