Not the Mes­siah, but pretty naughty in­deed

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A LIAR’S AU­TO­BI­OG­RA­PHY: THE UN­TRUE STORY OF MONTY PYTHON’S GRA­HAM CHAP­MAN Di­rected by Bill Jones, Jeff Simp­son and Ben Tim­lett. Fea­tur­ing Gra­ham Chap­man, John Cleese, Carol Cleve­land, Cameron Diaz, Terry Gil­liam, Terry Jones, Michael Palin Club, IFI, Dublin, 85 min Even the most ar­dent ad­mir­ers of the Monty Python mi­lieu (those folks who’ll fight to the death de­fend­ing the rel­a­tive mer­its of sea­son four) will ad­mit to longueurs be­tween dead par­rots and tinned monar­chs. To th­ese die-hard fans, we say “Be­hold; An an­i­mated ver­sion of Gra­ham Chap­man’s wil­fully barmy demi-semi-au­to­bi­og­ra­phy”. virtues and the de­mer­its of the source ma­te­rial. Hooper’s much-touted Big Idea was to have the ac­tors sing live on set. The gam­ble has, for the most part, paid off. Jack­man is solid as the ex-con­vict pur­sued through 19th-cen­tury France by Crowe’s melod­i­cally un­cer­tain cop. Hath­away chews her part into pieces. Seyfried can do noth­ing with the weedy Cosette. Un­for­tu­nately, it loses steam in the sec­ond act. 12A cert, gen re­lease, 158 min LIFE OF PI Di­rected by Ang Lee. Star­ring Su­raj Sharma, Ir­rfan Khan Against the odds, Lee man­ages to make some­thing gen­uinely mag­i­cal of Yann Martel’s al­le­gor­i­cal novel con­cern­ing a young man trapped in a lifeboat with a Ben­gal tiger. The “spir­i­tual” sub­texts are a bit cosy and un­threat­en­ing, But Lee, as ever, in­vests the tale with real emo­tional punch. The com­put­er­gen­er­ated im­agery strays into the fan­tas­tic for a pur­pose and, for once, the 3D is used to very good ef­fect. A beau­ti­ful, touch­ing piece of work. PG cert, gen re­lease, 127 min

Chap­man, the star of Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Life of Brian, died in 1989, but not be­fore record­ing some of the mostly made-up de­tails of his life. Openly gay and se­cretly al­co­holic, Chap­man gives an amus­ing ac­count of coming out as a “rag­ing poof” but is gen­er­ally happy to pedal lies and lines from a mis­er­able child­hood: “Will you shut up about the bloody had­dock!”

Three direc­tors, most of the re­main­ing Pythons (Eric Idle was a no-show) and 14 an­i­ma­tion stu­dios were in­volved in trans­lat­ing this pleas­ing non­sense into a 3D movie. Archival in­serts al­low for the Span­ish In­qui­si­tion to in­trude un­ex­pect­edly and a rous­ing blast of Sit on My Face. In an in­spired piece of vo­cal cast­ing, LIN­COLN Di­rected by Steven Spiel­berg. Star­ring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gor­don-Le­vitt, James Spader, Hal Hol­brook, Tommy Lee Jones, John Hawkes, Jackie Earle Ha­ley, Jared Har­ris In his sober study of the 16th US pres­i­dent, Spiel­berg shuns bat­tle­field hero­ics for an ex­am­i­na­tion of the machi­na­tions re­quired to pi­lot the eman­ci­pa­tion amend­ment through congress. Day-Lewis is spook­ily im­pres­sive in the lead role. The com­plex story is ex­plained with ad­mirable lu­cid­ity. There are, per­haps, a few too many con­ver­sa­tions in shaded cor­ners, and John Wil­liams’s score is un­ac­cept­ably in­tru­sive. But this re­mains a com­pelling and mov­ing treat­ment of twisty ma­te­rial. 12A cert, gen re­lease, 151 min McCULLIN Di­rected by Jac­qui Mor­ris, David Mor­ris In this doc­u­men­tary, distin­guished English war pho­tog­ra­pher Don McCullin is re­vealed as a clear, com­pas­sion­ate thinker who long ago shook off any silly il­lu­sions about the job or lofty no­tions about art. Cameron Diaz plays Sig­mund Freud.

Un­hap­pily, the re­sults are a fright­ful mess. There are some neat ideas in car­toon form – the early Pythons as poo-throw­ing mon­keys is surely apt – but too of­ten the art­work is crudely ba­sic or just plain weird.

In­ter­est­ing de­tails that might ac­tu­ally per­tain to Chap­man’s life are soon lost in the sur­real wit­ter­ings and Yel­low-Pack Sub­ma­rine vi­su­als.

