Ev­ery slum­dog has his day

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THE POOL Di­rected by Chris Smith. Star­ring Venkatesh Cha­van, Jhangir Bad­shah, Aye­sha Mo­han, Nana Patekar Club, IFI, Dublin, 98 mins Venkatesh is an un­e­d­u­cated 18-year-old scrab­bling a liv­ing on the streets of Pan­jim, Goa. He hopes some­day to work in a choco­late fac­tory but for the moment he cleans ho­tel rooms and sells plas­tic bags on the street with Jhangir, a savvy, or­phaned 10-year-old.

Be­tween shifts and hard­earned snack foods, Venkatesh ob­sesses over a shim­mer­ing swim­ming pool on the more salu­bri­ous side of town. He comes to stalk the sad, mys­te­ri­ous fam­ily who live there, watch­ing them from a nearby mango tree. Fi­nally, he be­friends the man and his teenage daugh­ter and dis­cov­ers their tragic se­cret.

Shot us­ing mostly non-pro­fes­sional ac­tors by a di­rec­tor who could nei­ther speak nor un­der­stand Hindi, at its best, The Pool looks and feels like a rougher hewn, softer-edged Satyajit Ray fa­ble. Chris the Easter Bunny and so forth – to frus­trate the evil plans of the boogey­man. It looks very nice and the voices are all very good, but the film doesn’t really make sense of its premise. Since when has the Sand­man been a good guy? Don’t we need the evil leg­ends too? Never mind; it hardly mat­ters. G cert, gen re­lease, 97 min SAM­SARA Di­rected by Ron Fricke Stag­ger­ingly beau­ti­ful, oc­ca­sion­ally dis­turb­ing “chill- out” doc­u­men­tary fea­tur­ing shots of the world’s most as­ton­ish­ing sights scored to a fine ethe­real sound­track. Fricke & co de­serve credit sim­ply for lo­cat­ing so many pe­cu­liar struc­tures, land­scapes and peo­ple. Who knew the world con­cealed all this ec­cen­tric, undis­cov­ered love­li­ness? The eco­log­i­cal Smith’s hand­held cam­era is bright and ex­otic. The tone is buoy­ant and ad­ven­tur­ous. Bol­ly­wood veter­ans such as Nana Patekar com­ple­ment the young, in­ex­pe­ri­enced cast mem­bers.

The film it­self is a fluke. A rare fea­ture from the doc­u­men­tar­ian be­hind The Yes Men, it was al­most aban­doned en­tirely when Smith strug­gled to find a bun­ga­low with a pool in the rel­e­vant lo­cale.

Its Euro­pean re­lease is be­lated, to say the least. The Pool was an award-win­ner way back at the 2007 Sun­dance Film Fes­ti­val. It graced sev­eral crit­ics’ top 10 lists in the US in 2008 yet failed to ma­te­ri­alise on this side of the At­lantic.

A cynic might com­plain that the film ex­oti­cises poverty; cer­tainly there are few de­vi­a­tions into the grub­bier end of so­cial re­al­ism. Kitchen sink, to be fair, is never part of Smith’s re­mit.

At any rate, we’re glad to fi­nally catch it in cinemas. The Pool is a small pro­duc­tion but one worth wait­ing for. grand­stand­ing is oc­ca­sion­ally op­pres­sive, but the star­tling im­ages – chant­ing monks, enor­mous gorges, chick­ens be­ing pro­cessed – are im­pos­si­ble to re­sist. 12A cert, Light House, Dublin, 102 min SEVEN PSY­CHOPATHS Di­rected by Martin McDonagh. Star­ring Colin Far­rell, Sam Rock­well, Woody Har­rel­son, Christo­pher Walken, Tom Waits, Ab­bie Cornish, Gabourey Sidibe You have to worry a lit­tle when a movie looks to be mak­ing post­mod­ern ex­cuses for it­self. Martin McDonagh’s hec­tic, very funny fol­low-up to In Bruges con­cerns a Hol­ly­wood scriptwriter (granted all the boozy clichés) who is fail­ing to com­pose a screen­play named, yes, Seven Psy­chopaths. The script notes cer­tain fail­ings in it­self, but fails to point out that the de­noue­ment runs badly out of steam. Still, Walken and Rock­well are su­per as ec­cen­tric side­kicks. 16 cert, gen re­lease, 110 min

