When a third wheel goes off the rails
THE PERFECT GUY Directed by David M Rosenthal. Starring Sanaa Lathan, Michael Ealy, Morris Chestnut, L Scott Caldwell, Charles S Dutton, John Getz, Tess Harper, Kathryn Morris. 15A cert, gen release, 99 min Oh, why not? Let’s end the year as we began. You may remember that, back in February, we saw Jennifer Lopez terrorised by an initially enticing young neighbour in The Boy Next Door. That film had the virtue of triggering accidental hilarity at every absurd turn. (Though I defend the film-makers from the accusation that they thought Homer’s Odyssey was first published in the 19th century.)
This African-American take on the same plot is not quite so broad or incompetent. Nobody falls over (unless the story so demands). The camera remains upright. The actors keep straight faces.
All of this, unfortunately, adds up to a considerably more boring experience. What we wouldn’t give for a rubber swamp monster.
The competent, if uncharismatic Sanaa Lathan plays a top something-or-other (a lobbyist, I think) who is failing to get along with the reliably gor- geous Morris Chestnut. He gets the old heave-ho and she then falls for the more compact, borderline beatific Michael Ealy.“I specialise in corporate espionage and network protection. I get a lot of satisfaction from making people safe,” he says by way of delayed exposition and unconvincing deflection.
Ealy is initially so preposterously virtuous that one of only two later plot developments will seem satisfactory. He must turn out to be the Lord himself or a perpetrator of full-scale genocide. The truth is closer to the latter.
Following a weekend at Lathan’s parents, Ealy flies off the handle and attacks a largely blameless hick at a gas station. In the blink of an eye, he turns from the nicest chap in the whole world to a psychopath of supernatural proportions.
The beats of the character are as follow: lovely, lovely, lovely, satanic, satanic, satanic. To be fair, The Perfect Guy does have a gratifying strain of ruthlessness to it. Assume no character to be safe from annihilation.
However, the rhythms are too jarring for most sober audiences to bear. HAND GESTURES (IL GESTO DELLE MANI) Directed by Francesco Clerici. Featuring Andrea Boccone, Nicolae Ciortan, Mario Conti, Luigi Contino, Simion Marius Costel, Ilaria Cuccagna, Lino De Ponti, Tommaso Rossi, Caled Saad, Antonio Serra, Elia Alunni Tullini, Velasco Vitali. Club, IFI members, 77mins THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 2 Directed by Francis Lawrence. Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Elizabeth Banks. 12A cert, general release, 135 min Viewers with an appetite for the purer variants of slow cinema – think Two Years At Sea and Le Quattro Volte – will find plenty to savour in this patient Italian documentary.
Winner of the Fipresci (International Federation of Film Critics) prize at the Berlin International Film Festival, Francesco Clerici’s short debut feature is a focused Victim of another money-grabbing, last-volume bifurcation, the penultimate episode of The Hunger Games suffered from not having a proper ending. You couldn’t say that about (deep breath) The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2. I counted at least four. There may have been another two or three, but it was too murky to tell for sure.
It seems unlikely that there has ever been a mainstream blockbuster that has been quite so conspicuously under-lit. At times, Jo Willems’s camera allows only the odd nostril and cheekbone to pierce the pervading gloom. This is to a tonal purpose.
Beginning with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), Katniss Everdeen’s closest chum, recovering from a fit of brainwashing, the film is mostly taken up with the heroine leading a team through hostile territory in an attempt to assassinate the sickly President Snow (Donald Sutherland).
As the revolution gathers momentum, we begin to suspect that, rather than enjoying a new dawn, the citizens of Panem are caught in a repetitive cycle of oppression. They look “from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again: but already it was impossible to say which was which.” You know how it goes.
The murk also helps to study of a historic bronze foundry in Milan that still uses lost-wax casting, a technique that dates back to the fourth century BC.
Dialogue-free – save for an instruction to fetch a crane, a worker comparing the wax to custard and the hum of a radio – Hand Gestures holds fast to its title, as various craftsmen toil on a sculpture by the artist Velasco Vitali.