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Film Round-Up June 2010

Jeremy Clarke

The sincere Christian knight Sean Bean and novice monk Eddie Redmayne lead a group of mercenaries and torturers to an isolated marsh village where a necromancer and heretics are rumoured to have survived the Black Death (cert 15; 101 mins). Gripping from start to finish, it unexpectedly grasps theological questions to grapple with issues of life, death, and faith.

Philip Ridley's first movie for 15 years Heartless (film and DVD, cert 18; 114 mins) concerns a hoodie gang terrorising London's East End whose demonic facemasks are not in fact masks at all. Ridley throws in an iconic devil figure with an innocent-appearing child assistant and an unforgettable appearance by Eddie Marsan as 'the Weapons Man'. Compelling, if meandering at times.

Michael Winterbottom's film of the pulp crime novel The Killer Inside Me (cert 18; 109 mins) fails to get under the skin of its anti-hero who therefore fails to elicit our sympathy, leaving it little more than unpleasant.
The experimental BodySong (DVD, cert 18; 78 mins) is a collaboration between the cult animator Simon Pummell and Radiohead's Johnny Greenwood, a brave attempt to construct a universal story of the human experience from archive footage.

Elia Suleiman's b (cert 15; 109 mins) is a hit and miss Palestinian film with flashes of brilliance, most notably a swivelling tank turret following a resident to his wheelie bin. The Iranian Women Without Men (95 mins; pictured) is more consistent piece, setting the lives of four women against the backdrop of Iran's 1953 CIA-backed coup d'├ętat.

The Chinese film Bodyguards And Assassins (film and DVD, cert tbc; 139 mins) deals with the visit to Hong Kong of a key strategist in the countrywide 1906 uprising against against the Qing dynasty. A plodding first hour is followed by edge of the seat action. Its call for overthrow of an outmoded status quo is cleverly disguised as pro-Communist to satisfy the authorities.

Closer to home, Chris Morris' suicide bomber comedy Four Lions (cert 15; 101 mins) failed to make this reviewer, at least, laugh.

Jeremy Clarke