SIL­VER LIN­INGS PLAYBOOK Di­rected by David O Rus­sell. Star­ring Bradley Cooper, Jen­nifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro Rus­sell’s fol­low-up to The Fighter is a mix of in­tegrity and fa­tal com­pro­mise. Cooper is strong and Lawrence ex­cel­lent as a pair of bi-po­lar mal­con­tents who get to­gether in a grey, grit­tily ren­dered Philadel­phia. Much of the di­a­logue is sharp. About half­way through, how­ever, the film takes a re­gret­table turn to­wards the mun­dane when the pair en­ter a po­ten­tially lifechang­ing dance com­pe­ti­tion. What started out as a brave com­edy ends up feel­ing like a sen­ti­men­tal con. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 121 min SKY­FALL Di­rected by Sam Men­des Star­ring Daniel Craig, Javier Bar­dem, Ralph Fi­ennes, Judi Dench The lat­est Bond ad­ven­ture is cer­tainly a great im­prove­ment on the mud­dled, com­pro­mised Quantum of So­lace. Men­des brings real sweep and mo­men­tum to the ac­tion. The re­la­tion­ship be­tween Craig’s class­less 007 and Dench’s flinty M is very nicely played. But, like ev­ery Bond flick of the past 30 years, Sky­fall feels more than a lit­tle com­pro­mised: at­tempts to up­date the grue­some “Bond girl” par­a­digm are laugh­ably per­func­tory; the prod­uct place­ment is dis­gust­ing. A fine thriller, but no mas­ter­piece. 12A cert, gen re­lease, 143 min NEW RE­LEASE SMASHED Club, IFI, Dublin, 80 min See re­view, page 10 SO UN­DER­COVER Di­rected by Tom Vaughn. Star­ring Mi­ley Cyrus, Jeremy Piven, Kelly Os­bourne A biker chick and part-time pa­parazzo (Cyrus) helps her dad – a dis­cred­ited cop with a heap of gam­bling debts – catch var­i­ous love rats on the gumshoe beat. She’s so not in­ter­ested when an FBI agent (Piven) of­fers 50 grand to in­fil­trate a snooty col­lege soror­ity and cosy up to the daugh­ter of the Ge­or­gian mafia’s ac­coun­tant. But then dad comes back from the track with a sad face. Bring on the FBI fash­ion­istas (no, really, they’re here): it’s time for a gir­lie makeover. 12A cert, gen re­lease, 94 min TINKER­BELL AND THE SE­CRET OF THE WINGS 3D Di­rected by Bobs Gan­n­away and Peggy Holmes. Voices of Mae Whit­man, An­jel­ica Hus­ton, Lucy Hale, Lucy Liu, Ti­mothy Dal­ton It's all kick­ing off in Tin­kers’ Nook, where the pro­le­tariat fairies are fran­ti­cally pro­duc­ing the snowflake bas­kets for ex­port to the Win­ter Woods. Un­de­terred by the rul­ing cap­i­tal­ist or­der, Tinker “Che” Bell (Whit­man), stows away with a bor­der-cross­ing snow owl. She un­cov­ers a sec­ond, colder world of pro­duc­ers and pas­sive wee folk own­ers – and her own dop­pel­ganger. G cert, gen re­lease, 75 min

TURN ME ON, GO­DAMMIT! Di­rected by Jan­nicke Sys­tad Ja­cob­sen. Star­ring He­lene Bergsholm Hell is boys and lip­gloss. In a sleepy Nor­we­gian bor­ough, 15-year-old Alma grap­ples with om­niv­o­rous hor­mones and pol­y­sex­ual day­dreams. Ev­ery­one Alma meets – really, ev­ery­one – is fod­der for sex­ual fan­tasies, none more so than Ar­tur, the tall, mono­syl­labic boy from down the street. When Ar­tur ex­poses him­self to Alma, how­ever, her friends are not in­clined to be­lieve her ac­count of events. Alma’s sub­se­quent un­pop­u­lar­ity forms the spine of this tart coming-ofage tale. Club, Light House, Dublin, 76 min THE TWI­LIGHT SAGA: BREAK­ING DAWN – PART 2 Di­rected by Bill Con­don. Star­ring Kris­ten Ste­wart, Robert Pat­tin­son, Tay­lor Laut­ner, Billy Burke, Michael Sheen The fran­chise is fi­nally placed in its tomb (for now) with an epic ad­ven­ture that finds the vam­pire lovers or­gan­is­ing an as­sault against their camp Vol­turi en­e­mies. As ever, the pic­ture strikes a few bum notes (the Ir­ish vam­pires are hi­lar­i­ous). But Break­ing Dawn 2 of­fers an ef­fi­cient, mildly touch­ing, morally unim­peach­able con­clu­sion to a chron­i­cle that has left an in­deli­ble im­pact on con­tem­po­rary pop­u­lar cul­ture. The leads are as charis­matic as ever. 12A cert, gen re­lease, 115 min

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