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Film Round-Up May 2010

Jeremy Clarke


Centurion (cert 15; 97 mins) covers the 9th Roman Legion's foray to the north of Britain never to return. Being a Neil Marshall film, it's an effective study of a group under pressure and boasts a particularly effective performance from former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko as a mute Pictish warrior. Not quite The Descent, though.

Mamoru Oshii's animated The Sky Crawlers (cert 15; 122 mins) concerns a future society where cloned child warriors ('Kildren') engage in aerial combat with period retro fighter planes while the rest of society goes about its daily business. Incredible aerial sequences are split up by long existential drama passages where not a lot happens, making it more an art movie than the SF hardware actioner its audience probably expects.

Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant (The Office) direct the 1970s coming of age gem Cemetery Junction (cert 15; 94 mins). It brilliantly captures the plight of women mere decades ago keeping house while their menfolk went out to work and took them for granted.

The Ghost (cert 15; 128 mins) is proving controversial in its tale about a ghostwriter hired to write the memoirs of a former British PM abroad accused of war crimes. It seems too easy to suggest this is a thinly veiled take on Tony Blair, especially when its director is the recently arrested Roman Polanski. That aside, it's an effective and unsettling thriller.

Todd Solondz's Life During Wartime (cert 15; 96 mins) reworks his earlier, equally bleak Happiness with a different script and cast without really adding anything.

Mike (Beavis And Butthead) Judge's Extract (cert 15; 92 mins) is a likeable if slight romp concerning a factory owner who follows his best mate's advice to spice up his lagging sex life by putting a gigolo near his wife. The Joneses (cert 15; 95 mins) is a clever but solid drama about an aspirational nuclear family with a secret, which takes the sales-led US consumer society to its logical conclusion.

The must-see Greek film Dogtooth (cert 18; 96 mins; left) takes apart the same dynamic more effectively with its hermetically sealed family bound by the father's bizarre set of conventions (cats are dangerous, aircraft flying over are toys to play with). It is hard going in places, but raises a host of complex ethical questions. It's likely to be one of the most provocative films you'll see this year.                      

Jeremy Clarke