Suf­fice to say, it’s not the re­u­nion we might have hoped for Messrs Cleese, Gil­liam, Jones and Palin, and it doesn’t quite cut it as a Python primer. The sea­son four de­fend­ers will, none­the­less, fall off their panto horses. Let’s leave them to it. Fea­tur­ing lengthy con­tri­bu­tions from its sub­ject, the film an­swers most of the ques­tions you want asked. Did McCullin ever as­sist the vic­tims in his pho­to­graphs? (Yes.) Was he ever se­ri­ously fright­ened? (Even­tu­ally.) Were the au­thor­i­ties an­gered by his snaps? (Fre­quently.) Club, Triskel, Cork; Light House, Dublin, 90 min MON­STERS INC 3D Di­rected by Pete Doc­ter. Voices of John Good­man, Billy Crys­tal, Steve Buscemi, James Coburn, Jen­nifer Tilly Mon­sters frighten kids. Kids frighten mon­sters even more. Re­ceiv­ing a wel­come reis­sue in un­wel­come 3D, the fourth film from Pixar (a prequel ar­rives later this year) stands up well, but it does look a lit­tle like a tran­si­tional work. It’s not quite as funny as Find­ing Nemo. It’s not quite as touch­ing as the first two Toy Story films. Still, it re­mains a mi­nor marvel. G cert, gen re­lease, 92 min MOVIE 43 16 cert, gen re­lease, 90 min No re­view; not pre­viewed for crit­ics NEW RE­LEASE NO 15A cert, IFI/Light House, Dublin, 117 min See re­view, page 13 PARENTAL GUID­ANCE Di­rected by Andy Fick­man. Star­ring Billy Crys­tal, Bette Mi­dler, Marisa Tomei Atro­cious com­edy star Mi­dler and Crys­tal as an older cou­ple forced to use “mod­ern” meth­ods when car­ing for their over-in­dulged grand­chil­dren. It sounds fun. But the script is abysmal and ev­ery­body seems faintly em­bar­rassed. Crys­tal mugs fu­ri­ously like a host seek­ing to apol­o­gise for the stal­e­ness of his canapes. Mi­dler’s head nearly ex­plodes. Even young Bailee Madi­son – usu­ally so ex­cel­lent – ap­pears to be scout­ing for the out­doors. Cover your ears when Crys­tal at­tempts to speak skate­board jive. G cert, gen re­lease, 104 min PITCH PER­FECT Di­rected by Ja­son Moore. Star­ring Anna Ken­drick, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wil­son En­er­get­i­cally sung, good­na­tured teen mu­si­cal fol­low­ing the en­trants in an a cap­pella com­pe­ti­tion as they at­tempt to make up for past em­bar­rass­ments. The num­bers are nicely car­ried off. The cast is ex­cel­lent from top to bot­tom. But the ap­par­ent at­tempts to be hip and hap­pen­ing are plain hi­lar­i­ous. Be­fore the close, Ken­drick’s rad­i­cal DJ will have in­tro­duced her new friends to the avant garde stylings of, erm, Jessie J and Bruno Mars. Mind you don’t frighten the horses, dear. 12A cert, gen re­lease, 112 min QUAR­TET Di­rected by Dustin Hoff­man. Star­ring Tom Courte­nay, Billy Con­nolly, Mag­gie Smith, Michael Gam­bon, Pauline Collins “Can you really re­sist Collins, Con­nolly, Courte­nay and Smith (with a bit of Gam­bon thrown in for good mea­sure)?” the tagline doesn’t really ask. It’s a close-run thing, but the an­swer has to be a re­signed “no”. Hoff­man’s di­rec­to­rial de­but is weighed down by con­spic­u­ous flaws. Go­ing among res­i­dents of a re­tire­ment home for clas­si­cal mu­si­cians, the film is pa­tro­n­is­ing to­wards old peo­ple and much at home to lazy char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion. But, darn it, the ac­tors do make it work. 12A cert, gen re­lease, 98 min

RISE OF THE GUARDIANS Di­rected by Peter Ram­sey. Voices of Alec Baldwin, Jude Law, Hugh Jack­man, Chris Pine Amus­ing, if rather over­fussy, an­i­ma­tion con­cern­ing at­tempts by var­i­ous myth­i­cal be­ings – Santa Claus, 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? But it hardly mat­ters. G cert, gen re­lease, 97 min NEW RE­LEASE WARM BOD­IES 12A cert, gen re­lease, 97 min See re­view, page 11 NEW RE­LEASE WRECK IT RALPH G cert, gen re­lease, 107 min See re­view, page 13 ZERO DARK THIRTY Di­rected by Kathryn Bigelow. Star­ring Jes­sica Chas­tain, James Gan­dolfini, Ja­son Clarke, Joel Edger­ton Bigelow fol­lows up The Hurt Locker with an in­tense, fu­ri­ously ex­cit­ing study of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Scenes of sus­pects be­ing tor­tured by CIA op­er­a­tives spur in­evitable ques­tions. Is this a Bat­tle of Al­giers for the colonists? Is it a whis­tle-blow­ing ex­er­cise dis­guised as a pro­ce­dural thriller? Such is the opaque na­ture of Mark Boal’s writ­ing that it proves al­most im­pos­si­ble to say. But the pil­ing up of de­tail and lay­er­ing of ten­sion re­main com­pelling through­out. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 157 min TINKER­BELL AND THE SE­CRET OF THE WINGS 3D Di­rected by Bobs Gan­n­away and Peggy Holmes. Voices of Mae Whit­man, An­jel­ica Hus­ton, 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

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